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In-depth Feature:  Presonus Firebox
Presonus Firebox Revisited
Albert Potts writes: .

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...continued

Using it
Without rehashing all the familiar specs of a unit that has been on the market for a couple years, the Firebox is a 24 bit 96k firewire audio interface that can record six inputs and playback 10 outputs at a time. The six analog outputs on the rear can be used for surround mixing if your software supports it. The unit also has two combo XLR-1/4� inputs on the front which can be used for mics or instruments inputs, each with a dedicated volume control. Also on the front panel is a small LED indicator showing the firewire status of the unit.

Next to the input level controls are the two controls that pretty much clinched it for me as far as choosing this unit over others with similar price and features. Those are the independent headphone and main volume controls. In researching firewire interfaces I was surprised by how few in this price category offered seperate controls, an essential feature for live use. This vital feature allows the user to mute the output to the house board while using headphones to work on programming or troubleshoot problems without sending them to the audience. Nobody wants to hear “You’ve got mail� at 120 dB during the concert!

Midi and SPDIF I/O are on a breakout cable which attaches to the unit with screws, which lessens the possibility of accidental unplugging. However, I would have preferred the Midi and SPDIF I/O be built into the main FireBox unit, as I don’t like the seemingly fragile cables dangling off the back of the unit. A midi activity indicator on the front panel would also be a nice addition, as there is currently no way to visually confirm midi reception.

An essential part of the Firebox experience are two applications which come bundled with the unit, the Firebox mixer and Firebox Control Panel. The Firebox Control app allows you to set the sync source and also to boost volume levels digitally by 12dB on the mic and line inputs.


Mixer shot (click to enlarge)

The Firebox mixer is where you set audio routings to and from the Firebox unit, allowing you to choose which channels play back to headphones, solo and mute tracks, set levels, and also save and load mixer settings. The mixer application is nicely done, but I would much appreciate level meters. Since level meters would increase the load on the host CPU, perhaps offering them as a user-selectable option would be the way to go. The Firebox mixer worked great on both my PPC iBook G4 and Intel Mac Pro, and has been very stable.

Other software included with the Firebox includes Cubase LE, plus plugins by Audio Damage, Cycling 74, Camel Audio, and Voxengo. There are also some drum samples and loops by Discrete Drums and Twiddly Bits. I’m already set up with Digital Performer and my own set of plugins, but a beginner without any prior software would be able to get started recording with just this package.

More Resources              Articles - full listing
  • Presonus Firebox pages
  • Firebox @ SameDayMusic.com

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