In my "Gear Geeking" column in Tape Op #57, I discuss an
ultraportable Pro Tools M-Powered system running on a handheld Sony UMPC connected to an M-Audio Transit USB interface. At the time, the Transit was the closest thing to a "Pro Tools dongle" that you could buy. As many of you know, Pro Tools LE and M-P require a compatible Digidesign or M-Audio interface to run, and engineers joke that these interfaces are often doing nothing more than acting as an oversized copy-protection dongle when running PT to do edits or quick mixes on a laptop. Well, that joke has finally become a reality with the Mbox 2 Micro. The Micro is not much bigger than a USB flash drive, and it can plug directly into a USB 1.1-compatible port. (A short 9" USB extension cable is included to prevent inadvertent bending forces from causing damage to the device or to the port.) Located on the protruding end of the device are a 1/8" output jack (which can drive headphones or a line input), a recessed volume knob, and an LED indicator. There's also a slot for a lanyard. There are no provisions for inputting audio, but that's fine, because this device is almost perfect for frequent travelers like me; when I'm doing premixing (edits, vocal tuning, alignment, rearrangement, etc) in PT on the road, I don't want to be encumbered by the extra girth (or power requirements) of a device with audio inputs. I say "almost perfect," because the biggest missing feature for "on the road" PT editing/mixing is a process for mapping virtual outputs so I wouldn't have to reassign track outputs every time I move a project between the multichannel PT M-P system in my studio and the stereo-only Mbox 2 Micro system. My Micro package came with PT LE 7.3, but immediately after registering the product, I was emailed a free license and download information for PT LE 7.4 (reviewed this issue). Also included with the Mbox 2 Micro are 47 plug-ins, including select Bomb Factory and DigiRack plug-ins, as well as A.I.R.'s Structure Free sample player and Xpand! sample-playback synthesizer/workstation. Check Digidesign's website for full details. ($279 MSRP; www.digidesign.com)
Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.