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This article was originally published in issue #41
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The iTwo STUDIO is PreSonus’ take on the popular 'Studio in a Box' package, and ships with the almost standard audio interface, LDC mic and headphones; along with a rigid stand mount and lead for the mic and a license code for the rather good Studio One Artist and Capture Duo software packages.
The included Audiobox iTwo is the bigger version of the iOne (go figure?!?) that I reviewed back in issue 30. I really liked the iOne and I like the iTwo even more because it fixes the one thing that I felt the smaller version lacked - the lack of a line-in socket. The iTwo gets twin mic/line/instrument combi sockets on the front panel, a mix knob for monitoring instead of a switched 50/50 input/DAW preset, and also adds MIDI around the back. These additions aside, operation and spec seems to be pretty-much identical with the same 52dB of mic pre gain and 96K/24 bit converters headlines, so I’m going to just summarise - this is a very fine portable USB interface!
…and point you back to that earlier review for the detail
The included HD7 headphones are a semi-open back design and sound fine for working on mixes or just listening to music. One caution - they don’t attenuate external sounds very much, which will limit their value if you’re trying to monitor loud sources like electric guitars, and they also do leak sound out - so beware of the backing track leaking into a singer's mic, for example. This isn’t a fault with the HD7s, it’s a fact of life with open/semi-open ‘phones and it’s the price we pay for a more open and comfortable sound that’s better for mixing.
The other main bit of hardware in the box is the M7 large condenser microphone. Unusually, 'the body of the mic is made out of plastic' - I thought as it fell apart as I took it out of its wrapping. The mic has a sort of alloy “spine” with two plastic shells that attach with a single screw - and the housing for that screw was sheared-off. OK – this is something that you’d get sorted out immediately after you opened the box, but it’s a weak design and frankly I’m a bit surprised that the folks at PreSonus, who usually nail their engineering decisions, chose this option. On the flip side, it’s actually a pretty nice sounding mic!
PreSonus Studio One is a fine DAW and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend that anyone new to recording take a look at it. The STUDIO pack has licenses for both Studio One Artist for your Mac/PC, and for Capture Duo for your iOS device, so really, you could just add a mic stand, pop shield and some talent and you’re good to go.
All-in-one packages are always a compromise between ease of getting started and getting to choose exactly the components that you want, and I think the main part of the trick is to get a good quality basic interface and upgradable software to get you recording. The iTwo STUDIO gives you that, and aside from a bit of a concern about the construction of the mic, I figure that you will probably find use for the rest of the kit even after you’ve upgraded and expanded your studio set-up.