PreSonus Central Station PLUS Review

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Overview:

PreSonus’ Central Station Plus is one of the most feature packed monitor control systems available for professional studios and home setups alike, enabling easy activation and bypass of up to three pairs of monitors, built in talkback mic functionality, remote control, and much more.  In this review we’ll put the Central Station Plus through the paces at the Audiomack & DJBooth studios in NYC to see if the unit lives up to the hype!

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Setup & First Impressions

Our first impressions of the unit were very favorable. Packaging is easy to unpack, and getting up and running is very straightforward. Just plug in the power cord, connect your inputs and outputs to the back panel of the main unit, and you’re good to go - no software needed.

The Central Station Plus consists of two primary components - one main rack-mountable module, and a second remote control unit, which allows a vocalist or engineer to adjust levels, speaker activation/bypass, and a talkback mic while away from the rack-mount unit. Both pieces of hardware are visually well designed, feel substantial and well-built, and will look at home in either a professional or home project studio.

The rack unit, which is the main piece of hardware, features five inputs - two pairs of 1/4” TRS balanced analog inputs, 1 unbalanced RCA input, and 2 S/PDIF digital inputs. It also features three pairs of analog outputs (all 1/4” TRS Balanced), which can be connected to passive or active monitors. The front of the main unit features a large, easy to read 30-segment peak/hold LED, selectors/bypasses for all inputs and outputs, as well as talkback mic buttons and an overall volume knob.

Pre Sonus Front

The rack unit connects to the remote control unit via a cable connection, which allows remote operation over talkback, mono, dim, mute, input, and output options away from your main monitoring setup.

Features

In daily studio use, we found the Central Station to be indispensable and a major upgrade to our previous monitor control solution, a Mackie Big Knob. The build of both the main unit and remote control are solid. Knobs and buttons feel substantial and heavy, in a good way - no accidentally swinging your volume knob from 1-10 here. Sound quality is excellent and transparent - exactly what we'd hope for in a unit like this.

The remote control, surprisingly, turned out to be our favorite feature. Being able to conveniently place the remote unit just to the side of a laptop during a production session genuinely made the sessions flow easier - less reaching over to a rack-mount unit or to the back of a desk where the main hardware is kept was awesome - in no time, we were relying heavily on the easy access to mono, dim, talkback mic, and speaker selection from the remote control. Accurate monitoring is key to producing a track that will translate well in the real world, and we frequently switch between our main monitors and auxiliary monitors to test mixes under different playback conditions - something which became vastly easier once using the Central Station. We are also very pleased PreSonus elected to implement a mono switch on the remote control - mixing in mono is a highly underrated studio practice, and having the switch easily accessible with one press makes flipping from stereo/mono and back as easy as possible.

Implementation of the built in talkback mic, which automatically dims speaker output when engaged, is excellent. We found it made our vocal sessions flow more easily, and is probably worth the price of admission alone if you record in a home or project studio often.

Pros

  • Excellent build quality - feels substantial.
  • Easy to use, clear meters, all buttons and functions clearly labeled.
  • Remote control is supremely useful - great talkback mic and cue functionality.
  • Allows for very easy monitor selection & bypass with mono and dim controls.

Cons

  • In a perfect world, wireless remote control would be ideal - however this may not be possible given current tech.
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