The newest addition to the Quantum range offers a plethora of I/O and excellent latency performance for a very reasonable price.
When it comes to audio interfaces, PreSonus have a long history of adopting new protocols. They were among the first few companies to make a Firewire interface (the 2003 FireStation, which was also the first to make use of Yamaha's mLAN protocol), and more recently they've been keen early proponents of both USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt. Their first interface to use the latter was the PreSonus Quantum, which took full advantage of Thunderbolt's data transfer speed to provide remarkably low latency. You can read our glowing review of it in the September 2017 issue. The Quantum is still available, but is now part of a range of Quanta that includes the Quantum 4848 (a no-frills but high-I/O-count device designed to work with analogue consoles) and the subject of this review, the Quantum 2626.
One thing that sets the Quanta apart in a very crowded market is that they all dispense with DSP. PreSonus reasoned that if they can get latency low enough, there's no need to include a DSP mixer in the interface itself, since the DAWs we all use have far more powerful mixers of their own. It's an attractive prospect: rather than plugging into the interface, routing the physical input to a DSP mixer channel, piping that into your DAW while also sending it back to a DSP foldback bus, and routing your DAW back into the DSP mixer, via the foldback bus and thence to a physical output — all so you can hear yourself and your backing tracks while you record — you just patch the Quantum straight into your DAW channels and do all your routing and monitor mixing in there. No more Alt+tabbing to tweak your monitor mix, or loading up DSP mixer scenes that may or may not work with your current DAW project. Routing, headphone mixes, monitor outputs and levels: all are recalled perfectly the moment you open a DAW project.
The remarkable latency performance of the original Quantum made the above a practical reality but, at its £1000$1000-plus price tag, it was competing with manufacturers who'd turned DSP into an artform. Universal Audio, in particular, have spent years considerably sweetening the DSP deal with some outstanding plug‑ins, and their powerful low-latency Console DSP mixer exemplifies the opposite approach.
Announced earlier this year, the Quantum 2626 promised all of the...