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Echo Mia


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Echo Mia

Category:  Products / pc hardware / pci stereo i/o

Added: 20-Sep-01  |  Author: admin

New price: £200 or less street  |   S/H price: Not listed

Echo Mia

In the cheap budget but 'quality' soundcard arena there is a shortlist of choices... Midiman audiophile 24/96, Terretec EWS24S & EWX24/96, Marian MARC, Hoontech DSP24/96mkII, AudioTrak Maya (used in starter Carillion machines) and several others... these are the main players....

The Echo corporation started some years back gaining almost overnight household name-dom. They made the super cost-cutting Darla, Layla & Gina multi-out systems back around '96 which were released under the brand-name of 'EVENT'.

The Event/Echo cards were some of the most stable cards around to use with VST & other popular s/w at that time so they quickly became hot-potatoes and sold like crazy... Echo took over, or took the product back from Event a few years back and after that updated those models to 24/96 last year...

That just left Echo with one missing product - they didnt have a basic stereo i/o card in this competitive arean - and the Echo 'Mia' card is their answer!...

Mia offers a pair of balanced analog inputs and outputs configured as 4 or 2 pairs of 1/4" socket's. - having balanced converters is quite unique for a card this cheap, and that could reduce noise when connected to other balanced gear... Mia because of this also operates at the +4dBu levels used by pro-audio gear, but you can run it at -10db if running un-balanced. Mia's converters' as will all cards pretty much now are with 24-bit/96kHz, and they give on paper around 106 dB of dynamic range... "for the quality your recordings deserve". - Also included is a S/PDIF digital audio interface for connecting to other digital audio equipment. - Incidently, Mia uses the same AKM (asahi-kasei corp') AK4528 converter chips as found on M Audio's Audiophile 2496. Many other soundcards use these same chips and you can see more about them at: http://www.asahi-kasei.co.jp/akm/english/p_i/html/ak4528.htm

One thing that is unique about Mia is the use of "virtual" outputs. Y'know how some cards (most) when you try to open a new audio programme you are toild the drivers are in use?.... well, Mia appears to your music software as if it has eight separate outputs by using virtual output drivers arranged as 3 stereo out's - These 'virtual output' drivers can be address by different softwares and the whole lot is digitally mixed down to the cards physical outputs using Mia’s "console" and its on-board DSP.

That is why some stereo out cards such as Terratec's EWS64 have always had this reputation to be able to use multiple music s/w at the same time which was a big talking & promo point for the EWS64 when it appeared - Back in the days of VST etc Sync'd to a programme such as Rebirth, before the days of rewire this was important. Nowadays there are lot's of multiple out cheap but quality cards so we can use those to drive several programm's simultaneously by running the drivers for the multi-out device as 'multiple drivers' as opposed to 'single & in sync', but for cheaper stereo out cards which can't handle multiple out's from different applications this is a problem and Mia can work around that by it's design - the Yamaha's SW1000XG can also do this by the way... Cards like this will allow you to run Gigasampler in sync with your audio multi-track and listenm to both at the same time on the same output merged.....

This also allows you to mix and match driver types in any way you wish, - You could use virtual Out 1/2 with Cubase and ASIO drivers.. virtual Out 3/4 with Gigasampler and GSIF drivers, and Out 5/6 and Out 7/8 with other applications while using the MME drivers such as VAZ or VAZ modular etc.

So - the Mia - well respected and well rated by the press....

However, it should be noted that there are many current users,(at todays date), experiencing glitches & small pops etc from the card in playback mode, and that this fault is totaly random... Some are removing the fault by turning OFF the Mia control panel applet which auto-boots when you boot the pc. When this applet panel is closed, many users remove this fault which seems to be related to bad driver design...

Also another driver/applet quirk is that the drivers are being taken/modified from Echo's top of the line/series Layla device, (as say the midiman 'audiophile' drivers are based on the main 'delta' product drivers), BUT the MIA has NO Midi ports onboard as noted, yet when you install, there can be a 'phantom' midi port installed for the Mia which doesn't exist.... so this is being looked into and hopefully they will resolve all this so you dont have to manualy remove this port or turn it 'off'.... but you've been warned anyways about potential problems or rather informed....

All in all the Mia is cheap but could be problematic at least for some users right at this time/date.... NO midi remember tho, so you gotta pay a bit more for that on top if you don't have midi I/O...

all in all this problem glitch some experience will probably be resolved (and remember the 'close-applet' fix seems to solve it for most people), so definately one to add to the DT listings & keep an eye on/shortlist....

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