Can this robust 1U rackmount recorder and audio interface — which features 24 onboard mic preamps — be all things to all engineers?
British manufacturers JoeCo have carved out a niche in the recording market with their BlackBox Recorders, a range of 1U devices intended primarily for recording and reproduction of multitrack audio in a stage environment. The original BBR1U is a 24-track device designed to ‘sniff’ the insert points of an analogue mixer, capturing a performance as a raw multitrack for later mixing, or playing one back for use as a virtual soundcheck. It boasts a number of nicely thought-out features that optimise it for its intended task, such as the ability to run off battery power, synchronised recording across multiple units for higher track counts, and bypass relays that ensure it passes signal even when power is lost.
Since its launch in 2009, in fact, the BlackBox Recorder has become something of an industry standard, and JoeCo now offer a number of variants with different I/O configurations. They’ve also accumulated the inevitable collection of user feedback along the lines of “It would be great if the BlackBox did X”. And, in response to that user feedback, they’ve created the BlueBox Workstation Recorder, a device that not only does X, but also Y, Z and a little bit of A too.
Whereas the BlackBox Recorder remains a stand-alone recording device, its new sibling is both a recorder and an audio interface for Mac OS and Windows — and, almost uniquely, can fulfil both roles at once. Up to 24 channels of 24-bit audio at sample rates up to 96kHz can be sent over USB 2 to a computer running DAW software, with the DAW returns feeding the BlueBox’s analogue outputs. The same input signals can be recorded simultaneously to an attached USB drive, offering a level of redundancy that would otherwise require two entirely separate recording systems to achieve.
The BlueBox is currently available with three different I/O configurations. The model supplied for review is designated the BBWR24MP, and closely follows the layout of the BBR1MP variant of the BlackBox Recorder. It features 24 analogue inputs and outputs, all housed on DB25 connectors; all are balanced, and there are optional mic preamps on all 24 inputs,...
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