Gear Review: PreSonus ioStation 24c Audio Interface/Controller

To be perfectly frank, I’m more of a musician-songwriter than a sound engineer. And, as such, I try to stay focused on my mission to write songs and work on projects with my music community. Over the years I’ve learned the painful lesson that equipment – even really good equipment – can be a distraction and the last thing I need is to be confused by technology that the industry tells me which I cannot be without. I’ve often thought of control surfaces this way: yes, they’re great for workflow, but should I worry about something I can do quite well with just a mouse and a few hotkeys? While controller makers promise a better DAW experience with a control surface, my sessions are less zen and more let’s-get-it-done. I didn’t think the PreSonus ioStation 24c was going to change my thinking, but I’m coming back to it and after a few sessions I see real possibilities.

PreSonus ioStation 24c

First, let’s talk about what it is. The ioStation 24c combines a high-quality two-channel audio interface with a compact DAW controller. Let’s talk about the inputs first: you get two of PreSonus’ XMAX Class A mic preamps behind two high-headroom instrument/line inputs. With XLR or ¼” inputs, the 24c lets you choose line level for instruments or mic level with a 48 volt supply available for condenser mics. Each input has a level knob with LED clip indicators individual inputs, but you have to configure both inputs for line or mic levels and phantom power with one knob, which I first thought was a drawback, however as I was using 24c I felt started to see this as a simple choice for recording a track in stereo or mono.As a reminder, phantom power is only required for condenser microphones and can damage some dynamic microphones, especially expensive ribbon microphones. So whatever interface or mixer you’re using, be safe and turn off phantom power when it’s not needed. For outputs, the 24c offers a ¼” headphone output with media monitoring. lange of inputs for playback, as well as two ¼” outputs ideal for powered speakers. A bundled utility called Universal Control, as well as managing firmware updates and device drivers for the interface, allows you to configure sample rates from 44.1 to 192.0 khz. This is the basis of the interface; the other half of this unit are the controls.

Rear view of PreSonus ioStation 24c

The ioStation 24c is not a big device (less than 10″x7″), so it doesn’t take up much space on your desk. It’s about the size of a typical mouse pad, and for my setup I located it on the left of my laptop with a mouse usually on the right. It looks alive and well, with 16 brightly lit buttons with more oversized buttons in a Transport section. PreSonus incorporated elements they developed into their FaderPort controllers in the ioStation 24c and these are the conveniently located controls you’d expect from a typical DAW channel strip, including dedicated buttons for Arm, Mute, Solo and Bypass of a track, as well as a 100 mm motorized fader (long range). In the lower transport section there are large buttons for stopping playback (double-tapping to reset the playback slider to zero), loop, play/pause, rewind, fast forward, and skip. registration.

Between the channel controls at the top and the transport controls at the bottom are the controls associated with navigating a session. What I realized right away was that learning just a few of these navigation commands can give you some serious power over your workflow and your mix. For example, a Link button connects the central rotary encoder to any DAW parameter under your mouse, navigation buttons select Next and Previous tracks respectively, a Master button allows the encoder to control the Master level (pressing the encoder once resets the Master level to 0 dB), Pan controls Pan, Click on/off Metronome off, and the bottom four buttons can be assigned functions like Open Editor, Open Browser, or customized to do what you do most. There’s a lot to learn about the 16 buttons and the rotary encoder. Each button can control several parameters depending on the mode you are in and each has a second function using the Shift button. Although it sounds complicated, if you know your DAW, these functions and their location on the 24c surface can quickly become second nature. The Transport section is very basic and once under your hand eliminates a lot of “mouse around” the screen.

Registering the product with PreSonus gives you all the benchmarks you’ll need to get setup once the device is powered on and connected via USB C (the only option for connecting this device) with the included cables. As mentioned earlier, you will be required to download and install the latest version of PreSonus’ Universal Control software which allows you to set sample rates, buffer sizes, etc., on the connected interfaces. You’ll also want to make sure everything is up to date for the installation to work properly – older versions of software can complicate installation.

Looking at the specs and load of free instruments, loops, and materials provided on the PreSonus site, I opted to download the company’s Studio One Artist DAW software, which worked flawlessly, as you’d expect. However, you are not limited to native Studio One support as the 24c is compatible with Logic Pro X, Cubase, Ableton Live and Pro Tools via the well-known MCU (Mackie Control Universal) and HUI interface standards. (Human User Interface).

So do you really need an audio interface with a built-in, full-featured DAW controller? It depends on how you work, but after just a few sessions with the ioStation 24c, I can see how this powerful combination could really work for all kinds of producers, from solo podcasters to composers and songwriters doing pre-work. -production. Here are a few things I like about it: It gives you a button or a slider when you need it. It’s small, making it a great travel partner for any kind of remote production or just being on the road. It’s well thought out with logically laid out controls that sit well under your hand. This is good for anyone who likes the touch of a fader or button for certain functions when recording/producing; no more trying to manipulate a virtual button with a mouse (ugh!). The audio interface and preamps sound good and we want what we record to sound good. And lastly, it’s a bargain to get a production controller and a great sound interface in one package, not to mention the software, libraries, and training that comes with it at an RRP under $300.

Retail price: $269.95
Manufacturer’s website: https://www.presonus.com/products/ioStation-24c

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