Having been a major player in the up-market audio interface market for some considerable time, MOTU has now announced the MicroBook - a more affordable, pocket-sized USB model with balanced inputs and outputs.
This 4-in/2-out device will cost $269 and is sure to appeal to laptop-based musicians when it’s released next month, so let’s take a closer look…
On the front-panel you’ve got 1/4-inch mic and guitar inputs - an XLR-1/4-inch converter is supplied should you need it for your mic. The mic preamp promises to deliver “pristine sound and transparent colouration”, and there’s a 48v phantom power option. All the analogue inputs come with what MOTU calls Precision Digital Trim, which translates to digitally-controlled analogue trim.
A mini-jack headphone output completes the front panel - this has its own independent volume control.
Things are pretty busy round the back: the line-level inputs come on 1/4-inch jacks or a mini-jack, and there are balanced 1/4-inch jack line level main outputs and a mini-jack line level output. The S/PDIF digital output duplicates the main out.
It’s worth noting that, thanks to the MicroBook’s software controlled internal mixing and routing features, you can program up to five different stereo mixes consisting of any combination of inputs and host audio tracks. This means that the main outs, stereo mini-jack out and headphone out can each produce an independent output mix. Of course, you can also send the same mix to multiple outputs.
Thanks to the supplied CueMix FX software, you also get control of EQ and compression on every input and output. The AudioDesk DAW for Mac comes supplied too, though the MicroBook itself is cross-platform.
MOTU Marketing Director Jim Cooper says of the new interface: "The MicroBook is small in size but huge when it comes to audio quality. Our tests show that it matches or exceeds the measured audio specifications of other so-called 'high-end' interfaces on the market that cost two and three times as much. So it's perfect for discriminating users who want quality I/O for on-the-go recording, personal studio tracking, laptop-based DJing, and many other applications."
We shall see, but when you consider MOTU’s pedigree, you get the feeling that the MicroBook could well turn out to be the stylish, portable, high-quality audio interface that many people have been waiting for.