Originally Posted by dxavier
Please look throughout Gearslutz and read some real comparisons that have taken place, from people who actually own the unit and have other converters to compare it to. One thing to note too is that the converters in the MR816 were not made specifically for the MR816. They were in fact made for the Yamaha N12 (yes, I have had confirmation of this from a Yamaha Rep) which retailed at £1,300 when it first came out. Yamaha's remit was to make as high quality converters as possible for this unit. When the MR816 was dreamed up by Steinberg (who are owned by Yamaha), Yamaha ripped the converters and preamps out of the Yamaha N12 and placed them in a box, called the MR816, which again saved them a bunch of R'n'D. It was basically a repackage. If price is such an important factor in your judgement of an interface (which it should not be) consider that the converters in the £500 MR816 are from a £1,300 unit.
I've been watching this thread with some interest since it seems quite a fun one.
From my point of view, I can't comment on the MR as such because I don't have one. I do, however, have an n12. I also have a Focusrite Liquid Saffire 56 and continue to use both. I also know various guys with assorted examples of MOTU, Presonus, RME and other gear.
In my experience, and that of most of the guys I know, the n12 is a pretty good interface and has some nice features (especially if you're a Cubase type like me). But it certainly isn't any significantly better than anything else at around the same price point. In fact, in my experience, my LS56 has a slight edge on it sound-wise (and that's with everything else in the signal path the same, in the same room, running into the same PC DAW). It's a close thing though - the differences aren't dramatic at all. (And the LS56 was actually cheaper than the n12 - even allowing for the fact that I bought the n12 a few years ago when the street price was a lot lower than it is now.)
Same goes for stuff that I do compared to stuff other guys do with their gear - the differences between all of our setups aren't so huge that you could say that any of our interfaces are head and shoulders above any of the others. And, funnily enough, all those interfaces fall into roughly the same price bracket - anywhere from around £500 to £1000 or so. Unfortunately, I can't comment on how our assorted setups compare to much more expensive things since I don't know anyone with racks full of Lavrys, Burls, etc. or machine rooms stuffed with heavyweight Avid/ProTools rigs. Although I would expect that such things would probably show all of us what we're actually missing. (I'd hope that would be the case anyway - if only for the sake of the guys who had dropped all that money on it!)
Anyway, back to the point. What I and my friends have seen tends to leave me thinking that, in any given price range, the performance that you're going to see from any audio interfaces that offer similar sort of feature sets is going to be broadly similar. I'm certainly not convinced that there is anything out there that punches significantly and consistently above its weight. In terms of a small home or project studio, they're pretty much all good enough for the job once you hit that £500 mark. I'm not sure I'd use any of them if I was building a serious commercial facility, but I'd also be spending a helluva lot more money if I was doing that.
Which is why I find threads like this fun. There seems to be a lot of love for the MR series on here. It kind of looks like the audio interface equivalent of the Gap73 for pres or the SM7 for mics - sort of the Gearslutz "most loved". And I'm not sure why that should be. OK, I'm pretty sure that the MR816 is a good interface and gives good results - my own experience with the n12 tells me that. But I think this is the only place I know where anyone could ask the question "Is the MR816 high-end?" with a straight face. However you define "high-end" (which are kind of vague and weaselly words at the best of times) I don't know of anyone who would say that the MR816 (or n12 or LS56 or Fireface or Firestudio or MOTU 828 or whatever) really makes that kind of grade.
As ever, YMMV. I guess I win either way - if it ain't high-end I've no reason to be disappointed. If it is, then it seems like I must already have a rack/desk of high-end gear myself without ever having realised it!