If you’re on the hunt for a portable, easy to use recording interface, the options are seemingly endless. There are countless interfaces to choose from, but one budget interface has made a name for itself above all the rest. Of course, I’m talking about the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. That little red box can be found on the desk of bedroom producers, podcasters, YouTubers alike.
However, there is an alternative to the 2i2, the MOTU M2. In this review of the MOTU M2, I’ll let you know why the M2 is my go-to pick for a budget USB-C interface, over the Focusrite and all of the other cheaper interfaces.
Combining sleek design, pristine sound, and an array of features, the MOTU M2 has established itself as a powerful tool for musicians, producers, podcasters, and audio engineers alike. In this review, we’ll delve into the qualities that make the MOTU M2 a standout in its class, exploring its audio fidelity, intuitive functionality, and overall value for money.
- 0.1 MOTU M2 at a Glance
- 0.2 Who is the MOTU M2 for?
- 0.3 About the MOTU M2 – Performance and Features
- 0.4 MOTU M2 Sound Quality
- 0.5 MOTU M2 Build Quality
- 0.6 Final Thoughts on the MOTU M2 USC-C Interface
- 1 USB Interface Buyers Guide
MOTU M2 at a Glance
The MOTU M2 is a 2-channel USB-C recording interface. The M2 is compatible with almost every computer or tablet out of the box, and with adapters, can work with mobile devices as well. It’s a portable, high quality interface with great quality sound.
Who is the MOTU M2 for?
The MOTU M2 is a great choice for musicians and aspiring producers looking to get started with their first recording setup. It’s also a fantastic choice for someone looking to create a mobile recording setup. Its small size makes it a great option to throw in a backpack for mobile sessions, or in your guitar case for making demos on the road. Even thought I have a full home studio, I keep a MOTU M2 in my road case for recording on the move.
The MOTU M2 is also a fantastic choice for podcasters and live streamers. The M2 driver provides convenient loopback channels to your host computer, so you can easily route computer output back to the computer, where you can mix it with mic inputs from the M2 in your host software for live streaming or podcasting.
I would suggest the MOTU M2 for anyone looking to dip their toes in the audio recording world without wasting money on cheaper, low quality equipment.
About the MOTU M2 – Performance and Features
MOTU (short for Mark of the Unicorn) is a US based audio brand that builds high quality audio interfaces, MIDI equipment, and A/V interfaces. The M2 is their most affordable audio interface, coming in at a similar price to many other 2 channel interfaces. However, they did not hold back on features when creating the M2.
The MOTU is a USB-C device and is USB class compliant, meaning you can use it to record audio into a Mac, PC, or iOs device (iPhone, iPad). It’s also backwards compatible with older USB ports using a USB C to A converter. That means you can use it with practically any laptop, desktop, or tablet.
The M2 is a 2 channel interface, meaning you can record up to two sources at a time. The inputs on the M2 will accept wither XLR or instrument cables, so you’ll be able to record a vocal and a guitar, two podcast hosts, or a stereo source like a synth.
It has a stereo speaker output on the back, as well as a headphone output on the front, so you can listen back to your recordings on studio monitors or listen and record with headphones. You can choose to connect your speakers with either RCA or TRS cables, offering flexibility in your setup. The MOTU also has a MIDI in and out included, something you won’t find on most cheaper interfaces.
The M2 also features large, bright LED meters, something not found on most budget interfaces. Once you’ve worked with these meters, you won’t want to go back to an interface without them. The M2 is also extremely low latency. As mentioned before, the loopback feature in the M2’s driver allows for easy streaming and podcasting as well, something you won’t find on cheaper interfaces.
Overall, the MOTU M2 is an extremely high performance interface, especially when you consider the affordable price. The feature set is unmatched, and MOTU did an amazing job packing this many features into such a small package.
MOTU M2 Sound Quality
Of course, all of those features are worthless if the audio you record doesn’t sound good. So, how does the M2 sound? In my opinion, the MOTU M2 is the best sounding 2 channel interface in its price range.
The M2 features ESS Sabre32 Ultra™ DAC technology for superb analog sound, and an ESS-driven headphone output. The preamps and converters on this interface are the best-in-class for the sub $300 2 channel interface category, allowing you to achieve a great sound. While the MOTU is an affordable unit, there’s nothing holding you back from making great music with this interface.
MOTU M2 Build Quality
The MOTU M2 has a spectacular fit and finish for the price. The knobs, inputs, and switches are robust and don’t feel cheap at all. The matte black finish is sleek and blends in with other recording gear. While it is compact and lightweight, it doesn’t feel flimsy at all.
The MOTU M2 is durable enough that I feel good about throwing it in my backpack for mobile sessions. Please note that you should disconnect the USB cable from your MOTU M2 before transporting it, because the cable could bend inside the port and damage your cable and/or interface (this is a good rule of thumb when storing and transporting any equipment). With proper care, the MOTU M2 should provide years of service.
Final Thoughts on the MOTU M2 USC-C Interface
Overall, the MOTU M2 is the best interface in its price range, with amazing preamps and conversion in a small form factor. If you’re looking to get started with recording and producing, make a podcast, or start live streaming, the M2 is a great way to get signal from your mic into your computer. If you’re looking to get an interface in the sub $300 price range, the MOTU M2 is the way to go.
If you’re interested in the MOTU M2, but would like the flexibility to record more than 2 channels, you’re in luck! You can get the same great conversion and features with MOTU’s M4 and M6 options.
If you’re someone who wants a great sounding interface at an affordable price, the MOTU M2 is an amazing choice. If you’re still not sure, check out our USB interface buyer’s guide below!
USB Interface Buyers Guide
When selecting an interface, there are several key factors to look into. There are lots of options for USB interfaces, so let’s break down the key elements of what makes an interface right for you!
How many inputs and outputs do you need? If you’re planning on recording vocals and an acoustic guitar, a 2 channel interface like the Scarlett 2i2 or MOTU M2 should suffice. If you’re looking to record drums or a full band, you’ll need to look for an interface with more inputs!
You’ll also want to make sure that the interface you buy is compatible with the computer you use for recording! The M2 connects via USB-C, so if you’re using one of the newer computers on the market, it will connect out of the box.
The interface you buy should be compatible with your sound quality needs. If you’re looking to open a professional recording studio, working with commercial clients, you may need to spring for a higher quality interface with top of the line preamps and conversion. However, if you’re running a home studio, recording a podcast, or recording voiceovers for YouTube, a simple 2 channel options should suffice. There have been tons of awesome recordings made with the Scarlett 2i2 and MOTU M2, and there are tons of great recordings made with high budget interfaces as well.
Realistically, any interface offered by a reputable brand will sound good enough for general use. MOTU, Focusrite, Universal Audio, Antelope, etc.. are all making interfaces that sound good enough for the average producer to make Spotify ready music.
Portability and build quality
If you’re looking to travel with a mobile recording setup, you want to make sure you’ve got a portable and durable interface. Most 2 channel interfaces are small enough to keep in a backpack, and they usually are bus powered, meaning they get their power via the USB device they’re connected to, so you don’t need extra power supplies.
If you’re looking to permanently install an interface into a rack, and you won’t mind having a separate power supply, then a bulkier interface like a UAD Apollo X8 will be an amazing option.
Considering these factors, you should be able to find an interface that fits your needs and budget! If you found this review helpful, check out our other reviews here!