The PreSonus AIR series is one of the most popular loudspeaker options available today. And it is not surprising considering both the affordable price point and its solid range of features. This review looks at the series’s middle option, the AIR12.
The PreSonus AIR12 is an excellent loudspeaker with versatility, impressive sound quality, and reliability. But it also has a few minor issues. Let’s get into the details.
12-inch loudspeakers occupy a sweet spot in the market. Not as cumbersome as 15-inch models but also more potent than 10-inch versions. The AIR12 sits perfectly in the line-up as 12 inch powered speakers.
Let’s kick off the review with the most essential aspect when assessing any loudspeaker, which is how good it sounds. In this area, the PreSonus AIR12 is an outstanding option with a sound profile that is hard to beat.
The AIR12 displays exceptional clarity throughout its frequency range of 48Hz-20khz (-10 dB). From the bass response to the highs, this loudspeaker delivers sound that is clean, rich, and full of life.
The AIR12 features a larger tweeter than the AIR10.
The top end isn’t overly bright, a common element of many loudspeakers. There is just the right amount of definition without the highs coming across as sharp or tinny. They are crisp and delightful, with a remarkable level of accuracy.
The mid-range also displays that same level of precision. An abundance of tonal warmth here ensures accurate and satisfying delivery in this crucial part of the frequency range.
The lower end of the range also delivers a satisfying amount of punch and a noticeable bump in bass response compared to the smaller 10-inch model. As expected, it isn’t quite as lush as the 15-inch, and I would still suggest pairing the AIR12 with a quality subwoofer. But on its own, it performs well.
There is little to fault in the sound profile that the PreSonus AIR12 offers. Smooth and even delivery across the full range with a keen focus on precision. If you like tonally accurate loudspeakers, the AIR12 is a fantastic choice.
The quality of the craftsmanship on display is also impressive in the AIR series. This is a well-constructed loudspeaker that will last you for years to come.
The plastic cabinet is robust and doesn’t feel cheap. Thick and durable and also relatively resistant to marks and scuffs. An integral feature for a speaker that is likely to see plenty of transport to and from venues.
The AIR12 comes with a 6-year warranty.
The grille design is attractive and functional to help mitigate potential damage to the drivers. PreSonus lists this as tour-grade steel, and I’d have to agree. It can handle the odd bump and won’t dent easily.
Connection points at the rear are also great. I have seen a small number of complaints where people have had issues with XLR cables becoming stuck, but this issue is scarce and could be due to a specific batch or potentially the cables themselves.
Even if you encounter an issue, PreSonus offers an extended six-year warranty, and after-sales support is superb. Just remember to register your speaker, and you’ll have peace of mind that you’ll be covered. Not many companies have this level of faith in the quality of their products, so I appreciate this added layer of security.
Diving into the technical specification of the PreSonus AIR12 also highlights the thoughtful design behind this popular loudspeaker.
PreSonus has decided to use a bi-amped design instead of relying on one amplifier to do all the heavy lifting. A Class D amplifier handles the woofer with 900 watts of peak power and 500 watts of continuous power.
The bi-amped setup delivers excellent performance.
The 1.35” compression driver for the high frequencies is slightly larger than the 10-inch model. Powering this is a Class A/B amplifier with 300 watts peak and 200 watts continuous power.
The AIR12 features the same power spread as the AIR10, but the larger woofer and tweeter make a noticeable difference. I also appreciate that PreSonus openly states continuous power ratings, something some manufacturers like to obscure or bury deep within their documentation.
The only issue I have with the AIR12 is its total output level. It comes across as a little light at a max SPL of 123 dB compared to other 12-inch loudspeakers. It will struggle with larger venues and crowds, but it is a trade-off I’m willing to take for higher-quality sound. I prefer a slightly lower output level than getting blasted by a loud wall of muddy noise.
The flexibility that the PreSonus AIR12 offers also makes it an appealing option for a variety of people. If you are a beginner, you’ll have a simple-to-use interface with effective presets for hassle-free setup. For experienced veterans, it is a time saver while giving you access to more granular controls.
The LCD panel at the rear offers dimmable brightness and adjustable contrast making it easy to navigate the included menu options. Within that menu system, you’ll have access to an impressive amount of options to tweak the output.
DSP tuning allows you to tweak the output easily.
The most useful is the Mode menu which features five presets. All are easy to understand and adjust the output to adapt to different gig types. Beyond the familiar DJ, Speech, and Monitor presets, there is a FOH (Front-Of-House) setting and an Enhance mode, which delivers a warmer response if the clarity level is too bright for your liking.
Supplementing this is a Locate menu that allows you to adapt to loudspeaker positioning. Settings for Stand, Bracket, and Supend are available. Between these two menus, you can rock up to a gig and be ready to go within minutes.
Further granular control over the Treble and Bass is also present for that extra bit of tweaking if desired. It’s an excellent lineup of choices to maximize the potential use cases for this loudspeaker and an awesome feature for a loudspeaker at this price point.
Just because a loudspeaker is affordable doesn’t mean it needs to look cheap. Far too often, the budget options offer an uninspired appearance. That is not the case with the PreSonus AIR12. This is a speaker that not only sounds the part but also looks it.
Its slim form and clean lines combine wonderfully with the black finish. Added curvature on the front grille panel adds to the appeal. It’s unique yet restrained, allowing the unit to blend well into various setups. Whether you are a mobile DJ, a band, or looking for an attractive set of speakers for your venue, the AIR series oozes the professionalism you’ll desire.
The AIR12 performs well as a stage monitor.
Functionality is also high, with convenient handle placement. You’ll have the option between the side handle and a top handle, giving you maximum flexibility.
Adding to this is a thoughtful amount of mounting options. M10 threaded point for flight installation along with a 35mm pole socket. The pole mount also allows for 7.5 degrees of tilt for extra versatility.
I also like the design and implementation of the bi-amp system. Solitary Class D amps are not always the best choice for high-frequency drivers, so having a separate amp for them makes a lot of sense. More importantly, the tuning and execution of this combination are on point and deliver that wonderful level of detail in the sound profile.
It’s a great-looking loudspeaker that backs it up with a meaningful and impactful approach to technical design. It is no surprise that this series of loudspeakers has won over so many fans.
The portability of the PreSonus AIR12 is another appealing feature. This is a compact and lightweight unit that is easy to transport to and from gigs. While I am used to heavier speakers, age is catching up to me, and I appreciate something a little less taxing.
The AIR12 is not a cumbersome loudspeaker.
With a weight of 37.5 lbs. (17 kg), you can comfortably carry these without fear of excessive strain on your back. The choice between two handles is also a nice touch.
Regarding Inputs and Outputs, the PreSonus AIR12 keeps things simple. There are two lines available with both supporting Line or Mic input. Combo jacks ensure flexibility with access to XLR and ¼-inch TRS.
I found the connections secure but not tight, like some reports. As always, I recommend quality cables for the best performance. Keeping the ports clean and free from dust and particles is also advisable.
The AIR12 offers a solid selection of connection options.
As an added benefit, the AIR12 also features an AUX In as an option on Line 2 for quick connection with an external device like a smartphone. Rounding out the connections is an XLR Mix Out.
There isn’t anything groundbreaking here, and it doesn’t feature Bluetooth connectivity which is becoming increasingly common. But for an aggressively priced loudspeaker, you can’t expect everything.
To put it simply, the PreSonus AIR12 presents excellent value for money. There are cheaper speakers out there, but they pale in comparison. Even loudspeakers at a similar price point have difficulty matching the quality on display here.
You’ll have to spend much more to see a tangible difference in sound and features. It’s a solid and dependable speaker with impressive sound and flexible features without costing an arm and a leg. A perfect choice for budget-conscious buyers that don’t want to settle for second-rate gear.
The AIR series has gathered excellent reviews since its launch. The 12-inch AIR12, in particular, is a favorite due to its superb balance between portability and performance. There is also ample praise for the exceptional clarity the AIR12 offers.
A Match Made In Heaven
Loudspeakers come in various shapes and sizes. You can go as low as an 8-inch option all the way to big 15-inch monsters. But no matter which size you settle on, one critical component can elevate your setup further: a quality subwoofer.
Some larger loudspeakers offer a substantial amount of kick and grunt in the low end. But they will never compare to a dedicated subwoofer. Adding a subwoofer allows your loudspeaker to focus on the mids and highs and ensures you get that deep low rumble that is oh-so-satisfying.
Adding a subwoofer makes a big difference.
Selecting the right tops is just as crucial as the subwoofer, which is why the AIR12 is such an appealing option. Its fantastic clarity and precision mean it will harmonize wonderfully with a capable sub.
PreSonus offers matching AIR subwoofers, and the performance is sensational when combined with the quality AIR loudspeakers. Truly a match made in heaven.
The PreSonus AIR12 is one of many quality loudspeakers available. Below we take a quick look at some alternatives that might suit your needs better.
EV ELX200-12P Review
If the lower volume output of the AIR12 is a concern, the EV ELX200-12P is a powerful alternative. With a big punchy sound, it is better suited to larger gigs.
- Outstanding sound quality and a high Max SPL of 130 dB.
- Modern and professional appearance and good tuning flexibility.
- The plastic cabinet is not as high quality as the AIR12’s cabinet.
PreSonus AIR10 Review
For those that don’t need high output volume and need greater portability, the smaller AIR10 is worth exploring. All the same great features in a smaller and cheaper package.
- Crystal clear sound profile with high clarity and precision.
- The lower price point makes it an appealing choice for those on a budget.
- Only great for small intimate gigs.
EV ELX200-15P Review
Sometimes, you need some serious grunt and want to set yourself up for any potential situation down the road. In that case, the big and powerful ELX200-15P should be on your shortlist.
- Punchy and well-rounded bass. You can leave the subwoofer at home for smaller gigs.
- Detailed tuning capacity ensures the unit can adapt to different gigs.
- Like the other ELX series speakers, the cabinet is prone to scuffing.
Should You Buy?
PreSonus has a hit on its hands with the AIR series, and the AIR12 easily ranks as my favorite of the three options available. It hits the sweet spot with impressive sound and a lightweight footprint.
A pair of these and some subwoofers can see you rock nearly every gig you come across. For front-of-house engineers, they are versatile and easy to set up, giving you a headache-free experience.
With an extended warranty and that crisp and airy sound, the PreSonus AIR12 is among the best 12-inch choices available today.