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Nilo Santos
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#1
17th July 2008
Old 17th July 2008
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ADAT vs. Firewire

What is the difference berween ADAT and Firewire?
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17th July 2008
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Lots of differences, but I mainly notice a difference with regard to stereo imaging.....there is more bandwidth [it seems]. Its sad to say, but FW sounds better to my ear, but thats not saying much because anything sounds better than ADAT.
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18th July 2008
Old 18th July 2008
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yeah but I don't think he actually means ADAT as in those old digital tape recorders, its about the cable/digital interface used to send the digital information to a computer, and it should have no effect on sound quality at all.
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18th July 2008
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It's not a "vs." thing. They're different technologies to solve different problems. Firewire connects devices to your computer over a special copper cable. ADAT is used for one-way transport of audio data over a fiber optic cable. Take a look at the Wikipedia pages. It's got more info than you really want to know.
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18th July 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roc Mixwell View Post
Lots of differences, but I mainly notice a difference with regard to stereo imaging.....there is more bandwidth [it seems]. Its sad to say, but FW sounds better to my ear, but thats not saying much because anything sounds better than ADAT.



This statement makes no sense to me.

ADAT and firewire are two different protocols for transmitting data (both are digital). It's all 1's and 0's isn't it?
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Nilo Santos
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18th July 2008
Old 18th July 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beebay007 View Post
yeah but I don't think he actually means ADAT as in those old digital tape recorders, its about the cable/digital interface used to send the digital information to a computer, and it should have no effect on sound quality at all.
Yes, correct. This is what I mean.
So, I plan to get a MacPro and Logic, and I am looking for a good interface.
Let's say I get the Aurora 8LT - Shall I go with ADAT or Firewire?
Which is better? - or do I even need either one?
(Is there any that just works automatically with the Mac?

Quote:
Originally Posted by beebay007 View Post
It's not a "vs." thing. They're different technologies to solve different problems. Firewire connects devices to your computer over a special copper cable. ADAT is used for one-way transport of audio data over a fiber optic cable.
ADAT is for one-way only? - What do you mean? (A/D or D/A only?)
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18th July 2008
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This comparison doesn't make much sense...

Its like..."SATA Hard Drive v/s DVD Recorder"
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18th July 2008
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One thing that had always used to put me off ADAT is that you only get 1/2 the quantity of I/O when working at 96khz and 1/4 at 192. Although, these days most units that use ADAT have increased the quantity of I/O.

Its always been my understanding that Firewire interfaces are not as 'stable' as PCI interfaces (whatever that means) and that there is more latency with Firewire. On the plus side, you can mix and match Firewire interfaces, where as with PCI you are stuck with the system.

I would probably choose an ADAT PCI system over a Firewire system. It depends what converters you plan to use. If they are high end, then maybe better to go for an AES format PCI interface.
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18th July 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TEMAS View Post

Its always been my understanding that Firewire interfaces are not as 'stable' as PCI interfaces (whatever that means) and that there is more latency with Firewire. On the plus side, you can mix and match Firewire interfaces, where as with PCI you are stuck with the system.

I would probably choose an ADAT PCI system over a Firewire system. It depends what converters you plan to use. If they are high end, then maybe better to go for an AES format PCI interface.
I agree, I've used literally hundreds of both kinds of systems. In general PCI card interfaces get significantly better latency performance than firewire. Firewire is an all external sound card basically and it has way less bandwidth and speed than a internal card that basically becomes one with the motherboard. remember though firwire has two speeds 400 and 800. 800 is a different deal and gives much better performance. PCI cards are becoming much less common though, because firewire is more convenient to sell as A: not everybody has a PCI slot available. B: not everyone knows how to install one. C: works on laptops and IMACS. D: most people don't realize that firewire is slower and buggier than PCI. Check out the RME stuff, good converters and cards. ADAT lightpipe itself to me has always worked great but you could check into the newer MADI protocol too.
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18th July 2008
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Isn't there an Interface that has both ADAT and 800 Firewire ?

Is the RME Fireface 800 - equal or as good as the Apogee Ensemble ?
or the RME ADI - to the Apogee Rosetta?

And what about the very affordable Digimax LT or FS ?
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18th July 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nilo Santos View Post
Isn't there an Interface that has both ADAT and 800 Firewire ?

Is the RME Fireface 800 - equal or as good as the Apogee Ensemble ?
or the RME ADI - to the Apogee Rosetta?

And what about the very affordable Digimax LT or FS ?
Nilo, you are very confused and asking nonsensical questions. Go to the wki page mentioned above and do some education. ADAT Optical carries digital audio between devices (
such as from the Digimax to an interface) and FW connects the digital interface to a computer. What is so confusing about that?

L
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18th July 2008
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Hi Nilo,

I think I understand what you are asking but correct me if I'm wrong. Do you want to know if there is a difference between using firewire and using the built-in optical port on your Mac?

ADAT is digital audio format and not something that is natively supported by a computer with out the support of an audio interface card, or firewire unit.

Firewire is computer interface standard that can support audio interfaces, among other things.

Also, Ensemble is an incredible sounding interface. In my opinion it had much more detail, stereo width and realism than the RME fireface.
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18th July 2008
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FW & ADAT in one box

On an older Mac (G5/1.6GHz) or PC with original PCI, there are RME ADAT cards like Project Hammerfall and the later HDSP cards with ADAT 24 i/o @ 48KHz/24bit or 12 channels at 96Khz. These are trouble-free and excellent.

Metric Halo ULN-2 and 2882 in the latest versions have huge onboard DSP (2d) for mixing and effects as well as Firewire computer connectivity (DAW i/o) and one ADAT port. Super-quick and good support. Mac only.

ADAT was designed as an audio interface at the bleeding edge of what could be done for cheap 15 years ago, so now it's a legacy interface. Firewire is a wide-band high-speed modern interface that can move multi-track audio even in the slowest version (400). Latency is low, if you have done your part.

MADI has never been cheap. It seems a bit overkill for consumer applications, so it may never be cheap like Firewire or ADAT.

I don't see the 2 formats in conflict. Use them for what they do best.

Cheers.
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18th July 2008
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Audible Differences

I think Roc's statement is interesting if he indeed is talking about the 2 transfer protocols sounding different. Care to verify Roc ?

As a tangent, AES vs. SPDIF sounding different ?

mfb
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18th July 2008
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It is pretty well known that lightpipe (ADAT and SMUX) have worse jitter than AES and SPDIF.

This most likely accounts for the differences.
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18th July 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beebay007 View Post
yeah but I don't think he actually means ADAT as in those old digital tape recorders, its about the cable/digital interface used to send the digital information to a computer, and it should have no effect on sound quality at all.

I speak of an ADAT cable transfer, not an ADAT tape recording device.
Regardless of what you may think, The transfer medium can certainly adversely affect the audio.
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18th July 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tnjazz View Post


This statement makes no sense to me.

ADAT and firewire are two different protocols for transmitting data (both are digital). It's all 1's and 0's isn't it?
I think its a bandwidth issue......ADAT optical is a format riddled with problems. Think about those 1's and 0's and how the converter deals with the given information on a very small incremental level. If you are using ADAT, its best to clock the devices elsewhere using Word Sync over BNC, as you'll experience better sound quality with that format in doing so 100% of the time.

My former digital audio teacher will tell me I'm crazy, but I think everything has a sound, and AES always sounds the best to my ear. I have noted that a direct FW connection does seem to be preserving the transfer better [hence the stereo imaging and depth of field perception] as opposed to over ADAT in many listening tests.

This is also a matter of manufacturing, because its all related to the build quality of the device and the components being used. Even though there should be NO CHANGE in transferring 1's and 0's, there most certainly can be.
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18th July 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A4722 View Post
I think Roc's statement is interesting if he indeed is talking about the 2 transfer protocols sounding different. Care to verify Roc ?

As a tangent, AES vs. SPDIF sounding different ?

mfb
AES sounds the best to my ear.
SPDIF is unbalanced AES........
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18th July 2008
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Definitions:
ADAT - (acronym for "Alesis Digital Audio Tape")a digital 8-track recorder that is no longer manufactured.

Lightpipe - a digital audio format that originated on ADAT recorders, commonly referred to as ADAT because that's the first device that used it. Lightpipe signals travel over a fiber optic cable. A lightpipe cable can transmit up to 8 channels of 48kHz audio, or 4 channels of 96Khz audio(this is usually called S/MUX). The same type of cable is also used to transmit a different format known as S/PDIF optical(also called TOSlink). Optical S/PDIF and ADAT lightpipe signals are not interchangeable.

Firewire - A computer data transfer protocol invented by apple that uses a really stupid connector that can short out if inserted incorrectly, causing the computer and/or the peripheral to be permanently damaged. Despite it's horrible reputation, audio interface and computer manufacturer's continue to make devices that use this format. Over the past years, several audio interface manufacturers have been unable to write drivers that work reliably(if at all) with many of the more recent macs. If you are considering buying a mac and a firewire interface and don't know the difference between firewire and ADAT, you are asking for trouble.
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18th July 2008
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AES/EBU probably sounds better to Roc Mixwell because it tends to only be found on high quality devices.

Lightpipe is typically found on many craptastic project studio interfaces, many that don't even have a word clock input. Clocking via lightpipe tends to sound like crap(*cough* digi002). To top that off, there are a lot of crappy lightpipe cables out there. Without high quality cables and a device with a good internal clock or the ability to sync to a good external clock, Lightpipe won't sound as good as AES/EBU.
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18th July 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roc Mixwell View Post
AES sounds the best to my ear.
SPDIF is unbalanced AES........
Sorry what?
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18th July 2008
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Quote:
ADAT is for one-way only? - What do you mean? (A/D or D/A only?)
ADAT connectors come in pairs. One cable carries 8 inputs, one cable carries 8 outputs.
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18th July 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roc Mixwell View Post
I think its a bandwidth issue......ADAT optical is a format riddled with problems. Think about those 1's and 0's and how the converter deals with the given information on a very small incremental level.
Huh?

Quote:
I have noted that a direct FW connection does seem to be preserving the transfer better [hence the stereo imaging and depth of field perception] as opposed to over ADAT in many listening tests.
Which bits in a digital transfer define imaging and "depth"? How can a failure to "preserve the transfer" specifically change such parameters of sound quality? And wouldn't a change of the digital signal simply mean data corruption?
Besides, FW is not a digital audio format, as is ADAT.

Quote:
Even though there should be NO CHANGE in transferring 1's and 0's, there most certainly can be.
Such a change would mean data corruption, and ADAT transfers do not corrupt data, they are bit by bit identical to the original.
Sorry, you're not making a great lot of sense...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Lee View Post
It is pretty well known that lightpipe (ADAT and SMUX) have worse jitter than AES and SPDIF. This most likely accounts for the differences.
Sure.
Hope Bob Katz won't mind if I quote him (taken from Digido):

"My answer is that the apparent sonic differences between interface technologies such as Toslink, glass, and copper are IRRELEVANT when doing transfers or when passing signal from one processor to another. You can forget about that question with COMPLETE CONFIDENCE--since all of the technologies are capable of passing perfectly good data, within their specified cable lengths. Remember: the clock is not transferred along with the data. Only the data is transferred to the processor's circuits."

D.
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20th January 2012
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Hate to dredge up an old topic, but if I want to get an additional 4-input preamp to augment my current 8-input preamp (Mackie Blackbird), it's better to use Firewire to connect it up? The Blackbird has an ADAT in and out. Obviously I'd just get another Blackbird, but I really don't need an additional 8 inputs, more like 3.
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24th January 2012
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If there is anyone that does not understand what I wrote above, or why I wrote it, I would invite you to call me, and I will explain it for you.
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