Yup, it was bound to happen eventually. I kind of figured this was coming up, when I went hunting for drivers, and saw that the FW410 had been removed from the M-Audio site (it's back up now, but probably wont be for long).
So what's new?
Looks like we get 24 bit/192kHz (a step up over 96kHz), and the ability to function as a standalone mic preamp. I'm excited to see that it looks like we'll also FINALLY be able to use the front and rear inputs AT THE SAME TIME!
This was my biggest complaint with the FW410. It's really only a two input card (deceptive, as it's got "four" inputs and "ten" outputs - "FW410" - but it really only has two analog inputs and eight outputs, the other ins and outs are digital). This makes the mid range Firewire card competitive with the newer FastTrack cards.
I also like the new look M-Audio is taking. USB cards are still gray and rounded. Firewire cards are going for more of an edgy, black, industrial look. I dig it.
What don't I like?
Well I'd rather have buttons for the pads. I don't like having to pull on knobs. As it's most likely going to just be resting on a desk (as opposed to being rack mounted), that usually become a two handed maneuver (holding the interface in place while pulling the knob).
I really wish some manufacturer would step up and give us individual phantom power controls. The one button for all thing is getting a little tired.
I might miss having optical ports on the back. The only digital in/out is now S/PDIF, and I kinda like the skinnier TOSLink cables.
Hopefully they've figured out their problem with hotswapping. I've never hotswapped my 410, and I've been fine, but I have had clients fry firewire ports with M-Audio gear.
Lastly I'm kinda disappointed that M-Audio is still holding to a subtly deceptive naming scheme. It does have the ability to record six channels, and output ten. However, two inputs and two outputs are through S/PDIF, so using project studio gear, you really only have access to four in and eight out. This isn't quite as big a deal as when the 410 was released, but it can be a little frustrating when you're trying to research gear.
The Profire looks like a good step up from the 410 it's replacing, but if you already have a 410, it doesn't look like quite enough of an upgrade to make the plunge. That said, I am going to try and get my hands on one (without having to buy one) to play around and see how the new mic amps compare to my old 410. It certainly is a striking interface though, and along with the ProFire 2626 sets the trend for where M-Audio's Firewire line is headed (maybe an update to the FW1814 and ProjectMix soon plzkthnx).
M-Audio suggested retail is $499.95, but pre-order street price is $399.99 around the web (link to zzounds).
The ProFire 610 should be available to retail channels middle of September.