MOTU 828ES Thunderbolt and USB Audio Interface

The workhorse MOTU 828 interface gets an upgrade with ESS Sabre32 D/A converters, dual color LCDs, and 28x32 I/O via USB 2, Thunderbolt, or AVB/TSN Ethernet.

MOTU 828mk3 Firewire Audio Interface

No longer available at zZounds
On-board effects and mixing, CueMix. 7-Band British-style EQ.

The 828mk3 is a cross-platform 1U-rack mount FireWire audio interface with on-board effects and mixing. Apply hardware-based effects to all 28 inputs and 30 outputs via an on-board DSP-driven 8 stereo bus digital mixer with 32-bit floating point precision. Effects include Classic Reverb with tail lengths up to 60 seconds, 7-band parametric EQ modeled after British analog consoles, and vintage compression (automatic gain control) modeled after the legendary LA-2A optical leveling amplifer. Effects can even be applied when the 828mk3 is operating stand-alone (without a computer) as a complete rack-mounted mixer.

Connect a wide variety of studio gear to the 828mk3, including microphones, guitars, synths, keyboards, drum machines and even effects processors via 8 balanced TRS analog in/out, two banks of optical (ADAT and TOSLink formats) and S/PDIF digital I/O. Monitor everything via XLR main outs, surround output and two front-panel phone jacks with independent volume control. Two front-panel mic/guitar combo inputs are equipped with transparent preamps, digitally controlled trim with plenty of gain, XLR mic input, true high-impedance guitar input, individual 48V phantom power switch, 20 dB pad, and V-Limit, a hardware limiter that helps prevent digital clipping from overloaded input signals as high as +12 dB above zero with no distortion. Additional protection can be applied with Soft Clip.

All 828mk3 analog inputs are equipped with digitally controlled analog trim controls that read more allow adjustments in precise 1 dB increments. The mic/guitar input trims can be adjusted using front-panel digital rotary encoders that provide feedback in the front panel LCD, while all quarter-inch TRS inputs can be trimmed from the included cross-platform CueMix FX software. Different trim configurations can be saved as files on disk for instant recall.

Additional advanced features include 192 kHz operation, Direct Digital Synthesis (DDS) precision clocking, direct SMPTE time code sync (no extra synchronizer needed), MIDI I/O and much more. The 828mk3 provides CueMix FX and drivers for Mac (OS X) and Windows (XP and Vista) for cross-platform compatibility with virtually all audio software via WDM/ASIO/Core Audio drivers. The included AudioDesk workstation software for Mac provides 24-bit recording/editing and 32-bit mixing/processing/mastering.
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For support or warranty questions, please contact the manufacturer:
Phone: 617-576-2760

Reviewers gave this product an overall rating of 0.5 out of 5 stars. (28 ratings)
Submitted April 24, 2008 by a customer from

"Great Features, Horrible Driver"

Overall: 0.5 out of 5 stars
(see rating details)
Definitely not satisfied with it yet. I could be replacing it with a PreSonus Firestudio or an M-Audio ProFire 2626 if MOTU does not get these driver issues sorted out by early May.

The new DDS clock sounds fantastic! You can really hear the difference between units like this and lower end Edirol and M-Audio interfaces. Very clean definition and detail far beyond previous MOTU 828 interfaces. This thing would work as a great mixer in a pinch, even without a computer! I am using it with a new aluminum iMac Core 2 Duo 24" 2.4GHz.

There are so many great features about this sound card. In this price range, nothing can beat it. You get a ton of I/O, DSP, stand-alone operation, a low-jitter clock and good integration with a computer via the CueMix FX software. You only get 2 mic preamps but that hardly matters if you are just plugging in synths. The metering is very comprehensive.

Ease of Use
It's pretty easy to use, though it takes some time to learn how it works. The interface is not very intuitive, though very powerful. You get a lot of functionality. The manual is very clear.

The unit seems well made out of solid metal, and will probably last quite awhile under heavy use. The built-in headphone output has a small amount of noise, though it's far below the noise of any computer's built-in audio output.

Value read more
When MOTU fixes the driver problems, it will be a 10. Until then, it is a piece of junk. If they don't fix it before my 30 day return limit, I will return it to send a message to MOTU than using the public as beta testers is unacceptable, and that they really ought to send some test units to real audio professionals for a couple weeks before releasing it.

Manufacturer Support
This is unfortunately the worst part about this unit. MOTU seems to have released it without testing the driver reliability on simple factory-built Mac computers. Using the current v1.47 driver and firmware 1.05, the unit is subject to regular but randomly-occurring audio dropouts accompanied by high pitched screeching noises. This happens both on my 24" Intel iMac bought on April 21, 2008 and on my G5 1.8 dual core tower. Very disappointing. MOTU will probably straighten this out in the long term, but for now this unit is not usable in a professional context. This phenomena is being experienced by numerous users and as of April 24, 2008 has not been resolved.

The Wow Factor
If it worked well, it would be super sexy. Right now, however, my relationship with it is very dysfunctional.

Musical Background:
Producer, Performing Artist, Teacher

Musical Style:
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