MOTU UltraLite shortcomings


The MOTU UltraLite does an almost perfect job. It provides a sturdy chassis, and the overall feel is robust. I configured it once, and I usually do not touch it except for its master volume knob. The only thing it does is to mix some analogue audio ins and firewire audio from the computer together and send it to some of its outputs. Since the devices connected all have an FX engine of their own, I even do not use the built in effects engine.

The UltraLite’s firewire audio volume can be controlled via the Mac’s main volume control – a feature I desperately missed on the Phonic Helix Board 24 Universal PHHB24U.

There are a couple of noteworthy things.

  • Sometimes some pulse sound is audible due to the firewire cable even that the device is turned off and not connected to power.
  • A synth sonnected via S/PDIF and turned off also causes some audible noise for unknown reasons. Maybe that’s not a problem of the UltraLite, but the synth.
  • The configuration is not straightforward. One has to deal with more than one application (like MOTU Audio Setup and CueMix FX), which do not seem to be designed for users with simple workflows.
  • Despite the fact that the device has that many analogue outputs, it is difficult to route the mixed signal to two stereo output pairs. Fortunately Adam Baker figured it out and shares his findings. Especially pay attention to the »Monitor« button for each output you want to control via the master volume control (aka »Monitor Level«). Thanks a bunch, Adam, for sharing.
  • When switching it on or off, it causes the speakers to emit some acoustic shocks. I did not find any configuration setting to avoid that. Which means the speakers should be off while powering the UltraLite on respectively off. A rather tedious task.
  • The master volume button needs to be pushed to toggle between controlling the phones or main volume. It defaults to phones but main volume after each power cycle. Since I never use phones on it, I’d preferred to have it either default to main or even better to remember the last used setting.

The UltraLite is great, though for the money paid, I’m a bit biased.

Enough ululation for today :) .