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MH Studios 1st December 2011 06:14 PM

Motu 8pre
I cut my teeth in multi-track recording with the Motu 8pre. This is a fantastic unit to learn with as it has 8 microphone preamps (no need initially for outboard preamps), and can be used either as a firewire interface or as an optical converter to ADAT. The ADAT I/O can allow for a total of 16 channels of simultaneous input at 96 kHz. MIDI I/O is also provided, and the 8pre can be used to transfer MIDI information to and from your DAW.

Sound Quality - In my experience, the sound quality of the 8pre mic preamps are fairly neutral, unless pushed. The quality starts really degrading when the gain is near maximum, and it seems that you have to push the gain for lower output mics to obtain a usable signal level. I would say the preamps are fine for condensers and dynamics, but may be unusable for some lower output ribbons.

Ease of Use - Motu makes some of the more stable and up to date drivers on the market making the 8pre basically plug and play on almost any system. I ran mine on Windows XP originally, and later upgraded to Windows 7 with no issues at all. Drivers are available for Mac as well.

Features - For my first interface, it had all the features I needed to start multi-tracking. The CueMix software provided by Motu can also be really useful to make a monitor mix while tracking. Also came with Motu's AudioDesk DAW software, but as the software is Mac only, I never had a chance to use it.

Bang for Buck - This is extremely easy to use and has amazing features for the price. Spectacular for beginners and great for those needing some additional preamps via ADAT at a reasonable cost.

Simon J. 31st March 2012 11:33 AM

The most important aspect of an audio interface is of course the preamp and sound conversion quality, which are both very decent and okay. Sound quality-wise there's really nothing complain about, as is the matter with virtually any audio interface in the ~500 €/$ price range. Also, the MOTU drivers are okay and they work. And what is remarkable about any MOTU interface, is that they are less picky about the Firewire chipset than most their competitors. A year ago I recorded some drums with a MOTU rack featuring this very device I'm reviewing, on an Acer laptop using Vista. Everything worked beautifully.

That said, the 500€$£ price bracket offers usability-wise seriously more versatile alternatives to the 8Pre with marginal price difference. The number of inputs is on par with any similar device, but the number of outputs is significantly low. There's only a stereo line out pair and a headphone output. 8 analog outs and 2 headphone outs is not at all uncommon, as a comparison to a popular configuration in competing audio interfaces.

I had trouble at first getting system sounds out, until I figured that my driver settings where at 48khz. My previous interface changed the clocking automatically. The headphone volume control doubles as a clock switch - it says volume/clock (push) - but pushing it seems to do nothing. Trying to control the volume is unstable and unpredictable, since this is not a mechanical potentiometer, but a digital controller. All this makes me wonder if the device I have has a defective control knob.

Each channel has two switches in the front panel, a pad switch and a phantom. The switches are designed vintage style. They are metallic and require some finger strength to turn. They turn with a loud unpleasant snap. They feel like breaking any time, if overused. I'm not a fan of them.

I feel that in a home studio setting the workflow benefits from at least a couple of the mic inputs to be located in the front panel. In MOTU's case they are all in the back. It creates a threshold to quickly grab a guitar, plug it in and demo an idea.

As a verdict, I would say that in the 500$£€ price bracket the focus is largely on usability, in which this otherwise decent quality interface is subpar.

Mikeportnoyz 3rd October 2012 02:23 PM

Motu 8pre. 8 pres, that's it
The interface clearly sacrificed multiple outputs, to give its best on the inputs. No fancy softwares, no fancy anything, just 8 pres, as best as they can be and 8 converters as better as possible. Background noise is seriously low, if you check a recorded track with silence you'll have to boost dozens of db to start and hear it. Outputs is just a stereo jack for hedphones and two mono jack for monitors. The interface is ideal for recording a drumset, or individual musicians one at a time. Can present some problems like random static, popping, etc, if drivers on your pc are not handled correctly. On laptop, i suggested turning at minimum the graphic interface... some of those sometimes decide to tap the CPU and **** up the firewire stream, sending the MOTU into chaos.
Great bang for the buck in my opinion, you get 8 very clean pres, no colouring, and good converters. Gives it best at 96Khz/24bit.
The pre levels are not the easiest thing to set up, cause they're very sensitive and control knob is pretty hard to turn.