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M-AUDIO Firewire 410 audio interface review

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Features 9/10

Features:

  • 4x10 I/O configuration
  • 2 mic/instrument inputs with independent gain (up to 66dB), phantom power and pad switches
  • 2 analog line level inputs
  • 8 analog outputs
  • Optical and coaxial S/PDIF I/O (with PCM, AC-3, DTS pass-through)
  • MIDI I/O with MIDI Thru
  • 2 headphone outputs with individual volume controls
  • Analog outs can drive up to 7.1 surround
  • Dynamic range: 108dB (A-weighted)
  • SNR: 107dB (A-weighted)
  • 24-bit converters, sample rates from 32 to 192kHz (192kHz on line outs 1 and 2 only, 44.1kHz, 48kHz and 96kHz for S/PDIF I/O)
  • Decent frequency response (+/-1dB, 20 Hz to 40 kHz)
  • Bundled with Ableton Live Lite 4, ProSessions Sampler, compatible with PRO TOOLS M-POWERED 7
  • Powered by firewire bus or external power supply (included)
  • Low latency drivers for Mac and PC, WDM, ASIO and CoreAudio

Sound quality 9.4/10

410 sounds pleasant with its clear and soft middle range. It's quite dynamic, it doesn't have a big low end. It didn't enchant me, but it left me with a good impression.

Instrument inputs have good mids and good dynamics, making the 410 a good choice for high gain legato soloing which on 410 turns out smooth and realistic. There's no obvious low pass filter there, so you get all the treble there is which can be considered a good thing. Gain control range is well suited for electric guitars, it's not like you have to make very small adjustments to avoid clipping.

I wish that its power supply had a grounding pin, because without it I ran into some ground loop problems while working on a Mac mini which also doesn't have power grounding. Desktop PC users wouldn't care, anyway.

I didn't have an opportunity to check its microphone preamps.

Headphone outputs are fine. They're loud, but they would benefit from more clarity and punch.

Round trip latency, driver performance (Mac OS X Lion, Intel Core i5-2410M)

Measured round trip latency goes down to 6.077ms (268 samples @ 44.1kHz) at Core Audio buffer size of 14 samples. With the buffer set to 128 samples at the same operation mode, the latency raises to 11.156ms (492 samples). These are very good values. There's some latency drift - 0.23ms (10 samples @ 44.1kHz). Drivers are reliable. Word has it that there were some problems with 410 in the past, but for me it worked nicely. Once the interface lost sync, started generating strange sounds and I had to turn it off and then on again. Performance wise the driver is better than average.

Buffer size Measured latency Measured latency Reported latency, Reaper Reported latency, Cubase
samples samples ms ms ms
14 268 6.077 4.0 -
32 299 6.78 4.8 6.848
64 364 8.253 6.2 8.3
128 492 11.156 9.2 11.202

M-Audio Firewire 410 latency measurement results and DAW report values, Mac OS X 10.7.4, Reaper 4.151, Cubase Elements 6.06

Ease of use 8/10

Everything works as it should and without too much fuss. There's no physical output dim button, but there's one in the software control panel. Output level controller is so close to the 2nd signal gain controller that it's impossible to grab it, it's a small inconvenience.

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M-Audio Firewire Control Panel

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Overall 8/10

I was rather impressed with Firewire 410. For me it would be great if it had some ground lift switches and a grounded power supply.

Advantages

pic Sound quality
pic Features
pic Low latency driver performance

Drawbacks

pic No power supply grounding

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