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Thread Multi track recording through MBox

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1 Multi track recording through MBox
I trying to upgrade from a digital Roland 880 EX to learning pro tools. I'm thinking that I should just go with an MBox as opposed to the digi 002 control surface for now mainly because of money and the length of time it'll probably take to learn the ins and outs of pro tools. I figure I can just upgrade if need be at a later time.

My question is that since the MBox only has 2 inputs, would it be possible or plausible that if I need to record drums, I could just hook up the Roland's four inputs and mix to the one input in the MBox and use the additional MBox input as well for a total on 5 mics? Would anyone out there agree that I could do this easily and that it would be a smart way to go if I don't want to shell out the $2500 for the digi control surface at this time?
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Hello skydyedsign,

Firstly, please disregard this reply if you've purchased your ProTools rig of choice. If you haven't:

You asked "My question is that since the MBox only has 2 inputs, would it be possible or plausible that if I need to record drums, I could just hook up the Roland's four inputs and mix to the one input in the MBox and use the additional MBox input as well for a total on 5 mics?"

Yes, you could use the MBox in the exact way that you described here. A friend of mine just got an MBox and totally loves it. He's a singer-songwriter so he doesn't really need to use more than two microphones at a time. But just in case he might want to he bought a small Mackie mixer for recording multiples of people or, like in your case, drums. I have a Roland VS-1680 and it is responsible (in more ways than one - good and bad!) for inspiring me to invest into ProTools. Among other things, what has been steering me away from recording with my workstation is the dull, boxy-sounding mic-pres with no head room. (Can you say crapolla?) You could use the best sounding microphones in the world and they’d STILL have to make it pass the bottleneck of those Roland pre-amps. You cannot get past them without spending more money which I simply refuse to do on this unit anymore. It's a shame because overall it was/is a good box. I spent a lot of money on that thing when it came out and in hindsight Roland clearly skimped on the pre-amps. (They are a great company who pioneered a lot of stuff but their gear has been over-priced for too long.) However, I digress. The point is that getting a decent sounding path going from the mics through the pre-amps and on to disc is important for a sound that doesn't fatigue the ear easily. It's something to think about and it’s cheaper than ever these days to accomplish.

btw - My buddy's Mackie was a 1202-VLZ PRO Micro Mixer, has good mic-pres, and costs about $400 at Musician's Friend.com. I got the Behringer UB1202 mixer, a similar unit to the Mackie in many ways. ;) Considering that it only cost about $80(!) at Musician's Friend.com I couldn't pass it up. And it's nice: very quiet, reliable, and most of the same basic features as the Mackie. And it replaced the 1680 as my "mixer".

Anyway, about your other question: "Would anyone out there agree that I could do this easily and that it would be a smart way to go if I don't want to shell out the $2500 for the digi control surface at this time?"

I have been going back and forth on this very issue for about two weeks.
On the one hand:
1. The Mbox is easy to hook up (via USB-boom, you're done)
2. and cheap. In fact, Guitar Center is having a sale right now on the MBox until the end of March 2004. $450 minus $50 a mail-in rebate equals $400+tax. Killer!
3. And it has the EXACT same powerful software (ProTools LE) as the Digi 002...
4. Did someone say CHEAP!!! :D

On the other hand, the Digi 002 [$2,200 at Musician's Friend.com] is cool because:
1. it doesn't have “latency monitoring issues” because, unlike the MBox, it is connected to your computer via FireWire not USB. (It’s a faster connection.) Try a search on the web for this or go to the ProTools website for more details, digidesign.com.
2. can record up to 8 tracks at once with 4 XLR & 4 line ins (OR 8 line ins).
3. has MIDI in and out. The MBox has no MIDI connection - you have to use a separate one which is not an issue if you already have one.
4. has BOTH types of digital connection, not just the "RCA-type" like the MBox.
5. those cool moving faders which impart more of a feeling of control while tweaking various things on a computer screen. Can be used as a stand alone digital mixer but why bother, right?

It all depends on what you expect to be doing with the program vs. what you can afford. Will it be for just working at home or will you need to be mobile. How important is recording with more than two mics at one given time? These are all questions that I've asked myself and well...

MY SOLUTION: After thinking about it WAY too much I've decided to get the unit in the middle, the Digi 002 Rack [$1,200 at Musician's Friend.com]. The Digi 002 Rack is a rackmount version of the Digi 002. It's got everything its sibling has minus the control surface for $1,000 less. Having the faders move by themselves is cool but not for $1,000 more at this point. And it’s my opinion that having less moving parts is good on any machine if you're on a budget - one less thing to fix once it breaks. I was more interested in actually moving the faders myself than having them move on their own. I've read that you can record fader moves in ProTools using a MIDI controller like the Oxygen 8 but I haven't tried it. We’ll see.

I'm in the US and I don’t know where you’re living. The prices are about the same anywhere you look here. You may get lucky and find a sale, like the Guitar Center thing above. Try samash.com, zzounds.com, samdaymusic.com, etc. You could go on eBay.com but make sure it has a warranty and has NOT been registered.

Whatever you decide to do remember that once you’ve got a version of ProTools you can always upgrade to another and they’ll cut you a break on the price….uh, as long as your product is registered! (see above)

Good luck. I'm buying mine Thursday. 8)
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If you don't mind buying used gear a Digi 001 can be had for under $700 on Ebay. It's a pretty good deal IMO for 8 inputs out of box and up to 18 with A-D converters. Although the Mbox is a great piece of gear.

Also in regards to an Mbox I believe you can use the SPDIF input for two more channels/tracks with a preamp that has an SPDIF output.