Much like the USB 1 format a couple of years ago, Firewire for music has finally come of age, providing products which meet most budgets and needs. PreSonus brought out their Firestation www. Some features have been dropped, and others added, but their firebox idea remains fixed. The Pod not only replaces the audio and MIDI computer interface, but the need for an outboard mixer in a small studio, too. The analogue half of the Pod functions as a line mixer, with or without a computer. I lifted it out of the box with one hand — easily.
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Much like the USB 1 format a couple of years ago, Firewire for music has finally come of age, providing products which meet most budgets and needs. PreSonus brought out their Firestation www. Some features have been dropped, and others added, but their firebox idea remains fixed. The Pod not only replaces the audio and MIDI computer interface, but the need for an outboard mixer in a small studio, too.
The analogue half of the Pod functions as a line mixer, with or without a computer. I lifted it out of the box with one hand — easily. And despite its metal construction, it is still light enough to carry around in one hand.
Despite its diminutive nature, the Pod is well constructed. On my PC, the software loaded in with no problems, and in a couple of minutes I was up and running. After installing the drivers, I plugged in the Firewire cable and turned on the Firepod. The blue sync light blinked a few times, then glowed steadily.
After the software installation, a PreSonus icon appears in the Windows toolbar; right-clicking on this brings up the CPU use choice high, medium or low , as well as restore and exit commands, while left-clicking opens a small program box. This is where sample rate On my system, I set the Firepod up for ASIO operation with the internal clock, and had no problems with a 6ms latency, even on a less-than-optimum home computer.
There were no clicks or pops in recorded audio or playback. In other words, it did nothing special and only what it was supposed to do — just the way recording equipment should work! Ins And Outs Around the rear of the Firepod is where most of the interface action takes place.
There are the obligatory two Firewire ports, so you can chain another Firewire unit. As well as the eight line outs, the Pod includes separate Main and Cue outputs. Again, channels 1 and 2 have an extra feature in the shape of instrument inputs. No switch is necessary; just plug your guitar or bass into either of the two and the Pod automatically bypasses the mic preamp and becomes an active instrument preamplifier.
I kept my main keyboard plugged into the rear of the Firepod via the inserts on channels 1 and 2, leaving the unsightly cables out of the way and view.
This left the front inputs disabled, so I had to disconnect the keyboard whenever I wanted to DI a guitar or bass, but was otherwise a fairly elegant solution. Phantom power is switchable in groups of four — again, a comprise, but one that makes sense, and much better than the all-or-nothing situation one finds on many units. Finally, there are no mic pads.
Like most Firewire interfaces, the Firepod provides an additional Firewire port for chaining further devices. The inputs line up on the left of the unit, while the pots are on the right. The main out has a volume knob, as well as a separate gain knob for the front headphone jack. Having separate gain knobs for each preamp is not ideal for stereo recording, but all the knobs step through increments so you can match levels between them, and they seemed to track correctly.
However, the increments are small, and unnumbered except at either end, which makes it hard to see the relative levels. The last front-panel knob controls the Main and Cue output balance between the direct analogue mix and the playback from channels 1 and 2 — the direct analogue mix always reflects the levels at the preamps.
The fact that you can only monitor the first pair of DAW output channels at the Main and Cue outputs may be limiting in some situations, but except for surround sound mixes, most people use outs 1 and 2 for their monitor mix anyway, and the other outputs have a variety of uses. If your DAW has the busses, you could set up six analogue auxiliary outputs to your favourite outboard gear and return them.
Outputs 1 and 2 could send this final mix to an analogue recorder, and you could monitor the project through the Main outs. Not bad for a line mixer. So, how does the Firepod sound? In a word, superb, especially for the price. Over an audiophile monitor system there are detectable differences, but in the real world — and listening to a whole mix, rather than a single track — these tend to shrink.
They also sounded a tad better — as well they should, since the i88X lists for over half again what the Firepod does, and only has the pair of preamps.
After sending the i88X back, I added backing tracks and an extra vocal chorus to a song I had recorded with it. I pressed the Firepod into service, and it delivered. There was no practical difference, even on the lead vocal. Finally, compared to my old Ramsa desk, the difference is easy to hear.
In Use As an interface for mobile recording, the Firepod excels. The sound quality is up to scratch and the Pod is light and small enough to slide into a gig bag instead of a rack —simply unplug it and go. I did just that for some friends who needed a demo. They are a garage band, which is where I recorded them. The Pod performed the same duties a stand-alone mixer did on a previous demo recording session: the three-piece band went down over seven inputs into the Pod, while the main outputs went into a PA for monitoring between takes.
The vocalist was shunted off to a closet with a mic for scratch vocals which also got recorded — you never know. More delicate sounds were also faithfully captured. For one particularly wispy-voiced female doing a quiet backing vocal, I had to crank the preamps up to 9, but there were no adverse sonic effects. And though my one-room studio is seldom used to record everyone at once, having eight preamps helped with setup.
The only problem I encountered was that my early production unit ran hot. As I had already budgeted my time, I declined and made the Pod soldier on. If you are trying to put a bloated studio on a carb-light diet or build a mobile studio from scratch, the Firepod deserves a hard look. And if eight inputs and outputs are a requirement, the Firepod is quite cost-efficient.
Mac OS Pros Eight clean preamps with good analogue interfacing. Efficient drivers.
PRESONUS FIREPOD Manuals & User Guides
Click Next to set up driver in selected Destination folder. Click Next to prepare your system for installation of Drivers For questions call PreSonus at This must be set to the same sample rate in your recording software.
PRESONUS FIREPODOD Manual