Digidesign’s new Mbox 2 has some of you excited, others unimpressed — but we were missing some details about how it differs from the original Mbox. Are the inserts gone? Does the fact that Digidesign no longer mentions “Focusrite mic pres” mean this is a downgrade, given that was a big selling point of the original? What about that handle — what if you want it out of the way? We’ve asked Digidesign for details. Digidesign’s Reinel Adajar gives us the scoop (thanks, Reinel!).
CDM: Will you still be able to buy the original Mbox?
Digi: No. Mbox 2 will be replacing the Mbox (which will be discontinued).
Have the TRS inserts been removed? TRS inserts let you plug in hardware effects easily without a mixer.
Digi: Yes they have. In maintaining the portability, this allowed for the space to be used towards the MIDI ports, which customers tend to use more especially with the new Ignition Pack [software bundle] that is now included.
CDM: The specs no longer show Focusrite mic pres? Whose mic pres are in there now?
Digi: The new mic preamp design in Mbox 2 utilizes a console-style preamp topology with a switchable balanced 20 dB pad in front of the main preamp—similar to what is used in most traditional mixing consoles. Mechanical switching is employed, eliminating the distortion associated with electronic switching, especially at high signal levels. The combination of improved topology and cleaner powering gives the preamp nearly 4 dBu of equivalent input noise (EIN) improvement over the original Mbox.
CDM: Is there any way to fold the handle or get rid of it?
Digi: The handle can be removed and switched to use the other piece included.
So, there you have it. Better mic pres, MIDI ports instead of the inserts (which I’ll admit, most of us are more likely to use), and you can get rid of the handle if you want to save space. (See picture; it should reduce clearance in your bag, a good thing.) Add that to an improved software bundle, and this is definitely a good buy for Pro Tools users, especially assuming you don’t already own an Mbox. I still see brisk competition for users of other systems like Live, SONAR, Logic, Tracktion, and the lot, of course, but it’s nice to see audio interfaces for computers continue to evolve.