Third generation interface bang up to date. 23/08/02
MOTU have just announced their third generation, single rack-space 96 kHz audio interface for
Macintosh and Windows personal computers. This new expandable PCI card-based
audio workstation represents a major upgrade to MOTU¹s popular 2408mkII
interface, which the mk3 will replace at the same price ($995 for a core
system, $695 for expansion I/Os). New features include 96 kHz analog and
digital I/O, expansion up to 96 channels, DSPdriven mixing and monitoring,
legacy I/O support, on-board SMPTE and video synchronization and
software-switchable analog input levels.
The rear panel of the 2408mk3 rack-mount interface provides the same
connectors as previous models: 8 quarter-inch balanced TRS analog inputs and
outputs, an extra pair of main analog outs (1/4-inch TRS), three banks of
8-channel ADAT optical "lightpipe", three banks of 8-channel Tascam TDIF,
RCA S/PDIF (with an extra S/PDIF output), Audio Wire and BNC word clock I/O.
All four audio formats (analog, optical, TDIF and S/PDIF) support operation
at 44.1, 48, 88.2 or 96 kHz. At high sample rates (88.2 or 96 kHz) the
2408mk3 provides up to 12 channels (three 4-channel banks) of digital input
and output with Tascam TDIF devices, such as the Tascam DM-24 digital mixer,
or any ADAT optical device that supports the S/MUX standard for 96 kHz
lightpipe, such as Apogee Digital Inc.¹s line of A/D and D/A converters.
A 2408mk3 core system includes the PCI-424, an enhanced PCI audio interface
card with a newly added fourth Audio Wire port that allows users to connect
up to four MOTU audio interfaces to the computer. At 24 channels each, a
fully expanded system provides 96 simultaneous input and output connections
at 44.1 or 48 kHz. The PCI-424 is equipped with new FPGA (Field Programmable
Gate Array) technology that is also capable of handling 96 channels (4
interfaces at 24 channels each) of 96 kHz audio. Four connected 2408mk3
audio interfaces provide a maximum of 64 simultaneous 96 kHz inputs and
ouputs (32 analog channels plus 32 digital channels).
Similar to previous models, the PCI-424 card also includes an 9-pin ADAT
SYNC port, which allows sample-accurate transfers with other compatible
digital devices or workstation software, such as Digital Performer.
The 2408mk3 is the ideal audio interface for computer-based studios where
mixing is done entirely in the computer and for more advanced installations
built around a digital mixer of any size. For the computer-based studio, the
PCI424 card features CueMix DSP�, a flexible DSP-driven mixing and
monitoring matrix that provides the same near-zero monitoring latency as
today¹s latest digital mixers. CueMix DSP� allows 2408mk3 users to connect
keyboards, synth modules, drum machines, and even effects processors and
then monitor these live inputs with no audible delay and no processor drain
on the host computer¹s CPU. The CueMix DSP engine resides on the PCI424
card, so it works across all interfaces connected to the card. The included
CueMix Console software provides an on-screen mixer that gives users
hands-on control of their monitor mix, regardless of what audio software
they prefer to use. Digital Performer users have the additional option of
controlling CueMix DSP directly within Digital Performer¹s mixing
For example, a user could connect the analog output of a synth module to a
pair of 2408mk3 analog inputs, and then bus that signal via CueMix DSP to a
pair of analog outputs connected to an effects processor say a rack-mount
reverb unit. The output from the effects processor could then be fed back
into a second pair of 2408mk3 inputs (just like an aux return) and then
routed to audio software running on the host computer, as well as the
2408mk3 main outputs. The result is that the user can apply hardware reverb
to the live synth input, listen to it on their studio monitors with no
audible delay while also recording it into their workstation software
(either wet or dry), also with no delay. The performance of this signal path
is the same as an aux send/return on a conventional digital mixer. CueMix
DSP completely eliminates the buffer latency associated with host-based
For users with fast computers, CueMix DSP can, of course, be combined with
signals monitored through host-based effects as well. A fast computer allows
users to drop their host buffer settings low enough to greatly reduce and
even eliminate audible buffer latency. The combination of CueMix DSP and
host-based monitoring with effects processing opens a new world of
possibilities for MOTU workstation users.
Users who already own a 2408mkII or other PCI-based MOTU recording system
can connect their legacy MOTU hardware to the PCI424 card of a new 2408mk3
system. All legacy PCI-based MOTU interfaces are supported, including the
original 2408, 2408mkII, 1296, 1224, 24i and 308. Users can mix and match
legacy interfaces with the new 2408mk3 as they please. Legacy interfaces can
also take full advantage of the PCI-424¹s new CueMix DSP near-zero latency
The 2408mk3 is the first audio interface to provide on-board video and SMPTE
time code synchronization features. These features allow users to slave
their 2408mk3 system to video, SMPTE time code or both, without a dedicated
synchronizer. The PCI424 card provides a DSP-driven phase-lock engine with
sophisticated filtering that provides fast lockup times and sub-frame
accuracy. Supported video formats include NTSC, PAL/SECAM or blackburst.
The pair of RCA S/PDIF jacks on the 2408mk3 rear panel can be switched via
software to become a dedicated SMPTE time code (LTC) audio input and output.
However, because the mk3¹s sync features are driven by the PCI424 on-board
DSP, any analog input can be chosen for SMPTE input, and any active channel,
digital or analog, can be chosen as a SMPTE time code output.
The included software also provides a complete set of tools to generate
SMPTE for striping, regenerating or slaving other devices to the computer.
Like CueMix DSP, the synchronization features are cross-platform and
compatible with all audio sequencer software.
The MOTU 2408mk3 has the following additional features:
== Software switchable input levels users can choose +4 or 10dB operation
separately for each analog input pair via software.
== Cable length of up to 50 feet The 2408mk3 audio interface connects to
the PCI424 card, installed in the computer, via a standard 6-pin IEEE 1394
cable. The PCI424 supports cable lengths of up to 50 feet. Long cable runs
such as this are often necessary in studios where the computer is housed in
a separate room than the rackmounted 2408mk3 audio interface.
== Five-segment metering for all analog inputs/outputs The front-panel
metering has been expanded in the mk3 to provide dedicated five-segment
level meters for every analog input and output.
== Separate Volume knobs for headphones and main outs Separate front-panel
volume knobs provide independent volume control for the front-panel
headphone jack and the rear-panel main outputs.
== Across-the-board software compatibility ‹ the 2408mk3 ships with a
complete set of drivers for Macintosh and Windows 98SE/Me/2K/XP and it is
compatible with virtually all audio software on both platforms.
== AudioDesk software A 2408mk3 core system includes AudioDesk, MOTU¹s
sampleaccurate workstation software for Mac OS with 24-bit
recording/editing and 32-bit automated mixing, processing and mastering.
The MOTU 2408mk3 is expected to ship in the fourth quarter of 2002.