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New MOTU 16A ; converters, quality, web-based access

Hello All,

I am new to this forum.

I recently acquired a MOTU 16A. The unit, took a while to get setup and running due to software-based shortcomings from MOTU. Once the unit was setup however; after roughly 48 hours of tweaks, reboots, reinstalls and a myriad of bad words I didn't even know I unit is proving to be very powerful.

My main query here is the following: I am, rather embarrassingly, coming from the Focusrite 2i2 into the league where MOTU 16A, 8m and the 1248 reign. I noticed a markedly superior sonic quality when I upgraded to the 16A. Bass is tight and defined, mids are captured much wider in the stereo image and the highs are easier on the ears, while retaining clarity. I don't have the extensive experience many of you have, but am wondering how these new MOTU units compare to their competition. The Apollo, Focusrite Clarett (new) Apogee and particularly to the RME product.

Since the new MOTU come with a highly impressive internal mixer and dsp, we can dismiss this when comparing other units, my main concern is sonic quality. Are the MOTU known for quality sonic performance?

Also, if any of you have any feedback regarding these new units, please post them as I am eager to hear how your experience is thus far.



Boswell Fri, 09/18/2015 - 08:54

What's your signal source for your comparisons with the 2i2? If it's acoustic, what are you using as microphone pre-amps to go into your MOTU 16A?

MOTU is known for good value, mid-range sonic performance. I have not had the opportunity to hear the 16A as a line-level I/O unit, but I would be pleasantly surprised if it were in the same league as some of the others you mention such as the UAD Apollo.

kmetal Fri, 09/18/2015 - 08:56

Motu is known for no nonsense products. I've spent many hours on motu systems. Motu I believe is an entry level professional product, ranking above your presonus and focusrites, but below apogee and rme, which would be professional standard level. As far as the Apollo it's Dsp functionality offers realtime printing of the effect, and the ability to use the same plugins in the session as your using in your monitor mixes.

I believe the type of cue mix motu and rme offer are useful but antiquated, because your doing twice the work by setting up a cue mix via one set of processors, then hearing it with another set in the playback.

The Apollo sound quality is a step up from motu in general but not up to par with apogee which sounds a bit more solid to me.

Anyways those are just my thoughts from my experiences which those brands. You certainly have a nice capable product that has already seemingly stepped up your sonic abilities. Good luck.

Also, it's unusual to hear about setup problems, motu is generally user friendly and rock solid drivers. I wonder what happened

Lgmab Fri, 09/18/2015 - 09:11

Boswell, post: 432532, member: 29034 wrote: What's your signal source for your comparisons with the 2i2? If it's acoustic, what are you using as microphone pre-amps to go into your MOTU 16A?

MOTU is known for good value, mid-range sonic performance. I have not had the opportunity to hear the 16A as a line-level I/O unit, but I would be pleasantly surprised if it were in the same league as some of the others you mention such as the UAD Apollo.

Good point and please excuse the omission. I am comparing with mixes I had done in the past. I could hear definitions I could not via the focusrite and/or the tascam interfaces. Your point also strokes at the heart of the will it translate with a quality mic pre etc....
In this regard, I have a rode nt2a running into an art pro channel mic pre. In cursory tests...there is definitely a refinement in sound quality and definition.
Thank you kindly for your input....I will do some more tests via mic'd acoustic gtr etc...

Lgmab Fri, 09/18/2015 - 09:19

Hello kmetal, thank you for your informed and valued info! This is precisely what I hoped to get.
It's interesting that you term motu as an entry level "pro"! Seems befitting.
I hear many good things about rme. The price difference is roughly 40% more with rme.
I agree with your comment about motu mixing. In all fairness however, they may address this in the future with revised software.
Coming from the limitations of a focusrite 2i2 into the "entry-pro" level, is very refreshing for me. When you can hear pronounced differences in previously-mixed opens many avenues for a remix!!
I can say, that the motu 16a, lacking preamps, is a powerful tool when the avb functionality is used. I am able to remotely control the internal mix from the 16a using an iPad which is linked via wifi. I can use the 16A as a super patchbay as well!
My main concern however, and you addressed it , was how the motu product compare sonically. Should you have an opportunity to test one, please post your impressions.
Thanks again!

Lgmab Fri, 09/18/2015 - 09:32

Also, I have read mixed reviews about the Apollo...particularly about the sound quality.
Have you worked with it? If so, what were your impressions when comparing it to their units?
I also read some negative posts about the plugins...which surprised me as I always believed that the plugins offered are top notch.

kmetal Fri, 09/18/2015 - 19:08

The Apollo is in between a motu and apogee. I haven't used RME myself but I've heard work done with their gear. The Apollos quality is good in the respect that it's not bad. The rave reviews are hyped a bit. It's good not great. Not quite as solid and clear as something higher end.

Since the plugins operate in real time they are tough to beat imho

DonnyThompson Fri, 09/18/2015 - 22:57

Lgmab, post: 432552, member: 49450 wrote: I am however, pleasantly surprised by the new converters in the motu.

Converters have come a long way in almost all price levels and calibers of I/O's.

These days, you're likely to find better conversion in an entry-level Scarlett or a Presonus than you would with a Motu from the 90's, or early 2000's.
And, this also means that conversion has become better in the higher caliber models, too.

Many pro rooms will use standalone conversion; Apogee, Antelope, etc., but that doesn't necessarily mean that the converters have to be standalone in order to get good-sounding recordings.

Lgmab, post: 432552, member: 49450 wrote: I heard many good things about RME.

I've worked with RME gear several times, in my many journeys to home studios as a consultant; I've always been impressed by their sound; and can say that there is a substantial audible difference in quality between any RME device I ever heard, and your "average" home studio caliber Pre's/I-O's ( Behringer, FastTrack, etc)

Whether or not a novice would hear that difference or not, is, I suppose, relative to how many opportunities they've had to hear the difference between good gear vs budget stuff, along with what they are listening thru, and the room in which they are listening, (and I'm not calling you a novice, btw. )

Perhaps the easiest way to hear pro gear, is to simply turn on the radio and listen to anything current; because at that level, artists and bands are recording at facilities which use the best of everything available.
(I recently heard a few cuts from James Taylor's newest album, and the fidelity is so good, it's frightening).

I'm in the process right now of researching various pre's myself - I already have both tube and transformer pre's (with character), so for this next one, I'm looking for more transparency, something "cleaner".
I've considered both Grace and RME; although the Grace I'm looking at is a single-channel pre, and it doesn't have any I/O - while the RME does have I/O, along with also having two channels - but, it's more expensive, too. (I've also not ruled out a single channel Millennia, either).

On that note, I don't need the number of inputs that you do, and that you have with your Motu. The bulk of what I do is solo artist production, which is generally a max of two inputs at once, and a lot of subsequent overdubbing along the way.
These days, what I'm looking for is a more transparent quality - primarily for things like vocals and acoustic instruments - so that they can sit better on those projects where I'm using ultra-hi fidelity samples. I don't always include these samples in all my productions, many times I don't use any, but for those times I do, I'd like the tracks I'm recording to be able to mix well with them.
I can always add character afterwards, using many of the Waves and/or T-Racks VST channel strips I have ( Neve, SSL, MCI, API, etc.) r through vintage compression modeling VST's ( 1176, LA2, SSL, Focusrite Red Opto, Fairchild, etc.)

I haven't had any experience with the Motu model you have; but based on what I've read, and from what I have been told by a few colleagues I know who have used them, it seems to be quite a solid piece, nice fidelity, and with a lot of bang for the buck.

I'd find it hard to believe that you'd be disappointed with it. I mean, yeah, let's face it ... there's always "something" that is better - sometimes a little, sometimes a lot - and if you can afford it, you can always take a step up....but if you are able to get tracks that sound great to you, using what you have now, then don't let yourself fall into questioning your purchase - don't let yourself get into the "buyer's remorse" frame of mind.

Use what you have, allow your creativity to shine (which as far as I'm concerned is the most valuable asset to any studio) and use it until you feel you need to upgrade, and that when you do upgrade, it's worth it to do so.

It's not exactly like you're using garbage with what you have now, ya know. ;)

As a final note - I think I speak for most of us here when I mention that we'd like to hear some samples of what you're doing with the Motu; it could also help those out there who may be doing an internet search on the model you have.

... if you get the chance to post a few, it would be appreciated. :)


Lgmab Sat, 09/19/2015 - 06:29

Hello Donny, your post is EXACTLY what I hoped to receive as what I can tell you is highly valued!

It's a funny story....I too need just a two I/O unit, but am striving for the highest fidelity possible. My "main" goal is to get the best sounding tracks, usually a max of two at a time, into my DAW (sonar).
The interesting part of it is that I landed upon this unit via a trade. I did not even know what is what really about , until I got it home and learned of it. I was immediately impressed by the sound quality upgrade over the Focusrite....which surprised me as I thought the Focusrite (18i20) and its siblings would be close to the motu....there is an enormous difference.

I am currently recording a few songs and will gladly post some ASAP. I applied one of my songs to the UK songwriters competition and made it to the semi-finals. I am hoping to make it to the finals. The mix is not a good one as it was my first attempt and the mix is harsh. Now that I am slightly "wiser" and have treated my room well, my next projects should sound better.

It's a funny story to tell and too long to g3t into, but I worked in a senior management's position in the retail MI industry for over 25 years. I was also the senior buyer. I know ALL THE SKU's I know what sells and what does not. I know when they were introduced and what the history behind everything is, I remember the fist Yamaha Dx7 with intro to MIDI etc...what I never had the time to do...was to sit down and actually play with stuff!

I was able to get a pair of Tannoy system 600a monitors direct from Tannoy at the time, as they were the best available back then....I find that they are harsh on the high end, but very revealing for stereo image. This may be at the root of the harsh sounding mixes I am getting....not to mention my lack of experience...LOL!
I will get there....I am going to be 50 this Nov. I am finally doing what my heart has desired for so many years but I could never find the time to do.
Thanks once again for your informed and highly valued opinions. When I traded for this motu, I did not know if it ranks in the RME USB UFX range, which was the unit I was shooting for. In truth however, I would rather have the motu based on the trade I made then to shell out the money for an rme.

gdoubleyou Mon, 09/21/2015 - 16:42

It's really more about the music and your skill level.

Nobody ever said your music my music sucks because I was using an ancient MOTU 828mkI.

But I did hear the clear difference between the 828 and my current Apollo8 silver-face, more open and detailed.

MOTU has improved, with time.

Truth be told non-audio engineers, couldn't tell between the two.