I have been using the M -Audio Delta series of cards for years now. They've always had a solid balance of features, sound quality and flexibility. The Firewire 410 is no exception. In fact it raises the bar quite a bit in both hardware functionality, and its software mixer/control panel. This card seems to be targeting the home/mobile recordist and connects via firewire. It can be powered through the firewire connection, assuming you have a 6- pin firewire interface. This relieves a bit of the spaghetti factor that plagues me as I move my laptop recording system (G3 iBook 800 w/ Logic5) from place to place. The 410 is very well thought out. One example of this is the software assignable "level control" knob, which can be assigned to any fader in the 410 software control panel. This is a very practical idea that really saves a lot of pointing and clicking. There are two mic preamps on the front of the box with phantom power supply and pads. This is a four input card although it has six inputs; two mic, two line and S/PDIF. The analog mic/line inputs are either/or as only one or the other can be used along with the S/PDIF inputs for a total of four simultaneous inputs. The ten outputs (eight analog plus two S/PDIF) on this card are pretty exciting if you prefer to mix through a console like I do. It can be a pain to move a complex song to another computer to mix, and this box will afford you ten outputs to work with, which will frequently suffice for my uses anyway. Another really cool feature is the two headphone jacks on the front, each with its own volume control. I also have to commend them on including a MIDI I/O section with a thru switch on the front. If you don't need the MIDI section, it is very unobtrusive in its design. The M-Audio website states that there are issues relating to the use of firewire disk drives with this card right now. This could make the higher sample rates impractical for laptop recording, but this is supposed to be resolved shortly, and it seems like these guys usually get things like this worked out pretty quickly. I have always been impressed with the ratio of sound quality and features to price in the Delta series cards, and this interface raises the bar again. All in all this is a very solid interface, and I would feel confident recommending it to people.

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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