PreSonus Studio One 5 vs. Sphere – Buy, Upgrade, or Subscribe?

PreSonus’ feature rich DAW, Studio One 5, has been released along with a new subscription service – PreSonus Sphere. This leaves a large number of Studio One users, like me, questioning whether or not to upgrade Studio One or subscribe to Sphere.

There are some major differences between purchasing an upgrade to Studio One vs PreSonus Sphere. Let’s get that out of the way first. Since Sphere includes Studio One Professional, we will be comparing that version to Sphere as it pertains to features and price.

Studio One 5 Pro vs Sphere Product Differences

Studio One 5

Let’s be real here. There are more features packed into Studio One Pro than any one person will need. That’s the beauty of it. It is suitable for any professional or hobbyist working with audio. The point is not to use all the features but the features are there if you need them. With Studio One 5 Pro you don’t need any additional audio plugins or audio software.

Studio One 5

PreSonus Sphere

Sphere was created as an all-in-one subscription service for everything PreSonus. Not only will you get instant access to Studio One 5 and Notion, you become part of an online music community. Easily collaborate with other users from around the world! Additionally, you will have access to exclusive educational events to refine your skills.

Checkout RAUM, one of our favorite reverb plugins!

New Users Should Join PreSonus Sphere

I am not a fan of leasing or renting software, but this is a real no-brainer. If you want to enter the world of Studio One, this is your ticket. Essentially for $15/mo, you can bypass the high price of Studio One Pro ($400). It will take 27 months before you will have spent the equivalent of purchasing a full license. You will also get the added benefits of Sphere.

At the bare minimum, use Sphere to see if Studio One works for your needs. See if it runs well on your system. You can still purchase a full license later if you would like.

If You Also Need Notion, Consider Joining PreSonus Sphere

Notion is PreSonus’ notation software. It is simply the best composition software for instrumentalists, composers, and more. For the price of a year of Sphere, you could purchase Notion. If you add that on to the price of Studio One 4, you’re now looking at $550 for these two items alone.

Notion 6

Professional Users Should Consider Upgrading

If you are a serious producer using Studio One Pro, buy the upgrade. Consider Sphere only as an add-on if you need it. Here’s why I recommend this approach.

1. Your License Will Never Expire or Need to Call Home

Purchasing a Studio One 5 Pro license ensures that you always have access to your projects, now and in the future. With Sphere, Studio One will call home every few days to ensure that your subscription has not been canceled. The last thing you need to happen during a session is Studio One attempting to call home when the internet is offline. If that happens, guess who’s not having a recording session? You. You’re not having a session.

Let’s pretend you change primary DAW’s in the future (I know, that never happens). If you ever need to open an old session or project after your subscription has ended, you must renew your subscription. The thought of paying someone again to open an old project just feels wrong to me.

2. The Price of Ownership is Low

If the last point didn’t convince you, maybe this will. The cost of purchasing an upgrade to version 5 is so low. It really is. I know some of you are thinking “But Sphere is only $169.95 vs $149.95 for an upgrade!”. And that’s where you are wrong. Sphere is $169.95 per year.

Studio One 4 was released on May 22, 2018. Three and a half years later, Studio One 5 was released. Let’s do some math based on that scenario to see how much it would really cost.

With Sphere, you would have spent nearly $425 over the life span of Studio One 4! Purchasing an upgrade just saved you $275. You’re welcome.


3. You Probably Don’t Need Sphere’s Added Benefits

If you are already in the professional space, it’s safe to say that you don’t need the over 100 additional plugins, instruments, and tools included in Sphere. They will probably just sit there while you continue to use your go-to favorites. While it can be enticing to become a plugin-pack-rat, it’s not practical. I would rather have one tool that I know how to use well than a hundred tools lying around that I won’t use or don’t know that well.

When it comes to collaborating, professionals have established methods in place. They may vary from studio to studio, but the point is they work. Changing the way you collaborate would not only require you to join Sphere but the other party as well. Professionals frequently collaborate with users of other DAWs. This makes Sphere collaboration less relevant to the professional user.

In conclusion

As a Studio One 4 Professional user, I will be purchasing Studio One 5. It makes financial and practical sense for me. I will be waiting for them to sort out some of the bugs before upgrading. I will also be waiting for a sale price on the upgrade. I am told that there will no longer be half-price deals like we have seen in the past. However, I am hopeful something will happen around Black Friday this year. My motto is, “Never pay full price for software!”