MOTU896MK3 Hybrid Audio Interface


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The MOTU 896 mk3 is a hybrid digital audio interface with both FireWire and USB 2.0 connections. When used independently from a computer, the 896 can operate as a standalone mixer with effects. In total, the 896 grants access to eight channels of 24-bit/192Hz analog recording/playback along with sixteen channels of optical digital I/O, S/PDIF, stereo AES/EBU, and analog main outs. 

The internal CueFX mixer allows for latency-free routing of almost any audio signal, with the ability to apply effects to any input, output, or bus—all without the need for a computer! Additionally, each of the inputs benefits from the inclusion of V-Limit, which prevents digital clipping that typically results from overdriven input signals. The mic and guitar inputs also feature soft clipping for nearly-distortion free results. 

Onboard effects include reverb, EQ, compressor, and leveler—the latter being a model of the renowned LA-2A.  The EQ is parametric and boasts seven bands modeled after classic British EQ consoles. In terms of monitoring, users can connect powered studio monitors to the 896’s outputs and attenuate them from either the front panel or the included software. Main volume can consist of stereo, 5.1, 7.1, as well as custom configurations.

896MK3 Features

  • Hybrid FireWire/USB2 connectivity - connect to your computer via plug-and-play FireWire or hi-speed USB2
  • CueMix FX is a 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 44.1/48kHz)
  • No channel sharing - the microphone inputs, AES/EBU and S/PDIF I/O, headphone out and main outs are all handled as separate channels
  • Front-panel control with access to any setting in a mix directly from the front panel
  • Stand-alone operation - program your mixes at the studio and then bring the unit to a gig without a computer
  • Need to tweak the mix? Do it on site using the back-lit LCD and front-panel controls
  • Multiple CueMix FX mixes (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 microphone input with phantom power, pad and plenty of gain
  • Clip protection - input limiter prevents digital clipping and distortion from overloaded signal levels up to +12dB over zero
  • Eight 24-bit/192kHz analog inputs and outputs on XLR jacks
  • Precision Digital Trim digitally controls analog trim on all analog inputs while providing accurate adjustments in 1.0dB 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 (96kHz) or two pairs of stereo TOSLink
  • Mix and match formats between the two banks
  • Expandable by adding additional interfaces for more I/O as needs grow
  • Separate XLR main outs and front-panel headphone jacks, each with independent volume control
  • 24-bit/96kHz AES/EBU stereo I/O
  • 24-bit/96kHz S/PDIF stereo I/O
  • Wordclock in and out
  • CueMix FX includes audio analysis visual diagnostic tools for the stereo audio signals, from an accurate guitar/instrument tuner to phase and polarity measurement tools, to a full-fledged oscilloscope
  • Resolve directly to time code, with no additional synchronizer required via one of the analog input jacks
  • Includes a DSP-driven phase-lock engine with sophisticated filtering that provides fast lockup times and sub-frame accuracy
  • 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
  • Foot switch input (conveniently located on the front panel) connects a standard foot pedal switch (sold separately) for hands-free punch-in and punch-out while recording
  • Map the pedal to any keystroke function in the 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 and sample-accurate sync
  • Plug-and-play operation with 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
  • Internal universal 100~240V, 50/60Hz auto switching power supply


  • Connectivity: FireWire
  • USB 2.0
  • Converters: 24-bit
  • Sample Rates: 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4 and 192kHz

Analog In

  • 8 x Neutrik combo/XLR

Analog Outputs

  • 8 x XLR
  • 2 x XLR main output
  • 2 x 1/4" TRS phone Headphone

Digital Input Connectors

  • 2 x ADAT Lightpipe
  • 1 x XLR AES/EBU (stereo)
  • 1 x RCA coaxial S/PDIF (stereo)
  • 1 x BNC Wordclock

Digital Output Connectors

  • 2 x ADAT Lightpipe
  • 1 x XLR AES/EBU (stereo)
  • 1 x RCA coaxial S/PDIF (stereo)
  • 1 x BNC Wordclock
  • MIDI In/Out: No
  • Sync In/Out: Wordclock, ADAT, S/PIDF and AES/EBU
  • Headphone Output: Yes
  • THD + N: Not specified by manufacturer
  • Dynamic Range: Not specified by manufacturer
  • Frequency Response: Not specified by manufacturer
  • Power Requirements: 100~240V, 50/60Hz auto switching internal power supply

Minimum System Requirements: Mac

  • PowerPC G4 CPU 1GHz or faster (including PowerPC G5 CPUs and all Intel processor Macs)
  • OS X v10.5.8 or later required, 10.6, or 10.7
  • 1GB RAM (2GB or more recommended)
  • Available FireWire or USB2 port
  • Large hard drive (preferably at least 250GB)

System Requirements: PC

  • Pentium-based 1GHz PC compatible or faster equipped with at least one USB2 or FireWire port
  • Windows Vista SP2 32- or 64-bit, or Windows 7
  • 1GB RAM (2GB or more recommended)
  • Available FireWire or USB2 port
  • Large hard drive (preferably at least 250GB)
  • Dimensions (WxDxH): 19 x 7 x 3.5" (483 x 178 x 89mm)
MOTU 896MK3 Hybrid Audio Interface Reviews