M-Audio Audiophile 192 Sound Card: A Review

Please note: I've left this page up for historical purposes. The sound card is no longer supported by the company that took over the card's original manufacturer.


When I was setting up my home recording studio, getting a new sound card was not at the top of my list.  I was more interested in software and musical instruments than in connections.  That happy period did not last long at all.  For one thing, I needed a decent MIDI connection to my PC (Windows 7, 64-bit, Service Pack 1) in order to use either Finale 2011 or Reason 6.  I also wanted to record analog audio tracks (like me singing into a microphone), and wanted to get good sound back out of my PC to my Behringer B2031A Truth Active Monitors.  The Realtek sound card that came with my ZT PC wasn't designed for such tasks. 

Here's what I thought would be a good criteria list for an appropriate sound card:

  1. An internal card, using a PCI slot (I've got one PCI - not PCI Express - slot empty in my PC);
  2. Compatible with Windows 7, 64-bit;
  3. An ASIO driver, which Reason 6 demands;
  4. 16-channel MIDI in and out;
  5. Up to 24-bit/192kHz audio;
  6. Ideally - I could compromise - 2 balanced analog inputs (1/4” TRS), and 2 balanced analog outputs (1/4” TRS);
  7. Not too expensive.

There are not a lot of cards out there that fit this bill, but the Audiophile 192 claims to.  The card is pictured above, and comes with the cable pack you see, which has the two MIDI connectors, two analog inputs, two analog outputs, and two analog monitor outputs.  There are also two S/PDIF digital (coaxial RCA connectors) connectors - one in, one out - on the card, which I'd probably never use.  So cool, yes?  And though the MSRP is $199, the street price is around $99. 

I bought the Audiophile 192 online on February 26, 2012, from B&H Photo in New York.  I dealt with this shop when I lived in New York City, they had a good price, and there was no problem with B&H.  Still, in retrospect, I should have just bought the card from Amazon.  Why?  Return policy.  B&H tells you upfront that you can't return this to them because, hey, it's a sound card.  Amazon would have let me return the card if it was defective.  But what were the chances of that . . ?

The card arrived, I installed it, and chose not to bother with the included free software, which consisted of some sad demo stuff from 2007 that wouldn't work in Windows 7 anyway. 

So - you've already guessed this - the card did not work.  (I think the problem is in the drivers, although the card's manufacturer disagrees with my assessment.)  The MIDI connection was great, the analog monitor outputs were great, the inputs just didn't work.  At all.  I did a bunch of research on this on the web and, apparently, this is not an uncommon problem with this card, at least for those using Windows 7.  If you register your product with Avid, who makes this card, you get ONE free support call, after which anything else will cost you $15 per issue.  (Maybe that's their money-making strategy.)  So I call, and the tech, who is nice, goes through all sorts of tests and scenarios with me, but unresponsive outputs are just that, and we get nowhere.  I e-mail my IRQ list, and they see no problem.  Back and forth . . .

On March 28, they issue me a Return Merchandise Authorization, which basically allows me to send the card back to Avid at my own expense ($11.35).  I'm underwhelmed, but send the card back. 

Stay tuned for more details  . . .

Update, April 9, 2012

Got the card back - don't know if it was a new card, or they repaired the one I sent - installed it, and it works.  Guess it wasn't the driver after all.  So, basically, I'm happy, except I still feel that I shouldn't be out $11.35 because the first card was defective.  On the other hand, this card is a good solution for a home studio now that it's working.






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