The Matrox MXO2 LE MAX is an advanced
breakout box that connects
to a PC or Mac desktop or laptop,
and provides real-time conversion of most
existing video and audio formats. It also
offers HDMI monitoring and highly accelerated
H.264 video encoding. The Matrox
MXO2 LE MAX is one of a family of similar
I/O devices that vary in size, range of inputs
and outputs, connectivity and price.
These products are designed to connect
to PC or Mac desktops or laptops via PCIe
card, express34 card or Thunderbolt.
| Matrox’s MXO2 LE MAX
The Matrox MXO2 LE MAX has video
inputs/outputs for signals including SDI,
HDMI, component, S-Video and composite.
Audio I/Os include XLR balanced and
RCA unbalanced. There’s also a genlock
port. Video formats can be cross-converted
in real-time. HD to SD downscaling
provides proper conversion of the SD
color space and aspect ratio. SD to HD upscaling
converts the SD color space to HD
color space. SD footage with a 4:3 aspect
ratio is pillar-boxed, while 16:9 footage
is scaled to full screen. Cross-conversion
between the 720 and 1080 HD formats is
The MXO2 LE MAX has two components—
a PCI card that resides inside the
host computer, and a rugged aluminum
breakout box that contains all of the input
and output terminals. It can also be
confi gured to work with a laptop.
The breakout box is designed for simplicity,
with all of the inputs on one side
and all of the outputs on the other. As an
example of its functionality, you can connect
an analog component deck into the
input side and play out SDI digital on the
other in real time, or you could make multiple
versions in different formats simultaneously
by connecting devices to other
live outputs, such as S-Video, HDMI or
composite. Monitoring is constantly available
through the HDMI port.
The real-time conversion of the MXO2
LE MAX is ideal for live streaming, enabling
instant cross-conversion to formats
suitable for the Web. And it’s compatible
with popular streaming software,
such as Adobe Flash Media Live Encoder,
Telestream Wirecast, QuickTime Broadcaster,
and Microsoft Expression.
The MXO2 LE MAX effi ciently provides
professional monitoring for most popular
editing systems, including Final Cut Pro X
and 7, Avid Media Composer 6, Adobe Premiere
Pro, and Boris Media 100.
The MXO2 LE MAX also includes a
monitor calibrating system that allows
you to precisely set your HDMI monitor
to meet broadcast standards. This allows
users to take a consumer-grade HDMI fl at
screen TV and set it up as a professionally
calibrated video monitor.
A real bonus offered by the MXO2 LE
MAX is hardware-accelerated H.264 processing
that dramatically speeds up the
encoding process. H.264 has become a
popular compression format and is used
in everything from Internet streaming to
Blu-ray disc encoding. However, as anyone
who uses it knows, this is excruciatingly
slow to encode. The MXO2 LE MAX
encodes H.264 at about real-time speed,
meaning that a one-hour program that
might take fi ve hours using software-only
encoding methodology can be done with
the MXO2 LE MAX in about an hour.
I set up the MXO2 LE MAX on a Mac
Pro desktop running OS X Lion. This involved
inserting a PCI card into a vacant
slot and connecting a cable to the MXO2
external unit. I did initially encounter
some diffi culty getting my Mac to detect
the card. This step is a bit fi nicky, as the cable
that connects to the MXO2 unit only
works in one direction. Once I sorted that
out, everything else fell into place.
I tested the MXO2 LE MAX fi rst with
Avid Media Composer 6 and everything
worked very well once I got the hang of
the settings. First off, the MXO2 LE MAX
is an excellent way to add HD monitoring
to Avid Media Composer 6. The setup
is simple and allows full HD monitoring
from Media Composer, a feature that has
been elusive in the past.
I tested out the monitor calibration feature,
and found that it worked beautifully.
It walks you through a series of visual
setups that are very comprehensive and
result in an accurate calibration. This is a
very important feature, as it allows you to
do color correction with the confi dence
of knowing that you are working with a
I was eager to test the accelerated H.264
encoding, as I use this codec frequently.
On my fi rst attempt, I discovered I had the
wrong driver. There are two for the MXO2
LE, so if you are using the MXO2 LE MAX,
make sure you have the right one. Once
that was sorted out, I found it easy to export
projects directly from the timeline.
I simply followed the export menu path
from inside Media Composer, selected the
Matrox MAX H.264 option and chose the
After working with the Avid application,
I then decided to test it on Final Cut 7. You
can’t have both drivers for Avid and Final
Cut operable at the same time, so I had to
uninstall the Avid driver and install the Final
Cut 7 driver.
I have to admit that I found this a bit
inconvenient, as I use both NLE systems. I
brought the matter up with the people at
Matrox who explained that Final Cut 7 was
designed for a 32-bit OS, while Media Composer
6 runs on 64-bit systems. Separating
the drivers avoids problems and improves
the performance of each. But moving forward,
they plan to provide a unifi ed set of
drivers that will allow a user to switch effortlessly
between Final Cut Pro X and Avid
Media Composer 6.
The MXO2 LE MAX worked identically
on Final Cut 7 as it did on Avid Media
Composer 6. I was able to connect the
monitor effi ciently and have access to a
long list of export codecs, including the
Matrox MAX H.264. I encoded a 90 minute
project in H.264 in about 90 minutes,
and the quality was excellent.
I did encounter some bugs when exporting
projects in certain formats and
frame sizes. However, the Matrox support
people were very attentive, provided excellent
advice, and we were able to solve
the problems to my satisfaction.
I have to say that I love the Matrox
MAX H.264 feature. In the past I would
have to wait four or fi ve hours to export
an hour-long program. With the MAX
H.264 feature, it takes about as long to
export as the length of the program. And
the compression settings are versatile and
yield very high quality.
The Matrox MXO2 LE comes with its
own record and playback utility, which
provides a simple and fast way to record
almost any source video to fi le in many
formats. I tested it and found it to work
effi ciently, saving the time and complexity
of importing through NLE software.
I tested most of inputs including SDI,
HDMI and composite. They all work as
planned, plugging into one side of the box
and playing out the other in your choice of
SDI, HDMI, component, composite and SVideo.
The breakout box is visually intuitive,
making it easy to arrange connections.
The Matrox MXO2 LE is a reliable and
effi cient tool for cross-converting video
formats from one system to another in
real time. It also facilitates transferring any
format to digital fi les through popular NLE
systems, such as Final Cut Pro X and 7, and
Avid Media Composer 6. I found the most
useful applications on a day-to-day basis
to be high-quality HDMI monitoring and
high-speed encoding of video in H.264. It
is a highly useful tool for any video editor
who deals with multiple video formats.
Geoff Poister, Ph.D. is a member of the
Film and Television faculty at Boston
University and a regular contributor to