Recording - September 2015 - 20

B Y M I K E M E T L AY

Since their introduction in 2006, MOTU's
UltraLite interfaces have consistently provided
I/O diversity and onboard DSP smarts that
leave many similarly-sized interfaces coughing in the dust. From the original UltraLite's

MOTU UltraLite AVB
Modern networking capabilities take this compact interface to the next level
remarkable onboard digital mixer with standalone capability to the DSP-based "Leveler"
LA-2A compression and high-quality reverb
of the FireWire/USB 2.0 UltraLite-mk3
Hybrid, the surprises just keep on coming.
After so many updates and expansions,
each one somehow fitting inside that same
small box, you'd think we'd be prepared
for whatever MOTU threw at us next. I
guess we should know better by now-it's
time to meet the new UltraLite AVB and be
knocked for a loop all over again.
So what's AVB?
AVB stands for Audio Video Bridging. It
is one of several protocols that have been
developed for moving large amounts of
audio and video data (hence the name) at
high speed and low latency. This is usually done via conventional Cat 5e or Cat 6
Ethernet cables, the sort you'd use in a
home computer network or in an office or
larger studio. MOTU's AVB interfaces (the
UltraLite AVB is the smallest of a 9-product
lineup) also include USB or Thunderbolt
for direct computer connections.
AVB isn't the only audio networking protocol out there; for example, we discussed
Audinate's Dante in our June 2014 issue.
MOTU chose AVB for good reasons, but
this review isn't the place to go into detail
about that. For the curious, the UltraLite
AVB's User Guide (a real paper manual in
the box or a downloadable PDF from the
MOTU website) has a very good introduction to AVB in Chapter 9. What matters
here is how AVB lets the newest UltraLite
integrate with your other gear, either in the
studio or out on the road.
The UltraLite AVB, inside and out
Before we get into networking, let's look
at the interface itself. As impressive as the
UltraLite-mk3 Hybrid is with its 10 inputs
and 14 outputs, the UltraLite AVB goes
even farther.
20

RECORDING September 2015

It replaces the two combination
XLR/TRS inputs on its sibling model with
two distinct pairs of inputs, two XLR jacks
for microphones plus two high-impedance
1
/4" jacks for guitars or basses. For small
rigs, that alone is a considerable advantage; you don't have to decide whether to
record with two mics, two guitars, or one
of each on a live take... you can record
two mics and two guitars at once. Further,
the second Guitar input has been moved
to the front panel, so it's easier to plug in
and crank it up. The two Mic inputs are on
the front and rear panels, as before.
The rear panel I/O configuration of the
AVB model differs from the mk3 Hybrid as
well. There are still six 1/4" TRS balanced

analog inputs and a dedicated pair of 1/4"
TRS balanced Main Outs, but the mk3
Hybrid has eight balanced analog outputs
and the AVB has six. The rear-panel real
estate freed up by the removal of those two
analog outs leaves room for the rest of the
AVB's ports. This includes MIDI I/O, digital
audio I/O, Ethernet, USB 2.0, and a jack
for an included wall-wart AC power supply.
In place of the mk3's coaxial S/PDIF digital audio connectors, the AVB sports
Toslink optical hookups. These can be run
in stereo as optical S/PDIF if need be, or
switched over to ADAT operation. That
gives the UltraLite AVB eight channels of
digital input and output at 44.1 or 48 kHz,
or four at 88.2 or 96 kHz. (The analog



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - September 2015

Contents
Recording - September 2015 - Intro
Recording - September 2015 - Cover1
Recording - September 2015 - Cover2
Recording - September 2015 - 1
Recording - September 2015 - 2
Recording - September 2015 - 3
Recording - September 2015 - 4
Recording - September 2015 - 5
Recording - September 2015 - Contents
Recording - September 2015 - 7
Recording - September 2015 - 8
Recording - September 2015 - 9
Recording - September 2015 - 10
Recording - September 2015 - 11
Recording - September 2015 - 12
Recording - September 2015 - 13
Recording - September 2015 - 14
Recording - September 2015 - 15
Recording - September 2015 - 16
Recording - September 2015 - 17
Recording - September 2015 - 18
Recording - September 2015 - 19
Recording - September 2015 - 20
Recording - September 2015 - 21
Recording - September 2015 - 22
Recording - September 2015 - 23
Recording - September 2015 - 24
Recording - September 2015 - 25
Recording - September 2015 - 26
Recording - September 2015 - 27
Recording - September 2015 - 28
Recording - September 2015 - 29
Recording - September 2015 - 30
Recording - September 2015 - 31
Recording - September 2015 - 32
Recording - September 2015 - 33
Recording - September 2015 - 34
Recording - September 2015 - 35
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Recording - September 2015 - 37
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Recording - September 2015 - 40
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Recording - September 2015 - 72
Recording - September 2015 - Cover3
Recording - September 2015 - Cover4
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