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Which bus to use for uad apollo 2012 mac mini
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
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Which bus to use for uad apollo 2012 mac mini

I'm currently using a late 2012 mac mini quad 2.3 i7 as my main computer. I'm trying to add a uad duo to my workflow, but my computer might not be able to handle it give all the stuff already connected. Would love to get advice.

Current setup:
fw800 port:panasonic dm3200 mixer (main interface)

Hdmi port:24 inch monitor

(edit)thunderbolt 1 port: uad satellite octo. The octo thunderbolt out feeds a dvi adapter to a second 24 inch monitor.

Usb 3 bus: connected to 3 external 7200 rpm drives. 1 for recording, 1 for my samples and one for non critical files.

usb bus: mouse, ilok, keyboard

Option 1: Take my monitor off of the thunderbolt port and power it from usb 3 port(1900x1200 resolution). wondering if that would kill too much bandwidth and bog down my recording and sample playback. Then daisy chain the uad apollo off of my satellite thunderbolt port. I would need to use two 9 ft thunderbolt cable to make it reach my desk.

Option 2: Leave monitor / thunderbolt connections as is. Get an apollo firewire and connect to the fw800 port on the mac and then use the fw output from the apollo to connect the dm3200. My fear is that this may also introduce connectivity problems. I have found various fw chipsets very often don't work well with each other. Then benefit of this would be that I don't bog down my usb bus. The dm3200 is fw400 and the apollo would operate as 400 as well. should be plenty of bandwidth. Also a 20 ft fw 800 cable should be fine.

I'm wanting to avoid using a thunderbolt hub if possible as I think it will be too unstable.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

Last edited by quincyg; 4 weeks ago at 03:40 PM..
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
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I don't think option #1 is really an option there. You can't simply connect monitor to USB bus (there were some attempts to do such adapters for PC notebooks, there was essentially graphic card on USB bus and it sucked, because USB bus doesn't support direct memory access - eg. it utilize lot of CPU for transfers and hogs whole computer).

Also TB port count can't be really "multiplied" by HUB.. the only option there is daisy chaining.
One option would be to get some TB or TB2 (it's downward compatible) dock with HDMI out and connect your second monitor there, most of those has also HDMI out. Then you can daisy chain new TB Apollo after the Satellite, which will be connected to the dock. I don't think, there will be issues with bandwidth for all three mentioned devices it will be causing instabilities.

With regards to Firewire Apollo.. I don't think, it will be my preferred variant, except of some very good deal. As you've mentioned, there can be definitely issues with daisy chaining of FW devices. OTOH, you if you get second-hand Firewire Apollo, it will have more I/Os than Duo and can be also upgraded by UAD thunderbolt card in the future.. (https://help.uaudio.com/hc/en-us/art...tion-Card-Info).

Also bigger Apollos (not Twins) with TB has advantage of daisy chaining, because there are always two TB ports.. So you could go from mini to Apollo, to Satellite and finally connect your monitor using DisplayPort.
That could be also argument to look for full sized TB Apollo instead of Twin.

Michal
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msmucr View Post

Also TB port count can't be really "multiplied" by HUB.. the only option there is daisy chaining.
One option would be to get some TB or TB2 (it's downward compatible) dock with HDMI out and connect your second monitor there, most of those has also HDMI out. Then you can daisy chain new TB Apollo after the Satellite, which will be connected to the dock. I don't think, there will be issues with bandwidth for all three mentioned devices it will be causing instabilities.


Also bigger Apollos (not Twins) with TB has advantage of daisy chaining, because there are always two TB ports.. So you could go from mini to Apollo, to Satellite and finally connect your monitor using DisplayPort.
That could be also argument to look for full sized TB Apollo instead of Twin.

Michal
Thank you for the detailed response! It sounds like thunderbolt with the 2 apollos and the monitor is the only really option from what you are saying.

Would love to hear about people's experiences with the dock and uads. I know uad says they use the startech dock. It may be smarter to just buy a full Apollo 8 and Daisy chain from there, but this is getting expensive.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #4
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Why can't you put the second monitor on the HDMI port?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swafford View Post
Why can't you put the second monitor on the HDMI port?
My mistake. My second monitor is on the hdmi Port. There is no dvi port.

It also looks like the 2012 mac mini only has a thunderbolt 1 port, not 2. Apparently this just means two 10Gbps channels instead of one 20Gbps.

I am considering picking up a uad apollo quad firewire with a thunderbolt card. This would allow me to try a fw and tb configuration and see which might work.

I just read the uad thunderbolt documentation and it says that thunderbolt will allow much lower processing buffer than firewire. Firewire only allows 512 samples. I think this means that fw would be worthless for me since my primary goal is to achieve close to real time efx for tracking.

Last edited by quincyg; 4 weeks ago at 04:05 PM..
Old 4 weeks ago
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by quincyg View Post
...
It also looks like the 2012 mac mini only has a thunderbolt 1 port, not 2. Apparently this just means two 10Gbps channels instead of one 20Gbps.
Despite being TB v1 I don't think, there will be problems with daisy chain of three mentioned devices.
I haven't really calculated exact bandwidth necessary, but your monitor is at HD (that's under 6GBps) and TB Apollo and Satellite doesn't have not nearly as high bandwidth demand..
Both Apollo and Satellite works also over FW 800 bus, even daisy chained at single FW line. TB versions has certainly lower latency and overhead, but not higher bandwidth requirements.
So with original TB 1, where are in total 2x10 Gbps available, I don't think there will be any concern about that. I saw setups with TB 1, where people daisy chained also several Satellites and harddrives and it still didn't hit the bandwidth required ceiling for audio processing.

Quote:
I am considering picking up a uad apollo quad firewire with a thunderbolt card. This would allow me to try a fw and tb configuration and see which might work.
I definitely won't be getting FW version, because of some compatibility concerns for your system (eg. to have a choice between two buses), you should be fine with TB.. and of course, you can also ask UAD support directly, whether it will be running on TB 1 daisy chain.

TB is more performant and futureproof. IMO the only reason for getting FW is, you can sometimes spot some older box with affordable price, which can be retrofitted by $400 TB card.

Quote:
I just read the uad thunderbolt documentation and it says that thunderbolt will allow much lower processing buffer than firewire. Firewire only allows 512 samples. I think this means that fw would be worthless for me since my primary goal is to achieve close to real time efx for tracking.
In TB offers pretty much "tunneled" PCIe, so it allows very quick direct memory access to peripheral hardware with very low overhead. That characteristic alone is actually more important practical advantage than bandwidth for audio applications.
So generally it allows user to use lower working audio buffer, due to increased efficiency, compared to other widespread buses (USB, FW).. but particular implementation by each vendor is also very important.

In case of Apollo, there is certainly some advantage for TB version, but it doesn't mean the minimum size of working buffer (Core Audio buffer in DAW) for FW is 512, it can certainly go lower than that.. how much is really system/project dependent and it's similar like any other native audio interface.

But there are other aspects, if you insert some UAD DSP powered effect into your session, it also requires some additional buffering, because audio has to be (transparently) sent to hardware, processed there and back to DAW. This takes another portion of time, independent on main working buffer size. Processed audio gets automatically aligned by your DAW, because the plugins correctly reports required latency there.
Apollo or Satellites for TB bus can use shorter buffer (eg. extra buffering option disable there) for those UAD DAW plugins, possibly enable live tracking mode (but there is higher CPU load then).
Although you could lower total latency by that, generally if you explicitly don't need that, then it's advisable to don't use UAD DAW plugins in your project during tracking and leave it only for mixing stage.
With Apollo you have a big advantage with use of UAD effects in their Console for tracking. This way provides much lower latency, because you save audio roundtrips from and to DAW for every insert effect. This is of course the same for FW and TB models.

Btw. this is well worth of read..
https://help.uaudio.com/hc/en-us/art...-DAW-Sessions-

In general I don't advocate for Firewire version.. As I've said previously, I won't buy it for your setup, unless there will be some great deal for that.. but just tried to further explain your tracking latency consequences and where all those buffer figures applies.


Michal
Old 4 weeks ago
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msmucr View Post
With Apollo you have a big advantage with use of UAD effects in their Console for tracking. This way provides much lower latency, because you save audio roundtrips from and to DAW for every insert effect. This is of course the same for FW and TB models.


Michal
Thanks for the detailed answer. That is so helpful!

I misunderstood the 512 buffer issue. Looks like from what you're saying latency won't be an issue as long as I'm tracking through console. So that's great to know. That's really my goal with picking up this interface. I want to be able to track some things with effects while tracking.

I'm only considering the fw version with tb card installed. Figure i can save $500 or so by going that route. Apparently the fw3 versions require Sierra, which I'm not running yet.
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