The first software DAW from a pro in the mix and master business

Being a longtime user of PreSonus hardware products, I have to admit, I was very excited when the company first announced Studio One in 2009 to the world on its Web site. Already known for world-class AD/DA audio interfaces, like the FireStudio and FirePod, PreSonus seemed primed to eventually create matching software. Last September 2009, the company released its first major Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software product to the masses. I got my hands on a copy of it.

The new DAW’s concept was compelling: Today’s DAWs have become over-bloated workstations with too many useless features. You often lose sight of what you are working on and ultimately the stability of the DAW is compromised to make room for too much of not enough. PreSonus wanted to get rid of all the unnecessary elements and deliver only those features that musicians and producers absolutely need to create, mix and release music either on CD or in digital format. It is also refreshing to see that Studio One is not OS specific. Version one works on either a PC or a Mac. Most DAW software locks you to a specific hardware set. Newer generations of DAW software are obviously heading in this direction (i.e., EnergyXT 2.5 which works on Mac, PC and Linux).

From the moment I installed Studio One Pro, I wondered how it would live up to the hype. It started up in just a few seconds, and was ready to go, almost immediately> That is more than I can say about most DAW software on the market today, with the usual long-loading splash screens and start-up processes. The first screen you see is more like a Web 2.0 profile page where you can set up a profile picture, your primary genre of music, artist name, etc. Each project or song you create will have this information encoded into the project files. For instance, when I loaded up a very talented metal demo song showcasing the power of this software for audio and midi, I was presented with a box containing a picture of the artist who created it, their name and their Web site. That’s cool. It’s a nice way to personalize your studiofor internal reference.

One of the attractive things about the software is the UI design. It is uniform, gorgeous yet functional, and effective in helping you get work done faster. It doesn’t feel like bloat-ware at all; everything in it does exactly what it is supposed to do. The two main interfaces are “Song” and “Project.” In song mode, you get your track view, mixer view, all in one space, saving you from having to switch between each. In project mode, you get all the final mastering tools you need, as well as the ability to package of a “digital release,” create an .ISO for burning later or burning directly to CD (redbook), all of which are perfectly in tune with each other.

64-bit Extensions

I was extremely impressed with the various 64-bit audio plug-ins included (26 dynamic processors, reverbs, modulations effects, amp simulators, etc.). In fact, these plug-ins could easily make an attractive suite outside of Studio One Pro, they are that good; too bad they only work inside Studio One. The compressors and limiters work smoothly, the reverb is high quality, and all of the other plug-ins chain together very well. You can also create any number of chains with the included plug-ins as well as third party VSTs. Studio One has multi-core support, so my Intel Core i7 loved this software. It has just about everything you could want from an all-in-one solution. The recording quality is excellent and the interface is poppy and updates everything, from drawing waves to spectrum analysis, in pristine quality.

Some of the exciting surprises for me are the included and very impressive software synthesizers, drum machines and preset content. The package has a sexy drag-and-drop interface for your plug-ins and synths, so if you want a synth in the project, drag it over, and voila! The “SampleOne” sampler is so easy to use that anyone could learn it instantly. “Impact” comes with 32 full-sounding multi-genre drum kits that inspire you to create. “Mojito,” however, is the knock-out surprise with thin-to-fat basses and synth sounds. “Presence” sounds phenomenal; the only issue I have with it is that it only supports 32-voice polyphony, which means you have to keep your key count down or learn to space out your parts to different copies of the synth. Other than that, it’s a solid synthesizer.

Studio One has some nice 3rd party inclusions. Guitar Rig LE 3 is included, though I find that the Presonus Ampire plug-in works amazingly well. The included “Kore” synth from Native Instruments gives you a fine taste of about 350 patches. Toontrack EzDrummer Lite, another one bundled in, is a tight pop/rock kit. I haven’t even mentioned the nearly 1,400 included drum loops included. There’s also the curious inclusion of a Jambalaya recipe. Yes, you read correctly. The box lists this under features. I have not tested the recipe yet, but Presonus is from Louisiana, so I am certain it is just as tasty and delicious as this very fine software!

For a first voyage and effort on the DAW marketplace, Studio One is a very competitive piece of software and I think other DAW companies could learn from the forward-thinking engineers who created this small masterpiece. Bravo for living up to the expectations of the masses and a definite hot rating for return on investment. Whatever genre of music you create, this software is so tightly integrated that you will be creating and releasing music in no time. From novice to pro, it’s nearly impossible to get lost in the software. The PreSonus Web site has terrific walk-throughs and videos to help you get started. But I think you’ll be on your way before you know it. I expected it to work well with PreSonus hardware, but I was pleased to find out that it also works very well with most any other ASIO soundcards (I used a Roland/Cakewalk VS100 in my review). You can focus on your music, not the tech. Download a demo from and try it out yourself.