Avid MBOX Studio: A Comprehensive Interface for Project Studios and Creators10/19/2022
Avid is shaking up the personal and project studio market with the release of its new MBOX Studio Desktop, a 21 x 22 USB-C interface offering a wealth of flexible input and output options, seamless integration with the included Pro Tools Studio software subscription, and a powerful plug-in package. Well suited to a wide range of studio applications, from making beats and tracking guitars and vocals to mixing and podcasting duties, the MBOX Studio offers a comprehensive feature set sure to please a wide array of producers, musicians, and content creators. If Avid’s HD systems are a bit much for your budget and I/O requirements, but you’ve been hoping for a Pro-Tools-ready, expandable studio centerpiece with extensive routing and monitoring options that’s intuitive to use, lo and behold, your day has come.
Let’s get the input and output capabilities of the MBOX Studio taken care of right away with this handy list.
21 Input Channels
4 channels of mic/line inputs (two with Hi-Z)
2 line inputs
2 FX returns
1 onboard talkback mic
22 Output Channels
4 channels of monitor outs (two stereo pairs)
4 channels of headphone outs (two stereo pairs)
2 FX sends
If you’re outfitting a new setup or upgrading from a basic interface, the MBOX Studio is a great starting point. It provides eight analog inputs, usually more than enough for basic vocal and instrument tracking, and later you can expand your setup with eight additional inputs if you connect an outboard preamp to the ADAT optical digital input. The preamps on the four combo TRS/XLR inputs provide up to 59 dB of gain and offer variable impedance settings, so you can coax just the right tone out of your microphone or guitar. On the output side, there are four line outputs for monitors and a pair of independent headphone jacks with volume controls offering options for customized monitor mixes, while an FX send and return loop lets you integrate outboard effects easily. Of course, you can expand your output capabilities even further via the 8-channel ADAT optical output. The 24-bit MBOX Studio supports sampling rates up to 192 kHz when you’re running 10 inputs and 10 outputs at once. With all 21 inputs and 22 outputs operating simultaneously, the maximum sampling rate is 96 kHz. A pair of standard 5-pin DIN ports supplies MIDI sync and control for external electronic instruments and, of course, MIDI is also available over the USB-C connector.
Indeed, the MBOX Studio is equipped with a very nice I/O feature set, but it also provides an intuitive and comprehensive control section that makes managing those inputs, outputs, and monitoring options very easy—you won’t need a separate monitoring control interface, it’s all right here. The left side controls your input section; indent the large encoder knob on this side to select an input channel, then dial in the gain. Dedicated buttons above the encoder allow you to select the input type, adjust impedance settings, turn on phantom power, engage the wireless Bluetooth input, and link channels. A 13-segment indicator above each encoder displays current parameter settings, while 9-segment meters show you incoming signal levels and the stereo output level.
The monitoring controls on the right side are similar; indent the large encoder to select the output, then use it to adjust the level. Buttons are provided to mute or dim the outputs quickly, sum to mono, and link the main and alternate outputs to avoid sudden volume jumps when switching between monitors. The talkback button engages the built-in talkback mic, which can be routed to your DAW for recording if you want to preserve an exciting control-room moment for posterity. The Bluetooth button here lets you send the output wirelessly to compatible devices, and the MBOX Studio has two Bluetooth chips, allowing you to connect to one device as an input source and a second device for monitoring and recording; you can even do the requisite mix check in the car if you park within Bluetooth range.
She’s Got Control
The MBOX Studio plays nicely with guitars; on the front panel is a re-amp output that shares that same signal path as line output #8 (FX Send #2) for an easy-to-access Hi-Z output that you can use to send a clean guitar signal to an amp for re-recording; there’s even an optional ground lift if your amp requires it. In addition, the built-in tuner can be accessed to tune electric instruments connected to inputs 1 and 2; it can also be used to tune acoustic instruments via the internal talkback mic.
Also in the center section are four dual-function user-action buttons; you can use these for one-touch recall of MBOX Control presets with EQ, gain, and routing settings. Additional MBOX and Pro Tools functions can also be instantly accessed here. Assigning these buttons is done in the MBOX Control software for your Mac or Windows computer and, in fact, MBOX Control supplies a powerful routing matrix with clearly labeled rows for inputs, software routing channels, and outputs for flexible signal routing. Podcasters will especially appreciate the loopback capabilities that allow you to record an incoming caller, music, or bit of video dialog back to your computer easily.
On top of all that good stuff, the MBOX Studio includes the MBOX Ignition Pack, a versatile plug-in bundle that puts a host of useful sound sculpting tools at your disposal including:
- bx_Megadual (Mesa Boogie emulation)
- Ampeg SVT-VR Classic (Ampeg emulation)
- ADA Flanger (A/DA Flanger emulation)
- BX_Bluechorus2 (Boss CE-2 Chorus emulation)
- BX_Greenscreamer (Ibanez Tube Screamer emulation)
- BX_Console N (Neve console channel strip emulation)
- BX_Opto Compressor (all-around compressor emulation)
- Baby Audio “Vibe Box”―special MBOX STUDIO edition, only available with MBOX Studio purchase
- Gauge Lush Vox (parallel compressor and processor)
- StudioLinked Trophies (virtual instrument)
- BPM Create―MBOX Producer Toolkit
This, of course, is in addition to the included 1-year subscriptions to Sibelius Artist music composer software and the Pro Tools Studio DAW, which places up to 512 audio tracks and over 1,000 MIDI tracks at your disposal. And yes, while the MBOX Studio offers advanced Pro Tools integration, it’s a class-compliant interface and will happily work with all third-party DAWs.
So, hopefully, we’ve given you some idea of what Avid is offering with the MBOX Studio interface. Between the flexible connectivity options, extensive feature set, and powerful software bundle, this USB audio interface checks off many “must-have” boxes for content creators, musicians, and podcasters working in serious home and project studios.
Looking forward to trying out the MBOX Studio on your next creative endeavor? Let us know in the Comments section, below; and if you have questions, please call us, chat with us online, or stop by the B&H New York SuperStore.