Closer Look: Mbox 3.8

Closer Look: Mbox 3.8

Mbox recently rolled out the latest version of their popular software. Version 3.8 brings a little bit more power to the table as well as a new low-cost version of their software license.

3.8 brings more control, especially to Mbox Studio. There are more keystone and output adjustment controls, and Mbox Studio now has more of the advanced 3D projection mapping tools from Designer. All versions of Mbox can now use Syphon video for input and output. Syphon is a very customizable, open source OSX tool for sharing live video and across applications in real time. This is exciting for MBox and will open up a lot of new doors for more custom setups.

Mbox Director also received a few new bells and whistles, such as more discrete timing controls that allow elements to be cued and locked to the timeline by the host computer’s 24-hour clock. Cues can also be offsets from astronomical events such as sunrise and sunset. Director can now coexist with a console in a system with Art-Net passthrough. Layers and/or parameters can be controlled by Art-Net while the rest is controlled by Director. This will allow for some powerful setups with multiple operators. There is also a new blind mode for Director, as well as OSC control.

In addition to Mbox Studio and Designer, there is a new member of the Mbox family: Mbox Mini. Mini supports four layers and two outputs, while Studio holds its same capabilities of eight layers and two outputs, which are the same metrics as when it was released about a year ago. Mini is pretty much identical to Studio 3.7 but with less layers. Studio premiered last year at a price point of $999. With the recent addition of Mini, the Studio price point is now $1799 with Mini coming in at $899. Even though the lowest product is at a “new lower price,” Mbox is really decreasing the bang for your buck on the low end of products, with the increase in price of Studio and Mini being a $100 cheaper, more limited version of what you could get a few months ago. 


As mentioned in previous articles, there seems to be a trend with media servers to create these smaller versions of their platforms at a lower price. Last year, Mbox was one of the pioneers of this movement with Mbox Studio, the first product to fill the “prosumer” range of media servers. There weren’t many options between a home-brewed system running Qlab, Isadora, Max, TouchDesigner etc. and renting a beefy media server from a production house. Many other manufacturers have followed suit, such as the Green Hippo Chipmunk and Pandora’s Box Compact Player. Even though these are hardware solutions and Mbox Studio allows you to spin your own hardware, they all represent an effort to reach this middle market.

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