896mk3 Hybrid — 8 mic/guitar inputs with on-board effects and mixing
- Hybrid FireWire/USB2 connectivity — connect to your computer via plug-and-play FireWire or hi-speed USB2.
- CueMix FX™ — flexible 28 input/16 bus mixer with on-board DSP effects, including reverb with sends/returns, plus EQ and compression on every input and output.
- 28 inputs / 32 outputs (at 44.1/48 kHz) — there's no channel sharing in the 896mk3; the mic inputs, AES/EBU I/O, S/PDIF I/O, headphone out and main outs are all handled as separate channels.
- Front-panel control — access any setting in your entire 896mk3 mix directly from the front panel.
- Stand-alone operation — program your mixes at the studio and then bring the 896mk3 to your gig — no computer needed. Need to tweak the mix? Do it on site using the back-lit LCD and front-panel controls.
- Multiple CueMix FX mixes — for example, create different monitor mixes for the main outs and headphones. Or add send/return loops for outboard gear — with no latency.
- Eight rear panel combo jacks provide 1/4” or XLR mic input with phantom power, pad and plenty of gain.
- Clip protection — input limiter prevents digital clipping and distortion from overloaded signal levels up to +12 dB over zero.
- Eight 24-bit 192kHz analog inputs and outputs on XLR jacks
- Precision Digital Trim™ — Digitally controlled analog trim on all analog inputs provides accurate adjustements in 1 dB increments. Fine-tune the balance of your analog inputs and then save/recall trim configurations.
- Flexible optical I/O — 16 channels of ADAT lightpipe, 8 channels of SMUX (96 kHz) or two pairs of stereo TOSLink. Mix and match formats between the two banks.
- Expandable — add additional interfaces for more I/O as your needs grow.
- Separate XLR main outs and front-panel headphone jacks, each with independent volume control.
- Stereo 24-bit 96kHz AES/EBU in/out
- Stereo 24-bit 96kHz S/PDIF in/out
- Word clock in and out
- Foot switch input — conveniently located on the front panel...connect a standard foot pedal switch (sold separately) for hands-free punch-in and punch-out while recording. Or map the pedal to any keystroke function in your host software.
- Includes native 32- and 64-bit drivers for Mac OS X and Windows 7/Vista, including ASIO, WDM, Wave, Core Audio, and Core MIDI. Supports all popular Mac and Windows audio software.
- 100% compatible with all host-based effects processing in today's popular audio programs.
- Includes AudioDesk full-featured sample-accurate workstation software for the Macintosh with recording, editing, mixing, real-time 32-bit effects processing & sample-accurate sync.
- Plug-and-play operation with your Mac or PC via FireWire or high-speed USB 2.0.
- Front panel volume control for monitoring. Stereo, Quad, 6.1, 7.1 and user-defined surround monitoring setups available.
- Two front panel headphone jacks with independent volume controls.
- Comprehensive front panel metering for all analog and digital audio I/O.
- Dedicated front panel clock status LEDs.
- International 100-240V, 50-60 Hz autoswitching power supply.
- Chassis dimensions, excluding rack ears and front and back panel knobs and connectors: 19 x 7 x 3.5 inches (48.26 x 17.78 x 8.89 cm). Knobs and connectors extend up to 0.5 inch (1.27 cm) from front and back panels, adding 1 inch (2.54 cm) to depth. With rack ears attached, fits standard 19 inch (48.26 cm) rack at 2U high.
The 896mk3 audio interface delivers advanced design, high-end performance, superb sound, and universal "hybrid" FireWire/USB2 connectivity to your Mac or Windows computer.
Hybrid FireWire / USB2 connectivity
As a hybrid audio interface, the 896mk3 provides flexible connectivity to any Mac or PC via FireWire or high-speed USB 2.0, with eight channels of pristine 24-bit 192 kHz analog recording and playback, combined with sixteen channels of optical digital I/O, stereo AES/EBU, S/PDIF and separate analog main outs. Expand your system by connecting the 8pre mic input expander or other MOTU audio interfaces.
The 896mk3 is equally well-suited for studio and stage, with or without a computer. As an interface or standalone mixer, the 896mk3 provides 28 separate inputs and 32 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 effects processing to inputs, outputs, and busses independent of your host computer. Add Classic Reverb™ with lengths up to 60 seconds. Further sculpt your sound with 7-band parametric EQ featuring filter types carefully modeled after British analog console EQs. Choose between two forms of compression: a conventional compressor and the Leveler™, an accurate model of the legendary LA-2A™ optical compressor that provides vintage, musical automatic gain control.
MOTU FireWire audio interfaces can connect to any Firewire port. Just plug in and go, with any standard cable. The 896mk3 Hybrid provides two FireWire Type B ports, which provide the most reliable FireWire connection available. The ports operate at 400 Mbit/s, and they can be connected to any available FireWire port on your computer, either Type A or Type B. If your computer has FireWire Type B ports, use the included 9-pin-to-9-pin FireWire cable. If your computer has either standard Type A ports or miniature Type A ports, use the appropriate 9-pin-to-6-pin or 9-pin-to-4-pin FireWire cable (sold separately).
When recording from the analog inputs, the 896mk3’s signal overload protection gives you an extra 12 dB of headroom above zero with no clipping or harsh artifacts.
Advanced audio analysis tools
Analyze and scope your audio with advanced diagnostic tools, including a full-screen real-time FFT display, spectrogram "waterfall" display, full-featured oscilloscope, X-Y plot, and linear/polar phase analysis graphs.
Stand-alone operation as a mixer
After programming the on-board mixing in the studio, unplug the 896mk3 from the computer and take it on the road for operation as a stand-alone mixer with effects. All mixing and effects parameters are adjustable using the front panel backlit LCD.
The 896mk3 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.
The 896mk3 is the flagship for MOTU's unique "hybrid" audio interface line, which delivers universal FireWire and high-speed USB 2.0 connectivity.
MOTU audio interfaces can connect to any Firewire port. Just plug in and go, with any standard cable. The 896mk3 Hybrid provides two FireWire Type B ports, which provide the most reliable FireWire connection available. The ports operate at 400 Mbit/s, and they can be connected to any available FireWire port on your computer, either Type A or Type B. If your computer has FireWire Type B ports, use the included 9-pin-to-9-pin FireWire cable. If your computer has either standard Type A ports or miniature Type A ports, use the appropriate 9-pin-to-6-pin or 9-pin-to-4-pin FireWire cable (sold separately).
FireWire has long been recognized as a reliable, high-performance connectivity standard for professional audio interfaces like the 896mk3. 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 896mk3 hybrid audio interface is equipped with FireWire jacks and a high-speed USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec) connector, and you can use either port to connect the 896mk3 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 896mk3 to one of its high-speed USB 2.0 ports.
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.
Eight inputs are equipped with high quality preamps, plus overload protection and all the features you need to simultaneously record up to eight mic/instrument inputs with excellent sound quality.
The 896mk3 analog inputs are flexible XLR/TRS "combo" jacks that accept a microphone, guitar, synth or other -10/+4 line level input source. Inputs operate independently (or as stereo pairs), so you can connect a variety of analog inputs simultaneously.
Precision digitally controlled analog trim
Each input is equipped with an independent, digitally controlled analog trim pot, 48V phantom power switch and 20 dB pad switch conveniently located on the front panel for easy access.
The preamp in each input provide 53 dB of gain, which you can adjust in precise 1 dB 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.
V-Limit™ hardware limiter
All analog 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 zero dB (where limiting kicks in) to as high as +12 dB above zero with no distortion due to digital clipping.
Additional protection can be applied to the mic/guitar inputs by enabling the 896mk3's Soft Clip™ feature, which engages just before clipping occurs and helps reduce perceptible distortion.
The 896mk3 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 eight analog inputs, the 896mk3 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 OUT)" is hard-wired to (mirrors) the XLR main outs. In all other cases, inputs and outputs are discrete. For example, the main outs do not "steal" an output pair from the bank of eight XLR analog outputs. 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.
Rear panel I/O
Eight 24-bit analog "combo jack" inputs and ten XLR outputs can operate at sample rates up to 192 kHz. Two optical banks provide 16 channels of ADAT optical at 48 kHz, 8 channels of S/MUX optical I/O at 96 kHz or two banks of stereo TOSLink at rates up to 96 kHz. The banks operate independently, allowing you to mix and match any optical formats. RCA S/PDIF connectors also supply independent stereo digital I/O. XLR AES/EBU connectors provide another independent stereo digital I/O.
|Analog 24-bit 192-kHz on XLR||-||8|
|Mic preamps 24-bit 192-kHz on XLR/TRS combo||8||-|
|Main outputs 24-bit 192kHz on bal XLR||-||stereo|
|ADAT optical (digital)†||16||16|
* The phone jack below the MASTER VOL knob is hard-wired to (mirrors) the XLR main outs. The other phone jack operates as an independent stereo pair.
† The two optical banks provide 16 channels of ADAT optical at 48 kHz, 8 channels of S/MUX optical I/O at 96 kHz or two banks of stereo TOSLink at rates up to 96 kHz. The banks operate independently, allowing you to mix and match any optical formats.
Control room monitoring
Powered monitors can be plugged directly into the outputs of the 896mk3 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 896mk3 to control all 32 outputs with the MASTER VOL knob.
Mixing and effects
The 896mk3 is an audio interface, but it's also a 16-bus digital mixer, complete with EQ, compression and reverb.
The 896mk3 is really two devices in one: an audio interface plus a 28 x 16 digital mixer. In fact, you could even think of the 896mk3 as a digital mixer in a double rack-space form factor.
Operating as either a computer interface or stand-alone, the 896mk3 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 896mk3’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 896mk3 hardware, independent of the computer. Effects can be applied when the 896mk3 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 896mk3 are accessible from the programmable front-panel backlit LCD. You can also launch the CueMix FX™ control software for Mac OS X, Windows XP and Windows Vista. CueMix FX provides complete on-screen access to the 896mk3'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 FireWire 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.
Watch the CueMix FX movie
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 FireWire audio interface supports up to eight 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 48 kHz. 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.
The tabs shown above let you focus on one channel at a time and edit its settings using the high-resolution graphic display. But EQ and dynamics settings can also be edited on all channels in line (within each channel strip), where you can compare critical settings side-by-side, as shown below.
Instrument tuner and advanced signal analysis
Front-panel LCD access to all mix settings
All of the mixing features described on these pages (except for the signal analysis tools mentioned above) are available during stand-alone 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 stand-alone digital mixer. Tweak your mix on location from the front panel.
Apply smooth, detailed reverb with several room models, three independent frequency bands and length up to 60 seconds.
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.
Modeled after analog British console EQ's, known for their highly musical gain/Q settings, CueMix FX EQ provides a high pass filter, low pass filter, two shelving or parametric filters and five parametric bands.
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 36 dB per octave.
EQ settings can be adjusted graphically by dragging control points on the large graph in the main EQ tab, as shown above, or using the knobs for individual bands in each channel strip.
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 480 Hz.
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 real-time 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 real-time 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.
Audio as visual art
The X-Y Plot and Phase Analysis displays make for some seriously freaky visual results, depending on the audio signal you run through them. If you do any visual effects work on the side, take note:
CueMix FX's flexible dynamics processing includes a high-quality conventional compressor, plus a leveling amplifier modeled after the legendary LA-2A™ optical compressor.
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.
Clock and sync
The 896mk3 uses extremely accurate Direct Digital Synthesis™ for internal clocking and for resolving to external word clock or SMPTE time code sources. The 896mk3 can resolve directly to time code, with no additional sychronizer required.
Direct Digital Synthesis™ clock
The 896mk3 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 896mk3 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 896mk3 to maintain an extremely stable clock while resolved to incoming clock sources that have substantially more jitter than the 896mk3 itself.
On-board SMPTE time code synchronization
You can slave your 896mk3 system directly to SMPTE time code, without a dedicated synchronizer, via one of the 896mk3's analog input jacks. The 896mk3 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) 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.
Expansion & drivers
Expand your 896mk3 system and run it with all your favorite audio software.
Adding more I/O to your 896mk3 system
As with other MOTU FireWire interfaces, the 896mk3 supplies two FireWire jacks so it can be daisy-chained with additional MOTU FireWire audio interfaces or other devices.
The 896mk3 is also fully compatible with the 8pre, a single rack MOTU interface that adds 8 mic preamp inputs to the 896mk3. Because the 8pre connects to the 896mk3 via ADAT optical, its mic inputs are fully integrated into the 896mk3's on-board CueMix FX digital mixer.
Drivers and AudioDesk workstation software
The 896mk3 provides CueMix FX and drivers for Mac (OS X) and Windows (XP and Vista) for cross-platform compatibility with virtually all audio software via WDM/ASIO/Core Audio drivers.
The 896mk3 includes AudioDesk®, the advanced workstation software for Mac OS X with 24-bit recording and editing, along with 32-bit mixing, processing and mastering.