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Can I create a truly RELIABLE setup?! I.e. A cry for HELP!
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geartommy
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#1
12th February 2012
Old 12th February 2012
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Can I create a truly RELIABLE setup?! I.e. A cry for HELP!

I got really fed up with trying to make computers work for audio production. For the last few years I've been putting Herculian efforts into making an OK AMD64 machine work with an E-MU 0404 USB. And even though I am only using this setup for songwriting (tracking one or two channels of audio and MIDI only) and occasional mixing, I never ensured stability and I always experienced occasional crackles and timing issues when recording and monitoring.

I consider myself to be at a near expert-level Windows competence, and I dare to say the OS itself is optimized to the max. I've tried XP, Vista, 7. I've tried practically all optimization techniques under the sun (read: OS tweaks, monitoring DPC and IRQ conflicts, changing USB interfaces, etc.) My system runs flawlessly for everything except audio production.

Recently, I was led to believe it was a hardware/PC issue, most likely bad chipset and/or bad USB implementation. Consequently, just a few days ago I took drastic steps and BOUGHT AN iMAC! A Core 2 Duo system with 4GB RAM, early 2009. An almost identical machine, I have personally witnessed tracking an entire band in Pro Tools with Digi 002 with no sweat.

Unfortunately, the Mac didn't do it for me. The pops and crackles continued on. The EMU produced them in both Lion 10.7.2 and Snow Leopard 10.6-10.6.8. In fact, I was really surprised when the Mac setup not only proved to be performing as poorly as the PC system, but it also INTRODUCED CRACKLES IN THE RECORDINGS THEMSELVES -- something that never happened on Windows. In other words, the Mac actually brought me even bigger headaches with that same interface.

Some people say it's Creative that are doing crappy drivers, causing conflicts. Granted, I've tried every single driver Creative has put out, but to no avail. Every single configuration causes glitches REGARDLESS of buffer settings sooner or later. But is the interface to blame?

Honestly, I am tired to death of all these computer-related issues. I feel like I've wasted a tremendous amount of time trying to make computer audio work, instead of working on my songs.

Please, guys. What can I do to get something really stable?! I've got the Mac, I've got the PC. What hardware/software can I rely on that when I plug, it will work as expected. All I want is to be able to put the signal in the computer, play to a source and have it line up correctly on the timeline without pops and without terrible timing.

Quite desperate here. Would appreciate some help. Thank you.

P.S. Have been reading about RME lately. Could that be the solution?
#2
12th February 2012
Old 12th February 2012
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I have RME's babyface and although it's overkill for my needs (basically I use it only for playback) I'm still very happy I went with RME - super stable and very flexible. Really, never had a problem with it.
#3
12th February 2012
Old 12th February 2012
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If the common denominator is the Emu interface, then it's worth changing that before buying another computer or changing the setup of your existing ones.

RME are great. I had troubles with an M-Audio Firewire Solo, an NI Audio Kontrol 1, and a TC Desktop Konnekt 6. The RME Fireface 400, on the other hand, has performed flawlessly.
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#4
12th February 2012
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unless you absolutely need to,don't use USB for your audio device, just buy yourself any PCI(e) based audio card from RME,M-Audio, or whomever and you'll be a happy camper.

Otherwise go firewire if you're using the mac.



MC
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12th February 2012
Old 12th February 2012
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Most usb interfaces are not so good, convertor wise and even driver wise. It appears the drivers for your interface suck for both mac and pc. I would suggest a firewire interface for the mac. I just got an Echo audiofire pre8 to go with my macbook pro for mobile recording. Its pretty decent and the drivers are good, for mac OSX.6.8 at least. Although there are a few things I don't like about it they are minor.
geartommy
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12th February 2012
Old 12th February 2012
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^Hey, thanks for your suggestions, guys.

So far I have been looking at the Babyface, as it has the perfect form factor for songwriting, and because I have never read a negative review about it, even though it's an USB interface.

Regarding Firewire vs USB, is USB truly problematic or the software for it? RME advertise extremely low latency on USB, and so far I haven't found something as small as the Babyface running on Firewire.

Can you please elaborate on the case for Firewire? Thanks.
#7
13th February 2012
Old 13th February 2012
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As far as I understand RME is one of the very few/the only one that have reliable and low latency USB interfaces... I'm not saying all others are worthless but RME USB implementation have least problems. Mine work perfectly here and so did with a friend's computer. But still it's not a 100% guarantee you won't have problems with your setup. But probably should work.
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13th February 2012
Old 13th February 2012
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From my experience I can only get better performance with either PCI or FireWire (Audiophile 2496/Profire 610 respectively) with 99.96% crackle/pop free. It still not 100% perfect no matter what OS or CPU/RAM I use; maybe because of my mediocre interfaces.

I did tried using USB interfaces (MBox, Edirol, & Fastrack USB) and the results are not as good as with FireWire and PCI.

From what I read the FireWire has better (at the moment) bandwidth handling for a external interface/s than the USB and this is due to protocol/compression and chipset design. Even USB2 is still not as good as the FireWire. I say gave FireWire a try if you can.. Unless if you are willing to get the new UAD Apollo w/ thunderbolt interface.

My results so far with computer music interface since mid 90's to present:

PCI - Best
FireWire - Good
USB - Fair
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13th February 2012
Old 13th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joonebug View Post
From what I read the FireWire has better (at the moment) bandwidth handling for a external interface/s than the USB and this is due to protocol/compression and chipset design. Even USB2 is still not as good as the FireWire. I say gave FireWire a try if you can.. Unless if you are willing to get the new UAD Apollo w/ thunderbolt interface.

My results so far with computer music interface since mid 90's to present:

PCI - Best
FireWire - Good
USB - Fair
I think I am going crazy reading and comparing stories related to interface design. Just look at this,

Recent threads against USB: Firewire delivers data in a steady stream, whereas USB delivers in bursts at different speeds. USB also taxes the CPU more and shares resources poorly. USB is said to be inherently unstable and thus unsuitable for audio.

Recent threads against FireWire: Up until 2010-2011 most Macs came with a non-TI Firewire chipset. Unless the chipset's Texas Instruments, it's most likely going to cause issues. Also, when it comes to tracking 2 channels only, USB should be more than plenty. Finally, Firewire seems to be gradually disappearing.

What I need: To track 2 channels of audio and/or 1 MIDI channel WITHOUT pops and WITHOUT timing issues due to some form of jitter in the system. Pretty much all FireWire interfaces come with lots of I/O which I don't need. Also, the fact that my iMac doesn't have a TI chipset is raising flags for me.

Needing something portable and possibly cross-platform, my only option is USB, but then again come the thoughts: it's inherently unstable and unsuitable for audio. My mind goes, ''Most USB interfaces prove to have glitches, I have one myself."

I've read horrific stories about Apogee Duets, M-Audio interfaces, even MOTU's and the like. I will definitely not get a cheap card. However, the only company that seems to be trustworthy is RME. But their only small interface is the Babyface, running USB. My only other Firewire option would be an Mbox 3 Pro because it at least has Pro Tools integration.

I am reluctant to get any of these because of all the potential problems that may arise. The Babyface looks perfect for my needs, but my USB memories are quite terrible. The Mbox Pro looks OK, but my iMac has a cheap Firewire interface.

Is there a workable solution, apart from going cold-turkey?! :(((
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13th February 2012
Old 13th February 2012
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Can I create a truly RELIABLE setup?! I.e. A cry for HELP!

The stability of your audio interface is more influenced by the quality of the company not the port. If you wanna stick to USB make sure you get one with a great reputation like the rme babyface. From a compatability standpoint USB is also the way to go as pretty much every computer can use a babyface. Pcei will have to be installed to one computer and will end up being laborious to constantly move to others and FireWire compatability is a complete joke now as your just rolling the dice with whatever computer you get. Most people that are faced with your dilema get an rme babyface, call it a day, and are just plain happy that everything actually works for once and all at low latencies. That said c2duo will not cut it at 48 samples.
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13th February 2012
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I used to be just like you for the last 14 years. I'm now an RME FF400 owner, and I can't recommend them enough...you won't want to touch anything else!
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13th February 2012
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M-Audio 2626 FW-interface works just fine with VIA-chipset, I've read others are also using it with success on VIA-chipset
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13th February 2012
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I know that it's a difficult decision, due to so many things to consider; i.e. interface chipset, etc. Maybe take the plunge and go for RME as the others are suggesting. As you see from my previous post, I've gone thru so many interfaces and yet to this day I'm still not 100% crackle/pop free on my audio.

For the record, I'm just a hobbyist. I only record stereo audio from my synths and I play a lot of softsynth from it and Synthogy Ivory being the biggest of them all. So far it's okay. My setup is Macmini C2duo w/ 4GB ram and Kontrol49. The rest of my gear are hardware synth. Just giving out perspective of my setup if it helps.

Cheers!
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13th February 2012
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I experienced crackling issues with my Emu1820m which turned out to be capacitors gone bad, replaced those and all was well again.

Emu drivers have never been the most stable though especially for low latency stuff. RME will offer you way more solid drivers.
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14th February 2012
Old 14th February 2012
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I also agree you should try going with PCI soundcard from a different manufacturer that has a good street reputation and using a PCI soundcard that itself has a good street reputation. You have most likely exhausted all the other issues.
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14th February 2012
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Thank you all for your replies. Like I stated in the beginning, I need something small and portable, so PCI is not an option for me.

I'm torn between getting an Mbox 3 Pro and an RME Babyface. Both fit my description of usability, but there are benefits and drawbacks on both sides:

I have read nothing but praise about RME and I like their attention to performance and driver support, but the Mbox 3 Pro has the Pro Tools bundles and has been benchmarked repeatedly to be performing better than the Babyface. Both products seem to be solid and with good drivers. Apart from the "Firewire vs USB" argument which might not be that important with regards to these particular interfaces, the differences are small.

Guys, if you had to choose between an Mbox 3 Pro and an RME Babyface, what would you go for and why?
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14th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by geartommy View Post
Guys, if you had to choose between an Mbox 3 Pro and an RME Babyface, what would you go for and why?
Babyface. Why: Driver stability and support.
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14th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Masaaki View Post
Babyface. Why: Driver stability and support.

iMac with RME Babyface here, works flawlessly and I can confirm the drivers and softwares (TotalMix+Matrix+Loopback) are amazing.
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15th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Masaaki View Post
Babyface. Why: Driver stability and support.
To be honest, I don't have any experience with the USB interface from RME....but based on my experience with their PCI systems, RME all the way. Driver stability is awesome. They've also been around for ages making great interfaces, so they've got the experience behind them. I have NO complaints with my Multiface or Digiface. They just work!

Keep in mind that if you decide on a FW audio interface, you'll want to make sure that any FW drives are working off a separate FW bus.
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15th February 2012
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Obviously, lots of RME love on here. Wonder if anyone has tested both interfaces and how many of you actually work on a Mac.

Regards.
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15th February 2012
Old 15th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by geartommy View Post
Obviously, lots of RME love on here. Wonder if anyone has tested both interfaces and how many of you actually work on a Mac.

Regards.
I don't have any experience on the 1st interface you were asking about, but my experience is based on the 2 RME products I mentioned on 3 different Macs over the last 11 yrs, from OS 9 to OS X (Snow Leopard).

Hope that's helpful,
Matt
#22
17th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by norbury brook View Post
unless you absolutely need to,don't use USB for your audio device, just buy yourself any PCI(e) based audio card from RME,M-Audio, or whomever and you'll be a happy camper.

Otherwise go firewire if you're using the mac.



MC
not quiet true , i bought an audiophile 2496 and its absolutely SHIT giving me crackles all over the place even when i put it on 512 buffer rate , still crackles !!
#23
17th February 2012
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RME has the best drivers in place. had a multiface II for 3 years.

get a Win7 machine, ASUS mobo, NVdia graphics, RME something (no firewire connection!) and you are ready to go.

the HDSP cards work great!

cheers
G
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#24
17th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by geartommy View Post
Thank you all for your replies. Like I stated in the beginning, I need something small and portable, so PCI is not an option for me.

I'm torn between getting an Mbox 3 Pro and an RME Babyface. Both fit my description of usability, but there are benefits and drawbacks on both sides:

I have read nothing but praise about RME and I like their attention to performance and driver support, but the Mbox 3 Pro has the Pro Tools bundles and has been benchmarked repeatedly to be performing better than the Babyface. Both products seem to be solid and with good drivers. Apart from the "Firewire vs USB" argument which might not be that important with regards to these particular interfaces, the differences are small.

Guys, if you had to choose between an Mbox 3 Pro and an RME Babyface, what would you go for and why?
rme or avid ? lol really ? RME all the way mate with out doubt
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17th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by George Necola View Post
RME has the best drivers in place. had a multiface II for 3 years.

get a Win7 machine, ASUS mobo, NVdia graphics, RME something (no firewire connection!) and you are ready to go.

the HDSP cards work great!

cheers
G
how about an asrock mobo for rme pci hdsp ?
#26
17th February 2012
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asrock doesn't have nearly as much experience + reputation backing them as ASUS
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17th February 2012
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Most software hardware is tested with intel/asus/nvidia hardware. they are marketleader, not "better". Buy "names", this helps.

Consulting gamerpages helps too. they do a different stress tests.
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18th February 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by George Necola View Post
RME has the best drivers in place. had a multiface II for 3 years.

get a Win7 machine, ASUS mobo, NVdia graphics, RME something (no firewire connection!) and you are ready to go.

the HDSP cards work great!

cheers
G
what do u mean by no firwire connection? does that mean that the fireface models r no good for that pc setup
#29
20th February 2012
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FW interfaces are like a blackbox for developers. You send something in and maybe something comes out. Or not or somethimes.

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#30
21st February 2012
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TBH - Im surprised you didn't replace the audio interface before splashing out on a mac... EMU/creative have had a terrible reputation for about as long as I think there have been internet forums for folks to rant about them

As for a replacement - if you want cheap and utterly reliable (on both Win7/64 and OSX), then Native Instrument interfaces are solid driver wise and perfectly useable audio wise for the money - sorry RME fans - their driver are better than RMEs.

If you have the cash and appreciate the audio quality, or will find the extended features useful - then RME audio quality is great, drivers these days seems quite decent for USB and FW on Win7/64 and OSX.

Between us here we've had RME FF400 (for years), Babyface, UFX, NI Audio Kontrol 1, Audio 8, Audio 2 and Audio 10 - all of these have been very reliable as well. Personally I simply wouldn't bother with anything else these days - I know what a complete nightmare even slightly flakey drivers are - prefer to stick with the companies I have some faith in.
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