Xitel MD Port AN1 Review
The Xitel MD
Port AN1 is a USB device that turns a USB port on a Windows 98 or
2000 PC into an analogue line out jack.
Here are my impressions of this piece of MD kit that I've recently
acquired. I'd like to preface this by saying that my laptop has no line
out in case anyone is wondering why the heck I would buy this thing.
The device itself comes with a rather long USB cable (PC to MD Port) and
a rather short 3.5mm stereo cable (MD Port to MD). The MD Port unit is a
bit larger than I expected (10cm long x 2cm tall x 3cm deep), although
it is very light in its plastic (metallic coloured) casing. It also
comes with the full version of MusicMatch Jukebox which is apparently
pretty good for encoding and playback (although I have never used it).
The MD Port is plug and play right out of the box. When I plugged it
into my Windows 98 machine for the first time, Windows informed me that
it had found new hardware and that it was installing the necessary
drivers. It installed three sets of drivers (as the manual suggested it
would) directly from my hard drive, with no need for the Win98 CD (which
is good since I can't find mine!). The MD Port comes with no software of
its own to install. After approx. 2 mins. of driver installation, it was
up and running, providing a quality line out to MD (relative to the
laptop headphone jack I had being suffering with).
- You can't use your PC's normal audio output (e.g. the soundcard) and
the MD Port simultaneously so any monitoring has to be done via your MD
recorder (or whatever the MD Port is connected to). The good thing is
that when you plug in the MD Port, the PC configures itself to output
via USB and when you remove it, the PC automatically reverts to its
standard audio output setup (e.g. soundcard).
- For some reason, USB audio output (via this device anyway) seems to
be so taxing on my system that Winamp sort of freezes up when I use the
slide bar to advance within a given track. Nothing crashes but I have to
recommence playback from the beginning of the track. This never happens
when the MD Port is not plugged in.
- The MD Port doesn't seem to output from the CD-ROM drive. It
continues to output via the standard setup (e.g. soundcard), even when
the MD Port is plugged in (I tried Winamp and Windows CD Player). I
noticed that when the MD Port is plugged in and the system has
configured itself to output via USB, the CD volume control is not
accessible in Windows Audio Properties (as it normally would be) so I
assume it was not meant to output CD audio. This is not a problem for me
as I do all my CD to MD stuff digitally, away from my PC, but I could
see this as being a problem for many people.
This device has provided me with the highest quality audio output from
PC that I have experienced to date (N.B. All of my experience is in the
analogue domain) and sounds great to my ears (indistinguishable from the
source). At the same time, I would only recommend it to someone fitting
- You have no PC line out or have a really poor line out.
- You have some other means to achieve CD to MD recording, or don't require the
capacity to achieve this.
- I have used the MDPort AN1 also, and feel that its analog
output quality is significantly better than most PC sound cards. I would modify
point (1) above to read: ``You wish to achieve better quality recordings than what is
possible with the analog output from your machine's sound card''.
- The reason CD output doesn't work is because the whole USB spec
is digital. You can't therefore take the analogue output from a CD
drive and play it through the USB port - you have to take the audio
data from the CD digitally. This is the same with any audio device on the
- Xitel reports that users will not have to worry about
driver upgrades (actually, all drivers for the device already come with
the Microsoft OS).