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Studio One 2--I think I love you. Then again, I'm a usability freak, so when a company improves an already stellar interface such as the one Presonus delivered with the original Studio One Artist, I get warm and fuzzy. Also firing my ardor--the company actually listened to users and implemented a number of feature requests (not that some of them weren't fairly obvious).The program continues to set new standards for multi-track audio recording.
If Presonus (and authors Wolfgang Kundrus and Matthias Juwan who also wrote Steinberg's Cubase and Nuendo) had done nothing other than add folder tracks, this would be a nice upgrade. Folder tracks are collapsible containers within which you place related MIDI and audio tracks, for example, all your vocal tracks. Collapse the folder track and the incorporated tracks are hidden until you need them again. Folder tracks make navigating your recording much easier. There are also greatly improved context menus so that now all related MIDI and audio functions are only a right-click away. New tools include a scrub (audition) tool and a bend tool (for the new transient detection features).
The info pane to the left of the main window has a lot more functionality as well. For example, you can now change the volume as well as add and delete effects here, instead of being forced to open the mixing panel. Presonus also fixed my gripe from last time by allowing you to change the trigger notes for the drum machine pads. Since I moved on to EZDrummer, this isn't as important to me anymore, but it shows that show the authors listen.
While usability has been greatly improved, so has functionality. All versions, including Artist, add the aforementioned transient detection for audio (mark the beats, extract the groove), editing of multiple midi tracks simultaneously (handy for drums), and enhanced versions of the already capable effects and instruments (Impact Drums, Mojito bass synth, Sampler One, etc.)
The Artist version of Studio One supports only the VST effects and instruments that ship with it, though what ships with it is great. The new standard version supports otherv2.4 and v3.0 VSTs and adds MP3 export and few other niceties. The professional version offers a mastering suite, plus Celemony Melodyne, a very capable pitch and time corrector/manipulator. If you already own Melodyne, all versions offer tight, inline integration so that you don't have to export an audio file, edit it, then import it back.
I give Studio One 2 Artist only 3.5 stars, because it's missing expansion via VST effects and instruments. However, it's a joy to work with and perfectly capable of producing excellent music without such. Studio One is a must download, even if you're a longtime user of a competing product.
--Jon L. Jacobi