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

Input And Output

The two breakout cables contain the analog and digital I/O, respectively. On the analog cable, the situation is quite simple: There are two quarter inch (6.35 mm) female jacks for stereo line input and two others for stereo line output. Obviously, at this price, you can't ask for multiple inputs and outputs; but the option chosen is sufficient for many uses. Some may regret the lack of a mike input, but quality microphone inputs are never built into a PCI card. A separate preamp is needed (on an external rack, for example) and that puts us in another price range... It's better to let the user choose a good preamp if he/she needs it!

The choice of 1/4" jacks can be explained by the original destination of this card: musicians, with whom these jacks are very popular. All you'll need is an adapter or appropriate cable to make the type of connection you need. Unlike the higher-end E-MU cards, these are asymmetrical connections (the usual mode on consumer equipment), so you won't have to worry if you're not an expert.

The other breakout cable carries all the digital S/PDIF inputs and outputs in the usual forms: coaxial and optical, which means you'll be covered. Also, the coaxial outputs can be configured to the AES/EBU professional standard if you have such equipment. There are also two female DIN connectors for MIDI input and output.