E-MU 0404 USB 2.0 Audio Interface Review

emu0404usb2

Quick Summary

The Creative Labs E-MU 0404 USB 2.0 is one of the best budget interfaces ever made, plain and simple. It has a flexible set of features, marvelous audio quality, and was designed and built without compromises in mind. If you want great sound quality but don’t need a large number of inputs and outputs, look no further. There’s good reason that this interface is still coveted today despite being introduced over 10 years ago. Although it is discontinued, the drivers in their current state are sufficient and the prices on the used market make this interface an even better value. If your desire is a budget interface that doesn’t skimp on quality, resist the urge to buy new and be on the lookout for the E-MU 0404 USB 2.0.

Pros:

  • High quality preamps with detailed sound and plenty of gain
  • Analog inputs can receive XLR microphone signals, 1/4″ TRS line signals, and 1/4″ TRS Hi-Z instrument inputs, with the added flexibility of Phantom Power and soft limiting
  • Hardware direct monitoring capability with independent volume control and stereo/mono toggling
  • Additional stereo output jack makes it easy to quickly audition another monitoring setup
  • Built-in headphone amp with separate volume control
  • Low noise, high dynamic range converters
  • Flexible S/PDIF inputs and outputs (plus AES/EBU output capability) with simple synchronization process
  • Fairly sturdy construction

Cons:

  • Beta driver required for proper Windows 7 (and up) use
  • Highest sampling rates not available in some circumstances
  • Plastic gain and level knobs feel flimsy
  • Unit is discontinued; may be harder to find and Creative Labs no longer provides ongoing support for it
  • Headphone amp’s output impedance and power ratings may be insufficient for low impedance and/or power-hungry headphones

Overall Rating: 4 stars

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