The New MOTU MicroBook II

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The new MicroBook II from MOTU stands as a substantial upgrade over its original ultra-compact audio interface. All of the little touches that the original model needed have been added. The result is a super backpack-friendly interface that provides you with pristine sound quality for both mobile and studio recording. Its tough metal case and multiple outputs also make it a great soundcard for digital DJs.

The most notable changes on the new MicroBook II are its hardware volume and gain knobs, its built-in XLR microphone input, its high-speed USB 2.0 connectivity, the ability to handle six simultaneous outputs, and support for recording and playback high-resolution 96 kHz files.

All of the controls for the original MicroBook existed only in the software realm. Setting the gain for a microphone or connected guitar, engaging its -20dB pad, turning on and off phantom power, even headphone volume control had to be done with your mouse or track pad. This isn't the case with the new MicroBook II. A pair of low-profile dials on its top panel enables you to quickly control all of the aforementioned parameters.

The original MicroBook came with a 1/4" microphone input and a 1/4" to female XLR adapter plug was included in the box. You don't have to worry about fussing with an external adapter with the new MicroBook II. It features a built-in XLR microphone input that can supply a connected microphone with 48V of phantom power.

Upgrades aside, everything that made the original MicroBook a pocket-sized audio powerhouse are still present in the new model. First and foremost, you get MOTU's acclaimed sound quality in everything you record and play back. The MicroBook II still features a 1/4" Hi-Z input for guitars, a pair of balanced 1/4" TRS inputs and outputs, a coaxial S/PDIF digital output, and 3.5mm mini-plug inputs and outputs.

MOTU's powerful CueMix FX software is still included with the MicroBook II (both the MicroBook II and the CueMix FX software are compatible with both Mac and Windows computers). CueMix FX enables you to set up complex mixes on the MicroBook II's inputs and outputs, apply DSP-powered effects to every channel (EQs, compressors, Spectrogram, etc.), and you can even calibrate your equipment with a sine wave or a noise generator. Other advanced audio analysis software tools are included such as FFT display, oscilloscope, X-Y plot and phase torch. MOTU's Mac-only AudioDesk DAW software is included as well.

Best of all, these upgrades and handy features come in at the same price as the original model. If you're looking for an affordable audio interface that's just as at home on your desktop as it is in the wild, the new MicroBook II is the way to go. Its budget-friendly price and simple layout make it a great interface for beginners, and its uncompromising quality and portability make it a no-brainer for experienced pros.

Changes from the original MicroBook:

  • XLR input is built-in
  • Original MicroBook was 4 in / 2 out, the new one is 6 in / 8 out
  • Hardware controls for headphone/monitor volume and gain control
  • Original MicroBook was USB 1.0, the new one is USB 2.0
  • The front 1/8" headphone output is now a 1/4" output
  • Original MicroBook was 1" tall, the new one is 1.25"
  • Capable of 96 kHz recording and playback, instead of being limited to 48 kHz
  • LED meters and status lights, power LED only on original model
Converters 24-bit
Sample Rates 44.1, 48, 88.2 and 96 kHz
Analog Input 1 x XLR Mic, 1 x 1/4" TRS Instrument, 2 x 1/4" TRS line, 1 x 1/8" TRS stereo mini Line
Analog Output 2 x 1/4" TRS Main, 1 x 1/4" Headphone, 1 x 1/8" TRS stereo mini Line
Digital Input No
Digital Output 1 x RCA coaxial S/PDIF (mirrors main TRS outputs)
MIDI In/Out No
Sync In/Out S/PDIF out
Headphone Output Yes, 1/4"
Connectivity USB 2.0
Power Requirements USB Bus Powered
System Compatibility Mac and Windows Compatible (Core Audio, Wave, ASIO)
Dimensions 5.5 x 3.5 x 1.25" (13.97 x 8.89 x 3.17cm)