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MOTU 16A Thunderbolt / USB Audio Interface with AVB

Audio interface with 16 balanced/unbalanced analog inputs and outputs, plus 2x8 channel ADAT optical ports deliver a total of 32 ins and outs
MFR# 9320

Product Description

The MOTU 16A is the world's first Thunderbolt audio interface with 16 analog inputs and outputs, 48-channel mixing and AVB audio networking.

64 audio channels

Sixteen balanced/unbalanced TRS analog inputs and outputs, plus 2 x 8-channel ADAT optical ports, deliver a total of 32 inputs and 32 outputs. Use the 16A for expanded analog I/O for your computer, or as a flexible, comprehensive patchbay and mixer. Or both!

Superb audio quality

The 16A employs latest-generation ESS Sabre32 Ultra™ converters, known for their industry-leading performance, together with expertly engineered analog circuits that reflect more than three decades of pro audio engineering expertise. The result? The 16A achieves actual, measured performance of 123 dB dynamic range (A-weighted, 20 Hz to 20 kHz) on its balanced TRS analog outputs.

Ultra-low I/O latency

Every digital audio workflow has some latency. The only question is, how much? In the case of the 16A, the answer is, not much at all. In the 16A, latency is measured in a handful of samples, from the time an audio signal first goes digital to its arrival somewhere else (to an output, the mixer, or the computer). By keeping latency this low in the hardware, the 16A helps minimize latency introduced by your host software. Over Thunderbolt, round trip host latency is an impressive 1.4 ms, from analog in, through the host, to analog out (@ 96 kHz with a 32-sample host buffer).

Thunderbolt technology

Thunderbolt lets you connect displays, hard drives, and other peripherals to your computer, along with the 16A, and the Thunderbolt bus won't even break a sweat. But more importantly, Thunderbolt gives you an astonishing 256 channels of computer I/O (128 in and out). You can use them to route audio to the physical inputs and outputs on the 16A, plus the 48-channel mixer inside the 16A, plus audio network streams. The 16A is the first and only interface to combine Thunderbolt I/O connectivity with AVB audio networking.

Audio class compliant USB 2.0

Don't have a Thunderbolt-equipped computer yet? Hi-speed USB 2.0 provides across-the-board compatibility with pretty much all laptops and desktops. The 16A is USB audio class compliant, which means you enjoy OS-level USB compatibility and support, including iPad support (with a camera connection kit). Since USB 2.0 devices are compatible with USB 3.0-equipped hosts, your 16A interface is a future-proof investment in your studio.

48-channel digital mixing

The 16A is equipped with a 48-channel digital mixer designed just like a large format mixing console. The 48 inputs can take signal from anywhere: the physical inputs on the 16A interface itself, audio channels from host software on your computer, audio network streams, or even mixer outputs. The mixer provides 7 stereo aux busses, 3 groups, a reverb bus that can alternately serve as a 4th group, a Main Mix bus and a separate Monitor bus that can serve as a solo bus. In essence: capable and transparent mixing.

Modeled analog EQ and compression

British analog mixing consoles are renowned for their musical EQ profiles. The 16A meticulously models these classic EQs to give you the very same, magical EQ response found on these coveted desks. Each input channel also provides a classic compressor module with optional peak/RMS operation. Groups and the Main Mix bus are equipped with MOTU's Leveler™, an accurate model of the legendary Teletronix™ LA-2A™ optical leveling amplifier, known for its unique and highly sought-after Automatic Gain Control (AGC) characteristics.

Matrix routing and splitting

With one click on the 16A's routing grid, you can route any source signal to any destination. Sources can be analog or digital inputs on the interface, computer channels, mixer bus outputs, or audio network streams from other devices on the network. Destinations include interface outputs, host software inputs, mixer inputs, or any other device (or computer) on the AVB network. You can even split any single input (or stereo pair) to unlimited multiple output destinations.

System expansion and audio networking

The 16A network port introduces AVB Ethernet, the new industry standard developed by the IEEE for professional audio networking. Add a second MOTU AVB interface (1248, 8M or 16A) with a simple Cat-5e or CAT-6 ethernet cable.

Build a network with multiple interfaces and computers using standard AVB switches and network cabling, with ultra-low network latency, even over long cable runs (hundreds of meters). Stream hundreds of audio channels among devices and computers on the network.

Web app control

Control everything from your laptop, tablet, and smart phone The software that you use to control the 16A doesn't reside on your hard drive. It's a web app served from the hardware itself. This means you can control the 16A's on-board DSP, mixing, device settings, and network audio routing from the web app software running in your favorite web browser on a laptop, tablet or smart phone connected by wire or Wi-Fi to your local area network. Use any web client on any platform — Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android — as long as it shares the same network.

Stand-alone mixing with wireless control

Connect an Apple Airport™ or other Wi-Fi router directly to the 16A with a standard Ethernet cable and control the 16A's powerful mixing and DSP effects from your smart phone or tablet, without a computer. Great for live sound mixing!

Comprehensive metering

The large backlit 324 x 24 LCD lets you view all signal activity at a glance with detailed metering for all analog and digital I/O. Access hardware settings from a simple and convenient menu.

Quick Setup presets

The 16A is so flexible, it can serve many roles — in the studio, on stage, and throughout an installation. The Quick Setup menu lets you instantly reconfigure the 16A for many common situations, from operation as a standard audio interface to serving as a network "snake" from one location to another. Once a pre

Product Specifications

Condition New
Chassis 19-inch Rack-mount
Rack Spaces 1U
Channels 48-Channel
Digital Inputs 16
Analog Inputs 16
Input Connectors BNC, Optical, 1/4-inch TRS
Digital Outputs 16
Analog Outputs 16
Output Connectors BNC, Optical, 1/4-inch TRS
Computer Connection Thunderbolt, USB
Clock I/O In, Out
Maximum Sampling Rate 192 kHz
Digital Format ADAT, SMUX

Product Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars.
Review Count (2)

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Perfect addition to my MOTU 828es ....I wanted to eliminate my patchbay from the setup so more I/O was the only option so it was a NO BRAINER for me to go with the 16A!

By Phillip C on April 25, 2021

I have been using a Focusrite LiquidSaffire 56 with a Focusrite Octopre Dynamic MkII for the past number of years, and it worked as a great setup in my project studio. A little while ago I started looking into other options on the market because I wanted to expand my i/o and Initially, the MOTU AVB interfaces caught my eye for their wide variety of options throughout the line. I really liked how at every level they have a product that can not only be the new center piece of your studio, but also work with what you currently have. The 16A seemed to be the one that fit my needs. I had been using outboard preamps plugged into the line inputs of my focusrite products, and now I can ADAT the 16 Focusrite pres into the 16A, and use the extra 16 analogue channels for my other preamps. Effectively doubling my input capability in one day.

Finally, I was able to pick up a 16A, just spent the entire day into the early morning with it and my initial impressions of the product couldn't be better.

I have never really subscribed to the idea that AD/DA converters are THAT important, I just figured as long as they aren't trash they should be fine. Keep in mind, I've been listening to my Focusrite converters for almost 10 years, I am acutely aware of what they sound like through my setup. The first piece of audio I played through the MOTO converters, blew my freaking mind. I couldn't believe how much more depth the sound has, and less...cluttery it sounded. So, right off the bat, the sound quality is enough for me to give it a 5 start review.

Next, the flexibility of it. When I initially started trying to make music production a bit more than a hobby, I was using a Macbook Pro with the intention of focusing on mobile recording, had to pivot a bit when the firewire port of the Macbook died on me. I couldn't afford a new computer and a new interface at the time, so I was stuck using firewire, and ended up with a less portable computer. A great computer, but a more traditional desktop setup. The fact that the 16A has Thunderbolt 2, Ethernet AND USB2 connectivity is amazing. So now I can use my laptop on the fly for portable gigs, and my desktop for working at the studio. There are a few other brands doing this, but not in this price range, most of them were at least $500 more...and had less i/o.

I touched on the I/O a little bit already, but here's a little something to think about; If you're a Pro Tools user, and you're going the subscription route, you max out at 32 inputs. The 16A has 32 channels of input. 16 through ADAT, (8 per ADAT connection at 48k, 4 per ADAT at 96k, and 2 at 196k) and 16 through good old TRS connections. Again, something I couldn't find offered from other brands. Most other interfaces at this level have D-Sub connections for their analogue inputs. D-Sub is great, just not practical in my situation.

Build Quality seems to be fine. The material it's made out seems to be sturdy enough. Obviously, I've had it one day, I can't say how long its going to last but it seems like it's built right. What I certainly appreciate is how sturdy the connections are in the back. The Optical ADAT cables I was running between my Focusrite pieces didn't have a very firm connection, and if I had to dig around in there for one reason or another, at least one of the four would come out. The Optical ADAT cables click securely into the MOTU unit, the same goes for the USB cable (Haven't used the Thunderbolt port yet or the AVB) and even the TRS jacks click in nice and secure.

The mixing software is powerful...it's too simple to be as confusing as it is though haha. Most of my time today was spent exploring the mixing software, and once I wrapped my head around the labeling, where to find everything and how to utilize it along side my DAWs it became easy enough to use. I think, given how powerful the mixing software seems to be, they made it about as user friendly as it could be.

There has to be gripe, no one could have an absolutely perfect review, and there is a gripe. The packaging was pretty dicey. The foam inserts in the box didn't really fit the unit at very well, and it was certainly sloshing around inside there. Obviously, everything works fine, but it did make me a bit nervous.

So, overall, I'm incredibly happy with it so far. If anything comes up, I'll be sure to update the review.

By PJ M on June 24, 2020

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