The 8M is one of several new high-performance audio interfaces from MOTU that combine superb audio quality, large console style mixing, and state-of-the-art features.
The eight mic/guitar inputs are equipped with pristine, transparent preamps and offer individually adjustable 48V phantom power and -20 dB pad. Preamp gain can be adjusted directly on the front panel, or from the web app control software running on your computer, tablet or smartphone. Mic inputs can be operated individually or in stereo pairs, as needed.
All 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 zero dB (where limiting kicks in) to as high as +9 dB above zero with no distortion due to digital clipping.
You get the best of both worlds: analog preamp gain with digital precision and control. The 8M preamps provide 53 dB of gain, which you can adjust in 1 dB increments using detented digital rotary encoders. As you turn the encoder, you see long-throw graphic feedback and input metering in the LCD. You can also control all preamp settings — gain, pad and 48V phantom power switch — from the web app running on your Mac, iPad, iPhone or other wireless device. You can even save preamp configurations on your computer for future recall.
Combo-style jacks accept quarter-inch plugs from a synth, keyboard, or other line-level input. You can also plug in your guitar, without an amp or cabinet, to run your guitar input through amp/cab simulation plug-ins in your host software.
The 8M employs latest-generation ESS Sabre32 Ultra™ converters, known for their industry-leading performance, together with expertly engineered analog circuits that reflect more than three decades of pro audio engineering expertise. The result? The 8M achieves actual, measured performance of 123 dB dynamic range (A-weighted, 20 Hz to 20 kHz) on its balanced TRS analog outputs.
Every digital audio workflow has some latency. The only question is, how much? In the case of the 8M, the answer is, not much at all. In the 8M, latency is measured in a handful of samples, from the time an audio signal first goes digital to its arrival somewhere else (to an output, the mixer, or the computer). By keeping latency this low in the hardware, the 8M helps minimize latency introduced by your host software. Over Thunderbolt, round trip host latency is an impressive 1.4 ms, from analog in, through the host, to analog out (@ 96 kHz with a 32-sample host buffer).
Thunderbolt lets you connect displays, hard drives, and other peripherals to your computer, along with the 8M, and the Thunderbolt bus won't even break a sweat. But more importantly, Thunderbolt gives you an astonishing 256 channels of computer I/O (128 in and out). You can use them to route audio to the physical inputs and outputs on the 8M, plus the 48-channel mixer inside the 8M, plus audio network streams. Along with the 1248 and 16A interfaces, the 8M is the first and only interface to combine Thunderbolt I/O connectivity with AVB audio networking.
Don't have a Thunderbolt-equipped computer yet? Hi-speed USB 2.0 provides across-the-board compatibility with pretty much all laptops and desktops. The 8M is USB audio class compliant, which means you enjoy OS-level USB compatibility and support, including iPad support (with a camera connection kit). Since USB 2.0 devices are compatible with USB 3.0-equipped hosts, your 8M interface is a future-proof investment in your studio.
The 8M is equipped with a 48-channel digital mixer designed just like a large format mixing console. The 48 inputs can take signal from anywhere: the physical inputs on the 8M interface itself, audio channels from host software on your computer, audio network streams, or even mixer outputs. The mixer provides 7 stereo aux busses, 3 groups, a reverb bus that can alternately serve as a 4th group, a Main Mix bus and a separate Monitor bus that can serve as a solo bus. In essence: comprehensive and transparent mixing.
With one click on the 8M's routing grid, you can route any source signal to any destination. Sources can be analog or digital inputs on the interface, computer channels, mixer bus outputs, or audio network streams from other devices on the network. Destinations include interface outputs, host software inputs, mixer inputs, or any other device (or computer) on the AVB network. You can even split any single input (or stereo pair) to unlimited multiple output destinations.
The 8M network port introduces AVB Ethernet, the new industry standard developed by the IEEE for professional audio networking. Add a second MOTU AVB interface (1248, 8M or 16A) with a simple Cat-5e or CAT-6 ethernet cable.
Connect up to five MOTU interfaces using a MOTU AVB Switch (sold separately).
Build a network with multiple interfaces and computers using standard AVB switches and network cabling, with ultra-low network latency, even over long cable runs (hundreds of meters). Stream hundreds of audio channels among devices and computers on the network.
The software that you use to control the 8M doesn't reside on your hard drive. It's a web app served from the hardware itself. This means you can control the 8M's on-board DSP, mixing, device settings, and network audio routing from the web app software running in your favorite web browser on a laptop, tablet or smart phone connected by wire or Wi-Fi to your local area network. Use any web client on any platform — Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android — as long as it shares the same network.
Connect an Apple Airport™ or other Wi-Fi router directly to the 8M with a standard Ethernet cable and control the 8M's powerful mixing and DSP effects from your smart phone or tablet, without a computer. Great for live sound mixing!
The large backlit 324 x 24 LCD lets you view all signal activity at a glance with detailed metering for all analog and digital I/O. Access hardware settings from a simple and convenient menu.
The 8M is so flexible, it can serve many roles — in the studio, on stage, and throughout an installation. The Quick Setup menu lets you instantly reconfigure the 8M for many common situations, from operation as a standard audio interface to serving as a network "snake" from one location to another. Once a preset is chosen, you can easily customize the routing grid and mixer settings to further suit your specific needs — and then save your own custom presets.