MOTU’s half rack-sized UltraLite audio interface receives its fifth major upgrade. Now shipping, the UltraLite-mk5 sees the unit revised inside and out with new converters, redesigned steel chassis, white OLED display and the overhauled CueMix 5 mixer application.
Like its predecessors, the UltraLite-mk5 packs big channel counts for a desktop-sized interface. The total of 40 simultaneous I/O channels includes two front-panel XLR/TRS combo-style mic/line/hi-Z instrument inputs with preamps (+74 dB of gain), 6 analog line inputs, 10 balanced analog line outputs on 1/4-inch jacks (including the main monitor outputs), 8-channel ADAT optical input (switchable to stereo TOSLink – coaxial S/PDIF), stereo RCA S/PDIF I/O, and MIDI in/out jacks. Signal routing is managed by the included CueMix 5 software, which has been re-engineered as a native macOS, Windows, and iOS app. It lets you create independent monitor mixes for the analog outputs with effects (4-band EQ, gate, compressor, reverb) handled by the interface’s on-board DSP.
On the front side, a high-resolution, high-contrast white OLED display provides metering for all analog inputs and outputs, digital I/O activity indicators, and status information. On the insde, a new ESS ES9026PRO DAC with 125 dB dynamic range (measured on the line outputs) drives AD/DA conversion at sample rates up to 192kHz. Furthermore, MOTU says the mk5’s analog inputs “vastly outperform” earlier models by measuring at 120 dB dynamic range and -114 dB THD+N (0.0002%). The mic inputs deliver -129 dB Equivalent Input Noise (EIN). These are good measurements for an interface in this price category.
The UltraLite-mk5 connects to computers and Apple devices through Hi-Speed USB-C (compatible with USB 2.0 and 3.0). You will need a Lighting adapter for use with iPhones and non-Pro iPads, as well as an USB-C to Type A adapter if your computer lacks Type C ports. MOTU provides proprietary USB drivers for both PC and Mac with a claimed 2.4ms roundtrip latency measured at 96kHz/32 sample buffer size. That’s a respectable figure considering USB limitations, but I’m not sure how many of you realistically record at such low buffer settings.
Pricing and availability
The MOTU UltraLite-mk5 is available now. You can buy it from MOTU dealers around the world, such as Thomann (affiliate link). At this price (EUR 750), I feel it strikes a nice balance between sturdy build, generous I/O, sound quality, and digital functionality (routing and mixing with DSP).