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PreSonus StudioLive AR8: A podcast mixer you should know

PreSonus StudioLive AR8 Review - The Podcast Consultant Blog

For B2B podcasters consolidating their equipment, the PreSonus StudioLive AR8 is a popular option. This desktop mixer also functions as an audio interface so you can speed up production cycles and maintain your publication schedule.

While this product has recently been discontinued, it’s still available from resellers and since it’s so popular among podcasters, we’ll walk you through the features that made it so beloved and offer up alternatives with similar features.

Looking for a different mixer/audio interface? We list five alternatives at the bottom of the guide.

Let’s dive in.

The PreSonus StudioLive AR8 at a glance

Recording MediaUSB ConnectorSampling RateRecording FormatMicrophone Inputs Included ItemsPrice
PreSonus StudioLive AR8Onboard SD card recorderUSB 2.024-bit/96kHz24-bit/96kHz4The mixer itselfVaries

Let’s take a closer look at these features below.

PreSonus StudioLive AR8 features

The PreSonus StudioLive AR8 is a hybrid audio mixer and audio interface. It offers analog controls, a digital interface, and an onboard recorder so you can record audio directly to the device or to a computer.

Its primary features include:

  • 4 mic inputs: This eight-channel mixer comes with four mic inputs, six line-level inputs (two mono and two stereo), and two instrument/line inputs. You can also switch on phantom power for compatible mics.
  • XMAX mic preamps: There are four XMAX microphone preamps with up to 43dB of gain. Keep in mind that phantom power affects all four preamps at once.
  • The super channel (stereo channel 7/8): This channel acts as a Bluetooth input, RCA jack, 1/8” stereo, and USB input at the same time. You can even use it to play background music from the built-in SD card.
  • Bluetooth: You can connect your phone to stereo channel 7/8 if you want to play music remotely. You can’t use this connection to host remote call-ins, though (follow this process to do so if needed).
  • Stereo SD recorder: You can connect a 32GB SD card to record audio directly to the mixer. You can also use it to play background music if you don’t have a phone for Bluetooth connectivity.
  • Internal stereo effects processor: There are 16 FX presets to choose from, including reverb, chorus, and slapback. Notice the dedicated effects return and master level fader.
  • EQ level settings: Every channel (except for 7/8) comes with three-band EQ, pan, mute, and PFL / solo. You can also save channel presets to shorten your recording setup process.
  • Adjustable low-pass filter: The low-pass filter can reduce background noise on channels 1 through 5/6. Keep in mind this isn’t available on ST 7/8.

Note that original AR8 mixers came with software like Capture and Studio One Artist. These aren’t included with secondhand units, but you can still download alternative podcast editing software instead.

PreSonus StudioLive AR8 pros

  • You can automatically save channel presets for future shows.
  • Phantom power means the mixer is compatible with most condenser microphones.
  • You can use the onboard SD card to record remote podcasts without a computer.
  • The Bluetooth channel lets you play back music for breaks, ads, sponsorships, and more.

PreSonus StudioLive AR8 cons

  • This is a discontinued mixer, so finding the right unit may take some time.
  • Many users report issues with damaged power supplies, which can be difficult to replace/repair since the mixer is discontinued.
  • There’s only a single input for headphones, which may be problematic for shows with multiple guests.
  • The AR8 only provides 48dB of gain, which is less than certain competitors (more on this later).

PreSonus StudioLive AR8 hardware

Understanding the PreSonus StudioLive AR8 hardware

Original PreSonus StudioLive AR8 mixers came with:

  • The mixer itself
  • A user manual
  • A USB 2.0 cable
  • A power cable
  • Download codes for the Studio Magic Suite

But the PreSonus StudioLive AR8 is no longer in production — and buying a used unit can be hit or miss. The mixer may come with a power cable and user manual, but you may or may not get a USB cable or software download codes.

Fortunately, the core abilities of the AR8 remain the same. Used units are still capable of mixing live shows or capturing podcast audio.

Download the Podcast Launch Guide by The Podcast Consultant

How to use a PreSonus StudioLive AR8

How to use the PreSonus StudioLive AR8 - The Podcast Consultant

Many users referred to the AR8 as a ‘plug-and-play’ mixer, because you don’t need to install drivers so the installation process is almost instantaneous.

Follow these 11 steps to record with your PreSonus StudioLive AR8:

  1. Plug the AR8 into a power source.
  2. Connect the mixer to your computer.
  3. Set your gain knobs to zero. 
  4. Connect your microphone(s) to the correct channel(s).
  5. Activate phantom power (if needed). Note that turning on phantom power affects all your mic inputs.
  6. Plug in your headphones.
  7. Adjust your EQs, gain knobs, and FX as needed.
  8. Connect your phone with the Bluetooth connector to play background audio.
  9. Raise your main volume knob until satisfied with the level.
  10. Insert an SD card or pull up your DAW of choice.
  11. Press the record button to begin recording (then hit record plus play to stop).

Need visual instructions? Refer to the video guide below:

If you’re planning on livestreaming your podcast, refer to this guide instead:

Where to find a used PreSonus StudioLive AR8

As mentioned, the PreSonus StudioLive AR8 was discontinued in 2022. You can’t purchase it from the PreSonus website or from affiliate sites like Amazon.

You can, however, find used AR8s on:

You can also post on Reddit forums like r/audio to hunt for possible leads.

Alternatives to the PreSonus StudioLive AR8

Looking for an audio mixer still in production?

One of these alternatives may be a better fit:


Maonocaster mixers could be an alternative to the PreSonus StudioLive AR8

The Maonocaster E2 and the Maonocaster Lite are two popular mixers used in place of the AR8. Both of these models are still in production, which means you can purchase them directly from the company’s website.

These mixers also offer a few unique features you can’t get on an AR8. Both come with customizable sound pads and compatible microphones so you can start recording almost immediately.

Just keep in mind you can’t record directly on either of these two mixers. If that’s a dealbreaker for your setup, you need to look at another alternative.

TASCAM Mixcast 4

The TASCAM Mixcast 4 may be a suitable alternative to the PreSonus StudioLive AR8

If you’d rather work with a brand new digital recorder that’s fully equipped for outboard recording, the TASCAM Mixcast 4 is a good option. The LCD touchscreen lets you adjust the mix before recording your audio directly on-device.

Like the AR8, there are four mic inputs and a Bluetooth connection so you can trigger music to include in your recordings. You also get a DAW included with your purchase, so you don’t need to buy separate editing software.

Just be prepared to pay for this ‘prosumer’ device — it’s almost twice the cost of a used AR8.

Behringer XENYX

A good alternative to the PreSonus StudioLive AR8 is the Behringer XENYX series

There are two Behringer XENYX models similar to the PreSonus StudioLive AR8: the 802S, and the 1202SFX. These analog mixers have equivalent interfaces (and comparable price points) if you’re more comfortable with analog designs. 

Behringer XENYX mixers are compatible with condenser mics thanks to 48 volts of phantom power. These preamps come with a bit more gain capacity than the AR8 with 60+db, so you can ensure correct gain staging even with quieter mics.

Just keep in mind Behringer XENYX mixers aren’t specifically designed for podcasting. So, you may be paying for features you don’t need, including solutions for live music recording.

ZOOM PodTrak P8

ZOOM PodTrak P8 is one alternative to PreSonus StudioLive AR8

The ZOOM PodTrak P8 is a popular alternative to the PreSonus StudioLive AR8. Not only is it compatible with 512GB SD cards, but it also provides six mic inputs so you can host more guests at once.

Unlike the AR8, the PodTrak P8’s mic pre-amps add +70dB to any microphone. You can also host up to three remote call-ins and send a mix-minus return so callers don’t experience feedback.

Just remember these features will cost you — a PodTrak P8 is much more expensive than a used AR8.

Mackie ProFX

Mackie ProFX mixers are potential alternatives to the PreSonus StudioLive AR8

Mackie ProFX analog mixers look similar to the PreSonus StudioLive AR8. Both of the models we recommend (the ProFX6v3 and the ProFX12v3) come with 24 built-in FX, +60dB preamps, and an aux plugin for hosting call-ins.

The Mackie ProFX6v3 comes with two mic inputs, while the ProFX12v3 comes with seven. Each purchase comes with The industry standard DAW, ProTools for all your editing and recording needs, and FX plugins — none of which you can get with the AR8.

You can learn more about the differences between these two mixers in our comprehensive guide.

The bottom line on the PreSonus StudioLive AR8

The PreSonus StudioLive AR8 remains a valuable hybrid mixer for B2B podcasters. The only catch is its limited availability, although Sweetwater Gear Exchange, Reverb, and eBay frequently have units in stock.

Just keep in mind the AR8 is not a silver bullet for podcast production. You still need to build, streamline, and delegate tasks to release quality episodes and convert listeners into customers.

The Podcast Consultant would be happy to assist with customizable audio production services. We offer everything you need to start, maintain, or optimize your show so you can spend more time creating content and less time working on repetitive tasks.

If you’re curious to learn more, just book a Discovery Call.

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