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June 2017 Giveaway

PreSonus StudioLive CS18AI Reviews

3.5 stars based on 14 customer reviews
Questions about the PreSonus StudioLive CS18AI?

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  • L Lyons
    from Saratoga Springs, Utah May 31, 2016

    Very Happy with the purchase

    I wanted to wait till I used the unit in a live application before I created a review, and I just completed that journey. I bought it specifically to work with my RM32AI unit, in a live sound environment, I already have a 27 inch touch screen monitor, production PC, along with a wireless router and up to 6 ipad \ iphone units connected in, along with a plethora of VST effects, working well together.

    I did my homework - to use this control surface with headphones as well as a talk back mic and an iphone playing mp3's before an after the show, I needed an AVB switch among other things like cables and such. I chose the MOTU AVB switch for this. I learned that I needed to spend time with AVB configuration and firmware updates well in advance of using it live, so that I had everything setup and working together. It helped to already know the Universal control app because it provided a more intuitive interface for setup. Not that the CS18 is hard to learn - its actually easy. I just found that having a a few larger displays available as I was learning, worked better for me.

    While this unit has a small profile, it is powerful, and well laid out. It took a few hours to really wrap my head around navigation, as the entire system is wide (control of 64 channels) and deep (fat channel, special effects - even recording and playback control). You do not want to show up to a gig without having a few hours at least, of hands on time to become comfortable with it and to build out 'the show' mix - from each channel, to monitor mixes, to DCA filters, to talkback, to scenes, to effects, to the mains.

    There is a lot to do if you have to start from scratch. HOWEVER, after working through it once, I found I don't even have to think much about what to reach for, or how to access it. The nice thing for me was, I already had a good portion of the show setup done in the RM32AI, using Universal Control, prior to getting this control surface. You can imagine my surprise after connecting everything up, when the faders moved into position, and the scribble strips showed each channel name, from the first scene in the RM32AI.

    My hats off to PreSonus - the entire solution, from the RM32AI, to UC Surface, to the CS18AI to Studio One is a powerhouse. Clean sounding, good control, great value.

  • Daniel
    from February 27, 2016

    Connection Issues UPDATE:

    This is an update to my previous review. The original unit was defective, I have since received a new unit. The difference between the two is night and day. Now that I know that my unit had a defect I can write a review for the way that it functions under normal operation. The touch screen has ZERO latency compared to my original unit, which is much nicer. More importantly however, is that I don't have to connect to my network every time I want to use it, the CS18 now remembers my network. The faders function perfectly. Zero connection issues/trouble now. I'm very pleased as this unit has made mixing a lot more fun for me. This was the experience I was originally hoping for.

  • Justin
    from Louisiana September 29, 2015Music Background:
    Audio Engineer

    Complete Control

    The CS18 is the product I have waited for for years. It has every control parameter I need to get my hands off the mouse and keyboard and back on faders and knobs. In addition I can use it on location to record with the same studio quality by adding my RM32. This is hands down the best solution for the price!

  • JD Bass
    from December 27, 2016

    Great under the fingers!

    I bought this to go along with my RM32AI... It has a great feel and is pretty easy to use. I would have given it a higher rating, but I don't like that you have to buy an AVB switch to use ALL the features of this unitand the EQ is a little hard to navigate live compared to the the UC Surface software (which I really like) I use on my IPad. In all I am happy to have it and would recommend the combo (RM/CS) to a fellow sound engineer.

  • Niels Jonker
    from Reston, VA July 15, 2016Music Background:
    Sound engineer, bass player

    Awesome with RM32AI, Studio1

    I've had this unit for a bit more than 3 months. It's been out to gigs and shows, and has worked a treat with a RM32AI. Put the mixer on stage,Marin a single Ethernet and we're in business. It's been rock solid when controlling the RM32AI this way over a wired links no dropouts, no lockup so, no issues. Controls are responsive, meters are fast enough, it's nice to have a hardware control surface.

    Also I use this as a remote for Stduio1 when recording and mixing, it works well for that application too. Again, hard wired into my network, controlling a computer that's also hard wired, it's been stable and reliable. Certainly a lot more compact than my Mackie units. I do wish the transport controls were lower and on the right, and I wish it had a jog wheel.

    I wish the touch screen was a bit more responsive, in the world of iPhones its sluggish and a bit cumbersome.

    I've not dared to use this unit wireless at a gig...

    Sales engineer Dave Brow did a great job, as always, of making sure I got what I needed.

  • Jim Shelton
    from New York June 3, 2016

    Presonus CS18AI

    I own the classic 24.4.2 and this a great unit.

  • Jonathan
    from March 15, 2016Music Background:
    Sound tech

    Like It

    Buy this console very easy to use.
    The only thing that worries me , its durability ?
    I hope to continue working good
    you can connect the CS18 wireless ( Thats great )

  • T
    from NJ September 26, 2015Music Background:
    Many years recording/performing.


    It's nice to see that someone finally made the connection between DAW recording and physical mixing. I don't have this unit yet, but this is a huge leap in the right direction in my opinion. This unit, and one really good tube preamp is all I need (I already use StudioOne), This technology makes sense to me, to use in my home studio. Nice job PreSonus. They pack a lot of punch into their gear.

  • Customer
    from October 11, 2015Music Background:
    Musician, recording engineer, producer.

    It's cool, but cool enough?

    I got this to replace my MCU Pro + extender. Strictly for a DAW control surface. In my case, Studio One 3, which this unit is designed for. There are things I love about this unit that blow away the MCU Pro. But there are characteristics of the MCU Pro that I like better then this unit. A couple of those being the jog shuttle wheel, dedicated SAVE button, dedicated UNDO button, transport controls on the MCU are down low by where my hands rest.
    The touch screen is cool, but IMO is too small and not touch sensitive enough. The fader banks are nice. The fader groups are sweet! The ability to switch the faders to control FX sends is really nice, and then right back to your mix.

    In a nutshell, it's a step in the right direction, but needs a little refinement and/or feature sets with Studio One 3.

    from Cheltenham PA August 5, 2016


    The lack of support for Studio One is a major problem. There is no documentation on how to use it with the DAW even though they push it as a control surface for it. It seems like an after thought. They claim that a manual will be available some time in the future. The SC18 has been out for almost a year now with out any real Studio One user information. This is unacceptable.

    The WI-FI dongle that come with the unit also has no documentation, and no easy way to get it's MAC address and it a piece of CRAP. From my conversation with them you can not use a real WI-FI USB adaptor with the SC18. Any one that is going to use WI-FI to control your system had better lock down their access point and with out the MAC address to restrict the connection is a FOOL.

  • Daniel
    from February 22, 2016

    Connection Issues

    I have had the CS18ai for a while now, I was really excited before buying it but so far I've been fairly disappointed by it. I'm using it primarily for Studio One control, however, often it won't connect properly to Studio One. The software control will show up on the CS18ai, but when pressing the DAW button, it won't properly connect to the software. I often have to power cycle the unit multiple times before it finally connects properly. When it is connected it functions perfectly and provides amazing control of the software. However, the connection process has been a huge hassle since day one, taking a lot away from what would otherwise be a really enjoyable experience.

  • Richard Aronson
    from Washington June 25, 2016

    Wish I Wouldn't Have Bought This

    I bought the CS18 AI along with the RM32 AI. In a perfect world, this would be a great setup but these two products together do not work out of the box. It takes so much effort to make everything play nice.

    I've had nothing but problems setting it up. I've tried calling Presonus support multiple times but never get thru. I waited on hold once for 30 minutes and was then sent to voice mail. I wish I would have bought a StudioLive 32.4.2AI. Even a Behringer would be better than this setup.

    Here are the problems I've had
    - Had to be replace the CS18 after having it a week. The touch screen stopped responding to touch.
    - Updating firmware broke the unit. I tried calling Presonus support but they never answered. I found a solution online (not on the Presonus website).
    - I've had the CS18 for three months now and I still can't control Capture or Studio One from it. I've had a thread going with Presonus support since the beginning and have asked several times to setup a phone call but they never do.

    If you want great sound get a 32.4.2. Turn it on and it will work. You won't have to count on Presonus support which is pretty much non existent.

  • Customer
    from June 16, 2016

    Does not Connect to DAW

    This unit only connects to a DAW using Ethernet networking. After many hours of frustration and a lengthy consultation with a networking engineer, it became clear that this thing was simply not going to connect to S1 Pro 3 or any other DAW on any of my systems. It's a shame they didn't include a way to connect directly via USB (the USB port is only for firmware updates and an ineffective wireless dongle). To be fair, this unit might control the RM mixers just fine, but my use was strictly as a control surface for a DAW. You'll want to get in touch with a network engineer if you plan to try to integrate this into your editing environment. This is not a plug-n-play device like other control surfaces.

  • Jason
    from Florida January 31, 2016

    Completely Useless for Live Application

    I pre-ordered this item as I was excited about the features and flexibility of the CS18AI with the RM16AI i had previously purchased. I've tried using this unit and the RM16AI on three different live applications and it had failed every time causing serious issues. It intermittently loses connection with the mixer and you lose control of the mixer unless you have a computer connected. Great concept but it is very unstable and therefore completely useless for live application. I should mention that both this and the RM16AI also intermittently lose connection, so you lose control of wireless devices as well. I would suggest going with something all-in-one and more stable (and less expensive) or moving up to the more professional Yamaha QL1, Midas Pro1C, or Digico SD11. Three times the money, but at least they work. Also, Presonus' customer support is only open Monday thru Friday 8-5, so there is no support during the time most of my performances.

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