Presonus Firebox or ...?

September 30, 2009 3:06 AM

I am looking for recommendations for a recording interface and self-powered monitors.

The Firebox gets rave reviews but I recall reading somewhere that there are now newer/better alternatives. Is this the case?

Living in South Africa doesn't help as the price for the Presonus Firebox is truly insane ($250-00 in the US - $759-00 here!)


Quad core Q9550 with 4 Gig DDR 3 RAM
Audigy 4 sound card (could this be used for anything later?)
Behringer Eurorack MX1604A
Rode NT1-A

Due to the pricing here, it looks as if purchasing in the US via credit card and having the items shipped over here seems to be the way to go - any dealer recommendations or advice?

Also, any other advice regarding the equipment/assembly of a home studio would be most welcome.

At this stage, I am uncertain whether I should use the Behringer mixer or how best to wire it in to break the pure digital setup (more advice required!)

posted by Zenabi (6 comments total)

I'm looking at the Presonus "bundle" and it makes me wonder what exactly you want to record. (Guitar, vocals, drums, multiple mics?)

Do you need a condenser mic? Headphones?

I like the Firebox, but I would look into getting the other stuff separately. You can probably get better stuff at lower prices.

FWIW, I spent a lot of money on a decent interface and condenser mic, but they weren't worth a squirt of pee until I got some professional headphones. Monitors didn't matter a bit.
posted by snsranch at 7:14 PM on September 30, 2009

Unfortunately, my paragraph formatting was stripped somehow.

What I have listed under "Equipment", I already have, fortunately...or unfortunately as it makes parts of the "bundle", which looks like a very good deal, redundant.

At this stage, I won't be recording live drums. They shall be programmed along with anything else that isn't guitar or vocals.
posted by Zenabi at 9:14 PM on September 30, 2009

(Now the formatting is back - creepy.)
posted by Zenabi at 9:16 PM on September 30, 2009

Agree with snsranch re importance of a good mic and headphones. Equally important is a good pre-amp. The Rode you've listed is pretty good (I have one), but if budget can stretch to it I'd highly recommend the Rode K2 - it's a valve (tube) mic and, although the NT1-A is probably the best condenser you'll get in its price range, the K2 is in a different league. Tube mics add inaudible low-level distortion and the effect is that it warms things up and adds air and sizzle. A lovely breathy, crisp sound. Put it this way - I had a fabled Neumann mic that was a piece of shit compared with the K2. I sold it (at a profit, naturally). There is an element of subjectivity in this of course.......

Another very good (and surprisingly cheap now) condenser is the AKG C3000B. These used to be about £300 a pop when they were introduced about 10 years ago, but can be got for a fraction of that now. You get a good quality shockmount and a snazzy hard case. A real bargain.

The cans I use for monitoring (but not recording because they're semi-open) are AKG K701. They're expensive, but worth every penny. They're exceptionally precise and balanced, and you can hear every tiny detail clear as a bell. The closed cans I use when recording with mics are AKG K271. They're a little bassy, but you get no leakage.

The Sound On Sound mag website has a really useful review section, and you can access most of it without subscription. All the gear I've cited is reviewed there. The link for the C3000B is:
posted by MajorDundee at 2:25 PM on October 1, 2009

If you only want to record 2 tracks at a time then the Firebox is fine. I would NOT use the Behringer - the mic pres on it are worse than the Firebox (you should reserve the Behri for making cue [monitor] mixes only for when recording IMHO).

Also, any other advice regarding the equipment/assembly of a home studio would be most welcome.

Set up is straight forward. Install the FB drivers, the FB should show up in Sonar as an input to the track, choose one of the two line ins (the one you are DIing into or have the mic in), arm the track (ready to record) and you should get a signal. You can do this on 2 tracks to record gtr and vox together, etc.

In terms of monitors, I would look at something like the Sound on Sound forums - monitors (and interfaces) are discussed to death!
posted by the_very_hungry_caterpillar at 2:28 PM on October 1, 2009

Thank you muchly for the well-considered and generous advice.
posted by Zenabi at 4:49 AM on October 2, 2009

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