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Emu 1616m PCIe

E-MU Systems 1616m PCIe

3.9 3.9 out of 5, based on 5 Reviews

great sound, questionable reliability

17th December 2011

E-MU Systems 1616m PCIe by gehauser

  • Sound Quality 4 out of 5
  • Ease of use 2 out of 5
  • Features 2 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 4 out of 5
  • Overall: 3
Emu 1616m PCIe

For analog I/O, the Emu 1616m has 4 balanced line ins and 2 mic (combo) inputs with Class A preamps, along with 6 balanced line outs plus headphone and several 1/8" speaker outs. For digital I/O, it has ADAT in/out and SPDIF (switchable to AES/EBU). Also MIDI in/out. The converters are excellent (120db dynamic range on the line ins/outs) and the preamps are great-sounding, clean, with very low-noise (-129dbU EIN). The Patchmix software is cryptic but useable, and quite capable after your initial learning curve.

BUT… here is the rest of the story…

My love-hate with Emu interfaces started with a Emu 0404 USB that I got in Dec 2009. I flat-out loved the natural sound of that little box (better than the sound of my RME UFX). Unfortunately, the Emu 0404 USB lasted less than 2 years. It still works, but it occasionally adds a terrible random screech to the playback, and of late it started producing similar artifacts during recording, something I could no longer tolerate.

But I liked the sound of that Emu 0404 USB so much that when it started misbehaving in summer 2011, I got interested in the Emu 1616m PCIe. With its “mastering grade” converters, I figured the 1616m could be as good or better than the 0404, and might be more reliable. About that time, Emu ran a half-price special on the 1616m, so I snatched one up.

Well, the Emu 1616m sounded pretty decent (not as good as the 0404 USB), but it had a real problem with noise on line in #1. Regardless of the mic/external pre combo I connected to line in #1, when the external preamp was turned up above about 40db, I could hear crackling and hiss in the headphones. The other channels were very quiet in the same tests. To their credit, Emu promptly sent me a replacement 1616m, but it had the same issue, only less severe. Aside from line in 1 noise, this second Emu sounded better overall than the first, so I am going to keep it and will just avoid use of line in 1 except at low levels. Since both 1616m devices had the same issue, I think it might be a design deficiency.

Now that I have worked with it for awhile, I can say this second Emu 1616m sounds great, and its sound is very close to that of the 0404 USB albeit a little more crisp. Like the 0404, I prefer the 1616m sound to that of my RME UFX in A/B tests (with matched mics into line in on each interface simultaneously). But I have no big expectations that the 1616m will last very long, based on my Emu experience as described here. Contrast that to the RME UFX which continues to work away flawlessly, producing good results in its ultra-reliable, glitch-free fashion.

So, there you have my Emu love-hate. The 1616m is a good sounding box that is feature-rich and relatively easy to use, but… I express my disappointment in its reliability by low marks in the Ease of Use and Features categories.

11th January 2012

E-MU Systems 1616m PCIe by doug hazelrigg

  • Sound Quality 3 out of 5
  • Ease of use 3 out of 5
  • Features 3 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 3 out of 5
  • Overall: 3
Emu 1616m PCIe

I used this interface for awhile. I think it's fine-sounding for the home studio. To be honest, I never used the included DSP software. I was surprised at how "warm" it sounded. I wish it was able to control monitor and headphone volume separately like many of the latest interfaces do. I actually liked how it had RIAA phono inputs -- much better for digitizing LP's than the typical USB input. Also, it put out a LOT OF VOLUME -- it was pretty loud at just 50% of the dial. They can be had for about $200 used; the question is whether that's a good price relative to the newer boxes. Given its convertors, I tend to think so.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Emu/Creative never did come up with a driver for Win 7 that worked (although the Vista driver works fine under Win 7). My point is that the next Microsoft OS may not work with this unit

12th January 2012

E-MU Systems 1616m PCIe by Jomox

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.75
Emu 1616m PCIe

I am a 1820m owner but have used the 1616m many times in many different situations at a friends and had it set-up in my space a few times. They are similar apart from the 1616m has the good pre amps, better circuitry / capacitors and some less ins/outs.

The conversion quality is very high and is comparable to higher end Lynx, there have been compares and there is little difference in quality at all, you have to spend a fair bit of money to get better quality. The patchmix can be a little hard to use at first but once used to it it's a very powerful peace of software that I could not live without. There are many routing options and different ways you can set-up the interface. It can run at very low latency with a big number of resource hungry VSTs without a glitch.

If you set this up properly it works like a dream, there is solid drivers for win 7 which work flawlessly 32 or 64bit. Though if you have problems it could be due to IRQ sharing and other problems (Which are due to it not being set-up correct with whatever PC you may use) It's a resource hungry interface so it's important to know how to get it working cleanly within the system.

The pre amps are of pretty good quality on the 1616m also, considering it's price it rivals interfaces that cost allot more. Other interfaces that are of similar price to the 1616m do not have the clean none colored conversion quality that the 1616m offers, it's very underrated in the sense of the quality this interface offers.

If you check reviews such as from SOS you will see why this interface is of good quality for it's low price. Very low noise ratio, with clean conversion quality and good features.

My only downside with it is the headphone amp which does not offer allot of power and lacks some low end.

I'd not be concerned of the reliability, I know a few still rocking these after a number of years, many of us are still running 1820m, which had the bad capacitors, which can easily be replaced. The 1616m comes with more solid capacitors and if you do have problems with the actual audio dock than it could more be down to luck as the majority do not suffer issue's with the audio dock, allot of issues are more down to not getting it set-up correctly which can cause stability problems.

9th February 2012

E-MU Systems 1616m PCIe by EricS

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 4 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.75
Emu 1616m PCIe

I got the Emu 1616m PCI the minute it first came out 4 or 5 years ago. I got a lot of use out of that interface for about 2 years. At some point though I started to have an issue- there was an annoying popping noise. I thought it might be a clock sync or latency issue or something, and some settings did better than others. Then I started to get a strange electrical glitch. On the recorded waveform it showed up as a sweeping DC offset on the signal (or you might call that a low frequency wave). It became unusable and I was worried about system damage with stray voltages like that going through the system. At the time I assumed it must be my cheap Behringer condenser mic. Basically I stopped using the system since then. But I have used that same cheap mic in other setups without problems. That old computer is in the antique collection now, and I just got a new high end I7 based system so I'm putting a DAW back together.

Right now I'm using the Focusrite Scarlett 18I6 USB. I like it, but I am really missing Emu's patchmix software. The Focusrite doesn't have the routing flexibility that EMU has, and it is not working well with a live streaming application I want to use (wirecast). I won't know for sure until I try, but based on what I am seeing I think I'll be able to use EMU's superior routing options to get around Wirecast's limitations. So as much as I like the Focusrite it will be going back soon.

I did a little research and I'm reading that the 1616m does not have a very good 48v phantom supply. It may be that this was the cause of the pops and distorted signal I was seeing earlier. I have an external phantom supply that I may use in my setup for now.

So I just ordered an EMU 1616m PCIe. Hopefully it will work with Wirecast better than the Focusrite. But even if it doesn't I know I'll be glad to have the flexible routing of the Patchmix software again.

30th September 2016

E-MU Systems 1616m PCIe by Audio Soutions

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 2 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4
Emu 1616m PCIe

I have been using the E-mu 1616m in my studio since 2011 and I absolutely love it. There were a few issues right after windows 7 came out, but with a windows 7 beta driver update from creative, (update the patch mix software too to v. 2.20.00) its been running like a champ.

My studio actually has 3 people including myself, that all use the same setup: Windows 7 ultimate 64 bit pc with 16 gigs of ram and Cubase 8 pro with the E-mu 1616m w/ Pcie card and we have had little to no trouble recording and producing with this machine.

Its getting a little obsolete now with all the advancements in recording technology, but this unit is still a great buy for what you get. Awesome quality and low latency.

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