PreSonus AudioBox GO audio interface evaluation: A tidy tiny toolbox

Whereas recording audio on the go is turning into simpler daily because of smartphones and different moveable recording gadgets, the sound high quality and adaptability of a devoted audio interface are nonetheless onerous to beat once you’re trying to create a refined product. Earlier this yr, audio producer PreSonus launched the AudioBox GO—their smallest and lightest audio interface ever—with the purpose of giving musicians, recordists, and mixing engineers entry to high-resolution audio recording and monitoring anyplace. To maintain it ultra-portable, the AudioBox GO has a really restricted function set and few connectivity choices, making it finest fitted to streamers, musicians, and different content material creators who don’t have to file greater than a single microphone at a time. I not too long ago had an opportunity to check the AudioBox GO at my house studio in quite a lot of monitoring and recording eventualities, and I used to be happy with its total sound high quality and ease of use. Let’s dive in and discover whether or not the AudioBox GO is versatile sufficient for real-world recording eventualities.

The PreSonus AudioBox GO’s design

The PreSonus AudioBox GO has a footprint of 4.25 inches by 3.3 inches and a top of 1.73 inches, and it weighs in at simply over half a pound, or just a little greater than the common smartphone. The interface options two enter channels and two output channels. Enter one consists of a mix TRS/XLR jack that accepts line degree indicators from gear like samplers and keyboards, in addition to microphones. Enter two is a TS instrument enter that accepts direct sign from unbalanced and unamplified sources like electrical guitars and electrical basses. Its two output channels correspond to the left and proper channels of its single stereo output, which might be accessed through two TRS outputs on the rear panel, in addition to a front-mounted headphone output.

The entire AudioBox GO’s handbook controls are mounted to its entrance panel for simple entry and embrace two knobs to regulate the achieve for inputs one and two, a important quantity knob, a headphone quantity knob, and a combination knob that permits customers to regulate the combination between laptop playback and dwell enter audio. The 48-volt phantom energy can be switchable through a button on the entrance panel, permitting customers to ship further energy to the XLR connector for compatibility with condenser mics and different phantom-powered gear (simply don’t overlook the XLR cables).

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One of the crucial interesting components of the AudioBox GO is its bus-powered design that permits it to function through a single USB-C connection. This makes it a very moveable interface possibility that can be utilized alongside any laptop, Android, or iOS machine to file just about anyplace. Its inner XMAX-L mic preamp additionally affords 50 decibels of achieve, which is a lot for powering condenser mics however barely under the best specs for dynamic microphones just like the Shure SM58—no less than on paper.

PreSonus AudioBox GO interface with headphones and a quarter for scale
The AudioBox GO, pictured right here with 1 / 4 for scale, is smaller than a mean pair of headphones. Julian Vittorio

Getting began with the PreSonus AudioBox GO

Because of its plug-and-play design, establishing the AudioBox GO is fast and easy. Whereas the interface comes with a USB-C-to-USB-A cable for connection to laptops and computer systems, you’ll sadly have to carry your personal USB-C-to-USB-C cable if you happen to’ll be connecting an Android machine or an Apple Lightning-to-USB Digital camera adapter for iOS gadgets. For my exams, I related the AudioBox GO to my Core 2 Duo MacBook Professional through USB and opened my digital audio workstation of alternative, Logic Professional X, the place the interface was instantly seen and out there to be used within the software program. I adopted by connecting a Shure SM58 vocal microphone to the AudioBox GO’s combo enter through XLR and connecting a pair of Sony MDR-7506 headphones to the interface’s headphone output (a traditional pair for private mixing/monitoring).

Proper off the bat, the burden of the XLR cable pulled on the extremely light-weight AudioBox GO, inflicting it to slide and slide round on the tabletop fairly a bit. Fortuitously, PreSonus features a sheet of 4 adhesive rubber toes to connect to the underside of the interface that ought to theoretically resolve this downside, however as a result of I used to be utilizing a demo mannequin I left them off for my take a look at. In case you do find yourself selecting up an AudioBox GO, that is undoubtedly not a step to skip.

IMAGE-2 “The AudioBox GO’s rear I/O connections preserve your workspace tidyXXX.” Ah-di-oh-a-GO-go

PreSonus AudioBox GO rear panel sitting on a table
The AudioBox GO’s rear I/O connections assist preserve your workspace tidy. Julian Vittorio

The PreSonus AudioBox GO’s sound

Regardless of being very compact, the AudioBox GO is able to high-resolution 24-bit/96kHz analog-to-digital/digital-to-analog conversion, permitting customers to file and monitor audio at industry-standard high quality. I examined the AudioBox GO’s D/A conversion by first loading up an current 24-bit/96kHz Logic session that I’m presently engaged on and immediately evaluating its playback high quality to that of a Common Audio Apollo x8, an interface that prices round 20 occasions extra. Whereas the AudioBox GO’s 0.004% harmonic distortion and 90 dB dynamic vary fall effectively under the Apollo x8’s specs of 0.0002% and 112 dB, I discovered the distinction between the 2 to be negligible within the context of basic playback in comparison by way of the identical pair of Sony MDR-7506 headphones.

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Following my playback take a look at, I used the AudioBox GO to file a sequence of speech and singing tracks by way of a Shure SM58, a standard vocal mic favored in studios and dwell sound purposes for its clear and current midrange response. The AudioBox GO’s built-in XMAX-L preamp provided a surprisingly impartial and correct sound freed from the attribute synthetic “air” or high-end enhancement of some finances preamps. 

The preamp’s 50dB of achieve have been greater than sufficient to attract adequate sign from the SM58 and, most significantly, I used to be additionally in a

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position to max out the achieve of the mic preamp with out introducing a lot white noise, which is an unusual feat on the earth of finances interfaces. To spherical out the recording take a look at, I adopted by plugging a Fender MB-98 Mustang Bass immediately into enter two of the AudioBox GO and recording just a few fingerstyle and picked bass components, all of which sounded simply as anticipated: dynamic, full, and impartial.

In comparison with the equally priced Focusrite Scarlett Solo (third Gen.), which additionally options two inputs for microphones and devices, the AudioBox GO affords about 10 dB much less achieve and doesn’t embrace a built-in excessive (“Air”) enhance to boost audio on the best way in. On the planet of digital audio, it’s simple to spice up achieve, edit EQ, and make different adjustments to audio through software program after it’s been recorded, however this can be a notable distinction when evaluating the preproduction tone captured by the 2 interfaces when figuring out of the field.

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As promised, the combination knob on the AudioBox GO delivered latency-free monitoring of my enter sign, which is a key function that ensures consecutive performances line up correctly with beforehand recorded materials. The sort of handbook, knob-controlled sign mixing might not be essentially the most elegant system for balancing the combination of laptop playback and dwell sign in contrast with the native latency-free monitoring provided in higher-tier gadgets just like the Common Audio Apollo x8, however it is rather intuitive to make use of and provides to the unfussy, streamlined enchantment of the AudioBox GO.

Whereas I didn’t have a chance to put in and take a look at it, the AudioBox GO additionally features a free license for PreSonus Studio One Prime, a barebones version of the corporate’s acclaimed recording software program. In contrast to the free editions of some competing DAWs like Ableton Stay Lite, Studio One Prime permits customers to construct classes with an infinite variety of audio and instrument tracks, making it a uniquely versatile alternative amongst free DAWs for starting music manufacturing.

The PreSonus AudioBox GO with a MacBook, mic, and headphones
A MacBook Professional and Shure SM58 paired with the AudioBox GO make for a unbelievable minimalist recording rig. Julian Vittorio

So, who can purchase the PreSonus AudioBox GO?

The PreSonus AudioBox GO is marketed as one of many smallest, lightest, and most moveable audio interfaces presently out there, and it delivers on that promise at a really inexpensive value level. Its high-resolution AD/DA conversion and bus-powered design make it a strong alternative for creating audio content material on the go with out compromising sound high quality or having to lug a bigger, heavier piece of {hardware} alongside your laptop or cellular machine. 

The AudioBox GO does have a really small variety of enter and output channels, limiting customers to a single microphone or line-level supply and a single instrument together with two redundant stereo outputs for studio displays and headphones. This restricted I/O makes it much less appropriate for dwell recording of a number of performers, however the AudioBox GO is inexpensive sufficient to be a no brainer for podcasters, musicians, and different creators who combine and edit audio or file one monitor at a time. In case you’re all however bought on the AudioBox GO however want a dual-microphone possibility, the PreSonus USB96 performs equally effectively and can be USB bus-powered.