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Presonus Audiobox USB 96 Review

As I have mentioned in other Presonus related reviews, the company was founded in 1995. It is now the 25th anniversary of Presonus, and although they are one of the leading designers and manufacturers of audio equipment and related accessories, I still find myself steering clear of them.

Why?

In such a competitive marketplace as the audio equipment industry, I still find myself drawn to the gear I learned on. This is simply because I trust the quality and know what to expect. However, with the huge popularity of the Presonus mid-range and entry-level gear, they are obviously doing a great job.

So, let’s take a look at one of their many big successes, in our in-depth Presonus Audiobox USB 96 review…

Presonus Audiobox USB 96
Our rating:4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Overview

It is not hard to see why the Presonus AudioBox USB 96 has been and is still a huge success. It is an excellent entry-level audio interface, which has different packages available for slightly different budgets. The packages are aimed at people who have a computer, want to record, but have no recording equipment.

What makes it so great?

You can purchase just the interface or a package. One such package comes with an M7 condenser microphone, one pair of HD7 headphones, cables, and the Presonus Studio One Artists Version software. Basically, there are packages available that have everything you need (including speakers) at a super reasonable price to get recording quickly.

25th Anniversary Edition

With the 25th anniversary celebrations of Presonus in full swing, a new slick matt black version of the Presonus AudioBox USB 96 has been released.

Design


The AudioBox USB 96 is a small unit with dimensions of 5.5” x 1.75” x 5.5” and weighs in at 1.4 lbs. The unit is built in a heavy-duty steel chassis with a very pleasing blue front panel. Apparently, Presonus tested the durability of this unit by driving a truck over it… so it’s a tough little fella.

What’s going on inside?

The unit comes with class-A mic preamps and zero-latency monitoring. The converters in the Audiobox are professional quality 24-bit, 96kHz. The unit does not need a power supply, as it is USB powered.

On the front

You will find two microphone inputs, which can also be used with stereo jacks as instrument inputs. You will also find two gain controls for the inputs, a mixer knob, headphone level, and main output level.

The mixer Knob allows the blending of your analog input signal with the playback from your computer. There is also a 48-volt phantom power button on the front for use with condenser microphones.

On the back

There is the USB input, a headphone input, midi in and out, plus the L and R stereo jack outputs.

Do I need any Drivers?

If you are using a Mac, then no, you will not need a driver. Unfortunately, if you are using a PC/laptop, then a trip to the Presonus website will be necessary to find the applicable device driver.

So… what’s the big selling point?

This is a really good entry-level interface for the price, but for me, it’s really about the software that comes with it.

What about Podcasting?

The tough, rugged build, the size, the quality preamps, and the fact that it’s bus-powered make it ideal for location and Podcasting work. The inclusion of two Mic preamp XLR connectors on the front make it a great little box and perfect for the Podcaster.

Software


The Presonus Studio One Artists Version software has excellent mixing and editing capabilities. The software also comes with lots of free plugins to mix with. Although all plugins are fully functional, some of the options are only made available on the paid version. Software features are specified below in greater detail.

Value

The Studio One Artists software, when sold as a bundle separately, costs as much as the interface. So, the inclusion of the software with the interface is exceptional value, and you basically get a free interface! That basically makes it the best value for the money interface you can buy!!!

Interface Features

  • Bus-powered USB audio and midi interface.
  • Works great alongside Studio One Artist software, which is compatible with both Mac and Windows.
  • A 24-bit resolution, with sample rates of 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.1kHz, and 96kHz.
  • Internal analog mixer with Zero-latency monitoring.
  • Two mic/instrument inputs that have Class A mic preamplifiers.
  • 48volt phantom power for your microphones.

Software Features


  • Excellent drag-and-drop functionality.
  • Nicely thought out single-window work environment.
  • Unlimited number of virtual instruments, audio tracks, FX channels, and buses.
  • Stretching and resampling of audio in Real-time.
  • Excellent MIDI editing and Multitrack comping capabilities.
  • Automatic delay compensation ability.
  • High-performance automation.
  • Compatible with Windows Audio, ASIO, and Core Audio-compliant interfaces.
  • As standard, the software comes with 26 Native FX, 32-bit effects, and virtual instrument plugins.
  • Compatible with both Windows and Mac.

Extras

What you get depends on the package you choose. This review is of the interface with only the software and USB cable coming as standard.

PreSonus Audiobox USB 96 Review – Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Great sounding entry-level audio interface.
  • Very sturdy unit.
  • The many packages available.
  • The software.
  • Great sounding preamps.
  • Very easy to use, and to get up and running fast.

Cons

  • For what you get at this price, there are no cons, to be honest.

Looking for more superb interface options?

Then check out our reviews of the Best USB Audio Interfaces, the Best Audio Interface, as well as our in-depth Focusrite Clarett 4Pre USB Review, our Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Gen 3 Review, our Focusrite Scarlett Solo Gen 3 Review, and our Behringer Audio Interface 4 Channel UMC404HD Review.

You may also be interested in our reviews of the Best Microphone Preamp, the Best Audio Mixers, the Best Digital Audio Players, the Best Studio Headphones For Home Recording, and the Best Multitrack Recorder you can buy in 2021.

PreSonus Audiobox USB 96 Review – My Verdict

Presonus have delivered a really good entry-level Audio interface for the price with the AudioBox USB 96. The unit is hugely popular, in part due to the many packages available and the inclusion of the Studio One Artist software. This is a unit for projects at your home studio or doing demo’s on the road and has really some really good quality Mic Preamps.

However, I must say that even though it has a tough build and the excellent class A mic preamps, it is only going to be as good as the microphones you couple with it. So check out my other reviews for some quality microphone options.

PreSonus Audiobox USB 96 Review


For me?

The fact that the Presonus AudioBox USB 96 is so portable, makes it a great device for an on the road writing project and for the Podcaster. The Audiobox USB 96 competes well against many other similarly priced products on the be market, but edges ahead due to the packages available and the Artist software.

Although a quality unit for the beginner, it doesn’t sit in the Higher Professional audio range, so I personally can’t see myself using it in the near future, unless I find myself getting into the Podcasting world. Who knows???

Have recording!

Niall Flynn

Find out more about Niall and our other writers on our About Us page.

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About Warren Barrett

Warren has spent nearly half a century (now that's a long time!) as an ink-stained wretch writing for music magazines and websites and has no plans on giving up soon.

He is curious about all types of music and instruments apart from any genre with 'Urban' in the title. He's also not so keen on Plastic Potted Plants, Reality TV, and any movies with Kevin Costner in them.

He lives in Delaware with his wife Wendy and lots of great memories...

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