I’ve had a couple of people ask me about setting up a Terratec EWS88MT under the Windows XP operating system. I figured I would go ahead and share what I know here under a thread entitled by the hardware’s name. Disclaimer: The method I’m fixing to describe is a modification to the standard installation of Windows XP and or 2000. I have done this successfully under both operating systems. For this to work properly, you are going to have to do a clean OS install. Terratec will not share this information because of liability associated with modifying the OS, but I did get an eMail wink form a techie over there. Back up all your data, breathe deep, and here we go. Step 1 In bios, enable IRQs to PCI slots. IRQ sharing is the cause of problems with this piece of hardware. It absolutely positively has to have its own IRQ or it isn’t going to work correctly. Step 2 Boot from your windows CD & blow away your old operating system. Now start the new OS install. During the initial stages of XP setup, there is a prompt to press F5 if you need to install SCSI or Raid drivers. At this point, you press F7. This will be followed by a prompt that allows you to change the hardware abstraction layer from ACPI to that of a standard PC. Now the change you made in BIOS will actually work. There is a cost, you lose all ACPI features. Typically this means you can’t wake on LAN and when you shut down, you’ll get the “It is now safe to turn off your computer” screen vs. the machine shutting itself off. Oh boo hoo, at least your $400.00 sound card will now work properly. Go ahead and finish your OS install. I have read where it is not necessary to do a clean install to change the HAL from ACPI to standard. Supposedly you can do it while in safe mode. I have also read this will crash your machine in a big way, so big that you won’t be able to restart it. I am a big believer in the clean install. Yes it’s a pain to reload all your applications etc but in the long run you get a better deal. Step 3 We’ll assume at this point your new OS is installed and you have all your drivers, including the unsigned Terratec driver installed too. You have also been down the Windows Update path and your system is configured and current. From here you need to look at the system information tool and verify that the EWS88MT is not sharing an IRQ with any other devices. You might at this point have to move the PCI card around to a couple of different slots, until you find one that has its own IRQ. Step 4 Install your recording software. Before you get started using the software, you should configure some global parameters. You will have much better results if you application resides on one hard drive and your data on another. I am not talking about virtual partitions on 1 physical drive, but 2 separate hard drives. Even better results will be achieved by having 3 hard drives. C drive is for operating system only. D drive is for applications only. E drive is for data only. When recording on all 8 channels, there is an extreme amount or reading and writing going on. That is why it is a good idea to spread the different parts of the operation across more resources. On my machine, C is the OS, D is for apps, E is a CD reader, F is a DVD burner, and G & H are for data. C-F are on the IDE chain and G & H are SATA drives. A lot of folks say that your OS and Apps should be on the Raid drives and data on the IDEs. I can’t argue that because I have tried that yet. My Raid drives came kinda after the fact. Depending on the amount of RAM and the speed of your processor, you will need to set the buffers for the application. The more horse power you have, the less buffering required. The more buffering you have to do, the slower the application will respond. It’s a balancing act of stability. You will need to spend some time here as it is only figured out by trial and error. If you plan to do a lot of automation and want a clean graphical representation, you’ll need to have a good video card with a lot of memory as to not tax the CPU, thus leaving more horse power for your sound app. So that’s pretty much what I know about making a Terratec EWS88MT work properly under the Windows XP operating system. I have set up other hard drive recording systems using different hardware such as DigiDesign and Delta. Rather than experiment, I set them up the same way described above and those machines are smooth sailors. I don’t know if all these steps are necessary for the others, but if you are going to spend that kind of money on hardware that is this resource hungry, I consider it prudent to have it on its own interrupt just to ensure stability. Now go on and record some killer tunes!