EMU 1212m, 1616m, ESI Juli@ or something else?

Hi everyone,

I am looking for a solution for

  • listening music
  • digitally archiving my old vinyl records
  • homerecording
  • a high quality headphone jack would be nice, but is not a requirement

with low latency and 192kHz sampling rate capability fully supported in Linux. I’ve been searching the web now for several days, but haven’t found unambiguous and up-to-date information on the Linux support status of the cards mentioned.

E. g., searching the Ubuntu forums, I found reports that the EMU 1616m works for some user, but the most recent statement of the ALSA developer writing the driver says, that there is no support for 96 kHz or 192 kHz. However, that statement is several years old. Either the driver development hasn’t made progress in a long time, or the developer just forgot to provide current information…

Another option for me could be the ESI Juli@. But again, the information I found seems a little outdated, but I am not sure. E. g., there are reports that there’s always maximum volume output, and that this cannot be changed, and that every attempt to connect something with the MIDI port using aconnect freezes the whole system; however, this problem seems to be gone with kernel version (according to beowulf_666). Also, there are reports about varying latency.

I’ve also looked at M-Audio products, but the 192 kHz devices seem not to be well supported in Linux. Therefore I looked at the other members of the Delta series, which seems to have excellent Linux support. The Delta 1010LT is often recommende, but I found a report, that newer RoHS versions don’t work well with Linux, anymore.

This is all a bit confusing for me. I’ve done my very best to research myself, but the information I found is either outdated, or incomplete.

So far I’ve searched
http://http://alsa-project.org including the user and developer mailing lists and the wikis
many forums and mailing lists, such as the Ubuntu forums
the Ardour forums

Can anyone point me to a reliable source of information with more up-to-date information about the Linux compatibility of the devices mentioned, or does anyone here have practical experience with (one of) them, and give me a recommendation?

Can anyone positively confirm that one or another of the cards mentioned is supported well in Linux and can be recommended, or not?

Thanks for your help in advance!


@hansdevr: I can understand the frustration of a card not working, but the main issue with getting linux drivers for soundcards is that a lot of manufacturers refuse to develop linux drivers (which is understandable given the relatively small user base) but more importantly they refuse to give information about how the hardware works (very often this is based on custom programmable logic developed by the manufacturer so you cannot simply go and get a data sheet for a chip and figure it out). Without this information it is almost impossible to write a driver. There are plenty of capable programmers who would be willing to write drivers (often for free, and in their own time) if the manufacturers would provide them with the information. There is also a cost issue, since if a developer is going to make a driver then they need to test it against the hardware, and this can be quite expensive - especially when you consider that the drivers are free.
However, there are a lot of soundcards that ARE supported under linux, especially if you include the excellent work done by the FFADO team, who have managed to persuade a few manufacturers to donate hardware and or provide the relavent information.
I would normally say the best course of action when choosing a soundcard, is to find one that is supported, but if not, make sure you politely let the manufacturer know that you would like the card to be supported on linux - especially if it is a card that you ‘would’ have bought if it had linux support. Only if the manufacturers get an idea of the number of genuine ‘lost sales’ due to lack of linux support will they consider making linux drivers or allowing others access to the required information to allow them to do so.

IMO, it’s not very helpful to tell people which audio interface they SHOULD have bought.
A month ago I bought an EMU 1212M PCIexpress. It works like a charm with Cubase 5 under Windows XP. When you understand the concept behind the mixer software, it is a pleasure to work with and a versatile tool. But I would very much like to get it working with Kubuntu Linux, more specifically with both Ardour and Rosegarden.

Blaming the card for the current lack of driver support - again that is not helpful at all. I am not a Linux programmer, nor do I want to be one. I just want to use the damn card. So far, I only found negative comments dating back to 2007. The driver programmer indeed seems to have given up on the card. Does that make it a bad card? I think not.

I just want the card to work with 44.1 and 48 Khz. I am a musician and I would like to make music. I hate fiddling around with bits and bytes, driver settings etcetera. I spent weeks to install a real time kernel and get JACK to work. Now I bought a decent card, I’m back to square one. Very frustrating. Is there anyone here that understands my problem and can offer any help?

@hansdevr: IMO, it’s not very helpful to tell people which audio interface they SHOULD have bought.
A month ago I bought an EMU 1212M PCIexpress.

As linuxdsp noted, your problem here is with EMU. They don’t write drivers for Linux, they refuse to provide information to let others write drivers for Linux. What is it that you expect anyone in the Ardour community to do? Write drivers for free by reverse engineering EMU devices (a very long, laborious and totally tedious task)? There’s almost no chance that anyone will do that. When companies make hardware and refuse to support it or make it possible for others to support, there’s really nothing that can be done. Have you thought of writing to EMU to tell them about your issue?

Thought I would chime in that while a bit difficult and far from ideal, the EMU cards do work reliably in Linux and with Ardour. I have been personally been recording with a 1212M and Ardour for a few months now. Now that I have my system tuned properly, no XRuns and perfect recording at 44.1K and 48K. Thus, if you need help, just post and I am sure members here will help to get you going.

Not sure if you saw this:


Seems that the developer of the driver for emu cards was given datasheets from EMU.

I have 1212m PCI in my linux ubuntu 10.4. Everything that I need from it works (all 12 ins - 2xanalog, 2xspdif, 8xADAT). I mostly use it at 48kHz although I think that 44.1 also works. 2xout works fine.

MIDI does not work well at 44.1, which is not a problem for me. at 48 MIDI works just fine (and there are plenty of cheap USB midi interfaces that can be used if needed).

Again this is for PCI card. For me it works better under linux than when I briefly tried it with XP.


Answers :

  1. Someone has either got the info somehow or taken the time to reverse engineer the hardware. Or the card is using the same chip as another card, for which there already is a driver.

  2. They’re clueless? The ALSA page (http://alsa-project.org/main/index.php/Matrix:Vendor-Creative_Labs) claims that the 1212m and 1212m PCI are supported, but the 1212m PCIe seems to be uncertain. Maybe they’ve mistaken your PCIe for a PCI.

  3. Since there are Creative cards that do work, I guess it’s more to the point to warn people of the specific cards rather than the company. That said I think certain companies get their fair share of criticism as well

Gargamel, don’t turn this into a forum for audiophile crap and misinformation. Nothing you say has anything to do with Ardour.

@gargamel: moreover, the main relevant comment you made there is false:


"Added support for Delta1010E (newer revisions of Delta1010) "

We are now at ALSA 1.0.21 or later, so this has been false for some significant time.

@linuxdsp and paul:

Yes, I do understand and appreciate that the linux driver developers are dependant on the manufacturer’s assistance. And of course I really do appreciate the fact all those ppl work without getting any pay for their labour. And yes, I did write to Emu about this. No reply whatsoever.

Still; three questions remain:

  • why are there lots of other Emu cards supported when Emu/Creative never gives out any info?
  • why does everyone tell me my card ALREADY is supported in the latest (k)ubuntu distro, when it clearly is NOT?
  • why are there so many ppl criticising the CARD when they should be criticising the company?

Like I said, I work with the card under Cubase 5/WinXP. It works beautifully and the sound is really tight and clean. Latency is neglectable. So there really is no NEED for me to go and use it with Linux. Still - I find Kubuntu to be the preferred OS for many reasons. Stability certainly is one of them. I’m sad to say that stability also proves to be a factor with regard to lack of usable drivers… :frowning:

@gargamel: please find the link that claims the new 1010LT doesn’t work well on linux.

Also, you are fooling yourself if you believe that you will benefit from using 192kHz. No double blind test has ever demonstrated that even “golden ears” can tell the difference from a lower SR. Even 96kHz is barely proven in this regard. If you want to double or quadruple the amount of disk space you use, go right ahead. The recording world was fine with 48kHz in a world where AD/DA conversion was MUCH worse than it is today. Its true that the aliasing issues with 48kHz are much improved by using 96kHz but unless you intend to spend a LOT of money on an external AD converter (e.g. a Lavry or an Apogee), thats just on paper.

The M-Audio Delta series remains, to the best of my knowledge, to be the best general choice for mid-range devices on Linux. There are also lots of other devices based on the same chipset as the 1010 (known as ice1712 or ice1724) such as various boxes from Terratec. These are all more or less equivalent and will work as well as the 1010.

I own the emu1212m card and to me its just as confusing as you getting any information on it .

However I can tell you that this card is a night mare on both windows and linux. never had a mac so I cant tell how it would be on macs.

I do not advise anyone to get this card unless the two analog inputs are enough and there is somekind of priority for cheap but good enough sound

as when I have set it the computer up using all in and outputs on the card to connect the fostex fd8 . all features the card has is used fully expect the firewire output . I dont know if it works yet.

I installed wndows XP again after trying a lot of time getting it to work as proper as possible on ardour wiht both adat , analog and midi connected to the fostex hard disk recorder.

I would say the mixer software used on windows is really awfull. on linux its more transparant I think. but there is just better support udner windows using this card and when I need to record music I dont want to waste time on fiddling and meesing around. I just want stuff to work. this card does not work proper on any platform in my experience.

anyway…if anyone managed to get good results on linux using this card I would be more that gratefull to learn about it. I have a new linux machine with four gigabyte ram and the old windows machine only has one gigabyte ram. its not enough sometimes. I wish I could get the card working udner a faster linux based machine.

Thanks, Paul and cmay!

This is the sort of information and tips I need — much appreciated!

Incompatibility of M-Audio Delta 1010LT

The page saying that recent versions of the M-Audio 1010LT don't work as well, anymore, is http://www.linuxstudiopro.com.

“M-Audio Delta 1010LT PCI Interface
Supported by ALSA ALERT! models made after 2006 are incompatible! Check the comments.”

And in the comments I found:

“Andy Reynolds London 3:59pm on Sunday, April 20th, 2008. Apparently this card was redesigned in 2007 to meet RoHS rules and as a result is no longer compatible with the ice1712 linux module”

Now, there are many other reports that are in line what you say, but most of them are older. For me, as a beginner in this field, it is hard to tell correct from incorrect. That’s a problem with the web: If you find an older page, you never know, if it’s still up-to-date, or if it ever was at any point in time, and to be honest, the ALSA pages are not maintained as well as one might hope.

Relevance of High Sampling Rates and "Golden Ears"

Regarding sampling rates, I don't quite agree. Two years ago I visited a consumer electronics event, where many of the best manufacturers of HiFi equipment showed their latest developments. One of them was Linn. They showed their then new network player and promoted their online shop for music downloads. As one of the first companies in Europe they offer 192 kHz recordings there, and they *demonstrated* the difference. They played the same recording from CD,and in three sampling rates from their network player, and there was noone in the room who would'nt hear the difference!

Of course, the whole chain of equipment was way above what I have, and the music they chose was selected carefully to make the difference evident. Most impressive was a Jazz song, with a great female singer. Her timbre was significantly more realistic with 192 kHz than with 44.1 kHz. Of course, the difference between 192 kHz and 96 kHz was smaller, but still noticeable. Well, I don’t know. Perhaps this was all just a mean promotion trick by Linn…

Also, my current understanding is that the difference between 192 kHz and 44.1 kHz is similar as between JPEG and RAW images in photography. The more raw data there is the more you can do with it afterwards. In case I find that 96 kHz or 44.1 kHz is good enough, I could always downscale. But missing data cannot be created afterwards (of course, there’s interpolation, but the result is never quite the same as the original). But I may be wrong, because, as I said, I have no experience with recording…

What to choose, then?

Anyway, M-Audio Delta seems to have good Linux support, except the Audiophile 192.. The ESI Juli@ looks good, too, and has the same chipset, with symmetric input jacks (is that the right word? English is not my native language), but with a few minor snags. A little more expensive, but much more versatile are the EMU 1212m and 1616m, but I am unable to find unambiguous information that there is support for sampling rates above 44.1 kHz in Linux. Based on facts, EMU is not an option, currently, therefore.

With the information I have now, it seems I have to make a choice what’s most important to me:

  • Lowest price tag ==> M-Audio Audiophile 2496 (Disadvantage: Only Cinch)
  • 192 kHz SR and symmetric input jacks ==> ESI Juli@ (Disadvantage: Some problems with MIDI, at least with kernels before 2.6.32, and low, but "inconsistent" latency)
  • More channels ==> M-Audio Delta 1010LT
  • More options and even more channels ==> M-Audio Delta 1010

Now, I don’t know, how far I can get, but if all goes well, I plan on purchasing a Presonus FP10 or similar later. The question is, what makes the best combination, then, and what gives me the best start.

Conclusion (status of my personal decision making process)

My current feeling is that the ESI Jul@ is in front by a small score, but I'd appreciate any further comments and tips from experienced users!