Presonus StudioLive AR8 USB

8-Channel Analog Mixer with USB Audio Interface

  • 8x4 USB 2.0 audio interface (24bit / 96 kHz) for multi track recording on Mac and PC
  • SD card recorder / player (recording: WAV (24 bit / 44.1 kHz) playback: WAV and MP3)
  • Bluetooth 4.1 receiver for audio signals from the iPhone/smartphone
  • 4 Microphone inputs (XLR) with Class-A microphone preamp
  • 48V phantom power, switchable
  • 6 Balanced line inputs (jack)
  • Super channel 13/14: RCA input (L / R)
  • 3.5 mm stereo jack
  • Selectable playback for Bluetooth source and SD card or USB playback stream (1/2) from a computer, the input signals are summed
  • Main Output L / R (XLR) with LED level meter
  • Stereo headphone output
  • Balanced monitor output MON (jack)
  • Digital effects (16 presets)
  • Power: internal power supply (power 15 W)
  • Incl. Studio One Artist (DAW software) and capture (recording software)
  • System requirements: Mac OS X 10.8.5 or later, Win 7 32bit/64bit SP1, Win 8 x86/x64, Win 10 x86/x64
  • Stable metal housing
  • Dimensions: 305 x 305 x 95 mm
  • Weight: 3.2 kg

Further information

Number of Input Channels 8
Number Of Microphone Inputs 4
Amount of Lines In (Mono/Stereo) 6
Number Of Aux Send/Return 1
Phantom power Yes
Tone Control Yes
Audiointerface USB 2.0

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Presonus AR8 compared to Allen & Heath ZED10FX

Wernie, 25.07.2017
As a guitarist and singer / songwriter, years ago I bought an Allen & Heath ZED10FX as a stage mixer, but also occasionally used it for recordings at home. Now the Presonus came with more features on the market and I have both tested and compared, with surprising results.

User interface:
Both mixers are almost the same size, but the Presonus portrait format, the Allen & Heath is a bit slimmer and has wide format, which I think better. The Presonus has a nice, tidy and very clear desk surface with 43 pots and 21 jacks. By comparison, Allen & Heath looks a bit chaotic and cluttered, partly due to the higher number of 58 pots and 27 jacks on the nearly equal area.

Road capabilities:
Both mixers are built quite stable. The Allen & Heath has bolt-on pots that are rock solid. The pots at Presonus wobble a bit and are not screwed. This results in a cheap plastic feeling and annoys me in the operation.

preamps:
The quality of a mixer stands and falls with the microphone preamps. The Presonus has 2 micro inputs with 50 dB gain, switchable to HiZ (1 MegaOhm, 50 dB gain) and two more with 45 dB, switchable to stereo. There is also the so-called Superchannel, a stereo input with additional Bluetooth and return for the two-track SD recorder. Unfortunately, there is a lack of reinforcement. For dynamic microphones and even some condenser microphones, you almost have to rip open the inputs on the Presonus. The doubly occupied MIC / stereo inputs 3/4 and 5/6 are particularly weak-breasted. This restricts the use in the studio mE strong.

In comparison, the Allen & Heath has 4 micro inputs with at least 60 dB of gain, of which 2 are switchable to HiZ (FET input class A) with 10 MegaOhm and up to 66 dB gain for passive guitar pickups. There are also 3 stereo inputs, one of which forms the USB return. He beats the Presonus by a good 10 dB, when it comes to amplify weak-chest signal sources and is thus in the range of inexpensive studio mixers.

Sound:
The Presonus sounds very clean and transparent, while the Allen & Heath comes a little bit fatter, especially the HiZ input.

EQ: Here the Allen & Heath has the front with tunable mids, the Presonus has only a fixed center frequency of 2.5 kHz.

effects:
These sound clean on both mixers and the presets are quite well chosen. They do not meet higher expectations. For my taste, the Lexicon presets of A & H sound much livelier. However, the particular advantage of A & H is that one effect parameter can be edited at a time, for example reverberation time or delay. That's crucial, and that's where the stage win goes to Allen & Heath.

Interface:
This point clearly goes to Presonus. The AR8 has an 8x4 channel USB interface and supports 24bit / 96k. The sum signal is 7/8, but you can route it to 1/2 if you do not want to record channels 1/2 separately. In addition, the sum always goes to the SD recorder.

The ZED only has 2x2 channels and only 16bit / 44.1 / 48kHz. The ZED has record buttons to route the desired channels to the stereo recording bus, the AR8 does not need this because it's done on the computer. You can not do multichannel recordings with the ZED because it has no direct outs. Both consoles are unfortunately not iOS compatible, but Windows (with driver) and Mac (Plug & Play).

SD recorder and Bluetooth:
These features only have the Presonus AR8. But one has the impression that these are more sales-promoting additions that are not quite mature. The recorder allows you to record live sound in 24bit stereo with 44.1 kHz. The recording level is relatively low in order not to overload the recorder. Unfortunately, the operation is quite uncomfortable because a display is missing to at least display the track number.

The built-in Bluetooth receiver of the AR8 is not quite noise-free and is useful for pause music or karaoke with the phone, but because of the limited range you can not move too far from the mixer.

Headphone jack:
Both mixers provide enough juice for a 250 ohm handset. However, the A & H has a handy headset switching matrix that lacks the Presonus.

Conclusion:
While the Presonus boasts an 8x4 channel interface and ease of use, the Allen & Heath boasts screw-on pots, better mic and guitar preamps, EQs and effects. The term StudioLive is thus more the A & H than the Presonus. Personally, I decided to send the Presonus back and keep the A & H. Last but not least, this is also cheaper.
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Great little helper

AndreasSchiro, 25.07.2017
I would like to say that I already own the "big brother" of the AR8 - the AR16 - and when I bought it I knew what I was getting into.

So why a small desk, if you already have the big part? I run a local radio station next to my small Medienhütte and was tired of having a choice between the huge AR16 or the combo from another console with a separate recorder for smaller outdoor events. A recorder without a console has the disadvantage that you can really only connect microphones and can not connect an additional sound source (music recordings, etc.). Also, no sound adjustments are possible with a standard recorder. If you consider that a separate usable standard recorder (eg Tascam DR 60) beats at least 200 euros, the desk is in the present facilities so by the way also a price hit.

The AR8 is in no particular category - a mixer with recording option or a recorder with extensive sound options - something in between. The mixer part is analog, which I see rather positive. The inputs are always analogue anyway, and for my liking, analog consoles (if they are as low-noise as the AR series from Presonus) sound more natural and fuller anyway. In the digital part there are two options to record the stereo end result ("Sum") via the built-in recorder or all tracks separately via USB. So you have the choice. The associated software is synonymous first cream, even if I myself out of habit use another. What does not work here (at least I do not know how) is a decrease in the sum via USB. In our case, that's stupid, because we can stream over the desk just with a bit of fumbling live. For outdoor events, however, the broadcasts are usually almost always recorded anyway.

Despite the manageable number of inputs, a whole series of sets can be realized on the AR8. Up to four microphones and a separate audio source, two microphones with three stereo or two mono and a stereo source (if you use the aux inputs, even more). Phantom power for condenser microphones - everything on board. And pleasantly noise-free. Over the Superchannel one can couple all possible Toinspender with a single entrance. Cinch, mini jack and mobile phones via Bluetooth. By the way, telephone calls can not be made from the mobile phone to the input, only the media playback of the mobile phone. But then in a great sound quality. I also find the option of listening to individual channels seperately during operation without being aware of this in the mix. That offers to my knowledge, no other console in this class.

At the output of the console hangs the built-in recorder, the multi-track USB output and for other gadgets also an analog output. The recorder is admittedly a bit Spartan equipped, a display would be quite nice, if you got used to it, you can get over it. The sound quality of the recordings is absolutely clean. Not recorded in MP3 but in WAV format. It may sound a bit impractical to need MP3 as the final product, but it's a real win in terms of sound.

The only point where the ghosts divide in our team are the rotary potentiometers, which replace the faders for reasons of space. Qualitatively nothing to complain about - but if you have somewhat thicker fingers, you should be careful - the pots are bigger than other mixers of this size and you will occasionally come to the neighboring pot, if you are not careful. Apart from that - clear purchase recommendation!
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