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PreSonus Firepod

An eight channel audio interface with solid mic pres and FireWire connectivity By Frank Moldstad

Gain control knobs
Equipped with microphone preamps and line inputs on every one of its eight channels, the PreSonus Firepod is a Class A audio interface that connects to a computer via FireWire 400. The dual platform device needs no drivers with Mac OS 10.3.5 or higher, while drivers are provided for installation on PCs running Windows XP.

The Firepod ($799 MSRP, street price $599) is housed in a sturdy metal 1U rackmountable case with inputs on the front and outputs on the rear. It includes detented gain control knobs for each channel, and 48V Phantom power in two groups, one for channels 1-4 and the other for channels 5-8.

The front panel inputs are dual-purpose jacks that accept XLR mic cables or 1/4-in. TRS plugs. Channels 1 and 2 become instrument preamps when a guitar, bass or other passive instrument (non-preamped) is plugged into them. The other six channels are wired as line level inputs for active instruments or external preamps, while mics can be plugged into any of the eight channels.

Using the digital S/PDIF I/O jacks on the rear to connect a keyboard, the Firepod can simultaneously record and play back up to 10 channels of 24-bit/96kHz audio. With the included Cubase LE software, the Firepod package is a complete recording interface the only other requirements are a computer and powered monitors. An external effects box can be connected via the rear panel send/receive jacks. Theres a headphone jack (that literally goes to 11) on the front panel, while a headphone amplifier can be plugged into the the Cue Mix out jack on the rear to provide multiple headphone feeds. 


One of the Firepods unique talents is its ability to provide zero-latency monitoring. Latency is the natural lag caused by the time it takes a signal to travel from an audio interface into a computer and then back out to the monitors. A noticeable lag can make it extremely frustrating to record with previously recorded tracks. But the Firepod overcomes this with a knob on the front panel called Mix, which balances between the inputs and the first two outputs while the user is monitoring through the main headphone out and the Cue Mix out. This makes it possible to monitor the input signal before it goes to the computer, with no latency. Bravo!

After connecting the Firepod to a Mac G5 running OS 10.3.9, I selected it as the default I/O device in OS Xs Audio MIDI Setup menu. I used the Firepod with Cubase LE and later with Apples Logic Pro 7, and for good measure connected a Lucid GenX6 word clock generator to the Firepods S/PDIF in jack with a coax adapter. Since there were no other digital devices connected, however, this was not really necessary and the Firepod synced steadily both with and without the external clock.

Cubase LE is a less full-featured version of Steinbergs Cubase SX/SL DAW program. But its a capable 24-bit/96kHz recording application with up to 48 audio tracks and 64 MIDI tracks possible. Also, Cubase LE projects are compatible with both Cubase SX and Nuendo. 

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Related Keywords:Presonus, Firepod, audio interface, FireWire, mic preamps


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