Last week was Thanksgiving and I was somewhat out of commission work wise. What I did get to work on however was some songwriting with my band at Aletheia Church. We’re gearing up for a new EP due out early next year and we wanted to work out some new material together. To make our lives easier we wanted to be able to record, in an instant, what ever we were jamming on together so we could have a rough live demo for reference. This helps us go back and make arrangement adjustments later for when we’re ready to get in the studio for the “real” recording. How is this relevant to you? Well, if you have a band that needs a mixing or monitoring console and wants to do live recording easily and cheap…I have just the piece of gear you need!

Enter The StudioLive
In the past when your band wanted to capture a live recording (either from a show or a rehearsal) you had to have external gear out the wazoo to capture a copy of each track going into your mixing console. This usually meant a mess of cables, a multi input audio interface to match the number of tracks in your console, fighting with gain staging, etc. It was a hassle. Finally the guys over at Presonus got smart and built a brand new, full featured, intuitive, and affordable digital mixer/audio interface all in one.

Briefly here is what is so great about the StudioLive. You get a compact, 16 channel digital mixer with excellent preamps and converters. It has all the bells and whistles you’d need for live mixing (compression, EQ, gates, limiter, verb, delay, subgroups, scene recall, flexible routing), plus monitoring (aux outs for up to six separate mixes) laid out in an easy to use (and teach) format. But the beauty is in how easy it is to do live recording.

studioliveAll 16 channels going into the board plus the Main stereo out are routed to a single Firewire output on the back of the board that can connect to any mac or PC. Combined with a simple piece of software called Capture you are two clicks away from recording any audio coming through the board with your levels perfectly set. This means all you need to record is your laptop and the firewire cable included. No other hookup needed! And if that doesn’t blow your mind enough, this board retails for only $1999.

How We Use It
So here is a brief example of how our band uses the StudioLive. On Sundays we use it as our main board. You can even daisy chain 2 of these together for 32 channels! In order to record our band and our Pastor during the service we simply hookup an old Powerbook G4 via firewire, load up the Capture software and hit record. Whatever is coming into our board is mirrored out to the laptop. We also used the StudioLive in the same manner during our writing session last week. The band was plugged into the board and we were jamming like normal, but when we had something we liked, I simply hit record on the laptop and with no mess we could lay down a “live” version of the new song.

What’s even better. With one simple menu option, I can export all of the individual tracks out of Capture into a folder ready to be imported into Pro Tools when I get home. This allows me to take advantage of all the editing and mixing power of Pro Tools without having to bring my audio interface to the practice (or even own a multi input interface for that matter). Presonus Capture makes it easy to “capture” the audio I want out of the board, but then throwing those tracks into Pro Tools gives me the power to finish the mix beautifully!

The Presonus StudioLive is a great option for a few scenarios. If you’re in a worship band at a church, this can be a super helpful tool. Use it as your main console, your monitor console, and an audio interface for live recording and podcasting…all in one! Then dump the tracks into your Pro Tools rig (you can have one for under $500). Also, if you are in a band that needs to have a “touring” rig of your own, the StudioLive is a great option. You can have everything you need to ensure a great mix no matter the venue, with different scenes saved for different settings, and also with the addition of a laptop you can be recording all of your shows so you can easily make a live album or DVD (if you video) later.

It’s hard to beat the StudioLive for ease of use, included features, sound quality, and affordability. If you’re in the market for a live console, give this one a chance.