MOTU’s redesigned UltraLite-mk5 audio interface promises cleaner looks and better sound

These days it’s not enough for a audio interface to sound good – it also has to look the part. With its redesigned steel casing and cast aluminum end caps, MOTU’s new UltraLite-mk5 is sure to grab attention, with its high-contrast white OLED display adding to the air of industrial sophistication.

The UltraLite-mk5 is the latest iteration of MOTU’s popular 18 x 22 half-rack USB audio interface. Connectivity is the same as its predecessors, so you get 40 channels of simultaneous I/O, consisting of two XLR/TRS combo style hi-Z mic/line/guitar on the front panel.

inputs with preamps (+74 dB of gain), 6 x 10 balanced quarter-inch analog I/O, 8-channel optical ADAT (switchable to stereo TOSLink), stereo RCA S/PDIF I/O and MIDI in/out jacks .

All of these analog inputs and outputs are metered via this OLED display, which also indicates digital I/O activity and other status information.

Under the hood, updated ESS DAC technology powers the analog outputs – including headphones – while the ES9026PRO DAC gives you 125dB of dynamic range on the line outputs. Analog input performance, meanwhile, is said to be significantly improved over previous UltraLite models, with quoted dynamic range specs of 120dB and -114dB THD+N (0.0002%).

Software control is via the redesigned CueMix 5 app, which runs on macOS, Windows 10 and iOS. You can now enable direct monitoring for each input with a simple click on the home screen, while separate mixing tabs let you create independent monitoring mixes for each analog output pair, complete with parametric EQ 4 bands, gate, compression and reverb.

Connection to your Mac, PC or iOS device is via high-speed USB-C and sample rates of up to 192kHz are supported.

The UltraLite-mk5 is available now for $595. Learn more about the MOTU website.