One of the most important aspects of becoming a successful musician is producing a crisp, clean album. In order to keep expenses to the minimum, oftentimes it is prudent to self-record. But trying to go it alone in determining which equipment is the best fit for your needs is daunting, and before long, giving up looks like a good option. I’ve experienced this very discouragement and would like to keep you from the same experience. So I’ll review two of the products I considered purchasing to give you an idea of some good options for recording equipment. These offer two completely different approaches to recording; the
Digidesign Mbox 2 Pro Factory Bundle offers a computer-friendly option and is in the running against the all-in-one Boss BR-1600CD Multitrack Digital Recorder.
Price: Although neither option is quite price-effective, both are two of the best economic choices on the market. The Boss BR-1600CD Recorder runs between $1295.00 and $1500.00 and features multiple guitar effects. The Mbox 2 Pro Bundle sells for $800.00-$900.00 and includes numerous plugins, which help with sound management and allow special effects to be added. Keep in mind when purchasing that microphones, cables, and mic stands, not to mention CD materials or other desired sound equipment.
User Interface: There is little comparison between the two pieces of recording equipment when it comes to the user interface. A laptop or PC with plenty of memory (2 GB of RAM or more) is required for the Mbox, as the included software program is necessary to read input and manage all audio. In contrast, the Boss recorder is an all-in-one package with a computer screen and a 40 GB hard drive; in addition to its computer-like features it also houses a CD burner, enabling you to take your finished work and burning it right there on the spot.
User-Friendliness: There is a somewhat steep learning curve involved with using the Mbox 2 Pro. The software is fairly straightforward for computer-literate and PC-comfortable individuals, but some musicians would rather leave that to a professional. The Boss recorder features fewer stepping blocks, but with its miniscule computer screen, trying to keep track of what exactly you’re doing is an equivalent challenge. Many computer programs need to be disabled while using Pro Tools, the Mbox software, which can prove to be a hassle as well, but the Boss offers less flexibility with your tracks with its lack of intricate software
Overall Features: The Boss recorder is the better choice for recording multiple tracks at the same time, with 16 tracks total, 8 of them being XLR inputs for microphones. The Mbox 2 only allows 2 digital inputs (for such instruments as electric guitars or bass) or two analog inputs (for mics) to be plugged in and recorded simultaneously. However, if you will plan on using the Boss and transferring audio to the computer for further audio tinkering, the Boss is solely compatible with a USB connection, which is less reliable and slower than the Mbox’s firewire connection. A purchase of an Mbox also includes upgrades from Digidesign, a feature not available with the Boss, which stays with the same technology from the day you buy it. Once registered, the Mbox also comes with 90 days’ worth of complimentary customer service.
All-in-all, choosing between the Digidesign Mbox 2 Pro Factory Bundle and the Boss BR-1600CD Multitrack Digital Recorder really depends on your level of computer knowledge, patience, and tolerance levels. I’ve determined that, while the Boss seems like the easier option up front, with more track recording capabilities and less computer hassle, the Mbox 2 Pro will allow a lot more flexibility later on, and with its plugins and upgrades will prove itself as a recorder capable of standing the test of time.