ESI MAYA44 XTe PCIe audio interface review
Features 9/10MAYA44 XTe is an interesting low-budget PCIe solution. It offers a variety of features:
- 24-bit / 96 kHz A/D, D/A converters
- 102dB input SNR, 108dB output SNR
- 4 inputs with programmable gain (-48dB to +24dB)
- 4 outputs
- 2 headphone outs
- 1 Hi-Z guitar input switchable to line
- 1 microphone input with 48V phantom power and +21dB gain switchable to line
- 2 line inputs
- DirectWire support
- TOSlink I/O
- Bundled software - Cubase LE 5, ESI Attitube, ESI FX Pack, Tassman ESI, ESI Bovbjerg Piano, Studio Devil BVC, Luxonix LFX 1310
- Works with Windows XP, Vista (32 & 64-bit), 7 (32 and 64-bit) and Mac OS X
To make use of all inputs and outputs you need an insert cable that doesn't come with MAYA. Microphone input gain isn't a very high one.
Sound quality 9.3/10
MAYA44 XTe plays music nicely. It certainly doesn't sound as clear and sparkling as E-MU 0404 PCIe but it's closer to it than most inexpensive USB interfaces.
The guitar input is really fantastic. There has to be some sort of an analog compression going on in the input stage, because all guitars sound loud, full, natural and dynamic. Programmable gain (-48dB to +24dB) makes it possible to adjust the input for any instrument. 10ms latency isn't that much of an issue when it comes to playing through guitar plugins - MAYA44 XTe compensates with a strong character of itsinput making almost any plugin sound so much more like a real guitar gear.
MAYA has no shielding like E-MU 0404 PCIe so it should be mounted as far awar from other computer components, as possible. With other hardware nearby a quiet noise occurs in headphone outs.
Round trip latency
438 samples @ 44.kHz - that's 9.932ms. It's not a bad value, but it's certainly more than you could expect of a PCIe interface with such a low ASIO buffer. It's probably a safety buffer that adds a lot of latency and it's not possible to adjust it. Interestingly 96kHz sample rate is usable and in this case the round trip latency goes down to approx. 4.4ms.
Ease of use 10/10
Drivers have to be installed manually and that's the only inconvenience there is. DirectWIRE is also a no-brainer.
With its price of around 125 euro it's rather a good offer and I can't think of any alternatives. Sure, there's E-MU 0404 PCIe but it's a totally different product considering performance and features.
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