E-MU Systems 1212M PCI by cmorg
I've been using the Creative E-mu 1212m as my main interface for the last 3 years. It has been a reliable soundcard but I hope to upgrade to something with more features in the near future.
I used this card as a song writing aid (for my album "Stone" Stone | Carl Morgan). It was a great way to get my guitar into the computer with minimal fuss and experiment with composing ideas.
I used the E-mu in conjunction with a small mixer (tapco mix 60). As the emu has no mic pre's its essential to have an external mic pre(s) if recording with microphones. It features 2 line level balanced inputs and decent A/D conversion. I've since acquired an ART TPSII dual tube mic preamp and am getting some good results in conjunction with the EMU.
Another reason for needing an external mixer is that there is no headphone connection on the 1212m. There are 2 balanced outs, which im running into Mackie HR824's. I'm finding myself crawling under the desk and swapping the connection to my headphone amp, which can be a vibe ruiner when im in an inspired composing session. Not to mention a few times i've had the output on the Emu software at maximum which has resulted in some thunderous sounds coming out of my monitors (would be nice to have a physical master control).
Overall a good entry level card with good software, latency and some nice included effects. A good setup would be 2 mic preamps running into the Emu, and the output running into a headphone amp/monitor level control. Or a small mixer would work too. Emu also does a breakout box which includes mic pres/headphones/monitor outs.
Includes all driver software and the 2 cards, plus some bundled lite versions of various DAWs and plugins. Good value.