RE: Presonus Firebox
"I am interested in purchasing a Presonus Firebox as my first audio interface. It seems to be quite popular although I have heard some negative things about its preamps and headphone levels.
Has anyone used this device and can make a recommendation one way or the other? Does it work well with Leopard?"
I've been using a Firebox for a few years now, without problems, on both 10.3.9 and 10.4.11. I wouldn't expect any hardware issues with 10.5.x. You might have to check Presonus' site to see if the Firebox software applications will run under Leopard.
I've no problems with the headphone output and the preamps were ok when I used them. I now use an FMR "RNP" (really nice preamp) for my mic inputs, plugged into the line inputs in the Firebox. The RNP is as nice a preamp as you'll find in its price range.
The Firebox uses the "CORE Audio drivers" that are built into OS X - no need to install drivers, and no driver conflicts. Setting it up was one of the easiest experiences I've ever had on the Mac - about 10 minutes between unboxing it and recording test tracks using GarageBand.
However, if I had to do it over again, I might check out a few other interfaces, as well. One that has caught my eye of late is the M-Audio "Fast Track Ultra". It's USB 2.0, however, instead of firewire-based. But it looks to be one of the better USB 2 interfaces out there (there really aren't many of them, yet). It has the advantage of having _4_ XLR inputs vis-a-vis just 2 with the Firebox. And it can be found for under $300 if you do some researching. There are video clips on YouTube of getting it up and running with GarageBand.
One other thing to note is the bundled software that comes with any interface. I prefer Steinberg's "Cubase LE" (comes with the Firebox) over just about anything else, due to it's easy editing capabilities. But there is also a low-cost version of ProTools that works with M-Audio hardware (ProTools M-Powered).