FireBox

Picked up a PreSonus FireBox over the weekend. So far it’s doing everything I’ve wanted it to, apart from a few initial glitches getting it set up.

Apart from the fact my old USB I/O box died a few months back, the two main reasons I went with the FireBox is that

  • it’s bus powered (meaning you don’t need to plug in a power pack as it gets it’s power from the Firewire port of the computer)
  • it allows configuration to send any of the three output pairs to the headphone output

The first one is pretty common nowadays, but my old USB I/O required a power pack, which was a right PITA when having to transport it. When I first attached the FireBox to my iMac it didn’t seem to work – it’d start up then lose power. Plugging in the power pack (which is supplied in case your computer/firewire hub doesn’t supply enough power) got the unit to work.

After using the Firebox off the power pack for about half an hour I could remove the power and it would work off the Firewire bus. However, this morning the same thing is happening again. This might be a faulty unit, I don’t know. But it’s frustrating to say the least.

The second thing (routing outputs to the headphone out) is something that I’ve not seen on any other unit in this price range. The reason I wanted this feature is so that I could send an independent mix to the drummer in a live setting, without having to mess around with headphone amplifiers or any other fiddling.

When I attached the unit, I went to the PreSonus page for the FireBox and downloaded the Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) configuration utility. This utility allows the setting of some options on the unit, but didn’t allow for configuration of the outputs (something that is advertised on the website). So I downloaded the mixer application that was included in the 10.3 set of applications. It worked just fine under 10.4, and after a few minutes messing around in Live, I was able to get exactly what I wanted. Why PreSonus don’t include the mixer utility with the Tiger package I don’t know – it’s very confusing.

Hopefully I can sort out these bus power issues, but overall I’m pretty pleased with the unit – good sound, flexible – and I expect that I’ll be happy with it’s recording capabilities, apparently the pre-amps are really good.

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