Original Pro Tools M-Box End of Software Support – by Jeff Towne

November 2nd, 2010
ProTools MBox photo

The Original ProTools MBox

As evidenced by many articles here on Transom, we have long been fans of Pro Tools LE, using the M-Box as an interface. Despite the annoyance of Pro Tools requiring that the device be attached at all times, the original M-Box was a pretty nice little interface. Sure, it could have been a little smaller, but it could be squeezed into a bag along with a laptop and a few accessories without too much trouble. The two mic inputs sounded quite good, smooth and clean, as did the quarter-inch line inputs, and in many cases, having those inputs obviated the need for a mixer. Requiring that the M-Box act as the interface saved us from the temptation of recording directly into the computer’s audio input, which would almost certainly have been more noisy. It even had S/PDIF digital I/O, which came in handy those times we needed to get something off an old DAT tape.

Time marches on, and Digidesign stopped making the M-Box, replacing it with the larger M-Box 2 Pro, and the smaller M-Box2 Mini, and the tiny M-Box Micro, each of which had advantages and disadvantages over the original. But if you had an original, there was no real compelling reason to upgrade, unless you wanted the additional inputs of the Pro, or the space-savings of the Mini and Micro.

Until now.

There has long been a confusing dance of compatibility between versions of Pro Tools and versions of computer operating systems, but for the most part, one could keep one’s hardware, one just had to make sure that the version of Pro Tools and the version of the computer’s OS meshed. But there is something about Mac OS 10.6.4 (Snow Leopard) and Windows 7 that has led to Pro Tools no longer supporting the original M-Box. Your box will keep on working as long as you don’t upgrade ProTools beyond version 8.01, but you’ll need to upgrade Pro Tools beyond that version if you want it to run under Snow Leopard or Windows 7.

There’s been some confusion and misinformation floating around, this end of support is for the original M-Box only, the newer M-Box 2, Mini and Micro should still work fine, as should the 002 and 003 family of interfaces.

For more information, please see the original documents in the Avid website:

Pro Tools EOSS (End of Software Support) announcement:

http://avid.custkb.com/avid/app/selfservice/search.jsp?DocId=363039

Pro Tools LE for Mac OSX compatibility:

http://avid.custkb.com/avid/app/selfservice/search.jsp?DocId=353275

Pro Tools LE for Windows compatibility:

http://avid.custkb.com/avid/app/selfservice/search.jsp?DocId=353241

It’s also worth remembering that, with the proper drivers, the M-Box can still be used as a Core Audio or ASIO interface with other audio programs, so the M-Box doesn’t turn magically into a doorstop, even if it won’t work with the newest versions of Pro Tools.

Jeff Towne has worked on “Echoes,”
the nationally-syndicated radio program, for more than twenty years. He is also Transom.org’s a Tool’s editor.


9 Comments on “Original Pro Tools M-Box End of Software Support – by Jeff Towne”

  • Larry Stein says:

    Thanks for the info. This is very sad, that trusty old MBox has helped me make a lot of good programs. I still have it hooked up to an older MAC, and will keep it as a stand alone workstation for training, and small scale production.

    What drivers make it useful with other audio programs?

  • Jeff Towne says:

    Larry – you have it right: it’s not like the boxes blow up at midnight, the original M-Boxes are still perfectly viable interfaces for Pro Tools LE if you just stop updating your computer’s OS, and/or Pro Tools. And there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s what I do, I figure if I have a working system, I leave it alone until the computer dies, or there’s some new must-have feature in a Pro Tools upgrade.

    But if you do want to use the box with other programs, using the same computer as you had been running Pro Tools, first, just try it! The drivers very likely loaded when you did your Pro Tools install. It was an option, but very likely got loaded unless you did a nudgey custom install.

    If you didn’t install those drivers, find your Pro Tools installer discs and (on a Mac) install JUST the CoreAudio drivers. (Install CoreAudio.mpkg) On a Windows machine, look for the installer for ASIO drivers.

    There are old versions of the Windows ASIO driver archived here:

    http://archive.digidesign.com/download/asio/

    but read that webpage carefully – keep in mind that this could mess up your Pro Tools system if you’re still running that on the same machine, and have upgraded past the specified version.

    Of course, just finding up-to-date drivers on the Avid/Digidesign pages is almost impossible, and then even if you do find them, there’s confusing wording: the M Box “family” Core Audio drivers support M Box, but not the “original” M Box. I honestly don’t know what that means…

    If you’re on a Mac, try just plugging the thing in, it’s very likely that it will just work, at least as an analog interface. It may be difficult or impossible to access the digital inputs without a specific driver, but at least you can use the analog end.

    On Windows, generic ASIO drivers like ASIO4ALL should be able to address the M Box, it was compliant to that spec. On Mac, the basic Core Audio drivers should see it as a valid interface. In both cases, go to your sound control panels and select the M-Box as an input and/or output.

    I use my M-Box on my Mac with the Hindenburg audio editor, and with Reaper, and the programs just see it, but I’m pretty confident that I installed the Core Audio driver when I installed Pro Tools.

    Drop a line back here if you have trouble getting it to work, but first, just try it…

  • Preben Friis says:

    Technical note: ASIO4All is made for interfaces that do not not have an ASIO driver but have standard Windows drivers. The original MBox does not fall into this category.

    The just released Pro Tools 9 will work with all CoreAudio and ASIO compatible interfaces… so that must include the original MBox as well..!?

  • Jeff Towne says:

    Thanks Preben – it’s probably best to try to track down the original Digidesign ASIO drivers if you’re on a Windows system.

    And I’m not sure what the situation is with the recent release of Pro Tools 9: one of its biggest new features is that it can supposedly work with almost any interface, so I have to wonder whether that means the original M Box?

    I hope be taking a closer look at Pro Tools 9 soon, so I’ll certainly be giving that a try…

  • Greg Fitzgerald says:

    I discovered this a few weeks ago when I pulled the old M-box out for a few voice overs and noticed it would not show up in any of my Snow Leopard Macs. Fortunately I’ve gone one last mac that’s not been upgraded. So long as I remember never to upgrade this computer’s MAC OS, it should work fine.

  • Flawn Williams says:

    Don’t throw away your ProTools LE software serial number just yet. It can be your ticket to a valuable upgrade!

    As part of the move to ProTools 9 software, Avid (the company which subsumed Digidesign) is switching to a model where they charge separately (and steeply!) for the PT9 software in exchange for letting you use a wider range of hardware with their software.

    But owners of current ProTools LE and ProTools MPowered (the other variant of inexpensive ProTools software, also being end-of-lifed by Avid) qualify for a ‘crossgrade’ that can get you PT9 for $249 (LE) or $349 (MPowered).

    If you happen to qualify for academic pricing, the crossgrades cost just half those amounts, $125 for LE and $175 for MPowered. For details, see:

    http://www.studica.com/us/en/Avid

    You’ll also have to invest $40 in an iLok USB dongle that can store the Avid copy protection license if you’re crossgrading from PT LE. MPowered owners already have an iLok dongle that they can add the PT9 license to.

    The full price for the new PT9 software without the crossgrade is a whopping $599! That’s with NO hardware, but lets you use the built-in audio I/O in the computer or a wide range of external interfaces.

    As a long-time user of ProTools, I’ve used an original MBox for several years, and have been keeping a Mac computer at OSX 10.5.8 in order to keep using that MBox. But once the crossgrade to PT9 arrives, I’m looking forward to retiring the gangly blue box and using a Sound Devices USBPre with ProTools instead!

  • Rachel says:

    I have box and software, version 6.7, ready to send to anyone who might want an extra.

  • Tekyjohn says:

    Does anyone know how I can get the driver for the original Mbox? I have 7.3 and am getting ready to install it with the original Mbox

Leave a Comment