Fender CEO talks PreSonus acquisition and the future of recording software: “The simplest version of Studio One right now has a 150-page manual, which is 149 pages too many”

PreSonus Studio One
(Image credit: PreSonus)

When Fender acquired PreSonus in 2021, speculation quickly turned to what this could mean for Studio One, the company’s popular DAW.

Thus far, it’s been pretty much business as usual - the version 5.5 update, released in January, was very much an evolutionary one - but in a recent interview with MusicRadar, Fender CEO Andy Mooney suggested that the software’s future could be “simpler, more intuitive and less expensive”.

When asked if Fender plans to use PreSonus’s tech to do for recording what it’s done for guitar learning via Fender Play (ie, make it accessible and user-friendly), Mooney replied by saying: “Having dabbled in recording myself, I’ve never found a DAW I didn't need an MIT degree to actually use. You shouldn't need to spend more time figuring out how to use a DAW than you do creating.

”So my belief was that we can take the talent and the brand equity of PreSonus and create the equivalent of Fender Play for recording - ie, a product that’s globally accessible and very intuitive to use.”

Whether this theoretical product would replace Studio One or sit alongside it remains to be seen but, given what Mooney has in mind, we suspect it would be the latter.

“The brief, if you like, for an entry-level studio product, would be a digital equivalent of an analogue four-track recorder, right? And in fact, even that's too complicated because these days with digital, you can have a guitar and then hit one button and you'll get drums and bass, so you can sit down and just record intuitively.”

If Fender does go down this road, comparisons will be drawn to what Apple did when it bought original Logic Pro developer Emagic back in 2002. Logic has been maintained as the top-tier production software, but Apple used the Emagic team’s expertise to help it create GarageBand, its entry-level DAW, which it launched - with a little help from John Mayer - in 2004.

However, it seems that the recording platform that Mooney has in mind is even easier to use than that.

"The simplest version of Studio One right now has a 150-page owner's manual, which I have said to the team is 149 pages too many,” he says. “Because you should be able to get out of the box, press one button and you're off to the races. So that's, again, a very easy brief, but very difficult to execute. But there has been a gravitational pull by aficionados to just keep jamming more and more features into DAWS when, in fact, I think you need to take away more features, make it simpler and more intuitive and less expensive."

When this new recording platform will launch and whether it will be offered via a Fender Play-style subscription is still to be confirmed, but Mooney revealed that the German software team that Fender inherited from PreSonus is “working on it right now”.

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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