Apogee Symphony Desktop USB Audio Interface

Apogee Symphony Desktop USB Audio Interface

Put the rackmount Apogee Symphony's high-quality converters and preamps on your desktop! This compact USB audio interface for Mac or PC offers 10x14 I/O.

Digidesign MBox Audio Interface (Macintosh and Windows)

No longer available at zZounds
2 analog inputs and outputs. 24-bit stereo S/PDIF digital I/O. 2 analog TRS inserts. Headphone output with dedicated volume control. 0-latency monitoring. 100% USB powered. Pro Tools 6.4 LE software.
Pro Tools systems are very specialized versions of what are commonly referred to as a digital audio workstations 1/2 computer-based audio production environments operating entirely in the digital domain. Digital audio workstations (DAWs) essentially replicate the functionality available in analog studios, offering recording, mixing, editing, and even mastering capabilities all in one system.

The express purpose of Mbox is to make Pro Tools available to you as readily and effortlessly as possible. Getting started requires only an USB-compatible PC or Mac and a Mbox unit. With Mbox, you can literally create a functional, effective project/home studio environment in as much time as it takes to plug in your gear, boot up your laptop or desktop computer, and launch Pro Tools.

Read on to learn more about the essentials associated with the Mbox home studio system, in addition to fundamental tools for enhancing your productivity and creativity. You can also check out our Glossary of Terms to brush up on digital audio workstation terminology.

2 analog inputs and outputs, featuring Focusrite mic preamps

24-bit stereo S/PDIF digital I/O

Pristine 24-bit signal path from input to output

2 analog TRS inserts

Headphone output with dedicated volume control

Zero-latency monitoring

100% USB powered

Pro Tools 6.0 LE software (supporting DigiStudio)

System Components
Mbox unit

USB cable

Pro Tools 6.0 LE software

The Essentials
Every Pro Tools system begins read more with a Digidesign-qualified computer, often referred to as the host. For optimum performance, your computer must meet the minimum requirements for the type of Pro Tools system in which you decide to invest. Some of the factors that affect compatibility and performance include the model of computer, its processor speed, its operating system version, its system memory size, its available hard drive space, its display card type, and its monitor's resolution.

Mbox is packed with analog and digital inputs and outputs, giving you a variety of means to get sound into and out of Pro Tools. Pro Tools 6.0 LE software, which runs on your computer and enables you to interact with Mbox, features 24 audio tracks, complete MIDI sequencing, comprehensive mixing, editing, and processing power, and DigiStudio remote collaboration support.

Monitoring System
Obviously, you need a way to monitor your work throughout a given project's evolution. Mbox provides clean, accessible monitoring via 2 output options: a pair of analog balanced/unbalanced outputs with 24-bit converters (for high-fidelity delivery), and a high-quality headphone amp with dedicated volume control (both 1/8 in. and 1/4 in. headphone connectors are supported). Near-field reference monitors and headphones are available from a huge selection of companies such as Genelec, JBL, AKG and others.

Improved Hard Drive Performance: SCSI64 Kit/DigiDrives
Although not required, a Digidesign-approved additional hard drive is a wise first addition to any Pro Tools LE system. An approved SCSI drive connected to an approved SCSI accelerator card speeds up the data transfer to and from your computer, improves system performance, and provides better stability. Digidesign offers both the SCSI64 Kit accelerator card bundle, and ultra-fast, ultra-quiet DigiDrives in 36 and 73 GB capacities to meet this need. Both options work equally well with professional Pro Tools|HD systems, so if you decide to upgrade at any point, you're investment remains wholly viable.

Hands-On Mixing: Motor Mix
There's nothing quite like getting your hands on a dedicated mixing surface. Motor Mix from CM Labs greatly increases the speed and enhances the feel of working in Pro Tools LE. Motor Mix is a scalable, low-cost control surface with motorized faders and controls for nearly every operation available in Pro Tools LE.

Mastering and Distribution: MasterList CD/MP3 Export
Pro Tools LE not only allows you to create music from home, but also enables you to master and distribute your work directly from your desktop. MasterList CD, available for Mac OS-based Pro Tools LE systems, enables you to create duplication-ready glass masters, one-off reference discs, or complete CDs, playable in any commercial CD player. The MP3 Export Option, with its superior Fraunhofer Institute compression algorithms, allows you to bounce Pro Tools LE sessions to the enormously popular MP3 format for Internet distribution. The MP3 Option also enables you to import MP3 files into Pro Tools for further editing or remixing.

Supplementing your Pro Tools LE rig with Real-Time AudioSuite (RTAS) and AudioSuite Plug-Ins greatly expands your creative palette. Plug-Ins are software add-on programs that provide real-time and file-based effects processing without the need for any additional hardware. Digidesign's legendary Development Partner Program provides access to an incredible array of plug-ins from the best names in audio. Reverbs, compressors, delays, classic emulators, special effects, sound replacement, and more are all available for your Pro Tools LE system.

Synthesizers and Samplers: DirectConnect/Soft SampleCell
Pro Tools LE doesn't just give you powerful recording, editing, and mixing power. You can also create music directly from your computer.

DirectConnect is a free Mac OS RTAS Plug-In that allows you to incorporate supported third-party software synths and samplers directly into your Pro Tools LE mixer. Koblo Studio9000 and software packages available from Bitheadz, Native Instruments, TC|Works, Audio Genetics, and others support DirectConnect.

Soft SampleCell is a software-based sampler that integrates seamlessly with your Pro Tools LE system. Designed by Digidesign for maximum performance with Pro Tools, Soft SampleCell allows you to store up to 1 GB of 24-bit samples in your computers RAM, and all samples can be output directly into the Mixer window in Pro Tools for further mixing and processing.

As you can see, it's easy to build a Pro Tools system and tailor it to your exact needs. And there are many more options available that you can integrate later as your needs change. When configured according to Digidesign compatibility specifications, Pro Tools systems give you an unparalleled level of quality, creativity, and cost effectiveness.

If you've checked out any home recording system out there, you've no doubt heard the words "Pro Tools." Without question, it is the industry's leading digital audio production system. There are many reasons why the best engineers, producers, musicians and post-production professionals in the world use Pro Tools over any other digital audio system.

Now there is a new version of Pro Tools software called Pro Tools LE -- designed for everyone from musicians to aspiring engineers to seasoned pros looking for a project studio option. It has many benefits you won't find in sequencer-based software applications, giving you a powerhouse studio to make your creative dreams come true. Not only do Pro Tools LE systems give you amazing power and ease of use, they offer you the ability to use nearly the same software application today's top professionals are using on a daily basis. Pro Tools LE powers Digidesign's 2 home studio products: Digi 001 and Mbox.

Optional Factory Bundle Edition
Expand your abilities in Pro Tools! Includes these plug-ins: Moogerfooger Analog, JOEMEEK's SC2 Compressor, JOEMEEK VC5 Meequalizer, Maxim, Cosmonaut Voice, Propellerhead Reason Adapted, Ableton Live Digidesign Edition, IK Multimedia SampleTank SE, IK Multimedia AmpliTube LE, and IK Multimedia T-RackS EQ.
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System Requirements
Digidesign-approved USB-Macintosh

Sample rate: 44.1, 48 kHz
Dynamic range: 101 dB (A-weighted), 99 dB (unweighted); see notes 1 and 2
THD+N (line input): 0.003% (-90.5 dB) @ 1 kHz; see notes 1 and 3
THD+N @ 40 dB gain (mic input): 0.004% (-88 dB) @ 1 kHz; see note 1
Mic E.I.N (unweighted): -126 dB @ 40 dB gain, 150 ohm source
Frequency Response: +0/-0.5 dB, 20 Hz - 20 kHz; see note 3
Maximum Input: +24 dBu
Input Impedance: Mic = 4 kohms; Line = 44 kohms; Inst (D.I.) = 1 Mohms

Sample Rate: 44.1, 48 kHz
Dynamic Range: 103 dB (A-weighted), 101 dB (unweighted); see notes 1 and 4
THD+N: 0.004% (-88 dB); -14 dBFS @ 1 kHz; see notes 1 and 3
Frequency Response: +0.5/-0.5, 20 Hz - 20 kHz; see note 3
Maximum Output: +4.2 dBu
Note 1 - Measurement made using balanced connectors
Note 2 - ADC measured -60 dBFS method with a gain setting such that +24 dBu = 0 dBFS at S/PDIF output
Note 3 - Measured relative to level at 1 kHz
Note 4 - Measured with digital input at -60 dBFS @ 1 kHz

Analog Inputs -- 2
Separate source selection and gain control per channel
MIC/LINE/INST (D.I.) input -- XLR/1/4" combo connector
Phantom power (48 V)
Mic pre-amp: > -120 dB EIN @ > 40 dB gain
Hi-Z input for instrument pickup
Maximum Input: 3.5 VRMS (balanced signal), or +13 dBu

Analog Line Outputs -- 2
Maximum Output: 3.5 VRMS (balanced signal), or +13 dBu
Balanced/unbalanced connections supported

Analog Inserts (TRS) -- 2
Use outboard processors while recording to disk

Headphone Output
Separate volume control (both 1/8 in. and � in. connectors)
> 0.25 w into 600 ohm

Digital I/O
S/PDIF I/O (24-bit)
RCA jacks

24-bit clean � to/from the computer
USB type B socket (v.1.1); cable included (does not support passive USB hubs)

Digidesign Hardware Supplied with System

USB Cable

Digidesign Software Supplied with System
Pro Tools LE version 6.0

DigiRack Plug-Ins

ASIO Driver for Mbox

Hard Drive Minimum Requirements

Full 32 track, 24 bit, 48 KHz performance from just one dedicated IDE/ATA audio drive is supported.

Using a dedicated SCSI drive and SCSI HBA (Host Bus Adapter) card will, in general, provide the same performance as an IDE/ATA drive, with the exception that IDE/ATA drives may take a couple seconds longer than SCSI drives to start recording 32 tracks.

When using an ATTO SCSI HBA (Host Bus Adapter), ATTO driver and firmware v1.66 is required. Before upgrading to ATTO 1.66 driver and firmware, disconnect all drives connected to the ATTO SCSI controller card. ATTO driver and firmware updates are available from www.attotech.com/software

FireWire Hard Drives
The DigiDrive FireWire 80 has been qualified with all Pro Tools LE systems for the following @ 500ms edit density:

Qualified for up to 32 tracks of 24-bit/48 kHz audio with 1 DigiDrive� FireWire drive

The DigiDrive FireWire 80 has been qualified with Digi 002 systems for the following @ 500ms edit density:
Qualified for up to 32 tracks of 24-bit/48 kHz audio with 1 DigiDrive� FireWire drive
Qualified for up to 24 tracks of 24-bit/96 kHz audio with 1 DigiDrive� FireWire drive
Qualified for up to 32 tracks of 24-bit/96 kHz audio with 2 DigiDrive� FireWire drives

Additional Drive Requirements - All Audio Drives:
Minimum speed of 7200 RPM & average seek time of less than 10.0 ms

FAT32 or NTFS file system for Windows XP

HFS & HFS+ supported when using MacOpener version 6.05

For 32 tracks, drives must be dedicated for audio (internal or external)

Using boot drives for audio tracks is not supported

Each IDE drive must have DMA enabled in the "System" Control Panel. This can be changed in the "Settings" of each IDE drive on the "Device Manager" tab of the "System" Control Panel. For detailed instructions click here.

Pro Tools only supports Basic drive Types (Dynamic drive types are not supported)

Hard drive families from the following manufacturers are recommended:

Manufacturer: Drive Family
Digidesign: DigiDrive*
Avid: rS, iS Plus, iS Pro
Seagate: Cheetah, Barracuda
IBM: Ultrastar

* First generation DigiDrives are not supported in LVD mode

Pro Tools has a single audio file size limit of 2048 MB. This equates to about 4.5 hours at 24-bit, 44.1 kHz.

High Speed Drives require manufacturer-approved enclosure to ensure correct heat dissipation, required for sustained drive reliability.

Windows XP is unable to create a FAT32 partition on a drive that is larger than 32 GB. If your drive is larger than 32 GB, either use a partitioning application such as PartitionMagic� or use the NTFS file system.

Mbox with Pro Tools LE 6.1 for Mac OS X Requirements

Digidesign Hardware Supplied with System Mbox

USB cable

Digidesign Software Supplied with New Systems Pro Tools LE 6.1 for Mac OS X & Windows XP

DigiRack Plug-Ins

PCI vs. AGP Graphics Support Pro Tools 6 systems for OS X are not supported with the older Blue & White G3s or the PCI Graphics G4 desktop models, only the G4 AGP graphics models listed.

Dual-processor Support Pro Tools 6.1 is fully compatible with Apple dual-processor G4s running OS X. There is no need to install any additional software. Dual-processor users will experience increased performance over the single-processor CPUs.

Additional Computer Requirements Mac OS 10.2.6 Required: Pro Tools TDM and LE version 6.1 software has been tested and approved on all computers listed as supported in these compatibility documents with Mac OS 10.2.6.

Settings & Requirements:
Pro Tools Does Not Support Energy Saver. In the Macintosh System Preferences, launch Energy Saver, click the Sleep tab, and disable all Sleep features. Set "Put the computer to sleep when it is inactive" to Never. Do not manually put your computer to sleep when running Pro Tools.

QuickTime 6.0.2 or higher required. QuickTime downloads are available from www.apple.com/quicktime

QuickTime Pro 6.0.2 or higher is also supported

Storage Guidelines
Approximate Storage Consumption (Megabytes per Minute per Track)

Sample Rate (kHz): 44.1/48/96
16-Bit � MB per Minute: 5/5.5/11
24-Bit � MB per Minute: 7.5/8/16

Approximate Track Counts � SCSI, IDE/ATA or FireWire Drives:

Drives: 44.1 kHz/48 kHz/96 kHz
1: 32/32/24
2: 32/32/32

As with all Pro Tools systems, drive performance depends on a number of factors, including track count, edit density, and the use of crossfades or processing. For sessions with high edit density, we recommend the following configurations. Testing has been conducted using Digidesign's DigiDrives. Performance with other drives may vary.

Qualified SCSI HBA Cards
For maximum track count, use of a qualified SCSI HBA (Host Bus Adapter) card is required with Pro Tools|HD systems.

The following cards are officially qualified with Pro Tools systems on Windows XP:

Digidesign SCSI|128 Kit (includes ATTO EPCI-UL3D Dual Channel Ultra3 SCSI Host Bus Adapter)
Supports full 128 tracks of playback and record with Pro Tools|HD

Sync Rate set to "160DT (80)" (160 MB/sec at 80 MHz)*

PCI Burst Rate set to 128*

Selection Timeout: 16ms*

*Settings available via SCSI BIOS

Digidesign SCSI64 Kit (includes ATTO EPCI-DC Dual Channel Ultra/WIDE SCSI Host Bus Adapter)
ATTO ExpressPCI driver and firmware v1.66

Before upgrading to ATTO 1.66 driver and firmware, disconnect all drives attached to the ATTO SCSI controller card

Sync Rate set to "20 (10)" (20 MB/sec at 10 MHz)*

PCI Burst Rate set to 32*

* Settings available via SCSI BIOS

ATTO EPCI-UL3D (Dual Channel Ultra3 SCSI Host Bus Adapter - Model # EPCI-UL3D-000)
ATTO ExpressPCI driver and firmware v1.66

Before upgrading to ATTO 1.66 driver and firmware, disconnect all drives attached to the ATTO SCSI controller card

Sync Rate set to "160DT (80)" (160 MB/sec at 80 MHz)*

PCI Burst Rate set to 128*

Selection Timeout: 16ms*

*Settings available via SCSI BIOS

Note: The 66MHz version of the ATTO EPCI-UL3D (model # EPCI-UL3D-066) is not supported for use with Pro Tools systems, regardless of whether your Pro Tools system is installed on a 33 MHz or 66 MHz PCI bus. The 66 MHz version is tuned for performance on a 66 MHz PCI bus. However, when Pro Tools is installed in a 66 MHz PCI bus, it reduces the speed of the PCI bus to 33 MHz. As a result, you will receive superior performance with the 33 MHz UL3D, because it is tuned for a 33 MHz PCI bus.

ATTO EPCI-DC (Dual Channel Ultra/WIDE SCSI Host Bus Adapter)
ATTO ExpressPCI driver and firmware v1.66

Before upgrading to ATTO 1.66 driver and firmware, disconnect all drives attached to the ATTO SCSI controller card

Sync Rate set to "20 (10)" (20 MB/sec at 10 MHz)*

PCI Burst Rate set to 32*

*Settings available via SCSI BIOS

Integrated Adaptec AIC-78x chipset with BIOS 3.1x

Third-Party Video Capture Cards
Playback within Pro Tools is only supported via the computer monitor. Hardware Codecs are not supported. Use a third party application and card to capture video and import the video into Pro Tools. For the best performance use Avid CODEC DV files created by Avid Express DV.

Performance Guidelines
Recording to the system startup drive is not recommended or supported

For desktop models, a separate internal or external dedicated audio hard drive is highly recommended for maximum performance and track count (see Hard Drive Minimum Requirements)

Although limited recording and playback of audio tracks may be possible using the internal drive in laptop models, a separate external dedicated audio hard drive is highly recommended for maximum performance and track count. Digidesign recommends the use of FireWire drives for use with these computers. (see DigiDrive FireWire 80 Requirements)

Turn off or unplug any unnecessary USB devices when using Mbox

The Mbox should be connected using the included USB cable directly to the computer's USB port. Connection of the Mbox to a USB hub is not supported.

Supported CPU Models & Speeds
Intel Pentium 4 - Processors with 1.3 GHz speeds or higher supported, Single Processor

Intel Pentium III - Processors with 500 MHz speeds or higher supported, Single Processor

AMD Athlon XP - Processors of all speeds supported, Single Processor

AMD Athlon Thunderbird - Processors of all speeds supported, Single Processor

Additional Computer Requirements
System Software: Windows XP Professional or Home Edition

Windows XP Service Pack 1 Required

Windows XP Settings & Requirements

Total System RAM: 256 MB

Additional RAM required for simultaneous use with MIDI sequencers, extensive use of plug-ins, better video playback performance, high edit density sessions, and laptop computers

Intel chipset (with Intel processors)

VIA or NVIDIA nForce chipset (with Athlon processors)

ATX motherboard

CD-ROM drive for software install

AGP graphics card (16 MB or more video RAM required for movie playback)

Monitor, color required, minimum resolution of 1024 x 768

4GB hard drive space dedicated for audio (minimum)

For maximum performance a separate Digidesign Qualified ATA/IDE, SCSI or Firewire Drive dedicated for audio is required

Maximum Performance Guidelines
To provide full 32-track, 24-bit performance on Pro Tools LE with high edit densities and the maximum number of Plug-Ins follow these guidelines:

Intel Pentium 4 Single Processor

AMD Athlon XP with pure VIA chipset

Performance and the number of Plug-Ins will vary from PC to PC; however, faster processor speeds produce better results

Total System RAM: 384 MB or higher

File System (all drives): FAT32 or NTFS

Also note that we have seen better performance on computers that have less components attached and non-custom versions of the BIOS or Windows XP

Known Incompatibilities
Caution - Mbox is NOT supported on the following systems or systems with the following components:

Older Dell Inspiron and Dell Latitude laptop computers that run less than 1ghz

Computers with motherboards containing SiS (Silicon Integrated Systems) chipsets

Computers with motherboards containing mixed chipsets from AMD plus VIA combined

"ESS Solo-1 PCI AudioDrive" Sound, video and game controller. This device can be disabled from the "Device Manager" in the "System" Control Panel.

SampleCell II PCI cards and SampleCell Editor are not compatible with Windows XP

The Digidesign WaveDriver does not support Avid Xpress DV or certain other DirectSound applications that require advanced DirectSound capabilities

Laptops users need to disable integrated wireless networking

Asante Network cards are not compatible with Control 24 on Windows XP

Some HP Pavilion models do not meet the minimum requirements as listed in these compatibilitiy documents. Before purchasing these or any computer, please carefully go over these documents and the exact specifications of the computer to make certain that all of the compatibility guidelines have been met.
For support or warranty questions, please contact the manufacturer:
Phone: 650-731-6300
(431 ratings)
Submitted October 21, 2003 by a customer from mac.com
"mbox- but it!"
This review has been selected by our experts as particularly helpful.
this isn't the cheapest way to get into pro tools- the audio media card is cheaper, and gives you four channels i/o vs. the mbox's 2... but the mbox's quality inputs actually make it cheaper (unless you have hi-end micpres and external a/d converters already- for example, say you have art's two channel micpre unit, the one with onboard a/d. it's around $250, so the audiomedia + art unit is now more expensive than the mbox. not only that, but the art mic pres blow grits compared to the mboxes, not to mention the art a/d are pretty dodgy too. in short, the mbox is cheaper/better.)!

the a/d converters are excellent, and the preamps are very good- much better than the pres on a mackie/spirit/yamaha, for example. acoustic instruments and vocals (which are acoustic instruments, after all!) really shine thru this box- i also own the digi001, and i can testify that the mbox is sonically superior right out of the box. by making the front end hi quality, it's easy to get great results... tho it will also require good mics, good mic technique, good mixing, ect, which is up to the user.

the box is well thought out - inserts on both channels, mono sum switch, hi-impedance inputs as well as mic/line. i wish it had word clock in as well as optical for adat (it wouldn't have been hard to put in full 8 channel adat in- i certainly would've paid more for that!), and midi- tho usb midi converters are very inexpensive to add-on, it would've been handy, tho the read more lack of these things don't mean it's not a great box. i also wish it were possible to use the mic pres in conjunction with the 001! however, it succeeds where it was meant to- as a high quality stereo breakout box for pro tools.

it's plastic to be sure- but it seems to be very solid. there's no play or scratch in the pots, mic cables 'click' in with a nice tight connect... i've used this little box (along with a g3 ibook) to record numerous live shows (rock/jazz/chamber/ect) and it seems to be completely durable. i wouldn't throw it around anymore than i'd throw around my schoeps mics (tho the mbox could probably take it better than the mics!)- with the normal amount of care a recording engineer takes with all his/her gear, i suspect it'll last many years.

$500 for two class a preamps, and a/d & d/a converters is not such a high price. BUT! throw in pro tools 5.1 and 6 for that same price, and it becomes an outstanding deal!

Manufacturer Support
digidesign is VERY professional in their support- if you can't find the info you need on the huge database at the web site, the phone and e-mail responses are very fast and knowedgeable- every digidesign tech i've dealt with seems to know everything i've inquired about w/out having to 'get back to me'.

The Wow Factor
the design of the box is super cool- i think it looks even cooler with the glyph 'm-drive' next to it!

Musical Style:
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