Recording - May 2018 - 36

26 ins, 32 outs, no waiting

PreSonus
Quantum

Thunderbolt makes many things possible
in this high-performance interface
REVIEW BY MIKE METLAY

T

hunderbolt is a connection protocol that's available
on nearly every Mac released in the past six
years (and as a PCIe add-on for Windows PCs
as well), and which has made a significant impact on
the market for audio peripherals where speed is of the
essence. It's been updated twice for even more throughput,
but even the original Thunderbolt 1 bus speed of 10
Gigabits per second is enough to allow multichannel audio
to get from interface to DAW and back with hitherto
unheard-of speed. USB 2.0 simply can't compete, USB
3.0 can't reach current Thunderbolt speeds with any
reliability, and the USB 3.1 standard based on USB-C
connections is still in its infancy, with only one or two
interfaces on the horizon in the foreseeable future.
Put all of this together and you have a connection
that's time-tested, reliable, widely available on real-world
rather than bleeding-edge computers, and capable of
stunning performance. That's why PreSonus chose
Thunderbolt for its Quantum series of audio interfaces. I
had the privilege of working with the Quantum for several
months; there's also a smaller Quantum 2 model with
(slightly!) less I/O.

36

RECORDING May 2018

The Quantum bucks the trend of many current audio interfaces
that offer onboard DSP; the philosophy behind this interface is
that as little as possible should lie between the inputs and the
DAW, and while there's a lot of computer control and recall, there
aren't any built-in effects or complex internal monitor-mix routings.
That leads to a very simple and easy-to-use layout with a minimum of front-panel fuss. Controls include a preamp Gain knob
with left and right buttons to select which preamp you're working
with; a 48V phantom power button; a simple LED display showing
channel and gain settings; a Talk button for the built-in talkback
mic; and Dim/Mute and Mono buttons for the Main Outputs. Level controls include a Main knob and two independent
Phones controls for the pair of front-panel 1/4" Phones outputs.
The large power button is backlit by a multicolor connection-status
LED. There are eight input and two output meters, with blue LEDs
to indicate phantom power for all channels.
Inputs include eight analog channels with PreSonus' excellent
Class A XMAX preamps and up to 16 channels of optical
ADAT plus coaxial stereo S/PDIF. Two of the preamps are on
the front panel and offer the option of Instrument input when
the Inst button is pressed; you can also select +4 or -10 operating levels for those two inputs when line-level signals are
plugged in (i.e., no mic). The other six inputs are rear-panel
mic/line with up to 60 dB of gain.
Outputs include eight balanced TRS line outputs, a dedicated
pair of TRS Main Outs, 16 channels of optical ADAT, coaxial
stereo S/PDIF, and the two front-panel Phones outs.
If you're keeping count, yes, that's up to 26 input channels and
32 output channels. For comparison, the Quantum 2 loses four
rear-panel preamps, the dedicated Main outs, four rear-panel TRS
outputs, and one of the two Phones outs, for 22 input channels
and 24 output channels in a tabletop format. (It also loses the
Talkback mic and a couple of the front-panel monitor controls.)

Remote control

While it's very quick and easy to set mic gains and dim/mute/
mono-mix the main outs, deeper control is done with remote software. The free UC Surface app works identically on macOS, Windows, iOS, and Android. It lets you remote-control gains, output
and headphone routings, talkback, monitor mute/dim and mono,
and more, via wireless connection on the Wi-Fi network where the
host computer can be found. If you hook up the Quantum to the
PreSonus DP88 8-channel preamp rack via the ADAT connectors,
all of those XMAX pres are remotely controllable as well.
In my tests, connection and recognition were quick and 100%
reliable and feedback was near-instantaneous. It's really easy



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - May 2018

Contents
Recording - May 2018 - Intro
Recording - May 2018 - Cover1
Recording - May 2018 - Cover2
Recording - May 2018 - 1
Recording - May 2018 - 2
Recording - May 2018 - 3
Recording - May 2018 - 4
Recording - May 2018 - 5
Recording - May 2018 - Contents
Recording - May 2018 - 7
Recording - May 2018 - 8
Recording - May 2018 - 9
Recording - May 2018 - 10
Recording - May 2018 - 11
Recording - May 2018 - 12
Recording - May 2018 - 13
Recording - May 2018 - 14
Recording - May 2018 - 15
Recording - May 2018 - 16
Recording - May 2018 - 17
Recording - May 2018 - 18
Recording - May 2018 - 19
Recording - May 2018 - 20
Recording - May 2018 - 21
Recording - May 2018 - 22
Recording - May 2018 - 23
Recording - May 2018 - 24
Recording - May 2018 - 25
Recording - May 2018 - 26
Recording - May 2018 - 27
Recording - May 2018 - 28
Recording - May 2018 - 29
Recording - May 2018 - 30
Recording - May 2018 - 31
Recording - May 2018 - 32
Recording - May 2018 - 33
Recording - May 2018 - 34
Recording - May 2018 - 35
Recording - May 2018 - 36
Recording - May 2018 - 37
Recording - May 2018 - 38
Recording - May 2018 - 39
Recording - May 2018 - 40
Recording - May 2018 - 41
Recording - May 2018 - 42
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Recording - May 2018 - 71
Recording - May 2018 - 72
Recording - May 2018 - Cover3
Recording - May 2018 - Cover4
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