PreSonus FireBox
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PreSonus FireBox

FireBox, FireWire audio interface from PreSonus.

a.k.a 05/20/2014

PreSonus FireBox : a.k.a's user review

« Sturdy and reliable »
4

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The features that motivated my purchase are basically the inputs and outputs: I have the need to connect a bass + mic + sampler and record all this, which this soundcard allows.
I t has two high-impedance inputs with two preamps and 48V phantom power, two standard line inputs, 6 outputs, S/PDIF and MIDI In and Out, headphones output. There's also the AC connector (but no power switch) and two Firewire 400 connectors (which is an important detail, since I needed to buy an adapter to go from FW 400 to 800 when I changed computers).
I've used it for 8 years in different but recurring setups: audio recording of electric instruments (guitar, bass), digital instruments (sampler, synths) and acoustic sources (didgeridoo, flute, percussions, and vocals). I also use it to arrange and mix my songs. I have never had the need to use the mixing and routing software included with the soundcard.
I connect it directly to my computer (a 2011 iMac) via Firewire.

UTILIZATION

From 2006 to 2011 I used PCs and the stability of the soundcard depends a lot on the system itself. I had incompatibility problems with the DVD player of one of my computers, which was a real pain for months. It worked fine with my other computers.
On the Mac I've had no issues. There are no drivers: You just connect the soundcard, it pops up in the audio peripherals and that's that. I use it with Live to make music, but also with VLC when I listen to music or watch a film. It is always connected to the computer. I have never been limited by the number of tracks during recording, but I usually use it alone or with two or three musicians, tops.
The total latency I get (input and output) is 14 ms, which is pretty decent.

GETTING STARTED

See the compatibility problems above and the threads regarding this problem in the forums.
On a PC, there's no guarantee of compatibility unless you have a solid chipset and a real Firewire input, I guess.
On Mac it's smooth and silky, you don't even need the manual.
I give it 6 because I had a hard time with my previous computers. If I were to only consider the time I have used with the Mac, I'd give it a 9.

OVERALL OPINION

I've used it since autumn 2006. I didn't test any other model before buying this one: I simply identified my needs and an interesting opportunity arose.
I love its stability and sturdiness, I know it's not gonna fail me while I'm working on my music, it never crosses my mind.
Two details bug me a bit after several years of use: To use MIDI and S/PDIF you need to add a snake cable to the rear of the soundcard. Furthermore, the level knobs (input and output) on the front panel are small and very close to each other, which makes it hard to get to the master volume. But you get used to it.
Great value for money, as far as I'm concerned. I bought it secondhand, still under warranty and for a very decent price.
Odds are high that I would buy it again... Maybe not if I have a PC.