Review: The new Presonus Studio One Professional DAW

Submitted: Mon, October 29, 2012 - 7:55pm EDT
Jazz master Bobby Muncy in the studio on a Neumann M 149 Tube microphone and AEA R84 ribbon microphone in the back
As an extremely demanding user of DAW recording software, I recently compared the 3 DAW versions that I use in recording studios, including my own . DAWs do sound different from each other because they use different algorithms to process waveforms.

Here are my initial impressions:


I compared studio one to logic pro 9 and Pro Tools for sound quality differences, using two types of recordings:

The first was a soprano sax solo played by jazz master  Bobby Muncy   which was tracked in my studio with a Neumann M149TUBE and a AEA R84 Through a UA LA-610 Bill  Putnam signature edition mic pre and a High slew rate buzzaudio MA-2.2 mic pre.


Secondly I compared a vocal , consisting of several harmony tracks and a solo voice, over synth pad tracks recorded in pro tools, in-studio  by a colleague with a Neumann TLM 49 solid state microphone.


The tests were done at 44.1 which is how I work when the final delivery media are in 44.1. Critical listening Tests by industry colleagues have shown that working at higher sampling rates is fruitless (unless the delivery media is to be at those very high rates) as the sound quality  will deteriorate when down-sampled for  44.1 or 48 khz delivery media, such as CD and i-tunes formats.


The results were:


The studio one daw exhibited more harmonic content in the tone of the sax, more clarity in the high harmonics, and a "bigger" image which I attribute to studio one delivering more low level information, (which includes first order reflection and distant reflections  in the room and harmonic detail) than Logic pro 9. The lower notes in the sax also had more perceivable  body and resonance.


Logic pro 9 sounded a bit wooden in the voice rendition and was slightly distorted by comparison and more boxy sounding. Not really bad at all, and quite more hi-fi  than pro tools,  but not as high resolution as studio one and not as velvety smooth sounding.


The vocals were clearer in Studio one professional, delays used in the harmonies were suddenly audible to the point of being immediately noticeable (again: low level information gets masked by logic by comparison), which was not the case with logic pro and the synths had much more high frequency information. In fact there was an **over in the original recording that became quite evident in Studio One Professional and was still audible in Pro Tools 9, in a more muffled way.


I summarize it this way: 

Pro tools: too limited for high level acoustic recording of live sources, too stiff, too low-fi by comparison, still great for EDM and POP, but not appropriate for other genres requiring much more realism such as j, classical, Jazz, folk, blues, some rock.

Logic pro 9 is much less limited  and more like analog tape. Studio one pro: Is  In my experience, superior to both. Sounding More like high level analog tape  in the studio with great tape stock and beyond (no wow and flutter) but of course with digital editing capabilities. In the end it is, in my experience,  the most natural sounding of the three DAWs.


Moreover: The reverb in studio one is excellent in terms of natural realism. I still have to process it a little (not as much as most reverb  plug-ins) with additional plug-ins to get to sound acoustically  natural when it decays but it is vastly  superior to logic's and to many 3rd party plug-ins. Only my Lexicon hardware unit is more natural without processing it.  

I have been requested to compare these DAWs for classical piano recording and I will provide my impressions as  soon as I can.


 **An "over" is digital distortion caused by an excessive microphone loudness level jump during recording due to a louder than planned for note sung by the singer. Proper recording level management avoids or prevents  overs altogether.

Music Genres: