M-Audio Unveils Black Box for Guitarists

New breed combines amp modeling, effects, drums and audio interface
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M-Audio, a leading provider of creative tools for computer-centric musicians, introduces the Black Box. Co-developed by M-Audio and Roger Linn Design and endowed with AdrenaLinn technology, the Black Box is the first creative tool for guitarists that combines amp modeling, powerful beat-synced effects, guitar/mic preamps and drum tracks with an audio interface for computer-based recording.

The Black Box can be used in either standalone mode or hosted via most music software. It features realistic emulations of 12 popular guitar amps. This sonic palette covers just about every type of tone required by modern guitarists, and the modeling is amongst the best available anywhere.

The Black Box also delivers 100 high-quality drum patterns in a variety of styles, making it easy to jam and write with instantly available grooves. Tempo can be set manually, via tap tempo or synchronized to external MIDI clock.

The Black Box incorporates a palette of 43 unique effects designed specifically for the unit that automatically beat-sync to the drum patterns or master clock. These effects include tremolo, flanger, chorus, random filters (1/8th, 1/8th triplets and 1/16th), tremolo sequences, filter sequences, wah wah, auto wah, talk box, arpeggiators and MIDI effects. There’s also a separate beat-synced delay effect that can be used in conjunction with the others, featuring settings for note division, number of repeats and volume. Either the mic input, guitar input or drums can be processed through the internal beat-synced DSP effects at any given time.

The Black Box also serves as a USB audio interface. One simple USB connection sends the output to a Mac or PC—and syncs the Black Box’s drums and effects to sequenced tracks.

The unit has separate preamp channels for 1/4” guitar and XLR microphone inputs—both with status and clip LEDs. Analog outputs include ¼” stereo headphone and a pair of balanced ¼” TRS connectors. The DSP signal can also be sent to other digital recording gear via the unit’s S/PDIF output at 24-bit/44.1kHz.

The Black Box ships with 100 top-notch factory presets that make it easy to access inspiring sounds instantly. 100 user program locations are also provided. The simple, intuitive user interface incorporates a large LCD, dedicated buttons for the major functions and multi-function rotary encoders for controlling parameters such as amp drive and tone controls. The expression pedal input can be programmed for a variety of functions such as amp gain, wah, delay volume, delay repeats, effect depth, wet/dry and more. Two momentary pedal inputs accommodate programmable functions such as tap tempo, tuner activation, preset selection and more. The Black Box is also designed to be field upgradeable for future firmware revisions.

For convenience, the Black Box features an integral guitar tuner as well. The unit also includes a mic stand adapter, making it easy to place the unit ergonomically both on stage and in the studio. A Kensington lock slot is built in for security. Power is via an included 9V AC power supply.

The Black Box has WDM, ASIO and Core Audio drivers, making it compatible with most popular electronic music software. The unit also has minimal functionality as a class-compliant device with Windows XP and Mac OS X 10.3.7. Windows minimum system requirements are Pentium III 500 MHz, 128MB RAM, Windows XP (SP2) with DirectX 9.0b, and USB connection (onboard or PCI). (No support under Windows 98, Windows Me or Windows 2000.) Macintosh minimum requirements are G3/G4 500 MHz, OS X 10.3.7, 512MB RAM, and USB connection (onboard or PCI). (G3/G4 accelerator cards are not supported.)

“There are millions of guitar players who want to take advantage of the power computer-based recording has over stand-alone hard disk recorders,” says Adam Castillo, marketing director at M-Audio. “Our experience in recording technology makes us perfectly suited to meet their needs. On top of that, Roger Linn’s AdrenaLinn technology has brought a wealth of great modeling, effects and drum grooves to this product. We think Roger’s technology with M-Audio’s recording expertise are a winning combination and provide a unique offering that will make sense to guitar players.”

“Most people know from my drum machine products, but I’m first and foremost a guitarist,” says Roger Linn. “My passion for guitar sound led to my creation of the award-winning AdrenaLinn beat-synced guitar effects processor. Now I’m very proud to combine the best parts of AdrenaLinn with M-Audio’s considerable expertise in computer interfaces. The result is Black Box, a device that will definitely make you dream out loud!