When I started recording and mixing music away from my main setup (at home) I got tired of unplugging my audio interface when leaving then plugging it in again when I got back home, so I thought the best thing would be to get a second interface. I never need to record more than one voice at a time so a small portable device would suit my needs. Initially I had my eye on the Presonus AudioBox 22VSL and M-Audio FastTrack C400 but as soon as I came across the Mbox 3 Mini I was hooked.
The Mbox 3 Mini is a USB audio interface aimed at the home studio/semi-pro level. It's a beautiful, metallic, grey unit which is really solid and of top notch build quality. It's quite heavy and built to last. The device uses the same cable for data transfer and power so you don't need any extra cables. It also comes packaged with quick setup guide and ProTools LE 8, which is an added bonus.
The rear side has one XLR mic/line combo input with phantom power, two balanced monitor outputs, two 1/4 inch instrument inputs and the USB cable slot. The front end has a gain knob for the XLR/line in channel with a -20dB pad, a gain knob for the instrument in channels (also with a -20dB pad), a mix knob for direct monitoring, one headphone output and a huge volume knob.
The pre-amp in this unit is transparent and loud. I use it mostly for recording vocals and never have to turn up the gain too loud to get a good signal. It's compatible with Windows and Mac. Personally I use a laptop running 64 bit Windows 7, with 4GB RAM and an i5 quad core, 2.30GHz CPU. I use mostly the XLR input to capture audio from my condenser mics and it works great.
I use the unit mostly for powering up my condenser mics and recording audio. The round-trip latency I get with it is roughly 24ms which works great for me. The direct monitoring option is also great because I can listen to any on-going recording with zero latency.
I use it mostly with REAPER which is the main DAW I use for recording and mixing as well as FL Studio. I've also tinkered with it in Studio One. I haven't had any issues with Studio One and FL Studio using either the WDM, DirectSound or ASIO4ALL drivers. However, in REAPER I get a loud, crackling, continuous white noise when I use the ASIO4ALL driver even when I set the latency really high. When I switch to DirectSound or WDM I have no issues. I'm not sure if this is a general issue with REAPER or if it's just my PC but I doubt it's an issue with the ASIO4ALL driver because when I use the same driver in FL Studio or Studio One I don't experience any issues. But this is not a show-stopper for me because even with DirectSound or WDM the latency is really low.
I use the device with several different mics including an Audix CX212B, Blue Spark, AKG C1000s and Rode NT1. All of them sound good through the Mbox. I record only one track at a time which is perfectly fine for my use. If you want to something in the Mbox series but with more inputs and outputs you should consider looking at the Mbox Pro. All in all the device performs great.
The unit is very easy to setup. On my Windows 7 machine I just plugged it in and the drivers were installed automatically. The process was quick and simple. In case there are any issues with the automatic installation of drivers you can download them from the Avid website and install them manually. The controls are very straight-forward for anyone who has used an audio interface before and the quick setup manual, though small does the job of helping you setup your device for use.
The specific configuration for various DAWs is different but in FL Studio, REAPER and Studio One it's very straight-forward. You just select the "Mbox Mini" option in the device windows of each respective program tinker with the latency settings and you're done.
All things considered this unit is absolutely great. The pre-amp is really loud and transparent, the build quality of the device is top notch, it has a direct monitoring option and comes with ProTools 8 LE which will get you started in recording if you don't have any other DAW. There are other devices in this price range which have multiple monitor outputs as well as multiple headphone outputs. But if you are considering buying the Mbox Mini 3 then it's likely you're not interested in having a big setup, so that's not a big deterrent. You could always buy a splitter if you want to monitor using 2 pairs of headphones.
- Loud, transparent pre-amp
- It has direct monitoring
- Brilliant build quality
- Comes with Protools LE 8
- Only 1 output for headphones, but you can buy a splitter to resolve this.
- Only 1 set of monitor outputs, so if you have several sets of speakers that you use in your studio you have to constantly unplug and unplug them according to which pair you need to use.
I have absolutely no regrets whatsoever for purchasing this unit. It has not disappointed me to date and it's worth every penny it costs. You will get great, professional sounding results from this if you couple it with a great mic.
The Mbox 3 Mini is a mid level, high quality 2x2 audio recording interface for musicians. It's got a very compact and accessible design, and is really easy to use. The computer I run this on is a current gen i7 3570k with an AsRock mother board, 16 gigabytes of ram and an ATI 7850 graphics card. This thing runs like a charm, and I've never had any latency issues with it or anything. The sound quality is very high, especially considering the price, and the build is phenomenal. The Mbox 3 mini features 2 x 2 Simultaneous channels of I/O, one XLR mic/line combo inputs with professional-grade mic preamps and 48V phantom power, two 1/4" DI inputs on front panel for easy access, two balanced 1/4" monitor outputs, one 1/4" stereo headphone output with volume control, a mix control for low-latency monitoring and a dedicated monitor volume knob.
The drivers are completely stable, and always up to date and working perfectly. It records 2 tracks simultaneously with no problems whatsoever, and I've never had an issue with latency. I usually run it into Steinberg's Cubase 5 software, but I've used it with the same level of success with Avid's Protools, Ableton's Live and Apple's Logic Pro. Even with a high number of tracks running and audio effects and processing, I've yet to encounter any issues with lockups or latency. So far the performance has been phenomenal.
Installation was simple and easy. All I had to do was connect the device and install the drivers. Previous versions of the Mbox had issues working in DAW's besides Protools, but this one works in everything I've thrown at it so far. Ableton, Cubase, Logic, whatever, this thing works like a charm. Plus it barely takes up any real estate in my workspace.
Overall, the Mbox 3 mini is a great piece of work. Going back, I definitely would have bought it again, in fact I would've bought two knowing what I know. The price is decent and the product is great, and that's the bottom line.
The Avid MBox Mini 3 is a 4 channel USB interface that has 2 built in mic preamps. It comes with Pro Tools software, but it is the express version and not the full version of Pro Tools. You can purchase the Avid MBox 3 Mini for 375 dollars which is a very fair price because you not only get a great interface but you get the basic/express version of Pro Tools as well, which is great because it will give you a great foundation for learning Pro Tools so that when you get into a big studio or upgrade your set up and get the full version of Pro Tools you will already have some understanding of it.
The interface is very simple to install, and because it is built around Pro Tools it will work great with it. You can however, use this interface with other software programs and different DAW applications but they may make you jump through some loops to get it to work properly. I had a heck of a time trying to get this MBox Mini 3 to work with Sonar.
You can record simultaneously 4 channels at a time, and as a bonus this interface does have a guitar tuner built in to it. When you purchase Avid MBox Mini 3 it will tell you how easy it is to set up in Logic, Live, Cubase and others but to me in my experience that is not the case. It does take more effort and understand how to get this interface to work with these programs.
The interface is very well built, I would not say it is very portable though because it was bigger than expected. It does have MIDI in and out as well as Phantom Power. This unit cannot be racked nor is it portable which caused some issues for us.
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Linn Sondek's review (This content has been automatically translated from French)
Purchased bundled with Pro Tools 10 at unbeatable prices. Pro Tools 10 alone is more than 500 €, while the bundle was offered to 389 €!
In fact I have acquired this bundle for PT10, with a more complete Fast Track C600 M-Audio interface. That's what motivated my choice!
But I still tested.
This interface comes in a sturdy metal case that is very serious and changes a lot of the usual plastic interfaces. The driver is flawless and perfectly stable that either Seven or 32Bts 64Bts. The configuration interface is basic: normal taking into account only two inputs provided by the Mbox mini.
Latency is zero in any case inaudible.
I was more than pleasantly surprised by the quality of this Mbox3. The pre-amp proves excellent, more defined, clear and dynamic team that the Fast Track C600.
Whether this is connected with a DI or acoustic guitar with a microphone that takes it, the result is very, very good.
Install and very easy to setup. As always in Pro Tools, you pass by the window "search engine" to select the desired interface and go!
The discovery of the Mbox mini has seriously made me think ... At that point I became Mbox Pro to get the same sound quality, but with much, much more I / O (and in fact, the Pro is even better, I speak elsewhere).
I owned before the Mini, an M-Audio Fast Track Pro, which was then quality, needing more inputs, one Fast Track C600, very convenient with transport keys and fairly complete in terms of connectivity.
As I wrote above, the quality of pre-amps Mbox mini blew me away and made me learn, recently, a Mbox Pro which delights me and has everything you could hope for.
Finally, the price of the Mini seems to me justified and bundle provides PT9-10 at a very affordable price. It is probably in this configuration it is a must.