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I'm running Cubase sx 3 through a souped up sinlgle processor g5 and a MOTU 896, i wanted to buy a nice tube mic preamp, but wasnt sure how to bypass the preamp on the 896 to get it into the computer through the firewire.

Any help?



JoeH Tue, 06/26/2007 - 07:12

This is good question, Charlie.

Mainly, you don't want to run your signal through TWO mic pre's in sequence, if you can help it. (your tube pre, and the MOTU mic pre's.)

I lost my 896 owners manual a long time ago, but if you look at the rear panel, you'll see there is a combo XLR-1/4" connector for each input. Looking even closer, the pins are mechanically the same for both, so this is where you need to make sure the OTHER settings are correct.

Next to each input jack, there's also a three-position switch for +4, "fixed" and Mic input. The +4 will allow you to use the front panel trim controls, while the fixed takes that pot out of circuit. The mic input is much more sensitive and (I THINK) uses a separate mic pre for more gain. (Although i'm not 100% sure of this, best to check with MOTU's website or tech support. A schematic of the circuit would tell you this much quicker...)

FWIW, I use the +4 setting (line level) and use the front panel trim pots for tweaking signals if they need it. I realize I may be actually running through the "mic" preamps, but it seems to work the best for me. I've rarely ever used the 896's mic pre's, but if I'm not mistaken, they are fairly flat and uncolored anyway. If you're not hitting them too hard, etc., it shouldn't change you sound appreciably anyway.

On the other extreme, maybe you can find a tube pre that has a firewire or USB output?

Good luck, either way. (Question to other 896 users: Do you know anything about the mic/line inputs? Seperate pre for the mic inputs, or the same circuit, just less padded than the line input? Most Mackies are this way, as well.)

schizojames Tue, 06/26/2007 - 10:00

Actually, the fixed position is for balanced +4dB inputs, and cannot be adjusted with the front pots. The line level (-10dB) setting is adjustable from the front to interface with unbalanced consumer gear. The mic setting is also pot adjustable and enables the use of 49V phantom power. You should NEVER plug the output of a mic preamp into an input that is expecting a microphone. It is hugely more sensitive. When it is set to line level, it runs through a variable gain line amp. When set to 'fixed' there is no need for more amplification.

Just run an balanced cable from your toob pre to your 896 and set it to +4. You should have to if its a decent peice of kit. And read the instructions. It pisses me off when people buy stuff that I could really use and then want to be dragged through the learning process.

Much love.

JoeH Tue, 06/26/2007 - 10:48

you're absolutely right, I misread the silkscreen on the back (leaning in, upside down, small flashlight, etc.) :oops: I'm actually using the adjustable input on my pro-sumer (-10) stuff, and the +4 setting for all the pro/balanced stuff.

I assumed he'd use a balanced output from the tube pre at line level, the XLR and 1/4" inputs work out to be the same thing physically; it's the position of the mic/adjust/fixed+4 switch that makes the difference.

Last but not least, he should make sure the 48V Phantom power switch is "off" on the front panel.