The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
USB or Firewire
Old 17th November 2009
  #1
Lives for gear
 

USB or Firewire

I am in the market for a new interface for my MacBook Pro. I really only need one with two or three preamps built in. That is why the Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 has caught my eye.

Basically, for two to three tracks, should I go with USB or Firewire?
Old 17th November 2009
  #2
Gear Addict
 
skygod's Avatar
Lightbulb Its actually quite simple Holmes -

Quote:
Originally Posted by WVUtubadude View Post
I am in the market for a new interface for my MacBook Pro. I really only need one with two or three preamps built in. That is why the Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 has caught my eye.

Basically, for two to three tracks, should I go with USB or Firewire?
USB 2.0 platforms and IO is cheapest and very powerful, but here are some considerations and recommendations. BTW, MacBook Pro? Wrong choice. Too few choices out there my boy. The world of windows is your oyster and here's why -

1. Make sure your platform (laptop I am assuming) had dual drives @ 7200 RPM. You will need at least 6GB RAM. Win 32 can't really handle any more effciently. @ 24/44.1 or 24/48 you should be ok at up to 24 tracks loaded at 6GB. Get Big Drives. These fill up faster than the waiting lines at the NJ State Fair dick sucking contest booth.

2. OS on one and projects and sound/midi libraries on the other.

3. USB standard on the back of the laptop share IRQ/DMA, and this could become an issue as most have experienced. Get a SIIG interface and plug into the side and get access to the main bus directly. Find out what your computer can handle Cardbus or Express slot.

See: SIIG, Inc. : USB

4. My dithers is to record to an expternal MDM and transfer the files to the laptop. Choces are good: Tascam 2488NEO, Korg 3200, or Zoom HD16CD. See respective forums for pros and cons. Forget about the LE software that comes with each, whether Ableton Lite, or Cubase Lite or or Protools Lite, or Blowme Lite whatever. They all suck. Select a platform sequencer and get the full version. REAPER rocks. Price wise and processing wise. REAPER integrates with everything and is no frills a bad mutha. Best sequencer out there period. The rage of late is the Zoom R16. Really? The HD16 has an 80GB harddrive, and is solidly bult. You can burn CDs and transfer files or do it via USB to the hard drive.

5. If you are an electronic trance deouche, the choices are FL Studio VST capable (but unstable at larger track count and VST usage) and very very digital and cold. And then the motherload 'Reason-Record' combo. No VST support, but rewire REAPER with these and you've got a winner for your VST/VSTi's. Some people rewire FL to Reason and get the best of both worlds. Couple that with Record and WOW man! Wow!

6. Every goddamned VSTi on the market is a memory hog. Great downloads all over the Internet, but they are all the same, i.e., CPU hogs and it sucks. Well thats life in the big city cuz. I use outboard synhs, Roland XV5080s, Motif XS, Korg stuff etc. But Reason has decent analog sounding stuff for compostion. The Record mixer is amazing for tracking and mixing. Best sounding of all the recording software on the market IMHO.

7. You will need a stable USB dongle sound engine. Fo the money Line 6 POD X3 Pro will gove you all the IO and stability you will ever need for a small home studio. Two Mic XLRs, Digital IO, MIDI IO etc. Amazing sound engine, and the POD Farm will give you Neve, API, Console, Guitars and Basses for years to come. Last IO you will ever need. You can run external synths thru this baby as well. It faakin rocks. Kudos Line 6.

8. You will also need a control surface. See Behringer BCF2000, Akaia MPD 32, and M-Audio Axiom Pro 61. These will work with REAPER to control your sequncer and automation, as well as Record-Reason mapped beautifully, and FL Studio too.

9. Fast recording guitar composition software is Riffworks Standard. Best investment you will ever make. Lay it down and transfer it to something else when themuse hits you. When you need to plug in and play and record w/o a headache, this is it PERIOD.

10. IK Multimedia, NI, Peavey and all the rest of the guitar/bass software out there are memory hogs. I don;t care how many effects they capture/emulate or how many belss and whistles they have built in. It is JUST PLAIN UNNATURAL to plug a guitar into a faaking computer and play. No real dynamic there whatsoever. The POD X3 Pro will do it better by quantum leaps, plus you will have something to tour with in your rack if you are a performer. The Digi Eleven is has worse bank change delay times than any Eventide processor. IK Multimedia mastering software is also memory/CPU intensive. Wath out! Ozone 4 and Alloy are the ticket for ITB anymore. Great stuff there. These rock!!!! Or just do what I do, plug into one of your dozen preamps or ams, mic the cab, move some air and record it. Hey thats the way its done. ~fuggedaboudit!~

11. Finally if you want to invest in Firewire, make sure you really need this. Firewire is a mainstay in pro studios unless you are in the DIGI HD digital refrigerator class of the millenium. Firewire unlike USB is not IMQ/DMA conflict prone, but has its own issues. Mainly npn-Intel chip based computer issues and 64 Bit issues if you are buying a new computer. Presonus StudioLive is the ONLY WAY TO GO if you go this route for a Home studio/Live Band recording. Great platform, stable and sounds great. Too much good stuff to discuss here. Go check them out at Presonus or YouTube. 5 Gold Starz for Presonus!!!!!

12. Pro studios are PCIe/PCIx Apogee or Digi/or Aurora-Lynx bound for higher resolution at 24/88-96 or 192 etc for higher track counts. These cards access the computer's Main bus directly, are duplex in path travel to and from the computer-software app-outboard mixer etc., and have built in processors on the cards to ameliorate the load off the computers main CPU while crunching numbez. Dats rite cuz, crunchin the numbez ... all those little faaking one's and Zeros that are translated into cold digital sound LOL. Seamless in most cases, but some folks still have glitches based on their computer hardware architecture. Bottom line: Firewire is still a major a pain in the ass.

13. If you are Windows/Intel based, get WIN 7 ASAP. It runs apps in XP mode so your old stuff will not become obsolete. a Cappice? No get out there and do it! ~fuggedaboudit!~

& G'Luck!-

~skygod~

PS. Don't forget to not vote for Obama and the Dems in the next national election.
He's a faaking idiot and so are all the rest of the entire DNC sewer cesspool.
Hey, but Dat's what I tink! ~fuggedaboudit!~

~skygod~
Old 17th November 2009
  #3
Lives for gear
 

I already use Logic for recording. I also dont care for control surfaces....most of the other stuff seems pretty irrelevant.

All I want to know is if USB or Firewire will be best for an interface for stereo recording of live concerts.
Old 17th November 2009
  #4
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by skygod View Post
BTW, MacBook Pro? Wrong choice. Too few choices out there my boy. The world of windows is your oyster and here's why -

...stuff

...more stuff
wow... first advice will be save yourself the frustration and skip this clowns rant.

to answer your question, USB would do fine for your I/O needs. the quality of the preamps depends on the model. that being said, i would recommend an Apogee Duet, as long as your Macbook is one with a good (TI) firewire interface. they've a very clean sound, perfect for the solo musician who only needs stereo I/O. if you need more I/O, you'll need something bigger.
Old 17th November 2009
  #5
Lives for gear
 

Im probably going to just stick with the familiar and go with something from Focusrite's Saffire line
Old 18th November 2009
  #6
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by WVUtubadude View Post

Basically, for two to three tracks, should I go with USB or Firewire?
No difference at all. USB is cheaper in general. Just make sure your computer has a USB 2.0 port. Cheerz!!
Old 18th November 2009
  #7
Lives for gear
 
hogo's Avatar
 

Wow, yeah, skip the rant. Mbp's are great, and so is logic. For your needs I don't think you could go wrong either way. I think the Duet from apogee, or even the One, would also be a strong contender. They sound really nice and you get a lot of integration into Logic. I also like the Maestro software that comes standard.
Old 18th November 2009
  #8
Lives for gear
 
AwwDeOhh's Avatar
 

USB-2.0 will do just fine if you're only recording a few tracks at a time.



@skygod: didn't read your whole novel, i stopped reading up top when you mentioned Win 32 and at least 6GB of RAM.
Any 32-bit OS can't address any more than 4GB of ram, peroid!
Old 18th November 2009
  #9
Gear Addict
 
jonutarr's Avatar
 

Apogee Duet
Old 18th November 2009
  #10
Lives for gear
 

A potentially important thing I neglected to mention is that this is for a highly portable recording rig for small orchestral concerts. I dont think it would change much, but I figured I should put it out there.
Old 18th November 2009
  #11
Lives for gear
 
AlexK's Avatar
 

I would opt for the MacBook Pro if you're wondering between the MacBook and the Pro.

1) If you ever decide to do something slightly more complicated (multitracking) with it, you REALLY want FireWire. USB is slooow and consumes CPU whilst in use. I'm not just talking about interfaces, but also hard drives. An interface AND a hard drive both running off a single FW800 port will still run the hard drive faster than if it was running off it's own USB port.

2) Cooling in the MacBook Pro is much more efficient (aluminium body = heatsink) which makes it last longer.

3) MacBook Pro supports up to 8gb of RAM (increasingly important)


A MacBook will do what you currently want, but won't really give you any options in the future as soon as you try and do something more complicated...

Just my 2c. For the Β£100 difference, I wouldn't batter an eyelid and I'd go for the Pro. The screen is much better too...
Old 18th November 2009
  #12
Lives for gear
ooohhh orchestral, eh?

that focusrite stuff looks pretty good

but, definitely look at apogee

i believe the converters are better
Old 18th November 2009
  #13
Lives for gear
 

Okay, let me give you some thoughts here- sorry, I won't be as entertaining as a response that starts off recommending Windows and ends up telling you how to vote. I've been drinking- but I haven't been drinking that much.

But our comrade above who recommends a Windows machine has one very good point: the need for an extra drive. You really, really want to be running the OS on one drive and recording to another.

Especially for what you are asking of it, making it be the centerpiece of a mobile recording rig, which is what I used my Macbook Pro for, and I'll tell you how I did it, and how I got eight tracks in at 24 bit and 96kHz.

Oh, yeah, first things first, forget all about USB. You can do one track, maybe two, maybe three, with stability, but it just won't cut it for serious audio work. So, let me address that first and foremost.

But Firewire isn't going to do you a whole lot better just by nature of being Firewire- it's a lot better, but you are still forgetting one thing: if you are using a Firewire audio interface in, and writing to another Firewire drive out (which is what I do), with a stock Macbook Pro, then you are using the same Firewire bus. So the fact is, you are halving the bandwidth.

What you need is an ability to add a second bandwidth channel (if you want to use a Mac, no Macs allow for a second internal drive at the moment), which is, due to bad decisions on Apple's part, sort of a bullshit problem at the moment.

What I did, and it was easy, was to add an ExpressCard to the computer that allowed for another bus, so I had a dedicated Firewire in and a dedicated Firewire out to the record to drive. Very stable. No problems.

But I think at the moment only the 17" Macbook Pros allow for the ExpressCard slot. That sucks. It sort of means that Apple has left the mobile recording market behind for no good reason- in favor of a SD slot, no less, as if it was a problem for people to get their photos into Macbook Pros or something.

So, I am going to recommend that you 1) not use USB unless you want to only record a track or two, and 2) check into the Macbook Pro line to see about that ExpressCard slot, maybe I'm wrong, 3) check into a used Macbook Pro possibly, or 4) consider the Windows based alternative, which, frankly, sucks, but then again, Apple hasn't made great choices regarding audio work in their lineup. And if you buy a Windows machine, maybe the great patriot above won't take his AK47 down to the mall and start pulling the trigger.

Good luck!
Old 18th November 2009
  #14
Lives for gear
 

I am already the proud owner of a MacBook Pro, I have had it for quite some time, so it one of the versions with both Firewire 800 and 600. I do believe it has an Express Card slot as well.


So yeah....I'll probably go with FW.
Old 18th November 2009
  #15
Lives for gear
 

Great then. For a small investment of $40 for the ExpressCard as well as a good external drive, and whatever interface you use, and of course microphones, cables, stands, the computer, and your time- chump change, really- you'll be able to get some good recordings with not a whole lot to carry.

So yeah, I can definitely say you'll be getting the inputs you need. You'll also want to be sure to only run the DAW, turn off Airport and Bluetooth, start with a fresh re-start, be sure to plug it in and have a fresh battery as well, and maybe disable Spotlight and other background processes that aren't helping you with the matter at hand. I'd also be sure to defrag the drives before using them, so that the drives don't have to work any harder than they have to, and can write the audio sequentially as much as possible.

For that purpose, I use Snow Leopard Cache Cleaner:

Welcome to Northern Softworks

Good luck!
Old 18th November 2009
  #16
Lives for gear
 
Timur Born's Avatar
 

RME Fireface UC
Old 18th November 2009
  #17
Lives for gear
 
Phaidon's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Timur View Post
RME Fireface UC
Way too expensive for a USB interface! ( I know it's RME and all but...)
Old 18th November 2009
  #18
Lives for gear
 
Timur Born's Avatar
 

It the very same as the Fireface 400, just with slightly better latencies. So you might find the FF 400 too expensive, too, but that has nothing do to with USB or anything.

By the way, MOTU just released a hybrid FW/USB Ultralite MK3.
Old 18th November 2009
  #19
Lives for gear
 
Phaidon's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Timur View Post
It the very same as the Fireface 400, just with slightly better latencies. So you might find the FF 400 too expensive, too, but that has nothing do to with USB or anything.
.
I know but ppl usually expect usb interfaces to be cheaper in general.(as they are anyway)
If we're talkin fw I can see the need for RME due to the stable drivers and all
but in the usb arena pretty much everything works.

Cheers

Phaidon
Old 18th November 2009
  #20
Lives for gear
 
Cover'd's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Mal View Post
What you need is an ability to add a second bandwidth channel (if you want to use a Mac, no Macs allow for a second internal drive at the moment), which is, due to bad decisions on Apple's part, sort of a bullshit problem at the moment.

What I did, and it was easy, was to add an ExpressCard to the computer that allowed for another bus, so I had a dedicated Firewire in and a dedicated Firewire out to the record to drive. Very stable. No problems.
Sound in theory, but the only troubles I've encountered using MacBook Pro, FW interface and external hard drives came when I was using an Express Card hooked up to the drive via eSATA

However, recording with the Focusrite Saffire Pro40 hooked up to the FW400 port and the external drive on FW800 proved solid as a rock with no i/o issues at all

In the end though, I'm 100% certain that the problems were with the Express Card adapter itself - Sonnet Tempo - some kind of compatibility / reliability flaw which would mean that although things working fine for a while, it would completely crash the machine and require a hard reset each time I tried it
Old 18th November 2009
  #21
Lives for gear
 
Timur Born's Avatar
 

I didn't buy the Fireface for its interface, but for what is in it and what comes with the drivers (including Digicheck btw). I want them preamps and I want them hi-z inputs (additionally to the preamps, not alternatively), I want them 2 x Midi. That is what I pay for, not the cable run.

eSATA ExpressCard problems on Unibody Macbooks are either due to a buggy EC slot or due to buggy OS X. The only way to make eSATA EC work on these Macs is by using Windows XP, which is ironic. OS X will Kernel Panic or corrupt data and Vista/W7 cannot even make use of any EC cards on Bootcamp. Maybe the current 17" ones work better, I'll know as soon as Apple sends me mine.
Old 18th November 2009
  #22
Lives for gear
 
R3altruth's Avatar
 

WOW... funny thread... Everyone here knows I am a HUGE windows guy... I am not a MAC fan at all....

AND YET...

If you have a macbook pro I'd definitely say stick with that... They are more than capable
I'm actually kind of shocked... People gripe about the price of MBP's but NEVER the performance.
With that being said.... Logic is an outstanding choice... as much as I don't like MAC's at all... I do LOVE LOVE LOVE logic.... shhhh.... don't tell Bill Gates (or the folks at Cakewalk) I said that

Anyway... in terms of interfaces, things used to be so simple....
For 4 or less simultaneous recording channels you were cool with USB and for more than 4 at a time you went Firewire.... Although USB 2.0 and Firewire both have adequate bandwidth, USB relies on the host processor whereas firewire relies on the FW chipset.
But now native processors are capable of doing 18 simultaneous inputs over USB 2.0 (See Roland/cakewalk's V-studio)
MAC's are interesting because there are a few audio devices and software that I LOVE that are MAC only...

With that being said you're probably gonna wanna choose between the FOcusrite Saffire Pro 24 DSP for $399.99 and get tons of very flexible I/O
or the Apogee Duet for about $495.99... You'll lose some of the flexibility of multi i/o, but gain mobility... and have better sounding converters
Old 19th November 2009
  #23
Lives for gear
 

My misgiving about USB is that it requires the host to continuously poll the device to find out if the device has data to send. This consumes CPU cycles and in a laptop this consumes battery current. With Firewire the device can alert the host when data is ready so there is no need for continuous polling by the host. The problem with Firewire is that the specification is not pretty and there have been issues with various chipset implementations.

I'm anxious for USB 3 to come out. USB 3 will allow a device to signal a host when data is ready and this will be great for audio applications. I'm holding off on getting a netbook until they are available with USB 3 ports, maybe in 2010 or 2011.
Old 19th November 2009
  #24
Lives for gear
 
Timur Born's Avatar
 

Kernel CPU load comparison running the same Ableton Live set over ExpressCard, Firewire and USB:

HDSPe: 1%
FF 400: 1.5%
FF UC: 2.0%

Live's own CPU load was higher with the FF 400 than with the FF UC, so overall CPU load is pretty much the same!

There is even an advantage is constant and regular polling: regular time-intervals as opposed to "Huh? Someone rang the bell? Guess I have to open the door then and look who's there. May be the audio post man, but may also be Jehova's Witnesses. Hope I'm lucky! "
Old 22nd November 2009
  #25
Lives for gear
 

How about recording to a mixer with a hard drive and just transferring files to my computer when I am back home. Would that make more sense? Or are they just about equal?
Old 30th November 2009
  #26
Gear Head
 

So you are telling that the Fireface UC is more stable than the Fireface 400?

Im looking for an fireface. But don't really know what to do.

I have an expresscard (belkin with TI chipset). Where I can connect the interface at. (I have 2 firewire there and 1 usb). My Tc konnekt 48 was also on that card. in the firewire.

I wil only use 1 deveice on that card.

What would you reccomend, the UC of the Firewire?

I may assume that if the UC works in Vista, the Firewire also works? Or am I wrong? It's only a diffrent protocol?
Old 30th November 2009
  #27
Gear Addict
 
David Watts's Avatar
 

Despite the common theory that firewire is all-conquering, in reality, you notice 0 difference. Zero difference. Go with whichever interface that suits you best.
Old 30th November 2009
  #28
Gear Nut
 

I think Motu's USB/Firewire combo is a really good idea. I have the original MK3 ultralite FW only and love it... The firewire did not work well until I got a Firewire TI express card. I also agree that USB 2 ,unlike a year ago, is probably better then firewire because the interface WILL NOT WORK without a TI firewire port. Timur is 100% right about usb and don't ever think an RME usb device is not as good as another brands firewire device. (or another RME FW device for that matter).

Does anyone know if the new Macbook pros have a TI firewire port built in or a slot for an express card? I remember someone saying they got rid of both on the new MBP's .
Old 30th November 2009
  #29
Gear Head
 

I not agree with that. You can't compare a Fireface with an MK3 ultralite FW. Ive been done alot research about it, and the build quality of the Motu's are not so good. Many deveices are broken down in like 3 a 5 months. With normal usage. Friends of my have some musicstore, and they had to send a whole bunch of them back.

Many people buy it because its cheap and it has got dsp onboard.

But a motu would not be my choice ;-)
Old 1st December 2009
  #30
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by skygod View Post
The world of windows is your oyster and here's why -
Ohhhh! Now I get it. I always wondered why Windows stinks so much!

heh

Seriously though. Firewire all the way. A few companies have made very recent inroads into performance success with USB, but Firewire is battle-ready. Built for streaming media from the get-go. (Search function, baby. Search!)
πŸ“ Reply
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
πŸ–¨οΈ Show Printable Version
βœ‰οΈ Email this Page
πŸ” Search thread
♾️ Similar Threads
πŸŽ™οΈ View mentioned gear