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UniqueSquared
October 13, 2010

Avid Pro Tools Mbox 3 (3rd Gen) Review


This is the second video in our series of product reviews where DJ Madflip takes a look at the new Avid Pro Tools Mbox “3″ (3rd Gen) Family.  We didn’t go as in depth in the video and wanted to focus on the high points of this great new product including the great new design.  But we will go more in depth here for you guys.

History

The Mbox was first introduced in 2001 after the massive success of the Digi 001. It was the first time that an end user was able to create music in Pro Tools for under $500. Since that time it has continued to grow and innovate what we’ve come to expect from an audio interface found outside of the high-end studio.

You would think that these Mboxes would be called Mbox3 as they follow the hugely successful Mbox2 series IO’s. However, Avid has elected to leverage their own name on the product and highlight what people really think of when they think of the Mbox – they think “Pro Tools.” Avid actually purchased Digidesign in 1997 and has finally elected to put their name on these premium audio products to compliment their industry standard video solutions. Avid hardware and software is used in most Hollywood films that are made today.

What was revolutionary about the Mbox over it’s competition was that you could finally use Pro Tools not just affordably, but with a laptop. The Digi 001, like the Digidesign TDM products, required a PCI card to be installed in a desktop computer. We take USB interfaces for granted today, but it wasn’t that long ago that this was a game changer. In fact, USB 2.0 allows for increased bandwidth on par with what we expect from Firewire.

This is the time to point out – firewire doesn’t sound better. It merely handles data differently than USB. And, we had all better get used to seeing more and more IO’s with USB on them, because USB 3.0 is nigh and even Apple & PC laptops, increasingly, are only putting USB connections on them.

But, we digress; let’s dig in to the Pro Tools Mbox and Pro Tools Mbox Mini… [need more?]

Avid Pro Tools Mbox (what’s new?)

  • 3rd Party drivers allow it to work perfectly with Logic, Reason, Cubase, Sonar and more.
  • Bus-powered USB 2.0 connection for maximum mobility
  • All electronics have been upgraded from the previous Mbox2. (From preamp, to convertors to internal power supply)
  • Up to 24-bit, 96 kHz sample rates
  • Soft-clip limiter lets you track hot signals without clipping—providing a classic overdriven tape saturation sound (same limiter from the 192HD interface)
  • Built-in guitar tuner found in the control panel.
  • Onboard DSP offers flexible cue mixing and reverb effects
  • Assignable Pro Tools multi-function button on interface gives you fast access to software functions

Hardware configuration:

  • 4 x 4 simultaneous channels of I/O
  • 2 XLR mic/line combo inputs with 48 V phantom power
  • 2 1/4” DI inputs on front panel for easy access
  • 2 balanced 1/4” monitor outputs
  • 1 1/4” stereo headphone output with volume control
  • Stereo S/PDIF digital I/O
  • 1 MIDI input, 1 MIDI output
  • Monitor control section with Mono and Dim controls
  • Dedicated monitor volume knob

Pro Tools 8 Features

  • Award-winning Pro Tools recording, editing, and mixing
  • 48 simultaneous stereo audio tracks (expandable with Toolkit options)
  • Includes over 70 professional effects and virtual instruments
  • Professional MIDI sequencing with dedicated MIDI Editor window
  • Integrated Score Editor based on award-winning Sibelius notation software
  • Full Elastic Time and Elastic Pitch to easily adjust timing and pitch on your tracks
  • Unique Beat Detective LE automatic groove analysis and correction tool
  • ReWire support for streaming your favorite applications right into Pro Tools
  • Huge selection of compatible third-party plug-ins and software options
  • Works on Windows and Mac computers

Mbox Mini (what’s new?)

  • 3rd Party drivers allow it to work perfectly with Logic, Reason, Cubase, Sonar and more.
  • All electronics have been upgraded from the previous Mbox2 Mini. (From preamp, to convertors to internal power supply).

Hardware configuration:

  • 2 x 2 simultaneous channels of I/O
  • 1 XLR mic/line combo input with 48 V phantom power
  • 2 1/4” instrument inputs (1 DI, 1 line/DI)
  • 2 balanced 1/4” monitor outputs
  • 1 1/4” stereo headphone output
  • Dedicated monitor volume knob

So that’s it, if you have any more questions you can check out the Pro Tools Mbox and the Mbox Mini on our website.  And don’t forget to comment and let us know if you liked the post.  Stay tuned for more video reviews by DJ Madflip and others at www.UniqueSquared.com.

Transcript:

Hi this is Scott Magno AKA DJ MadFlip here with uniquesquared.com here to talk to you about two new long awaited awesome products the Mbox mini and the Mbox. Both very awesome portable devices if you’re going to record your music or do any voice overs people go straight to the Mbox. Very easy to use, I love it, it’s going to be used to record in your home studio, record your music, and any kind of voice overs.
If you are familiar with the Mbox before, you’re probably familiar with the digi design Mbox 2. And just looking at it, we’ve got a new design here with the Mbox versus the Mbox 2. You’ve got this, you know, hard casing Batman looking Mbox device versus the old, you know, breakable knobs, plastic Mbox 2. Not that there was anything wrong with it, but there’s a lot of new improvements made with the new Mbox. So you can check those out right there.
So the digi design Mbox 2 before was always associated with Pro Tools. Now with the new Avid Mbox we’ve got third party drivers which allow you to use it with Q Base, Sonar, Ableton, Logic, what have you… So really versatile piece, let’s check out some of the new features of the Mbox.
What we have is both our input gains right here, for both these channels here. This is really, really cool, I’ve got a pull out which gives me a 20 DB pad. So I can drive a signal and if I need to get that tone, it makes it really convenient to have that pull out 20 DB driver. Our multi button here, this allows for control of selection of some of the things in Pro Tools. And then we have our phantom power 48 volts here. And check out the big, huge, volume knob, didn’t have that on the old one that is really nice.
Alright so let’s check out the back. Now what we have is the USB 2.0, Midi IO here, and also your S/PDIF IO here, you’ve got your monitor outs one and two, and then here is going to be your combo XLR inputs, both also phantom power. The Mbox mini is going to be identical except that your Mbox comes with Midi in and out and also your S/PDIF IO. So both very cool products, I think that people are going to be really happy with the new product, from professionals to beginners alike. And if you have any questions, call me here at UniqueSquared, my name is Scott Magno aka DJ MadFlip. Be you, be unique, at UniqueSquared.com.

Comments

    1. jimmy says:

      Thanks Jean-Pierre. Hope you liked the review too! You can subscribe at the top too if you want.

      Cheers

  1. hello there thanks for your grat post, as usual ((o:

  2. Love your site man keep up the good work

  3. this post is very usefull thx!

  4. Dave says:

    Great review man but it’s not all about USB3. Don’t forget about Thunderbolt too.
    How the PC world adopts this new tech is unknown but Mac seems to be using it already.

  5. [...] The Avid Pro Tools Mbox 3rd Gen Introduction and Review by UniqueSquared.com. Check out a full examination here: http://www.uniquesquared.com/blog/394/knowledge-base/product-reviews/avid-pro… [...]

  6. Great review! Love the Mbox 3. Great device with high quality audio and awesome compatibility options. Lovin’ it.

  7. Mike says:

    Hey guys,

    Love the review! I was hoping I could pick your brain. I was looking at getting the mbox for VoiceOver work. I don’t have the need for multiple inputs sine I only need a mic. Is the mbox mini the best way to go? Are there any other added benefits of the other mbox? Your help is greatly appreciated! Thanks guys!

    1. The Mbox mini is perfect for voice over work. The only advantage to the others is if you’re going to multi-track for music simultaneously. I hope this helps! Cheers!