In my 35+ years in the pro audio industry, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a ridiculous amount of gear—from cheap to ultra-expensive. In the early 1990s, through a bit of luck and a lot of hard work, I ended up working at one of the few multiroom studios where big fancy bands commonly worked. We had two SSL rooms, a Neve VR72 room, and a fourth room that hosted several different consoles, depending on who would take that room over.
After working at the “big studio,” I went to work for the company that makes Pro Tools (known as Digidesign at the time—not Avid) and owned every system they made. After leaving in late 2003, I started Secrets of the Pros to teach people how to record and mix. (Side note—our training uses Pro Tools and teaches the standard techniques used by dozens of the best of the best engineers. Plus, our endorsements are excellent—check it out.)
With Secrets of the Pros, I like to keep up on music equipment and software, so I’m constantly using different interfaces from different companies, and I can tell you the new MBOX Studio is an amazing piece of hardware.
MBOX Studio is smaller than a $400,000 SSL and a $700,000 Neve, but it has the same solid feel, and actually has cleaner preamps, inputs, and outputs. The rest of the routing (through Pro Tools) is basically noise-free.
The headphone amps are pristine, the preamps are super clean and have a lot of gain, and it has a ton of flexibility. So, as your skills and needs grow, you’ll be happy to have that power waiting for you.
Real World Use
I am a big fan of having more than two inputs so I can leave a vocal mic, acoustic guitar mic, electric guitar via DI, and bass via DI all plugged in and ready to go without having to reset my gain levels every time. This makes being creative much faster and easier. You don’t want to have to plug in and get levels every time an idea hits or you’re feeling inspired… trust me. Plus, you can easily expand to have more inputs, so when your needs grow to wanting to record drums, it’s all ready to go. Additionally, multiple headphone outputs are something you will use often.
And, for the price, you get a bunch of extra and very useful features! For example, you get big meters which are easy to read, assignable buttons, a built-in mic (great for talkback or video calls), stereo Bluetooth (useful for listening to songs from your phone or checking mixes on your phone or in your car), and plenty of ins and outs that you can use to grow your studio.
All this, and the software to control it, make it great for any and all applications—podcasters, gaming, music production (of course), post production... for anything audio, this interface is ready for the task at hand.
I can go on and on, but my friends at Avid have done a fantastic job creating some videos you should watch—do it.
This is a top-shelf piece of hardware you will enjoy using every day. I know I will, as this will be the primary interface in my home studio moving forward. I think I’ve hit hardware bliss. :)