New Avid Pro Tools Mbox 3 and Mbox 3 Pro
Rumors have been circulating the web for months now, well even longer than that probably, but the day has finally come. The new Mbox family is here. Avid is dropping the 3 from the name though and is sticking with just Pro Tools Mbox and Pro Tools Mbox Pro. I’ve gotten my hands on the Mbox but not the pro, the above picture is one that I took of the unit I got to check out. You know that I prefer to have you listen than read, but unfortunately there is no chance of me getting to track with this thing so you’re stuck with me rambling. Let’s go.
First off, as I’ve said many times, I judge things right off the bat on their weight. It’s silly but if something feels solid, I just feel better about it, and trust it a bit more. Now I don’t want this post to turn into an Mbox 2 bashing session (although I fear it will sound that way), but the Mbox 2 and Mbox 2 Pro always felt flimsy to me. They felt like they needed to be babied. Strangely the Mbox 2 Mini always felt more sturdy, with it’s all metal housing. This new breed of Mbox feels VERY solid. It easily ways 5 pounds or more. It’s an all metal (I believe aluminum) chassis, and you could easily break a car window with it. The knobs, switches, everything feels great on this.
Another very tactile difference is the volume pot. On the previous Mboxes you had a very small pot, that looked identical to every other pot, and was pretty hard to get at if you have stumpy fingers like mine. This new piece has a nice big, great feeling volume pot, which is a big deal to me.
Sound quality. I’ve heard so many people knock the sound quality of the previous mboxes, both on the pres and on the converters. I can’t really argue with any of you on that either. They were never all that impressive. They worked, and that was about all you could say for them. All of that has changed with the new breed. I heard a few different projects tracked on the new Pro Tools Mbox, and monitored them through the Mbox as well and I was very impressed. In this pricerange, and with this i/o compliment I know everyone will be comparing this with the Duet. I think it’s a bit silly as they’re both meant for entirely different systems, and if you want Logic you’ll go one way, and if you want Pro Tools you’ll go another, but I’m a silly guy sometimes too. I think this thing is right on par, if not slightly better (did not do a direct shootout), than the Duet. Bold claim I know. Keep in mind, I don’t work for either of these companies. I sell them both, so frankly it does me no good to plug either. While Pro Tools is my life’s blood, I’ll be the first in line to point out Avid/Digi’s many failings. This new line isn’t on that list.
Here’s a shot of the packaging and a couple of closeups for you.
Now onto the Mbox Pro. I didn’t get to see this one, but the specs alone are pretty impressive. This is the Pro Tools interface that a lot of people have been waiting for and features a ton of additions that many people have requested.
First off it has 4 mic pres, with inserts on each, on it. It also has meters on the front panel. 6 line outs, word clock i/o, 2 headphone jacks with dedicated volume control, mono knob, it really is the wishlist of most LE users. This finally bridges the all too distant gap from the Mbox world to the 003 world. For the complete specs you can go here.
Again, it’s build with the window breaking, intruder clubbing, ruggedness of the other members of the family, and has the same pres and converters. I think everyone will be pretty impressed with the sound quality on these interfaces once they get into people’s hands. Both the Mbox and the Pro have higher sampling rates than their predecessors, the Mbox coming in at 96kHz and the Pro coming in at 192kHz. They also both feature onboard DSP for cue mixing, w/ onboard effects. Like I said, Avid has finally fulfilled the wishlist of most of the users out there.
The last new member is, of course the Pro Tools Mbox Mini. There are no real surprises here on the i/o. It’s basically an Mbox 2 Mini but with the updated chassis and circuitry. All of the above applies in those cases.
As a parting note, I must point out that the main brain behind these new interfaces has one of the most glorious beards that I’ve ever come across on a living person anyway (kind leonidas and honest abe are excluded from the runnings). I’ve also included a picture of him as his beard is almost he most important spec of these new interfaces.
So what do you think? Did Digi, er I mean Avid, hit it on the head? Did they miss the mark? Are you already tearing at your wallet and phone to call the smiling faces of Sweetwater to order one of these? Let me know in the comments below.
Until Next Time
The Bearded Man