The UltraLite AVB is the newest in MOTU’s respected UltraLite Series, boasting the most simultaneous I/O options ever in the collection (that’s a total of 36 for those of you who are counting). 18 inputs, 18 outputs, one very popular unit! It has earned its way onto our chart of the best high-end audio interfaces, so let’s take a closer look to see what else is on offer…
On first impressions, the UltraLite AVB is quite a compact desktop unit measuring at just 8.6” wide and 7” deep. It features a sophisticated but sturdy all-black all-metal chassis, broken up by a little light blue detailing. Ultimately, it’s a clean and minimalist design, but there’s something very stylish about the sleekness of the UltraLite AVB. The front of the unit sports some inputs and controls, but the main feature on the front panel is the large backlit LCD screen, offering a clear view into signal activity.
As we have touched upon in the introduction, the UltraLite AVB is stocked with I/O options, making it a worthwhile choice for busy studio engineers needing to record multiple sources at the same time. The inputs comprise (take a deep breath…) two XLR mic ports, two 1/4” Hi-Z guitar inputs (on the front), six 1/4” TRS line inputs (balanced/unbalanced) around the back, as well as digital inputs via optical I/O and MIDI in and out. The outputs are just as comprehensive, with eight 1/4” TRS outs as well as the digital output options and – of course – a headphone output on the front panel.
Controls are pretty standard for an audio interface in this range, mainly comprising the volume and gain controls for the mics, as well as pad and +48v phantom power switches.
In terms of tech, the UltraLite AVB features high-quality mic preamps and top-class circuitry, as well as a very solid onboard DSP mixer and router. This is actually the same that’s used in MOTU’s highest-end models, offering 48 channels with built-in EQ, compression and effects that makes it infinitely flexible. Controlled from a standard web browser, this is a powerful tool indeed.
For so many I/O options crammed into such a small package, the UltraLite AVB works flawlessly, with a very small learning-curve. The sound quality is stellar – pristine and detailed. Latency for tracking is non-existent, while the unit records at sample rates up to 192kHz. The DSP mixer is a hugely convenient addition, working as a standalone mixer so you don’t have to lug one around with you.
Connecting to your computer through AVB Ethernet or USB 2.0 (it’s not bus-powered though – you’ll need an adapter), the UltraLite AVB is compatible with both Mac and Windows devices, as well as a long list of DAW software, including Logic Pro, Avid Pro Tools, Ableton Live, and Steinberg Cubase to name just a few.
The UltraLite AVB is not a cheap unit, but this sophisticated audio interface has proved its worth by offering powerful mixing tools, exceptional sound quality and more I/O options than most users will ever find a use for. For professional studios, it can become a solid focal point – a worthy addition to any shortlist.