MicroBook: Pocket-Sized PC or Mac Recording Studio

MOTU, Massachusetts, has recently launched an external audio-processing unit, called MicroBook, which offers audio recording at a high level, comparable to other professional gear used in most studios. The new device is compact yet versatile, and it is compatible with both PC and Mac.
 Back look at the Microbook Pocket-Sized PC or Mac Recording Studio. (Source: MOTU Inc.)
Back look at the Microbook Pocket-Sized PC or Mac Recording Studio. (Source: MOTU Inc.)

MOTU has designed the new device to provide users high-end audio mixing capabilities on the road, using an ultra-compact mixer that has many features previously found only in larger consoles. The MicroBook has bus-powered USB interface, and it offers users up to four simultaneous inputs as well as a host of studio mixing tools and audio analyzers.

While some similar devices lack Macintosh compatibility, MOTU understands that many audio producers use Apple’s products. Therefore, in addition to PC drivers, they included Mac drivers as well. Other features include dedicated guitar input, microphone sockets at the front, and a couple of line-in sockets to the rear. Audio is output via balanced TRS quarter-inch main outs, stereo “mini” line out, S/PDIF digital out, and phones.

The supported software includes the industry’s best: Ableton Live, Sony Sound Forge, and Steinberg Cubase. Thanks to the provided CueMix FX software, users can enjoy a graphic representation of the device’s audio mixer. Other advanced audio tools that benefit from this includes Fast Fourier Transform/spectrogram, which gives users a fully detailed oscilloscope.

The unit’s balanced input/output connections are shielded from RF interference, AC hum, and other annoying external factors that can spoil a recording. Its microphone preamp is optimized for quality sound delivery; each input/output has seven separate filters and a classic compressor, and the digitally-controlled analog trim offers “the pristine signal quality of analog audio circuitry and the fine-tune precision of digital control.”

According to its datasheet, the MicroBook supports both 44.1 and 48 kHz sample rates, and gives the user the power to correct phase and polarity issues and offers live monitoring of recordings or subsequent playback. The latter is possible thanks to programmable analog stereo output, digital output, and stereo-mini output jacks.

“Our tests show that it matches or exceeds the measured audio specifications of other so-called ‘high-end’ interfaces on the market that cost two and three times as much,” says Jim Cooper, a company executive. “So, it’s perfect for discriminating users who want quality I/O for on-the-go recording, personal studio tracking, laptop-based DJing, and many other applications.”

The MOTU MicroBook is already available, with a retail price of $270. While it does not provide as many features as the classic, heavy-duty audio consoles, it should be a “nice-to-have” portable addition for many audio engineers, producers, and even artists.

TFOT has also covered LessLoss Blackbody, an innovative device that enhances audio playback by addressing the interaction of audio gears’ circuitry, and the Portwell PCS-8230 Car PC, a micro sized PC designed to be used in a car, offering multimedia capabilities along other computer-related features.

For more information about MOTU’s MicroBook, see the company’s website.