PreSonus Studio One 2 review

£80
Price when reviewed

We did, however, run into a handful of disappointments that betrayed the package’s comparative immaturity. There’s no event filter, so you can’t – for example – select all notes of a certain velocity. The standard keyboard shortcuts rely heavily on the numeric keypad, which will irritate laptop users. Most annoyingly, virtual instrument consoles steal focus from the keyboard, so you can’t simply tap the spacebar to start and stop playback while tweaking parameters. And, we have to say, the default grey and blue colour scheme looks somewhat on the cold side.

With all of Studio One's optional panes open, things can get a little crowded

There are also a few major things that Studio One simply doesn’t do. There’s no notation view, which will turn off classical musicians. There’s no real-time clip sequencer for live performers. And although you can import a QuickTime video stream, to create a synchronised score, there’s no native support for any sort of surround or multichannel sound.

Still, Studio One offers everything you need for regular music production. The low-end Artist edition of the software includes 26 highly configurable effects plugins, including a three-band compressor and a binaural stereo imager. You also get sample-based drum machine and keyboard instruments, a highly tweakable monosynth and a library of hundreds of sounds, loops and patches. Unlike some “starter” DAW packages, you can use as many tracks and effects as you like, but third-party plugins and instruments aren’t supported.

For that, you’ll need to move up to the Producer edition, which works with VST 2.4, VST 3, ReWire and (for Mac users) AU plugins, and includes a native MP3 exporter. Native Instruments Komplete 8 Elements is included too, offering a selection of synth sounds and guitar effects.

At the top of the range sits the Professional edition. This adds the Melodyne auto-tune module, plus support for hardware inserts and 64-bit audio processing. Perhaps more interesting is the integrated mastering module, which is used to sequence multiple songs into an album. Mastering effects, volume tweaks and stereo adjustments can be auditioned and applied on a per-track or whole-album basis; and when you’re happy with your album you can burn it directly to CD, export it as an MP3 playlist or upload it to SoundCloud.

Studio One's integrated mastering module is an unusual but potentially very useful feature

As a functional, fuss-free workstation for recording and producing audio, MIDI and virtual instruments, Studio One is a fantastic package. It has its foibles, and it doesn’t do everything; but the overall sense of immediacy and effortlessness it brings to the music-making process is tremendously rewarding. For an individual, it may be difficult to justify the price of the Professional edition, despite the distinct appeal of its mastering capabilities. But the Producer edition is a great deal, offering all the creative power you could ask for at a distinctly lower price than Cubase Artist or Pro Tools MP.

Details

Software subcategoryAudio production software

Requirements

Processor requirementIntel Core 2 Duo or AMD Athlon X2

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported?yes
Operating system Windows XP supported?yes
Operating system Linux supported?no
Operating system Mac OS X supported?yes
Other operating system supportnone

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