Black Box review by M-Audio

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Ease of Use: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 7.8 (11 votes)
M-Audio: Black Box

Price paid: $ 220

Purchased from: eBay

Sound — 9
I am somewhat new at guitar (1.5 years as I write this) but I am very serious at playing this instrument. Since I am still new to this, my setup is not very impressive sounding: I have an entry-level Ibanez GRX40 guitar and a Marshall MG15CDR. To me the Black Box sounds great on it, even though my setup is not really very professional. I can only imagine how good it can sound on better equipment. There is no interference or feedback at all with this device, and I used to suffer from massive amounts of buzz. The Black Box has a built-in noise gate which does a great job, but if you don't set it properly to your playing style, it can cut off notes that you try holding for 20-30+ seconds. I like the effects on this device. They sound quite good, but I haven't found a use for many of them. The amp models on it are very good and are great for adding a different sound to songs. I play a lot of U2, and Edge uses a lot of delay; and this device does great delay. it can handle something like something more than 2000 milliseconds of delay. It sounds very natural and pretty close to what the edge does, although not entirely the same due to his quite complicated rig setup. (in case you don't know, he uses 2 amps that are fed from different effects processors. the guitar signal is split before processing). There are no effects that I think sound bad, but some are really weird and I can't find a real use for them.

Overall Impression — 9
I play mostly U2, and a vast combination of whatever my guitar teacher teaches me, and what me and my band decide on trying from many different bands. This Black Box makes it so easy to adapt to such a variety of music. Especially at a show or at a practice, fine-tuning amp settings is hard to get right all the time, and this thing does great. (All the amp models have bass, treble and gain settings. The effects and delay have similar tweaking settings.)I can do all the effects in songs and whatever else is thrown at me to play. If there was one thing I could change, it would have to be the pedal board. (which is an optional add-on). It only has 2 momentary buttons, and I haven't found a real use for the expression pedal. 3 buttons would have been nicer. If it were stolen, I'm not sure I would buy the same one, not for any faults in it, but just to see what else exists. What I really like about this Black Box is that it does so much stuff. It's an effects processor/amp modeling/delay, it's a recording interface (it even has an XLR mic input on the back) and one thing I didn't mention before, it's also a drum Machine, and not a bad one either. It's really quite original in the sense of all the things it can do. I didn't compare it directly to any other products, but I was considering a Korg Toneworks, but I chose this one because I thought it had more potential. And if it had anything else, all I would have wanted was more momentary buttons, and a phaser effect on it. I hope my review helped you. If you have any questions on an area I left out, write a comment to this and I'll answer you back.

Reliability & Durability — 8
I can (and have) depended on this for Live shows. The face is made from plastic, but the back and bottom are metal. It certainly wouldn't break being tossed around when inside a backpack or a case of some sort, but if you drop it from too high, I don't know if would still work. or the screen at least. Also it should be noted that the screen has an odd viewing angle. It's not easy to see if you're standing directly over it, but on stage, the viewing angle makes so much sense. On a stage you won't be standing directly over it, you'll be a few feet away from it. The angle is perfect like this.

Ease of Use — 10
This device, although it really doesn't resemble so much an effects processor, does a pretty good job of what it's supposed to do. This device has 2 analog 1/4 standard guitar cable outs, a S/PDIF digital out, and a USB out for using the device as a recording interface. (It comes with Ableton Live! 4). Editing and creating patches and programs is pretty straightforward. After upgrading the firmware version (the latest as I write this being version 2), you get 99 stock presets, which can be edited or written over to create custom ones, without ever losing the originals. To better explain, you can cycle through the 99 stock presets, then the list will seemingly repeat, when actually you are getting into the 99 available custom programs. I think 99 presets is plenty of room. The printed manual that comes with this device is pretty skimpy, but on the software installation cd, or the website, the complete manual with detailed descriptions of all the functions, right down to descriptions of the individual effects and amp models.

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