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MOTU's New 896 FireWire Audio Interface Has 24-Bit/96k Specs

Hardware monitoring of live input means no latentcy (December 14, 2001)
A 96 kHz FireWire audio interface was unveiled today by MOTU, featuring 8 channels of 24-bit analog I/O, 8 channels of ADAT optical digital I/O, 8 built-in mic pre-amps, AES/EBU digital I/O, word clock sync, and sample-accurate ADAT SYNC.

Called the 896, it is a two rack-space unit compatible with both Macintosh and Windows computers. The 896 can be connected via a standard 1394 FireWire input, with no PCI card or PCMCIA card required. Up to four 896s can be daisy-chained to a single computer for 72 channels of I/O. MOTU says the included drivers provide compatibility with all major audio software on both computer platforms. Also included is AudioDesk, a complete audio workstation software package for Macintosh.

On the front panel, there are three banks of 10-segment level meters, 8 trim knobs for the analog inputs, and 8 toggle switches for independent 48-volt phantom power for each analog input. In addition, the 896 provides CueMix Plus no-latency monitoring of live input with separate front-panel volume control over the monitored input signal, according to MOTU

The rear panel connectors include 8 analog outputs on XLR connectors Each output is equipped with 24-bit 128x "enhanced multibit" D/A converters and includes its own switch for either +4 or 10dB operation.

The MOTU 896 is expected to ship in the first quarter of 2002. The list price is $1,295 US.

A detailed description of the features follows:

Rear Panel
-- 8 analog inputs on Neutrik combo (XLR/TRS) connectors Each input is equipped with a 24-bit 64x oversampling A/D converter, built-in preamp, front-panel trim knob, front-panel 48 volt phantom power switch and a rear-panel 3-way input level switch with three settings: MIC, LINE and +4/FIXED. The MIC and LINE settings provide front-panel trim, while the +4/FIXED setting bypasses the trim circuit for unattenuated signals up to approximately +18dBu. Together, the MIC and LINE settings provide a trim range of approximately 55dB with some overlap. The LINE setting can accommodate a 10 or +4 input signal. The MIC setting can be used for microphones or unamplified instrument pickups (guitars, etc.)

-- 8 channels of ADAT optical digital in/out These standard ADAT optical jacks can operate at 44.1 or 48 kHz, or they can be turned off (to conserve FireWire bus bandwidth). They are automatically disabled when the 896 is operated at 88.2 or 96 kHz.

Main analog outputs
These two extra XLR outputs can be connected directly to a pair of speakers. A front panel volume knob is provided for convenient hands-on volume control. The main outputs mirror the signal on outputs 1 and 2. In addition, they sum these signals with up to two channels of live input from any pair of analog inputs via the 896's no-latency monitoring bus. The user chooses any two analog or AES/EBU inputs (via software) as the monitor inputs. A separate knob is provided on the front panel for convenient hands-on adjustment of the live input level, relative to the main mix.

AES/EBU digital in/out
Provides digital I/O at any supported sample rate (up to 96 kHz). Sample rate conversion is supplied on either input or output. The AES/EBU input can convert from any sample rate to the 896 system rate. For example, it can convert 44.1 kHz audio input to 96 kHz. The AES/EBU output can either double or halve the 896 system clock rate. For example, it can convert 96 kHz audio to 48 kHz. In addition, the AES/EBU OUT can resolve to the AES/EBU input while converting, with the input serving as a clock source only (not as an input source).

9-pin ADAT sync input
Allows sample-accurate digital transfers with ADATs or any other device that supports ADAT SYNC. This allows users to make digital transfers between their computer and other optical devices without their tracks drifting by even one sample.

Standard BNC word clock I/O
Allows the 896 to resolve to SMPTE time code, word clock, blackburst, video or other external clock sources via a standard synchronizer such as the MOTU MIDI Timepiece AV.

Two standard 1394 FireWire connectors
These two jacks can be used to connect the 896 to the FireWire port on any computer via a standard FireWire cable. Additional MOTU FireWire audio interfaces can be connected to the second FireWire jack. Up to four interfaces can be daisy-chained (connected one to another) on a single FireWire bus (without a hub), providing 72 channels of I/O at 44.1 or 48 kHz. At high sample rates (88.2 or 96 kHz), the ADAT optical channels are disabled and two or three interfaces can supply analog and AES/EBU I/O for 20 to 30 channels of I/O, respectively (depending on system performance). A MOTU 828 FireWire audio interface can also be connected to the second FireWire jack of a MOTU 896. In addition, multiple 828s can be mixed and matched with multiple 896s using standard FireWire hubs.

IEC power receptacle
The 896 has an internal power supply with an external switch for either 115V or 230V operation.

Front Panel
-- 8 analog input meters These 10-segment level meters provide a range from 42dB to clip with two red "over" LEDs. One remains illuminated after clipping while the other remains active to provide feedback during further adjustment.

-- 8 input trim knobs All eight analog inputs have individual input trim knobs, which provide a trim range of approximately 30dB for the LINE setting (on the rear panel) and approximately 40dB for the MIC setting (with some overlap between the two settings).

-- 8 phantom power switches Provide 48-volt phantom power to each input.

-- 8 programmable meters The second bank of meters can be programmed from the MOTU FireWire Audio console software to display one of the following 8-channel banks of I/O: analog output, ADAT input or ADAT output. For example, a user might wish to routinely monitor analog output, but they can temporarily monitor the ADAT inputs during an optical transfer.

-- Stereo main out meters This is a dedicated pair of 10-segment meters for the main outs.

-- Programmable AES/EBU meters These stereo meters can be programmed from the MOTU FireWire Audio Console software to display either AES/EBU input or output.

-- Quarter-inch headphone output

-- Quarter-inch foot switch input Connects to any standard foot switch for hands-free punch-in and punch-out during recording.

-- Main volume knob with toggle switch Controls the headphone out and, if the toggle switch is flipped up, the main outs.

-- Monitor level knob Controls the volume of any two analog or AES/EBU inputs being monitored on the main outs, if any.

-- Status lights Indicate the system clock setting (44.1, 48, 88.2 or 96 kHz) and the sample rate conversion for the AES/EBU input or output, if any.

-- Power switch

No-latency monitoring
-- Speakers can be connected directly to the XLR main outs. Users also can choose, via software, any two analog or AES/EBU inputs for monitoring via the main outs. On the front panel, the main volume knob controls the entire mix, while a separate monitor level knob adjusts the monitored input level relative to the main mix.

-- The CueMix Plus monitoring path is handled entirely in the 896 hardware itself; it is not passed to the computer before being routed to the main outs. Therefore, there is no latency in the monitored signal. At their option, users can also route the input to the computer for simultaneous effects processing, mixing the dry monitored signal with reverb, guitar distortion, or other effects on the computer. By combining the two signals in this manner, the user can eliminate audible delay in the processed audio from the computer. When playing back disk tracks on the computer, full effects processing can be used with absolutely no latency, regardless of the host audio software being used.

Console software, drivers and AudioDesk
-- The 896 ships with a Control Console, WDM driver and ASIO 2.0 driver for Windows Me/2K/XP. The WDM driver includes legacy Wave driver support. These drivers provide compatibility with all major audio software applications currently available for Windows Me/2K/XP.

-- For Macintosh, the 896 also includes the following software and drivers for MacOS 8.6 or 9.X: a MOTU FireWire Audio Control Panel, a corresponding Control Strip Module, ASIO 2.0 driver, and Sound Manager driver. Together, these drivers provide multi-channel operation with all Macintosh audio software.

-- On either platform, the MOTU FireWire Console software provides settings for configuring the front panel meters, AES/EBU sample rate conversion, foot switch input, CueMix Plus no-latency monitoring, and other hardware settings.

-- The 896 also includes AudioDesk, MOTUs audio workstation software for Macintosh, which provides complete recording, editing, mixing, processing, and mastering of multitrack audio recordings.

For more information, go to

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Related Keywords:MOTU, audio, interface, analog, digital, 24-bit, 896

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