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Steinberg MR816X Advanced Integration DSP Studio FireWire Audio Interface

Get the hardware that maximizes the potential of Cubase software. This interface gives you latency-free recording and monitor mixing. (9) Read 2 reviews for this product | Rate and review this product
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Product Description

Functioning far beyond the envelope of traditional audio devices, MR816X fuses a fully-featured FireWire interface and inbuilt DSP reverb with next-generation integrative technologies into one breathtakingly powerful production environment. Developed by Steinberg and Yamaha, this Advanced Integration DSP Studio is the hardware centerpiece of a latency-free recording and monitoring environment that fully exploits the flexibility and power of Steinberg's renowned Cubase Music Production System.

Features

- True Integrated Monitoring with full faderless mixing: no latency, DSP-powered reverb and dynamic 1:1 hardware/software mirroring with Cubase
- Complete Cubase user interface integration throughout: direct access from Cubase with no additional software mixing application or external windows required
- Eight discrete Class A analogue 'D-Pre' mic preamps with combination XLR and TRS analogue inputs with advanced inverted Darlington circuits, hardware gain knob, phantom power and -26dB Pad switch per channel
- Quick Connect: next-generation of plug and play as well as on-the-fly routing of inputs to Cubase channels from the hardware with the push of a button
- DSP Power for Cubase: VST3 onboard DSP-powered REV-X reverb: also available within Cubase during mixing
- Instant setup: Cubase automatically detects the MR hardware and comes with ready made templates as well as automatic project I/O configuration
- Full, flexible connectivity: eight analogue, one ADAT, one S/PDIF and Coaxial I/O and WordClock sync
- Extendable system with daisy-chaining of up to three units providing up to 24 analogue inputs and outputs
- Includes Cubase AI5: hassle-free recording and creating music right out of the box thanks to the fully featured starter version of the world's most popular music production software platform
- Supports Apple OS X 10.4/10.5 and Windows XP/Vista : includes ASIO and CoreAudio drivers as well as additional external software mixer and plug-in editors for using with 3rd party audio software

Differences Between the MR816CSX and MR816X

Basically the MR816CSX and MR816X are the same device. The only but not unimportant difference between those two units are the eight DSP-powered channelstrips that the MR816CSX provides. The innovative Sweet Spot Morphing Channel Strip is a unique compression and EQ tool that runs on DSP inside the MR816CSX.

All other features of the both units are the same: Both provide best sound quality and outstanding preamps as well as the same quantity of inputs and outputs. Also MR8168 CSX and MR816X offer one REV-X reverb, a complex reverb algorithm developed by Yamaha which provides a high-density, richly reverberant sound quality, with smooth attenuation, spread and depth that work together to enhance the original sound.

True Integrated Monitoring

Offering real-time, independent and most importantly no-latency mixes with FX for several performers is an engineering challenge in itself, and there are only one or two FireWire I/O interfaces on the market that can achieve this. Even these units are functionally isolated from the DAW software forcing the user to use additional mixing applications, in turn hampering workflow and splintering what should be a truly integrated production system.

The answer? Cubase and MR816X. A solution defined by its ease-of-use, flexibility and pure functional elegance. Running with Cubase, MR816X removes any need for additional mixing software between DAW and I/O - all aspects of I/O handling, DSP management and independent performer mixes are handled directly from within Cubase itself. With Cubase 4, these performer mixes are realized using the Studio Sends in the Control Room - a unique system that is completely integrated into the Cubase 4 mixer.

With the unique True Integrated Monitoring technology, Cubase manages all audio streams with perfect sync. No-latency mixes for performers with DSP FX are managed side-by-side with mixes played back through the Cubase audio engine that combine hard disk audio data and live streams being recorded at the same time - all within Cubase. Combined with other unique features, True Integrated Monitoring allows a highly efficient workflow that boosts productivity to new levels. The technological know-how required for this level of integration results directly from the ongoing cooperation between Steinberg software engineers and the hardware experts at Yamaha.

Flexible I/O

MR816X provides all the audio I/O connectivity needed for any audio recording situation:

- Eight 'D-Pre' XLR/TRS combo connectors with Class A discrete preamps with +48v and -26dB pad switch per channel
- Eight analog balanced TRS outputs for separate studio performer mixes and a variety of different monitoring setups
- One Hi-Z input for electric guitar or bass
- Optical input and output port for ADAT digital audio streams or S/PDIF optical
- S/PDIF coaxial input and output
- WordClock port
- Two independent headphone outputs with individual level control from the front panel
- Two inserts for integration of additional hardware FX

D-Pre Mic Preamps

The MR816X features the next generation of Yamaha microphone preamps: The 'D-Pre'. Meticulously engineered to the highest standards, these discrete Class A analog mic preamps feature combination XLR and TRS analog inputs for connection of 8 1/4" jack plugs or standard XLR connectors, supporting both balanced and unbalanced signals. Each D-Pre is fitted with a -26dB Pad selector as well as true 48 volt phantom power per channel. An additional phase inversion capability and High Pass filter are available directly from the Cubase mixer or MR Editor software via remote control.

What sets these preamps apart? The audio quality of the eight D-Pres can only be described as stunning. Each utilizes an advanced Inverted Darlington circuit design and electronics components specifically designed for the MR816CSX and MR816X. The result is a sumptuously smooth and richly detailed sound normally only attained by preamps costing many times more; the outstanding sound of these mic pres obviate the need for all but the rarest vintage preamps.

Just as important as the preamps are, of course, the converters behind them. The MR816X includes first-rate A/D and D/A converters that offer absolutely crystal-clear sound that portrays the sound with astonishing precision and clarity.

Each D-Pre is paired with a useful signal/peak lamp that lights up green when a signal between -40dB and -3dB is connected, warning with a red light if levels reach -3dB. Unlike many other preamps, the red warning light alerts the engineer not just when it's already "too late" and a signal has already clipped the converter behind it, but indicates that gain levels should be checked and monitored closely.

DSP Power for Cubase

On top of its excellent I/O capability, the MR816X features an onboard DSP chip that runs renowned REV-X reverb, which is also featured on many top Yamaha hardware mixing consoles.

Each independent monitor mix can utilize the DSP capability to add an excellent reverb that every performer will feel extremely comfortable performing to. Optionally, the FX can be included in the signal recorded to the input track. The signal can, of course, also be recorded dry with no FX or bypassed completely.

The Advanced Integration of MR816X in Cubase goes even further. The REV-X reverb is also available as VST3 plug-in in Cubase when mixing! This adds additional first-class FX capability that is available even when the computer's CPU is running under a high load.

For Cubase owners, MR816X combines not only outstanding I/O capability, extremely easy handling and no-latency monitor mixing, but also a powerful DSP capability - a peerless combination with an almost unbeatable price/performance ratio.

REV-X Reverb

The REV-X built into the MR816X is a complex reverb algorithm developed by Yamaha. It provides a high-density, richly reverberant sound quality, with smooth attenuation, spread and depth that work together to enhance the original sound. Yamaha's REV-X digital reverb algorithm is renowned for its high resolution and extraordinarily natural sound.

The MR816X features three types of reverb effects: Hall, Room and Plate simulations with reverb time and level control. Reverb Time and Level can be controlled either through Cubase or from the front panel of the MR 816 X. This superlative reverb processor also featured on Yamaha's premiere digital consoles is ideal for monitoring mixes for performers, but also adds a further excellent reverb to your available VST plug-ins on mixdown.
Complete Cubase user interface integration throughout

MR816X features direct integration into Cubase through unique windows and views within Cubase that appear only when they are connected. These interface element allow full control of the hardware's functionality from within Cubase itself. This includes not only the REV-X reverb DSP effect, but almost all hardware functionality in the MR816X including performer mixes and their levels, phantom power selection, -26dB pad, High Pass filters and phase inversion switch per input channel.

The benefits are an extremely fast and intuitive workflow that handles software and hardware effectively as one system! Attention is focused on Cubase at all times without creative flow being broken off by having to open or edit in other applications. And because the features are all embedded in the Cubase graphic environment, they're very intuitive to use for anyone who is already used to Cubase - no need to adjust to another graphic environment to adjust levels for performer mix, for example. This is only one of the many Advanced Integration features between MR816X and Cubase, which effectively meld hardware and software together into perhaps the most sophisticated production system available today.

Quick Connect

As soon as the drivers are installed, Cubase automatically recognizes when the MR816X is connected, featuring complete plug and play and very fast setup. MR816X offers another stunningly unique feature: instant routing and rerouting of inputs to Cubase channels on the fly from the front panel of the I/O with the push of a single button! Just select a Cubase channel, and press a channel button on the I/O front panel, and that channel is instantly routed to the selected track. To help quickly identify which input is routed to the selected Cubase track, the front panel light for the channel flashes, showing which input is currently routed to that track.

Setting up a project with MR816X is extremely easy and intuitive. Templates offer pre-made setups with routing and I/O configurations already set up, automatically creating and assigning inputs and outputs for connected devices. Additionally, if no input busses have yet been created within the project, selecting a Cubase track and pushing the button of the desired channel on the front panel not only routes that input to that track, but automatically creates either a mono or stereo bus as desired.

The bottom line? No need to manually create busses or reassign I/Os in the VST Connections window, with obvious benefits for project workflow. No other combination of FireWire hardware and software offers such flexible and intuitive I/O handling within a software DAW. As one of the unique Advanced Integration features, Quick Connect helps MR816X integrate completely into Cubase to form a next-generation software and hardware system that discards traditional boundaries between these two previously separate worlds.

Extendable System

Developed using advanced technologies to offer seamless scalability, this mixing and recording system offers many options to increase the number of available inputs, preamps, outputs and DSP capability - all on the same FireWire port. Up to three MR816Xs can be used simultaneously by connecting them in daisy-chain fashion to a computer via IEEE1394 cables.

The number of available channels for input and output across the system can be easily expanded simply by adding up to two more MR816X. MR816X supports up to 48 input and output channels - using only one FireWire port on the computer. All connected I/Os are recognized by Cubase simultaneously, with no additional setup required. Cubase also automatically assigns the correct I/O port configuration for one, two or three units, depending on how many are connected. Even when multiple MR816Xs are connected, parameters such as those for digital audio input/output and REV-X are available for each device individually.

The available DSP power of the entire system is also scalable with the addition of more units, as each DSP is available to Cubase in the form of VST3 plug-ins during mixdown. A system composed of three MR816X offers not only 48 inputs and outputs, but also three instances of high-quality REV-X reverb.

Because of the highly flexible driver architecture, both MR816CSX and MR816X models are fully compatible with each other and run daisy-chained together on the same system, allowing full flexibility in creating a customized system that offers the needed number of inputs, outputs and DSP capability.

Cubase AI5 included

Cubase AI5 is a lean Cubase version tailored to users looking to record their music without additional bells and whistles. Based on the same core technologies as the Steinberg Cubase 5 advanced music production system, the Cubase AI5 offers great tools for composition, recording, editing and mixing. Put it together with a piece of Steinberg hardware and Cubase AI 5 provides a full system solution for recording music in studio quality.

zZounds is an authorized dealer of Steinberg products.
Minimum System Requirements
Mac
Tools for MR816 CSX
- OS X version 10.4 or 10.5x
- Power Mac G4 1 GHz or Intel Core Solo 1.5 GHz
- 512 MB RAM
- DVD drive required for installation
- FireWire port required for connection of MR unit

Cubase AI 4.5
- OS X version 10.4 or 10.5x
- Power Mac G4 1 GHz or Intel Core Solo 1.5 GHz
- 512 MB RAM
- Display resolution 1280x800 pixels
- DVD drive required for installation
- Internet connection required for license activation

PC
Tools for MR816 CSX
- Windows XP Professional (SP2), XP Home Edition (SP2) or Vista (32-bit)
- Intel/AMD processor 1.4 GHz
- 512 MB RAM
- DVD drive required for installation
- FireWire port required for connection of MR unit

Cubase AI 4.5
- Windows XP Professional (SP2), XP Home Edition (SP2) or Vista (32-bit)
- Intel/AMD processor 1.4 GHz
- 512 MB RAM
- Display resolution 1280x800 pixels
- DVD drive required for installation
- Internet connection required for license activation
Dimensions and Weight in Packaging
Shipping Weight: 13 lbs
Shipping Dimensions: 22 x 20 x 5 in
Customer Reviews
4.5 out of 5 (9 ratings) Rate and Review This Product
"Buy for the sound, not the features."
Sound: The preamps are open and natural. Decent amount of head room and detail in both the high and low end. I prefer them to the Mackie Onyx preamps, which had been my favorites for a while. Feature: The unit is well made, not a rugged as the Mackie Onyx (400F, 1200F) units, but nicely constructed. Metal knobs would have been a better choice for both units. The editor software is fine, nothing spectacular, but workable. The DSP reverb is a nice, easy to edit plug-in that works well in the headphone mix. Ease of Use: The unit itself is fine, but the software is another story. Installation is difficult and a bit buggy. The editor software works well enough to set up a control room and headphone mix, but the Cubase AI 4 does not interact with the unit the way they have advertised. I can not get the "Quick Connect" feature to work and the "Headphone Mix" still requires that I use the Editor to mute the control room feed ( instead of using the "Master" knob on the unit. (Something they said you would not have to do.) Perhaps I can configure it later to work properly if I can ever get Cubase AI 4 to interact with the unit. Quality: This is really the whole point. The preamps sound good, what I play into the unit is very close to what comes out. It seems to keep the depth and width of the sound ( sound image ) intact. So I think it is worth holding on to for that reason alone. Eight preamps that sound good for less than $100 each is a good deal. Value: Again, it's all about the preamps. If it worked with out having to fuss with the software so much, the value would be higher. Manufacturer Support: So far the updates have helped, but I am still waiting on some activation problems for the software. Fortunately the unit works with my other DAW software, so not having Cubase AI 4 isn't really a problem, although it hampers my access to some features. The Wow Factor: I bought this in order to try it, as it was not available locally. I wanted something with eight mic preamps, this has them and they sound good. But it's a tool, so I don't get to excited about it. Overall: I suspect in a year or two, there will be another break through with better interfaces, this is a solid unit, but feels like a refined version is on it's way... if these sell at all.
Style of Music: Whatever the client brings me.
6 of 7 people (85.71%) found this review helpful. Did you?
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"Follow up to original "first impression" review."
Sound: This is an update to the first review. I have since resolved the software issues, and the "Quick Connect" feature now works, I figured out how to set up a cue mix ( no thanks the PDF manual... ) but still find it faster to make adjustments in the MR editor than using hardware knobs, but time will tell if there is a better way to do that. So expect some set up headaches, but the thing sounds great. Feature: See original review. Ease of Use: See original review. It is easier to use when the software works properly. One odd feature is you can't use the MR editor and Cubase at the same time ( to control the unit. ) I guess it makes sense, but it was the first time I couldn't use the interface editor and my DAW at once. Quality: See original review. Value: See original review. The Wow Factor: See original review. Overall: See original review.
Style of Music: Whatever the client brings me.
3 of 4 people (75%) found this review helpful. Did you?
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