Pros / The interface is well organized and easy to use with a single window.
Cons / The selection of loops is lacking compared to other programs.
Verdict / This software boasts many plugins and tools that'd you expect from a professional-level DAW, but the loop library is hit or miss.
The PreSonus Studio One 3 Artist edition is the entry-level pay version of Studio One. Prime, the free version of this music production program, is severely limited in plugins, virtual effects and recording capabilities. Studio One Professional offers more plugins and virtual instruments than Artist, but the Artist version still comes packed with features.
Studio One Artist has many advantages, and it starts with the single-window design of the interface. There are tabs located in the bottom right corner that expand and collapse the wave editor, mixer and browser. It is neatly organized and helps keep things uncluttered when you start to have several windows and plugins open. While attached to the interface, you can't open the mixer and wave editor at the same time. If you prefer to use this software in multiple windows, you can detach the mixing console and wave editor and move it to a separate screen if you have dual monitors.
The browser located on the right side of the interface is home base for all of the instruments, effects, files and loops found within this music software. The loop library has a good selection of loops, though it's not as extensive as some of its competitors'. The browser breaks down the loop categories into music genres. Clicking on a genre will open a folder of instruments. From there, loops are found within each instrument folder. Some folders are more extensive than others. For example, under the hip-hop folder you'll find a ton of drum loops but only four bass loops. It is hit or miss depending on the genre and instrument.
One thing we didn't like with the browser window is that you have to drag and drop the instrument or plugin into the arrangement window to activate it. Double-clicking doesn't open an instrument or plugin. It's a minor inconvenience but still worth noting.
The transport located on the bottom of the interface has lots of important information on it. It is nice to have a CPU performance meter right in the transport. This makes it easy to gauge how hard you are pushing your CPU before you run into any latency issues.
This music software comes with 30 plugins and five virtual instruments. Many of the plugins are useful and sound good. For instance, Ampire, the Studio One guitar amp emulator, is pretty extensive considering it's on the Artist version. There are 30 presets within Ampire to quickly jump to different types of guitar tones and textures. You can edit mic positioning, choose between many different cabinet configurations, adjust mic positions and even add digital foot pedals for the guitar to run through.
There are a handful of other useful plugins included in Artist. The Pro EQ is a multi-band EQ that is straightforward but powerful. You'll find a couple different delays, reverbs, compressors and an instrument tuner when a physical one isn't available to you.
There are five virtual instruments in the Artist version of this music creation software. Impact is the virtual drum machine, Mojito is a synthesizer, Mai Tai is a poly-synth, Presence and Sample One are both samplers. Impact isn't the best-looking drum sampler we've reviewed – it emulates a dull-gray MPC with few controls – but it features over 30 drum kits within Impact, covering all genres.
Artist doesn't have any restrictions on recording, something you might find in other DAWs. Within Artist, you'll have unlimited recording and MIDI tracking per session. It doesn't limit the number of effect inserts and sends you apply to your channels either.
There is a lot to like about Studio One 3 Artist. The single-window interface is well organized and intuitive. There are some really useful plugins included within the bundle such as the extensive Ampire guitar emulator and Pro EQ multi-band equalizer. The selection of loops is a bit sparse, but buying Artist is a great way to give Studio One a spin and see if it’s the right DAW for you.