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Thunderbolt 3 Audio Interface for PC Windows 10
Old 2 weeks ago
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Thunderbolt 3 Audio Interface for PC Windows 10

I just built a new workstation class PC to run Pro Tools, and am having a heck of a time finding an audio interface. The availability of thunderbolt 3 interfaces (specifically the UA Apollo line) is what tipped the "it is time to build a new one" trigger for me, having run an EMU 1616m on a Z97 based system that was going obsolete and unsupported and rendered dead by an OS update (I "unupdated" to get it working again).

Now, I am having a hell of a time getting the apollo X6 to work and am suspecting, after nearly a month back and forth with tech support including my X6 making a trip back to the factory for a firmware update (need a mac to update the firmware, a PC cannot do it; hint number one indicator of a bigger problem) so I am putting up the telescope to investigate alternatives to the Apollo line for my PC based system. Seems to be no problem with the Apollo interfaces and Mac platforms, but those of us in the PC world seem to be not so lucky..

So, in investigating alternatives the "Antelope Audio Orion Studio Synergy Core Thunderbolt Audio Interface" looks great on paper, but a perusal of feedback on Antelope gear on this forum does not exactly give me great confidence that I would not just end up in bug chasing hell, with my computers' root system being taken hostage by a piece of management server software to boot (pun intended). With the Apollo line and pretty much all things Antelope in the "people are having problems" column , what is the general wisdom out there? Do I keep the Apollo X6 and wait for UA to get their stuff together (not exactly loving using asio4u as a stopgap while awaiting UA software fix), try an Antelope Orion and possibly return to the "make the interface work" hell? Neither option is especially appealing, but I do not see another rack mount Thunderbolt 3 audio interface out there with anywhere the features I want....

Option 3 (plan B) would be to go to a slower interface like USB 3, but for the audio quality and features I want (6 line channels in, etc.) . The pre-sonus 2626 does not have the I/O I want, MOTU has a unit that is close but thunderbolt 2 and not 3. Am I just too far ahead of the curve here? Do I just use a USB interface for a while until the market catches up? I almost feel like I am stuck with my Apollo X6 and a wait for their engineering department to come up with a fix to work with Windows 10 boxes, but alternatives would be welcome.

Last edited by Scott Lee; 2 weeks ago at 10:23 PM.. Reason: fix some grammar
Old 4 days ago
  #2
Here for the gear
 

My poor friend, I had exactly the same experience as yours.

Here is my story.

My new workstation is a Lenovo Thinkpad P53 With i9-9880h 8C/16T cpu, 128G of ram, 3*2T M.2 NVME SSD and Nvidia Quadra P4000 GPU. It got 2 TB3 connectors at the back and I initially thought: ‘Take that, MBP16’ and then was proved how wrong I was to count on Windows Once again.

I chose the Lenovo for the 64G more of ram and standardized component over the Apple proprietary crap. Yet I underestimated how much of a unstable OS Windows is. And how much of a discrimination the industry has upon Windows Based, Laptop Form-factor Workstations.

I started by ordering the Orion Studio SC in January when it still came with only the Edge Solo, tested it and was greeted with the usual driver instability issues, pops, clicks, and could never record ANYTHING without distorted audio. Tried switching everything, the microphone, the computer to another Lenovo Thinkpad P1(6 core Xeon e2176m and 64G of Ram), switched different TB3 connectors, reinstalled driver, reinstalled the OS, patched everything, disabled everything, and the OSSC would Only decide to cooperate every second time it’s connected. And would only agree to feed my Cubase with clean, non-distorted audio for NO MORE THAN 10 Seconds, under the condition that it is operating on USB 2.0 Connector, and NEVER Through a hub.

With TB Connector it would just give me totally distorted audio for whatever setup I have for it, whatever buffer size and other settings.

So I naturally contacted the support. And My dear friend, even though you could find much better articulated stories on the internet/facebook on how ignorant their support is, and how much of a hassle it is to get any reply of any form from them, But, being in that scenario yourself, is desperate and hopeless to say the very least.

After 8 phone calls, 2 successfully connected, and 1 with a specialist who actually knows what he is doing(I believe this gentlemen named Momo is perhaps the only person on the entire support team who has any idea of the technical aspect and the only person who has the slightest level of care towards their customer), a 40 minute Remote Desktop session, over 30 emails involving 10 of the different email address i could find on the official website over the course of 3 weeks, I finally performed my right of withdrawal and returned the units within the 30 day period.

What have I Learnt from the one month of trying and errors, plus over 300 pounds of postage+insurance on my own expenses, and around 50 pounds of money lost to inflation and currency exchange? I learnt that I should go for a bigger company with better support and reputation.

AND I couldn’t be more wrong when I ordered in the UAD X8P.

The unit would not register/activate while connected to Windows so I had to borrow a MBP 15 just to register and perform a firmware update, after which the unit was finally detected on Windows.

How interesting it is that NOTHING on the official website said anything about this?

And then i encountered this issue: The unit will lock at 32bit depth an cannot be changed to 24bit in WDM Device. Performance in DAW is also unstable and unreliable. I could not get over 5 minutes without random popping and audio dropouts.

This time I didn’t even bother with reaching out for the official channel for support. And with all the collaborative wisdom of the magical forum, I was greeted with this two posts:
1:https://uadforum.com/support-trouble...ty-issues.html
2:https://uadforum.com/support-trouble...r-fixed-5.html

Thankfully this time i purchased from a retailer. They seems respectable so far, and did approve my return request automatically. I’m about to drop off the unit for them tomorrow and hope this time the tuition fee wouldn’t be as bad as the Antelope.

I’m now giving up on TB3 on Windows. I believe it’s a combination of the great Windows Heritage of instability issues, and the discrimination manufactures and the industry has upon Windows users. I’m thinking now to move towards Dante/AVB solutions, hoping that good old Focusrite could have a better performance, but judging by the very few user reviews and huge amount of press info/paid reviews repeating nothing more than their official manual/website offers, I’m in doubt of their stability, but I do hope i’m wrong with this.

I’m also thinking of the RME Digiface AVB+ New RME 12MIC when it’s available. I have always had great experience in terms of stability with RME’s windows drivers. Even if that means giving up on the amazing TB3 connection.

The Grace Design M108 looks promising but is a little hard to purchase in UK as only one retailer has listed that product. At the very least I’m happy I’m not alone in this journey towards stable, scalable windows based recording setup.
Old 3 days ago
  #3
Lives for gear
I upgraded my Apollo 8 Silverface to tb3 last week, My PC has an asrock tb3 card and a Asus X99 DLXII motherboard. Windows 10 Pro 1903. with an thunderbolt logo'd cabcle (Generic USB-C/3.1 cables don't seem to work) It's working fine. "proper" tb3 with no converters in sight.
Old 3 days ago
  #4
Here for the gear
 

Glad to hear that you have good experience. PCIe solutions normally seems more stable.
Old 3 days ago
  #5
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by muttong View Post
Glad to hear that you have good experience. PCIe solutions normally seems more stable.
Ahh, if laptops are generally a problem - that's not good, I don't know many people buying PCs these days!
Old 3 days ago
  #6
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scragend View Post
Ahh, if laptops are generally a problem - that's not good, I don't know many people buying PCs these days!
Funny thing I find is that despite having wifi and all other things disabled or tuned to highest TDP, there is still latency issues with my desktop grade laptop. i guess there is something fundamentally limiting the laptop's performance and I don't think It's because of the hardware , rather the windows optimization.

I really hope Dante could be the solution for location recording with Windows Laptop. And I am still on the hunt for the perfect solution.
Old 1 day ago
  #7
Here for the gear
 

Thought I might chime in on this thread.
I recently upgraded the studio computer to a HP Z4 workstation. I use Protools and this machine is tested and spec'd from Avid to work with the DAW.
I added an HP TB3 card to the computer then upgraded the L slot card in my Lynx Hilo to a TB3 version.
Install and activation of everything went smoothly and the Hilo works flawlessly with TB3.
I reckon one could expect a similar experience with other Lynx interfaces a well. You could find a convertor with a USB L slot card and change it out to TB3 for example.
As for the computer and TB3, overall I'm real happy so far. It has been my best Protools machine and I have zero issues with anything on it.
An HP workstation is obviously not for everyone but it does work well with TB3 and Protools so it fits well for my needs.
Cheers
Hanuman
Old 1 day ago
  #8
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by AUM Yogi View Post
Thought I might chime in on this thread.
I recently upgraded the studio computer to a HP Z4 workstation. I use Protools and this machine is tested and spec'd from Avid to work with the DAW.
I added an HP TB3 card to the computer then upgraded the L slot card in my Lynx Hilo to a TB3 version.
Install and activation of everything went smoothly and the Hilo works flawlessly with TB3.
I reckon one could expect a similar experience with other Lynx interfaces a well. You could find a convertor with a USB L slot card and change it out to TB3 for example.
As for the computer and TB3, overall I'm real happy so far. It has been my best Protools machine and I have zero issues with anything on it.
An HP workstation is obviously not for everyone but it does work well with TB3 and Protools so it fits well for my needs.
Cheers
Hanuman
I tend to find that desktop TB3 solutions seem to have less trouble than Laptops. Except for Macbooks. I would be interested to see the Lynx working with Windows based TB3 Laptops
Old 22 hours ago
  #9
Here for the gear
 

[QUOTE=muttong;14539876]
Quote:
Originally Posted by AUM Yogi View Post
I tend to find that desktop TB3 solutions seem to have less trouble than Laptops. Except for Macbooks. I would be interested to see the Lynx working with Windows based TB3 Laptops
I recently switched from Mac to PC, using a Puget Systems build with Gigabyte MB which as two TB3 ports. Those have been working solidly on Win 10 for RAID storage and BMD/AJA video interfaces. I still have my Focusrite interface on USB and it's nothing but trouble and have been looking into suitable TB3 audio interfaces.

There aren't as many PC builds that have TB3 support, but they do exist and seem to work fine in principle.
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