For a few years now, I've been using these spiffy little USB audio
boxes made by eMagic many years back, specifically the emi2|6 and
emi6|2m. There have been plenty of higher-performance devices made
since (mostly in terms of lower noise), but the eMagic boxes still
hold their own ten years later. They've always been dead reliable and
they had Linux drivers from the earliest days thanks to Tapio
Laxstrom. These days they pop up on eBay now and then for about $50.
They're no-frills; nothing but bare unbalanced line level inputs
and outputs and digital ports. I don't need or want mic preamps and
physical sliders, etc, like are bolted to every other prosumer USB
audio device out there. I don't want a middling-quality all-in-one
solution to my portable recording needs. These little boxen do one
thing well and interface nicely to Real Equipment for doing
specialized tasks like field recording or serious signal analysis.
Oh, and you can gang them together! They can all be run off the
sampling clock from one of the units, and I've used four together to
do 12-out/20-in theatre work. To date, the eMagics are pretty much the
only product that has ever offered this feature combination.
In 2004-ish, Apple bought eMagic and discontinued all of eMagic's
hardware devices after momentarily renaming the product lines to the
a26 and a62m. There have been no new eMagic driver updates for
Windows since XP, and no new Mac OSX drivers (That I'm aware of) since
10.2 PPC. In fact, Linux is the last modern system the 6|2m boxes
still work with.
...or at least it was until 2.6.26. In 2.6.27, yet another
wholesale 'code cleanup', which Linux kernel developers regularly
employ to make sure no hardware more than three years old continues
working, broke the eMagic firmware loaders. It had been modified to
compile with the 'refreshed' kernel API, but apparently no one tested
that the modified version actually worked. Well, it didn't. As of
126.96.36.199 it still doesn't.
Let's cut to the chase.
Here is a patch that should apply cleanly to 2.6.27 through
2.6.32.x; it restores the eMagic 6|2m firmware loader to the exact
functional state enjoyed in the 2.6 kernels before being broken in
The patch is large because one error in the code cleanup had among
other things also accidentally replaced the 6|2m's firmware with the
(not interchangable) firmware from the 2|6, which is big. This patch
has been submitted upstream but hasn't made it any to of the
staging kernels yet to my knowledge.
But that's not all! Look what else we've got!
The Linux kernel always included an early and slightly buggy firmware
version for both devices. I've extracted the most recent firmware
from the last known eMagic update and made a second patch that updates
the Linux kernel from using version 1.0 of the eMagic firmware to
using firmware version 2.2 (as marked in the installer) from MacOS
10.2.3. This patch is standalone. Install only one or the other, not
The updated firmware fixes at least one especially annoying niggle the
6|2m always had where neither analog nor digital sampling are active
when recording starts, and you have to flip the physical switch on the
front of the device to wake it up each time.
If you know of a more recent update for the eMagics, do let me know
(and send me a copy so I can get the firmware out!)