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MOTU 1248, 8M, 16A Thunderbolt interface Audio Interfaces
Old 6th August 2014
  #211
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Robo's Avatar
16A has the best specs. It's just speculation but from those measurements the chips could be the ESS Sabre ES9112 for the A/D converter and ES9016 for D/A. (Sorry if anyone has said this already, I couldn't see it).

If this is right the overall specs of the unit are at or within a few dB of the chip specs, suggesting near perfect design/DAC implementation. Otherwise it would mean better chips are used but the overall unit measures slightly further from the chip spec, but still only 4-5dB different. Both of these would be good outcomes.

I have a very high-end ES9023-based DAC and with my calibrated Stax system the sound is quite frankly a little jaw-dropping, with true realism possible with reference recordings. That chip is one tier down from the 16A's possible chipset so on that basis and judging by the overall measurements this is potentially a very very nice interface indeed!

ESS Products - ADC
ESS Products - DAC

Update Nov 2014: looks like the ADC is in fact a Cirrus Logic CS5381, still one of the best converters but slightly lower maximum THD/DR than the Sabre32 suggested above (and 'only' 24 bit), although this is not bad news because it means that the 16A's dynamic range spec is even closer to the chip spec (within 3dB) than it would have been had the converter been the Sabre32! And THD is bang on at -110dB. So in a way this even more impressive.

Cheers
Old 6th August 2014
  #212
Gear Head
 

I'm very excited at the prospect of networked audio becoming status quo and I'm delighted to see MOTU take initiative with these new products. I'm am completely unconcerned with the lack of a second thunderbolt port, even though I understand how one might view it as a hindrance in the short term.

I fully anticipate that in a few years time a non-networked audio interface will be as incomprehensible to us as a non-networked computer is today. The benefits are great and numerous, and the drawbacks are practically nil. Audio over IP is absolutely the future.


With that, I'm wondering about MOTU's claims regarding their AVB network performance, and whether their own router is really required or whether any AVB-capable router (of which there are many—for less than MOTU's $295) will suffice. I'm guessing it's the latter, but I can't say for sure.

Anyway, I can't wait to try these boxes out for myself!
Old 6th August 2014
  #213
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Piyono View Post
I'm very excited at the prospect of networked audio becoming status quo
would be nicer if high bandwidth wireless technology becomes a reality,

100 Gbps wireless would make the wireless studio of the future a certainty...
Old 6th August 2014
  #214
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loujudson's Avatar
I disagree - wireless too easily hacked. For pro work, wired is the gold standard. Cat 5 is cool stuff!

I love operating mixers and gear wirellessly, but want my audio reliably in copper. Just my feelings.
Old 6th August 2014
  #215
Quote:
Originally Posted by loujudson View Post
I disagree - wireless too easily hacked. For pro work, wired is the gold standard. Cat 5 is cool stuff!

I love operating mixers and gear wirellessly, but want my audio reliably in copper. Just my feelings.
same here!!
but i'm really excited to test the wireless controlling app for this new motu interfaces via smartphone! big advantage in studio and especially live-situations!
Old 7th August 2014
  #216
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papawise's Avatar
anyone received it ?
Old 8th August 2014
  #217
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Quote:
Originally Posted by papawise View Post
anyone received it ?
yep - got it in the rack and wired up! gotta make some noise now! goof
Old 8th August 2014
  #218
nms
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OldTools View Post
The Sabre DAC does look to be a series of chips:

ESS Products - DAC

And neither Apogee nor MOTU are saying which they use, but you can guess by the numbers they post:

ESS Sabre - Apogee Electronics

Interesting how the Orion has spec's like an Mbox, but everyone says how great it is
No guessing needed. I just took a look and Motu is using the ESS Sabre32 Ultra converters. Sounds like they really raised the bar. Great to see them doing that and raising the price instead of aiming more to the prosumer end.

"Pure sound, without compromise

The 16A employs latest-generation ESS Sabre32 Ultra™ converters, known for their industry-leading performance, together with expertly engineered analog circuits that reflect more than three decades of pro audio engineering expertise. The result? The 16A achieves actual, measured performance of 123 dB dynamic range (A-weighted, 20 Hz to 20 kHz) on its balanced TRS analog outputs."


On the other hand, Apogee uses the next model up in the Symphony: Sabre32 reference DAC
Old 8th August 2014
  #219
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Exclamation

Quote:
Originally Posted by aaeronn View Post
yep - got it in the rack and wired up! gotta make some noise now! goof
those are good news(!)
please tell us how it soundss(!)
Old 8th August 2014
  #220
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loujudson's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by nms View Post
No guessing needed. I just took a look and Motu is using the ESS Sabre32 Ultra converters. Sounds like they're raising the bar! Great to see them doing that and raising the price instead of aiming more to the prosumer end.

[I]"Pure sound, without compromise

The 16A employs latest-generation ESS Sabre32 Ultra™ converters…
All well and good, but what about the A/D chips? THAT is what really counts to me, as it is the client and the consumer who does the D/A in my business... I sell digital audio files and CD masters, not studio monitoring! :-)

And, is the 8M the same? I should hope so. I need the mic pres for remote recording, fancy DA not so much.
Old 8th August 2014
  #221
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Quote:
Originally Posted by papawise View Post
those are good news(!)
please tell us how it soundss(!)
I've only had it for a day and honestly, I'm not setup for blind testing between converters. I've already pulled the PCIe-424 and 24IO/2408mk3/HD192 interfaces I was using.

I will say (and this is purely subjective with no comparisons or measurements to back it up) that from what I've heard so far, the 16A is clean and clear. I haven't had time to really dig into it, but I think this new AVB line of interfaces is about transparency.

I'll leave the in depth comparisons to others more interested in conducting those type of tests.
Old 8th August 2014
  #222
nms
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loujudson View Post
All well and good, but what about the A/D chips? THAT is what really counts to me, as it is the client and the consumer who does the D/A in my business... I sell digital audio files and CD masters, not studio monitoring! :-)

And, is the 8M the same? I should hope so. I need the mic pres for remote recording, fancy DA not so much.
So accurately hearing what you're doing or have recorded in the best detail possible isn't that important? In reality, if you have a nice studio you'll have a lot better chance of hearing the "fancy dacs" than most consumers will of the ADC's.

Nevertheless, like most boxes they have paired it with equal spec'd ADC's.. again, the Sabre 32 Ultra.

It would be more interesting if Motu went with the same model used in the Symphony, but you can't expect 16 channels of Symphony quality conversion with TB & USB for $1500. Still, the chip is only one part of it.

It's just nice to see the market moving forwards here. While good in their own right, the Apollo & Orion both failed to impress sonically. With the 16a's running TB & USB plus daisy chainable via ethernet Antelope is going to take a hit on Orion sales.
Old 8th August 2014
  #223
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nms View Post
So accurately hearing what you're doing or have recorded in the best detail possible isn't that important? In reality, if you have a nice studio you'll have a lot better chance of hearing the "fancy dacs" than most consumers will of the ADC's.

Nevertheless, like most boxes they have paired it with equal spec'd ADC's.. again, the Sabre 32 Ultra.
You misinterpret my comment - Improved listening is of course good - but I am sincerely interested in the listener expereince, which is only of the A/D, so that is what I am interested in...

I will be very interested in how D/A sounds, and definitely lan to add the new 8M before I remove the old 002R/BLA. It's a humble studio, so it will be interesting to hear!
Old 8th August 2014
  #224
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Different question: maybe there are some information resources on the web, but how does the AVB newtork relate to Dante and MADI? It would be col if there was a way to interconnect them...

I'll only be using it as an interface for the time being, but reading the manual as I await delivery early next week.
Old 9th August 2014
  #225
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loujudson View Post
Different question: maybe there are some information resources on the web, but how does the AVB newtork relate to Dante and MADI? It would be col if there was a way to interconnect them...

I'll only be using it as an interface for the time being, but reading the manual as I await delivery early next week.
Definitely keep us posted on your findings/ experiences with the unit. I too am interested in its connectivity via avb
Old 9th August 2014
  #226
Gear Nut
I got my MOTU 8M in the mail yesterday. Thunderbolt performance with Pro Tools was so buggy, I had to switch to USB . Booting it in USB caused everything to automatically switch to 192KHz. No biggie - just switched it back to 44.1, but annoying. The mixer and routing part of the software leaves a lot to be desired. I can't seem to get the routing so that the mixer output and headphone output can listen to both the DAW's playback and the live mic pre input at the same time. Isn't that the whole point of low-latency cue mixes??

If anyone can figure this out and post a solution, that would be awesome.

Also can't figure out how to track through the mixer's EQ when doing the above scenario...
Old 9th August 2014
  #227
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldTools View Post
I got my MOTU 8M in the mail yesterday. Thunderbolt performance with Pro Tools was so buggy, I had to switch to USB .
What is the symptom when you use the Thunderbolt connection? Have you tested anything beside ProTools with Thunderbolt? Simple playback from iTunes for example?


Quote:
Originally Posted by OldTools View Post
Booting it in USB caused everything to automatically switch to 192KHz. No biggie - just switched it back to 44.1, but annoying.
Once you've reset the interface to your desired sample rate, it should stay at that rate. Does it?


Quote:
Originally Posted by OldTools View Post
The mixer and routing part of the software leaves a lot to be desired. I can't seem to get the routing so that the mixer output and headphone output can listen to both the DAW's playback and the live mic pre input at the same time. Isn't that the whole point of low-latency cue mixes??
When you set up the AVB interface the first time, you have the option to choose a routing preset. The AVB system has many options for configuration, so presets are a good idea here. I would expect that for basic work with ProTools, you'd want to to choose the Audio Interface preset. You can customize from there.

Open the AVB app in your browser and click on the Routing tab. Across the top of the window you have inputs into the AVB system. There are arrows to open and close groups of inputs. You'll see input groups for the mic inputs, ADAT inputs, and "From computer". These will be followed by returns from the AVB Mixer, including Mains, Monitor, Auxs, Mix groups, reverb, and post FX inputs.

On the left, from top to bottom are output assignments. These include direct outputs to Phones, analog, ADAT, computer inputs, and AVB mixer inputs.

By default, the mic inputs are assigned to the computer inputs and to the AVB mixer inputs. You'll see the checkboxes indicating this. So for example, mic input #1 is assigned directly to computer input #1. If you record-enable input #1 in ProTools, you'll get the direct mic input showing up there. Direct input means the mic is not going through the AVB mixer before it gets to ProTools (which therefore means no in-libe effects).

The mic input is also assigned to the AVB mixer. The AVB Mixer is where we set up the low latency mixes and use effects. Check this by scrolling all the way down on the left and showing the Mix In checkboxes. "Outputs - To Computer 1 should have a checked box that corresponds to Mic 1 from the top row of input sources.

Let's set up a simple mix from the AVB mixer to the Phones. On the top row, scroll until you see Main L and Main R (After the "from computer" inputs). Main L and Main R represent the main stereo output of the AVB mixer. Click the checkboxes under Main 1 And Main 2 for Phones 1 and Phones 2. You have now routed the Main Outs from the AVB Mixer to the Phones output on the front panel of the interface.

Check your mic. Click on the Device tab in the upper left corner of the AVB app. This is where you control thinhs link mic gain, phantom power, pad, etc. and Make sure gain is up and if the mic requires it, phantom power is on. You'll see a basic VUT meter to show you that srong signal is coming in from the mic. Go back to the Routing page. In the top row of the Routing page, you see a signal indicator under Mic In 1. That should blink when you test the mic.

Click on he Mixer tab on the left of the SVB app. By default, all the faders are down and muted. Bring up the Mic #1 fader. You should see signal under the fader when you test the mic. Unmute the mic in fader. Bring up the Main Mix fader and unmute it. You will now see signal at the Main Mix fader. If the Phones are plugged in and the Phones volume is turned up, you will hear your mic signal in the Phones.

Now for ProTools playback. By default, the outputs of ProTools are routed directly to the analog outputs on the 8M. Got back to the Routing tab in the AVB app. Look along the top row for the From Computer group. If ProTools is playing, you'll see activity in those returns. Assuming that you have ProTools assigned to outputs 1-2 on the 8M, click the check boxes inder From Computer 1-2 for the Phones 1-2. This routes the output of ProTools directly to the Phones output. You should hear ProTools play in the Phones now. If you would rather route the outputs of ProTools to the AVB Mixer, scroll down to the Mix In group on the left side of the routing window. Pick a pair of inputs and click the checkboxes that correspond to the ProTools outputs as defined in "From Computer" along the top row. Now in the mixer, you'll want to bring those input faders up and unmute them. So you have a choice to send the outputs of ProTools directly to outputs on te interface, and you also have the choice to sen d ProTools outputs into the AVB mixer.


Quote:
Originally Posted by OldTools View Post
Also can't figure out how to track through the mixer's EQ when doing the above scenario...
In the routing I've described above, the computer (ProTools), is receiving signal directly from the 8M inputs. Again, check this by scrolling down on the left until you see Outputs - To Computer, and you see a checkbox that corresponds to the mic input. Direct from the mic to the computer means you are tracking with no effects. Click on the direct mic input to the computer to de-assign the chceckbox. While still keeping the Outputs - To Computer visible, scroll right until you see the top row of inputs labeled Mix Post Effects. Click the checkbox under Mic1 Post Effects (top row) for Outputs - To Computer 1 (bottom left). Now the mic signal from the AVB mixer is being sent to input #1 in ProTools. If you now engage effects in the mixer for this input, those effects are in line before the signal gets to ProTools, and you are now tracking the mic through the EQ.


Hopefully everything in my description worked the way it should and you now have playback from ProTools, patch through from the mic, and understand how to track pre or post effects into ProTools.

There are many amazing ways signal could be touted through the AVB system, and I think there will plenty more discussion about that.

Now lets back up a hair. Welcome to the MOTU AVB system and Thank You for purchasing an 8M interface! You are the first person to post here with a question about routing, and this is the first time I've provided tech for the AVB system at Gearslutz. A significant moment!

At the bottom of my reply is my direct email address. I don't usually work on Saturdays, but today I am doing some lurking. I welcome direct email at any time with MOTU related questions, from any Gearslutz member. You can PM me through GearSlutz, but direct email is a much easier for me. Also, direct email makes it easy for me to send you screen shots, etc. I will never quote your email to me in a GearSlutz post. And of course, I'll continue to lurk, post and reply here in the forums.

During business hours you can reach MOTU Techncal support at 617 576 3066 in the US. We have distributors who can provide support outside the US:

MOTU.com - Distributors

You can send emails to MOTU tech through a Tech Link:

MOTU.com - Tech Support

And of course, now you've met me in in person and I am also here to help.


A word on the complexity of the AVB system. Yes it is! I have been working around mixing systems since the mid 1970s. I've been working with digital audio systems for well over 25 years. I like to think I know my way around these systems. By perspective, the capabilities of modern systems is mind-blowing compared to what was available 10, 20, 30, or 40 years ago. Modern systems are an evolution of both audio engineering technology and technique, as well as the basic analog and digital technologies that make these systems work. Ten years ago I had barely heard of networked multi-channel audio over CAT5. We are about to see that technology become a common standard way of working.

The MOTU AVB system can do some amazing things with signal routing. Because of the capability, there is also complexity. That means as a manufacturer, MOTU can't just make a cool box. We have to make a box that customers can understand and use in a practical way. Hence, you see things like presets in the routing system. But if you think about it, a preset only works one way at a time, yes? The preset could be set up with live input signals going direct, or it could be set up with inputs going through effects (for example). What happens then when a customer wants to record some signals dry and others with effects? Preset only get you so far.

Really the best thing is to empower the customer so they understand how to make the system do what they want. In order to do that with a new product, we write manuals, answer questions, hang out on line, give clinics, make movies, etc. That's the process. It's very important to MOTU that the customers "get it" with the products. This something we are always striving to get better at, both with service and with product design. If you're interested in making the MOTU system work for you, we'll find a way to help you become a master!

If I have answered OldTools questions adequately on the first try, that's good news. If OldTools or anybody else has follow up questions, I will do what can to continue to provide useful answers. On that note, I'm off to have lunch with my wife, so it will be another hour or two before I am on line again...

Cheers!
Dave
Old 9th August 2014
  #228
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Quote:
Originally Posted by magicd View Post
Now lets back up a hair. Welcome to the MOTU AVB system and Thank You for purchasing an 8M interface! You are the first person to post here with a question about routing, and this is the first time I've provided tech for the AVB system at Gearslutz. A significant moment!

Cheers!
Dave
Thanks for enhancing this thread as a resource for direct Q&A.

This trio of products are going to be well-received.
Old 9th August 2014
  #229
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12tone's Avatar
 

magicd

since you work for MOTU,
could you please explain the reasoning behind having only one TB port?
Was this solely a cost cutting decision or some other factor? As you can see from this thread alone, an inclusion of another port would have been greatly received by the gear interested community at large...
Old 9th August 2014
  #230
nms
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Hey Dave, nice to see you on here! I'm impressed by the new product line and it's great to see you guys put effort into raising the bar with the sound of the units and quality of components used!

I have a few questions..

1. Any rough idea on when the windows drivers will be ready? Is it true they'll only work in Wibdows 8 and up? No Windows 7 support?

2. Since these use the Sabre 32 Ultra converters, does that mean the units can operate at 32bit with no dithering taking place if running a DAW at 32bit FP?
Old 10th August 2014
  #231
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nms View Post
Hey Dave, nice to see you on here! I'm impressed by the new product line and it's great to see you guys put effort into raising the bar with the sound of the units and quality of components used!

I have a few questions..

1. Any rough idea on when the windows drivers will be ready? Is it true they'll only work in Wibdows 8 and up? No Windows 7 support?

2. Since these use the Sabre 32 Ultra converters, does that mean the units can operate at 32bit with no dithering taking place if running a DAW at 32bit FP?
It will most likely be some time next week before I have an answer to either question. The general answer to the question :"When?" is:"As soon as possible."

Dave

Last edited by magicd; 10th August 2014 at 05:06 AM.. Reason: Spelling!
Old 10th August 2014
  #232
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For whatever reason, I was not getting any updates about this thread, I guess once they moved it.

The routing app is very easy to figure out and use, I find it worlds better than the old Cuemix app of the PCI line. Like anything this complex, you have to stare at it awhile to grasp the possibilities.

Everything just works here. I can't make it fart at all, I really tried. If you've got it connected via ADAT to another interface, and slaved via word clock, but controlling routing from another computer, you can pull the wired connection from the control computer without a hiccup. I had two DAW open on two separate systems, one a laptop/USB/16A, the other a G5/MOTU PCI, ADAT connection between PCI system and 16A, word clock lock, live inputs on both systems, cross-streaming between them, not a glitchy moment to be found. No hint of latency while tracking, even if I route 16A->ADAT->MOTU PCI->ADAT back to 16A, PCI Cuemix system doing the turnaround with 16A as simple slave unit.

Saving of presets you build in the control app is easy, and they are right there via front panel window in standalone mode.

Control with multiple devices (laptop, wireless phone) works great.

On my 2008 MBP, maxed RAM with a DAW open is on the line for minimum RAM required. In that case, I found Safari 7.0.5 under 10.9.4 ate a lot more CPU than the current Chrome. I haven't looked at any other browsers.

It sounds a step up from the old PCI line, as you'd expect for new tech. I won't try to say how much, as I've not compared to anything but the old PCI line.

The outputs run roughly 4dB hotter than the old PCI line, so I backed them off 4dB in the control app, then matched levels between 16A and PCI with tones before listening.
Old 10th August 2014
  #233
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emrr View Post
Audio? Haven't listened yet!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tui View Post
Now, that's pure gearslutz gold.
Why thank you! That's how it is when you're under the hood first.
Old 10th August 2014
  #234
Here for the gear
 

Can anyone who has one of these units say if it's possible to record the dry signals of multiple inputs while hardware monitoring using the onboard effects on those multiple inputs using the new routing app? This was not possible using CueMix FX.
Old 10th August 2014
  #235
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zephonic's Avatar
@magicd:

This is probably a dumb question, but to be sure: if you'd want to -say- use three 16A's as one 48-analog-I/O, the only way to use them together is with the AVB switch? No way to daisychain them directly?
Old 10th August 2014
  #236
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Cornvalley's Avatar
Hi Dave,
Thanks for the helpful info. What are possibilities with talkback? Any dim functions on outputs when using a talkback mic? Other than that everything under the sun looks possible with this software mixer.
Also, what is the power required for one of these?
Old 10th August 2014
  #237
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emrr's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by zephonic View Post
if you'd want to -say- use three 16A's as one 48-analog-I/O, the only way to use them together is with the AVB switch? No way to daisychain them directly?
Sure you can, route one through the ADAT ins/outs of another, or run two via AVB link to one TB/USB, the third with word clock sync to another TB/USB. You could expand that to four units using ADAT connection between pairs. The manual covers it, including the possible disadvantages of doing so. Download the manual and check it out.

Or look at it this way; buy 3 of these interfaces, the AVB Switch is only an additional 6% of the total, and gives you more possibility.
Old 10th August 2014
  #238
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by thomasabarnes View Post
Can anyone who has one of these units say if it's possible to record the dry signals of multiple inputs while hardware monitoring using the onboard effects on those multiple inputs using the new routing app? This was not possible using CueMix FX.
Yes this is possible. Inputs can be sent directly to the computer for "dry recording". Inputs can simultaneously be sent through the AVB mixer (and on-board effects) for "wet" monitoring (or "wet recording").

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cornvalley View Post
Hi Dave,
Thanks for the helpful info. What are possibilities with talkback? Any dim functions on outputs when using a talkback mic? Other than that everything under the sun looks possible with this software mixer.
Also, what is the power required for one of these?
There is no dedicated talk back function. I'll mention this to the design team for a possible future update.

AC requirements as per the manual:
100 - 240VAC ~ • 50 / 60Hz • 0.5A max

Dave
Old 10th August 2014
  #239
Here for the gear
 

@magicd and emrr

Thanks for the info. The routing possibilities with these units appear to be top notch!
Old 10th August 2014
  #240
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Cornvalley's Avatar
haven't heard much about A/D quality. is it time to sell off the AD-16x?
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