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In-depth Feature:  Emagic EMI 6|2m
Rob G writes: .

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In Use
Overall, the card performed extremely well - relatively low latency and flexibility of recording formats being extremely welcome for a portable device.
PC Requirements:

Pentium 233 MHz or compatible with 64 MB RAM and free USB port. Windows 98 SE, Windows ME, Windows 2000, Windows XP (XP required for 96 kHz operation and MIDI I/O).

Recommended: Mac OS X 10.2.2 or higher
Free USB port
CD-ROM or DVD drive
Compatible with Core Audio (Mac OS X), SoundManager, ASIO and EASI applications
(Mac OS 9) * To use all EMI 6|2 m features Mac OS X 10.2.2 or higher or Windows XP is required. Feature restrictions apply when using older operating system versions: SoundManager supports 16 Bit stereo audio I/O only. Windows 98SE, Me, 2000 and Mac OS 9.1.x/9.2.x do not support the MIDI I/O. Limited use of the digital audio input under Windows 98SE and Windows 2000.

One oddity of reviewing a competent audio interface such as this is that there isn't really much to write about when all works well - the program integrated smoothly with both Cubase and Sonar, sound quality was good, and the drivers remained stable throughout testing. With Sonar's use of DirectX drivers, however, the 96 kHz sample rate could not be achieved - requiring either ASIO or EASI support.

With both Cubase 5.5 and Sonar 2.0, the lowest achievable latency turned out to be in the region of 12 ms using an Athlon 1.5 GHz system. While lower than the theoretically achievable limit (4 ms), it does remain acceptable for most applications - and the provision of zero-latency monitoring will help overcome the limitation where no effects or virtual instruments are needed. In practise, this proved good enough for most situations - software synths in particular seemed extremely responsive.

A more serious limitation for some users may be that the interface can work with 24-bit audio for either input or output - but not both. This compromise is acceptable in most circumstances as 24-bit monitoring is rarely necessary, and to be fair is mentioned in the small print of the company's product info (they claim this is caused by limitations of the USB interface). However, selection of whether to use 24-bit for input or output did mean that Sonar or Cubase had to be restarted - which proves more of annoyance - from user groups it seems the same limitation is present when using Logic Audio.

Rather cunningly, the S/PDIF connectors double up as MIDI in and out ports, with the aid of the included RCA to MIDI adapters, although you can’t run MIDI and S/PDIF simultaneously. This feature is only available to Win XP and ad Mac OSX users at present. The switching between S/PDIF and MIDI is done in software (OSX in System Utilities, XP in the Device Options control Panel) though rather annoyingly, the EMI has to be disconnected and reconnected to apply the change.

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