The AudioBox iOne is a great audio interface for anyone who wants to record on the go. This compact interface offers high-quality audio on a budget. There’s quite a lot of competition in the compact, budget range, but the AudioBox iOne stacks up well in most areas. Let’s take a closer look at everything this interface has to offer.Table of contents:
AudioBox iOne overview
The PreSonus AudioBox iOne is a 2×2 USB bus-powered audio interface for Windows, Mac, and iPad. It’s a compact device wrapped in PreSonus’ signature blue steel color.
The AudioBox iOne has one XLR input and one 1/4″ instrument input on the front panel. Each input has a gain control knob, and there’s 48 V phantom power for the XLR.
There’s a single 1/4″ headphone output with volume control to the right of the front panel. The AudioBox iOne has a direct monitoring button that allows you to switch between direct input and your DAW’s output. Many people prefer a mix knob to blend the direct input and DAW output, but not many small interfaces will have that option.
The back panel starts with a USB 2.0 connector to power the unit. Then there’s a second USB connector for connecting to an iPad.
We were glad to see that PreSonus went with balanced TRS monitor outputs rather than the unbalanced RCA outputs that some small interfaces provide. In the center of the back panel, you’ll find a Kensington security lock, just in case!
If you like the look of the AudioBox iOne, but need more inputs, the iTwo is available for an extra $50. The general design is the same, although the iTwo is a little bigger. What you get for the extra money is two XLR/TRS combo inputs, MIDI in/out, and a mix knob for direct monitoring.
PreSonus advertise the AudioBox iOne as providing 24-bit/96 kHz audio. It offers internal sample rate selections of 44.1, 48, 88.2, and 96 kHz.
The AudioBox iOne offers a dynamic range of 105 kHz, which isn’t top of its class by any means, but it’s respectable. While the analog to digital conversion doesn’t blow the competition away, the microphone preamp does perform very well.
The XLR microphone input features a Class-A PreSonus preamp with an encouragingly flat frequency response. Listed as +/- 3 dB at 10 Hz to 40 kHz, you see that 3 dB drop off around 20 Hz. The Class-A preamp is transparent, stands up well against most similar interfaces, and has a max input level of +10 dBu.
Overall, there are interfaces at a similar price that deliver slightly better audio/recording quality. But, the AudioBox iOne perhaps offers a combination that most others don’t with the iPad connectivity. We would have no hesitation in tracking vocals or guitar with the iOne.
The AudioBox iOne is a good choice for a small home studio. If you don’t have a lot of space, its compact size won’t take up much space on your desk.
Some people complain that the gain knobs are a little fiddly to use accurately because they are small. It might be true for some people, but they aren’t too different from any other 2×2 interface. If it is a problem, sitting the iOne on a tilted platform that lifts the front panel high will help.
The main output volume knob is larger on the front panel, making it very easy to adjust.
The downside of using the AudioBox iOne at home is that there are interfaces that deliver slightly higher quality for the same price. But, there are a few upsides, too.
First of all, it’s cheap, so it suits anyone who wants to get started on a small budget. Secondly, it has the iPad connectivity that most cheap interfaces don’t have. So, while it might not be the absolute best interface to use at home (it’s still very good), it becomes much more attractive if you want to share it between home and on the road.
Mobile recording is one area where the iOne shines. We have talked about quality already, but what it really comes down to here is convenience. If you have an iPad, you have the ability to turn any location into your studio, and that’s awesome.
It works alongside the Capture Duo iPad app from PreSonus. There are multiple scenarios where a setup like this would come in handy. Obviously, it lets you record high-quality tracks for your demos or releases, but it also helps you capture ideas in greater detail than you would with your smartphone microphone, as I’m sure we have all done one time or another.
It’s ideal for capturing high-quality recordings of rehearsal sessions too. Set up your iPad, iOne, and a condenser microphone in the middle of the room and capture the whole band to track progress. The fact that you can have everything you need in a backpack is one of the best things the iOne has going for it.
For a small unit, the AudioBox iOne is remarkably well built, but that’s typical of PreSonus. It has a stiff plastic back and sides, wrapped in a solid metal casing. You’d struggle to put a mark on it from general use; nevermind damage it.
If there is a common weakness of mobile recording interfaces, it’s the knobs and buttons. If anything is going to break when throwing an interface in a backpack, it’s the knobs and buttons.
PreSonus has been quite clever here because all of the knobs are recessed on the iOne. So, even if they do get bumped or caught on anything, they are far less likely to break.
The AudioBox iOne comes with PreSonus Studio One Artist and the Capture Duo iPad app. That has you covered for DAWs on both platforms. One of the cool things about the Capture Duo app is that you can wirelessly transfer a session over to Studio One Artist on your computer.
It also comes with a very nice plugin suite that includes emulations of vintage effects and instruments. Those plugins are all available in VST, AAX, and AU formats, so you can use them in any popular DAW.
The bad news is that Studio One Artist does not offer support for 3rd party plugins. You have to upgrade to Studio One Professional to get 3rd party plugin support.
AudioBox iOne vs. other interfaces
The PreSonus AudioBox iOne is a great all-rounder, but there are other options. Here are a few alternatives that might be worth checking out.
Focusrite Scarlett Solo
We rarely discuss any compact audio interface without comparing it to the Scarlett Solo. In the studio, we have to stick with the Scarlett Solo; on the road, the iOne’s iPad connectivity is more convenient. See our Scarlett Solo review
The Tascam US-1x2HR is fast becoming one of our favorite cheap audio interfaces. It does everything that the iOne does and possibly does it better; software bundles may be the deciding factor between the two. See our Tascam US-1x2HR review
Shure’s MVi is the ultimate audio interface for musicians on the go because it’s literally pocket-sized and built like a tank. The iOne is definitely more of an all-rounder and offers far more flexibility. See our Shure MVi review
Final verdict on the AudioBox iOne
The AudioBox iOne is almost the perfect little interface. There are so many things that we love about it, from the build quality to mobile convenience. A few small things let it down in certain areas, but it still shows up well against the competition. If you want one interface covering home and your travels, the iOne (or even iTwo) is very worth checking out.
- Solid build quality.
- iPad connectivity.
- Class-A preamp.
- Complete software bundle.
- Great for mobile recording.
- Studio One Artist doesn’t support 3rd party plugins.