Manufacturer's Site: www.presonus.com
Reviewed by: A. Dorian
The Firepod comes with 8 Neutrik combo inputs on the front (XLR or 1/4 inch) and there are 8 line volume knobs on the front. There is also Master level, phono level for headphones, mixer level (to monitor input or playback or you can mix between both).
On the back the are the midi in and out, 8 outs, cue out (stereo), main out (stereo) and SPDIF RCA in and out.
The unit uses a power supply.
The best feature of this unit is probably that it has 8 built-in mic preamps so you don't really need an external mixer to connect. If you need to run an instrument direct you can use channel 1 and 2 as they are hotter than the rest - thus you won't need to purchase a DI.
This unit uses Firewire to connect either to Mac or Windows computer. Firewire is usually not standard on Windows so you need to make sure you have firewire card installed on your machine.
The software that comes bundled is Cubase LE which is a complete recording program to get you started recording. This unit can also work with other software - I have successfully used it with Garageband and Ableton Live on Mac. It did have some hiccups on Digital performer 4.5 even though the Presonus support folks assured me that it would run fine.
The audio specs on the unit are 24bit/96khz which should be more than adequate for any task.
Recording is a breeze - basically plug in source, get the right volume control and run record from the software. In case you're running into latency issues you can monitor your source direct by using the input controls - that adds a whole lot of flexibility on monitoring options.
The breakout box is rackmountable and with the latest firmware update can be used as a standalone mic preamp and mixer without the computer.
As far as complaints - there is only one mix that goes out as cue mix and master, so you have to provide your performers with the same mix you're listening to in the control room unless you decide to buss the signal to another output channel. 48v (phantom power) is turned either on or off for the first 4 and 2nd 4 channels - there is no way to engage it on each channel separately. That could be dangerous for some ribbon mics as phantom power could cause severe damage to them. The preamps also might be too quiet for some microphone types - I found myself constantly cranking up to 7 or more to get a good signal level on dynamic mics.
Overall I find the FP-10 to be a cost effective solution for recording a full band or for the home studio where more inputs are required.