Manufacturer MOTU has presented a new flagship audio interface, the 8PRE-ES. Reminiscent of the 828 ES which Mark Of The Unicorn unveiled last year, the rack unit houses the same ESS Sabre32 DAC chip with a dynamic range of 123dB, also used in the company’s professional 1248 interface. The DAC supports 24-bit audio at 192kHz sample rate.
The 8PRE-ES handles 52 simultaneous audio channels, featuring 24 inputs and 28 outputs. There are eight combined mic/line/guitar inputs with built-in preamps (sonically transparent, claims MOTU), individual preamp gain, pad switches, 48V phantom power and the possibility of digital remote control.
Connecting over both USB 2.0 (compatible with 3.0) and Thunderbolt, the interface is capable of a low 1.6ms round-trip latency at 96kHz over TB, which is a very good figure. It’s not the industry’s lowest, but truthfully, there are many variables to latency measurement and the figure really depends on the particular mixing or recording scenario. The interface carries up to 256 audio channels (128in/128out) over Thunderbolt and allows the possibility of streaming AVB/TSN Ethernet via standard CAT-5e cable (up to 100 meters). The unit is class-compliant with Windows and Mac systems and can also hook up to an iPad over Apple’s standard camera connection kit adapter.
The MOTU 8PRE-ES also has a built-in talkback function with a front panel talk button, as well as a convenient A/B speaker select button for checking mixes on two sets of monitors. Digital sound connectivity is facilitated by 16 ADAT channels at 48kHz, 8 channels of S/MUX at 96kHz, or a stereo TOSLink pair at up to 96kHz.
In the software department, the interface has a 48-input digital mixer with 7 stereo aux busses, 3 groups, access to 64 network inputs, flexible routing matrix, and DSP effects – reverb (classic), 4-band EQ (British analog modeled), gate, and compression (based on the vintage LA-2A optical compressor). There are also analysis tools, such as oscilloscope, real-time FFT, X-Y Plot, and graphic phase analysis. Finally, MOTU bundles its AudioDesk DAW.
Remote control is established via a web app that’s accessible in a browser on any computer, tablet, or smartphone – virtually regardless of the operating system, as long as your browser is up to date enough to run the web app. It allows control over the DSP, mixing, device settings, and network audio routing. There’s also MOTU’s Touch Console, a 48-channel mixer with effects which is designed specifically to take advantage of modern touchscreens.
Price & availability
Priced USD 1195, the 8PRE-ES is a powerful and affordable unit that’s designed thoughtfully and ergonomically. We are sure it will be capable of great things when in the right hands. The unit is already shipping and available at MOTU’s dealers.