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MOTU 896 MkIII USB / FW Audio Interface

Product Code: 375240

The 896mk3 audio interface delivers advanced design, high-end performance, superb sound, and universal "hybrid" FireWire/USB2 connectivity to your Mac or Windows computer.

£869.00 (INC VAT)
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  • Description
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The 896mk3 audio interface delivers advanced design, high-end performance, superb sound, and universal "hybrid" FireWire/USB2 connectivity to your Mac or Windows computer.

Hybrid FireWire / USB2 connectivity

As a hybrid audio interface, the 896mk3 provides flexible connectivity to any Mac or PC via FireWire or high-speed USB 2.0, with eight channels of pristine 24-bit 192 kHz analog recording and playback, combined with sixteen channels of optical digital I/O, stereo AES/EBU, S/PDIF and separate analog main outs. Expand your system by connecting the 8pre mic input expander or other MOTU audio interfaces.

Flexible operation

The 896mk3 is equally well-suited for studio and stage, with or without a computer. As an interface or standalone mixer, the 896mk3 provides 28 separate inputs and 32 separate outputs, including dedicated main outs on XLRs and two front panel headphone outs.

On-board digital mixer with effects for monitoring and live mixing

Connect all of your studio gear, including microphones, guitars, synths, keyboards, drum machines and even effects processors. Record, monitor, route and process all of these live inputs using the professional on-board CueMix FX digital mixer - with no latency and no processor strain on your computer. Apply hardware DSP-driven effects processing to inputs, outputs, and busses independent of your host computer. Add Classic Reverb with lengths up to 60 seconds. Further sculpt your sound with 7-band parametric EQ featuring filter types carefully modeled after British analog console EQs. Choose between two forms of compression: a conventional compressor and the Leveler, an accurate model of the legendary LA-2A optical compressor that provides vintage, musical automatic gain control.

When recording from the analog inputs, the 896mk3's signal overload protection gives you an extra 12 dB of headroom above zero with no clipping or harsh artifacts.

Advanced audio analysis tools

Analyze and scope your audio with advanced diagnostic tools, including a full-screen real-time FFT display, spectrogram "waterfall" display, full-featured oscilloscope, X-Y plot, and linear/polar phase analysis graphs.

Stand-alone operation as a mixer

After programming the on-board mixing in the studio, unplug the 896mk3 from the computer and take it on the road for operation as a stand-alone mixer with effects. All mixing and effects parameters are adjustable using the front panel backlit LCD.

Across-the-board compatibility

The 896mk3 provides cross-platform compatibility with Mac and Windows and all of your favorite audio software and host-based effects via WDM/ASIO/Core Audio drivers. Or you can use the included AudioDesk workstation software for Mac, with 24-bit recording/editing and 32-bit mixing/processing/mastering.

MOTU FireWire audio interfaces can connect to any Firewire port. Just plug in and go, with any standard cable. The 896mk3 Hybrid provides two FireWire Type B ports, which provide the most reliable FireWire connection available. The ports operate at 400 Mbit/s, and they can be connected to any available FireWire port on your computer, either Type A or Type B. If your computer has FireWire Type B ports, use the included 9-pin-to-9-pin FireWire cable. If your computer has either standard Type A ports or miniature Type A ports, use the appropriate 9-pin-to-6-pin or 9-pin-to-4-pin FireWire cable (sold separately).

Hybrid FireWire/USB2

The 896mk3 is the flagship for MOTU's unique "hybrid" audio interface line, which delivers universal FireWire and high-speed USB 2.0 connectivity.

FireWire has long been recognized as a reliable, high-performance connectivity standard for professional audio interfaces like the 896mk3. Meanwhile, high-speed USB 2.0 has also developed into a widely adopted standard for connecting peripheral devices to personal computers.

To fully support both formats, the 896mk3 hybrid audio interface is equipped with FireWire jacks and a high-speed USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec) connector, and you can use either port to connect the 896mk3 to your computer. This gives you maximum flexibility and compatibility with today's ever-expanding universe of Mac and Windows computers.

If your computer does not have a FireWire port, then obviously you will need to connect the 896mk3 to one of its high-speed USB 2.0 ports.

If your computer has both FireWire and USB2, then it is your choice, and your decision will depend mostly on other peripherals you may also have.

Main Features

  • Hybrid FireWire/USB2 connectivity - connect to your computer via plug-and-play FireWire or hi-speed USB2.
  • CueMix FX - 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 44.1/48 kHz) - there's no channel sharing in the 896mk3; the mic inputs, AES/EBU I/O, S/PDIF I/O, headphone out and main outs are all handled as separate channels.
  • Front-panel control - access any setting in your entire 896mk3 mix directly from the front panel.
  • Stand-alone operation - program your mixes at the studio and then bring the 896mk3 to your gig - no computer needed. Need to tweak the mix- Do it on site using the back-lit LCD and front-panel controls.
  • Multiple CueMix FX mixes - for example, 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 mic input with phantom power, pad and plenty of gain.
  • Clip protection - input limiter prevents digital clipping and distortion from overloaded signal levels up to +12 dB over zero.
  • Eight 24-bit 192kHz analog inputs and outputs on XLR jacks
  • Precision Digital Trim - Digitally controlled analog trim on all analog inputs provides accurate adjustements in 1 dB 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 (96 kHz) or two pairs of stereo TOSLink. Mix and match formats between the two banks.
  • Expandable - add additional interfaces for more I/O as your needs grow.
  • Separate XLR main outs and front-panel headphone jacks, each with independent volume control.
  • Stereo 24-bit 96kHz AES/EBU in/out
  • Stereo 24-bit 96kHz S/PDIF in/out
  • Word clock in and out
  • Foot switch input - conveniently located on the front panel...connect a standard foot pedal switch (sold separately) for hands-free punch-in and punch-out while recording. Or map the pedal to any keystroke function in your 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 & sample-accurate sync.
  • Plug-and-play operation with your 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.
  • International 100-240V, 50-60 Hz autoswitching power supply.
  • Chassis dimensions, excluding rack ears and front and back panel knobs and connectors: 19 x 7 x 3.5 inches (48.26 x 17.78 x 8.89 cm). Knobs and connectors extend up to 0.5 inch (1.27 cm) from front and back panels, adding 1 inch (2.54 cm) to depth. With rack ears attached, fits standard 19 inch (48.26 cm) rack at 2U high.


Eight inputs are equipped with high quality preamps, plus overload protection and all the features you need to simultaneously record up to eight mic/instrument inputs with excellent sound quality.

The 896mk3 analog inputs are flexible XLR/TRS "combo" jacks that accept a microphone, guitar, synth or other -10/+4 line level input source. Inputs operate independently (or as stereo pairs), so you can connect a variety of analog inputs simultaneously.

Precision digitally controlled analog trim

Each input is equipped with an independent, digitally controlled analog trim pot, 48V phantom power switch and 20 dB pad switch conveniently located on the front panel for easy access.

The preamp in each input provide 53 dB of gain, which you can adjust in precise 1 dB increments using the detented digital rotary encoder. As you turn the encoder, you see graphic and numeric feedback in the front panel LCD, so you know exactly how much gain you are applying. The gain adjustment itself is smooth because it is analog, but the digital control gives you both precision and the ability to save and recall trim settings. You get the best of both worlds: analog trim with digital precision and control.

V-Limit hardware limiter

All analog inputs are equipped with V-Limit, a hardware limiter that helps prevent digital clipping from overloaded input signals. With V-Limit enabled, signals can go above zero dB (where limiting kicks in) to as high as +12 dB above zero with no distortion due to digital clipping.

Soft Clip

Additional protection can be applied to the mic/guitar inputs by enabling the 896mk3's Soft Clip feature, which engages just before clipping occurs and helps reduce perceptible distortion.

Comprehensive I/O

The 896mk3 allows you to connect a wide variety of studio gear, including microphones, guitars, synths, keyboards, drum machines, effects processors and more.

Front panel I/O

In addition to the eight analog inputs, the 896mk3 provides two independent headphone jacks with independent volume knobs, one of which also controls the XLR main outs on the rear panel. Alternatively, this "Master Vol" knob can be programmed to control any combination of outputs (analog and/or digital). For example, it can control monitor output for an entire 5.1 or 7.1 surround mix.

Discrete inputs and outputs

The phone jack below the MASTER VOL knob labeled "(MAIN OUT)" is hard-wired to (mirrors) the XLR main outs. In all other cases, inputs and outputs are discrete. For example, the main outs do not "steal" an output pair from the bank of eight XLR analog outputs. Even the second headphone jack operates as an independent output with its own volume control, although you can program it to mirror any other output pair.

Rear panel I/O

Eight 24-bit analog "combo jack" inputs and ten XLR outputs can operate at sample rates up to 192 kHz. Two optical banks provide 16 channels of ADAT optical at 48 kHz, 8 channels of S/MUX optical I/O at 96 kHz or two banks of stereo TOSLink at rates up to 96 kHz. The banks operate independently, allowing you to mix and match any optical formats. RCA S/PDIF connectors also supply independent stereo digital I/O. XLR AES/EBU connectors provide another independent stereo digital I/O.

Control room monitoring

Powered monitors can be plugged directly into the outputs of the 896mk3 and you can attenuate the output from the software or the front-panel MASTER VOL control. Main out volume is not limited to stereo operation: quad, 5.1, 7.1 and even user-defined configurations are available. You can even program the 896mk3 to control all 32 outputs with the MASTER VOL knob.

Mixing and effects

The 896mk3 is an audio interface, but it's also a 16-bus digital mixer, complete with EQ, compression and reverb.

The 896mk3 is really two devices in one: an audio interface plus a 28 x 16 digital mixer. In fact, you could even think of the 896mk3 as a digital mixer in a double rack-space form factor.

Operating as either a computer interface or stand-alone, the 896mk3 provides DSP-driven digital mixing with effects processing (reverb, EQ and compression) for all 28 inputs. You can connect all your gear and then mix, process and monitor everything from the 896mk3's main outs or headphone jacks.

A 28 input by 16 bus digital mixer with effects

All I/O is routed to the on-board 16-bus (8 stereo) digital mixer driven by hardware-based DSP with 32-bit floating point precision. The mixer allows you to apply no-latency effects processing to inputs, outputs or busses directly in the 896mk3 hardware, independent of the computer. Effects can be applied when the 896mk3 is operating stand-alone (without a computer) as a complete rack-mounted mixer. Input signals to the computer can be recorded wet, dry, or dry with a wet monitor mix (for musicians during recording, for example).

Complete mixing at your fingertips

All of the mixer settings in the 896mk3 are accessible from the programmable front-panel backlit LCD. You can also launch the CueMix FX control software for Mac OS X, Windows XP and Windows Vista. CueMix FX provides complete on-screen access to the 896mk3's on-board, hardware-based mixing environment.

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