MOTU has announced the Audio Express, a 6x6 hybrid FireWire/USB 2.0 audio interface and mixer for personal studio recording and live performance mixing. Here's what they have to say about it...
The Audio Express features studio-grade sound, hands-on mixing, MIDI connectivity, and all the audio I/O needed for a well-equipped personal studio. Advanced features include front-panel control of four stereo mix busses, stand-alone mixing, digitally controlled analog trim, DDS (Direct Digital Synthesis) audio clocking for exceptionally low jitter performance, and an instrument tuner.
"If you are looking for studio-grade sound quality combined with straightforward operation, the Audio Express is the perfect audio interface and mixer for your personal studio," said Jim Cooper, Director of Marketing at MOTU. "Just connect your mic, guitar, and keyboard, and you are ready to go, either in the studio or live on stage." Studio-grade multichannel audio for Mac or PC
Thanks to MOTU's Hybrid interface technology, the Audio Express connects to any current Mac or PC via FireWire or high-speed USB 2.0 and provides six simultaneous inputs and outputs. Two XLR/TRS "combo" jacks with clean, neutral preamps provide input for guitars and microphones, with individual 48V phantom power for each input. Two additional quarter-inch (TRS) analog inputs let users connect a keyboard, drum machine, or other line-level instrument. Four quarter-inch (TRS) analog outputs can be connected to powered monitors, stage wedges, or other output destinations.
All quarter-inch analog connectors are balanced to ensure the best-possible protection against RF interference, AC hum, and other noise-producing environmental factors.
The rear panel includes S/PDIF digital I/O, MIDI I/O, and a foot switch input for hands-free punch-in recording (or other computer keyboard function, programmed from the included setup software). Straightforward hands-on mixing for studio and stage
The Audio Express front panel provides straightforward, hands-on mixing of all six inputs. Users can plug in a mic, guitar, keyboard, and a digital input device, and immediately control the mix going to the main outs via four front-panel knobs labeled MIC 1, MIC 2, LINE 3-4, and S/PDIF, the latter two acting as stereo pairs. Users can also adjust input trim levels directly from the front panel. Since trim level is handled independently from mix volume, users never have to sacrifice audio quality (initial gain levels) when adjusting mix levels to achieve the optimum balanced mix.
In the studio, Audio Express front-panel mixing can be used for monitor-mixing while tracking into host software on a computer (to eliminate software latency during recording), or for playing connected instruments even when the computer is turned off. On stage, the Audio Express can be used for live mixing, either stand-alone or with a computer. Because immediate volume adjustments are always within reach, the Audio Express serves as the perfect compact mixer in either situation.
Equipped with four stereo mix busses, the Audio Express allows users to create a completely separate mix for each output pair (main outs, line outs, S/PDIF out, and phones). For example, a full mix could be sent to a venue's PA system, while a guitar-only mix could be sent to wedge monitors on stage via the line outs. Input trim levels are maintained across all four mix busses. Programming for all four mixes (and input trim) can be done from the front panel by simply pushing the MIX knob to cycle among the four mixes and trim mode.
The Audio Express delivers MOTU's award-winning audio interface technology, pristine audio quality, advanced engineering, and rock-solid performance that all MOTU interfaces are known for worldwide. Audio Express feature highlights
6-input, 6-output audio interface for Mac and Windows.
6 x 8 physical input/output channels -- all channels are available simultaneously and operate independently.
Hybrid FireWire/USB 2.0 connectivity -- connect to your Mac or PC via either bus-powered Firewire or hi-speed USB2.
8-bus digital mixer -- routes and mixes all six inputs to any output pair.
Four separate mixes -- each output pair (main outs, line outs, S/PDIF out, and phones) can have a completely different mix of all six inputs, with or without computer tracks.
Two mic/guitar combo jacks -- provide hi-Z 1/4" guitar input or XLR mic input with phantom power, 20 dB pad, Precision Digital Trim™, and plenty of gain.
Stereo analog inputs -- on line-level, balanced TRS quarter-inch jacks. Connect to synth or or other line-level input signal.
Stereo main outs -- on balanced TRS quarter-inch jacks. Connect directly to powered speakers (or other line-level analog destination).
Stereo 24-bit 96kHz S/PDIF digital in/out.
Stereo headphone output on quarter-inch jack with independent volume control.
Support for standard sample rates up to 96 kHz.
Precision Digital Trim™ -- digitally controlled analog trim on all inputs provides adjustments in approximately 1 dB increments. Fine-tune the balance of all inputs and then save/recall trim configurations.
Front-panel mixing and control -- each input has its own dedicated volume knob. Control multiple mixes with clear feedback from front panel LEDs and metering.
CueMix FX cross-platform mixing software -- attractive on-screen graphic mixing with a tuner and audio analysis tools including real-time FFT display, spectrogram "waterfall" display, oscilloscope, X-Y plot and linear or polar phase analysis.
Stand-alone operation -- bring the Audio Express to a gig, with or without a computer. Just plug in the included power adapter and you are ready to go. Need to tweak the mix? Just turn the front-panel knobs.
Front panel volume control of main outs and headphone jack.
Expandable -- add additional interfaces for more I/O as your needs grow.
Time code support -- directly resolves to (or generates) time code via any quarter-inch input or output, without the need for an extra synchronizer.
Direct Digital Synthesis™ (DDS) -- a DSP-driven phase lock engine and internal clock source that produces imperceptibly low jitter characteristics (below the noise floor), even when the Audio Express is resolved to an external clock source via SMPTE time code.
Sample-accurate MIDI -- connect a MIDI controller and/or sound module with no separate interface needed. MIDI I/O is sample-accurate with supporting software.
Foot switch input -- connect a standard foot pedal switch (sold separately) for hands-free punch-in and punch-out while recording. Or map the pedal to any keystroke function in your host software.
DC-coupled TRS outputs -- can be used with Volta™ (sold separately) to manipulate and sequence voltage-controlled modular synthesizers from a host DAW.
Plug-and-play operation with your Mac or PC via FireWire or USB2 -- compatible with all current and recent generation Macs and PCs.
Includes native 32- and 64-bit drivers for Mac OS X and Windows 7/Vista, including ASIO, WDM, Wave, Core Audio, and Core MIDI. Supports all popular Mac and Windows audio software.
100% compatible with all host-based effects processing in today's popular audio programs.
Includes AudioDesk full-featured sample-accurate workstation software for the Mac with recording, editing, mixing, real-time 32-bit effects processing & sample-accurate sync.
Bus-powered FireWire operation. No need for external power when operating as a FireWire interface connected to a computer. A power supply is included for stand-alone operation.
Half-rack form factor with removable rack brackets (included) for portable desktop operation or rack-mount installation.
Pricing and Availability:
The Audio Express ships this month (March, 2011). Price is $449 USD.