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MOTU M2 & M4: potential Linux dream audio interface

Posted by JoeyPogoPlugE02 
MOTU M2 & M4: potential Linux dream audio interface
July 03, 2020 01:23PM
I just ordered a MOTU M4, which by all accounts is a fantastic value for an audio interface.
Here is a nice review from a Linux guy.

*excerpt: Update 2020-04-13: As of April 2020 and kernel 5.6.3, full-duplex (simultaneous input/output) requires the use of JACK; pure ALSA and PulseAudio will not work in full-duplex mode.

My plan is to use Gravel Claus's TV box with Armbian probably Xubuntu. I think Armbian ended life for that box, so the older kernel might be just right when you read the review. This bundle of 1. Motu interface, 2. Armbian TV box and 3. for now, a 6600 mAh external battery - would use the TV box's HDMI out to some special low power monitor or alternative.

For the time being MOTU's drivers are most optimized under Windows and have the lowest round trip latency at 2.5ms, which means the time it takes to digitize etc is around the same as if it had to pass through 2.5 feet of air. So if a vocal microphone or guitar were plugged in, you shouldn't notice any delay in the least, and even if you did have one channel with a processed guitar playing through amp sims, you can get the vocal channel to monitor the un-digitized vocal while mixing in the wet reverb outs. Those little things make it so versatile.

The actual list price is already the best deal for an interface out there and it's so popular right now I for one have to wait for the back order!

So if anyone is in that market at least you know someone else here too. My last audio interface was the RME Fireface 800 @ $1700 16 years ago and worth every penny. The Motu uses newer AD chips from the same company and probably has a much better DA, meaning everything sounds better.

-= Cloud 9 =-

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/03/2020 02:12PM by JoeyPogoPlugE02.
Did you end up getting either the M2 or M4? How are things working on Linux?
Re: MOTU M2 & M4: potential Linux dream audio interface
January 15, 2021 11:38PM
JR Wrote:
> Did you end up getting either the M2 or M4? How
> are things working on Linux?

I got the M4 but haven't tried it with Linux. I'll have to scheme a simple way to try it without killing a weekend learning something I didn't know. I would have already if I had the M2 instead. Drivers are class compliant and outputs 1 and 2 show up by default with the M2 in Linux and 3 & 4 by default in the M4.

Overall I'm very impressed and find little fault, but this can be very finniky to get to run on most USB ports. About half or less work, although flawlessly - I cant rave enough. The rest of the USB ports will stutter bad. One workaround is mark the USB ports that work and use everything else for everything else. I solved part of this today with a powered hub. In Windows they heavilly recommend messing with settings in Device Manager such as turn off the ability to save power, which means the computer has several minutes of reversing when you want the setings back. I'll know soon if i can just do that with the powerd hub. MOTU brags-up the DA converters but they sound so different than anything else, so and it's not bad to listen to music on it. The AD converters, I really like. They're AKM which is what RME uses in many Firefaces although not the exact same AD chip. Absolutely silent. . I wasn't expecting that. I did take the time to solder up many cables out of Canare StarQuad. I love the sonic behavior.

So Windows-wise, I give this 4 out of 5 and anything cheaper on the market a 3 out of 5, although Focusrite has very similar product that's said to be all set for Linux. On the M4, strengths are sound qulity and low latency for MIDI tracking. If your computer goes to sleep because you went ouside or something, you might be to learn you have to turn the unit off and on because it's not connected anymore. This unit also has major trouble opening many projects! If it's Reaper with Kontakt it won't open the project. So I'll start Reaper, add Kontakt and THEN open the project! Weird! But it's not so irritating I can't make good use of it. And for that matter it's easy to switch drivers to ASIO4AL and use onboard prosumer VIA audio stuff. If I don't have mics hooked up anything will work as far as I'mconcerned. This is my backup unit but I could talk myself into an RME Babyface Pro when I get my Govt deposit soon. My Fireface 800 has gotten a lot of use since 2004 and still runs strong and its ADs are as relevant as when they came out. I never liked the DAs on the Fireface though.

Also many times your audio unit is useful if it takes digital in/out whether TOSLink or SPDIF. The is M2 and M4s lack anything like that. It has analog ins and outs and MIDI ins and outs as well as the USB connection. But it's not like an RME where you can tell the unit to be used standalone without needing an OS all the time.

Personally i adore this thing :-). Typed on a tiny smartphone so sorry for any bad grammar or disjointed train of thought!

-= Cloud 9 =-

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/16/2021 12:39AM by JoeyPogoPlugE02.
Oscar Santis
Re: MOTU M2 & M4: potential Linux dream audio interface
June 10, 2021 10:54AM
I have an M4 running on Ubuntustudio 20.05 on a dell Latidude 3510.
With 5.4.0 lowlatency-kernel works only with Jack and every 45 second it sound a 1 second glitch, like downsampling.
I solved this issue installing 5.11.0 lowlatency kernel and upgrading linux-firmware via PPA. Now everything sounds and works fine. I only miss Alsamixer's controls for M4.
I work with Pure Data, Ardour and Audacity.
I'ts an excellent choice.
Re: MOTU M2 & M4: potential Linux dream audio interface
June 10, 2021 04:20PM
Oscar Santis,


I solved this issue installing 5.11.0 lowlatency kernel

I'm think it might be even better with PREEMPT RT (real-time) kernel.


I only miss Alsamixer's controls for M4

Why is that the case? (i.e. you can install it for Ubuntu)

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