The ESI Maya44 USB is not a new sound card. It has been on the market for quite some time now and has become a favorite external USB card for many users. Why? Because it offers 4 input /4 output connections.
There is a catch however. You cannot use each connector individually and drive for example one deck on the 1st, a second on the 2nd, etc... You have to use 1+2 or 3+4. The same applies for the inputs. This is a limitation, so if you cannot live with it, then don't buy it. Another thing we didn't like is that the headphone output signal mixes 1,2 and 3,4 channels. We assume this happens since the same connector is being used for headphones and digital optical output. A better design would have had separate outputs and therefore more versatility. In order to monitor, you need to use Analog Output 3+4 for example and not the Headphones.
So how good is this sound card? In short, it is quite good. It works as it is supposed too. Most users will appreciate its 2 stereo output channels, especially for portable DJ mixing. With 1+2 you can drive out the master volume and with 3+4 you can monitor the other deck. The 4ms lowest ASIO latency is very good and will satisfy most users. When you are using an input/output connector, the Audio software will backlight with green. This is an indication that the output levels work, handy for quick observation. We didn't test the card's recording capabilities, but we haven't heard any complaints either. A more experienced user could use the 2 stereo inputs to connect two turntables and with timecode control DJ Mixing software (like Traktor DJ Studio, VirtualDJ, etc..)
ESI has finally shipped the ASIO drivers for "VISTA", (driver pack v2.8.5). As far as we know, there aren't any drivers for Linux.
To sum it up, the ESI Maya44 USB card has specific features and target group. Users who want an external USB card with low latency, 2+2 stereo Input/Output connectors and ASIO drivers for around €100 don't have many options. Gamers should look elsewhere, since there is no support for the well known 3D sound formats, nor surround sound. But there is an already established market share for the Maya44 USB card amongst DJs, either under the ESI or AudioTrack brand name, and this indicates that the product is good. As always, the final choice is yours.