A definitive review after 4 months of use
I'm a Producer/Director, so I've worked with quite a few boards and great audio engineers over the past 4 decades, and I have to say this board has a lot going for it. I'll try not to duplicate what others have said, and give you a slightly different perspective.
For the money, it's hard to beat, although some other companies are coming out with similar models now, which may be as good or better. I now use this primarily for my band, and since we've had a lot of trouble, and/or expense, in finding good audio engineers on a consistent basis, this board really does a great job for this particular situation. The key is that you can save almost all of the board's settings for each song (called a "scene"), so you've saved 99% of the mix for each song (all but the Input Trims). It's not a total replacement for a good FOH guy, nothing is, but it's the next best thing.
We use some backing tracks, and we use all 16 channels. Using the Presonus-created "Capture" software (which is free with the board, and is a great little piece of software), we record a practice over Firewire, capturing all 16 tracks. That records only the channel's raw input signal... EQ, and even trim, has no effect. So it's like breaking out a mic's signal before it hits the board. Then you play back the 16 tracks, and mix. If you don't have an engineer, this is a god-send, since you hear exactly what the audience will hear (excepting the venue's acoustics of course). Save that song, and move on to the next.
For sound checks, it's now a one-man virtual sound check... we play back our pre-recorded practice, and adjust for the venue as needed. Our goal is to always use the 31 band EQ on the Mains to adjust for the venue, leaving our saved mix untouched. This has been awesome, and only once did we feel that we needed to change the actual mix (turning up the vocals trim inputs a tad, which was essentially a global change so we could still keep the mixes unchanged)
Other good stuff: Clean and quiet. Decent A/D converters. Very flexible. 4 Aux sends. Easy to use, even if you're an analog kind of person (you'll learn the hard way to ALWAYS select the channel before adjusting quickly. If you don't, you'll be re-doing EQ all day long). On board EFX. Etc., etc.
The not-so good stuff:
-Trim levels aren't saved. That really reduces the preciseness of your saved mixes. (workaround: playback a 1Khz tone into each input, note the level. Or use a pencil and mark the Trims. Or, as I've done, use both methods.)
-A bug in scene backups, so if the board's memory gets whacked out (which I haven't heard happening to anyone yet) and you want to restore all your mixes that you saved to your computer, you'll still have to go through each scene and resave. Presonus' Tech support was pretty good, but they confirmed there's a bug that changes all your Aux Pre/Post settings when you restore a backup file of your saved mixes from your computer. The bug has been there for a few years, as far as I can tell, so why it's not fixed is beyond me. I also had another issue in restoring a backup, where the signal on the right Main outputs was also missing, which Tech support couldn't replicate. The fix for both of these issues is to restore the data then resave each song took me about 3 hours for 80 songs. But the good news is that I didn't really lose anything and my mixes were exactly back to where they were.
-EQ and EFX are... OK. EQ is not as musical as many I've used, and it's hyper sensitive. The EFX are just reverbs and delays, and the reverbs remind me of some of the earlier digital delays, that sounded unnatural to me. While they're clean, I had to do a lot of tweaking to get them to sound decen'¦ but Presonus thoughtfully allowed all the Fat Channels adjustments for each effects channel (there are 2), and EQ-ing the Verbs really helped.
-Compression is also decent but not great. I guess the only way to describe the Comp and EQ is to say that they're very "surgical", almost a little too digital and precise. They are clean, though. While I can usually get an outboard compressor dialed in pretty quickly, I found myself constantly tweaking the compressor to get the sound and amount I wanted.
-No USB, only Firewire. Sorry, Presonus, but that's lame. It's challenging to get a PC to work' check the Presonus site for a list of PC Firewire chips that will work, but it's a short list. I did get it work eventually. And if you want to use an IPad (sorry, no other tablets allowed) for sound checks and everything else, you must have a Mac. Come on guys, no onboard Wi-Fi or PC networking compatibility? That part is, well, almost archaic.
So, would I buy it again, after learning all this? Probably. But I might wait a few months for some of the other boards to come out, especially the host of boards designed to use a tablet as the entire interface. Still, for $999, I got my money's worth. The ability to save each mix, and do a virtual soundcheck, all for that price, is pretty cool. And our band never sounded better. In the end, I guess that's what it's really all about.