Music Gear Review: PreSonus StudioLive AR8 USB Mixer

The smallest of the three new PreSonus StudioLive USB Mixers that includes the AR12 and AR16, the StudioLive® AR8 is a portable, lightweight 8-channel analog/hybrid stereo mixer you could easily slip into your backpack and be ready for mixing and recording live sound at any location. It measures 3.5H X 11W X 12.3D-inches and uses large control knobs instead of fiddly, miniature faders. Anybody who has ever operated an analog mixer will immediately understand the AR8 with its three-band EQ, Low Cut filter, and Line/Mic XLR/TRS input jacks.

All the new AR mixers have a Capture™ SD memory card recorder that records the stereo bus at (16/24-bit/44.1kHz .wav/MP3) as well as playing back stereo files into the mix bus.

The eight input channels have separate pan pots, mute buttons and PFL (pre-fader listen) buttons. There are two mono inputs, two stereo/mono inputs plus a stereo input 7/8 called the Super Channel. The Super Channel will sum up to four, connected stereo sources simultaneously from the L/R RCA jacks, a 3.5mm TRS jack, the SD player, or choose either the included Bluetooth receiver audio or any compatible ASIO or Core Audio DAW connected via the USB jack.

Input 1 and 2 use Class-A microphone pre-amps with XLR/TRS connectors that also switch to unbalanced instrument inputs. I found the microphone pre-amps quiet and great sounding. The first four input channels have FX send knobs for a built-in stereo digital effects system with a useful collection of 16 preset mixing effects. With a computer connected to the USB jack, you may also record and playback using the included Capture 2™ or Studio One 3 Artist software.

I have to say that the AR8 with its “bullet proof” analog design is a solid winner! You can go into a venue and capture a performance on either your connected laptop or a SD card and provide a FOH sound at the same time.

The AR8 sells for $399 MSRP.


Barry Rudolph is a recording engineer/mixer who has worked on over 30 gold and platinum records. He has recorded and/or mixed Lynyrd Skynyrd, Hall & Oates, Pat Benatar, Rod Stewart, the Corrs, and more. Barry has his own futuristic music mixing facility and loves teaching audio engineering at Musician’s Institute, Hollywood, CA. He is a lifetime Grammy-voting member of NARAS and a contributing editor for Mix Magazine. barryrudolph.com