Thanks for the kind welcome!
First the 'mini' has inferior preamps. The only thing anyone should be considering doing with it is using it as a dongle to authorize pre version 9 Pro Tools.
The mbox 3 & the mbox 3 pro have identical preamps that are adequate IMO. In the 'pro' only, they do take the line directly to the converter. In the mbox the line is padded down and goes through the preamp. No matter how good the preamp is, I find that to be a distasteful practice. I'll save you a trip through Avid's horrible website and post a link here to a pdf with the single lines. You can find the Mbox pro diagram on page 6 and the Mbox on page 7.
Never use your DAW as an excuse. Remember Geoff & Sir George did Sgt. Pepper on a 4 track machine.
Be carefull of what "guys" tell you. The Mackie Onyx will sound great via Firewire into the Macbook.
Hey Mike, thanks for that. It's amazing you even found that? I couldn't even get this much information out of the Avid folks when I spoke to them directly at the AES. So much for customer support. No wonder I hate my M-Box 2 inputs so much? And this is the third generation units PDF file you have posted not the second. It's line inputs clip out so terribly easy, I have to utilize H pads at the inputs if I am to feed it from my API or Neve stuff. And I've been too lazy to open my M-iserable Box 2, just to tear into it to avoid the entire front end before the A/D converter. It is certainly not my primary piece of gear. Even my MOTU 2408 clips out at +20 DBu, at its inputs. And you know, my stuff can go +10 beyond that. LOL So none of this " Professional " stuff actually is... actually Professional.
The folks today really don't know what they're missing when it comes to headroom.
Mx. Remy Ann David
I made some measurements for headroom at the line inputs of the Mbox 3 and the Mbox 3 Pro. I don't have a Mini.
The Mbox 3 Pro line inputs clip somewhere above 0dBFS (that translates to +14 dBu because of the wacky gain). As there is no level control, if you are doing fixed point recording the analog headroom can never be a problem. That does NOT mean that you don't need pads. I highly recommend approx 10 dB pads as I stated previously in this thread.
The Mbox 3 is a different situation. The line inputs are padded down and go through the mic preamps. The level controls are active and inattention to gain structure can get you in trouble. With the pads ingaged (knob out), I measured input clipping at +25 dBu. That's not terrible. If you are careful, it shouldn't limit your headroom but it is very close. I would be comfortable with just a little more. Without the pads (knob in), it clipped at +4. That's unusable for anything. The good news is that it is so bad that you can't accidently miss it.
Although if you are careful, headroom isn't a limiting factor with these boxes, the gain situation is just so irritating!
Once again I have to wonder how these things ever got through any field tests. I have already discussed the strange mic gains. The line gains are just as strange but in the other direction. Anyone attempting to actualy use these things would instantly realize that something is wrong with the design. This is so sad. It would have been so easy and free to fix. The rest of the box is actually very good. IMO the audio quality is excellent (preamps & converters on both boxes are identical). They are very reasonably priced. It's just too bad that they didn't actually try to use them before they went into production.