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UltraLite-mk3 FireWire Audio Interface

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1274034484327
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The Ultralite-mk3 is MOTU's most compact and portable FireWire audio interface. Features include convenient bus powered operation, on-board mixing and effects, superb sound and reliable performance. Read More

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Overview

The Ultralite-mk3 is MOTU's most compact and portable FireWire audio interface. Features include convenient bus powered operation, on-board mixing and effects, superb sound and reliable performance.

The MOTU UltraLite-mk3 provides flexible and mobile bus-powered operation, professional audio quality at samples rates up to 192 kHz, and plenty of I/O: 2 mic/instrument inputs, 6 line-level analog inputs, 10 channels of analog output, stereo S/PDIF, and a discrete stereo headphone output.

Housed in a rugged, compact enclosure you can take anywhere, the MOTU UltraLite-mk3 is equally well-suited for studio and stage, with or without a computer. As an interface or standalone mixer, the UltraLite-mk3 FireWire interface provides 10 separate inputs and 14 separate outputs.

Connect all of your studio gear, including microphones, guitars, synths, keyboards, drum machines, effects processors and even MIDI devices. Record, monitor, route and process all of these live inputs using the professional on-board CueMix FX digital mixer—with no latency and no processor strain on your computer. Apply hardware DSP-driven effects processing to inputs, outputs, and busses independent of your host computer. Add Classic Reverb with lengths up to 60 seconds. Further sculpt your sound with 7-band parametric EQ featuring filter types carefully modeled after British analog console EQs. Choose between 2 forms of compression: a conventional compressor and the Leveler, an accurate model of the legendary LA-2A optical compressor that provides vintage, musical automatic gain control.

After programming the on-board mixing in the studio, unplug the MOTU UltraLite-mk3 interface from your computer and take it on the road for operation as a stand-alone mixer with effects. All mixing and effects parameters are adjustable using the front panel backlit LCD.

The UltraLite-mk3 FireWire interface provides cross-platform compatibility with Mac and Windows 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, with 24-bit recording/editing and 32-bit mixing/processing/mastering.

2 mic/guitar inputs are equipped with high quality preamps and all the features you need to record any mic or guitar with excellent sound quality.

Each input is equipped with its own 48V phantom power switch and three-stage 0/-18/-36dB pad switch.

Digitally controlled precision analog trim

The preamps provide 24 dB of gain adjustment in precise 1 dB increments using the detented digital rotary encoder. As you turn the encoder, you see graphic and numeric feedback in the front panel LCD, so you know exactly how much gain you are applying. The gain adjustment itself is smooth because it is analog, but the digital control gives you both precision and the ability to save and recall trim settings. You get the best of both worlds: analog trim with digital precision and control.

Digitally controlled precision analog trim is also available on all of the Ultralite-mk3 FireWire interface's balanced quarter-inch (TRS) analog inputs on the rear panel. Level matching analog inputs has never been easier or more convenient. You can carefully tune the balance among your analog inputs using the CueMix FX software and then save the entire configuration on disk for instant recall. You can create and save as many trim configurations as you need.

UltraLite-mk3 Comprehensive I/O


The MOTU Ultralite-mk3 FireWire interface connects you to a wide variety of studio gear, including microphones, guitars, synths, keyboards, drum machines, effects processors and more.

Front panel I/O

The Ultralite-mk3's front-panel volume knob controls the headphone or main outputs with the press of a button. Additionally, the knob can be programmed to control any combination of outputs (analog and/or digital). For example, it can control monitor output for an entire 5.1 or 7.1 surround mix.

Digitally controlled analog input trim

All of the Ultralite-mk3's analog inputs are equipped with digitally controlled analog trim controls that 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. All analog inputs, including eight TRS analog inputs, can be trimmed using the CueMix FX control software for Mac and Windows.

Fine-tune your trim settings for synths, effects modules and a wide variety of analog inputs for optimum levels. Save different trim configurations as files on disk for instant recall.

Rear panel I/O

Six balanced (TRS) 24-bit analog inputs and ten outputs can operate at sample rates up to 192 kHz (a total of eight analog inputs and ten analog outputs). RCA S/PDIF connectors also supply independent stereo digital I/O.

Analog 24-bit 192 kHz on +4/-10 bal/unbal TRS:
Inputs 6
Outputs 8
Mic/instrument preamps 24-bit 192 kHz on XLR/TRS combo: 2 inputs
Main outputs 24-bit 192 kHz on bal TRS: stereo
Headphone Outputs: stereo
S/PDIF 24-bit 96 kHz (digital): stereo Inputs & Outputs

Control room monitoring

Powered monitors can be plugged directly into the outputs of the Ultralite-mk3 and you can attenuate the output from the software or the front-panel VOL control. Main out volume is not limited to stereo operation: quad, 5.1, 7.1 and even user-defined configurations are available. You can even program the Ultralite-mk3 to control all 14 outputs with the VOL knob.

UltraLite-mk3 Mixing and effects

The UltraLite-mk3 is an audio interface, but it's also a 14-bus digital mixer, complete with EQ, compression and reverb.

The UltraLite-mk3 is really two devices in one: an audio interface plus a 10 x 14 digital mixer. In fact, you could even think of the UltraLite-mk3 as a digital mixer in a half rack-space form factor.

Operating as either a computer interface or stand-alone, the UltraLite-mk3 provides DSP-driven digital mixing with effects processing (reverb, EQ and compression) for all 10 inputs and 14 outputs. You can connect all your gear and then mix, process and monitor everything from the UltraLite-mk3's main outs or headphone jacks.

A 10 input by 14 bus digital mixer with effects

All I/O is routed to the on-board 14-bus (7 stereo) digital mixer driven by hardware-based DSP with 32-bit floating point precision. The mixer allows you to apply no-latency effects processing to inputs, outputs or busses directly in the UltraLite-mk3 hardware, independent of the computer. Effects can be applied when the UltraLite-mk3 is operating stand-alone (without a computer) as a complete rack-mounted mixer. Input signals to the computer can be recorded wet, dry, or dry with a wet monitor mix (for musicians during recording, for example).

Complete mixing at your fingertips

All of the mixer settings in the UltraLite-mk3 are accessible from the programmable front-panel backlit LCD. You can also launch the CueMix FX™ control software for Mac OS X, Windows XP and Windows Vista. CueMix FX provides complete on-screen access to the UltraLite-mk3's on-board, hardware-based mixing environment.

UltraLite-mk3 CueMix FX software

CueMix FX gives you comprehensive graphic control over your mix.

CueMix FX is a completely new software front-end with attractive graphic mixing, graphic editing of parametric EQ and a convenient tabbed interface for quick access to all UltraLite-mk3 mixing features, digitally controlled trims and other settings.

CueMix FX can be operated side by side with any host audio software for Mac or Windows, and it can be controlled from the Mackie Control Universal Pro automated worksurface.

One window with convenient tabs

Three separate tabs show inputs, mix busses and outputs. Click the "Focus" button on any channel or bus to edit its settings in the area on the right-hand side, which provides separate tabs for graphic editing of parametric EQ, compression and other effects. Each channel strip displays a graphic thumbnail of EQ curves, compressor settings and other channel specific parameters. There is also a section for talkback and listenback.

Eight stereo buses

The UltraLite-mk3 supports up to seven separate stereo 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 two additional stereo buses could be used for send/return loops to reverb units or other outboard gear. Each mix can support all 10 inputs (6 TRS analog, 2 mic/guitar and stereo SPDIF digital).

DSP resources for mixing and effects

The UltraLite-mk3's flexible effects architecture allows you to apply EQ and compression on every input and output (a total of 24 channels), with enough DSP resources for at least one band of parametric EQ and compression on every channel at 48 kHz. However, DSP resources are allocated dynamically and a DSP meter allows you to keep tabs on the UltraLite-mk3's processing resources.

Each input, output and mix bus provides a send to the Classic Reverb processor, which then feeds reverb returns to mix buses and outputs, with a selectable split point between them to prevent send/return feedback loops.

Talkback and Listenback

CueMix FX provides Talkback and Listenback features. 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 UltraLite-mk3. For Listenback, you can set up a dedicated listenback mic in the live room for the musicians and connect it to another mic input.

Stereo operation

Two channels can be grouped to a single fader for stereo operation. Two stereo panning modes are available: balance and width. Balance mode works much like a normal stereo balance control, one channel fades in and the other fades out. Width mode collapses the stereo image to mono by adjusting the relative pans of each channel gradually to center.

For stereo inputs, an optional M/S (mid-side) decoder can be enabled with adjustable width control and software-swappable inputs.

Software metering

Signal activity of all inputs, busses and outputs can be monitored via the meters pane. In addition to the meters present on individual channels, a high-resolution meter and output bus activity associated with that channel can be displayed in the primary status window.

Effects programming

The EQ, compression and reverb tabs give you complete access to the UltraLite-mk3's on-board effects, and because they are driven by hardware DSP inside the UltraLite-mk3, they won't tax your host computer's CPU. You can even use the effects without a computer connected.

The tabs shown above let you focus on one channel at a time and edit its settings using the high-resolution graphic display. But EQ and dynamics settings can also be edited on all channels in line (within each channel strip), where you can compare critical settings side-by-side, as shown below.

Front-panel LCD access to all mix settings

All of the mixing features described on these pages are available during stand-alone operation, and all of them can be accessed from the front panel LCD. This means you can program your mixes with the CueMix FX software in the studio and then take the UltraLite-mk3 on the road as a stand-alone digital mixer. Tweak your mix on location from the front panel.

UltraLite-mk3 Classic Reverb

Apply smooth, detailed reverb with several room models, three independent frequency bands and length up to 60 seconds.

The UltraLite-mk3's Classic Reverb™ provides five different room types, three frequency bands with adjustable crossover points, shelf filtering and reverb lengths up to 60-seconds.

Each input, output and mix bus provides a send to the Classic Reverb processor, which then feeds reverb returns to mix buses and outputs, with a selectable split point between them to prevent send/return feedback loops.

UltraLite-mk3 7-band EQ

Modeled after analog British console EQ's, known for their highly musical gain/Q settings, the UltraLite-mk3's EQ provides a high pass filter, low pass filter, two shelving or parametric filters and five parametric bands.

The UltraLite-mk3's EQ section provides 7-band parametric EQ modeled after British analog console EQ's, featuring 4 filter styles (gain/Q profiles) to effectively cover a wide range of audio material. LP and HP filters are also supplied with slopes that range from 6 to 36 dB per octave.

EQ settings can be adjusted graphically by dragging control points on the large graph in the main EQ tab, as shown above, or using the knobs for individual bands in each channel strip.

UltraLite-mk3 Vintage compression

The UltraLite-mk3's flexible dynamics processing includes a high-quality conventional compressor, plus a leveling amplifier modeled after the legendary LA-2A™ optical compressor.


Conventional compressor

The UltraLite-mk3 offers a conventional compressor with standard controls for threshold, ratio, attack, release and gain. Adjust the threshold graphically while viewing accurate, long-throw metering in the compressor section of the CueMix FX software.

Leveler (automatic gain control)

The UltraLite-mk3 Leveler™ is an accurate model of the legendary Teletronix™ LA-2A™ optical leveling amplifier, known for its unique and highly sought-after Automatic Gain Control (AGC) characteristics. Conventional compression and limiting with threshold, attack, ratio, release, etc. do not apply here: the heart of the LA-2A is the T4 opto-coupler, a photoelectric device with almost magical (signal dependent) self-adjusting behavior that makes optical compressors the tool of choice for smoothing out just about any audio material, from vocals to bass guitar to full-program mixes, without destroying perceived dynamics.

The UltraLite-mk3 Leveler faithfully models the LA-2A using the on-board DSP with 32-bit floating point precision. Its controls match the front panel of the original LA-2A: Gain Reduction and Makeup Gain knobs, along with Limiter/Compressor buttons.

UltraLite-mk3 Clock and sync

The UltraLite-mk3 uses extremely accurate Direct Digital Synthesis™ for internal clocking and for resolving to external SMPTE time code sources. The UltraLite-mk3 can resolve directly to time code, with no additional sychronizer required.

Direct Digital Synthesis™ clock

The UltraLite-mk3 is equipped with Direct Digital Synthesis™ (DDS), a DSP-driven phase lock engine and very high frequency digital clock source that produces imperceptibly low jitter characteristics (well below the overall noise floor), even when the UltraLite-mk3 is resolved to an external SMPTE time code source. This technology represents the very latest in extremely high-performance, yet cost-effective digital audio clocking. DDS also allows the UltraLite-mk3 to maintain an extremely stable clock while resolved to incoming clock sources that have substantially more jitter than the UltraLite-mk3 itself.

On-board SMPTE time code synchronization

You can slave your UltraLite-mk3 system directly to SMPTE time code, without a dedicated synchronizer, via one of the UltraLite-mk3's analog input jacks. The UltraLite-mk3 provides a DSP-driven phase-lock engine with sophisticated filtering that provides fast lockup times and sub-frame accuracy.

SMPTE Console software

The included MOTU SMPTE Console™ software (for Mac OS X, Windows XP and Windows Vista) provides a complete set of tools to generate SMPTE for striping, regenerating or slaving other devices to the computer. Like CueMix FX, the synchronization features are cross-platform and compatible with all audio sequencer software that supports the ASIO2 sample-accurate sync protocol.

UltraLite-mk3 MIDI

The UltraLite-mk3 includes a 16-channel MIDI interface that provides sample-accurate timing with supporting software.
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.



MIDI Thru for stand-alone operation

The UltraLite-mk3 introduces a new MIDI Thru feature that routes all MIDI data received at its input directly to its output while running stand-alone. This allows you to play a hardware sound module or sampler connected to the MIDI OUT from a controller connected to the MIDI IN, even when the computer is turned off, or when the UltraLite-mk3 is completely disconnected from the computer.

UltraLite-mk3 Expansion & drivers

Expand your UltraLite-mk3 system and run it with all your favorite audio software.

Adding more I/O to your UltraLite-mk3 system


As with other MOTU FireWire interfaces, the UltraLite-mk3 supplies two FireWire jacks so it can be daisy-chained with additional MOTU FireWire audio interfaces or other devices.

Drivers and AudioDesk workstation software

The UltraLite-mk3 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 UltraLite-mk3 includes AudioDesk®, the advanced workstation software for Mac OS X with 24-bit recording and editing, along with 32-bit mixing, processing and mastering.

Features
  • The UltraLite-mk3's EQ section provides 7-band parametric EQ modeled after British analog console EQ's, featuring 4 filter styles (gain/Q profiles) to effectively cover a wide range of audio material. LP and HP filters are also supplied with slopes that range from 6 to 36 dB per octave.
  • EQ settings can be adjusted graphically by dragging control points on the large graph in the main EQ tab or using the knobs for individual bands in each channel strip.
  • CueMix FX™ - flexible 10 input/14 bus mixer with on-board DSP effects, including reverb with sends/returns, plus EQ and compression on every input and output.
  • 10 inputs / 14 outputs - there's no channel sharing in the UltraLite-mk3; the mic inputs, S/PDIF I/O, headphone out and main outs are all handled as separate channels.
  • Front-panel control - access any setting in your entire UltraLite-mk3 mix directly from the front panel.
  • Stand-alone operation - program your mixes at the studio and then bring the UltraLite-mk3 to your gig - no computer needed. Just plug in the included power adapter and you are ready to go. Need to tweak the mix? Do it on site using the back-lit LCD and front-panel controls.
  • Multiple CueMix FX mixes - for example, create different monitor mixes for the main outs and headphones. Or add send/return loops for outboard gear - with no latency.
  • Two combo jacks provide hi-Z 1/4" guitar input or low-Z XLR mic input with phantom power, pad and plenty of gain.
  • Eight 24-bit 192kHz analog inputs and outputs on balanced/unbalanced 1/4" TRS jacks
  • Precision Digital Trim™ - Digitally controlled analog trim on all analog inputs (mic/guitar inputs + quarter-inch TRS inputs) provides accurate adjustements in 1 dB increments. Fine-tune the balance of your analog inputs and then save/recall trim configurations.
  • 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 interfaces for more I/O as your needs grow.
  • Separate TRS main outs with front panel volume control.
  • Stereo 24-bit 96kHz S/PDIF in/out
  • Includes drivers for Mac & PC, including ASIO, WDM, Wave, GSIF, Core Audio, and Core MIDI. Supports all popular Mac and Windows 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 the Macintosh with recording, editing, mixing, real-time 32-bit effects processing & sample-accurate sync.
  • Plug-and-play operation with your Mac or PC via FireWire.
  • Front panel volume control for monitoring. Stereo, Quad, 6.1, 7.1 and user-defined surround monitoring setups available.
  • Front panel headphone jack with volume control.
  • Bus-powered. No need for external power when operating as a FireWire interface connected to a computer. A power supply is included for stand-alone operation.
  • Customer Reviews
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REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

by PowerReviews
 
5.0

(based on 2 reviews)

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(2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Incredible

By Jim Moreland

from Grapevine, Texas

Bought this unit from GC due to the PreSonus Firebox not having drivers for Windows 7. What I found was that this unit is so much more versatile and user friendly. After getting the unit installed into my little home studio I played back a song from my iPod and wow! The outputs are way above the PreSonus in sound quality. It's like night and day. Highs, defined mids and excellen smooth bass from my KRK 5's. My integration to SONAR 8.5 Producer was very easy. Recorded my Acoustic via mic and then by using my DTar Solstice preamp to check the quality of my Highlander pickup/mic. I was amazed at the sonic fidelity. I can't wait to really get down to business. 5 stars!!!

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(10 of 11 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Tons of stuff packed in a small package!

By David W

from Washington, DC

My live rig was getting pretty cumbersome with synths and audio gear so I needed a portable interface to simplify things. I already owned a MOTU 828 mkII and liked the fact that it could function as a stand alone mixer as well, but the mkII didn't have built in effects so when I'm performing with straight audio all the channels would be dry. The Ultralite really fits what I needed. I can program the effects and compression and run mics through it on gigs without the computer. With the computer it's great because it allows me to mix software and live instruments from my keyboard. It really performs well and the fact that it's buss powered means one less power brick. My only complaint is that front panel programming is very different from that of the 828. It takes some getting used to, so it's better to configure all your channels with the computer before you use it stand alone. Other than that, I am very pleased with this unit.

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