The New MOTU 4pre: Four Preamps and Beautiful Simplicity

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Computer audio interfaces intimidate people who don’t have a thorough understanding of Pro Audio. “Direct Monitor” buttons and “Hi-Z-to-Line” switches can quickly rob a prospective user’s confidence. However, the new MOTU 4pre has two qualities that you never see in audio interfaces: it’s the first interface with four mic preamps in a half-rack footprint and it emanates elegant simplicity.

Every other compact audio interface on the market either doesn’t have any mic preamps, or it has a maximum of two. There are plenty of people out there who need to use more than two mics at a time, and need equipment that’s as compact as possible. The 4pre fills both of those needs, and does so in a very straight forward manner.

There are four combo XLR and 1/4" TRS inputs on the rear panel. Two of the inputs can be switched to accept either mic or line level, and the other two can be switched to be either mic or guitar inputs. There are two 1/4" headphone outputs on its face and four balanced TRS outputs on the back. The 4pre also features S/PDIF in and out on coaxial connectors.  

Like many of MOTU’s latest interfaces, the new 4pre features both a FireWire and a USB 2.0 port to connect to a computer. Although the unit sports a FireWire 800 connector (a more robust connector than the 400 version) and a 9-pin to 9-pin FireWire cable is included, the interface itself happily functions at FireWire 400 speeds without any performance loss. Additionally, power can be drawn from the FireWire connection, so you don’t need to use the included AC adapter. This gives you the option to record remotely, away from any power sources.

If you want to get under the hood and do a little more involved recording with the 4pre, the included CueMix FX software enables you to create custom mixes for each of the unit’s four stereo outputs. The software also includes an instrument tuner, an oscilloscope, phase-analysis tools, SMPTE time code sync and a host of other features that experienced users will love. Both the hardware and CueMix FX software are Mac and Windows compatible. The 4pre can also function as a stand-alone mixer using the front panel mix controls, which gives you the option to use it when you’re away from a computer.

Converters  24-bit 
Sample Rates  44.1, 48, 88.2, 96 kHz 
Analog In  XLR/TRS combo, 1/4" TRS Phone, 1/4" Hi-Z Guitar
Analog Outputs  1/4" balanced TRS main out, 1/4" balanced TRS line out, 1/4" TRS Headphone 
Digital Input  RCA coaxial S/PDIF 
Digital Output  RCA coaxial S/PDIF 
Computer I/O  FireWire, USB 
Sync In/Out  S/PDIF, SMPTE
Phantom Power  Individual +48V 

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Features a Firewire 800?? shouldnt that be 400?

The MOTU 4pre is FireWire 400. In the article, I say that "...although the unit sports a FireWire 800 connector... and a 9-pin to 9-pin FireWire cable is included, the interface functions at FireWire 400 speeds...".

***** I would like to know if you use a separate pre amp on top of the MOTU 4pre or if you prefer it? I would like to know if you like it by itself or just use it as an interface with an external pre amp.