MBOX Pro Audio Challenge

Early this morning, while scraping the sleep out of my face and squinting at my twitter feed, I saw reference to this:

Think you know Mbox?  Take the challenge.

Being a sucker, I had to try it. I grabbed some caffeine and my best cans and sat down for a listen.

I'll spare you the suspense, I couldn't tell the difference, so I just clicked semi randomly on the test.  Got a B on the input test and an F on the output test.

After I got over the initial, "I must completely suck as a listener" and "this test is stupid, how they possibly expect to demonstrate anything", I began to realize that was the whole point. They wanted do demonstrate that they all sound pretty much identical while subtly reminding us that the Mbox is way cheaper than that other stuff.

But there's another conclusion I jump to. And that is that buying an audio interface using sound quality as your main criteria is wrong. And of course, if you've been playing around in this space, chances are that you have already intuited this idea.

So what is the criteria for audio interface shopping. Here's my list (in no particular order):

Basic features:
  • # of ins/out - I want at least 2 ins and 4 outs
  • the ins should be switchable between instrument/line
  • easily grabbed volume knob on the front (to save me from blowing my head off)
  • MIDI (to provide midi clock to my GT-10)
  • more front panel knobs the better, driving a separate mixer app with a mouse is a pain
  • two headphone jacks with separate volumes is a nice to have
  • special drivers? as a software guy (by day) that has done lots of device driver work, I am very suspicious about this one
  • latency? could you play live through this thing
  • are there timely updates to match your specific OS version
What's your criteria?  And does sound quality factor in or is it simply assumed?

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