Mbox 2™ Basics Guide
Version 6.8.1 for LE Systems on Windows XP or Mac OS X
Digidesign
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Copyright
© 2005 Digidesign, a division of Avid Technology, Inc. All rights
reserved. This guide may not be duplicated in whole or in part
without the express written consent of Digidesign. Avid,
Digidesign, Mbox 2, and Pro Tools are either trademarks or
registered trademarks of Avid Technology, Inc. in the US and
other countries.
All other trademarks contained herein are the property of their
respective owners.
Product features, specifications, system requirements, and
availability are subject to change without notice.
PN 9320-17310-00 REV A 9/05
Mbox 2 Introduction
Welcome to the Mbox 2 Basics Guide. This guide
is designed to give new users specific methods
for accomplishing common tasks with the
Mbox 2 desktop audio interface and
Pro Tools LE software.
Once you are familiar with basic Mbox 2 operation with Pro Tools, we recommend that you
read the “Working With Pro Tools” tutorial in
the Getting Started with Mbox 2 Guide. For the
most complete resource for using Pro Tools software, please refer to the Pro Tools Reference Guide.
Mbox 2 Basics Requirements
Before proceeding, make sure you have completed installation of Pro Tools LE software and
the Mbox 2 to your computer. Refer to the appropriate Windows or Macintosh configuration
chapter in the GS with SB Guide for configuration and installation steps.
Online Resources
Many resources for learning to use Pro Tools are
also available online at the Digidesign Web site
(www.digidesign.com), including the following:
DiSK (Digidesign Sound Knowledge) Instructional material about how to use Pro Tools, including DiSK Flix movies that show how to do a
number of popular tasks using Pro Tools.
DigiZine A magazine for and about Pro Tools users, providing product news, user stories, and
many tips and ideas.
Mbox 2 Introduction
1
Getting Sound In and Out of Mbox 2
To hear audio recorded into a Pro Tools session,
you will need to connect headphones or an external sound system (such as powered monitors
or a home stereo) to Mbox 2. Sound from
Mbox 2 cannot be played through your computer’s speakers or your computer’s sound output.
Connecting Headphones
On the front panel of the Mbox 2 is a 1/4-inch
jack to connect headphones, and a headphone
level control to adjust headphone volume.
Headphone level
Connecting a Sound System
The monitor outputs on the back of the Mbox 2
support 1/4-inch plugs. These connections can
be balanced, TRS (Tip, Ring, Sleeve) style connectors, or unbalanced connectors. To listen to
your Pro Tools session, these outputs can be
connected to any amplification system: powered speakers, home stereo system, or an audio
mixer.
When connecting to a stereo system, connect
the left channel (often the white plug) to
Mon Out Left, and right channel (often the red
plug) to Mon Out Right.
Home stereo systems often use RCA connectors. You can use an adaptor or a special cable to convert from the TRS or TS connectors
used by Mbox 2 to the RCA connectors on
your home stereo.
1/4-inch
Headphone jack
Monitor Out Left
Headphone jack on front of Mbox 2
To connect headphones:
■ Connect headphones with a 1/4-inch stereo
connector (or adapter) to the Headphone jack.
Monitor Out Right
Stereo output from the Mbox 2 (back panel)
Mon Outs Left and Right play the audio that is
routed to analog outputs 1 and 2 within
Pro Tools.
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Mbox 2 Basics Guide
Connecting Audio Inputs
Each Input section has three analog input jacks:
Mbox 2 inputs (sources) support microphones,
guitars, keyboards, and other types of instruments. Mbox 2 has two audio input sections, labeled Input 1 and Input 2. For stereo inputs, use
Input 1 for the left input, and Input 2 for the
right input.
Mic For XLR microphone cables.
Input 2
Input 1
Line (TRS) For 1/4-inch Tip-Ring-Sleeve cables
from keyboards, mixers, microphones, and
other line sources.
DI For 1/4-inch Tip-Sleeve cables from guitar,
bass, microphones, or similar sources.
Mic
DI
Mic
DI
Inputs on back of Mbox 2
The two input sections are located so that the
hardware inputs line up directly behind their
corresponding input controls on the front
panel. This makes it easier to locate channel input connections from the front.
Line
(TRS)
Line
(TRS)
Analog input connectors
For information about connecting specific audio sources, see “Attaching a Microphone to the
Mbox 2” on page 4, and “Connecting Instruments to the Mbox 2” on page 6.
Getting Sound In and Out of Mbox 2
3
Connecting a Microphone
Attaching a Microphone to the
Mbox 2
There are several ways to use Mbox 2 with a microphone, depending on the type of microphone and cables that you use.
Some microphone cables use an XLR connector
to attach a microphone to an input (such as
those on the Mbox 2); other microphones use a
1/4-inch connector. If you have a choice, use an
XLR connector to connect the microphone to
the Mbox 2 to yield better results.
The Mbox 2 can only supply power through a
microphone cable with XLR connectors. If you
are not sure about the phantom power requirements for your microphone, consult your microphone’s documentation or contact the manufacturer.
To use a microphone that has an XLR connector:
1 Plug your microphone cable into one of the
Mic inputs on the back of Mbox 2.
Input 2
Mic input
Input 1
Mic input
XLR connector
1/4-inch connector
XLR connector plugged into Input 1
XLR and 1/4-inch connectors
2 Make sure nothing is plugged in to the
Phantom Power
Some microphones require power to operate.
This power, called phantom power, is supplied either by a battery in the microphone, or through
an audio interface (such as Mbox 2) that can
supply power through the microphone cable.
Most condenser microphones (such as an AKG
C3000) require phantom power to operate. Dynamic microphones (such as a Shure SM57) do
not require phantom power to operate, but are
not harmed by it.
Although phantom power can be used
safely with most microphones, it is possible
to damage some ribbon microphones with
it. Always turn off phantom power and
wait at least ten seconds before connecting
a ribbon microphone.
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Mbox 2 Basics Guide
Line (TRS) jack, otherwise Mbox 2 will use audio
from the Line (TRS) input and not the Mic input.
3 Set the Source to Mic (microphone) by press-
ing the Mic/DI Source selector on the front of
Mbox 2 until the Mic LED is lit.
Mic/DI
Source selector
DI Mic
LED LED
Input 1 Source selector and LEDs
4 If your microphone requires phantom power,
make sure the microphone is connected, then
press the Phantom Power switch on the front of
the Mbox 2 (labeled 48V). This switch sends
48V to both mic inputs. The 48V LED on the
front of the Mbox 2 will light when phantom
power is being supplied.
To use a microphone that has a 1/4-inch TS
(Tip-Sleeve) connector:
1 On the back of the Mbox 2, plug the 1/4-inch
connector from your microphone into one of
the DI inputs.
Input 1 DI in
Phantom Power
switch
Connecting a microphone to the Input 1 DI connector
Phantom Power switch
5 On the front of the Mbox 2, turn the Mix control fully left to Input.
Mic control
Gain
Phantom Power switch
6 On the front of the Mbox 2, carefully turn the
Gain control to the right to increase the input
level of your microphone signal.
2 On the front of the Mbox 2, set the source to
DI by pressing the input channel Source selector
until the DI LED is lit.
Mic/DI
selector
DI
LED
Input 1 selector switch and DI LED
3 On the front of the Mbox 2, turn the Mix control fully left to Input.
Mix control
Gain Pad
Input 1 Gain and Pad controls, and the Mix control
4 On the front of the Mbox 2, carefully turn the
Gain control to the right to increase the input
level of your microphone signal.
5 If the incoming signal is too loud, press the
Pad switch to engage the 20 dB pad.
Connecting a Microphone
5
Connecting Instruments
Connecting Instruments to the
Mbox 2
Mbox 2 provides two input types (DI and Line)
that correspond to the different signal strengths
output by different types of instruments. Instruments such as electric guitar or electric bass usually have a lower level of output than line level
instruments and electronic audio sources such
as mixers, samplers, keyboards, turntables, and
synthesizers.
To use a guitar with Mbox 2:
1 On the back of your Mbox 2, plug your guitar
cable into one of the DI inputs.
4 On the front of the Mbox 2, carefully turn the
Gain control to the right to increase the input
level of your guitar.
When you record a guitar (or any mono instrument that uses only one source input),
you will hear the sound in only one side of
the stereo field. Pushing the “mono” button
on the front of the Mbox 2 brings the sound
from one side of the stereo field to both
sides. The Mono switch does not affect the
audio being recorded. It only affects how
you hear your input to the Mbox 2.
To use a keyboard or mixer with Mbox 2:
1 Plug your keyboard, mixer, or other audio
Input 1 DI connector
Guitar cable plugged into the Input 1 DI input
source into either the Input 1 or Input 2 Line
(TRS) inputs on your Mbox 2. If your source is
stereo (such as a stereo keyboard or the stereo
output from a mixer), connect the left channel
(often the white plug) to Input 1, and right
channel (often the red plug) to Input 2.
Input 2
(right channel)
Input 1
(left channel)
2 On the front of the Mbox 2, set the Source to
DI by pressing the Mic/DI switch until the DI
LED is lit.
Mix control
Mic/DI
Input 1 Gain selector
(level) control
DI LED
Source selector and Gain control for Input 1
3 On the front of the Mbox 2, turn the Mix control fully left to Input.
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Mbox 2 Basics Guide
Mbox 2 configuration for stereo input
2 On the front of the Mbox 2, set the source to
Mic by pressing the Source selector until the Mic
LED is lit.
3 On the front of the Mbox 2, turn the Mix control fully left to Input.
Mix control
Input 1 Mic/DI
Gain selector
Mic LED
Source selector and Gain control for Input 1
4 Set your instrument’s volume to its optimal
level. For example, the optimal level for most
keyboards is between 80% and 100% of maximum volume.
5 On the front of the Mbox 2, carefully turn the
Gain control to the right to increase the input
level of your keyboard.
Connecting Instruments
7
Recording a Pro Tools Session
Recording with Pro Tools and the Mbox 2 involves creating a Pro Tools session, preparing an
audio track for recording, and recording.
To prepare an audio track for recording:
To create a session in Pro Tools:
2 Specify 1 Mono Audio Track in Samples, if
1 Verify the connections between the Mbox 2
your source is mono, or 1 Stereo Audio Track in
Samples, if your source is stereo.
and your instrument or microphone.
1 Create a new track to record on by choosing
File > New Track.
2 Launch Pro Tools.
3 Choose File > New Session.
4 Set Session Parameters in the New Session dialog as needed, or leave them at their default settings. (For details on New Session settings, see
the Getting Started with Mbox 2 Guide.)
Creating a new stereo audio track
3 Click Create.
A mono instrument uses one input on the
Mbox 2, and a stereo instrument uses two.
Creating a stereo track in Pro Tools will not
make a mono instrument into a stereo instrument. If a mono instrument is recorded
on a stereo track, one of the sides of the stereo track will show no signal.
4 Make certain the Mix window is open by
choosing Windows > Show Mix.
Showing the Mix widow
5 In the Mix window, click the Input selector on
the new track.
New Session dialog
5 Select where you want to save your session.
Input selector
6 Type a name for your session.
7 Click Save. Pro Tools creates a new session.
Choosing an input in the Mix window
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Mbox 2 Basics Guide
6 From the pop-up menu, select the interface in-
2 Choose Windows > Show Transport to display
put you want to record. For example, select In 1
if your audio source is mono and plugged into
an Input 1 jack on the back of the Mbox 2. Select In 1–2 on any stereo audio track when your
audio source is stereo.
the Transport window. Click Return To Zero to
cue to the beginning of the session.
Fast Forward
Return To Zero
Rewind
Play
Go to End
Stop
Record
Routing an input to a stereo track
Transport window
7 Use the Gain controls on Mbox 2 to maximize
the signal going into Pro Tools while avoiding
clipping.
Clipping occurs when you feed a signal to
an audio device that is louder than the circuitry can accept. To avoid clipping, adjust
the Gain control to a level where the Peak
LEDs on the front of the Mbox 2 do not
light or flicker.
8 On the front of the Mbox 2, turn the Mix con-
trol fully left to Input (to hear only the input signal). Or, to hear an equal mix of playback and
input signals, turn the Mix control to the center.
See “Controlling Delay (Latency) During Monitoring” on page 16 for more information on using the Mix control during recording.
To record an audio track:
1 Click the Record Enable button for the track.
3 Click Record in the Transport window to arm
Pro Tools for recording. The Record button will
flash red to indicate that Pro Tools is ready to
record.
4 When you are ready to start recording, click
Play or press the Spacebar.
5 Record your performance.
6 Click Stop in the Transport window or press
the Spacebar when you are finished recording.
To play back a recorded track:
1 If the track’s Record Enable button is lit, click
on it to take it out of Record mode.
2 On the front of the Mbox 2, turn the Mix control fully right to Playback (to hear only playback signal). To hear an equal mix of playback
and input signals, turn the Mix control to center. See “Controlling Delay (Latency) During
Monitoring” on page 16 for more information
on using the Mix control during recording.
3 Click Play in the Transport window or press
the Spacebar to start playback.
4 Click Stop in the Transport window or press
the Spacebar to stop playback.
Record enabling a track in the Mix window
Recording a Pro Tools Session
9
Impor ting Audio from a CD
To import audio from a compact disc:
1 Put the source CD into your computer’s CD
drive.
2 Use a third party software program of your
choice to extract audio from the CD.
7 Type a name for your session and click Save.
Pro Tools creates a new session.
8 In the session, create a new track by choosing
File > New Track.
3 Launch Pro Tools.
4 Choose File > New Session.
5 Set Session Parameters in the New Session di-
alog as needed, or leave at their default settings.
(For details, see the Getting Started with Mbox 2
Guide.)
Creating a new stereo audio track
9 In the New Track dialog, specify 1 Stereo Au-
dio Track in Samples, and click Create.
10 Open the Workspace Browser by choosing
Windows > Show Workspace. The Workspace
Browser is a window where you can find, audition, and manage your audio files.
Opening the Workspace Browser
New Session dialog
6 Select where you want to save your session.
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Mbox 2 Basics Guide
11 In the Workspace Browser, navigate to the lo-
cation where you saved the audio you extracted
from your CD in step 2.
To play back the new track:
1 In the Transport window, click Return To Zero
to cue the beginning of the track.
2 On the front of the Mbox 2, turn the Mix control fully right to Playback.
3 Click Play in the Transport window to begin
playback. The CD track you extracted should begin playing back.
Browsing in the Workspace Browser
12 Click and hold on the speaker icon in the
waveform window to audition the audio file.
Auditioning an audio file in the Workspace Browser
13 Drag the audio file from the Workspace
Browser to the audio track you created in your
session.
Dragging the audio file from the Workspace Browser to
an audio track
Importing Audio from a CD
11
Creating an Audio CD from a Pro Tools Session
Pro Tools does not create audio CDs directly,
but you can create stereo audio files from your
Pro Tools sessions that can be used by most
common CD burning programs.
2 Choose File > Bounce to Disk.
Use the Pro Tools Bounce to Disk feature to
combine all your audible tracks into a single
“master” audio file. After the new audio file has
been bounced to disk, you can burn it to a CD.
Bouncing Audio to Disk:
1 After you have finished recording and mixing
a session in Pro Tools, highlight the length of
the session in the timeline ruler (or on a track),
plus an additional amount of time to avoid cutting off any reverb tails that might continue
past the end of the region.
Choosing Bounce to Disk from the file menu
3 In the Bounce Options dialog, choose Analog
Outputs 1–2 as the Bounce Source.
4 Choose BWF (.WAV) for the File Type.
5 Choose Stereo Interleaved for the Format.
6 Choose 16 for the Resolution and 44100 for
the Sample Rate.
7 Choose “Convert after Bounce,” and click
Bounce.
Audio session highlighted and ready to bounce
Bounce options for creating CD burnable tracks
12
Mbox 2 Basics Guide
8 In the Bounce dialog, give the bounce tracks a
name and choose where they should be saved.
Burning a CD
After the bounce is completed, you will have an
audio file that is ready for burning onto a CD.
Quit Pro Tools and launch any common thirdparty CD burning application to burn your
bounced mix to CD.
Make certain that you configure your CD
burning application to create an audio CD
rather than a data CD.
Save Bounce Dialog
9 Click Save.
Pro Tools will begin bouncing to disk. Pro Tools
bounces are done in real time, so you hear audio
playback of your mix during the bounce process
(though you cannot adjust it).
.
Bouncing to Disk dialog
Creating an Audio CD from a Pro Tools Session
13
Mbox 2 and MIDI
3 Choose File > New Track and specify 1 MIDI
What is MIDI?
MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) is
not audio, and has no sound. MIDI is a way for
musical devices to communicate. MIDI is data
that can trigger a MIDI device (such as a keyboard or software synthesizer).
In order to create or play a MIDI recording, you
must have a MIDI keyboard or sound module
(real or virtual) connected to the computer
through the MIDI ports on Mbox 2 or some
other MIDI interface. Audio from your MIDI instrument can be sent to an external mixer or
monitored through the Mbox 2.
Track, then click Create.
4 In the Mix window, click the track’s MIDI In-
put selector and assign the device and channel
that will be recorded, or leave it set to All.
5 In the Mix window, click on the track’s MIDI
Output selector and choose the destination (assignment) for that MIDI track by choosing a
MIDI port, a channel, or a device from the popup menu (choices vary depending on the operating system and Pro Tools version).
MIDI sound module
MIDI
Audio
To amplifier
MIDI keyboard (controller)
Mixer
Signal paths for MIDI instruments
For more information on monitoring through
the Mbox 2, see “Monitoring MIDI Instruments
Without a Mixer” on page 15.
To configure a MIDI track for recording:
1 Make sure to connect your MIDI device to
Mbox 2. Connect a standard 5-pin MIDI cable
from the MIDI Out of your device to the
MIDI In port on the back of Mbox 2; using another MIDI cable, connect the MIDI In of your
device to the MIDI Out port on the back of
Mbox 2.
2 On Macintosh systems, choose MIDI > Input
Devices and make sure your input device is selected in the MIDI Input Enable window.
14
Mbox 2 Basics Guide
MIDI Output selector
If your connected MIDI device does not appear, check that you have configured your
computer and its MIDI settings. For more
information, see the appropriate chapters in
your Getting Started with Mbox 2 Guide.
6 In the Mix Window, record-enable the MIDI
track.
7 Make sure MIDI > MIDI Thru is selected, then
play some notes on your MIDI controller. The
track’s meters move. Remember, MIDI is not audio, and the meters are not registering sound,
but MIDI activity.
To monitor your MIDI instrument’s analog
outputs in Pro Tools, refer to “Monitoring
MIDI Instruments Without a Mixer” on
page 15.
You can also monitor your MIDI instrument’s analog outputs by using an external
mixer.
To record a MIDI track:
1 Verify that the MIDI track you want to record
to is record-enabled and receiving MIDI.
2 In the Transport window, click Return To Zero
to start recording from the beginning of the session. You can also record according to a selection or from the cursor location in the Edit
window.
3 Click Record in the Transport window.
4 Click Play in the Transport window or press
the Spacebar to begin recording.
5 Play your MIDI instrument.
6 When you have finished recording, click Stop
in the Transport window, or press the Spacebar.
The newly recorded MIDI data appears as a MIDI
region on the track in the Edit window, as well
as in the MIDI Regions List.
To play back a recorded MIDI track:
1 Click the Record Enable button to take the
MIDI track out of Record mode.
2 In the Transport window, click Return To Zero
to play back from the beginning of the track.
3 Click Play in the Transport window to begin
playback. The recorded MIDI data plays back
through the track’s assigned instrument and
channel.
Monitoring MIDI Instruments Without a Mixer
To monitor your MIDI instrument’s analog output in Pro Tools, you can use an Auxiliary Input
track. Auxiliary Inputs function as inputs for
both internally bussed signals and external audio sources.
To configure an Auxiliary Input for MIDI
monitoring:
1 Connect the MIDI instrument’s audio output
to the appropriate Line(TRS) inputs on your
Mbox 2.
2 Choose File > New Track and specify 1 mono
or stereo Auxiliary Input, then click Create.
3 Click the Input selector of the Auxiliary Input
channel and choose the input to which your
MIDI instrument is connected to the Mbox 2.
4 Adjust the level of the Auxiliary Input with its
volume fader. Now you will hear the audio output of your MIDI device in Pro Tools.
Mbox 2 and MIDI
15
Controlling Delay (Latency) During Monitoring
Mbox 2 and Pro Tools LE use your computer for
all audio processing, playback, and recording.
This causes a small amount of audio delay, or latency.
Latency is most obvious when monitoring during recording. You may hear this as a slight delay between when you produce the sound and
when you hear the sound through the speakers
or headphones.
Mbox 2 gives you the ability to monitor your
analog input signals while recording, without
hearing any latency. This zero-latency analog
monitoring is controlled by the Mbox 2 front
panel Mix control, which you can use to blend
and adjust the ratio between the Mbox 2 analog
input and Pro Tools playback.
To use zero latency monitoring while recording:
2 Do one of the following:
• Mute the track you are recording on. This
prevents you from hearing the delayed signal coming back from Pro Tools through
the Mbox 2.
Muting a track
– or –
• Use the Mix control on the front of the
Mbox 2 to blend the playback tracks with
the analog tracks that you are recording.
Mix control
1 Launch Pro Tools and set up a session. See
“Recording a Pro Tools Session” on page 8.
Mix control on Mbox 2 front panel
The Mix control has no effect when you are
using S/PDIF digital inputs.
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Mbox 2 Basics Guide