We have spoken a few times now about the apparent hole in the Avid audio interface line up between the M-Box Pro 3rd Gen (currently selling for around £750 UK/ 880 Euros /$1000 USD depending on where you look) and it’s next nearest upgrade - a Pro Tools HD Native and Omni i/o combo priced around £3750 UK/ 4444 Euros / $5000 USD.
Now that’s quite a price jump even if you do take into account the fact that you would be getting Pro Tools HD11 software (not available any other way) as opposed to the regular native version bundled with the M-Box Pro and it doesn’t leave anywhere to go for users who have outgrown their M-Box Pro but cant afford the jump to HD hardware or maybe don’t want to go that far.
The prospect of an Omni might not even seem like much of an upgrade when compared to the M-Box Pro especially thinking about the io count, So this would mean many might have to look at an 8x8x8 or a 16x16 interface which adds another cost factor with those interfaces over the Omni.
Personally I’m especially mindful of io counts when looking at audio interfaces and the lack of high count io in Avid’s sub HD product line troubles me, This gap used to be slightly filled by the 003 but since Avid dropped that unit there has been no sign of a successor and I still argue that 16 I/O is not enough for many mid to larger sized setups with outboard hardware and multiple pre amps etc.
So where does that leave the buyer? Well I guess they have no other choice but to look at 3rd party non “Avid approved” (but may work) ASIO and Core Audio offerings.
I’ve been using such interfaces (in My case a MOTU PCIe 424 card with 2408MK3 and 24io interfaces which fully expanded gives me 96 simultaneous io) as an alternate choice with Pro Tools alongside my HD TDM cards and 192 I/O since Pro Tools 9 threw off the hardware limitation shackles and I have been very happy with the setup indeed, In fact its only my TDM plugins that are not yet or will never be AAX that stops me using it full time over the TDM hardware - which along with my Pro Control sadly limits me to Pro Tools 10 as my main system but i can use PT11 with the MOTU.
There are of course those people who want total reassurance of Avid compatibility and support which is currently impossible for someone wanting more io than the M-box Pro offers but cannot afford a five times the price HD system.
So this begs the question, have Avid totally forgotten about this middle ground or are they developing a ‘Missing Link’ 004 that’s not ready for prime time yet?
Either way in my humble opinion its long overdue. Discuss…