Product Review: Page (1) of 3 - 02/06/06 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at page facebook

Digidesign's Mbox 2

A complete recording system with Pro Tools LE and a portable USB interface By Frank Moldstad

Mbox 2 with portable handle attached
Digidesign's Mbox 2 (MSRP $495) is a complete audio and MIDI production system for entry-level users. Either of its two analog input channels can accommodate microphones, instruments or line level devices, and the included Pro Tools LE 7 software can simultaneously record and play back 32 audio tracks at up to 24-bit/48k resolution. Mbox 2 is compatible with both Mac OSX and Windows XP computers, and Pro Tools LE 7 installation discs are included for both platforms.

Because it's USB-powered (1.1) , Mbox 2 is equally capable at home or on the road. In fact, it comes with a removable handle for portability that can be swapped out with a faceplate insert. And since recordings made with Pro Tools LE 7 are fully compatible with high-end Pro Tools rigs, even professional users might be interested in Mbox 2 as a mobile system. The two mic pre inputs include 48v Phantom power, so field recordings can be captured directly into a laptop. Mbox 2 has a briefcase-friendly size of approximately nine inches wide by seven inches deep, and two inches tall (slightly larger when the handle is installed).

Home users wanting to use Mbox 2 as the focus of a project studio will find a complete toolset, including 37 DigiRack and seven Bomb Factory plug-ins. Digidesign has also bundled the Pro Tools Ignition Pack with Mbox 2, a highly useful collection of third-party applications and plugins. Among these are Propellerhead Software Reason Adapted 3, Ableton Live Lite 4 Digidesign Edition, FXpansion BFD Lite, IK Multimedia's SampleTank 2 SE, T-RackS EQ and AmpliTube LE, Celemony Melodyne uno essential, Bunker 8 REX File CD and the Pro Tools Method One instructional DVD.

Pro Tools LE 7

Input options
Although 32 audio tracks is sufficient for many audio projects, Mbox 2 is expandable to 48 tracks with the new Music Production Toolkit ($495) that Digidesign just announced at the NAMM convention.

In addition, although Mbox 2 is limited to two simultaneous analog input sources, it also includes digital S/PDIF IO. Using both the analog and digital inputs simultaneously, Mbox 2 can serve as a four in/two out interface. One way to do this is by connecting a third-party mic preamp with S/PDIF outputs to Mbox 2's S/PDIF inputs, for vocals or instrument tracks. This configuration allows two other sources to be plugged directly into Mbox 2's analog inputs. Once the audio is recorded, multiple tracks can be mixed down in Pro Tools LE for stereo output (Mbox 2's S/PDIF outputs carry the same signal as the analog outputs).

Also, Pro Tools LE 7 can manage up to 128 virtual tracks and 256 MIDI tracks. Although not all virtual tracks are accessible at once, they are a very handy method of storing alternate guitar or vocal takes for later consideration when comping tracks or making final decisions on what the best takes were.

Front and rear views


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Related Keywords:Digidesign, Mbox 2, Pro Tools, Pro Tools LE


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