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Universal "hybrid" FireWire/USB2 audio interface provides superb sound and reliable performance.
As a hybrid audio interface, the 828mk3 provides flexible connectivity to any Mac or PC via FireWire or high-speed USB 2.0, with 10 channels of pristine 192kHz analog recording and playback, combined with sixteen channels of ADAT digital I/O and stereo S/PDIF. Expand your system by connecting additional MOTU audio interfaces or the 8pre mic input expander.
Tons of I/O
The 828mk3 is equally well-suited for studio and stage, with or without a computer. As an interface or standalone mixer, the 828mk3 provides 28 separate inputs and 30 separate outputs, including dedicated main outs on XLRs and two front panel headphone outs.
On-board digital mixer with effects for monitoring and live mixing
Connect all of your studio gear, including microphones, guitars, synths, keyboards, drum machines and even effects processors. Record, monitor, route and process all of these live inputs using the professional on-board CueMix FX digital mixer—with no latency and no processor strain on your computer. Apply hardware DSP-driven compression, EQ, and reverb to every input and output, independent of your host computer. When recording from the mic/guitar inputs, the 828mk3's signal overload protection gives you an extra 12dB of headroom above zero with no digital clipping or harsh artifacts.
Advanced audio analysis tools
Analyze and scope your audio with advanced diagnostic tools, including a full-screen realtime FFT display, spectrogram waterfall display, full-featured oscilloscope, X-Y plot, and linear/polar phase analysis graphs.
Standalone operation as a mixer
After programming the on-board mixing in the studio, unplug the 828mk3 from the computer and take it on the road for operation as a Standalone mixer with effects. All mixing and effects parameters are adjustable using the front panel backlit LCD.
The 828mk3 provides cross-platform compatibility with Mac and Windows and all of your favorite audio software and host-based effects via WDM/ASIO/Core Audio drivers. Or you can use the included AudioDesk workstation software for Mac, with 24-bit recording/editing and 32-bit mixing/processing/mastering.
Continue below for more in-depth descriptions of the main features
The 828mk3 is an advanced "hybrid" audio interface offering both FireWire and high-speed USB 2.0 connectivity
FireWire has long been recognized as a reliable, high-performance connectivity standard for professional audio interfaces like the 828mk3. Meanwhile, high-speed USB 2.0 has also developed into a widely adopted standard for connecting peripheral devices to personal computers.
To fully support both formats, the 828mk3 hybrid audio interface is equipped with FireWire jacks and a high-speed USB 2.0 (480MB/sec) connector, and you can use either port to connect the 828mk3 to your computer. This gives you maximum flexibility and compatibility with today's ever-expanding universe of Mac and Windows computers.
If your computer does not have a FireWire port, then obviously you will need to connect the 828mk3 to one of its high-speed USB 2.0 ports. However, if your computer has both FireWire and USB2, then it is your choice, and your decision will depend mostly on other peripherals you may also have.
Two convenient front panel mic/guitar inputs are equipped with high-quality preamps, plus overload protection and all the features you need to record any mic or guitar with excellent sound quality. Each input is equipped with its own 48V phantom power switch and 20 dB pad switch. Both inputs also include a switch that toggles between the low-impedance XLR mic input and the true high-impedance 1/4" guitar input jack.
Precision digitally controlled analog trim
The preamps provide 53dB of gain, which you can adjust in precise 1dB increments using the detented digital rotary encoder. As you turn the encoder, you see graphic and numeric feedback in the front panel LCD, so you know exactly how much gain you are applying. The gain adjustment itself is smooth because it is analog, but the digital control gives you both precision and the ability to save and recall trim settings. You get the best of both worlds: analog trim with digital precision and control.
Precision digitally controlled analog trim is also available on all of the 828mk3's balanced 1/4" (TRS) analog inputs on the rear panel. Level matching analog inputs has never been easier or more convenient. You can carefully tune the balance among your analog inputs using the CueMix FX software and then save the entire configuration on disk for instant recall. You can create and save as many trim configurations as you need.
V-Limit hardware limiter
Both mic/guitar inputs are equipped with V-Limit, a hardware limiter that helps prevent digital clipping from overloaded input signals. With V-Limit enabled, signals can go above 0dB (where limiting kicks in) to as high as +12dB above zero with no distortion due to digital clipping.
Additional protection can be applied to the mic/guitar inputs by enabling the 828mk3's Soft Clip feature, which engages just before clipping occurs and helps reduce perceptible distortion.
Each mic input has a corresponding rear panel send that allows you to insert outboard gear before the signal goes digital. Any input can be used as a return.
The 828mk3 allows you to connect a wide variety of studio gear, including microphones, guitars, synths, keyboards, drum machines, effects processors and more.
Front panel I/O
In addition to the two mic/guitar preamp inputs on the front panel, the 828mk3 provides two independent headphone jacks with independent volume knobs, one of which also controls the XLR main outs on the rear panel. Alternatively, this "Master Vol" knob can be programmed to control any combination of outputs (analog and/or digital). For example, it can control monitor output for an entire 5.1 or 7.1 surround mix.
Discrete inputs and outputs
The phone jack below the MASTER VOL knob labeled "(MAIN)" is hard-wired to (mirrors) the XLR main outs. In all other cases, inputs and outputs are discrete. For example, using a mic input does not steal an input from the TRS analog I/O bank. Even the second headphone jack operates as an independent output with its own volume control, although you can program it to mirror any other output pair (such as the XLR main outs).
Digitally controlled analog input trim
All of the 828mk3's analog inputs are equipped with digitally controlled analog trim controls that allow adjustments in precise 1dB increments. The mic/guitar input trims can be adjusted using front-panel digital rotary encoders that provide feedback in the front panel LCD. All analog inputs, including 8 TRS analog inputs, can be trimmed using the CueMix FX control software for Mac and Windows. This allows you to fine-tune your trim settings for synths, effects modules, and a wide variety of analog inputs for optimum levels. Different trim configurations can then be saved as files on disk for instant recall.
Rear panel I/O
8 balanced (TRS) 24-bit analog inputs and outputs, as well as two XLR main outs and the two preamp inputs, can operate at sample rates up to 192kHz (a total of 10 analog inputs and outputs). Two optical banks provide 16 channels of ADAT optical at 48kHz, 8 channels of S/MUX optical I/O at 96kHz or two banks of stereo TOSLink at rates up to 96kHz. The banks operate independently, allowing you to mix and match any optical formats. RCA S/PDIF connectors also supply independent stereo digital I/O. Each mic input has a corresponding rear panel send that allows you to insert outboard gear before the signal goes digital. Any input can be used as a return.
Control room monitoring
Powered monitors can be plugged directly into the outputs of the 828mk3 and you can attenuate the output from the software or the front-panel MASTER VOL control. Main out volume is not limited to stereo operation: quad, 5.1, 7.1 and even user-defined configurations are available. You can even program the 828mk3 to control all 30 outputs with the MASTER VOL knob.
Mixing and effects
The 828mk3 is really two devices in one: an audio interface plus a 28 x 16 digital mixer. In fact, you could even think of the 828mk3 as a digital mixer in a single rack-space form factor.
Operating as either a computer interface or stand-alone, the 828mk3 provides DSP-driven digital mixing with effects processing (reverb, EQ and compression) for all 28 inputs. You can connect all your gear and then mix, process, and monitor everything from the 828mk3's main outs or headphone jacks.
A 28-input-by-16-bus digital mixer with effects
All I/O is routed to the on-board 16-bus (8 stereo) digital mixer driven by hardware-based DSP with 32-bit floating point precision. The mixer allows you to apply no-latency effects processing to inputs, outputs, or busses directly in the 828mk3 hardware, independent of the computer. Effects can be applied when the 828mk3 is operating stand-alone (without a computer) as a complete rack-mounted mixer. Input signals to the computer can be recorded wet, dry, or dry with a wet monitor mix (for musicians during recording, for example).
Complete mixing at your fingertips
All of the mixer settings in the 828mk3 are accessible from the programmable front-panel backlit LCD. You can also launch the CueMix FX control software for Mac OS X and Windows 7/Vista/XP. CueMix FX provides complete on-screen access to the 828mk3's on-board, hardware-based mixing environment.
CueMix FX software
CueMix FX gives you comprehensive graphic control over your mix. CueMix FX is a completely new software front-end with attractive graphic mixing, graphic editing of parametric EQ, and a convenient tabbed interface for quick access to all mixing features, digitally controlled trims, and other settings in your MOTU audio interface.
CueMix FX can be operated side by side with any host audio software for Mac or Windows, and it can be controlled from the Mackie Control Universal Pro automated worksurface.
One window with convenient tabs
Three separate tabs show inputs, mix busses, and outputs. Click the "Focus" button on any channel or bus to edit its settings in the area on the right-hand side, which provides separate tabs for graphic editing of parametric EQ, compression, and other effects. Each channel strip displays a graphic thumbnail of EQ curves, compressor settings, and other channel-specific parameters. There is also a section for talkback and listenback.
Eight stereo buses
Your MOTU audio interface supports up to 8 separate stereo mixes (seven for the UltraLite-mk3) assigned to any digital or analog output pairs. For example, you could set up separate monitor mixes for the main outs and headphone outs, while two additional stereo buses could be used for send/return loops to reverb units or other outboard gear. Each mix can support all inputs (analog and digital).
DSP resources for mixing and effects
The CueMix FX flexible effects architecture allows you to apply EQ and compression on every input and output (up to 58 channels, depending on your interface), with enough DSP resources for at least one band of parametric EQ and compression on every channel at 48kHz. However, DSP resources are allocated dynamically and a DSP meter allows you to keep tabs on your interface's CueMix FX processing resources.
Each input, output, and mix bus provides a send to the Classic Reverb processor, which then feeds reverb returns to mix buses and outputs, with a selectable split point between them to prevent send/return feedback loops.
Talkback and Listenback
CueMix FX provides Talkback and Listenback features. Talkback allows an engineer in the control room to temporarily dim all audio and talk to musicians in the live room. Conversely, Listenback allows musicians to talk to the control room. For Talkback, you can set up a dedicated mic in your control room and connect it to a mic input on your interface. For Listenback, you can use one of the recording mics in the live room or you can set up a dedicated listenback mic for the musicians and connect it to a spare mic input.
Two channels can be grouped to a single fader for stereo operation. Two stereo panning modes are available: balance and width. Balance mode works much like a normal stereo balance control, one channel fades in and the other fades out. Width mode collapses the stereo image to mono by adjusting the relative pans of each channel gradually to center. For stereo inputs, an optional M/S (mid-side) decoder can be enabled with adjustable width control and software-swappable inputs.
Signal activity of all inputs, busses, and outputs can be monitored via the meters pane. In addition to the meters present on individual channels, a high-resolution meter and output bus activity associated with that channel can be displayed in the primary status window.
The EQ, compression, and reverb tabs give you complete access to CueMix FX on-board effects, and because they are driven by hardware DSP inside the interface itself, they won't tax your host computer's CPU. You can even use the effects without a computer connected.
Instrument tuner and advanced signal analysis
CueMix FX provides an accurate instrument tuner and an extensive arsenal of audio analysis tools, including a realtime FFT, spectrogram "waterfall" display, oscilloscope, and phase analysis tools.
Front-panel LCD access to all mix settings
All of the mixing features described above (except for the signal analysis tools) are available during standalone operation, and all of them can be accessed from the front panel LCD. This means you can program your mixes with the CueMix FX software in the studio and then take your MOTU interface on the road as a standalone digital mixer. Tweak your mix on location from the front panel.
The CueMix FX Classic Reverb provides five different room types, three frequency bands with adjustable crossover points, shelf filtering, and reverb lengths up to 60-seconds. Each input, output, and mix bus provides a send to the Classic Reverb processor, which then feeds reverb returns to mix buses and outputs, with a selectable split point between them to prevent send/return feedback loops.
The EQ section provides 7-band parametric EQ modeled after British analog console EQ's, featuring 4 filter styles (gain/Q profiles) to effectively cover a wide range of audio material. LP and HP filters are also supplied with slopes that range from 6 to 36dB per octave. EQ settings can be adjusted graphically by dragging control points on the large graph in the main EQ tab or using the knobs for individual bands in each channel strip.
CueMix FX offers a conventional compressor with standard controls for threshold, ratio, attack, release, and gain. Adjust the threshold graphically while viewing accurate, long-throw metering in the compressor section of the CueMix FX software.
Leveler (automatic gain control)
The CueMix FX Leveler is an accurate model of the legendary Teletronix LA-2A optical leveling amplifier, known for its unique and highly sought-after Automatic Gain Control (AGC) characteristics.
Conventional compression and limiting with threshold, attack, ratio, release, etc. do not apply here: the heart of the LA-2A is the T4 opto-coupler, a photoelectric device with almost magical (signal dependent) self-adjusting behavior that makes optical compressors the tool of choice for smoothing out just about any audio material, from vocals to bass guitar to full-program mixes, without destroying perceived dynamics.
The Leveler faithfully models the LA-2A using the on-board DSP with 32-bit floating point precision. Its controls match the front panel of the original LA-2A: Gain Reduction and Makeup Gain knobs, along with Limiter/Compressor buttons.
Tuner & analysis tools
CueMix FX provides powerful audio analysis visual diagnostic tools for stereo audio signals, from an accurate guitar/instrument tuner to phase and polarity measurement tools, to a full-fledged oscilloscope. Find out how you can improve your sound with these advanced, yet easy-to-use tools.
Just open the Tuner window, play a note, and use the large graphic display to get in tune with an accuracy of one 10th of a cent (one 1,000th of a semi-tone). Being in tune has never been easier. The Tuner displays the detected note by frequency (in Hertz), note name and octave, with an adjustable reference frequency for A4 between 400 and 480Hz. The large meter gives you a clear indication of how high or low you are from the detected pitch. Large red arrows direct you up or down as needed to zero in on the correct pitch. You can even tune phase-coherent stereo signals. The CueMix FX Tuner is as advanced and accurate as any dedicated hardware tuner out there.
CueMix FX provides an optional realtime FFT display super-imposed on top of the graphic EQ curve so you can see as well as hear the effect of your equalization adjustments.
CueMix FX also provides realtime spectrogram waterfall display that provides rich, detailed visual information about the frequency content of any signal or mix. You can expand the spectrogram to fill the entire resizable CueMix FX on-screen window. You can also combine the spectrogram with the FFT display and EQ curve in the same display, or separate them to view them individually but simultaneously.
The X-Y Plot window graphs a stereo signal on a standard grid with left-channel amplitude on the x-axis and right-channel amplitude on the y-axis. Stereo material that is said to be "in polarity" (i.e., phase aligned) appears along the x = y axis. Stereo material that has phase problems will appear along the x = -y axis meaning the signal will appear predominantly in the upper left and lower right of the display. A signal with an extremely wide stereo field will appear much more randomly (not along either axis).
The Phase Analysis window graphs frequency versus phase difference versus amplitude of a stereo signal on either rectangular or polar coordinates. In the rectangular view, the vertical axis represents frequency, and the horizontal axis represents the phase of the left channel minus the phase of the right channel. Stereo audio that is predominantly in polarity will appear centered along the center vertical axis. Frequencies that would be canceled by summing to mono are those that touch the -1.0 or +1.0 lines on the left and right.
In the polar view, the radius represents frequency and the angle (theta) from the +y vertical axis represents the phase difference of left channel minus the right channel. Stereo audio that is generally in phase will appear along the +y axis (above the center point). The more the audio signal "tips" to the left or right, the more out of polarity it is. If it is completely out of phase, it will point downwards from the center point and hover around the -y axis (the part of the y axis below the center point).
Phase analysis can be used for a broad range of applications in the studio and on the stage. Here are just a few ideas:
•Recording with multiple mics — the Phase Analysis window lets you compare multiple mic sources with each other to check for potential phase cancellation caused by varying distances in mic placement from the recorded source
•Checking the overall polarity of a stereo mix — quickly check for phase issues in your stereo mix
•Summing to mono — if your stereo material needs to be summed to mono, Phase Analysis lets you see what frequencies will be canceled out when summed
•Tuning and checking PAs or sound reinforcement — place mics in strategic locations in your venue to check for critical phase issues in the listening environment
Clock and sync
Direct Digital Synthesis clock
The 828mk3 is equipped with Direct Digital Synthesis (DDS), a DSP-driven phase lock engine and very high frequency digital clock source that produces imperceptibly low jitter characteristics (well below the overall noise floor), even when the 828mk3 is resolved to an external clock source via either word clock or SMPTE time code. This technology represents the very latest in extremely high-performance, yet cost-effective digital audio clocking. DDS also allows the 828mk3 to maintain an extremely stable clock while resolved to incoming clock sources that have substantially more jitter than the 828mk3 itself.
On-board SMPTE time code synchronization
You can slave your 828mk3 system directly to SMPTE time code, without a dedicated synchronizer, via a dedicated 1/4" SMPTE input jack. A SMPTE out jack is also provided for time code generation. The 828mk3 provides a DSP-driven phase-lock engine with sophisticated filtering that provides fast lockup times and sub-frame accuracy.
SMPTE Console software
The included MOTU SMPTE Console software (for Mac OS X and Windows 7/Vista/XP) provides a complete set of tools to generate SMPTE for striping, regenerating or slaving other devices to the computer. Like CueMix FX, the synchronization features are cross-platform and compatible with all audio sequencer software that supports the ASIO2 sample-accurate sync protocol.
Connect a MIDI keyboard, sound module, or control surface, and you are ready to go. The FireWire or USB connection to the computer carries both MIDI and audio so you don't need to connect an additional USB cable for MIDI.
The 828mk3 Hybrid includes a new MIDI Thru feature that routes all MIDI data received at its input directly to its output while running standalone. This allows you to play a hardware sound module or sampler connected to the MIDI OUT from a controller connected to the MIDI IN, even when the computer is turned off, or when the 828mk3 Hybrid is completely disconnected from the computer.
Expansion & drivers
Adding more I/O to your 828mk3 system
As with other MOTU FireWire/USB interfaces, the 828mk3 supplies two FireWire jacks and one USB2 jack so it can be daisy-chained with additional MOTU FireWire audio interfaces or other devices.
The 828mk3 is also fully compatible with the 8pre, a single rack MOTU interface that adds 8 mic preamp inputs to the 828mk3. Because the 8pre connects to the 828mk3 via ADAT optical, its mic inputs are fully integrated into the 828mk3's on-board CueMix FX digital mixer.
Drivers and AudioDesk workstation software
The 828mk3 provides CueMix FX and drivers for Mac (OS X) and Windows (XP, Vista, and Windows 7) for cross-platform compatibility with virtually all audio software via WDM/ASIO/Core Audio drivers.
The 828mk3 includes AudioDesk®, the advanced workstation software for Mac OS X with 24-bit recording and editing, along with 32-bit mixing, processing and mastering.
Order the 828mk3 to get 10 analog channels and 16 channels of ADAT digital I/O and stereo S/PDIF, and more.
Reviewed by 3 customers
Displaying reviews 1-3
Comments about MOTU 828mk3 Hybrid Firewire Audio Interface:
Huge number of ins and outs, have it set up with my mac pro and logic 9. ive never had any issues with it, even after 10 hour sessions it wont get too hot or give up on me. ive been useing it for 2 years now and can honestly say i cant list a single bad thing about it. im running a 24 track mixer off of it and 2 behringer ada8000's and it sounds mint!
ive worked in many studios around the gta, and it sounds just as good as a big studio does. if you know what you are doing, youll never look back after buying it. flawless connection with my mac and logic, a true plug and play device!
Comments about MOTU 828mk3 Hybrid Firewire Audio Interface:
Unit is unusable as it periodically will drop all audio and begin emitting a high, peircing sine wave. This has been a problem with a number of MOTU models for years, now. Apparently, MOTU is not sufficiently interested in fixing the problem.
Windows 7 cannot find the unit unless it is powered on after the computer.
Line level inputs are too low to use with many synths without maxing out gain and raising noise floor.
If it were'nt for the above problems (mainly the squeal), it would be a good value. CueMix is reasonably intuitive. Unlike the many assertions on the internet that MOTU pre's are muddy, I found them completely acceptable and without significant coloration. I think the negative buzz is either myth or based on earlier models.
Fir the money, the feature set is hard to beat.
I purchased it primarily for its 8 linel level analog inputs.
Chasis is made of plastic. Not necessarily a negative, but I'm used to all metal construction like what is found in the more expensive RME Fireface UFX.
Hard to give a higher rating when the device is not stable enough to use.
Comments about MOTU 828mk3 Hybrid Firewire Audio Interface:
I was looking for a interface to go with my new imac and Logic Pro 9. I decided on this one. I wanted the Apogee rack mount but that was 2K so I opted for this. I only read the reviews from NAMM on it and no one else has reviewd it. So I had some concern but knew Motu works well with Mac. I was using an Aardvark Q10 pro and Cakewalk pro the last 10 years and needed to upgrade. Aardvark had gone out of business so I was stuck with it and XP. I did some research on DAW's and was of course thinking Windows 7 or Mac? Decided to go the 2 x more expensive Mac route. It was a leap of the unknown and took me 5 hours to get it all working once I got the imac, logic and motu hybrid together. It was all plug and play but had to fiddle around with the settings and try to get one thing at a time working. I use the firewire connection with the cable supplied by Motu to my new imac. The imac has the i7 intel processsor, 8 gigs of ram and one terrabyte drive. I am still learning and logic is a big switch from the way things work in cakewalk. The Motu once set up, I just don't touch it much. I checked out the mixer software and played around with it but tend to keep it in its default and use logic instead. I just use the headphone out and the two preamp inputs in the front for guitar either in mono and use the logic guitar amps etc. or I use a pod and a tc g-force in stereo into the two preamps on the Motu. Also record micing the guitar amps. I have two out puts in the back of the Motu going into my power amp and my power amp to my hi-fi and pa speakers. I plugged a keyboard midi out into the Motu midi in for recording using logic sounds. I have used the Motu only as a home recording interface so far and like I said once set up I do not touch it much. Occasionally I look at the front display for the intput meter signal levels and adjust the headphone volume and the mic/preamp input levels and that is about it. The pre amp inputs are good. I know if I needed too I have the other inputs and outputs for say recording a drum set or more people. I have been playing guitar and recording for 35 years. Composer and one man band. I have had my new setup now for two months.