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Mbox2/Foobar2000 - Setup and Review

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#1 Faileas

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Posted 30 May 2010 - 05:44 AM

I do a fair amount of recording of indian classical music for my mom, and i use a mbox2/shure sm57 combo for it. I figured i'd mess around with it and try to get it to work as a DAC/headphone amp. I don't have any 'proper' gear to compare it with, so i'll be comparing it to the output of the soundmax HD audio sound card of my laptop. The headphones i used to test are the HD202 (which i generally *hate* and lend to my mom during recording sessions, and the audiotechnica M50, which is what i generally use

I wouldn't suggest *buying* an mbox as your primary DAC/amp but if you have one lying around, it might be a way to get some extra milage off it

Hardware:USB for power/signal in , 2 sets of input jacks - line in, Direct Input and XLR, balanced monitor outputs (2x 1/4 inch mono) SPDIF co-axial in and out, 2x midi, 1x headphone (1/4 inch)/ I ONLY used the headphone jack. If you're a bit adventurous you can use the monitor outputs for balanced headphones, or for a normal one with a small hack involving airplane adaptors and 1/4->1/8 inch adaptors at your own risk.

Setup: you will need the ASIO plugin for foobar2000 as well as the protools wave drivers - If you have pro-tools installed, tell it NOT to replace the 'newer' drivers with the one you're installing when it asks.

You will then need to go to 'preferences' and 'Output' and 'ASIO virtual devices' and add the mbox 2 device, and then select the mbox 2 as the output in 'Output'.

At this point you should be good to go wink.gif

Impressions: The issue i had with the HD202 was... everything. after years with a eh150, the HD202 was inferior in every department - it was dull, lacked bass, and generally didn't sound like a pair of headphones should. Amped.. It nearly sounded as good as the old EH150s - very natural sounding bass, and generally more rich and lively.

With the M50s... party.gif incredibly natural drums, a slightly wider soundstage and in general, it was almost like being there. (as a side note, i'm finding my sources seem more important in terms of quality than format/bitrate when i A/B. I should prolly borrow my brother for double blind testing ;p)

I 'tested' (by which i meant i blew an entire weekend morning listening to music ;p)with a pretty wide range of music from nirvana to Jasmin Levy, so... there's just too much to list

Issues: uses a hell of a lot of processor power - my core 2 2gb was using upwards of 50% of its processor- i suppose its cause of of the work is offloaded to the main processor. I also have my music on a shared/remote drive, which might contribute. I had no skipping or pauses, so it was no big deal. This is also less a portable than a luggable setup - the mbox isn't OMGHUGE, but its hardly pocketable.

Conclusions - I'm not going to recommend anyone go out and buy one of these- you can probably get an acceptable DAC/amp combo for about the same price or cheaper. If you do mixing/music production, and want to get a little more milage out of your mbox2, this is worth trying. I'd suppose that since a lot of production is done on protools and similar hardware to the mbox, though bigger, this might sound closer to the original, but i've never gotten past the home recording stage yet wink.gif

Edited by Faileas, 31 May 2010 - 04:32 PM.

#2 stargazer


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Posted 02 June 2010 - 10:57 AM

What about Edirol, M-Audio, Roland, etc faired to this [email protected]?

Isn't it they are of different worlds as versus those general / consumer DAC/Amp combos that are widely sold in those acclaimed shops?

#3 Faileas

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Posted 02 June 2010 - 03:25 PM

The mbox2 is the budget line from M-Audio - there's the micro (a USB dongle with a 1/8 inch jack, and a IEM) mini (1 set of inputs), the mbox2 (which is what i have) and the mbox2 pro.

There dosen't seem to be a built in DSP - all the processing is done on your system cpu, and streamed to the mbox. Power is via USB, and it drives headphones of up to 60 ohms according to the brochure.

At the moment nothing else to compare against, but if i get a proper DAC or Amp, i think i'll be comparing it to this wink.gif

#4 stargazer


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Posted 02 June 2010 - 08:58 PM

Sure to hear some feedback from you once you gotta your DAC & amp?

What do you have in mind of which DAC & Amp BTW?

Will you be looking into those full size DACs & Amps or just one of those combi?

#5 Faileas

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Posted 03 June 2010 - 11:39 AM

Not at the moment. I'm not in a situation to get any gear at the moment, but a person can always hope XD.

#6 Faileas

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Posted 03 July 2010 - 03:56 AM

while i'm not planning on getting any neat gear (sad2.gif) my dad might be getting one of these. If the local price is right (the US MSRP is 99 US), this might actually be a pretty good budget setup similar to what i use now, at a pretty competitive price. In addition it has RCA outputs at the rear so you could plug it into an amp pretty easily

i'll be calling the local distributor in a few days, and will keep it updated, if anyone is interested

Maudio might have a winner here, if it actually works for playing music as opposed to making it ;p

Edited by Faileas, 03 July 2010 - 04:57 AM.

#7 davesanridge


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Posted 25 February 2011 - 03:22 PM

That's kind of an interesting strategy you have there.
In my opinion the old Mbox sucked bigtime but the
new mboxes are really awesome. Totally upgraded etc.
Check em out.

#8 Faileas

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Posted 26 February 2011 - 09:53 AM

My stratergy is to take equipment i already have, and turn their utility up to 11 - we use the mbox2 for home recording, and the fastrack for portable use (with a netbook)

I currently have my eyes on a nuforce udac 2 as my next bit of kit, since for my use (purely vocal recordings, no more than 2 channels a track), the mbox2 and fastrack are good enough. This should also let me compare what i have to something most people consider to be fairly good ;p.

Which mbox do you have? the new ones do seem shiny and fairly well built.