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Solid upgrade from Motu M2?

reter

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I'm looking for an upgrade from the motu m2 audio interface

just to be clear, i want to upgrade the adc , NOT the dac since i'll be using the device to record from mics


any suggestions?
 

Blumlein 88

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I think any real upgrade will cost significant money. How much is the budget?
 

AnalogSteph

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Is this the latest version M2 with the ESS ADC or the older one with an AKM?
What kind of microphones are we talking about (and what kind of peak SPL levels)? Which sample rates are to be used?
Will two mic inputs be sufficient or do you need more?

TBH the M2 is no slouch. The AKM ADC digital filters are a bit meh (below 192k in particular), but its input dynamic range is above average and peak input level handling is more than decent, mic input EIN is fine, and it's among the least expensive interfaces to use a PGA-based input amplifier chip so should not completely tank in distortion and bandwidth at high gain, even if distortion at full input for the old version is a bit meh. Plus the low latency A/D + D/A, and a rather decent headphone output (no the most powerful but clean).

For a substantial upgrade all around you can probably expect to spend about 3 times as much... think Focusrite Clarett+ 2Pre or RME Babyface Pro FS. (If you just want something similar with a fancier ADC chip, the new Scarlett 4th gen 2i2/4i4 would be worth a look.) If you need to handle pretty much the entire dynamic range of a large-diaphragm condenser without having to set the gain and thought the "old" M2 ADC was more than fine, the Zoom UAC-232 will be worth a look. (Note that it can handle about 6 dB less maximum input, but if you never were anywhere near 0 dBFS at minimum gain on the M2 that should not be a problem.) Or you could go all out with a Neumann MT48, which uses a higher-grade implementation of a similar concept composite ADC.
 
OP
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reter

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Is this the latest version M2 with the ESS ADC or the older one with an AKM?
What kind of microphones are we talking about (and what kind of peak SPL levels)? Which sample rates are to be used?
Will two mic inputs be sufficient or do you need more?

TBH the M2 is no slouch. The AKM ADC digital filters are a bit meh (below 192k in particular), but its input dynamic range is above average and peak input level handling is more than decent, mic input EIN is fine, and it's among the least expensive interfaces to use a PGA-based input amplifier chip so should not completely tank in distortion and bandwidth at high gain, even if distortion at full input for the old version is a bit meh. Plus the low latency A/D + D/A, and a rather decent headphone output (no the most powerful but clean).

For a substantial upgrade all around you can probably expect to spend about 3 times as much... think Focusrite Clarett+ 2Pre or RME Babyface Pro FS. (If you just want something similar with a fancier ADC chip, the new Scarlett 4th gen 2i2/4i4 would be worth a look.) If you need to handle pretty much the entire dynamic range of a large-diaphragm condenser without having to set the gain and thought the "old" M2 ADC was more than fine, the Zoom UAC-232 will be worth a look. (Note that it can handle about 6 dB less maximum input, but if you never were anywhere near 0 dBFS at minimum gain on the M2 that should not be a problem.) Or you could go all out with a Neumann MT48, which uses a higher-grade implementation of a similar concept composite ADC.

How do i know which chip has my motu M2? there's a serial number which says 2019-2021 next to it, so i don't really know when is made
 

AnalogSteph

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How do i know which chip has my motu M2? there's a serial number which says 2019-2021 next to it, so i don't really know when is made
If opening it is out of the question, you could try running a loopback test using either RMAA or REW to determine the frequency response at 44.1/48k. REW can be trickier to get working right but may be you only sensible option if you're on a Mac or something.

If everything works well it shouldn't be too hard to spot the +/-0.03 dB periodic passband ripple of the AKM's digital filter if you zoom in a bit. (If you see something much bigger / different in REW, something about the windowing is messed up.)
ak55xx-singlespeed-periodripple.png

In any case you still haven't answered all of the other questions. (BTW, I was asking about microphone types more so than specific models. There's no point in looking for something with super-low EIN if you're going to be using a condenser. But then input level handling may become a concern if you expect levels in excess of 130 dB SPL, which might occur with someone screaming directly into the mic or something.)
 
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reter

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If opening it is out of the question, you could try running a loopback test using either RMAA or REW to determine the frequency response at 44.1/48k. REW can be trickier to get working right but may be you only sensible option if you're on a Mac or something.

If everything works well it shouldn't be too hard to spot the +/-0.03 dB periodic passband ripple of the AKM's digital filter if you zoom in a bit. (If you see something much bigger / different in REW, something about the windowing is messed up.)
View attachment 314094
In any case you still haven't answered all of the other questions. (BTW, I was asking about microphone types more so than specific models. There's no point in looking for something with super-low EIN if you're going to be using a condenser. But then input level handling may become a concern if you expect levels in excess of 130 dB SPL, which might occur with someone screaming directly into the mic or something.)

yeah, i don't need much input level, my mics are condensers, motu is pretty ok but i've already heard about this roll-off and i'm a bit concerned because the 48khz is something i use for some of my recordings

also, as i understand adc chips have different manufacturers and aren't all realiable to all samples, then can you suggest something very reliable at 48khz, maybe for the same price or a little more than the m2?
 
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AnalogSteph

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then can you suggest something very reliable at 48khz, maybe for the same price or a little more than the m2?
Here are some potential candidates, ordered by descending price (going by Thomann, specifics may vary depending on where you are) and assuming your M2 is an "old" one, with ADCs used:

Focusrite Clarett+ 2Pre - CS5381
Audient iD24 - ES9822PRO
MOTU M4 (current production) - ES9840
Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 4th gen - CS5381
MOTU M2 (current production) - ES9820
Audient iD14 MkII (current production) - ES9822PRO
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 4th gen - CS5381

There'll be no doubts about filter performance with the CS5381, which has exactly one option per sample rate, well-documented in the datasheet. (It's fairly close to bulletproof at 48k.) With the ESS ones there'll be some choice in the matter, though I wouldn't call any of the options bad, quite the contrary - you're generally better off than with the AK55xx filter for one reason or another with any of them, I just wish there was another intermediate setting for a better compromise between passband ripple and stopband rejection (basically, one of them is always just "decent" while the other one is spectacular). The linear phase fast rolloff filter even rivals the old AK5394A for being bulletproof at 44.1 kHz, not to mention filter performance doesn't get worse at all up to 192 kHz.
 
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reter

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Here are some potential candidates, ordered by descending price (going by Thomann, specifics may vary depending on where you are) and assuming your M2 is an "old" one, with ADCs used:

Focusrite Clarett+ 2Pre - CS5381
Audient iD24 - ES9822PRO
MOTU M4 (current production) - ES9840
Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 4th gen - CS5381
MOTU M2 (current production) - ES9820
Audient iD14 MkII (current production) - ES9822PRO
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 4th gen - CS5381

There'll be no doubts about filter performance with the CS5381, which has exactly one option per sample rate, well-documented in the datasheet. (It's fairly close to bulletproof at 48k.) With the ESS ones there'll be some choice in the matter, though I wouldn't call any of the options bad, quite the contrary - you're generally better off than with the AK55xx filter for one reason or another with any of them, I just wish there was another intermediate setting for a better compromise between passband ripple and stopband rejection (basically, one of them is always just "decent" while the other one is spectacular). The linear phase fast rolloff filter even rivals the old AK5394A for being bulletproof at 44.1 kHz, not to mention filter performance doesn't get worse at all up to 192 kHz.
thank you, i will try the focusrite 4i4 4th gen with his CSS chip and xlr inputs, that's what i need the most

Is there a difference in timbre or spacial presentation between adc chips? i'm asking because i had the behringer uphoria before the motu m2 and the way it sounds is slightly different between the two, what kind of adc chip does the behringer have?
 
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AnalogSteph

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Which Behringer specifically? U-Phoria is just a generic brand name for their USB audio interfaces. UMC22 (PCM2902)? UMC202HD (CS4272), UMC204HD (CS4272 + CS4271), UMC404HD (CS4272 x2)? I would rather suspect the Behringers' preamps in this case, which have a reputation for high levels of dominant-H2 distortion at higher gains and premature clipping.
 
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reter

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Which Behringer specifically? U-Phoria is just a generic brand name for their USB audio interfaces. UMC22 (PCM2902)? UMC202HD (CS4272), UMC204HD (CS4272 + CS4271), UMC404HD (CS4272 x2)? I would rather suspect the Behringers' preamps in this case, which have a reputation for high levels of dominant-H2 distortion at higher gains and premature clipping.
umc202hd, so they have the same manufacturer but a better one
 

AnalogSteph

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The CS4272 ADC is much the same as a CS5361, yes (the standalone part may have a hair less distortion still but that's about it). The Behringer's analog stages running on +5V single-supply with inexpensive opamps are definitely the bottleneck though... it's a typical sub-$100 interface in that respect (no budget for an inverter to generate -5V at least). Tons of audio interfaces are using CS4272s (Focusrite Scarlett 1st-3rd gen, Arturia Minifuse, Tascam UA-2x2HR, UAA Volt and many more), CS5361 and its multichannel relatives (64, 66, 68) are not exactly too rare either - you should find plenty of instances listed. These are midrange workhorse parts and have been for years.
 
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