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Motu M2 Review (Audio Interface)

lc155

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I heard the best way is to use the rear balanced outputs with an amp for the best amp/dac experience.

Not really. Just sounds like a way to increase your expense a lot more since there aren't a lot of balanced amps.

Running the RCA outs to a standard amp is more than adequate. Unless the measurements for the unbalanced outs were significantly worse than the balanced ones to be audible (which I don't believe they were from the review), it's fine.
 

Hxx

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Thanks. I think this pretty much nails it the ID4 feels more treble heavy the motu feels punchier at lower volumes.

So my Id4 Mk2 came in today. Headphone jack is more powerful I would say if motu is at 100% loudness, the ID4 is maybe 125% / 135% loudness somewhere in there at least using the AK702. I really it and it would be a good stop gap for these headphones before splurging on a dedicated amp and let me tell you, there is definitely abit more room left on my AK702s to justify an amp.

But i was able to distort the ID4 almost just as easy as the motu. It doesnt sound as compressed as the motu however. The bass on the motu is punchier at lower volumes and i really liked that. Its just too bad as soon as you crank up that volume, motu runs out of juice. The ID4 doesn't feel as punchier as on the motu at lower volume but it gets louder and it just brute forces its way to sounding "better" cause louder at least to me. The bumped up treble on the ID4 is a welcomed side effect for gaming for them footsteps lol so ill take it but realistically both for gaming are excellent. I was able to pinpoint footsetps just as easy on both.

As far as build quality , The ID4 feels heavier but equally well build and a matter of taste. I like the design of the motu abit more but i like the knobs of the ID4. they feel nicer cause theyre bigger i think. I dont get the whole black/gray metallic cover on the ID4 but it feels sturdy. I wish it was all black or nickel/black or something.
Software feels less intrusive on the motu and I kinda like that but i had no problem with ID software either. Love the meters on the motu , dont quite get the whole RGB going on 80s style LEDs on the ID4 but i guess they work fine.

I do love the monitor mix button on the ID4. I didnt even know what that was until i tried it. excellent for gaming. Motu has that "monitor" button which works fine its just more fun to play with those knobs on the ID4 lol

I tested the comms but i have a budget XLR mic so i didnt notice much if any difference. the monitor mix on the ID4 worked very well.
As far as gaming, havent done much of that but i fired up some BF5 BF4 and black ops cold war and no probs.

Sorry for my rambling ive only had this unit for about 2 hrs , overall i think i may be keeping the ID4 just because i dont want to get an amp. I will do some AB testing comparisons for a few more days but yea
Also just wanted to mention i wouldnt buy the ID4 just for the higher HP amp...i would look at other features and thats where i think motu shines.

My gaming setup
windows 10 pro 64
intel 8 core 10700k
Asus Strix z490i
Asus Tuf RTX 3080
32gb ddr4


An update to my ID4 vs Motu 2 decision over the headphone output. I ended up keeping the M2 over the ID4 even though the ID4 has a slightly more powerful headphone out. I really liked the sound signature on the M2 plus everything else- meters, mic monitoring etc , but the headphone out wasn't enough for me. So i grabbed a Monoprice Liquid Spark headphone amp on sale ($80 here in the states) . I decided there is no way i can drive my beloved K702s without an amp so now with a Motu M2 running RCA stereo out as a DAC to the Liquid Spark , the headphone output is amazing lol - no more "compressed" audio, no more distortion, just clear powerful sound. Very happy with the combo so far.
So the moment Motu builds a solid amp in their interfaces ill be all over that but until then i'm happy with the liquid spark + M2 combo. Just as a frame of reference for how frigging power hungry the K702s are, i have the liquid spark at like 80% volume (100% on Motu and windows volume) where the headphones are starting to get uncomfortably loud.
 

andrewskaterrr

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I'm really stuck choosing between the M2 and the E30+L30. I say M2 over M4 because comparing the specs the M2 edges out from what I see, and I don't need the extra inputs/outputs and width on my desk.
I have my PC running Toslink to a RadioShack DAC, which goes into a RS 1-to-2 hard switch, which connects to my amp/speakers and the other to my AudioTechnica M50Xs.
I'll switch to USB if I don't get the grounding loop hum I was getting before. The RS DAC is the perfect loudness at Windows 100 which is great, but I'm curious if I could get better sound with a better DAC/Amp. Thoughts on M2 vs E30? It seems the M2s unbalanced outputs aren't much behind the E30's unbalanced outputs. I'd get independent volume control on the outputs, and be able to rip some vinyl if I want for fun. The headphone amp is what I'm worried about. My headphones are 38ohm and I'm not sure if they'd get enough power or not, or if i get higher ohm headphones in the future, I'll need a separate amp anyways. Amazon has the E30/L30 for $134 today so I was really looking lol. Although the $88 difference isn't a lot, that's money I could put towards better headphones and still get an ADC and independent volume control.
IMG_8066.JPG
 

infinitesymphony

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I'm really stuck choosing between the M2 and the E30+L30. I say M2 over M4 because comparing the specs the M2 edges out from what I see, and I don't need the extra inputs/outputs and width on my desk.
I have my PC running Toslink to a RadioShack DAC, which goes into a RS 1-to-2 hard switch, which connects to my amp/speakers and the other to my AudioTechnica M50Xs.
I'll switch to USB if I don't get the grounding loop hum I was getting before. The RS DAC is the perfect loudness at Windows 100 which is great, but I'm curious if I could get better sound with a better DAC/Amp. Thoughts on M2 vs E30? It seems the M2s unbalanced outputs aren't much behind the E30's unbalanced outputs. I'd get independent volume control on the outputs, and be able to rip some vinyl if I want for fun. The headphone amp is what I'm worried about. My headphones are 38ohm and I'm not sure if they'd get enough power or not, or if i get higher ohm headphones in the future, I'll need a separate amp anyways. Amazon has the E30/L30 for $134 today so I was really looking lol. Although the $88 difference isn't a lot, that's money I could put towards better headphones and still get an ADC and independent volume control.
View attachment 136847
The Topping E30 is in the top tier, Motu M2 unbalanced output would be in the second tier, though the difference may or may not be audible.

What will be very noticeable is the Topping L30's 1,040 mW @ 33 ohm headphone amp power vs. the Motu M2's 23 mW @ 33 ohm.

The Motu M2, Topping E30, and Topping L30 all have independent volume controls.
 

bequietjk

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M2 balanced (albeit probably not TRUE balanced) output is very nice for some up in power. And the digital display adds a nice touch if you like that sort of thing :]
 

andrewskaterrr

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The Topping E30 is in the top tier, Motu M2 unbalanced output would be in the second tier, though the difference may or may not be audible.

What will be very noticeable is the Topping L30's 1,040 mW @ 33 ohm headphone amp power vs. the Motu M2's 23 mW @ 33 ohm.

The Motu M2, Topping E30, and Topping L30 all have independent volume controls.
Ya when it comes to headphones I have no clue what the average mW/ohm is. My 50Xs say up to 1600mW @1khz, so 23mW sounds pretty dang low. I tried to measure my DAC's output voltage/current with pink noise but couldn't get it, idk why, but my headphones play off it pretty well which surprised me lol. I'm leaning towards the E30/L30. If you put up Amir's reviews side by side of the M2 and E30's distortion, jitter etc, they're pretty close, that's why im like hmm. The headphone amp has me worried the most though.

Now one thing I'm wondering though, is if I had an E30/L30 stack, the E30 has a digital? volume, while the L30 has an attenuation control? So I'm guessing I'd want to put Windows to 100, then E30 and 0db, then use the L30's knob for volume on my headphones and speakers?
 

andrewskaterrr

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M2 balanced (albeit probably not TRUE balanced) output is very nice for some up in power. And the digital display adds a nice touch if you like that sort of thing :]
The balance outputs I was really thinking about, but after seeing them on par with the E30's unbalanced, it was a little bit less of a concern for me, or so it seems.
 

andrewskaterrr

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If you don't need the analogue input of the M2 then I see no reasons getting it.
I kinda want them for vinyl ripping, but I honestly think i might do it once for time comparison to digital, and then never do it again lol, but I do like having the option. I'm leaning towards the E30/L30 stack though. They'd fit right where my rca switch is perfectly :)
 

andrewskaterrr

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As nice as it would be to have the ADC and balanced connections, I think I may go with the E30/L30 stack. Their size fits, performs well, and has the extra headphone amp power. Thanks guys!
 

trl

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You may also save some money now and purchase the M2 later, although I doubt that your vinyl ripping will outclass current streaming services. :) So yes, check if you can find your vinyl music on any of the streaming services available these days.
 

infinitesymphony

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Now one thing I'm wondering though, is if I had an E30/L30 stack, the E30 has a digital? volume, while the L30 has an attenuation control? So I'm guessing I'd want to put Windows to 100, then E30 and 0db, then use the L30's knob for volume on my headphones and speakers?
That's correct. You could also set the E30 to -6 dB if you want to be 100% sure to avoid inter-sample peaks.

Two options for your speakers:

1. Passively split the E30 outputs to the L30 and your speakers using RCA Y adapters. This lets you use the E30 as a preamp for both devices.

2. Use the RCA outputs of the L30 to your speakers and control them using its volume knob, though I think you may have to unplug your headphones to use the speakers in this scenario. Edit: L30 has an output selector.
 
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andrewskaterrr

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You may also save some money now and purchase the M2 later, although I doubt that your vinyl ripping will outclass current streaming services. :) So yes, check if you can find your vinyl music on any of the streaming services available these days.
Ya I actually looked up one of the $.50 records that I love and found some songs on iTunes. I know digital is superior, but idk if some of my weird obscure records are digital lol. But honestly it'll keep me using my TT for now lol.
 

andrewskaterrr

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That's correct. You could also set the E30 to -6 dB if you want to be 100% sure to avoid inter-sample peaks.

Two options for your speakers:

1. Passively split the E30 outputs to the L30 and your speakers using RCA Y adapters. This lets you use the E30 as a preamp for both devices.

2. Use the RCA outputs of the L30 to your speakers and control them using its volume knob, though I think you may have to unplug your headphones to use the speakers in this scenario.
I have a 2to1 and a 4to1 hard switch like in the picture i posted. So I can run the Line Out of the E30 or the L30 into it, and have the other channel be the headphones. So then I can still swap between speakers and headphones like i do now. But on that topic, does that little Pre/HF/Off switch kill sound to the other device? Like would Switching to Pre only use the Rear Line Out and the Headphone amp would go silent? That is what I'm hoping it does. It would be like my selector switch then.
 

infinitesymphony

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But on that topic, does that little Pre/HF/Off switch kill sound to the other device? Like would Switching to Pre only use the Rear Line Out and the Headphone amp would go silent? That is what I'm hoping it does. It would be like my selector switch then.
Good call, pretty sure that is the case now that I'm looking at it again -- looks like a single output selector.
 

usern

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I used Audient iD4 with Topping A30pro, but it started to bluescreen my PC so I'm looking for replacement device. I also have Rode AI-1, but it does not seem to output 4V and it also clips at three o clock volume while connected to A30pro, regardless of amplifier volume position.

Would Motu M2 be a good pair to A30pro?
 

ddavies

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For those interested, I've seen the insides of the M2 and M4. All the specs below are identical in both the M2 and M4. The ADC in the M4 is the same chip but supports 4 preamps instead of 2.


M2 & M4 chips:
  • ADC - AK5552VN (AK5554VN in M4)
  • DAC - ES9016S
  • Integrated Circuit - XMOS U11680C20
  • Headphone Amp - OPA1688 (50mW @ 32Ω, 3.3Vrms)
  • Mic Preamp: THAT 6263
 

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  • Mic Preamps (M2:M4).png
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  • Headphone amp (M2:M4).png
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Chromatischism

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Does anyone know if the software offers a low cut filter?
 
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