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Author Topic: Motu 1248 review  (Read 34315 times)

mojave

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Motu 1248 review
« on: March 23, 2015, 12:05:42 pm »

The Motu 1248 - The Perfect Audio Device for use with an HTPC

The Motu 1248 is named after some of the inputs and outputs available - 12 balanced outputs, 4 mic inputs, & 8 line inputs. However, it also has 2 hi-z guitar line inputs, 2 banks of ADAT optical (16 channels), 1 bank of SMUX Optical (8 channels), Stereo RCA SPDIF input/output, and Stereo Toslink SPDIF input/out. The 1248 is part of a new series of Motu interfaces with 7 audio devices total that have Thunderbolt, USB, and AVB connectivity.  



The new Motu audio devices were released in the summer of 2014 with only Mac drivers and firmware. It wasn't until December 2014 that Windows was supported. The 1248 I received from Musician's Friend only had the Mac firmware. I connected the unit directly to my computer using a Cat 5 cable, downloaded the latest firmware and drivers from Motu, entered the unit's IP address into a web browser (accessed by pressing a button on the front), and uploaded the firmware and installed the drivers. One can also connect the device to any local network and use a computer on the same network to upload firmware, or use the app for iOS devices on a phone or iPad.

From Motu engineer Michael Miller:
"We designed the firmware update to work over ethernet mostly for convenience. If you're a user with lots of networked boxes, you can upgrade them all from a distance (even over wifi!) without having to plug in directly and without having to download or run an updater application.

We also decided on this approach for engineering reasons. We put a heavy emphasis on reliability. When installing an update, the device reboots into a stripped-down recovery partition to guarantee that you can always finish updating, even if the power goes out mid-update. Since updates can also affect the Thunderbolt or USB chips, we can't use them from the update mode."

Here is a list of things I like about the Motu 1248:
Easy instructions - Upon opening the 1248 you are directed to www.motu.com/AVB which walks you through the installation, firmware update, registration, and use process. There are even videos to make it easy to understand.

Website - excellent information with easy access to manuals, firmware, software, features, specs, FAQ, and tutorials

Web App Support - The control software (mixer, routing, settings) for the Motu is a web app located on the audio device. Any browser on any web client platform can access the software. You can use your phone, tablet, or computer to access the software and make changes or see what is going on.

Routing - Any input can be routed to any output. This makes it easy to setup ASIO channels the way you want. This has valuable considerations for multi-zone output.

12 balanced outputs - There are two output labeled "Main", two outputs labeled "Monitor", and eight labeled "Analog Out." You can route up to 64 channels out through ASIO and can assign any ASIO outputs to any of these 12 physical outputs.

2 headphone outputs - Like any of the Motu outputs, these can be assigned whatever channels you want. If you want the headphones to get the same output as Left and Right speakers, you can do that. If two people want to listen to different playlists on two Zones in JRiver, then each headphone output can be assigned to a different Zone.

ESS Sabre32 Ultra DAC converters - high SNR and 32 bit output means volume control is completely transparent, excellent sound quality

Low Noise Floor - With the ear up to the tweeter and nothing playing I hear no noise at all. Some audio devices will have a hiss that can be annoying with higher sensitivity speakers.

No noise on sample rate changes - Sample rate changes are completely silent! No slight tick, pop, or anything else. This is perfect for home use when listing to a playlist of mixed sample rates.

No noise during on/off when amps are on - You can turn the Motu 1248 on/off and never get any noise out of the amps - no tick, pop, click!

Multi-client ASIO driver - This is a huge feature! With most ASIO devices including my 16 channel Lynx Aurora 16TB, you can only use one instance of the ASIO driver. With the Lynx, if eight channels are in use then you can use the other 10 channels for other Zones. With the Motu, it is truly multi-client. You can access channels 1-8 for a home theater and use the other channels, simultaneously, for output to other Zones. You can also access the headphone output Zones the same time as the other Zones and even use both headphone outputs simultaneously with different content.

Works great with the WDM driver - I was able to get no noticeable lip sync problems with no crackling when using the JRiver WDM driver.

DC Coupled Output - With no capacitors in the signal chain, there is no rolloff or phase shift of the low frequencies. You can also use the outputs for Control Voltage output to control analog synthesizers using software such as Silent Way. Hmm, I wonder if an extra output can be used for 12v triggers on amps, receivers, and projectors?

+20 dBu line output max level - The maximum level out I've seen of any DAC is +24 dBu (Lynx Aurora VT, Solid State Logic Alpha Link). You can compare the maximum output to get an idea of maximum volume differences among DACs. For example, the Behringer Firepower FCA1616 has a maximum output of +8 dBu and the Steinberg UR824 has a maximum output of +18 dBu. The Motu can output 12 dB more volume than the Behringer and 2 dB than the Steinberg. This is helpful when using EQ or convolution because this DSP always lowers the output signal.

Output Trim range of 24 dBu (+20 dBu down to -4 dBu) - Even though the maximum output is 20 dBu, you can lower the maximum output level on each channel using 32-bit digital trim levels. This is helpful if matching speakers or amps with different sensitivities. You can also use it to make sure you don't ever overload the input on a small amp used on one of your Zones.

Mic with phantom power and line inputs - To do room measurements using software such as Room Equalization Wizard (REW), you can just connect a microphone, push the +48v phanton power buttom, and start measuring. No extra mic preamp is necessary. If you have an Earthworks M30BX microphone, with built in preamp, you can connect it to the line input without having to go through the preamp section. The Steinberg UR824, in comparison, only has preamp inputs, but no line inputs. The Mic and line inputs also let one play other instruments such as a keyboard along with music and even do karaoke with up to 4 microphones.

Guitar inputs - These probably aren't helpful to most, but it does let one connect an electric guitar or bass and play through their system along with the music.

Auto-sensing mic inputs - If you put a TRS jack into the mic input, it will disable the phantom power option. You can only use XLR jacks for the phantom power to be available. This prevents you from accidentally damaging equipment.

Thunderbolt and Ethernet connectivity (Mac only) - You can connect with Thunderbolt and get about half the latency of USB. This can be helpful when using something like the JRiver WDM driver. However, the driver is only available for Windows and currently Thunderbolt only works with Motu's Mac driver. You can connect a Mac (OS X Yosemite) directly to the Motu 1248 via Ethernet and use the audio device.

Variable USB buffer and ASIO buffer - You can change the USB buffer using 5-6 different settings from Lowest Latency all the way to Safe. You can also change the ASIO buffer size. Adjusting both of these is helpful for getting a system with no crackling that still can work well with the JRiver WDM driver

AVB Network - You can connect a 2nd device using the ethernet jack or 5 interfaces using the AVB hub to increase channel counts. There may be 2 channel AVB compatible devices in the future that would let you easily add Zones that are always in sync.

Zone features
I wanted to comment some more on how great the Motu is for using multiple zones. Like I mentioned earlier, you can use the multi-client capability have separate Zones for the following all playing at the same time:
Theater (8 channels)
Headphones 1 (2 channels)
Headphones 2 (2 channels)
Living Room (2 channels)
Kitchen (1 channel)
Deck (1 channel)
You have two options for multiple zones with the same playback:
1.  Link Zones in JRiver
2.  Route the same computer outputs to different zones in the Routing tab of the web app

If you always play the same content to the same zones, the 2nd option is easy to setup in the Motu software and can make for easier selection and playback when using eos or JRemote. Whether using a single or multiple Motu's, your Zones will always stay in sync because they are all being played from a single device or they will be using AVB, which uses one device as the master clock.

Dislikes:
Synchronization delay - Initial playback and sample rate changes require a setting of 3 seconds in Tools > Options > Audio > Settings > Play silence at startup for hardware synchronization. If you use a zone with these settings for the WDM driver, then you miss a few seconds of any audio.

No LCD Dimming - When using computer inputs only, there are no meters on the LCD. However, the LCD glows blue and cannot be dimmed. It can be adjusted for contrast.

Conclusion - The Motu 1248 is the most well rounded and complete audio device I have used to date. Its silence on sample rate changes and on/off, 32-bit DACs, mulit-client ASIO capability, and expandability make it the perfect audio device for use with an HTPC.

Other audio devices I've used:
M-Audio Revolution 7.1
Creative Labs X-Fi Elite Pro
ASUS Essence ST with H6 Daughtercard
Echo  Audiofire 12
Steinberg MR816
Steinberg UR824
Ross Martin Super Beast
Lynx AES16e with Ross Martin Audio AES Eight
Lynx Studios Aurora 16
Lynx Studios Aurora 16TB
Tascam US-122
Tascam US-366
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mattkhan

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Re: Motu 1248 review
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2015, 01:11:17 pm »

looks like a nice device

DC Coupled Output - With no capacitors in the signal chain, there is no rolloff or phase shift of the low frequencies.
Did you happen to measure this to verify?
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mojave

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Re: Motu 1248 review
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2015, 02:04:13 pm »

Quote from: mojave
DC Coupled Output - With no capacitors in the signal chain, there is no rolloff or phase shift of the low frequencies.
Did you happen to measure this to verify?
Several things:
1.  Measurements are at Gearslutz
2.  Manufacturer has stated it is DC Coupled
3.  If it isn't DC coupled, then it won't work with sending control voltages to analog synthesizers.
4.  MOTU created their own software, Volta, for use with DC Coupled DAC's.
5.  There are instructions for testing for DC Coupling on Motu's website

My Lynx Aurora 16TB is also DC Coupled. So are my subwoofer amplifiers (Digital Amplifier Company). So is my measurement microphone (iSEMcon). Microphone preamps are not DC coupled because the phantom power would destroy the electronics of the upstream gear. I had a custom preamp made with the lowest rolloff capacitors possible.
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mattkhan

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Re: Motu 1248 review
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2015, 02:12:40 pm »

so what you're saying is that you've got this one well covered  ;D
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mojave

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Re: Motu 1248 review
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2015, 11:18:45 am »

I got home a few nights ago with the lights off and the MOTU's LCD was brightly glowing blue. I realized I'd only looked at the LCD in daylight and didn't realize how much light output it had. I removed my comment about "No lights" and added the lack of dimming to the Dislikes section. The LCD contrast can be adjusted, but there is no way to dim it. The MOTU is at the back of my room so it doesn't matter too much. The easiest fix without tape residue would be to use static cling privacy film like found at Home Depot.
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AspiringAL

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Listening impressions?
« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2015, 06:47:33 pm »

mojave,

W ;DW, that is quite a list of DACs!

I have read some of your listening impressions regarding the Asus Essence verses the Steinberg.  I would be interested in how those compare to both the Motu and the Lynx.

These all represent different price points and the think it would help others to know what they are getting for the extra $$$$.

I am currently attempting to build a Twisted Pair Audio Buffalo III DAC kit which uses the same chip as the Motu.  The problem I am running into is finding a suitable multi-channel interface with the DAC, which Twisted Pair does not currently provide.  I could tap the I2S lines off the Asus Essence, but I am concerned about the drivers.  I do not want to hi-jack your thread, so you can read about my build here:

https://yabb.jriver.com/interact/index.php?topic=101225.0

Thanks
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beginner44

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Re: Motu 1248 review
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2015, 04:05:24 pm »

@Mojave :

first, thanks for this review ! Very precious for guys like me.

I'm currently using JRvier with an Audiofire 12, directly connected to Crown CTS amps (3 * 600, 1*2000, 1*4200), so I use and need 12 channels.

My problem is that I'm getting clips and cracks and blops more and more often. And the Echo will not start correctly the first time (not always, but mostly) : I need to switch it on/off once or twice before getting  the led check-up (i guess you know what I mean, as you had one once from what I recall).

So I'm considering replacing it. The easiest option is to get another one (quite cheap on the second hand market, even here in France). But I'm afraid that this issue would appear again some time in the future (looks like I'm not the only one to have these issues : https://www.gearslutz.com/board/music-computers/957383-echo-audiofire-12-alternatives.html).

Motu 1248 looks great, though not in the same budget...

Given your great experience with these soundcards, do you have any advice to help me choose a new one ?

Many thanks in advance, and happy Thanksgiving to all !  ;D
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mojave

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Re: Motu 1248 review
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2015, 04:33:46 pm »

I'm glad you found the review helpful.

If you don't need the inputs of the MOTU 1248, then I would suggest getting the MOTU 24ao. It has 24 outputs, but since it has no inputs it is 33% cheaper. In the USA it is currently $846 with the 15% off coupon at MusiciansFriend.com.

If you later find that you need some inputs, you can add a MOTU Ultralite AVB and connect to the 24ao with an Ethernet cable. The two units will act as one unit with 32 outputs, 8 line inputs, 2 microphone inputs, and a headphones output for not much more money than the 1248. I've used a 24ao and Ultralite AVB together and it works great.
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beginner44

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Re: Motu 1248 review
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2015, 04:41:15 pm »

Whouuu that was quick !

Thank you very much for your suggestions, I will look into them ASAP.

It looks like MOTU has a great line of products.

Cheers !

Have a good one  8)
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pschelbert

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Re: Motu 1248 review
« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2015, 02:17:01 am »

Hi

suggestion is:
-RME802
-RME fireface UFX

If you are in France, Thomann is a shop to look at, they have it: http://www.thomann.de/fr/index.html

I have a RME UFX using it with MC21. Great sound-quality, can play any sample rate up to max specified, and switches correctly to that samplerate (motu823 did not). RME has a super software to work with, TotalMix (Mixer soft to control the RME in, out, routing etc.)
RME: Measurement wise top notch, I verfied it.

I had a Motu823mk3hybrid, while okay, it was sonically and software, hardware wise not up to RME, to be fair it was a lot cheaper...

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beginner44

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Re: Motu 1248 review
« Reply #10 on: November 26, 2015, 01:36:38 pm »

Thanks pschelbert !

I will had these 2 on my investigation list.

Thomann is a good shop indeed, they have a wide range of products.


Cheers !
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pschelbert

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Re: Motu 1248 review
« Reply #11 on: November 26, 2015, 02:09:49 pm »

The motu828 i purchased at www.sweetwater.com directly from US. The RME from thomann. Fast and reliable shop as i purchased since over a period of ten years again and again.

I looked at the prices. May be for US gear a US shop is cheaper but account for shipping and import tax and exchange rate. May be also warranty. For RME probalby hartd to find a better and cheaper shop than Thomann.
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dwalme

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Re: Motu 1248 review
« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2016, 01:07:10 pm »

Does JRiver support the Motu devices via Thunderbolt on Mac?
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mojave

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Re: Motu 1248 review
« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2016, 01:22:39 pm »

Does JRiver support the Motu devices via Thunderbolt on Mac?
Yes, JRiver's Mac version supports the MOTU Core Audio driver.

However, I just found out this morning that the ASIO driver isn't support yet on the Mac which also eliminates the ASIO line-in from being supported either.

ASIO Support
Loopback Mode for the Mac
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dwalme

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Re: Motu 1248 review
« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2016, 02:13:04 pm »

Bummer.    I just acquired a mac mini with thunderbolt and was going to test a Motu 16a with JRiver to handle 16 channels of input and 16 channels of output.

I'll play around with USB on Windows.
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mojave

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Re: Motu 1248 review
« Reply #15 on: February 05, 2016, 03:36:28 pm »

Sorry to lead you astray with the posts at AVS. I didn't think about ASIO support on the Mac until last night.
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dwalme

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Re: Motu 1248 review
« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2016, 04:13:33 pm »

No problem.   I borrowed the Mac Mini so nothing lost.
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BradC

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Re: Motu 1248 review
« Reply #17 on: March 01, 2016, 10:13:01 pm »

How have you setup volume control with the MOTU?

Do you just rely on jriver?
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mojave

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Re: Motu 1248 review
« Reply #18 on: March 02, 2016, 09:21:00 am »

How have you setup volume control with the MOTU?

Do you just rely on jriver?
For now you would rely on JRiver. However, the MOTU mixer supports volume control with any web device for the Main and Monitor outputs. Currently these outputs are only two channels. I've put in a request to MOTU to allow one to link any of the channels to either the Main or Monitor outputs for volume control.

There are other ways to control the MOTU:  "MOTU AVB audio interfaces can be remotely controlled from a hardware controller or software interface using either OSC or HTTP. Each protocol provides an extensive set of commands that allow control over almost every aspect of the hardware."

OSC Quick Reference.pdf

MOTU AVB Web API.pdf
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mojave

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Re: Motu 1248 review
« Reply #19 on: March 02, 2016, 10:38:06 am »

By the way, since the digital volume signal level is reduced either by JRiver or the MOTU before it goes to the DAC chips, there isn't any benefit to controlling the volume on the MOTU. On my MOTU Ultralite AVB, which I use in my office, I've gone back and forth over the past 6+ months on using JRiver or MOTU volume control. The Ultralite has a volume knob. I haven't been able to determine any difference between the two methods. Using JRiver's internal volume is much easier to use and can be controlled by the Gizmo, eos, or JRemote apps.
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BradC

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Re: Motu 1248 review
« Reply #20 on: March 04, 2016, 08:46:24 pm »

I have ordered a 1248, but presently use a fireface 800. I was surprised to find that the output channels faders are not controllable in the same way as on the RME (similar to Lynx).
Where did you request the volume control feature? I might add the same request

Using software volume is usually fine, except when something goes wrong and you get full volume.
So I might use the MOTU output controls to limit the outputs to 105dB SPL at 0dBFS.
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beginner44

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Re: Motu 1248 review
« Reply #21 on: March 06, 2016, 04:27:00 pm »

@Mojave :

before I go for the Motu 1248, can you confirm that all the 12 outpouts have the same technical specs and are configurable in the same way ?

I really need all these 12 channels :-)

Many thanks in advance for your help,

BG44
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mojave

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Re: Motu 1248 review
« Reply #22 on: March 17, 2016, 02:35:58 pm »

Sorry, I missed this.

All 12 outputs have the same technical specs and are configurable in the same way with a couple exceptions:
1.  The main and monitor channels have a volume control knob on the 1248.
2.  The main and monitor channels have trim adjustments that go to -127 dB. The other channels have trim adjustments to -24 dB.

The exceptions don't really matter and you can use all 12 channels for output from JRiver.
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beginner44

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Re: Motu 1248 review
« Reply #23 on: March 26, 2016, 02:58:48 pm »

@Mojave : many thanks for your answer !

Happy Easter to all  :D
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beginner44

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Re: Motu 1248 review
« Reply #24 on: April 04, 2016, 05:08:58 pm »

Hi all,

I received and installed the Motu 1248 and I'm happy with it, the install process is quite straightforward !

Two pieces of advice for those who might choose this excellent soundcard :
- if using a windows PC, be sure to upgrade to the latest firmware, otherwise Windows will not detect the card correctly (mine was shipped with the very first version of the firmware, which is not windows compliant)
- do not switch the IP adress of the card to static before flashing the firmware, but keep the DNS mode until it is done, otherwise the flashing process will fail.

If you use JRiver to do the filtering, no need to bother with the mixing and aux-mixing tab, just set up the Device tab and the routing tab.
Please note that the onboard DSP will not apply the effects (hence filtering) with sample rates of 176.4 and 192 Hz, whitch can be a big problem. Better let JRiver handle this.


@ Mojave :

Regarding the buffers :
Quote
Variable USB buffer and ASIO buffer - You can change the USB buffer using 5-6 different settings from Lowest Latency all the way to Safe. You can also change the ASIO buffer size. Adjusting both of these is helpful for getting a system with no crackling that still can work well with the JRiver WDM driver

Would you mind sharing your settings, as well as those in the JRiver > option > Audio > Audio Device > Device settings > Buffering ?

I've tried many combinations, but I still get some crackling from time to time, which is very anoying.
Does the buffering in JRiver panel, which is in milliseconds, have to be consistent with the Motu USB driver buffering, which is expressed in samples ? Is there any conversion rule between these two ?

Many thanks in advance for your help,

BG44
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mattkhan

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Re: Motu 1248 review
« Reply #25 on: June 16, 2016, 11:39:56 am »

I picked up one of these today after my fireface expired. Am I right in thinking I should not use the "use most significant 24 bits" option?
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dwalme

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Re: Motu 1248 review
« Reply #26 on: June 17, 2016, 06:17:18 pm »

I picked up one of these today after my fireface expired. Am I right in thinking I should not use the "use most significant 24 bits" option?

I never did.
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mojave

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Re: Motu 1248 review
« Reply #27 on: June 17, 2016, 11:49:07 pm »

I picked up one of these today after my fireface expired. Am I right in thinking I should not use the "use most significant 24 bits" option?
Correct, since it is a 32-bit DAC you leave that unchecked.

With the beta drivers, there are two issues that MOTU is checking out. First, automatic sample rate changing is no longer working. You have to manually change the MOTU. Second, if the computer sleeps or the MOTU is turned off while JRiver (or other ASIO program like REW) is still running, the program needs to be shut down and restarted (including JRiver media server). Before, one could leave JRiver running all the time and turn hardware off/on and it would still work.
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zydeco

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Re: Motu 1248 review
« Reply #28 on: July 21, 2016, 03:46:31 pm »

Mojave

Thanks for the informative review. Is it possible to leverage the multi-client capabilities such that the Motu 1248 can route audio from external sources (e.g., game console) through JRiver? And, if so, then how is input switching done and is it simple? The reason for the question is that I'm using JRiver to deliver digital x/o and room EQ for an active speaker set-up but, at present, am limited to the HTPC source with other sources having to use the TV speakers. One option appears to be to move DSP to a mini-DSP that has input switching but the advantage of sticking with JRiver / Pro-Audio interface is that I can use some advanced Acourate FIR filters for music playback and switch to low latency Parametric EQ filters for A/V usage. My reading of your review is that one should, say, be able to route an optical input into the Motu through JRiver and back out via the analogue outputs but I'm not really clear how a) one would select this input and b) JRiver behaves in terms of switching between ASIO Line vs native playback. Thanks in advance

Regards
Zydeco

P.S. Any issue using the Motu 1248 with adapters for single ended cabling / amplifiers?
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zydeco

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Re: Motu 1248 review
« Reply #29 on: August 03, 2016, 04:07:04 pm »

Is anyone able to confirm that the multi-client driver allows one to use the Motu 1248 as both the (ASIO line in) input and output within JRiver?
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snoots

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Re: Motu 1248 review
« Reply #30 on: September 08, 2016, 03:09:33 pm »

Sorry, the OSC info was already posted earlier in the thread.... I deleted my comments.

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ST

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Re: Motu 1248 review
« Reply #31 on: November 06, 2016, 07:53:33 pm »

Hi Mojave,

Could you please tell me if MOTU would work for the following setup as described in the chart? I have also started another post on the same topic since I am not sure if MOTU is the answer.

Thank you.

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My complete system setup in website
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