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We all know that if you own a Mac and plan on becoming the next hip-hop star, you will need Digidesign's award winning hardware/software combination: ProTools. Well now Digidesign is releasing the Mbox 2, a step up from their original entry level Mbox. It's of course packed with features and inputs while maintaining simplicity.

The USB-powered device features four simultaneous inputs: two analog inputs (XLR and 1/4" jacks) and two analog outputs (1/4" jacks) as well as two channels of channels of S/PDIF digital I/O (RCA). It offers 48V phantom power for condenser mics and 24-bit/48GHz audio along with MIDI in/out, zero-latency monitoring, and Pro Tools LE software. It is available now for $500, while Mbox 2 Factory is available for $600 and includes an iLok USB Smart Key and additional plugins.

Yes, it's expensive, but you know what you're getting is worth it. Plus, the original Mbox is always around if you're a cheapskate like me.

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UPDATE: Basically, all the new model adds is a new case, plus MIDI input and
output. Otherwise identical in hardware to the previous model. MIDI
was a big omission, so that's good news.

Despite "four simultaneous inputs" in the press release, you can only
input two analog inputs at once, as with the previous model — so you
can't plug in two vocals, guitar, and bass all at once, for instance.

Also a huge software bundle in the two models.

Kind of a pain: running with Core Audio apps on the Mac if you don't
want to run Pro Tools all the time requires a separate application
running, unless they've changed that (no indication they have).

Thanks Peter Kirn!

Digidesign Mbox 2 for USB Audio/MIDI production [MacNN]

Digidesign Unveils New Mbox 2 — Here's What's Different [Create Digital Music]