MOTU 8pre 16x12 FireWire Audio Interface

No longer available at zZounds
Add 8 crystal-clear mic preamps to your home recording setup with the MOTU 8Pre 16x12 FireWire interface, featuring high-resolution 96 kHz/24-bit converters.

Turn your computer into a powerful digital audio workstation with eight mic inputs. Or add 8 high-quality mic/instrument inputs to your current system.

The MOTU 8pre FireWire audio interface delivers everything you need to turn your computer into a powerful 24-bit, 96kHz digital audio workstation. The 8pre provides 8 microphone/instrument preamps with pristine 96kHz analog recording and playback, combined with 8 channels of ADAT optical digital I/O. Expand your system by connecting additional 8pres or other MOTU FireWire audio interfaces.


- FireWire audio interface for Mac and Windows -- provides 16 inputs with 8 mic preamps and 12 outputs including separate phone and main outs for all the basic I/O you need for a powerful desktop studio
- 8 XLR/TRS "combo jack" mic inputs -- connect up to 8 mics, or mix and match mics with guitars, synths, drum machines and other analog input signals
- Flexible analog inputs -- each provides a crystal-clear preamp (for both the XLR and TRS input), 24-bit 96 kHz converters, individually switchable 48-volt phantom power, 20 dB pad and front-panel trim controls. Mix and match condenser and dynamic microphones as your needs require.
- 8 channels of ADAT optical I/O - provides 2 sets of optical connectors to provide 8 channels of optical digital I/O even at high samples rates (88.2 or 96 kHz)
- Operates as an optical expander -- connect the 8pre to any ADAT optical compatible device (another audio interface, a digital mixer, etc.) to read more add 8 additional mic inputs seamlessly integrated into the mixing environment of the host device
- Discrete ins/outs -- there's no channel sharing in the 8pre; the mic inputs, ADAT optical I/O, headphone out and main outs are all handled as separate channels
- CueMix DSP near-zero monitoring system
- Multiple CueMix DSP mixes -- create different monitor mixes for the main outs and headphones. Add send/return loops for outboard gear with no latency
- Front-panel metering - 5-segement meters for all analog inputs, plus status lights for clock and interface/expander mode
- Sample-accurate MIDI -- connect a MIDI controller and/or sound module with no separate interface needed. MIDI I/O is sample-accurate with supporting software
- Expandable -- add additional 8pre, UltraLite, 828, 828mkII, 896, 896HD or Traveler FireWire interfaces for additional I/O. Or connect the 8pre optically to any audio interface or mixer that supports ADAT optical I/O.
- Separate TRS main outs and front-panel headphone jack, each with independent volume control
- SMPTE time code sync via any analog input
- SMPTE time code generation to any analog output
- Includes drivers for Mac & PC, including ASIO, WDM, Wave, GSIF, Core Audio, and Core MIDI. Supports all popular Macintosh and PC 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 Mac with recording, editing, mixing, real-time 32-bit effects processing & sample-accurate sync
- 2 FireWire ports -- daisy-chain up to 4 units on a single FireWire bus without a hub
- Plug-and-play operation with your Mac or PC via FireWire

The MOTU 8pre as Your Primary Audio Interface

Use the included CueMix software to mix all 16 inputs from your computer. Eight channels of ADAT optical I/O make the 8pre an ideal companion for a digital mixer. Two ADAT lightpipe connections work together to support a full 8 channels of optical digital I/O at any sample rate up to 96kHz.

Connect all of your studio gear, including microphones, guitars, synths, keyboards, drum machines and even effects processors. Then monitor all of these live inputs via the 8pre's main outs or headphone jack -- with virtually no monitoring latency and no processor drain on your computer. You can even create separate monitor mixes for the main outs and headphones. Control everything, including talk-back and listen-back, from the included CueMix Console software, just like a large studio console.

The MOTU 8pre includes a 16-channel MIDI interface. Simply plug in your FireWire cable, and both MIDI and audio are ready to go. Connect any MIDI device, such as a controller keyboard, synth module, automated control surface or drum machine. Timing is sample-accurate with supporting software.

The MOTU 8pre provides cross-platform compatibility with Mac OS X 10.3 or higher, Windows XP/Vista 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 OS, with 24-bit recording/editing and 32-bit mixing/processing/mastering.

Microphone Preamp Expansion Interface

The MOTU 8pre is really 2 products in 1. When it is not connected to a computer via FireWire, the 8pre functions as an 8-channel analog to digital (optical) converter. Connect the 8pre to your MOTU 828, 896, Traveler or even another 8pre via the optical 'lightpipe' connection to add eight high-quality microphone pre-amps to your system. Since the connection is digital, 100% pristine sound is maintained, down to the very last sample.

The MOTU 8pre is the perfect way to instantly add 8 more mic inputs to any audio interface or digital mixer with optical I/O. If you have a MOTU interface with on-board CueMix DSP mixing, such as the 828mkII, 896HD or Traveler, the 8pre inputs appear directly in the host interface's CueMix mixer to becomes a transparent extension of your system, operating together with your primary interface as a single, integrated unit -- even when the host interface is not connected to a computer and is instead operating as a stand-alone mixer.

If you have a 2408mk3, digital mixer or other audio device that supports 96kHz optical and also has 2 optical inputs, the MOTU 8pre connects to it via both optical ports to provide a full 8 channels of analog to optical conversion at the 88.2 or 96kHz sample rates.

Independent Inputs and Outputs

For example, using a mic-preamp input does not 'steal' an input from the ADAT optical input bank. As another example, the headphones and main outputs are available as separate mix destinations. In addition, CueMix DSP gives you all the flexibility you need. For example, you can configure CueMix DSP to mirror an existing mix bus to the headphones.

Sample-Accurate Timing

Connect a MIDI keyboard, sound module or control surface, and you are ready to go. The FireWire cable carries both MIDI and audio so you don't need to connect an additional USB cable for MIDI.

CueMix DSP

The MOTU 8pre provides DSP-driven digital mixing and monitoring for all 16 inputs.

You can connect mics, guitars, synths and effects processors, and monitor everything from the 8pre's main outs or headphone jack with no separate mixer needed and no latency.

Ultralite Console

The 8pre supports up to 4 separate stereo monitor mixes assigned to any digital or analog output pairs. For example, you could set up separate monitor mixes for the main outs and headphone outs, while 2 additional stereo buses could be used for send/return loops to a digital mixer. Each mix can support all 16 inputs (8 XLR/TRS analog and 8 ADAT optical digital).

Bounce Back

The "CueMix Bounce Back" feature lets you route 1 of the 4 CueMix DSP mixes back to the computer. This allows you to record, for example, your entire mix -- including monitored inputs -- back into the computer.


CueMix Console provides Talkback and Listenback buttons. Talkback allows an engineer in the control room to temporarily dim all audio and talk to musicians in the live room. Conversely, Listenback allows musicians to talk to the control room. For Talkback, you can set up a dedicated mic in your control room and connect it to a mic input on your 8pre. For Listenback, you can set up a dedicated listenback mic in the live room for the musicians and connect it to another mic input.

CueMix in Optical Expander Mode

When the 8pre operates as an optical expander, CueMix is hard-wired to route each analog input to its corresponding optical output channel (analog in 1 to optical out 1, analog in 2 to optical out 2, and so on).

In addition, when operating the 8pre at a 1x sample rate (either 44.1 or 48 kHz), the analog input signals are duplicated and sent to both optical output banks. This lets you send the analog input signals to 2 separate optical destinations, if desired.

When operating the 8pre at a 2x sample rate (88.2 or 96 kHz), the 2 optical output banks work in concert to provide channels 1-4 and 5-8, respectively, for a total of 8 channels of high-resolution digital audio.

On-Board SMPTE Time Code Synchronization

These features allow you to slave your 8pre system to SMPTE time code without a synchronizer via any analog input. The 8pre also generates time code, which can be sent to any analog output.

The 8pre provides a DSP-driven phase-lock engine with sophisticated filtering that provides fast lockup times and sub-frame accuracy.

The included MOTU SMPTE Console software provides a complete set of tools to generate SMPTE for striping, regenerating or slaving other devices to the computer. These synchronization features are cross-platform and compatible with all audio sequencer software that supports the ASIO2 sample-accurate sync protocol.

FireWire Interface and 8-Channel AD Converter

When the 8pre is not connected to a computer via a FireWire cable, the front panel "Mode" LED changes from "Interface" to "Converter". In this mode, the 8pre acts as an 8-channel analog-to-digital converter that can add 8 mic inputs to another ADAT optical-equipped audio interface, digital mixer or other device.

For example, if you already own an 828, 896 or Traveler interface, you can connect the 8pre to the optical bank on your MOTU interface to seamlessly integrate the 8pre's additional 8 mic inputs into your MOTU interface CueMix mixer or host software mixer.

When operating in this mode, the 8pre simply routes each mic input signal to the corresponding optical output channel (mic input 1 goes to optical output 1, etc.) When connected to a MOTU host interface, such as the 828mkII shown above, these eight optical input signals are then routed directly into the host interface's optical bank, so they appear side by side with all other inputs in the host interface's CueMix Console, as demonstrated below, which shows the 828mkII CueMix Console with the eight optical inputs (the eight faders furthest to the right) renamed according to the mics, instruments and other sources connected to the 8pre mic inputs:

This approach has benefits over simply connecting the 8pre as a second FireWire audio interface. For example, it conserves FireWire bus bandwidth (for other devices, such as hard drives). It also streamlines your workflow by avoiding the extra setup procedures, software settings and performance issues often encountered when operating multiple FireWire interfaces connected to your computer. By connecting the 8pre optically to another FireWire interface, it becomes, in essence, a seamless extension of the other interface.

The 8pre has the ability to support 8 channels of optical output at 88.2 or 96 kHz (the 2x sample rates). This means it can be connected to another device that also supports 2x optical sample rates (via 2 sets of optical connectors) to add all 8 mic inputs at 88.2 or 96 kHz. A perfect example is the 2408mk3, which provides 3 optical banks that can operate at 96 kHz. By connecting both optical banks from the 8pre to 2 optical banks on the 2408mk3, you add 8 96kHz mic inputs. And they can be mixed as a seamless extension of the 2408mk3.
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MOTU has Vista-compatible drivers available for all MOTU FireWire, PCI and USB hardware interface products.

For support or warranty questions, please contact the manufacturer:
Phone: 617-576-2760

Reviewers gave this product an overall rating of 4 out of 5 stars. (50 ratings)
Submitted August 16, 2009 by a customer from

"Top-Tier For a Mixerless Setup"

Overall: 4 out of 5 stars
(see rating details)
Verified Customer zZounds has verified that this reviewer made a purchase from us.
I am very satisfied with the 8pre. I own two, daisy-chained via lightpipe and they have worked very well for my needs so far. I am hoping to use the units to record small ensembles in the near future. The only reason I may consider switching away from the 8pre is the lack of output channels; this is a big deal if you want to use outboard effects or other equipment, but not so much if you're just interested in recording an ensemble.
Sound is clear, and very quiet even with the preamps turned near max.
ADAT Lightpipe is very useful; LED's for each input is also a big help. Each channel has its own preamp and phantom power option for each individual channel. The only thing that kills me is that there is only a headphone jack and one balanced pair of main outs. I would like more output channels to route to effects or other equipment.
Ease of Use
There are driver problems when daisy-chaining two or more 8pre's together. Hardware-wise, the unit is easy to use.
A very well-built product. The phantom power switches feel a bit cheap, but that's the only apparent con in quality.
Competing against the FP-10, I'm not sure the 8pre is worth the extra $150 in retail price if only because of the lack of output channels. However, the 8pre does have a phantom power switch for each channel (which isn't really a problem in the FP-10), and importantly lightpipe ins and outs for daisy-chaining or whatever else.
The Wow Factor
The unit looks sharp, and it performs.

Musical Background:

Musician, Aspiring recording engineer

Musical Style:

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