When thinking about our next investment into the gear we use, what is it that influences our decision to stick with a core system?
Obviously we want the equipment to work well and when it comes to recording, we want the components of the system to work well together. Perfect harmony might not be the case right away with the overwhelming amounts of gear and software combinations available to us today but with the StudioLive 16.0.2 mixer and software solution you just may find yourself singing praise.
The minds at PreSonus are at it again with a product built to exceed expectation for musician and audio engineer alike. The 16-channel StudioLive 16.0.2 is the third installment in their series of StudioLive digital mixers, consisting of the 24.4.2 and the 16.4.2. This version offers the four things that any artist or audio engineer on the go is looking for: Compact Design, Ease of Use, Quality and Value.
Why Does This board Look Different? – The Layout
There are several sections that compose the easy-to-navigate interface of the 16.0.2:
At the top, we have the Trims – 12 total, each controlling the award-winning XMAX preamps, which are Class A pres and have an excellent amount of headroom.
In the middle, from left to right, we have the Encoder Modes – This is the section that determines what will be monitored on the LED Meters and what can be adjusted by the multi-function encoders located in the middle of the mixer. These choices consist of the following: The Graphic EQ, FX Send levels for each channel, and the four Aux Sends for each channel. This section alone ix-nays about 74 potentiometers from cluttering up your phalanges – not including the 31-band GEQ.
The Fat Channel – Allowing for dynamics processing for all 16 inputs, four auxes, both FX buses, and the mains (four of which are stereo-linked as 9/10, 11/12, 13/14, and 15/16 for the purpose of dynamics, time-based processing, and semi-parametric EQ on left and right channels).
The Internal Effects and Level Assignments – Here you can set the level of each of the two internal stereo effects – FXA and FXB and also choose to assign them to Aux 1-4 or your main output. You can also choose to send your effect to the Fat Channel to apply dynamics processing and 3-band semi-parametric EQ to it.
The Talkback section – Simple level and assignments options to Aux1-2 or Aux3-4 with a latching “TALK” button…make sure to unlatch… The actual TB mic is used with a Class A pre amp located on the back of the mixer, and can even be used to send crowd ambience to your artist(s) if they prefer.
The Solo Bus section – Consists of 3 modes – AFL (after fader listen – default), PFL (pre-fader listen) and SIP (solo in place – destructive to the mains). This section is great for listening in on individual sources, including headphone mixes, without interrupting a live show or recording. Just solo your channels with the “Solo” MultiMode button and listen to any source or aux.
The Monitor Bus section – Decide what you want to listen to – fed simultaneously to your phones or Monitors. Choose between your Firewire Returns from your DAW, anything you have soloed, or your main outs without interrupting the mix.
At the bottom of the mixer we have the MultiMode Controls – This section consists of four modes that determine what the Multimode Button (‘1-15/16’) will function as. The Mute’ mode will cause the multimode buttons to mute their selected channel, and the “Solo” button will cause the multimode button to solo their selected channel. The “Firewire Return” button allows any outgoing tracks of a computer to show up as an input on a channel to be sent to the PA. This is useful for those who use pre-recorded tracks as part of their live set, or to listen back to your mix that you just recorded in your DAW, as well as for overdubbing so you can hear the recorded tracks.
Lastly, the “Link” mode will basically nondestructively link individual odd and even sources to become a stereo source – copying over the digital settings of the selected source to its partner. This could be a useful method for A/B-ing dynamics settings to a similar source or to just create a stereo source for microphones. This also goes for the Aux buses – allowing for four mono auxes, two stereo auxes or any combination of the two.
Below that is the last section, the Metering Controls – Made up of four metering options that will display in the LED Meters of the Fat Channel. These metering options are “Input” – pre-fader trim level for all sources, “Output” – post-dynamics level for main output and aux 1-4, “GR” – amount of gain reduction from the compressor in the Fat Channel, and “(Faders)Locate” – allows you to visually match up each fader via it’s corresponding LED Meter when recalling a scene from a previous store(save). Move the fader up or down until only the center LED is illuminated.
When I first laid my eyes on the 16.0.2 I immediately noticed the beautiful big blue section oozing with encoders and LED meters – the almighty Fat Channel, a standard feature that the StudioLive mixers are iconic for. The blue multi-tasking section on the 16.0.2 basically makes it possible to take a console twice or more the 16.0.2’s actual size, and shrink it down to a miniature powerhouse less than two square feet. This gives it the capability to perform variable dynamic and time-based processing on each and every input and output, including the four auxiliary buses and main outputs. More on the Fat Channel section later!
MIDI I/O – Another feature I noticed right away was the MIDI I/O located on the back of the mixer. MIDI I/O is unique to the 16.0.2 in the StudioLive family and gives the audio engineer or artist the ability to recall scenes, control main output volume, mute effects and even continuously control the effects output level between songs using MIDI program changes.
While an audio engineer may find this convenient, the real fans of the MIDI I/O are going to be the artists that want control of how their shows sound – only disadvantage is that they will have no one to point at when they can’t hear themselves! The rest of the I/O is fairly standard with everything easily accessible on the rear of the mixer. In addition, the mixer can accept MIDI via FireWire so users can automate from a DAW. Lastly, the MIDI interface serves as a regular computer MIDI interface, so users can attach a MIDI control surface, synth keyboard, etc…
The first thing I touched was the soft gel-like buttons on the mixer which was a relief, considering that some other mixers out there only offer hard plastic buttons that…just do not feel good! Not only are these buttons gentle to the touch, but they also illuminate fully and beautifully – some multiple colors depending on its current function or mode.
The 60mm faders on the 16.0.2 run smooth and are very easy to control considering its 100mm counterparts found on the 24.4.2 and 16.4.2 models. Everything about the 16.0.2 is solid and sturdy from the rotary encoders and buttons to the faders and metal chassis.