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The MOTU DAW Interfaces



The Musical Portraits recording environment has been upgraded to the Muse Guitarist Cave Studio 2.0.

The previous Focusrite DAW has been replaced with a MOTU modern Audio Video Bridging, AVB, an Ethernet Gigabit network protocol.

There are twenty-four high quality analog input channels connected to the master DAW Interface with sixteen ADAT streams over two fiber-optical lightpipe cables.

The master DAW interface supports twelve analog outputs, seven configured at this time:
• A stereo control room monitor on DAW Out 1 & 2

• A stereo headphone monitor feeding two front panel headphone jacks on DAW Out 7 & 8

• A unique “Dry Guitar Direct” or a “Reamping” configuration on DAW Out 3 using the Two Notes Torpedo Reload box

• Outputs 4, 5, & 6 are configured to send any DAW Reaper track to:
---- the Avalon VT-737sp channel strip on output 4
---- the Empirical Labs Mike-e channel strip on output 5
---- the Heritage HA-73 EQ Neve 1073 channel strip on output 6
The outputs of these devices are configured in the Reaper template and are used for Reamping mono performance tracks using their devices Line Inputs.

• The Colourbox preamp direct input track can be sent to output 4, the Avalon channel strip, for tube compression coloring
• The Twin Reverb amp track can be sent to output 5, the Mike-e channel strip, for saturation & compression coloring
• The Kelley amp track can be sent to output 6, the Heritage HA-73 EQ channel strip, for Neve 1073 preamp & EQ coloring


DAW Recording:

Cave Studio 2.0 is capable of capturing twenty-four guitar instrument performance channels simultaneously, sixteen microphone and eight direct input sources, as seen above.

The Dark Blue Boxes are microphone inputs, and the Light Blue Boxes are direct inputs.

A PreSonus Central Station control room monitoring system receives the analog stereo monitor outputs 1 & 2 and feeds the Analog speaker system.

The Central Station has a wired remote that can be moved to the Acoustics mic table for remote monitoring during recording.


The Cave’s DAW Interfaces:

The sixteen microphones are grouped into five sources:

1. Stage Amps – The two high wattage tube amps:
- A vintage boutique ’82 Jim Kelley F.A.C.S. 30/60 with 6V6 power tube combo amp with upgraded new power supply capacitors and tube set driving a Scumback BM75-LD large diaphragm 12” speaker
- A modern 2021 Fender '65 Wine Red Twin Reverb 85-watt 6L6 power tube combo amp, a Sweetwater exclusive, driving a Neo 2x12 Celestion Creambacks combo cabinet

2. Bedroom Amps – The two low wattage tube amps:
- A Marshal style Blackstar HT20R MK II 20/2-watt EL84 two channel tube amp with reverb driving a custom Blackstar 12” speaker
- A Tone King Gremlin 5-watt upgraded EL34 tube amp with reverb driving a custom Blackstar 12” speaker. I did not like the KT88 stock tube-sound, and it is cathode biased so I replace the KT88 with an EL34

3. Wet/Dry/Wet | Dry Amp – A high wattage hybrid solid state amp:
- A Hughes & Kettner Black Spirit 200 Floor solid state, tube emulation, 200/20/2-watt four channel amp head driving a custom Bugera twin 12” Eminence speaker cabinet: A Redcoat Wizard and a Reignmaker as the “Dry” amp with a selectable mono effects pedalboard and onboard Reverb, Delay, and Modulation choices: Chorus Flange, Phase, and Tremolo

4. Wet/Dry/Wet | Wet Amps – High wattage solid state and tube amps:
- A Hartke HD 150 150-watt dual purpose amp: stereo effects mix left channel or a Bass guitar reamp mic’d amp feeding a custom Hartke 15” speaker
- A Bugera T50 Infinium 50-watt upgraded tube amp driving a Hughes & Kettner TS-112 Pro 12 cabinet with an ElectroVoice EVM12L 250 watt 12” speaker

5. Acoustic and Room Microphones:
- A Neumann TLM-103 large condenser microphone single cardioid polar pattern
- An AKG 414 XLS large condenser microphone with nine selectable polar patterns
- A Royer R-10 ribbon microphone with a figure-8 polar pattern
- A Nady TCM-1250 large condenser microphone with a remote polar pattern selection box
These microphones are configured as the default settings on DAW MOTU microphone channels 13 - 16

There are eight direct outs from various points within the pedalboard chain shown above.


The DAW’s Microphones & Outboard Preamp Gear:

The DAW MOTU Interface system has 24 high quality microphone or line input analog to digital preamps connected to the master MOTU 8Pre-es using ADAT fiber optical “Lightpipe” cables.

The Cave has three external preamp “Outboard” channel strips that condition the two Royer ribbon microphones for optimal performance.

The output from these three devices replaces the MOTU microphone preamps with their specialty high quality transparent or colored preamps.

The Outboard Gear:

An Avalon Vt-737sp Tube Channel Strip
The Avalon Vt-737sp uses a pristine preamp feeding an optical compressor with a very musical EQ, with compressor "Side Chaining".
This device, regarded by some as the finest channel strip available, is a subtle device that requires experience to get the $3000 price tag value out of it.

An Empirical Labs Mike-e EL9:
The Mike-e is a Lundahl transformer-coupled mic preamp that is designed to be an extremely low noise, transparent, preamp.
The EL9 is patterned after the legendary ELI EL8 "Distressor" compressor.
By controlling the input gain structure with a digitally controlled, front panel selectable, “Gain Ramp” to optimize the signal to noise ratio.
A “Bad” LED indicates when the device has been set to its optimal gain setting.
The Mike-e CompSat section is a Compressor, a Saturator, and Emphasis providing high frequency management much in the same way that a legacy analog tape machines use their emphasis circuits.
The Mike-e drives the Royer R-121 ribbon microphone, paired with a single mic clip, and a Shure SM-57 for dual micing the Jim Kelley Boutique F.A.C.S. 30/60 combo amp’s Scumback BM75-LD large diaphragm 12” speaker.
It feeds DAW in 1 as a line input signal.

A Heritage Audio HA- 73 EQ Elite Microphone Preamp & EQ:
The HA-73 EQ is a modern, true to the original Neve design, 1073 circuit topology. EQ section can act as a clean, but colored, 1073 EQ or you can drive the input to the EQ harder with the RED input switch and back off the output control for warm saturation in the classic Neve channel strip console way.
HA- 73 EQ Elite drives the Royer R-10 ribbon microphone that is paired up with a Shure Beta 57A for micing the Fender '65 Wine Red Twin Reverb.
The R-10 is set center cone on the right Celestion Neo Creambacks and the Beta 57a is set slightly off axis, edge cone, on the left Celestion Neo Creamback.
It feeds DAW in 4 as a line input signal.

The remaining microphones are connected to the DAW MOTU preamps as shown in the image above.
They all use the high headroom MOTU microphone gain stages prior to the Analog to Digital converters.

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