Echo are the maker of quite affordable, nice audio interfaces; they’re perhaps best known for their ultra-compact PC Card (CardBus) interfaces and, before that, PCI-based interfaces. They’ve gotten into FireWire, but initially in the 10×10 and 12×12 configurations, where there’s plenty of competition. There are far fewer FireWire interfaces that are smaller and less expensive, which is why Echo’s latest could catch some additional attention.

The new interfaces are:

  1. AudioFire2: 2 x 2 ¼” balanced analog inputs/outputs, an independent stereo headphone output with volume knob, a removable dongle for S/PDIF and MIDI i/o, an 8 foot 6-pin FireWire cable, a 3 foot 6-pin to 4-pin FireWire adapter cable, and an external 12VDC power supply. US$199
  2. AudioFire4: 2 auto-sensing universal inputs with mic preamps, phantom power and trim knobs, 2 balanced ¼” analog inputs, 4 balanced ¼” analog outputs, a stereo headphone output with volume knob, S/PDIF and MIDI i/o, an 8’ 6-pin FireWire cable, and an external 12VDC power supply. $299.

AudioFire2 [Echo Audio Product Page]
AudioFire4 [Echo Audio Product Page]

Hmm … lots of I/O, same high-quality innards as their higher-end models, and all the extra widgets and cables and whatnot actually included in the box? I wish this were a lot more common. Better still, both are FireWire bus-powered and promise low-latency drivers. (Bus power won’t help most PC laptop users, however: for reasons I don’t understand, most PCs still ship with 4-pin FireWire jacks, unlike the Mac.)

Bundled in the box is Tracktion 1 — dated, but no matter, given these otherwise seem worth a look.

Echo Vista Compatibility Update

As I write this, Echo happens to have just announced Vista drivers for their full line of current products. That means all FireWire devices (AudioFire 2, AudioFire4, AudioFire 8 & AudioFire 12), Layla3G & Gina3G, the PC Cards (Indigo, Indigo io, Indigo dj), and Layla24, Mona, Gina24, Mia, MiaMIDI. Check the driver download page for details.

For more compatibility information, check our Vista Compatibility Roundup:
Vista Launch Day: What’s Compatible for Musicians?

And stop your snickering, Mac users. We’re still waiting for Universal Binary compatibility for a lot of software, and now Leopard is about to hit. The developer updates never end.