Creative's E-MU 0404: Pro Sound Quality on the Cheap

Drivers And Software

The software application that operates the 0404 is identical to the one bundled with the other (much more sophisticated) cards in the E-MU line. And for a price that can't be argued with, this software has some fairly astounding possibilities. Called PatchMix DSP, it amounts to a real virtual digital mixing board that handles routing, mixing and control of the DSP, which offers a wide range of corrections and effects. The only limitation - currently a familiar one on this generation of cards - is that it can function only at a maximum frequency of 48 kHz. If you work at 96 kHz, you'll have to do without the DSP. Admittedly, its rarely necessary, since working in 24 bits/48 kHz already provides excellent quality, and the improvement 96 kHz will bring will generally be marginal for users who may purchase a 0404.

We took a detailed look at the PatchMix software during our test of the E-MU 1820 and so we won't discuss it again here; take a look at that article if you need more information. Obviously using it is a little more complex than with a mass-market card. You have to route signals with PatchMix, for example. It's not insurmountable, however. Various configurations are provided; you need only load them and then possibly reconfigure them to suit your personal needs.

Naturally we need to mention the services provided by the DSP: Aside from effects that will be of interest mostly to musicians, lovers of audio will find the various means of sound processing - like parametric equalizers and compressors - very interesting. They can improve your sound significantly by making appropriate corrections - to suit the speakers you're using and the room you listen in, for example.

The card is equipped with WDM, MME and ASIO 2.0 drivers for good compatibility with all the usual applications.