My opportunity to review the PreSonus AR16 came in the form of a successful installation at a local university. I was working with Wake Forest University’s Campus Ministries group to help them find a sound support solution for their events. They did not have anyone on their team who was a trained sound engineer, but had some people who knew how to use basic analog sound equipment. In such situations, digital consoles don’t always cut it, yet these very same users often like the kind of tools that are typically provided with a digital board. For this reason, we chose the PreSonus AR16.
While the AR16 may seem limiting for seasoned engineers, it is perfect for musicians and audio types that understand basic signal flow. Complete with actual knobs and faders from gain control down to the aux sends, global phantom power and shelving EQs, it is a very intuitive analog console.
The AR16’s extra features are what make it a great choice above other similarly priced analog boards. For example, there is an on-board Bluetooth feature where users may sync mobile devices for music playback. There are some onboard digital effects for reverb and delay where send levels are adjusted per channel and an overall mix fader is available in the bus section; this makes the workflow easy to understand for the average user. Another great feature is its onboard recording options. There is a USB 2.0 connection on the rear of the console that allows for live multi-tracking as well as an SD recorder, which will record with the touch of one button from the main mix.
A key consideration of the PreSonus AR Series is that it offers the same recording options we find in modern digital consoles. It truly is about the best of both worlds for the working musician and emerging audio professional. Wake Forest University was very pleased with the purchase, pairing it with some new JBL loudspeakers, which altogether delivered them a clean, user-friendly and manageable mix.
Liz May is a live sound mixer, producer/engineer, educator and schooled pianist now serving as Production Manager of Reynolds Auditorium in Winston-Salem NC. twitter.com/soundlizzard