MOTU (Mark of the Unicorn), the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based manufacturer of computer music hardware and software solutions recently revamped their line of audio interfaces to include Thunderbolt connectivity and AVB networking.
These three new 1U 19” rackmountable audio interfaces differ from one another in terms of analog I/O, but all share a common feature set that includes a flexible 48-input digital mixer modeled after large-format consoles, 12 stereo busses, and 32-bit DSP effects such as 4-band British console style EQ, gate, classic reverb, and compressors modeled after the historic LA-2A.
All feature USB 2.0 and Thunderbolt connectivity, a main output dynamic range of 123 dB, a THD+N rating of -110 dB (0.0003%) at -1 dBFS unweighted 1 kHz, 16 channels at 44.1/48 kHz or 8 channels at 88.2/96 kHz, ADAT I/O, BNC Wordclock I/O, and a 324 x 24 backlit LCD for metering. They also include remote web app control via laptop, tablet, or smartphone when connected to a network via Ethernet or through a Wi-Fi router.
The three interfaces come in three different analog I/O configurations. The flagship 1248 audio interface features four balanced XLR microphone inputs with individually selectable +48V phantom power and +63 dB of digitally controlled gain, two front panel ¼” hi-Z guitar inputs, eight rear panel ¼” TRS line inputs, twelve ¼” TRS line outputs, and two ¼” TRS stereo headphone outputs.
The 8M audio interface features eight XLR/TRS combo-style mic/line/instrument inputs with individually selectable +48V phantom power and +63 dB of digitally controlled gain, eight ¼” TRS balanced line level outputs, and one ¼” TRS stereo headphone output.
The 16A audio interface is designed to work with external microphone preamplifiers and line level sources and features sixteen ¼” TRS balanced line level inputs and sixteen ¼” TRS balanced line level outputs.
The built-in Ethernet port on the back of each audio interface allows for an additional MOTU AVB audio interface to be connected via CAT-5e or CAT-6 cable using the IEEE 802.1 Audio Video Bridging (AVB) network extension standard. When combined with MOTU’s 1 Gigabit AVB Switch (sold separately), up to five MOTU AVB audio interfaces can be networked together at cable runs up to 100 meters between devices to form a low-latency digital routing matrix.
Each MOTU AVB interface is capable of recording and monitoring up to 128 channels in and 128 channels out to a host computer via Thunderbolt. The flexibility, modularity, and expandability of the platform is great and the introduction of Thunderbolt AVB network-capable audio interfaces marks an important and widely anticipated step in professional audio.