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13 Aug 2020

Review: PreSonus Quantum 2626 Thunderbolt 3 audio interface

producer PreSonus Quantum 2626 Thunderbolt 3 audio interface

Thunderbolt 3? Yes, this is the first Thunderbolt 3 interface from PreSonus! We saw the audio interface presented in 2020 for the first time during NAMM 2020. A very promising interface in 19-inch rack format. PreSonus exists in 2020, 25 years - they are celebrating that with this release! PreSonus calls the 2626 itself the new version of the PreSonus FirePod that came out in 2003. 

The FirePod was a great success for PreSonus, followed by the Quantum in 2017 and now in 2020 the Quantum 2626. PreSonus is know for all kind of pro audio products such as FireStudio-series FireWire interfaces, AudioBox series, Studio series USB interfaces as well as StudioLive mixers with built-in USB (and AVB Ethernet networked) interfaces.

Next to that PreSonus has an own DAW named Studio One which is definitely worth to check out, it our eyes it's the most underrated DAW - but offers such a great workflow.

In collaboration with PreSonus, we wrote the review below.

What is the Quantum 2626 audio interface?

The Quantum 2626 is a Thunderbolt 3 audio interface in 19-inch rack format. At the front are 8 microphone XMAX pre-amps that you can plug in via a combi connection XLR or Jack. In addition, you have all input volume buttons of all 8 inputs on the front. A large volume knob is next to it, followed by 2 headphone outputs, the volume of which can be adjusted separately via a large jack connection.

On the far left, you have 48v phantom power switches for 1-4 or 4-8 - so you can't turn this on and off individually per channel. The first 2 inputs are microphone / instrument inputs and the other inputs are microphone / line inputs. There are also line inputs on the back for send and return, so you can connect other hardware such as compressors - which is a nice feature for an audio interface!

Nice is that all inputs are at the front, so you can quickly plug in when you switch gear. This is different with other interfaces, such as the Arturia 8Pre where there are 2 in front and the rest behind. This has the advantage that there is space on the front for LED level meters, which the 2626 does not have - just single led lights.

The 2626 has drivers available for Mac and Windows, so it runs on both platforms.

De Quantum 2626
Quantum 2626 box
Quantum 2626 front
Main volume button

Analog gear, midi, SPDIF, Wordclock and ADAT

The cool thing about the Quantum 2626 is that you can connect analogue hardware such as compressors or other hardware to channel 1 and 2. You do this by using the balanced send and return connections on the back. It is nice when you work with analog hardware, that you can place an effect before the audio interface converts digitally and converts the audio to digital (A/D). According to many engineers, this is the best and most beautiful way.

In addition, also MIDI, SPDIF, Wordclock and ADAT with which you can expand the audio interface.

Additional software? Yes!

PreSonus, just like other brands provides a lot of software with the audio interface. Including of course their own DAW called Studio One and the Artist version is included. The free software with the purchase of hardware will play an increasingly important role for brands and consumers, in our opinion PreSonus has managed to put together a nice bundle with the following software.

  • Native Instruments Replika
  • Cherry Audio Coltage Nucleus
  • Melodics Studio Bundle
  • KV331 Audio SynthMaster Player
  • UVI - Model D
  • Plugins from Brainworx
  • Lexicon MPX-i Reverb
  • Arturia Analog Lab Lite (recommended!)
  • Output Movement (recommended!)
  • Klanghelm SDRR2tube
  • Studio Linked Trophies
  • UJAM Virtual Drummer
  • iZotope Neutron Elements
  • And of course Studio One 5 Artist

You often see that the included software is not always super usable, but PreSonus has made a very nice bundle!

Why Thunderbolt 3?

First of all, it is important that your computer or laptop supports Thunderbolt 3. If the blue light stays on, it means that there is a Thunderbolt connection to a computer. Keep in mind that you have to check whether your computer supports Thunderbolt 3, in addition, you must provide a Thunderbolt 3 cable yourself, which is not included. This is often due to the price, as Thunderbolt 3 cables are quite expensive, and this would add to the price of the product. Don't have Thunderbolt 3? Then you still can use this interface, but this need some extra explanation. We often read confusion about this subject, thats why we made this list below.

Thunderbolt 3 = connect directly via a Thunderbolt 3 cable

Thunderbolt 2 = use a TB3 to TB2 adapter from Apple only, since this one is bidirectional (no speed difference)

Thunderbolt 1 = use a adapter, you won't be able to use the maximum speed of the interface which result in a slightly higher latency but is still fast

Normal USB = this won't work, so make sure you have Thunderbolt on you computer

Thunderbolt 3 and 2 is a very fast connection so you simply get the fastest connection with audio transfer to your computer and vice versa. This results in less than 1 millisecond of latency, which is incredibly fast, thanks to the Thunderbolt connection. PreSonus has chosen for the Thunderbolt 3 connection since the latest computers has this connection which result in a direct connection via a single cable.

Back of the interface
Volume main button
Back of the audio interface
48v Phantom Power

Sound quality

The XMAX pre-amps are of very good quality, as we are used to from PreSonus and provide clear and warm audio images. This also applies to the DA / AD converters that deliver a good result.

Conclusion

It is a more modern version of the PreSonus FirePod, the original Quantum interface has some more functions but also a different price tag. In between, the Quantum 2626 is the affordable version with the PreSonus quality that you are used to from the FirePod and the Quantum. It's an excellent interface, especially when you consider the price and consider that it's a Thunderbolt 3 interface.

It is a pity that no Thunderbolt cable is included, but this gives you the freedom to choose one with the correct length. We have a 16-inch Mac Book Pro in our setup, with Thunderbolt 3 dock - making the complete setup very fast and collaborative.

All in all, a very good interface from PreSonus!

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