This is a review of the M-Audio Delta 1010. This bad-boy (bad-girl?) has been around for ages -- seriously, I think it came out in January of 2000, and it's now almost 12 years later. And M-Audio is still actively selling the thing. Not bad "staying-power" for a sound-card.
The important thing to know is that it is a PCI interface. M-Audio may now be delivering it as PCI-e, I'm not sure. But if you want USB or Firewire, look elsewhere.
When I got rid of my prior sound card a couple years ago, I had a choice. I could have plunked down upwards of $400 - $700 on a sexy new USB interface, or go with the "old, ancient" 1010. Nowadays you can grab a used one on E-bay for around $250, which is a pretty good deal for a 10-input, 10-output card. That's what I did. If you buy it new it's still $599, which is too expensive... You mind as well get the M-Audio Profire 2626 or the FastTrack Ultra 8R (newer technology) for about the same price -- that's why I only gave it five stars for "bang-for-the-buck".
Here's the thing, the SNR and dynamic range are quite good on this Delta 1010 -- around 112 dB -- or in that range, if memory serves. That's better than most of the new cards! Unless you pay $1000 or more for an RME or Lynx you won't get close to these numbers. This is a clean, powerful card. That is, if you can get the drivers to work properly for you [drivers for Windows XP work flawlessly. There were initially some driver issues with 32-bit and 64-bit Windows 7, but I think M-Audio has worked out most of the kinks now].
Has S/PDIF in and out too which is nice. Never tried the MIDI on it.
I use it under 32-bit Windows 7 and it works pretty well. The only major annoyance I've found is that when booting up my PC the card will sometimes emit a loud blast of static for several seconds -- until the Windows 7 O.S. loads. If you have your volume up, it can scare the you-know-what out of you.
But I'm not 100% convinced this "static" is a problem with the card -- it could be an artifact of my DAW environment and hardware, or maybe just some "funkiness" in the Win 7 drivers. Who knows. The important thing is that I can record and play back a dozen or so tracks with pretty good latency. I can get down to 2.9 msec using the 128-samples ASIO/WDM buffer size within my DAW (Sonar). With Windows XP I had used the WDM driver mode exclusively, but now in Win 7 I've had better luck using the ASIO mode for whatever reason. "Your mileage may vary", as they say.
By the way, the M-Audio Control Panel app for the unit is pretty straightforward and easy-to-use. It's the same one the Delta 44, 66, 1010LT and the Delta line uses. I've heard that some folks install several units at once in one machine (to double or triple the channel-count), daisy-chaining the cards together using the S/PDIF ins and outs. But I've never tried this, and can't say how well it works.
If you happen to aquire a very old unit, there may be a few components that need to be replaced, like leaky / "bulging" capacitors. From what I hear, M-Audio will generally replace those things free-of-charge. But of course it's a hassle to ship your unit off and wait to get it back.
They say technology is always improving, and products today are much more powerful than they were 10 years ago -- but that's just not true with the M-Audio Delta 1010. This "vintage" 10-in, 10-out audio interface is still in-league with newer hardware. Compare the specs and see if you don't agree...
My Delta 1010, with the breakout box, was the first 'real' sound card I ever purchased. For starters, the record/playback quality on it is amazing; a full 96kHz max sampling rate at 24bit with a frequency range of 20Hz-22kHz.
I've used mine for live recordings of bands around Austin, TX with its zero latency monitoring. This thing is a TANK, and it has yet to fail on me(using the XP drivers). The 8xIN 8xOUT works great for the small sized bands I track.
For those working on anything above XP, or OS X I cannot speak for you. The only usage with the Delta I have had is in XP. I remember once seeing Win7 drivers, but hearing they were faulty then fixed... Faulty then fixed... Faulty then fixed... I’m not sure anymore.
For those worried about expansion, there is an attachment for the Delta 1010 called the Delta 1010-AI. It will convert the Delta 1010 into an 8x8 ADAT box, no longer requiring the PCI-Card. The Delta 1010-AI's are hard to find, vs. Third Party Delta 1010 ADAT Converters.
You can find one of these Delta 1010's on Ebay for 100-350$; I got mine for 150$ on a Craigslist deal. I would buy another one, if I needed it.
I got my Delta 1010 over ten years ago when I was still in high school and I still use it as my main pro audio sound card because it's surprisingly well supported. The I was afraid that after Avid bought M-audio, Avid would kill off the product line as well as the driver support but it's still going strong.
The Delta 1010 is a no nonsense audio interface with no preamps or DSP effects, but who really cares cares? It has it where it counts. It's a PCI based card, so no extra latency for the USB controller bus, meaning you can get really small buffers and very low latency that is much harder to achieve over USB or firewire. From the card, a 25 pin cable goes to a well built breakout box (though one of my inputs is dying after 10 years) which you can connect 8 analog 1/4" in and 8 analog 1/4" out. Don't be confused by the name, though, the reason it's not a delta 0808 is because it counts the midi and the s/pdif I/O to get their 1010 numbering scheme.
The audio quality is your standard recording 24 bit and up to 96Khz. The audio quality sounds good too which come from pretty good quality DA and AD.
This is a great audio interface because it does what an audio interface should be and doesn't add on useless and crappy DSP effects. instead, it has a long history of driver support. It's over 10 years old and they still make then and support. This is no fluke, it's just a good interface and still is.
I got rid of a tascam DA88 with yamaha 03D and bought one when they first appeard (90's??)
had it on a PC with Samplitude... the unit broke in late 2004 and I replace it with a new one it sounded a lot different ...way more top end and not as 'tubby' ..not better just different
kept it going for about another year and 'then upgraded' to a Mac/logic and Motu hd192 with black lion audio mod.
instantly got better results .. I am sure logic does not sound better than Samp.. (and visa versa) same speakers and room.. the resolution in the low mid / upper bass on the 1010 was just not good..imho
going back and 'remastering' some mixes from the 1010 system showed a big hump (meaning lack of info and adding power there to hear) at around 200.. this was always the problem are.
I actually got much better results from the DA88 and 03D combo at 16/44.1
easy enough to use.. the work around was windows handling of audio in stereo pairs... not the faulf of the 1010..
had the features I needed.. line ins, mide etc... I racked it butt out so I could get to it easier ..
there was not a lot in its price range when I bought it so ...it was the choice..
I think in that price range the new motu mkIII stuf smokes it ..
10 in/10 out provided through two break-out cables. Two XLR pres as well as 8 unbalanced RCA in/out on the larger one. While i never used the other break-out cable it had word clock, MIDI and SPIDF I/O. It’s a very good deal for a person on a budget. The signal is clean.
The UI and drivers that came with the device gave me some trouble. The sound would drop without provocation which resulted with me having to restart my computer. A quick trip to m audio's website where I downloaded the latest updates which also happened to update the UI(nice little surprise) aswell sorted out the problem. The UI is logical and well laid out. You will find your way around it very quickly.
I used the card with Pro Tools, Cubase, Nuendo, FL Studio and Sound Forge without any errors. Also mine came with a demo demo of pro tools LE in the box. But I believe now it comes bundled with Ableton Live Lite
I do have one constant problem with it which is when changing input or outputs if I touch the RCA on the metal tips i get a pretty heavy jolt. One more thing that might be a deal breaker of course as this is a PCI card there is no phantom power. What makes it ironic though is there are two preamps. So external phantom power should do the trick. I was using mine with an external mixer.
I used this card to record three albums. Two were hip-hop and one country. I found that it did not add any color to the mix and delivered a satisfactory sound. I compared it to a presonus firestudio tube. While the presonus had a wider, deeper image and a more detailed sound. It was more additional than it was necessary.
The absolute plus side of this card is latency i could record a band and monitor through the card with no noticeable latency to speak of. But be careful when changing samples as sometimes it would cause the card to crash requiring reloading through the task manager.
The MSRP is $250 but checking amazon right now the price is $170. And for ten in/out plus hardware monitoring and spdif. I think it’s a fair deal for a desktop producer/engineer.
I used a single Delta 1010LT for years, and it seemed as loyal as a small dog. It has a good low latency for monitoring, many inputs so I could record a small drum kit with some pretty good results.
The first problem I noticed with this device is that when recording into input 1 and 2 (which have built in pre-amps) is that the signal was so hot there was spill from one input into another. After some angry internet searching to find an answer to why this is happening I found that you could bypass the pre-amps, but annoyingly having to remove the card from the computer to do this.
After I sorted the pre-amp problem my small loyal dog was back. It worked so well for years that I decided to buy a 2nd one since it's advertised on the box that you can chain 2 together for even more inputs. This is when my real problems began.
I installed both my 1010lt's and feeling very smug about my new set up I tried to load up Pro Tools 10. After minutes Pro Tools refused to load. Confused by this I rang up M-Audio for answers. They informed me that Pro Tools 10 will run with 2 1010lt's chained together but I would have to ring Avid to find out how. I decided not to ring Avid as they would rob me of every penny I have to talk to some one so I went back to angry searching for answers.
After days of looking for answers it turns out that M-Audio had taken compatibility out over the years so multiple 1010lt's will not work in Pro Tools or Cubase if you use Windows 7. Angry that I wasted my money on a sound card I didn't need I rang M-Audio again. M-Audio said that linked 1010lt's will work with Pro Tools but I would have to uninstall the drivers and remove the cards and start from scratch. I did this and it solved nothing, I'm pretty sure they told me to do that to get me off the phone.
So in conclusion, for the money a single Delta can be amazing. You have a enough inputs to record drums, the sound quality is okay but the pre-amps are pretty pony. If you think of linking 2 together stay away though as even if it says on the box 'Highly Compatible' and link multiple together' don't trust it and save your money for a Motu or Echo device.