Shopping for a new audio interface

to replace a dead ISIS

Seems that my Guillemot Maxi Studio ISIS finally died - at least the breakout box with all the good A and D converters died the usual way: after doing some maintenance to my computer, I pushed the Isis cable in place carelessly. One of the pins got twisted, touched the connector ground and apparently fried something inside the box. They have a solid reputation to die this way. :(

So, unwillingly, I’m shopping for a new audio interface. It needs to be reasonably cheap and have at least 4-8 analog inputs (two outputs will do) to record our small band.

One of the contenders is ESI ESP1010; the specs seem pretty nice, the rackmount interface looks cool. (And having a rack anyway for the computer and the signal processing stuff makes me prefer rackmountable interfaces.) A proprietary PCI interface card included, so no need to shell some dough for USB2 or FireWire card. Needs Win2000/XP, no problem, cause the Isis was the only reason for me to hang with 98se/ME. Haven’t seen any reviews, though ESI stuff seems to have pretty good general reputation. And the unit seems to be pretty cheap, at least here in Europe (309 euros mail order from Germany).

Any comments or ideas about this or other interfaces? Thanks in advance.

– Mwah

Sorry about your ISIS, I loved mine while I had it in a celeron900.

I’m looking at the same unit Mwah, the other thing in the price range would be the Audiotrak Maya1010.

Other options would be the (more expensive) hercules fw16/12, the emu1820m. I’m thinking I’m placing an order for the Herc tomorrow. Close to twice the price, but twice the inputs too…


This is what you need. It’s what I use and it RULEZ!! :cool:…5

Thanks for ideas, Willy and Ted.

Audiotrak Maya1010 seems interesting, a bit cheaper than the ESI… but as Audiotrak seems to be owned by ESI (or vice versa), they might actually have pretty similar innards… so the question is, would I like to pay something for a cooler full width rack box and two 48 V phantom powered mic pre’s (I’d need some more pre’s anyway).

The M-Audio unit is probably nice - I have their DMP3 preamp -, but it’s more expensive (at least here in Europe) and I would need some extra dought for a FireWire card, too.

I’ve seen the ads for the Hercules and it sure looks a nice piece of gear… one thing that makes me suspicious is that the Hercules company used to be the Guillemot company*, and while their hardware was good, their software support sucked (there were never any Isis support for windows 2000/NT/XP or Mac or Linux, and the product support in general was next to nonexistent). Hope they’ve learned something.

(* Or Hercules owned Guillemot, or vice versa)

Hmmm… is there a soft synth that can play .94B soundbanks? I have made a few of those and have a nice collection of ones made by others… probably not. Back to synth programming, as soon as I find a new interface.

I was considering purchasing a new interface to replace my layla20, and I would say that in the most bang for your buck category, the EMU1820M looked to be about the best out there. Also, the breakoutbox is a half rack size - so it’s rack mountable… and the the built in VST effects don’t hurt either… just my 2 cents.

A long time friend of mime emailed me last night and asked what the best USB 24bit interface was. He has a 16 bit interface and is wanting to go 24 bits. He’s using an ART preamp and does only single track recording so multi-IO and/or built in mic preamps are not too important.

This thread seems like good place to ask. I don’t have clue about the different stuff available. I did some looking around, but I only really know about the hardware I have at home or at work, and none of it is USB unfortunately.

Mwah, I don’t know this articular bit of ESI hardware but I have been using their (now discontinued) Waveterminal 2496 for the last three years. I have had two hickups, both resolved by un- and reinstalling the drivers. I don’t suspect the soundcard and/or drivers to be the culprits but I’m not computer savvy enough to say that with any kind of certainty.

If/when the need should arise, I’ll buy ESI hardware again.

t. :)

Tascam US-122 is a solid performer for a 2 in - 2 out USB box. Two mic pres with 48V phantom power that sound really good. If 24/48 2 channel will suffice, the US-122 is great for about $200.00. ASIO and WDM drivers add flexibilty for apps that don’t do one or the other well. I used my sons 122 for that recording at our church that I posted on the music review page. Worked beautifully for me.


What about WinXp drivers for the US-122? I’ve hear horror stories about getting it to work on WinXp, but it was solid on Win98. Does Tascan have good WinXp drivers finally? I should have mentioned that he’s got a 2.2gig P4 with WinXp.


Oh yeah. Xp drivers are fine. My son runs an Athlon 1200 with Xp Pro and I used it with my laptop. A P4 3.2ghz with Xp Pro. Only trouble I had was the onboard USB ports for the OLD Abit board in my sons box. Apparently the old Via chipset would not work with the Tascams USB interface. A twenty buck Belkin card from ye’ol’ Wally World fixed 'er right up. Worked fine ever since. The thing sounds GREAT. Especially compared to the onboard sound of the laptop. But then again a two buck AM radio with half dead batteries woulda sounded better… for two C-notes…I think it’s a steal. These days it’s bundled with Cubase SE which is a BIG step up from the old Cubasis crap ours came with. A special version of GigaStudio comes with as well.


PS Oh, I think I mentioned before…ASIO and WDM drivers. Both perform well. I tracked that church performance (almost an hour long) with the 24 bit ASIO driver. n never even hiccuped.

I've seen the ads for the Hercules and it sure looks a nice piece of gear... one thing that makes me suspicious is that the Hercules company used to be the Guillemot company*

Yeah hercules brought out guillemot. I've only found one review on the web so far, and had to translate it as it was.


check out the emu 1212m or the emulatorx vers. it comes with the same a/d converters as the protools hd192’s-anyway i have the 1212 with no pre’s but it is flawless. check it out…

Thanks for all the suggestions. Now I just have to digest them while waiting for the money to appear on my bank account…

I have to admit I passed the EMU stuff completely while doing my preliminary survey - probably because EMU’s association with Creative had labelled them, unjustly, to the “popular but not that good” category. At the moment, EMU 1820(M) seems very intriguing… there’s a plenty of connections, even a FireWire port (for possible future purchases), and there’s the possibly to unload some of the DSP processing to the card from the CPU.

I’ll have to think about it, at least until I have some beans to count…

I am in the market for a new interface too…Here are a few interesting things (for my budget) that I have looked at.

Presonus FireBox $400.00 Presonus Firepod $599.00 Gina 3 $349.00

Maya1010 (pci) $299.00 The EMU looks good too but question the Creative connection too.

Lots of great products with loads of pro features…it’ll be hard to choose.

I don’t know if I’d buy ESI. I purchased a Steinberg VSL2020 that ESI made the drivers for and that thing crashed my computer constantly.

Just thought I would chip this in. I was one of the early adaptors of ESI’s WAMI Rack 192X which had very good audio quality for the price. Then the pre-amps started dying. I tried to contact ESI via forum, via e-mail, and via phone several times. I got one response via email saying the problem was probably mine (it’s not). I would NOT suggest doing business with ESI until they drastically improve their Customer Service.

As I might have mentioned, I finally went with the EMU 1820 and I am very, very happy with it. At least, for the moment. :p

To replace the Isis midi synth, I found a cheap Egosys (ESI) GigaStation card with GigaStudio 96 software. The thing arrived last week. Had some installation problems, solved them with the kind help of ESI UK support and downloaded updates. (Needed to install the card to a different pci slot.)

Now everything seems to work and sound good. Still some setup to do, and learning of Cubase VST/32 (came with the EMU, replaces my old Cakewalk Pro Audio 4, NOT n-Track Studio) and the GigaStudio.

My wife’ll leave for a few days business trip to St. Petersburg tomorrow, I have no work deadlines at hand (just started translating a new book, plenty of time left), so I’ll probably spend a couple of days and nights learning all the wonderful things I can do with my new toys…

One happy camper :D

Thanks for everybody who chimed in and helped me with the tough decisions!

Did you get the “M” version with the effects board? How well do they work with n-Track? How do they sound? This unit has 6 inputs, right? Is that enough to record a drumset?

Now you’ve got me feeling inadequate with my little 2496.


Bubbagump posted a sample of his missus through the mic pres on a 1820m, and it sounded very nice. They;ve done their homework with the converters on that thing. Get the “m” version.