New Interface Day: MOTU M4


Rock Star
Glad to see we have a recording section now!

After I dropped $1,000 on new monitors, I got the bug to upgrade my audio interface. I really liked my Yamaha USB mixer, but I had a feeling it's a weak spot in my signal chain, and it lacked some features. My requirements were:
  • Quality input metering, so I can ensure I'm not clipping, especially when using modelers without level indicators (HX Stomp, Iridium)
  • Blend knob for direct monitoring vs computer playback, so I can run the hardware modelers without latency
  • Separate controls for monitor and headphone volume control, so I'm not constantly plugging and unplugging them
  • Stereo line inputs on the back, so I don't have to run inputs across the desk
  • Bonus for having a high impedance guitar input on the front so I can run my guitar in for playing through plugins
Before I settled on the MOTU M4, I was really considering the UAD Apollo Solo. It's on sale now for $500 with a bundle of plugins, and has a great reputation for quality. But I didn't want do deal with having one knob for all controls and to need to fire up my computer to adjust direct monitoring. I will often play guitar while working off my work PC, and I want to just turn knobs. Additionally, there was a lot of caution about lack of DSP in the Solo, and a rabbit hole of expensive plugins that I probably wouldn't use.

So I got the MOTU M4, and so far pretty impressed. It's a hefty unit with a metal case so it feels fairly durable. The knobs are outstanding, knurled metal like a Tele, and they are super easy to adjust with one finger compared to little plastic knobs. It has all the things I need in terms of controls. There's a full color LCD screen that has very granular metering compared to other sub-$500 interfaces.

Sonically, it sounds a little clearer than the Yamaha mixer, both on monitors and headphone outs. The headphone amp is pretty clear as well, reminding me of the Schiit Magni 3 amp I will sometimes use for listening to music. There I can turn it up louder seemingly, but it sounds clear and doesn't seem as loud.

Works great with my Fractal FM3 via the line input, and having the level monitor is great. I can see that I should be running at line level with +4 output, and that's getting me to just below yellow levels on the meter. I like being able to toggle inputs for direct monitoring, works very well.

Running the guitar into the Hi-Z input on the front works great. I like that I can do this in addition to running the stereo line in from my modeler on the back as well, so I'm not fussing with the levels or setup.

Using it with Neural DSP plugins, the latency is insanely good. I'm running it at 48 kHz sample rate and at 32 samples for 0.7ms nominal latency which is crazy low compared to everything else I've used. No audio drops yet at least just running Plini as standalone. I think with my Audient Evo 4 I was running something like 192 samples and closer to 5-10ms latency. It's almost as immediate as running directly into a hardware modeler. Oh, this is through a low end Apple M1 Macbook Air.

I'll keep checking back here with my thoughts over time but I'm really impressed so far, especially for under $300.
Oh, and I've been working on cleaning up my desk area so I can get a proper photo taken. It's a pretty fun little setup now!
One other nice thing about the extra inputs, at some point if I ever start recording or want to make videos or something, I can do it with this interface pretty easily.
Motu M2 is what I use. Works great both Windows and old Macs. Killer in a MacBook Pro M1.
I also have the m4, it’s great.. so is the m2. Even though using a Mac and core audio usually is good, the Motu drivers make a difference. This is what sets good interfaces apart from mediocre ones… imo.

But im just so lazy so mostly i use the stomp as interface :ROFLMAO: Even though i probably can set up an aggregate device outof the two.. I tried once and it works great but confuses me when all channels are grouped together and numbers change.

Easiest way for me is to connect both devices outputs to the monitors. I think.
I recently got the MOTU M2 very happy with it
going to upgrade my monitors soon
Going with Eris e5 ext and eris sub8
just waiting to sell my current monitors

I have that sub under my desk and made a massive difference in
monitoring and enjoyment sitting here.

Took a bit of time and experimentation tuning the crossover and
moving the sub around the room to find the "sweet spot."

Small investment! Huge improvement.
Found a useful feature on the MOTU M4: you can easily link the front inputs to a stereo pair by just holding down the direct monitor button. So now I can hook up my iPad and listen to music either through the monitors or the nice headphone amp of the M4, without disconnecting the stereo guitar input from my modeler on the back.

Still really liking this interface!
How's that desk clean up going? It's been 17 days already... :hmm
I’ll help him. Here’s my desk with my motu cutie under the screen. This is it… I place my MacBook to the right and plug that cable in. There’s a powered hub velcroed under the screen stand that everything goes through, the screen also.

Nothing really low end about that proc tho.

Totally. I choose to use the M1 Air (with 16 GB RAM) for my day job rather than a MacBook Pro - and I've had 'em all, BTW. It's the absolute best bang for the buck. 2 in this house, actually.
Nothing really low end about that proc tho.

Yeah when they announced the M1 and the insane specs, I knew I'd end up with one. I got a good 6-7 years out of my Mac Mini which was another low end model but couldn't compare. Also got a solid 3.5 years out of my last iPhone before I got a new one this year (and gave the old one to my kid). Likely going to pick up one of the M1 iPads at some point (and again gift the old one to my kid).
I also use an m1. I got the first macbook pro m1 that came… well worth the money. Feels like they opened the door to us “everyday” casual’ist (what the fuck did I just type…) music users. Kinda solving a lot of stuff that earlier was reserved for higher end machines… with a lowly macbook… it’s really cool. I haven’t come as far yet with a Logic project but so far it doesn’t even blink…

Edit: for the topic… Motu + macbook = great