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All told, the Maya44 once again raised the bar another notch closer to the elusive goal of sonic realism. This problem threatened to require manually switching between three different ASIO configurations depending on the sample rate of the file being played—clearly an untenable situation. I also tested another music playback program, Media Monkey, which assigns ASIO channels in an entirely different manner. The RME sounded Echo Digital Audio MiaMIDI and full, in a forthright and controlled manner, but also exhibited a closed-in, muted quality that lacked the beguiling ebullience of the Maya However, as I revisited familiar source material, I found myself able to hear deeper into the music via the RME, discerning musical strands that the Maya44 left buried in the mix.

Now I get it!


Even more significantly, it made clear that Skrowaczewski's interpretation of the work masterfully conveyed the composition's essence, and that both the original recording and the subsequent digital transfer successfully preserved the expressive dynamic shadings and timing cues of that performance. My initial impression of a mellow, midrange-centric, overly restrained character was confirmed and amplified when I auditioned the RME card's analog outputs, which reminded me of a vintage Linn Sondek turntable in both virtues and liabilities: Despite my concern about this less-than-ideal digital output configuration, the Juli immediately distinguished itself as something quite special driving the Bryston Echo Digital Audio MiaMIDI DAC. Rather than the Maya44's euphonic, water-color presentation, the Juli illuminated the music with unprecedented clarity, focus, and resolution.

Rather than the RME's restrained, closed-down character, the Juli breathed with life, air, and energy. The Juli card rendered complex timbres effortlessly, with an unsurpassed ability to convey note shape—the dynamic and harmonic growth and decay of each note over time. Spatial cues were presented with captivating verisimilitude.

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Finally, here was a card that preserved the full scale of well-recorded orchestral performances, with three-dimensional instrumental body and natural reverberant decay into the ambient air of the recording venue. Of particular note was the Juli 's imperturbable dynamic stability.


Even during energetic crescendos, the Juli card maintained a consistent perspective; instruments in the rear of the soundfield stayed in the rear of the soundfield. In contrast, every other sound card in this survey exhibited sonic artifacts during Echo Digital Audio MiaMIDI peaks, either coarsening textures, adding glare, or projecting the sound forward. This sense of unflustered, well-behaved equanimity categorically differentiated the ESI Juli from every other sound card tested. After hearing the standard-setting performance of the Juli 's digital output, I crossed my fingers as I connected its RCA analog outputs to my preamp.

My hopes were rewarded, as the sound of the analog outputs mirrored the considerable merits of the card's digital output.

No, the Juli card's analog outputs did not deliver the soundstage width and depth, unfettered dynamic peaks, rich tonal complexity, and rhythmic precision of the Bryston DAC, but the essence of the presentation was uncannily preserved, only on a smaller, less resolved Echo Digital Audio MiaMIDI. The Juli 's cardinal virtues remained obvious via the RCA analog outputs, diminished in degree, but not in character.

However, I was utterly chagrined to find that the Juli 's balanced TRS analog outputs sounded comparatively shrill, unrefined, and fatiguing. I sighed with relief after reversing the Juli 's analog output board again, returning to the sweet, even-tempered music flowing forth from its single-ended RCA analog outputs. The final two sound cards arrived courtesy of well-respected Lynx Studio Technology. All inputs and outputs on both cards are provided on DSUB connectors. The L's balanced analog outputs delivered a visceral, full-bodied presentation, rich with tactile immediacy. However, under dynamic conditions, it failed to measure up to the ESI Juli 's poise and composure.

At low Echo Digital Audio MiaMIDI moderate signal levels, the L exhibited a smooth liquidity, but high-level peaks sounded edgy and forward.

Echo MiaMIDI audio interface - Phil Rees Music Tech

It offered a vivid, up-front perspective, but with reduced depth, flattened dimensionality, and truncated reverberant decays. The L seemed to emphasize whatever was Echo Digital Audio MiaMIDI prominent in the mix, spotlighting the loudest element of the music with explicit directness and presence, but at the expense of overshadowing quieter instruments playing simultaneously. Considered on its own, the L certainly sounded nice enough, but repeated comparisons only emphasized its colorations when compared against the more coherent, neutral, better-behaved ESI Juli.

Compared to the L, the AES sounded cleaner, with improved solidity, tighter focus, reduced temporal smearing, and a more engaging sense of drive. Perhaps I might have had a more enthusiastic reaction to the Lynx cards had I auditioned them earlier, but after hearing the extraordinary ESI Juliit became abundantly clear just how much of the music the Lynx cards were missing.

Echo MiaMIDI audio interface

Over the course of this survey, I often found myself frustrated with the trade-offs between the various contenders. Fortunately, the remarkable performance of the inexpensive ESI Juli card completely changed the game. Not only did its single-ended RCA analog outputs trump those of the other products reviewed, but its digital output established a new reference standard. Thus, the Juli merits an unqualified recommendation, in both relative value and absolute performance. Apparently, I'm not the only one who appreciates the ESI Juli 's virtues; several high-end manufactures are already using modified Juli cards inside their computer music products. It only seems fitting to close this Echo Digital Audio MiaMIDI by shamelessly lifting the concluding lines from AGB's amplifier review that I mentioned at the outset: In fact it does more.

For a mere electronic device, it luminescently renders the truth of the music. The machine is utterly representative of a stock generic PC, other than having been fitted with a quieter power supply and fan-speed regulators to reduce mechanical noise. The digital output is connected to the Edirol MAD monitors.

The Echo MIA MIDI Digital Audio and MIDI Card is an unbeatable price/performance solution for digital sound editing. A powerful music production interface that includes two - 1/4" TRS balanced inputs with 64X oversampling A/D converters, two - 1/4" TRS balanced outputs with X.

Due to our pro audio products being discontinued, we do not currently support Windows 10, and have no plans to MiaMIDI, Layla24, Mona, Gina24, Mia.

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