The integration of computers into high-end audio is contentious. A on our website indicated that a significant proportion of audiophiles—a quarter—is dead set against the idea, yet both Microsoft, with Windows Media Player 9, and Apple, with iTunes, seem convinced that the future of domestic music reproduction involves computers. To support that idea, both Apple- and Windows-based computers (the latter with Intel's about-to-be-launched HD Audio technology) are promoting hi-rez audio playback. As a significant amount of my overall music listening already takes place with a computer as source, I'm always on the lookout for products that aid this integration.
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It s a hard knock. Four years ago I reviewed two PCI soundcards, the CardDeluxe from Digital Audio Labs () and the Digi96/9 PRO from RME (, with a Follow-Up in January 2001), while Wes Phillips reviewed the RME Digi96/8 PAD in. In the office, I use my desktop PC with Yamaha's USB-interface RP-U100 personal receiver (), while Michael Fremer spilled some ink on the tubed USB-interface Sutherland 12dAX7 DAC (). More recently, I've been using my PowerBook with a superbly versatile FireWire-interface audio box from Metric Halo, the MIO2882. But there are other high-end computer audio manufacturers that we have neglected, most notably Lynx and Echo, whose products have gotten much word-of-mouth praise on the Internet. The Indigo IO Echo makes three soundcards using the Type II CardBus interface: the basic Indigo ($159), which has a single set of 24-bit/96kHz-capable stereo outputs; the Indigo DJ ($229), with two sets of 24/96-capable stereo outputs; and the Indigo IO ($229), with one set of stereo outputs but also a two-channel analog input. The IO uses a 24-bit, 128x-oversampling A/D converter running at sample rates from 32kHz to 96kHz, and because of its applicability to, for example, the archiving of LPs, it's the one I requested for review.
Both inputs and outputs are carried on 1/8' stereo jacks, one on each side of the small block that stands out from the laptop when the card is plugged in. A thumbwheel on top of this block controls volume, and the output stage is robust enough to drive a pair of headphones to high levels. As well as a CD-ROM containing the drivers and demonstration versions of such useful audio programs as Bias Deck and Bias Peak 4.0, and Virtual Instruments Reaktor, the card is supplied with a 6' adapter cable for both RCA and ¼' connections. Compared with PCI soundcards intended for desktop use, the Indigo IO doesn't have digital ins and outs and doesn't support external clocking of its converters. It doesn't have MIDI I/O or microphone inputs, and doesn't support sample rates below 32kHz. But other than those lacks, it offers a high degree of functionality, including full-duplex operation—you can monitor your recording as you record it. Installation My primary test vehicle for the Indigo IO was my Titanium PowerBook running OS10.2.8, though I also installed it on a Sony VAIO laptop to see if there were any Windows-specific idiosyncrasies.
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(The card will run under Windows Me, 2000 and XP.) Both computers recognized the card when I plugged it in the appropriate CardBus slots, and installation for the software drivers was painless on both hosts. A small blue LED on its top lights up when the card is running. Echo is concerned that the card not be unplugged without it first being turned off with the CardBus icon on the toolbar (Mac OSX) or the Unplug Hardware toolbar command (Windows).
It can block malicious programs to prevent your system from being infected. It does not slow down your computer even when running a scan so you can do your usual activity as it runs on the background. Scan can be done by simple drag and drop.