Software Review: Studio One by PreSonus

Jan 02, 2010

Over the past couple years as I've played the game of hop-scotch (and invariably disappointment) from DAW to DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) I had pretty much resolved to produce all my music outside of the computer. It seemed like each new piece of software I tried out got more bloated and less reliable. Plug-ins that you don't need, menus and sub-menus that go nowhere, lack of customization, frequent crashes and drop-outs... The list goes on and on.

(In all fairness, maybe if we had spent $8,000 on a new computer for the last couple albums the process would have a been a bit more relaxing and a bit less like giving birth to an elephant, but really, the software should work better.)

I guess the folks over at PreSonus thought the same thing. I picked up a new interface a couple days ago and it came bundled with Studio One. Perfect, I thought, another CD I can use for a beer coaster. Boy, was I mistaken.

First of all, the interface is absolutely gorgeous. Cool grays and blues are the default (which happen to be my favorite) but you can change it around if you want. Following suite with Ableton Live, there are no excessive floating windows. The file browser, mixer, and sample editor are all integrated with the work-flow. These windows slide in and up when needed and then can quickly be returned to their hidden state.

Once you get your interface set up (which seriously took about 5 seconds) adding tracks is only a matter of pressing T. Menus are usually only a maximum of two tiers deep and have limited items in them, making memorization easy. About half of the HUD's buttons are text, the other half are icons. This makes for a really nice environment that doesn't overwhelm the mind with millions of esoteric icons or un-needed words.

The sound quality is superb. The program hasn't crashed once. My only qualm is whenever I quit, the program appears to shut down fine but then I always get an OS error saying that Studio One quit unexpectedly. Maybe the computer is just in shock that the DAW was actually quit from intentionally and not crashed-out of?

By far my favorite feature is the way Studio One handles switching between fade types: there's a little handle in half-way into the fade that you drag up or down to cycle between linear, logarithmic, or exponential. As someone who is extremely picky about fade-types, this is a godsend.

Studio One has several price points and versions. Check out the PreSonus site for more info.

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