Will An Older Pci Soundcard Effect System Speed?

I have a question for the tech minded folks here. My brother has asked me if I want to trade my e-mu 0404USB for his e-mu 1820M.

I know that the 1820M is by a significant margin the better card, with more inputs and better routing options. However, it’s an older PCI card that is now probably about 2 years discontinued by E-mu.

My question centers around system / bus speed. If I were to upgrade my computer in the next year to a core i7 920 and use this card in the new system, would it slow the computer down at all for any reason?

I seem to remember hearing that your system is only as fast as it’s slowest component. I used to be better versed in this kind of stuff, but I really can’t remember. Looking for any advice in terms of if this card may effect system speed - particularly if I switch to the new windows when it is released and go 64 bit. (Currently run XP – note e-mu does have 64 bit drivers for this card).



My specific concern was bus speed, which is something I no longer really understand (if I ever did). So a blazingly fast new motherboard and CPU will not have the bus speed slowed down by putting an older card on it? (Sorry for the re-confirm, just an important point so I want to make sure I have it absolutely right).

Thanks Bantai!

To echo what Bantai said:

I can’t remember the last time the bus speed/width of a PCI slot effected a soundcard. Infact; think about it. Would they put on all those features if they couldn’t be used in a normal PCI slot?

You’re probably confused by graphics cards and there needs for a bazillion terabits per second. But that’s just because they use lots, lots more data than a soundcard.

Thanks Pod and Bantai – I’ve installed the 1820M and man, how did I ever live without this soundcard???

Sure, I can’t possibly begin to understand patchmix, and I have no idea of how to setup the routing in renoise to use the onboard DSP fx (which sound amazing to my ears) – but it will be fun learning!

Thanks again!


there are two ways to use the EMU DSPs:

  1. create a certain amount of ASIO INPUT channels in the PatchMix software, equip each of them with an effect chain of your choice and route the respective renoise tracks in the mixer view to the ASIO inputs you desire.
    -> drawback: using renoise’s internal render function will not include the DSP effects as setup with patchmix, as they’re “behind” the ASIO software and not integrated into it. besides that, the EMU effects will always be the last instance of your renoise track effect chain, which means you cannot process an EMU phaser before a renoise or VST reverb. furthermore there is no chance for automating the effects from within renoise as they’re litarally “invisible” for the ASIO host software.

  2. use the EmuPowerFX VST plugin to integrate any EMU effect into a renoise effect chain. the great advantage is that every EMU effect can be used just as flexible as any other native renoise or VST effect.
    unfortunately that method will introduce static notice, crackles and stuttering - it simply does not work at all and you can only guess that there is sometimes an actual audio stream nictating through the noisy mess.
    that’s at least the case with my hardware setup and an EMU 1212M, but i guess it won’t be any different with your 1820M.
    i’ve heard and read about a lot of identical or at least similar problems from other people using other hardware and different VST hosts… so it’s basically EMU’s fault and they didn’t care to update / fix that since years.
    i’m no longer expecting any kind of improvement concerning that matter in the future.

but to be honest: i meanwhile really don’t care about the EMU effects anymore, as they’re not event close to most VST effects when it comes to quality.
and the times when you wanted to take some load from a poor pentium4 (or even worse) are fortunately also over ;)

Emu PowerFX never worked for me under any host. However I think the quality isn’t that bad, I heard some rumors about reverb which affects the phase of sound but I had no possibility to check this. Using Native FX with Patchmix is pain in the ass for me. Maybe with physically inserted audio it has sense but not with standalone tracks ie. from Renoise.

The PowerFX works for me in Tracktion 1 but don’t in Renoise. I too like the fx and route out the audio and record it back in Renoise.

Thanks everyone for all the info. Patchmix is quite a bit to digest, but I think I’m making progress!

We really love our EMU’s. We use an 1616 EMU for our laptop (liveset performance), an 1616M for our mastering system and a 1820 in combination with an RME ADI-8DS. We completely routed everything together with our hardware synthezisers and it works fantastic.

It also took some time for me to dicovery how this Patchmix DSP panel worked (Since I’ve bought by first EMU and tried to hook up my first synth) , but when I look back now it’s really simple. The driver support is also great, they were also very fast in launching the Vista 64bit drivers, so no complaining about this wonderful device. The price and quality is really worth it.