Why is Motu considered the orphan stepchild of A/D/A's?

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by Mises, Jan 20, 2007.

  1. Mises

    Mises Guest

    Greetings all. I'm new here. I was on this board quite a while back and took a hiatus for a long time, but I've gotten into recording again.

    Anyway, so I was looking to upgrade my small home studio to 24 I/O's, so I can make a go at running a small profesional recording facility because I really need the spare money. I looked at all the high priced options... and thats totally out of my budget. No Lavry's, Prisms, Myteks, Genec, or even Apogees for me.

    So I'm kind of looking more towards the midrange. Looking for equipment that I can run a semi professional studio with, that wont basically cause a potential client to laugh his ass of when he sees the equipment. Kind like saying, yeah come down to my studio, I have an awesome Behringer mixing console.

    I'm an electrical engineer, so I know how to read specs quite well... but it seems that a lot of time, peoples opinions on A/D/A's don't correlate at all with the specs. Some of the best supposed ADAs have pretty average specs... and some of the midrange ADA's have great specs. This kind of confuses me a tad.

    As an electrical engineer, I understand that specs do not necessarily correlate with human hearing perception... still its confusing to an extent.

    Its kind of like comparing the HD24XR versus the Radar Nyquist. They both have almost identical specifications (I think they might even use the same ADA, not sure)... and even though people seem to give the HD24XR the due credit that it deserves for the price... despite the nearly equal specs, the Radar is considered so much better. Why don't the specs make for a good evaluation of a units potential sound quality?

    Anyway, so I was looking at MUTU HD192 and the MOTU 24I/O... leaning towards the HD192 as I was thinking its 192 sampling rate would be better for a mid range studio. The specs on the HD192 seemed to be virtually equal to that of the Apogee Rosetta AD/16-X and DA/16X... as it has 120dB of Dynamic range, and an excellent distortion figure rivaling that of the Apogee......

    So... I do a bit more research.... and I find that hating, or at least mildly disdaining MOTU is a sport among gear enthusiasts.. I kind of new this for many years.... but before I went and plopped down money on this piece of gear, I wanted to check all the usual forums for opinions... and sure enough.... disliking Motu seems to be only slightly less of a sport than picking on Behringer.

    My question. Why?

    Why can MOTU's specs be so good, rivaling that of some of the better units, but yet be considered such a medicore sounding piece of equipment?

    I am aware that MOTU has always had driver issues for many people... but thats not the subject of my question... and its a problem unique to all units... thats just the nature of computer based recording. I'm more interested why people find the sound so mediocre. I trust peoples judgement, but sometimes I think that theres a whole lot of unfounded gear snobbery going on... that people just dismiss midrange units without really giving it a fair shake.

    Anyway.... Now that MOTU seems to be such a laughing stock among so many people, I kind of decided its a bad business decision to put that in my studio... which is a shame... because it seemed like a good unit... and I'm going to have to go with something else.

    Over at Gearslutz, a lot of people have been touting the AudioFire 12 by a company called Echo, as the cats meow. Not a well known or distributed brand.... but a lot of people over there seem to think its the best mid ranged converter on the market (price per channel), and consider it a definate step above MOTU.

    It looks like a nice unit, and in facts its cheap as hell (half the price of MOTU)... some people at Gearslutz swear its the "best kept secret" in the A/D/A midrange market..... but after looking at the units specs... I am once again confused at why specs don't correlate to sound. The distortion on the unit is a bit higher than the MOTU (though still good), and the Dynamic Range is only 113/114dB (A-weighted) versus 120dB (A-weighted) for the MOTU HD192.... so I'm confused.
  2. SeniorFedup

    SeniorFedup Guest

    Anyway.... Now that MOTU seems to be such a laughing stock among so many people, I kind of decided its a bad business decision to put that in my studio... which is a shame... because it seemed like a good unit... and I'm going to have to go with something else.

    i know this one producer that use to work at the hit factory . when i went to his house he strongly recommended his MOTU ada to me and told me the importance of having an ada of such high quality. after hearing that i was convinved that this was a better piece of converter than my tascam fw1084, then i went back in my room and forgot all about it until now.
  3. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    You gotta know that specs aren't everything. At best they could be made up and who's to question it? Are you going to do all the tests to confirm the specs? At any rate. I know at least two people who use or have used MOTU interfaces without complaint. In the end it's not the gear anyway, it's the ears behind the console. As far as recording at 192kHz sample rate, buy a large hard drive. Make that several large removeable hard drives.
  4. zerosin

    zerosin Active Member

    Apr 6, 2005
    Home Page:
    It took me less than 5 minutes to contact an Apogee tech. It took me 4 day to get a MOTU tech. The darn phone was busy for 3.5 days. Good grief.

    Did I pay an extra $500 to get a faster tech call, maybe, but it wasn't because there was a problem with my Apogee interface. Just a question about a feature.
  5. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    I agree - MOTU's tech support isn't great, but their gear is fine...no...better than fine. It's quite good. Personally, I could give 2 sh*ts about specs. They're largely meaningless unless they tell you exactly how they derived those specs and even then, they're mildly suspect. (Some specs are useful, such as off-axis response of live-microphones, etc.)

    BTW - the converters in the RADAR vs. the Alesis...two completely different beasts! The RADARS mop the floor with the Alesis and I comfortably say that as a proud owner of the Alesis.

    In any case - if all other factors and variables are taken into consideration...mics, preamps, cables, room acoustics, monitoring....the converters are such a small factor (personally I feel as though they represent the last 3% of the sound...the icing on the cake if you will) that personally, I could virtually care less which ones were used.

    I've listened to recordings which I have thought were magnificent and they went through Alesis ADAT Blackface converters or Tascam DA38 converters.

    Moral of the story - buy what you can afford and be happy with it. If you MUST have a Lavry - save up. Otherwise, pick what makes you and your wallet happy.

  6. Mises

    Mises Guest

    Obviously, the RADAR is the superior product no doubt.

    However, to my recollection, one of the "reputable" people, either on this form or maybe it was another mentioned in several of neverending "Alesis HD24XR versus RADAR - which is better for the money" type of message threads threads... that the units use the same actual converters chips.

    Supposedly, the big debate is always that its not just what converter chip is being used.... but its all in how design the circuit around those chip(s) Just like the same is true of preamps. A lot of competing preamps use identical op-camps, but they may sound quite different and have different noise and distortion specs because its all in how you hook up the associated circuitry.

    Again.... dont know if they used the same AD/DA converters... but thats what I recall one of the reputable big shots saying. The units of course, sound differently because they do use different associated hardware including op-amps, coupling capacitors or whatever else the case may be.

    Anyone else here recall whether the Alesis HD24XR and the RADAR multitrack HDR's use the same converter chips? if so, do you know which one?
  7. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    The question of what manufacturers chip is being used is really quite moot.

    You want to put together a decent 24 track home project studio so do the smart electrical engineering thing to do. Purchase an actual 24 track digital audio recorder like the Alesis HD 24 or if you want to get really fancy the HD 24XR. That instead of some kind of computer add-on is much more impressive.

    Bottom line is, I hear a lot of rock-and-roll recording being made on older ProTools mix plus systems that run at 48kHz 24-bit. Some even have the higher resolution ProTools systems but have opted to use their older ProTools mix plus system since their plug-ins won't work in their higher resolution system. They figure that the sonic integrity they can create with their lesser system and plug-ins is better sounding than their higher resolution system without their plug-ins.

    So, with that recorder, you can concentrate on better microphone preamps for your front-end that would provide you with a totally bitchin' system. You would still be making lovely recordings with that crappy compromise of a digital recorder that I love using. Since API and Neve preamps make it sound pretty decent to me.

    Make sure you purchase an antique windup Victrola acoustic phonograph and tell them that you Master disks with it. Tell them that your digital recordings sound more organic when you use a cactus needle for playback.

    Always thinking about thinking
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  8. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    That's our Ol' School Remy!

    I would LOVE to have a 24 track studio with an Alesis HD24 and a mixing console with automation. I would completely and totally ditch the computer and live happily ever after. I think the industry is heading in the other direction though. I'm constantly reading about this and that famous producer or engineer who gave up their SSL-G and moved to a Mac IBook...it's insane!
  9. Mises

    Mises Guest

    Pffftt. Yeah, but how do you edit things then without the computer?

    I dig doing things the 'old fashioned way' to some extent... I do like analog consoles and I prefer high quality outboard gear to crappy or even average or decent computer plug-ins... but I dont see how you do serious editing in such a manner to produce a polished song.

    Most of those outboard hard drive recorders like the Alesis HD24XR, Mackie and Fostex probably have some primitive editing capabilities, but I think it was only the Mackie outboard HD recorder which allowed for "real" editing because it had an attachable computer monitor to the Mackie unit with a built in editing program, but even that was probably simplified editing capabilities at best.

    I dont see how you could possibly do any kind of advanced editing on these things.... like doing sophisticated panning and cross fading, or whatever else that software programs lets you do.

    I'm not that 'old school'when it comes to recording, so I kind of don't have the perspective to see how certain things were even done before computers. The very fact that people even spliced tape manually still blows my mind.

    The only way I can see producing a finished song using strictly an outboard HD recorder and a mixer is by 'mixing down'. Running the multitracks you previously recorded into the mixer... and then doing all the panning and necessary volume control of each track there, and then taking that mix-down and recording it stereo for your final mix. But that sucks! Thats primitive at best, because if you needed to make even one itsy bitsy change, then you have to go and do the whole entire mix down over again....because you cant just go and change one little part like you can on computer DAW software.
  10. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Apr 19, 2006
    Home Page:
    Insane, I agree. But it leaves the field wider open for the rest of us who do have a 24/48 track studio with HD24s and a mixing console with automation! How many of the problems with modern recordings are due to the performers struggling to deal with computer-induced latency issues, or the engineer carefully crafting a DAW-Eq'd sound from an instrument that then sits badly in the rest of the mix? Too many engineers I encounter love to wallow in their comfort zone of plugin driving plugin driving plugin to make a manufactured sound that is so far removed from the original that you often wonder what was being played in the studio.
  11. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    Believe me, I'm from the older days. I have cut so much tape! There's almost nothing you can't do if you are imaginative, creative, talented enough and understand how to use your tools like any professional does. But I have synchronized numerous recorders together without time code, without sprocket holes, just a real flange and my finger! Here you can have my finger! Not that finger!! That's my editing finger.

    Computers make other things easier and keep the cost of tape down substantially. But who cares about the cost of tape if you had a $40,000 budget? Nobody, right!

    Doing the double whammy of combining both analog and digital will continue for quite some time ad infinitum, until a truly high-quality actual digital microphone, that is affordable, is created. But I think it will have to utilize lasers and how many people want to point lasers at their vocal cords, nose and eyes? I mean it sounds and looks like many have?? Do you suppose that the lasers would burn holes in the drumheads? Or perhaps burn holes through the soundboard on the Steinway? It could certainly helped to give you that Jimi Hendrix sound by burning holes through your guitar amplifier speakers! And I know everybody wants that!

    Zaaapppppppp hey! I just got rid of that unwanted hair!
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  12. aqualand666

    aqualand666 Guest

    oh remy, so witty. i think conversion is important, not necessarily using 192kHz bit sampling, 96 is fine and most everything you have heard has been done on it. you could just get small stereo converters if you are interested in saving money, since that is what most of your signal paths are going to be comprised of anyways.

    you don't want to be at the mercy of a BS little interface's noiser and relatively shitter conversion. most everything in this realm is a matter of nuance, but think about everytime you do outboard dynamic processing, you are at the mercy of the interface
  13. skygod

    skygod Guest

    The industry has no clue whatsoever where they are heading other than where their noses lead them where they can smell money. There is no gameplan. Its all a random crap shoot. They are abandoning the SSL because market demand cannot justify it anymore. Too much mantenance overhead. They now think that God sent his only begotten son to earth aka - 'Duende the Savior' - to replace the 4000 E/G console. Yeah dream on ...

    The HD24XR is a fine machine and huge bang for the buck but fraught with peril and has a MFG that has closed out its product life cycle for all practical purposes. If you go this route, join the yahoo hd24 group and find out what you should do, what you should not do, what to buy interms of hd's and how to not get caught in the pitfalls that are real showstoppers -- like file size, inadvertent power offs etc. Huge bang for the buck, but get Jim Williams to do the mods he does and you'll not need a RADAR.

    I've been using these for some time in mobile units, and these sumbiches take a lot of beating. Would I crate up my RADARs in a shock rack and tout the world as we do with the Alesis stuff. Hell no. These RADARs are for fixed facilities even though I have mine in shock racks and cocasionally move them around CONUS but not OCONUS..

    The AKM converters in most MDMs are the same crap everybody else is using. The rest of the circuit makes the diff. The Nyquist and S-Nyquist are very sweet, in fact even at 44 & 44 on the S-Nyquist nobody comes close as being so musical. I record everything now at 24/88.2 or 24/96 as I found this to be my zone. 24.192 is just too much data for the computer, and even though most of my work is OTB thru mixers and analog outboard, the files are still too much data and have to be thinned out if you will. A nightmare for ITB heads out there.

    I am thinking of upgrading my HD24XRs (8 of them deployed ready for retirement) and getting 8 new ones and get Jim to mod 4 with Burr Browns and the other 4 with the $100 more mod for classical recording. The only thing holding me back is the Tascam X48. I had a meeting with my crews in Dec and they all advised me to wait. Its been a year and Im still waiting on these folks. Maybe it will worth the wait after all maybe not. I saw their video and was not impressed on their lack of enthusiasm of their own product. (See: http://tascamforums.com/index.php?s=9be326dbae086e8b1efbd7d3aa5c1cb8&showtopic=15069&pid=99380&st=0&#entry99380 )

    I dunno. MOTU is ok for a small laptop getupandgo config. RME IMO is great and very well engineered and has a gerat software interface. Lynx and Apogee and and Mytek and Lavry and all the rest are at the top of the heap so they say. I dunno. I don't record anything directly to a desktop computer -- thats retarded but people do it evceryday. But I do use RME products for playback from the computer when I do do ITB Nuendo and Logic stuff in lieu of crappy soundcards. What makes these better than the others I guess is the engineering and components. But then you read what Fletcher said at: ( http://tascamforums.com/index.php?s=9be326dbae086e8b1efbd7d3aa5c1cb8&showtopic=15069&pid=99380&st=0&#entry99380 ) to which I have to concur, and one asks why would anybody record on anything else in a fixed facility? Money? Sure. But folks like us who need an analog tape player archetype at our fingertips because that is the way we work we just cannot live without MDMs.

    How people work ITB and work one track at a time and sit in fron of a computer monitor all day long and sit there and tweak digital parameters and say they are making music is beyond me. I and they are obviously from different planets.

    And how about this promised Mackie D1200F coming soon? This might throw a bloody tampon into the converters mix market for everybody to grab the string with their teeth and jerk it out and suck on foir a while huh? TDIF, AES, ADAT, 12 channels of Onyx grade mic preamps @24/96 and if these work duplex can be a very nice duplex ad/da -- da/ad conversion back and forth as a front end into existing DAWs, MDM, Yamaha Mixers, etc

    I like analog boards, analog mixes and analog mixdown and mastering. As much as ITB will ever emerge and evolve, that will always be my preference. Don't think for a minute that OTB mixes are ever going away. Folks are abandoning the ITB world daily for forever when they come out and do a mix in realtime and hear the diff and say to themselves "OMF God! what was I thinkng all this time?"

    Well. What the hell were we talking about again? Oh yeah ...

    Its all good. Life is hard and then we all die. Hopefully when we all get to heaven, St Pete'll have a MegaStudio for us all to get into to record mix and master the heavenly choir. Will it be ITB or OTB? Live or Memorex? Time will tell ...

  14. Mises

    Mises Guest

    Don't hold your breath waiting on that mythical TASCAM X-48.

    TASCAM has got to be one of the most pathetic god awful disreputable companies of all timein the audio market.

    Not because their products are not good... but just because they are the archetypical example of a megaconglomo business model who operates on a "cut our losses and abandon the product" type philosophy.

    If the product didnt generate X Dollars as they projected.... they just abandon the product line. They did that to all their DAW controllers, and they'll probably do it to the X48.

    Tascam is your classic example of an uber efficient company that is run by "bean counters" who have no loyalty whatsoever to their customers and do only for themselves.

    They introduce products (or claim to introduce mythical products). They string customers along for years on end with vile lies they know to be not true, making false promises [X-48] about release dates, and then when and if they do actually manage top release the products... they seem to abandon them as quickly as they release them. They "hang their customers out to dry".

    The way I see it, when a company like TASCAM strings potential customers along for years on end, by making knowingly flase claims of release dates, they are essentially screwing customers over. They are costing people money, a potentially tortable offense which wouldprobably stand up in civil court. They are screwing studio owners over who have made major life altering choices which affect that studios 'bottom line'. A great many studios have been waiting for this mythical X-48, and they have forstalled other gear purchases in expctation for the X48's release. TASCAM is thus hurting studios by knowingly lying about their mythical products release date.

    I would not be the least bit surprised if they ever do release the mythical X-48 albatross, that it was not abandoned within 2 years.

    Mark my words. Remember what I am saying now. They will abandon that product within about 2 years time, just like they have done with every single DAW controller they have released within the last few years.

    The X48 may be a great useable product even if they do abandon it.... but still.... the fact that they dont stand behind their products long term shows you what a disreputable company they are. It illustrates what kind of an anti-customer bean-counting business model they operate on... Screw the customers or supporting customers who dropped 7 grande on their products. Wham bam thanks alot mam'. Thanks for your 7 grand...now your on your own because we're no longer supporting that product.
  15. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    Back to your original question, Mises: It's gear-snobbery, paranoia, envy, insecurity and misinformation, just like so many other things out there. For what you're doing right now, the MOTU is a great deal on every level; performance, cost, etc.

    Do you want to make a living (or supplement the one you have), or do you want to be a gear slut? Who are you buying this for, the tweak-head in your competing studio down the street, or your clients? How many people will actually LOOK at the unit, and (pretending to know even HALF of what you already know about audio) and make any kind of informed comment? Will this REALLy affect your bottom line? (It will if you stand around wringing your hands and pointing out the thing. Treat it like any other vital - but unflashy - piece of gear (like your heater or airconditioning) and get back to the business of making and recording music.

    I'm with Jeremy on this....it's usually the last 3% (or less) in sound quality anyway, and until you're at the point where you can afford something insanely cool and high end, why waste the $ on things that won't directly impact your bottom line anyway?

    I have a MOTU 896 that I use for all of my Fostex LV2424 transfers (8 tracks at a time, over to PC-based HD for ITB editing), and while I admit it's not being used for the same stuff you mention, it's more than adequate for the task: digital ADAT transfer from one platform to another. Before it got retired to that task, it was often used as a second or third-string live preamp device, going directly into my laptop (Yeah, I'm RETARDED, ok?) for many classical and Jazz recordings.

    I'll tell you something else: NO ONE, not one single client really gives a shite about gear beyond the obvious stuff. If you ARE having clients that snobbish, they can either pay for rental of whatever exotic gear they desire, or they can go somewhere else.

    Good gear is fine, but paralysis on something this simple - while you're starting out - is costing you precious time and resources while you're getting up and running. Get the thing for now, and if it really bothers you enough further down the road (and if you really CAN hear a difference - I'm betting you wont), get something better.

    As for Beringher, that's another story, if you haven't heard it already. Many folks, myself included have avoided them for their well-documented unethical business practices a decade or so ago. I've heard they've cleaned up their act since, but I'm not interested, and would never spend a dime on their stuff. That's not gear-snobbery, IMHO, that's ethics. Big difference.

    MOTU, on the other hand, has made some fine products for the tweener-crowd, and I'm fine with that.
  16. Mises

    Mises Guest

    While I realize that most clients probably don't know a whole lot about the equipment being used in studios; they wouldnt know a botique brand from a Presonus probably... but I'm sure some small percentage of customers must be at least mildly informed.

    I defer to the opinion of others with more experience in this matter and would like to know what their opinion is on the issue of whether "fancy gear" is a necessity part of running the a commercial studio.... but I tend to look at it from a business perspective, as the owner pf several other business. It's about marketability.

    I know a bit about business in general as I have run many kinds of business in many fields... and one thing I do know is that image counts for a lot. Maybe image is overrated to some extent Some customers could give a crap less, they just want the job done... but sometimes image counts. Kind of depends on teh customer.

    What does a customer look at when they walk into a studio?

    They look at the ambiance. How the place is decorated. Whether it gives off a good vibe, or whether the place looks like an industrial building with cement block walls and a lounge that has a "cold uninviting feeling".

    Then theres the equipment in the studio. What impresses a client about the control room?

    The mixing console. Thats the centerpiece of the whole room. You can have a crappy little studio in your basement, but if it has a decent console, people will take you more seriously than a "real" recording studio in a commercial facility which is using a Mackie 32x8. According to "The Studio Business Book", the console is the focal point of the studio which the client looks at.

    Now, aside from the console... what other kinds of equipment the clients look at??... I dont really know... Maybe they dont really give a damned about compressors or preamps... maybe they do just look at the largest object in the room which has the most pretty colored blinkey lights (the console)... but I'm sure some small percentage is not ignorant of such things.

    I've had very few customers who would know a Presonus from Grace... but I'm sure at least some small percentage would know a few vintage or botique pieces of gear if they saw it... and it would make them feel better. The question is, does the business have enough customers walking in the door who do know the difference such that it justifies purchasing botique equipment just to show a little "bling" in your studio for image purposes.

    I therefore submit that this just isn't an issue of "can you hear the difference?", but its an issue of marketability and image.
  17. blaumph2cool

    blaumph2cool Active Member

    May 2, 2005
    Portland, OR
    nothing says Wow like a fancy Neve console.
  18. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    well, I was under the impression the original question was about MOTU A/D/A equipment and what some people think about it. Now we've switched to studio bling and marketability. Ok, alright then.

    FWIW, i'd never buy a console or a piece of gear solely on what everyone else thinks about it, or how much it stimulates their egos and naughty bits. It's fun, but too expensive a hobby to have, at least from where I sit. Never followed trends, don't plan to start any time soon. I'm not selling my gear per se; I'm selling my skills.

    I'll admit, though, this is oftentimes a business that's based on "Mine's bigger (faster, more expensive, hotter, etc.) than yours". It's sad but true, and all too often people choose gear that way, based on the flavor of the month, or which way the current wind is blowing.

    Of course, we ALL love gear, though, and it's a natural part of the appeal in what we do. The trick is knowing what you NEED to buy, vs. what you WISH you could buy. Unless you've won the lottery, I still think you've got to choose wisely.

    And I still maintain that really high end gear is only worth it if you've got the work to support it, not the other way round. If you're buying just to impress, you've got a long hard fall ahead of you.

    As always, YMMV.
  19. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    There are very few left in the world and fewer people who are qualified much less, capable of servicing one.

    I'm one of a handful of people I know who've actually seen a Rupert Neve console. I hardly had enough time to really appreciate it. The studio sold it for a newer more serviceable SSL.
  20. Sajin

    Sajin Active Member

    Feb 14, 2007
    Old school Rocks!!! Having been on both sides of the aisle...Analog vs Digital....MOTU vs ProTools etc......I am a firm beliver in making do with what you can afford! The best sounding stuff sometimes has nothing to do with what you spent! Its all in how you use it! Don't fall into gear slutdom for the sake of the next new thing. MOTU gear is cool! I too ahd an 896 interface currently have a digi 002 and at one time a Roland vs1680. Just get the best stuff you can afford...In time then worry about upgrading....Boy do I remember cutting tape!!!

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