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Motu 828 Mk3 Hybrid

MOTU 828MK3 Hybrid

4.6 4.6 out of 5, based on 4 Reviews

Best interface below $1000 right now


22nd March 2012

MOTU 828MK3 Hybrid by locust_tree

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.5
Motu 828 Mk3 Hybrid

The 828 Hybrid is currently the centerpiece of my home studio. Using its ADAT ports I'm currently pushing 26 channels out to a mixing console, as well as using its built in MIDI interface to play a couple synth modules I have.

I'm writing this review largely because the popular opinion on MOTU is pretty torn, and there's a lot of misconceptions floating around from their older products. If you haven't checked out what they've been up to recently you might not realize how much they've stepped up their game.

There are a few things about this unit which I've fallen in love with. First of all, the Cuemix DSP system is a full-on low latency monitoring system with compression, EQ and reverb. This was a big part of my decision to purchase the unit as I've worked with Pro Tools HD systems before and I wanted to have effects in the headphone mixes that I wouldn't have to commit to. None of the effects print if you don't want them to, and you can even record the reverb return as its own track since it shows up as a discrete input.

Speaking of I/O, the thing that surprised me the most about the Mk3 with regards to its price class is that all I/O - everything - is discrete. If you've worked with budget interfaces before you know that it's common to see headphone outs that actually just mirror the main outs, front panel instrument inputs that override the rear inputs, etc. There is nothing like that on the 828. The Phones out is its own distinct output that doesn't mirror any existing output pair (unless you want it to!) and the front panel mic / instrument inputs are discrete as well and have no correlation with the 8 TRS inputs in the rear. The unit's main XLR outs are once again their own pair and do not simply mirror TRS outs 1 and 2. This translates to an I/O count that's just staggering - 30 discrete outputs and 32 discrete inputs if you count the reverb returns from CueMix. If you're like me and you do hybrid mixing on a console, you like having way more I/O than you need and the 828 excels with that.

MOTU also made mention when the Mk3's came out that they had significantly improved the quality of the converters, and as someone who found most of their MkII stuff very muddy, I can attest that this is true. How they stack up to Apogee, Lynx, etc I can't say because I haven't done a shootout, but if you're using the old MkII as a reference point there's a distinct top end detail now that was sorely lacking before.

Finally, a lot of mud gets slinged at MOTU with regard to their Windows drivers, so I have to mention that so far I've installed the 828mk3 Hybrid on 2 Windows machines, one running XP and one running Win7 with no issues whatsoever. None. In both cases I put the driver CD in, ran the driver software, restarted, plugged the 828 into the USB port, and turned it on. Everything just worked - hands down the easiest installs I've ever had on Windows machines (and I've had week-long ordeals installing other interfaces.)

The only cost cutting measure I can find is the enclosure itself. It's lightweight and plastic. But seeing as it just sits in my rack at home, I don't need tour-tough construction. If you're going to be doing lots of plugging and unplugging with the rear 1/4" jacks I'd advise caution.

All told, the only company that can even begin to compete with this feature set is RME, at well over twice the price. One of the best gear purchases I've ever made.

  • 2
14th June 2013

MOTU 828MK3 Hybrid by rwhitney

  • Sound Quality N/A
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 3.5
Motu 828 Mk3 Hybrid

I just bought this thing today, so this isn't as much a review as an observation. I've been using an Apogee AD-16X into a Digidesign 003R via ADAT optical to an iMac 27 via FW to Pro Tools 10 and back out of the computer through the 003's SPDIF into a Lavry DA10 DAC, everything clocked to the AD-16X with WC BNC.

Today, I simply swapped out the 003 with the MOTU 828 mk3 connected to the iMac via USB 2, and the playback sound of a couple mixes I've been working on improved in clarity like lifting the proverbial blanket off the speakers. My monitoring (Dynaudio BM6s) is something like 20% better.

I have no idea why this should be the case, but I'm exceedingly happy. I'm not using any of the analog signal path of the MOTU, so it presumably has to do with the way it locks to WC, or handles the USB flow, who knows?

So,

AD16X>MOTU 828 ADAT/WC>iMac 27 USB 2.0>MOTU 828>Lavry DA10 SPDIF>Dynaudio BM6As

much better/clearer monitoring than...

AD16X>DIGI 003R ADAT/WC>iMac 27 USB FW>DIGI 003R>Lavry DA10 SPDIF>Dynaudio BM6As

!!!!!!!!!

UPDATES 6/15/13

I've done some recording through it now, with an Apogee AD-16X into that ADAT optical inputs. I'm only recording one or two tracks at a time, but it's stable so far. I used one of its analog outputs to send a DI bass out for reamping, and I did not notice any quality loss from the 828. The headphone amp is okay but nothing special. It's a little cheap sounding. And those tiny cramped volume knobs for headphones and main outs are ridiculously small and hard to navigate.

6/18/13

The DAC on the 828 isn't bad at all. Have been comparing with my main Lavry DA10, and it holds up pretty well.

6th January 2017

MOTU 828MK3 Hybrid by yetanotherman

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.75
Motu 828 Mk3 Hybrid

I own it for about two years or so and absolutely love this unit. I tested ins and outs before purchase with RightMark - I doubt you really need anything better. Haven't analysed mic preamps - but they're good enough for my ear. I had no experience with mk2 - but I'm sure mk3 has no sound quality issues. Still, there are some issues with stability

So, pros are:
- Excellent ADC and DAC quality
- The most advanced interface for its price range
- Ridiculous amount of input and output channels, phone out and monitor outs has separate DAC channels, so you can use 8 ins and outs for your analog OTB processing and still have separate monitoring and cueing
- Forgot to mention - mic pres are also two separate channels with separate ADC channels!
- Excellent hardware DSP with EQs, compressors, limiters
- Very nice analysers in CueMix
- Fully standalone-capable using controls on front panel
- Two ADATs + one SPDIF + Midi + WC, both USB and Firewire...
- I like soft-clipping on mic pres - even if you set your levels wrong - there is a chance you'll get usable record.

But still, nothing is free. Here are cons:
- The same as with previous MOTUs - STABILITY!. It is much better with latest MacOSX and drivers update, but it still tries to destroy your monitors and/or ears - like mk2 did. Well, at least now volume control works even after it freezes, so you're probably safe if you have good reaction
- Support. Once after MacOSX update it stopped working. I went to MOTU website and realised that drivers for this update aren't ready yet. WTF??? Well, they provided update after a while, but that was very unpleasant
- Internal routing capabilities could be better. There are no simple way of controlling DAW output and monitor mix in one place, and that totally destroys otherwise awesome monitoring capabilities. I'm sure it is software limitation and it looks like they have some sort of solution using their own DAW - but I don't feel like having separate DAW for recording
- Knobs are small and layout are somewhat strange. No way you can pick the right one without looking - and eventually you'll need to do it very quickly - see con. number one
- Forget about instrument inputs, they're useless for passive pickups
- Mine has some minor clicking noise when trimming mic pre gain using front panel knob. Not a big deal

Overall, the unit is great and all cons except stability issues are not a problem at all. Stability is much better with latest updates, but the problem is not fixed completely and I doubt they ever fix it. I'm very happy with what I have now - after latest fixes, but will hardly ever buy other MOTU gear.

  • 2
 
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