PreSonus Studio One Pro Version 2 Review

Jan 1, 2012 9:00 AM, By Brandon T. Hickey



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Studio One includes plug-ins like the IR Maker and the Open Air convolution reverb.

Studio One includes plug-ins like the IR Maker and the Open Air convolution reverb.

Studio One V. 2 offers multitake comping, which looks and performs nearly identically to Pro Tools playlist comping, just a little bit better and a little bit worse. The “layers,” as Studio One calls “playlists,” are multi-colored, and a little arrow button near the track name shoots the selected take up to the main layer. Unfortunately, if you select only one word within a particular region and hit the arrow button, that doesn’t matter: The whole region will move up to the main playlist. It didn’t take long to find a keyboard shortcut to “copy range to track,” only moving the selected audio to the master playlist. Where Studio One gets even better than Pro Tools comping is that rather than having to solo a layer and press spacebar to hear that take, simply Option + clicking a region auditions that layer in Studio One. Best of all, when using the multitake comping function, the result is a lot of pieces of a lot of takes all sitting on one track. If all of those regions are selected and commanded to “Edit With Melodyne,” the function behaves like you would otherwise expect it to. All regions will play consecutively in the editor, and pitch correction is practical and convenient.

Another highly anticipated pair of features is the ability to add silence between sound events and to quantize audio to a grid. The Strip Silence feature offers one of the crudest versions of that function that I’ve come across in any DAW. Anyone that has used Pro Tools or Nuendo to extract or eliminate noise between snare hits, for example, is used to graphic feedback showing what will be kept, what will be trimmed and how tight the chopping will be while adjusting settings. Studio One gives no indication of what is going to happen, aside from numbered values for the threshold, minimum duration, pre- and post-roll (region start and end pad), and auto-generated fade lengths. It’s up to you to guess, attempt, undo, tweak and try again. I found this to be difficult at best.

The Quantize function, akin to Beat Detective, was implemented with far more grace. Studio One V. 2 introduces “audio bending,” which behaves very much like Logic’s Flex Time. Flex Time was the jaw-dropping feature that allowed you to set up anchor points within a waveform and stretch individual sections, not the entire waveform. This feature is great for holding notes in vocals for extra time, sustaining guitar chords a bit longer and—as Logic and now Studio One use it—quantizing drum hits. Multitracked drums in Studio One can be grouped, transients can be detected, and the whole set can be phase-coherently quantized to a grid, tastefully squeezing decays to accommodate the shifting of attacks into place.

Studio One V. 2 includes many other small, yet strong improvements. Groups of tracks can be packaged into a collapsible folder in the Edit window, making it easier to manage the workspace. A track list on the left-hand side of the screen lets you show and hide tracks, as Pro Tools users would be accustomed. A tone generator was added and done well. It does the usual sine, saw, rectangle and noise, but adds tone sweeps and bends. Ampire XT, the guitar amp emulator, got a major overhaul, adding convolved cabinet designs and mic placement. The most exciting new plug-in pair is the IR Maker and the OpenAIR convolution reverb. Collecting impulses is a breeze with IR Maker, and organizing them is made easy with the plug-in. Using your own models in OpenAIR is as easy as dragging and dropping. The new Dual Pan plug-in provides for each channel of a stereo track, like you would find in Pro Tools—a welcome addition.

The mastering suite also got some improvements. Now a project can be completed, burned to a reference disc, sent for duplication as a DDP file and still be released on Sound Cloud as MP3s. I am glad to see the new DDP option. I’d love to see AAC exports in the near future, and maybe real-time codec auditioning like we’ve seen from the Sonnox Fraunhofer suite.

Out of the gate, Studio One aimed to provide “All Muscle, No Bloat,” and served that mission well. In V. 2, the menus are lengthier, big new features are flashy and it’s packed with strong, subtle improvements. If the company commits to staying trim, fixing the quirks of already-included features and simply adding little niceties along the way, I think there is a bright future ahead.

Brandon Hickey is a freelance engineer and audio educator.

Click on the Product Summary box above to view the PreSonus Studio One Pro Version 2 product page.

Click on the Product Summary box above to view the PreSonus Studio One Pro Version 2 product page.

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