MOTUs New Networked Audio Interfaces

Three - 1248, 8M and 16A rack units      29/07/14
MOTUs New Networked Audio Interfaces

MOTU have just announced a new range of Thunderbolt interfaces. The 1248, 8M 16A each offer audio IO, internal DSP based mixing plus AVB audio networking via an Ethernet port.

Each unit uses the new generation ESS Sabre32 Ultra convetroy with 123dB Dynamic range with a round trip latency of 32 samples. Each IO offers front panel metering.


The DSP of all units have a 32 bit (floating point) 48-channel mixer which can take physical inputs, computer returns or networked audio with 7 stereo Auxes and three groups. On board effects include reverb, modeled 4-band EQ, compression and gating. Additionally there's a routing matrix allowing for complex routing for IO inculding channel splitting.

Finally the AVB audio netowrk port (Audio  Video Bridging) designed to engineer scalable, low-latency, high-bandwidth networking. Additional interfaces from the range can be integrated using the AVB port over CAT-5e With the optional 1-Gigabit MOTU AVB switch, its possible to hook up between three and five interfaces using a simple networking setup.

With networking setup, its possible to add a Wifi router into the mix and control of the 48-channel mixer via a web app ruuning on tablet, laptop or smartphone.

All three interfaces and the AVB switch are shipping now, each interfaces is $1495, AVB switch $295

1248, 8M and 16A features

    • Superb audio quality -- For example, all balanced TRS analog outputs produce 123 dB dynamic range and -110 dB THD+N (0.0003%) at -1 dBFS, Unweighted, 1 kHz.
    • Universal connectivity -- Connects to your computer with Thunderbolt or high-speed USB 2.0 (compatible with USB 3.0). Class-compliant firmware and Industry standard drivers work with any audio software.
    • On-board DSP with mixing and effects -- Flexible 48-input digital mixer modeled after large format mixing consoles, with 12 stereo busses and DSP effects, including reverb, 4-band EQ, gate, and compression.
    • 32-bit floating point processing -- The DSP engine for mixing and effects delivers virtually unlimited headroom and the utmost in sound quality.
    • Modeled vintage effects processing -- Classic reverb. Compression modeled after the legendary LA-2A compressor. EQ modeled after British analog console EQs.
    • The MOTU AVB Switch for system expansion and AVB audio networking.

      System expansion and audio networking -- Add a 2nd MOTU AVB interface (1248, 8M or 16A) with a simple Cat-5e ethernet cable. Connect up to five MOTU interfaces using a MOTU AVB Switch (sold separately). Build a network with multiple interfaces and computers using standard AVB switches and network cabling, with ultra-low network latency, even over long cable runs (hundreds of meters). Stream hundreds of audio channels among devices and computers on the network.
    • Matrix routing and splitting -- Flexible, matrix-style audio routing and splitting for any analog or digital input, computer channel or network stream to any other output, computer, or network device. Split any single input to unlimited multiple output destinations.
    • 256 channels of network audio I/O for your host computer -- Record and monitor up to 128 networked audio channels in and out, simultaneously, through the Thunderbolt connection to a host computer.
    • Web app control -- Control on-board DSP, mixing, device settings, and network audio routing from web app software running in your favorite browser on a laptop, tablet or smart phone connected by wire or Wi-Fi to your local area network.
    • Stand-alone mixing with wireless control -- Connect an Apple Airport™ or other Wi-Fi router directly to the 1248, 8M or 16A with a standard Ethernet cable and control the powerful on-board mixing and DSP effects from your smart phone or tablet, without a computer. Great for live sound mixing.
    • ADAT digital I/O -- Connect outboard digital processors, digital mixers or other gear. 16 channels at 44.1/48 kHz or 8 channels at 88.2/96 kHz.
    • Comprehensive metering -- The large backlit 324 x 24 LCD lets you view all signal activity at a glance with detailed metering for all analog and digital I/O. Access hardware settings from a simple and convenient menu.


More From: MOTU
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17 Comments...  Post a comment    original story
JOHNY IVE SAYS :    Said...

WHY have they not made a unit people can be mobile with that has THUNDERBOLT ??? 8 ins 8 out ???? C'mon guys get it together

29-Jul-14 08:35 AM

Stuart    Said...

I agree. A class compliant USB version of the traveller would be killer (even better with an ipad app to control the on board dsp).

29-Jul-14 10:13 AM

Mattsynth    Said...

I am now run a 2008 Mac Pro with a Motu PCIe 24 I/O interface. When I found out that the new Mac Pro had no PCIe slots I was wondering what to do for an audio interface if I were to upgrade my Mac Pro. The 24 I/O has been a blessing for my studio for over 8 years so I was looking at PCIe to Thunderbolt conversion boxes. I still wish Motu would put out another 24 I/O with Thunderbolt but the 16A will do for now with it's 16 TRS inputs. My studio is full of synths so the more TRS inputs the better.

29-Jul-14 02:26 PM

Mike    Said...

Stuart: actually, it looks like it's class-compliant USB! Also says it's fully controllable over wifi if you put it on your network.

29-Jul-14 03:58 PM

Stuart    Said...

@Mike: you're right. Thunderbolt/Class compliant USB, and remote controllable. Unfortunately they're not very portable. The traveller on the other hand is built for mobility and runs off the same standard remote power that most other pro remote audio gear does. These look like they'd be great in the studio though. Especially in a multi room environment.

29-Jul-14 04:19 PM

Gerald    Said...

I have 3 cases.

In the first one is the 828mk3. I throw various cables in there and a macbook in a soft case and one good stereo mic.

In the second is an analog mixer. There is space underneath it for a bunch of mics and more cables.

In the third is just mics.

For easy gigs, I just bring the first case. Done.

When I need more, I bring all three.

29-Jul-14 05:02 PM

RB    Said...

Why do these manufacturers think we need so many outputs (roughly trying to match the number of inputs)… like Mattsynth, I would think there would still have to be a lot folks with a lot of hardware synths, drum machines, etc. that would like to have these directly connected to there computer for use with their DAW of choice.

MOTU used to have that PCI piece with 24 1/4 analog INs. I'd love to have 1 of these 1248 units with (2) single space add-ons each with 24 analog inputs… and the ability to run it all at 96K. I'd get by fine with the analog outs of the 1248.

29-Jul-14 10:23 PM

RB    Said...

Please forgive the typos.

29-Jul-14 10:25 PM

CI    Said...

even better a 48 channel in ! I have 2 motu 24i/o. All inputs are full. For the outputs, i used 6 of them max. 2 most of the time !

29-Jul-14 11:02 PM

Synth_Fan    Said...

Have to say - I'm VERY excited about these. I have a lot of hardware and have been waiting for a solution like this.

It;s the networking of several of them that allows this to be one over all system - currently each MOTU device is its own separate device so cannot be used as an integrated system (i.e you cannot hardware monitor all devices connected to several MOTU devices - each device harware routes to its own outputs).

Hopefully with this networked system, that is now solved.

Finally - I get the number of outputs - for studios with a lot of outboard gear, several sets of speakers, surround mixes, using the likes of Volta to control analogue synths - all need outputs.

Expensive though !

30-Jul-14 06:56 AM

Mattsynth    Said...

I agree, why all the outputs. I use all 24 inputs on my MOTU 24 I/O for synths & drum machines but only use 6-8 of the outputs. Stereo main out, Monitor out and maybe a couple of sends sometimes for outboard gear. If space on the back panel is a issue I would love to see 24 inputs and 8 outputs.

30-Jul-14 11:30 AM

Colin    Said...

Having as many outs as in lets you use the device as an insert interface for an analog board.

30-Jul-14 05:49 PM

Mattsynth    Said...

Using this interface as a analog mixing board insert is something I did not think of doing. Do many studios do this practice? It is an interesting concept but I would think most MOTU users would use DAW these days. The studios that want an analog mixing board sound are using plugins I thought.

31-Jul-14 09:02 AM

Kevin Nolan    Said...

They will surely release all of their existing range, or variants of them , with Thunderbolt and AVB Ethernet in the future - including a 24i/o. Have patience.

To me - this is THE revolution I've been waiting for - being able to merge many interfaces through an AVB network means I can add as much I/O as I need - and critically - for it all to be hardware monitored during tracking via just one set of outs on one of the interfaces.

THAT is what is currently not possible on virtually all I/O in existence at an affordable price.

Furthermore, if you have a multi room facility (mine is a two room project studio) with hardware in each, you can now merge them into one overall setup via an ethernet cable - making all equipment in one room available within a DAW environment in the other.

Overall - I'm really delighted about these releases and look forward to acquiring them soon.

31-Jul-14 10:31 AM

Colin    Said...

Does anybody know why AVB and not Dante? Are there any advantages / disadvantages going this route? To me, Dante seems to be the better situation because it seems like AVB still needs a specialized switch. Not to mention that it would appear that the interface still needs to connect via USB / Thunderbolt whereas Dante can just be plugged direct from Interface > Network Switch > Computer.

31-Jul-14 06:20 PM

Kevin Nolan    Said...


If using just two of these units they can connect via an Ethernet cable only - as with two computers on a normal ethernet computer peer-to-peer connection. For any ethernet network, once you go for more than two devices you need some sort of ethernet bridge.

I suspect that Dante just place that bridge on their network cards, but the same mechanism must apply to Dante - there's no fundamental difference in the way Dante and this work - they both rely upon ethernet (and its limitations).

Regarding the 'need' for Thunderbold - I think you have grossly misjudged this. Ethernet delivers 1GB/s, Thunderbolt delivers 10GB/s - ten times the bandwidth.

So if you're a project studio only needing one of these devices it is hugely preferable to use Thunderbolt. However, even USB2 can handle dozens of audio channels, so any which way (including Ethernet) you're getting a good deal here.

What is important however, is that if using this across multiple interfaces in a multi-room scenario, while true the gigabit ethernet is the bandwidth bottleneck (!) it is important to have Thunderbolt to enable maximum, no hindrance connectivity to your computer, and surely Thunderbolt is the best there is right now (well, Thunderbolt 2 of course!).

Overall, there is no issue here, except I suppose if you already own Danty networked equipment but since they are not any type of defacto standard there is no overall benefit to sticking to one or the other and MOTU have made just as good a choice in that regard.

01-Aug-14 01:25 PM

Marc Macoy    Said...

To all the 'critics' and 'questioners':

you can be sure that this is just the beginning of a new series of interfaces, i.e. others will follow, but as a manufacturer you got to start somewhere. It's also conceivable that there will be a MADI interface and other I/O variants available, someday. MOTU wasn't sleeping in the last couple of years. And therefore, they landed another hit - from my point of view.

14-Aug-14 12:18 PM

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