PreSonus StudioLive vs Zoom LiveTrak: Battle of the Titans – Which Mixer Reigns Supreme?

Today, I am reviewing two very popular mixers (or audio interfaces if you're posh :-p) the PreSonus StudioLive vs Zoom LiveTrak.

So, what are we waiting for?

Let's dig in!

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PreSonus StudioLive vs Zoom LiveTrak: Battle of the Titans – Which Mixer Reigns Supreme?

Key Differences Between PreSonus StudioLive And Zoom LiveTrak

PreSonus StudioLive vs Zoom LiveTrak

Key Differences Between PreSonus StudioLive and Zoom LiveTrak

  • Functionality for live sound: The PreSonus StudioLive is often considered better than the Zoom LiveTrak due to its more advanced features like scene recall and digital signal processing.
    However, both mixers still offer powerful tools for live performance situations.
  • Recording capabilities: The Zoom LiveTrak L-20 edges ahead of the Presonus StudioLive because of its ability to record directly onto an SD card in addition to working as an audio interface with your DAW.
    The StudioLive only records its stereo bus onto an SD card but can still record individual tracks through USB connection to your DAW.
  • Input channels: The Presonus StudioLive 16.0.2 USB offers 16 input channels (12 mic/line inputs and 4 line inputs), while the Zoom LiveTrak L-20 provides 20 input channels (16 mono and 2 stereo channels).
  • Built-in effects processing: The Zoom LiveTrak L-20 features built-in effects processing, making it easier for users to create polished mixes without additional outboard gear.
  • Price: Both mixers are similarly priced at around $999 depending on where you purchase them from.

In conclusion, if you require more extensive capabilities for live sound mixing while also having solid studio recording features through a USB connection with your DAW software, then the PreSonus StudioLive could be a better choice.

However, if you want a mixer that offers multitrack recording directly onto an SD card in addition to serving as an audio interface for your DAW, then the Zoom LiveTrak L-20 might suit your needs better.

Product Comparison: PreSonus StudioLive vs Zoom LiveTrak

FeaturePreSonus StudioLiveZoom LiveTrak
Channels16, 24, 32, or 64 channels (depending on model)14, 20, or 22 channels (depending on model)
Inputs16, 24, 32, or 64 XLR/TRS combo inputs (depending on model)10 XLR/TRS combo inputs, 2 XLR inputs, 2 TS inputs (depending on model)
Outputs6, 10, or 12 XLR outputs (depending on model)2 XLR outputs, 2 TRS outputs, 6 headphone outputs (depending on model)
Phantom PowerYes, 48VYes, 48V
Onboard EffectsYes, Fat Channel processing on all input channels and busesYes, 20 built-in effects
Recording CapabilityYes, multitrack recording to SD card or computerYes, multitrack recording to SD card or computer
USB InterfaceYes, USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 (depending on model)Yes, USB 2.0
Bluetooth ConnectivityNoYes, for streaming audio
App ControlYes, with UC Surface software for iOS, Android, macOS, and WindowsYes, with Zoom iOS app
PriceStarting at $1,099 (depending on model)Starting at $599 (depending on model)

What You Need To Know About PreSonus StudioLive

As someone who has used a variety of mixers, I recently decided to give the PreSonus StudioLive a try. It's been an interesting experience, so I figured I'd share my thoughts to help prospective buyers like you make an informed decision.

First off, the overall build quality and design of the StudioLive series are quite impressive.

The mixer has a sleek and professional look with its metal casing and well-organized layout. This makes it easy for me to navigate the controls even in more complex mixing situations.

Sound Quality: Let's talk about what matters most – sound quality. In comparison to other mixers in this price range, I found that PreSonus StudioLive delivered clear and precise audio.

The preamps are transparent, which is crucial for achieving professional-level recordings.

Integration with DAW: One of the standout features of this mixer is its seamless integration with digital audio workstations (DAW).

With the included software – Capture for recording and PreSonus Studio One Artist for editing – it's quite easy to set up multi-track recording sessions directly from the mixer without needing any additional hardware or software.

Fat Channel Processing: Another notable aspect is its Fat Channel processing section which offers EQs, compressors, gates/expanders on each individual channel – allowing for powerful control over your mix without needing external processors.

However, it can be slightly overwhelming at first if you're not familiar with signal processing tools on a digital console.

Now let's discuss some areas where PreSonus StudioLive could improve:

No Motorized Faders: While this may not be a dealbreaker for some users, having motorized faders would have made it easier to automate mixes during live performances or studio sessions by saving/recalling fader positions.

This is offered in other mixers in this price range, making StudioLive's lack of them disappointing.

User Interface: The user interface on the touchscreen display can be cumbersome to navigate at times. It can be challenging to access and adjust some parameters, especially during live performances or under time constraints.

I've found myself occasionally wishing for a more intuitive interface.

Learning Curve: Lastly, there's a definite learning curve when first using the PreSonus StudioLive mixer. Its feature-packed nature means that it takes time to become familiar with all of its capabilities – as well as potential pitfalls.

I'd highly recommend going through tutorials and online resources before diving into more complex tasks.

The PreSonus StudioLive mixer offers professional-level audio quality and a wide range of features not typically found in mixers within this price range.

Its seamless integration with DAWs will appeal to users recording their work, while those focused on live performances will appreciate comprehensive Fat Channel processing tools.

However, improvements can be made in terms of user interface and motorized faders.

If you're willing to invest the time into learning its ins-and-outs, it could end up being an invaluable tool for your work – just know you might run into a few frustrations along the way.

What You Need To Know About Zoom LiveTrak

As someone who's tried out a variety of mixers and audio interfaces, I have to say that the Zoom LiveTrak is definitely worth considering for your home studio or live recording setup.

Let me give you a breakdown of my experience with this piece of gear, so you can decide if it's right for you.

First off, ease of use. The Zoom LiveTrak offers a pretty intuitive interface, which means you won't have to spend hours poring over the manual just to get started.

There are 12 channels on this bad boy (with models going up to 20 channels), giving you plenty of room to record multiple sources simultaneously.

Noise reduction is always a concern when it comes to recording, especially in less-than-ideal environments.

With the LiveTrak series, Zoom has included their H6 preamps, which I found did an excellent job at keeping my recordings crisp and clean.

The built-in effects, like reverb and delay, are a nice touch too – they're generally high quality and can be applied on individual channels without much fuss.

You can also adjust each channel's EQ and compression settings.

Now let's talk about something that really sets the LiveTrak apart: its ability to function as both a mixer and an audio interface.

This means that not only can you use it for live performances with its built-in SD card recorder, but also as an interface for your digital audio workstation (cough cough, Pro Tools). It connects easily via USB and supports sample rates up to 96kHz.

However, there are some downsides. One issue I encountered was with the faders – they're not motorized or automated in any way.

That means if you want to make adjustments on the fly, you'll have to remember your previous settings or take notes.

Another drawback is the lack of built-in Bluetooth connectivity. Although you can purchase a separate Bluetooth adapter, it would've been nice for Zoom to include this feature out of the box.

That way, I could've played backing tracks from my phone during live performances or rehearsals without the need for additional cables.

Additionally, although the LiveTrak offers lots of channels for recording, it does so at a cost: bigger models can get quite bulky and heavy, making them challenging to transport or fit into tight spaces.

So if you're planning on using this mixer/interface in multiple locations, be prepared to lug it around.

Cost may also be a concern. While not as expensive as some professional mixers and audio interfaces out there, the Zoom LiveTrak isn't exactly cheap either.

However, considering everything that it offers and its versatility as both a mixer and an interface, I personally think it's worth the investment.

So there you have it – my experience with the Zoom LiveTrak in a nutshell!

It's got great preamps, built-in effects and EQ/compression settings for each channel, while functioning as both an SD card recorder and an audio interface.

Despite its size/weight drawbacks and lack of automation features or built-in Bluetooth connectivity, I still feel like this versatile piece of gear is worth considering if you're in need of both a mixer and an interface. Happy recording!

Who The PreSonus StudioLive Is For & Why You Might Choose It Over The Zoom LiveTrak

Who The PreSonus StudioLive Is For & Why You Might Choose It Over The Zoom LiveTrak

PreSonus StudioLive is a powerful and versatile digital mixing system designed for various audio requirements. It caters to the needs of:

  • Live sound engineers: Providing top-notch tools and features to manage and control live performances effectively.
  • Recording studios: Offering high-quality audio recording, editing, and mixing capabilities for professional recordings.
  • Podcasters and broadcasters: Ensuring seamless and hassle-free recording of podcasts or broadcasting events with multiple participants.
  • Bands and musicians: Allowing easy setup for rehearsals or gigs, as well as multi-track recording during live performances.
  • Houses of worship: Catering to the audio requirements of religious services or events, including live streaming compatibility.

Reasons to choose PreSonus StudioLive over Zoom LiveTrak:

  1. Fat Channel Processing: The built-in Fat Channel processing allows users to add EQ, dynamics processing, and effects on individual channels without requiring external hardware or software. This comprehensive feature makes it easier to mix live shows or create polished recorded tracks.

Who The Zoom LiveTrak Is For & Why You Might Choose It Over The PreSonus StudioLive

Who The Zoom LiveTrak Is For & Why You Might Choose It Over The PreSonus StudioLive

Zoom LiveTrak is designed for various audio professionals and enthusiasts, including:

  • Podcasters: With multiple channels to record voice and sound effects, it's an excellent choice for podcast recording.
  • Musicians: Offering a full range of connectivity options and effects to create the perfect sound live or in the studio.
  • Producers: A versatile tool to capture high-quality audio from multiple sources simultaneously – ideal for tracking bands and ensembles.

Why choose Zoom LiveTrak over PreSonus StudioLive?

While both Zoom LiveTrak and PreSonus StudioLive are powerful digital mixing consoles, there are key features that set Zoom LiveTrak apart:

  1. Ease of Use: Zoom LiveTrak is known for its user-friendly interface with a straightforward control layout. It allows even beginners to get started quickly without needing to refer to manuals constantly.
  2. Portability: The compact size of the Zoom LiveTrak series makes it easy to transport between locations. It's perfect when space is limited or if you find yourself frequently on-the-go.
  3. Built-in Effects & Processing: With built-in EQs, compressors, limiters, reverb/delay effects, and more – the Zoom LiveTrak offers a comprehensive array of processing tools without requiring additional outboard gear.
  4. Affordability:The Zoom Livetrack series generally comes at a more budget-friendly price point than PreSonus StudioLive mixers, making it an attractive choice for those who want a powerful mixer without breaking the bank.
  5. Recording Capabilities: Zoom LiveTrak's SD card recording feature allows users to record and save individual tracks or the entire mix, offering more flexibility when it comes to editing and mixing your sessions later on.

In summary, Zoom LiveTrak is an exceptional choice for podcasters, musicians, and producers who require a versatile mixing console that offers ease of use, portability, built-in effects, affordability, and flexible recording options.

These features set it apart from PreSonus StudioLive mixers making it an ideal choice for various audio applications.

Buyer's Guide: Important Things To Consider & Look Out For When Buying A Mixer

Buyer's Guide: Important Things To Consider & Look Out For When Buying A Mixer

1. Size Matters: Space-savvy Studio or a Homebody Hero?

When deciding on a mixer, first consider the size of your setup. Will your new digital mixer fit comfortably in your live sound rig or recording studio equipment?

Does it bring out your inner Tetris champ, trying to cram it onto a tabletop? Before committing to either option, measure up and ensure you're choosing a product that matches both your needs and available space.

2. Battle of the Brands

We all know that brand loyalty can play a significant role when purchasing new gear, but don't let familiarity cloud your vision! It's essential to delve into each digital mixer's capabilities, design, compatibility with audio interfaces, and overall user experience.

Keep an open mind, beintrepid when it comes to checking reviews; after all, remember when Pepsi came out on top in blind taste tests?

3. Delightful DAW Control: Seamless Integration is Key

If you're looking for digital mixers that work harmoniously with DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations), understanding the compatibility is vital.

Some mixers may offer better DAW control than others or provide dedicated controls for specific software options like Pro Tools or Ableton Live.

  • Note: If you don't know what kind of software you'll be using yet – fear not! Many modern digital mixers offer compatibility with multiple DAWs.

4. Wonderfully Wired or Wonderfully Wireless?

Is your recording studio equipment more tangled than a plate of spaghetti? Consider whether going wireless could be the holy grail of simplifying your live sound setup. In contrast, remember that wired connections offer reliability and reduced latency.

Weigh up the pros and cons before deciding which digital mixer will satisfy your audiophile desires.

5. Sounds Like a Plan: Assess Audio Quality

One thing should never be overlooked – audio quality! Both digital mixers may claim to produce crystal-clear sound, but it's crucial to listen for yourself or check reviews from trusted sources to see who wears the crown when it comes to sonic superiority.

6. Eeny Meeny Miny Moe: Input/Output Options

Consider how many inputs and outputs you require for your live sound or recording needs, as well as connectivity with external devices like synths, drum machines, guitars – even Bluetooth-enabled contraptions hanging out in the studio!

Don't forget about phantom power for that fancy microphone you've been eyeing off.

7. Fiddling & Fidgeting: Evaluating Ease-of-use

A user-friendly digital mixer is a joy to work with, while one with more buttons than an airport control panel can leave you feeling overwhelmed (and probably missing your flight).

8. Flex Your Expansion: Future-Proofing for Later

Consider whether your chosen digital mixer can be expanded upon in future, with options like additional faders, inputs/outputs or built-in audio interfaces.

Remember, as with everything in life (well, except maybe love), size isn't everything – it's what you do with it that counts!

9. Cost-Effective Creativity: Establish a Sensible Budget

When purchasing recording studio equipment or evaluating digital mixers for live sound applications, setting a budget (and sticking to it!) is important.

Ensure that you're financially comfortable when making this decision – after all, there's no need to break the bank and end up eating instant ramen for 6 months! (Unless you'd really like to…)

10. And Finally… Trust Your Instinct!

After carefully considering all the details and factors above – trust yourself and make a decision based on what feels right for you!

 Happy mixing!

About Author

Arielle P

Arielle P

Songwriter | Music Producer | Engineer.

With a background in music production and a strong passion for education, Arielle is dedicated to helping emerging artists navigate the music industry. She has worked with a diverse range of artists, from indie rock bands to well-known hip-hop and grime artists. Arielle's unique approach to teaching focuses on empowering artists to take control of their brand, ensuring they retain creative ownership throughout their journey. In her free time, she enjoys experimenting with new sounds in her home studio and sharing her insights through music production tutorials and workshops.

📧 Email Arielle