Onkyo, a company that specializes in home audio and video components, has introduced the MSE-U33HB Digital Audio Processor and USB Hub for Macs. This is one of the first products of Onkyo’s new multimedia division.
The device provides an interface between a USB-equipped Mac and an external audio system. It has a microphone/line input for those USB Macs that lack audio input jacks and functions as a hub by providing three additional USB ports. The MSE-U33HB is targeted to folks who wish to make digital audio recordings from turntables, cassette decks, or other analog audio sources, and for playing music from a CD-ROM drive, internal hard disc, or streaming audio internet connection, according to Onkyo spokesperson Gordon Sell.
“In designing the MSE-U33HB, Onkyo’s engineers quickly recognized that the inside of a computer, with its high-speed digital ICs, switch-mode power supplies, and cooling fans, was no place for sensitive analog audio circuits,” he said. “By placing all the circuitry in a heavily-shield outboard enclosure, Onkyo was able to achieve low levels of noise and distortion that would be all but impossible to attain with a plug-in sound card.”
The Onkyo’s high sound quality is demonstrated by its rated signal-to-noise ratio of 100 dB and flat frequency response, Sell added. The MSE-U33HB uses single-bit analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog converters and discrete-component analog preamplifier circuits.
This processor has a microphone input for voice, and stereo RCA line-level input jacks to port audio from CD players, tape decks, turntables, and MIDI systems into the computer. An adjustable stereo line-level output is used to send the analog audio signal either to a stereo system and speakers or to an audio recorder.
The Onkyo SE-U33HB is bundled with two software packages, Peak LE and Rhythmic Circle FUSE. The former is a waveform editing and encoding application with DSP (Digital Signal Processing) audio editing functions. It can read digital audio data directly from CDs, as well as read and encode MP3, Shockwave, and RealAudio data.
Rhythmic Circle FUSE is a video jockey application that can produce video effects that move in time with the music. The program includes a variety of visual effects that can also be applied to imported QuickTime movies.
The MSE-U33HB requires a Power G3 or G4 processor, 20MB or more of free hard drive space, a minimum of 64MB RAM (128MB recommended), and Mac OS 9.0.4 plus multimedia upgrade 1.0 or greater. Rhythmic Circle FUSE requires an additional 200MB hard disk space. It has a suggested retail price of US $199.