What does one do if an expensive audio interface purchased 2-1/2 years ago goes on the fritz? This is what happened with my Ego-Systems Wami-Rack 24.
I described the problem to Ego-Sys technical support. After the rack device has been on for several minutes, it begins to produce screaching on all of its outputs. For the first few minutes, its output is merely distorted. At tech support suggestion, I installed the system on another computer with the same result. Because the rack unit does not produce these symptons unless the computer is also on, my guess is that the PCI card is bad.
One would think that it would cost relatively little to replace the card, given the total cost of card and rack unit. This does not seem to be an option. For the last several weeks, I have sent reminders to tech support that I need to resolve this. I cannot get an answer from them, so I'm beginning to think my investment in this equipment is lost.
I loved my WaMiRack24 - but sold it when I got a console/interface that superceded it in form and function. It never showed the symptoms that you describe, so I can't be much help there.
Anyway, you have to look at it this way - you got 2+ good years out of it, and the cost of repairing it now is not worth it, as you can probably find a better interface (from Ego-Sys or someone else) for less $$$ than it would cost a tech to open it up and eventually tell you it can't be fixed. Sorry, but that's the way the technology and market is structured. While you think it might be a simple matter of replacing a relatively cheap PCI card, it's as likely that it's something that's failed in the audio circuitry at or after the D/A convertors. Not pretty. Not cheap.
In most cases, I take a Section 179 deduction for computer gear I put in the studio, which allows me to write off the full price of it in the first year. In that way, looking at replacing it on as quick as a yearly cycle a bit easier to swallow. If you're looking for a longer term investment with amortization over several years, my recommendation would be to go with a device/company that supports a multi-year warranty and replacement guarantee. If you're a hobbyist that can't use it as a deduction, then you'll need to do some homework and find the right balance for amount invested against the prospect of an inevitable failure. I know that it's no comfort to you, but I don't see any device being worth of guaranty for more than a year if the retail cost is less than $1000. Like I said, that's the way the computer-based music market is structured.