M-Audio Delta 44
After taking the ESIJuli@ back to the store, i swapped it for an Maudio Delta 44. And contrary to the above experience, the Maudio Delta 44 worked 'out of the box', with the usual tweak or two in alsamixer. After installing this card, the system recognised it immediately. The alsa module for this card is ice1712, which has been around for a while, and it has stabilised nicely in it's maturity. In fact, nearly all the Maudio cards use this alsa module, with the exception of the Audiophile 192, which uses, as you have may have guessed, the ice1724 module. Worth noting if you are thinking of purchasing this card, but if this changes with an improvement of the ice1724 module, i will update this as soon as possible.
The Delta44 has a breakout box,with 4 ins and 4 outs. This was sufficient for my needs, as i don't do much live recording at all. For those that want more ins and outs for more live recording capability, you might consider the Delta66, which has 6 in and outs.
The Delta44 has no headphone jack, but with a bit of creative wiring, i was able to route the out signal to HP's and listen to the sound. The Delta44 was competent, and performed reliably across differing sample rates, with low latency, and few pops or Jack xruns, before tweaking. It took a few moments to understand the routing setup in Envy24, a linux hardware controller written specifically for Maudio cards in linux, but it went well, once i'd got everything routing correctly.
A note here, and i pass this on from making the mistake. In Qjackctl, an interface for Jack, there is a checkbox on the left hand side of the main setup screen entitled 'H/W monitor'. Make sure its checked, as i went round the setup cycle a few times, before discovering this. Doh.
The Delta44, in my tests with a Full Orchestral template in Linuxsampler, performed well, didn't pop or crack at 10ms latency, and sounded even across the range from Bass to Treble. I am sure with further tweaking, and refining, particularly with a dedicated EQ, either in a DAW, or as part of the signal chain, (JackEQ for instance) this card will shine, and prove to be a solid asset. It's early days yet, but the signs are good.