Nobody seems to want to review audio cards, so here it goes... |
I recently switched to a laptop from a desktop system and I had used the PCI audiophile with good results. I am pleased to say that the firewire audiophile does everything that the pci version would. Recording and playback is very clear and free of noise. This card will do 24 bit 96K recording no problem with my 1.86GHz dual core machine. Someone wrote somewhere that you need a 7200 rpm hard drive to do 24 bit recording, but I have not found this to be the case (mine is 5400 rpm). The drivers work well with every application I've tried (buzz, audacity, ableton...). The soft control panel is pleasant and professional looking and routing is fairly flexible (as much as you can get with the number of inputs and outputs). Hot plugging is not possible, which may be inconvenient for some (but I can't really think of a situation where you would need to plug this thing in while it is on rather than just plugging it in while it's off and turning it on). The headphone output can be as loud as you would ever need and the preamp is clear. Over all, if you don't need incorporated phantom power and pre-amps and you want good converters in a solid package, this would be something to consider. It's probably not the best bang-for-buck deal because it doesn't have built in pre-amps or an RIAA curve or dsp or a built in clock radio. The conversions, however, are really good and even picky people could stand behind it (hence the name). There are a lot of nightmare stories about audio cards, but I've had this 3 months and used it every day and there has never been an issue (except for a ground loop one time, but that's not the card's fault). I can't say anything about OS-X, but I would bet on this thing working well with your Windows XP machine (don't know about Vista). Just make sure you download their (M-Audio's) latest drivers before you hook it up. Good luck!