NEW Mbox 3! – Complete Overview – (Avid, Digidesign, Pro Tools)

by Elliot Waite on September 19, 2010

Two days ago Avid released their new Pro Tools Mbox 3 Family (Mbox 3 Mini, Mbox 3, and Mbox 3 Pro). This is their first Mbox release since they changed their brand name from Digidesign to Avid. Designed by the same engineering team behind their top-of-the-line Pro Tools|HD systems, the Mbox 3 series features “advanced recording technology for exceptional quality” (Avid).

The Main Differences Between These Boxes:

Mbox 3 Mini Mbox 3 Mbox 3 Pro
Connection USB 1.1 USB 2.0 FireWire
Maximum Sample Rate 48 kHz 96 kHz 192 kHz
(only up to 96 kHz on Pro Tools LE)
Soft-clip Limiter
(lets you track hot signals without clipping, providing a classic overdriven tape saturation sound)
No Yes Yes
Built-in guitar tuner No Yes Yes
Onboard DSP
(offers flexible cue mixing and reverb effects)
No Yes Yes
Assignable Multi-function Button
(gives you fast access to software functions)
No Yes Yes
Connect up to three pairs of monitors or do 5.1 surround mixing No No Yes
(Mixing 5.1 surround sound in Pro Tools LE requires Complete Production Toolkit)
Mix Control
(for zero-latency recording)
Yes No No
Simultaneous Channels of I/O 2×2 4×4 8×8
Inputs 1 XLR mic/line combo input
(48 V phantom power)
2 1/4″ instrument inputs
(1 DI, 1 line/DI)
2 XLR mic/line combo inputs
(48 V phantom power)
2 1/4″ DI inputs
(on front panel for easy access)
4 mic inputs with
(48 V phantom power and high pass filter, 2 XLR/DI combo, 2 XLR)
4 1/4″ TRS line inputs
2 unbalanced Alt line inputs
(2 RCA, 1 mini 1/8″)
Outputs 2 balanced 1/4″ monitor outputs
1 1/4″ stereo headphone output
2 balanced 1/4″ monitor outputs
1 1/4″ stereo headphone output
(with volume control)
6 balanced 1/4″ monitor/line outputs
2 discrete 1/4″ stereo headphone outputs
(with separate volume controls)
Stereo S/PDIF digital I/O No Yes Yes
1 MIDI input, 1 MIDI output No Yes Yes
Word clock I/O No No Yes
Footswitch jack
(for punching in and out while recording)
No No Yes
Monitor Control Section Dedicated monitor volume knob Dedicated monitor volume knob, Mono and Dim controls Dedicated monitor volume knob, Mono, Mute, Dim, Alt Source, and Speaker A/B/C switching controls
Retail Price $399.00 $679.00 $899.00
Best Sale Prices $253.96

Front End Audio
American Musical


Front End Audio


Front End Audio
American Musical
Rainbow Guitars



Pro Tools Mbox Family Overview:




as i once posted a few months back….the new mboxs r equal to the 003….004 out in january!…31&postcount=6


The new Mbox series uses completely different convertors than the 003.

I’ll leave any commentary about quality differences to others outside of Avid.


Avid Audio Tech Support…48&postcount=8


The Mbox and Mbox Pro are the exact same converters and preamps. The Mbox Mini uses a very similar converter that doesn’t go all the way to 192kHz like those used in the Mbox and Mbox Pro. The sound across all three were designed to out perform the Mbox 2, ProFires and Duet. I think they sound amazing but I work for Avid. I’ll let your ears be the judge. It shouldn’t be long before we have some unbiased opinions on the sound quality get posted. We’re also working on getting some comparison files of the new Mbox and the Mbox 2 products posted online.

BTW, the converters in the Mbox and Mbox Pro are Cirrus Logic CS 4272



Ray Tantzen

Sr Product Manager – Hardware…9&postcount=14


Well it obviously has to sound better than the 003, the 003 wasn’t as good as the Duet


Beards And Gear:

First off, as I’ve said many times, I judge things right off the bat on their weight. It’s silly but if something feels solid, I just feel better about it, and trust it a bit more. Now I don’t want this post to turn into an Mbox 2 bashing session (although I fear it will sound that way), but the Mbox 2 and Mbox 2 Pro always felt flimsy to me. They felt like they needed to be babied. Strangely the Mbox 2 Mini always felt more sturdy, with it’s all metal housing. This new breed of Mbox feels VERY solid. It easily ways 5 pounds or more. It’s an all metal (I believe aluminum) chassis, and you could easily break a car window with it. The knobs, switches, everything feels great on this.

Another very tactile difference is the volume pot. On the previous Mboxes you had a very small pot, that looked identical to every other pot, and was pretty hard to get at if you have stumpy fingers like mine. This new piece has a nice big, great feeling volume pot, which is a big deal to me.

Sound quality. I’ve heard so many people knock the sound quality of the previous mboxes, both on the pres and on the converters. I can’t really argue with any of you on that either. They were never all that impressive. They worked, and that was about all you could say for them. All of that has changed with the new breed. I heard a few different projects tracked on the new Pro Tools Mbox, and monitored them through the Mbox as well and I was very impressed. In this pricerange, and with this i/o compliment I know everyone will be comparing this with the Duet. I think it’s a bit silly as they’re both meant for entirely different systems, and if you want Logic you’ll go one way, and if you want Pro Tools you’ll go another, but I’m a silly guy sometimes too. I think this thing is right on par, if not slightly better (did not do a direct shootout), than the Duet. Bold claim I know. Keep in mind, I don’t work for either of these companies. I sell them both, so frankly it does me no good to plug either. While Pro Tools is my life’s blood, I’ll be the first in line to point out Avid/Digi’s many failings. This new line isn’t on that list.…nd-mbox-3-pro/

Pro Tools Mbox 3 Mini:

Pro Tools Mbox 3:

Pro Tools Mbox 3 Pro:

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

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