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MOTU UltraLite-mk5 Review (Audio Interface)

Tks

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Ahh ok, I understand what you mean now. I'm not surprised by it however--I think that my RME works the same (or at least similar) way.

If I have Ableton running with its ASIO driver, I can still hear sounds from Windows.
Same here. I actually ditched using Toslink WASAPI because of this. I want Windows to be heard without me having to completely sever the playback connection to the app using WASAPI. Pausing playback isnt enough, you MUST stop the audio playback track entirely. And then the sample rate reverts to windows default you have set and plays whatever Windows sound you got going like a Youtube video.

With ASIO, the sample rate stays the same and Youtube for instance doesnt require you to stop whatever the ASIO app is doing entirely. One exception to this, is if youre going above 384kHz (DSD rates) obviously Windows cant play this due to the sample rate not being supported by the Windows Audio stack, so you wont hear anything out of windows apps.

The way RME handles ASIO is by creating a seemingly separate device per sample rate. And doesn't take exclusive control seemingly (I'll have to check). I was perplexed by this, but having it like this seems to allow for this sort of functionality perhaps (need to test to see if Toppings ASIO also allows to Windows sounds to go through, since their driver doesn't create multiple devices as seen by the computer, and all the sample rates are there in the Windows Sound Settings, while RME only gives you 4 choices per sample rate, so when you're using something like 96Khz (which you manually set by the ASIO panel, or if the app you use requests it), in Windows Sound Settings all you get is Mono 16-bit 96, Stereo 16-bit 96, Mono 24-bit 96, Stereo 24-bit 96.
 
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Χ Ξ Σ

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If the driver is at fault, perhaps @amirm should try change the sample rate from the CueMix 5 software when testing different sample rates? At least om my Mac and Windows the sample rate doesn't automatically switch.

Downland.jpgMotu CueMix 5.jpg
 
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BeerBear

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Yes this is not what I'm talking about:
"There was something strange that I had not seen before. As I was testing the unit, all of a sudden it started to play things on its own! I realized some background app was accessing it. Usually when you use ASIO interface, it puts the device in exclusive mode. Doesn't seem to be the case here. You may want to unselect it as the default Windows device or you get mixing of its sound together with your main app!" This is not regular behaviour for Asio. You should not have 2 drivers active at the same time, the Windows Native one and the Motu Asio one
No, that is regular behavior for ASIO-capable devices, at least as long the sample rate between the Windows (WDM) settings and ASIO settings is the same. I've used about 8-10 different ASIO soundcards over the years and they all behaved that way. And I see the same when reading people's experiences on music making forums. Restricting the audio device to ASIO or WDM only would annoy users and wouldn't sell so well.

It's possible to find some ASIO devices that don't work that way if you go looking for them, but they're rare. People usually have Asio4all in mind when thinking about this, but that's one of the exceptions. And frankly Asio4all is not even a real ASIO driver.
 

phoenixsong

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Would a quick RMAA test show the problem in the review at 192khz? At least to figure out if it's only the sample sent in that has problems at 192 or all of them?

I ran the regular RMAA tests this morning on my MK5: they all looked 99% the same at all sample rates including 192 - also pretty much similar to the 828ES - nothing out of the ordinary at any sample rate: if that means anything.

For anyone wondering about the headphone output:
I audibly compared this and the Topping L30 headphone outputs by simply switching the cable as fast as possible keeping the levels roughly the same and honestly couldn't really tell much, if any difference at the same volume on AKG K371 headphones. Obviously not a perfect test, but for me - it was close enough that I sold the L30. Obviously if you have difficult to drive headphones: it's probably a different story.

Otherwise for people asking about drivers: the last month or so since I've had it: the drivers on Windows 10 have been pretty rock-solid for me.
According to DIY Audio Heaven's power table here headphone-power-table-2.pdf (wordpress.com) the AKG K371 only requires 3.98mW to hit an SPL of 105dB, which according to the 33 ohm load power distortion graphs is still close to ideal performance for the Ultralite. With its high DAC SINAD sound quality is expected to be very well audibly transparent under such circumstances. However, for any more challenging impedance/efficiency combinations on headphones I can see how it will start to struggle
 

PeteL

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No, that is regular behavior for ASIO-capable devices, at least as long the sample rate between the Windows (WDM) settings and ASIO settings is the same. I've used about 8-10 different ASIO soundcards over the years and they all behaved that way. And I see the same when reading people's experiences on music making forums. Restricting the audio device to ASIO or WDM only would annoy users and wouldn't sell so well.

It's possible to find some ASIO devices that don't work that way if you go looking for them, but they're rare. People usually have Asio4all in mind when thinking about this, but that's one of the exceptions. And frankly Asio4all is not even a real ASIO driver.
OK, but what if they are not the same? I admit that I am not fully up to date on how it works with windows, for a long time natively it just didn't work past 48K, then 96, but I have been on MacOS since a few years. I don't really know how fluid is the switch from Asio to WDM, and again, all I'm saying is that it looks like driver issues, It can't be designed with that much distortion when at 192K just as a fatality, it's obviously a bug that's what I meant.
 
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mdsimon2

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I am thinking of getting one of these for DAC and amplifier measurements, can anyone think of a sub-$1K ADC that would be better performing for that purpose than this?

Michael
 

777

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I am thinking of getting one of these for DAC and amplifier measurements, can anyone think of a sub-$1K ADC that would be better performing for that purpose than this?

Michael
QA402 from Quant Asylum ?
 

mdsimon2

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QA402 from Quant Asylum ?

Thank you for the suggestion but should have mentioned it needs to run on Mac. I had looked at the QA401 in the past but it looked like it was Windows only, looks like the QA402 is similar.

Michael
 

DWPress

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Actually, after some thought and also checking out this well done review done on Youtube by Julian Krause this thing might be a good candidate for those waiting for an Okto since Motu deemed fit to allowed a master volume control again. For Mac users especially and at half the price it allows for a lot of functionality input/output for multichannel use and computer based audio with DSP.

In addition to the MK4, my last Motu interface I tried was a Ultralite AVB which just didn't cut it for 8 channel usage and my needs. Otherwise the only real handy feature missing for home audio is a remote. I considered waiting for this next generation of Motu gear but happy I pulled the trigger elsewhere.

This Julian guy reminds me a bit of Amir but a pro audio side of things:
 

zhora

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According to DIY Audio Heaven's power table here headphone-power-table-2.pdf (wordpress.com) the AKG K371 only requires 3.98mW to hit an SPL of 105dB, which according to the 33 ohm load power distortion graphs is still close to ideal performance for the Ultralite. With its high DAC SINAD sound quality is expected to be very well audibly transparent under such circumstances. However, for any more challenging impedance/efficiency combinations on headphones I can see how it will start to struggle

I am being lazy here because I don't know how to do this math, but would Audeze LCDX be in this sweetspot?
 

Helicopter

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I am being lazy here because I don't know how to do this math, but would Audeze LCDX be in this sweetspot?
You will be OK on the most important thing, power, so it will be adequate, but yeah, here on ASR we look for lower distortion than this.:cool:
 

sarumbear

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There are both mic capable inputs and line level. I started testing with the Mic input set to its lowest gain:

View attachment 139547

@amirm I wonder if you can test the Microphone amplifier at full gain? After all, 0.7 volt is almost the consumer 0VU level, not many (if any) microphones work at such high output level.

Thank you.
 

mdsimon2

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Actually, after some thought and also checking out this well done review done on Youtube by Julian Krause this thing might be a good candidate for those waiting for an Okto since Motu deemed fit to allowed a master volume control again. For Mac users especially and at half the price it allows for a lot of functionality input/output for multichannel use and computer based audio with DSP.

In addition to the MK4, my last Motu interface I tried was a Ultralite AVB which just didn't cut it for 8 channel usage and my needs. Otherwise the only real handy feature missing for home audio is a remote. I considered waiting for this next generation of Motu gear but happy I pulled the trigger elsewhere.

This Julian guy reminds me a bit of Amir but a pro audio side of things:

Agree that the master volume control makes this interesting. Does anyone know if there is a way to use an IR remote with this? I flipped through the user guide and did not see anything obvious.

Michael
 
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amirm

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@amirm I wonder if you can test the Microphone amplifier at full gain? After all, 0.7 volt is almost the consumer 0VU level, not many (if any) microphones work at such high output level.

Thank you.
There is 74 dB of gain at max setting. That generates a good bit of self-noise to the tune of -36 dBFS. This shows up on its meter as well as my measurements.
 

phoenixsong

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There is 74 dB of gain at max setting. That generates a good bit of self-noise to the tune of -36 dBFS. This shows up on its meter as well as my measurements.
In this case would you still recommend the use of a mic activator (like the Se Electronics DM1 Dynamite, for instance) to boost the signal level for mics which do not require phantom power?
 
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amirm

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In this case would you still recommend the use of a mic activator (like the Se Electronics DM1 Dynamite, for instance) to boost the signal level for mics which do not require phantom power?
I am out of my league here. :) I just don't have any experience with mic amps and such to say anything one way or the other.
 
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amirm

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Good news. Someone from Motu contacted me and said they found the issue with 192 kHz sampling. Apparently the EQ pipeline is on by default even if you don't change the settings for it. The filter coefficients for this EQ filter was causing an overflow at 192 kHz sampling with full amplitude signal that I use (0 dBFS). They gave me instructions to turn off the EQ and it indeed fixed both the 1 kHz problem and linearity:


MOTU UltraLite-mk5 THD+N vs Frequency No EQ Measurements DAC.png


Not sure why there is a bit more high frequency noise now (it is there regardless of EQ). But otherwise, the big rise in distortion is fixed.

And here is the effect on linearity:

MOTU UltraLite-mk5 Linearity No EQ Measurements DAC.png


When I get a chance, I will upgrade the review with this data and higher rating.

It is nice to see the company following up like this! :)
 

phoenixsong

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Good news. Someone from Motu contacted me and said they found the issue with 192 kHz sampling. Apparently the EQ pipeline is on by default even if you don't change the settings for it. The filter coefficients for this EQ filter was causing an overflow at 192 kHz sampling with full amplitude signal that I use (0 dBFS). They gave me instructions to turn off the EQ and it indeed fixed both the 1 kHz problem and linearity:


View attachment 139941

Not sure why there is a bit more high frequency noise now (it is there regardless of EQ). But otherwise, the big rise in distortion is fixed.

And here is the effect on linearity:

View attachment 139942

When I get a chance, I will upgrade the review with this data and higher rating.

It is nice to see the company following up like this! :)
Excellent results! I hope this issue is made aware to and the instructions are available/accessible for all consumers as well
 

DWPress

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This is a piece of pro audio gear capable of far more than most DACs reviewed here on ASR. In my experience Motu does a good job with their online tutorials and documentation but the "manual" has more than a few pages to it to go through to get the most out of it.
 
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