PreSoNus Studio 26C Review
Verdict and Review Summary
The PreSonus Studio 26c builds nicely on past small-form interfaces from PreSonus, giving you two high-quality microphone preamps and a smooth front panel. As we've come to expect from PreSonus, they continue to deliver reliable and affordable interfaces for the little guys.
The PreSonus 26C is a portable, bus-powered 2-I/4-O audio interface that's ideal for podcasters, livestreamers, and home or small office recording projects.
It's a small desktop form interface and ideal for connecting to a laptop. For testing, we used it on top of an amplifier which you can see in several of the pictures we've taken..
Compatible with both standard USB-A and USB-C connections, it offers great audio quality and monitoring options, as well as free software, giving you a ton of flexibility and excellent value for the money. I also really liked the LED arrangement on the front panel - really easy to see where your levels are and to notice when you're clipping.
Let’s have a closer look at what this affordable but powerful interface has to offer.
We reviewed the 26C in our office and actually used it. This is not a third-party or research-only review. While we don't have a problem with research-only reviews, we make every effort to highlight and focus on products we have experience with. If you want to support us, you can shop through our partner links below and we might earn a commission at no extra cost to you.
Compare to Other Interfaces
We don't rate audio interfaces or provide comparison specs, but we do link to their product pages on Sweetwater so you can easily compare them to similar devices. We've included the Studio 26C along with other interfaces in a similar price range (you can check the pricing tables below for updated numbers).
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
MOTU M2 2x2
PreSonus Studio 26C
Universal Audio Volt 2
PreSonus Studio 26c Price Guide
Pricing accurate as of Wed, June 07th, 2023.
Pricing from Sweetwater
Price Alert Tool
Price History for PreSonus Studio 26c USB-C Audio Interface
|Current Price||$179.99||June 2, 2023|
|Highest Price||$189.99||November 11, 2022|
|Lowest Price||$179.99||January 6, 2023|
Last price changes
|$179.99||January 6, 2023|
|$189.99||December 2, 2022|
|$189.95||November 25, 2022|
|$189.99||November 11, 2022|
IDEAL FOR: Desktop recording, laptops, small recording offices, Mac recording environments, podcasting, and live streaming.
Note that we do not provide any detailed ratings for audio interfaces.
Strengths and Features
Inputs and Outputs
The 26C comes with both USB-A and C cables, and is super easy to connect to a Mac or any computer. I had no connection issues when setting it up, and it worked perfectly with GarageBand.
You'll just need to go into the preferences of your DAW (it might be called something different) and select the 26c as your input and output device. It might even do it automatically depending on what you're using.
The Studio 26c is class compliant, which means you shouldn't need to download a separate driver to use it.
I just plugged it in and the MacOS immediately recognized it.
Also I did not have to do any configurations in the OS sound settings.
The interface includes two XMAX-L solid-state microphone preamps that give you up to 24-bit/192kHz studio-grade digital resolution, and which can take both ¼ jack and XLR inputs. These preamps include 80db of gain range (-15db to 60db). This amount of headroom means a there’s no need for a pad, and that the 26c can easily manage high gain line and mic levels.
The 26c also includes MIDI I/O which you can use to hook up MIDI keyboards and controllers.
Again, this should work right out of the box.
More specific MIDI configurations can be done within your DAW software. This is particularly easy and helpful in PreSonus Studio One 6 Artist.
The interface has a Cue Mix A/B headphone monitoring with their Cue Mix A/B headphone selection. This lets you shift between a main mix and recording mix at the touch of a button, and is also handy if using the 26C as a mixer in a live DJ set.
I used this for mixing my instrument with a backing track in my headphones.
As mentioned earlier, one of my favorite features of the 26c’s front panel is its multi-segment, ladder-style LED monitoring. I found this to be super useful to stay on top of the mix when recording, and to see when I was approaching clipping with my input level.
As I mentioned above, the 26C can be used easily with any DAW, from GarageBand to ProTools and Ableton. It also comes with its own recording software, PreSonus’ Studio One 6 Artist. This is a highly functional DAW that lets you get recording straight away, without the need for buying any software.
Also included is a bundle of plugins in the form of the Studio Magic Plug-in Suite.
This features some really impressive emulations of classic studio gear, such as the Brainworx bx_opto Compressor and the Lexicon MPX-i Reverb.
These plugins obviously work with Studio One 6, but the really great thing is that they are available in VTS, AU or AAX format, making them compatible with any DAW, and not restricting you to using them only with the onboard software. I was able to load up these slick sounding plugins directly into my GarageBand project.
Overall Value (price vs quality)
The PreSonus 26c offers a huge amount of flexibility and quality while hovering around $190 retail. Check the above pricing table in case that number has changed.
There are obviously interfaces on the market that give you more features but also charge more money. When you consider what the 26c provides - solid audio, high-grade preamps, MIDI compatibility, super-handy LED monitoring, included software, headphone balance control, and plugins - you're getting a lot of value for what you pay.
The only time I wouldn't recommend it is if you're looking for more inputs and/or outputs.
That's pretty typical with most audio interface comparisons. Often it's a matter of how many channels you need to use at one time. If two inputs is enough, the 26c is a great value, and an encouraging follow up to some of PreSonus's popular interfaces of years past.
Ideal Fit and Context
The 26c’s portability and monitoring features make it a strong fit for podcasters and livestreamers, but it’s also a solid option for home recording projects in small studios, especially for solo artists or smaller bands. The included plugins help sweeten the deal for instrument users.
Make sure to understand our review in your own context. We make every effort to be objective and helpful, but your situation is unique. We've hopefully painted a picture of what the ideal scenario would be for the 26c.
That may or may not be you.
So take our opinion with a grain of salt.
Let us know if you have questions about this interface in the comments section below, and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need help getting yours up and running. You can also drop questions about our PreSonus Studio 26c review process, since we want to make sure we're transparent about that.
Written by GC Editorial on Interfaces and Price Guides
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