November 16, 2004
MOTU has introduced the Traveler ($895 MSRP), a bus-powered FireWire audio interface for Mac and Windows personal computers. Designed for portable recording situations with either desktop or laptop computers, the Traveler has no AC power receptacle and instead draws power from its FireWire connection to the computer, while the computer can be powered by its own battery or AC. For extended remote recording, the Traveler can be powered by an industry-standard battery pack via a 4-pin XLR power socket. As a complete audio recording system with 20 inputs and 22 outputs operating simultaneously, the Traveler inherits many features from MOTU's 828mkII FireWire interface and adds many additional significant new features, including four mic/guitar/instrument inputs, digitally controlled mic input gain, 192kHz analog recording capability and both S/PDIF and AES/EBU 96kHz digital I/O.
At 3.8 pounds and 14.75 inches wide by 9 inches deep by 1.75 inches tall, the Traveler is housed in a strong, lightweight aluminum alloy case that fits neatly beneath laptop computers and slides easily into a briefcase, backpack or computer bag. Sturdy rack ears are included for convenient 19-inch rack mount installation. The rack ears are long enough to provide enough space in a rack enclosure for MIDI and power cables connected to the right-hand panel of the Traveler.
The front panel provides hands-on mixing, programming and trim control with 11 detented digital rotary encoders, four 48V phantom power switches, a headphone jack, a 2x16 backlit LCD, 12 five-segment meters and a bank of status lights for clock and sync options.
The rear panel provides 4 Neutrik "combo" XLR/quarter-inch mic/instrument inputs, 4 TRS balanced/unbalanced analog inputs, 8 balanced/unbalanced TRS analog outputs, optical in/out (for both 8-channel light pipe and 2-channel S/PDIF TOSLink formats), RCA S/PDIF in/out, XLR AES/EBU in/out, BNC word clock in/out, a 9-pin ADAT SYNC IN port for sample-accurate transfers and dual 400Mbit FireWire A jacks for convenient FireWire daisy-chaining from the computer.
Flexible power options
The right-hand side panel (looking at the unit from the front), provides MIDI in/out jacks, a 4-pin XLR battery power input jack, a BUS POWER ENABLE/DISABLE switch, and a standard DC power input jack that accepts any 10-24V DC power supply for extending stand-alone mixing operation in situations where 110-220V AC power is available. The bus power enable/disable switch allows the user to choose bus power or battery power (when a battery source is plugged in).
When operating at 96kHz, the Traveler efficiently draws approximately 9 watts of power, which helps extend the battery life of the laptop computer to which it is connected. DC battery packs that are commonplace for extended remote video camera operation can also be used to power the Traveler. These products offer multiple hours of recording time, depending on their capacity. The connection between the battery pack and the Traveler is made via the 4-pin XLR jack.
Four mic/instrument inputs with Digital Precision Trim
The Traveler has four mic/instrument inputs, which accept low-Z XLR microphone inputs or high-Z quarter-inch guitar/instruments inputs. Individual 48V phantom power can be enabled with four front panel switches. Above these switches are four Digital Precision Trim detented rotary encoders that also serve as 20dB pad switches when pushed. When the user turns these trim knobs, input gain can be adjusted in 1dB increments, and the LCD display provides active numeric feedback as the adjustment is made. The total gain range for these preamps, including the 20dB pad, is 73dB, allowing users to connect anything from guitars and microphones to +4dB or --10dB line level signals. Preamp gain and pad can also be controlled from the include CueMix Console software.
192kHz analog recording, 96kHz digital I/O and CueMix DSP monitor mixing
The Traveler's A/D and D/A converters provide for recording at any sample rate from 44.1 to 192kHz. Digital I/O (AES/EBU, S/PDIF and optical) is provided at any sample rate up to 96kHz. Like all current MOTU audio interfaces, the Traveler provides DSP-driven digital mixing and monitoring for all 20 inputs. Users can connect mics, guitars, synths and effects processors, and monitor everything from the Traveler's main outs or headphone jack with no separate mixer needed and no latency. The Traveler supports up to four separate stereo monitor mixes assigned to any four digital or analog output pairs. For example, separate monitor mixes could be set up for the main outs and headphone outs, while two additional stereo buses could be used for send/return loops to reverb units or other outboard gear. Each mix can support all 20 inputs. A "CueMix Return" feature lets the user route one of the four CueMix DSP mixes back to the computer. This allows users to record their entire mix, including monitored inputs, back into the computer, for example.
The Traveler is expected to ship in Q4, 2004. Price is $895.
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