This new card narrows the gap between Roland's VS-series machines and computer recording systems by allowing the use of third-party plug-ins within the multitracker environment. We test the card, its bundled plug-ins, and the first of the brand-name offerings from Universal Audio.
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The simple idea of providing high-quality stereo I/O with well-written drivers helped M-Audio sell bucketloads of their original Audiophile soundcard. Its successor ups the ante in every respect, providing better sound quality, balanced I/O, dedicated monitor outputs and 192kHz support.
Echo's original Indigo was perfect for those who wanted to add a high-quality audio output to their laptop without taking up more space. The new IO version adds a stereo input and multi-client drivers, increasing its appeal even more.
Launched under their Audiotrak badge, ESI's Prodigy 192 audio card provides support for 24-bit and 192kHz audio plus optional digital and MIDI I/O. But the really good news for software-based musicians is that it also provides a low-cost route to the company's EWDM drivers and Direct Wire technology.
Price barriers continue to tumble in the soundcard market, as ESI Pro introduce an interface offering four analogue inputs and eight outputs, plus digital I/O, two mic preamps and 192kHz playback, for under £200.
Despite the obvious attractions of portable recording systems based around laptop computers, high-quality compatible audio hardware is scarce. That looks set to change, however, now that Echo Audio have adapted their popular Mona and Layla 24 interfaces for laptop use.