Ultimate Tech Source for Musicians Around The Globe

Tech Radar Powered By Muse Fresco Production


GEAR TECH main page

GEAR PRO - Product Review -

Table of Contents

MOTU 828 mk3
Special Review: - Virtual Amp Rig Battle - WAVES GTR vs. NI Guitar Rig vs. IK Amplitube & Ampeg SVX Coming Soon

MOTU 828 mk3

MSRP: $795.00

MOTU audio interface has relatively a long history. Before MOTU started making audio interfaces, MOTU was a famous manufacturer of professional MIDI interfaces. And still is the leading company of MIDI interfaces. I've used both MTP AV Legacy and MTP AV USB before myself. Especially MTP AV USB has been, thanks to USB protocol, very stable and I ended up using it for these years without a major problem. MOTU used to manufacture only products for Mac platform but years ago started to distribute Windows drivers. There was a myth that MOTU works only on Mac among users. But I tested myself well enough to say that at least MOTU MIDI interface works fine on Windows platform with no problem today. I run several MOTU MIDI interfaces daily and they work great as the core of my MIDI instrument system.

Today MOTU is also, or even more famous as a manufacturer of audio interfaces. MOTU audio was welcomed at first by Mac users because MOTU's legendary Mac steady performance was also proven here. I used to use Mac 2408, and 1224 interface and I remember I was really satisfied with the natural sound MOTU 1224 made even though I was then pretty skeptical about the quality of digital sound in any forms.

Then how about MOTU audio in Windows platform? Well, I am sorry to say, but I really don't know. But MOTU dealers answered to my doubts on Windows drivers with a confident "No Problem. Works fine." So well it's your job to check how it work on Windows. If you are Mac user and not using ProTools HD then probably MOTU audio interface especially this "MOTU 828mkIII" may be the one of the most recommendable product in this category.

Why? You know MOTU 828 series is extremely popular among Mac based pro musicians. I think it's because it sounds very natural and musical. The first 828 won the prestigious TEC award. Its A/D/A (esp. DA) got a high score. I had a chance to listen to the sound of 828 and I remember I was very impressed although it's a Firewire interface and not PCI interface. (In general PCI based interface is believed to be the most stable. But today Firewire or USB is being proved to be as steady and good-sounding if drivers are stable.)

Generally speaking it seems MOTU makes Firewire audio interfaces for Mac users, and USB 2.0 audio interfaces for Windows users. But I guess it's okay to use either. In my impression over all of audio interfaces except PCI types, Firewire is the most powerful and USB comes as a second because most of high profile audio interfaces are Firewire type.(RME Fireface 800, MOTU HD892 etc.) Anyway this 828 mk3 is Firewire version. USB 2.0 version may come out later but not announced yet. If you want USB version you have to get older 828 mkII.. But Firewire version suffices in most cases, I  guess. There are 2 caution notes about MOTU Firewire interfaces (or broadly with all Firewire audio interfaces). 1: Your PC must have a Firewire chip made by Texas Instrument. 2: Your motherboard chipset must not be the brands from VIA and NEC. Texas Instrument Firewire chip is the standard quality chip tested in the PC industry. It's been reported other Firewire chips  may cause troubles. Also VIA chipset and NEC chipset doesn't get along with audio interfaces in DAW history. You should avoid them as to motherboard. These cautions must be checked before you build your DAW. Probably if you are the reader of this site, you should not have these problems and ready to go for 828 mkIII. But be prepared that there are always incompatibilities with DAW computers. New incompatibility may happen any time. Another reminder: If you are going to buy a USB interface, I  guess you should check you have enough USB outs are left in your PC because you need quite a lot USBs for music PCs (esp. for dongles of software copy protections). Also you need to take care to hook up your MOTU audio interface or MIDI interface to the original USB out, but not to a USB hub. It's recommended by the manufacturer and also is the wise choice to avoid the jamming of USB recognition. I got a little off the road here. This 828 mk3 is a  Firewire interface, and there is no USB 828mk3 announced so far.

Well, let's brief 828 mk3. of which I've heard as already a hit product. There is a huge rave about this unit. Why? Look at this: Sample rate is up to 192khz. INs/Outs are Digital: 2 ADATs ins/outs (Up to 96khz), No ADAT sync port, 1 S/P DIF, 1 Word clock in/out, Analog INs: 2 front Mic pre-amps XLR ins(w/switchable 48v phantom, front-panel trim controls, pre-amplified sends), 8 TRS ins, Analog OUTs: 2 XLR main outs, 8 TRS outs, 2 TRS sends outs,  1 SMPTE TRS in/out, 2 headphone outs (front). Is it not enough? How would you say if it sounds professional and mic pres also doesn't sound that bad? ADATs are always a useful addition for Native platform users. This ADAT here only support up to 96 kHz but it's more than enough. (1 ADAT can convey 4 x 96khz audio. So you have 8 ins/outs for ADAT at 96k.) This unit's strength seems to reside in analog realm. If you use mainly digital I/Os (for example you own digital mixers), there are audio interfaces of more digital I/Os (like RME Raydat, 9652, etc.). But look at the analog side of 828mk3. Solid 10 ADs and 10 DAs are very attractive at this price range. So take ADATs as a bonus addition. So in my observation I guess even if you are not using ADATs, there may still be a good reason that you try this unit. One advantage of MOTU interfaces is that MOTU interface is expandable. You may be able to add more ins/outs later rather easily, although you need to be on the watch for the stability of DAW performance under multiple MOTU environment. There are many MOTU audio interface products. If you don't need 192khz support and don't need that lot of digital I/Os (ADATs) MOTU Ultralite (MSRP $595) could be the more appropriate candidate.

Well I haven't touched this product and this is all just a guess work based on my experience of their forerunner products. But if there is some review that recommend this product, well I guess I really think this is a serious thing for you to consider. I already hear good reviews about its sound quality upgrade and FX features etc. At the list price at $795 and with MOTU's good reputation, 828 mk3 may become the standard for pro musicians as an all-around audio interface in Native platform. Go check yourself on this third descendant of the popular series.

MOTU 828mk3 (MSRP: $795.00)


Elliot Knapp

Back To TOP of This Page

GEAR TECH main page