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Laptop Firewire Recording Interface
Old 22nd December 2005
  #1
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Talking Laptop Firewire Recording Interface

I've spent about 3 hours now going through the forums looking for information about the best PC recording interfaces that have firewire or USB. I still can't find what I am looking for.

I have a mobile studio that I take on the road, which is a toshiba laptop using a M-Audio FastTrack and Cubase. I would like to move up to 2 channels on the interface and move over to Firewire instead of USB. I'm getting a Lacie Firewire 800 PCMCIA card to dedicate to this connector. I don't think I'll be getting something that can actually take avantage of the 800, but it has a 400 connector on it too.

I have looked at the Apogee Mini-Me because I want high quality conversion, but it does not have firewire (only USB). I love the RME stuff (and use a Multiface at home), but the Fireface is ovekill for what I need. I will never record more than 4 tracks at the same time, probably never more than 2, while on the road.

I have also looked at the Mackie Onyx 400F and the Presonus Firebox, and they look like options. What I am looking for is Apogee clarity, RME stability with Cubase, and the Mic pre's of the Mackie.

I also use a Presonis TubePre into the M-Audio. I would like to add a higher end pre later, like a Seventh Circle or Millenia Media, but this firewire interface issue needs to be solved.

Price is not the real issue here, its quality plus portability - using firewire.

Anyone know what I am looking for?
Old 22nd December 2005
  #2
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AdamJay's Avatar
 

Yamaha i88x
great pre's, great converters.
$400
Old 22nd December 2005
  #3
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smoore98's Avatar
 

Yes, that is another one that has come up as well. I have heard these sound very good, but there were some posts on Nuendo.com that indicated that the drivers are not as solid as RME. Again, price is no object.

I have spent the last year dealing with crap drivers on a desktop before I moved to a laptop so if I got something and started having compatability issues I would probably just throw the whole thing out and start fishing instead of recording.

I just purchased a Lacie Firewire 800 PCMCIA card, and I checked on the RME website and it supposedly works very well with the FF.

RME should make a 2 channel Fireface.

S
Old 22nd December 2005
  #4
Gear Head
 

What you're looking for is the RME Fireface400. Who knows when we will see that. Maybe spring 2006.

Meantime the Terratec Phase X24 FW is worth a look. I've been using one with my laptop setup and the drivers are solid.

http://audioen.terratec.net/modules....article&sid=31
Old 22nd December 2005
  #5
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Yes, a FF 400 is exactly what I need and would buy one today if I could!!!!

I have not heard of Terratec. Are they in the same class of quality as RME?

S
Old 22nd December 2005
  #6
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petsematary's Avatar
 

Terratec X24 recently won a shootout test in a major studio gear magazine over here. Looks good.

Other cards tested were:

Digidesign Mbox
Echo Gina 3G
Edirol FA-66
Edirol UA-101
E-mu 1616m
E-mu 1820
ESI Wamirack ESP 1010
Focusrite Saffire
Lynx One
M-Audio Delta 1010
M-Audio Firewire 1814
Presonus Firebox
RME HDSP9632
Steinberg System 4
Old 22nd December 2005
  #7
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smoore....
i recently helped a fellow powertracks multitrack software user who was having usb problems with a usb device....so he decided to try a firewire device this time around.
he just installed the terratec 24. to get away from usb......couple of days ago.
and looks like a smooth install ....and all working it seems.
i asked him about sound quality...of the fw 24...but he has yet to do a lot of work with it.....but i'll try and keep you updated if i hear more from him.
so all i can report at this time is the install seemed nice.
and the drivers showed up fine for use in the audio software.
Old 22nd December 2005
  #8
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Metric Halo ULN-2 DSP

freaking amazing digital interface and routing options. The DSP is great. I have the 2882, but I have heard that the pres on the ULN are fantastic.
Old 22nd December 2005
  #9
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feyshay's Avatar
 

Don't hold your breath on the mini-me getting Firewire. They keep saying 3 months down the road, and yet a year has passed now. Most recent report was early '06. We'll see. They say they've been working on Firewire for their other units and that the mini-me and mini-dac are next in line. The Mini-me has very good preamps and excellent conversion. You cannot do greater than 48kHz through the USB.
You might want to consider the MOTU Traveler. I just got one, and it so far has been pretty good. Comparable to the Mackie, but with more digital options. Definitely portable. Powers off my desktop, but my laptop is only 4 pin. Has a power supply if you need to. The Halo looks like a good option.
Old 22nd December 2005
  #10
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TyRip's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bannerj
Metric Halo ULN-2 DSP

freaking amazing digital interface and routing options. The DSP is great. I have the 2882, but I have heard that the pres on the ULN are fantastic.

I agree with you, and I can tell you that the pres are fantastic.

However, our friend here is on a Windows computer, so to use the ULN2 he would need a different interface to patch it in to. This happens to be not a bad idea at all, as I have used mine with my PC like that. No use for +DSP however on a PC.

Still consider it as an option though, as the ULN2 is a great sounding rig.
Old 22nd December 2005
  #11
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zenpicker's Avatar
 

+1 for the Yamaha i88x. I've been using it with good results. E.g., check out the tune "Horizon Line" at http://www.edwardhamlin.com/music/horizon_line.mp3. That was done through an ADesigns MP2 pre into the i88x, and from there to the computer via Firewire. To me the A/D conversion sounds pretty robust.
Old 22nd December 2005
  #12
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zenpicker's Avatar
 

+1 for the Yamaha i88x. I've been using it with good results. E.g., check out the tune "Horizon Line" at http://www.edwardhamlin.com/music/horizon_line.mp3. That was done through an ADesigns MP2 pre into the i88x, and from there to the computer via Firewire. To me the A/D conversion sounds pretty robust.
Old 22nd December 2005
  #13
Lives for gear
I use the firebox with Cubase. I love it. Just make sure you set up Cubase so you are using the emulated drivers (any confusion, butch at tech support will email the step by step one time procedure) and you are golden. pres sound real good, and its a very small device.
Old 22nd December 2005
  #14
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smoore98's Avatar
 

Yeah, I did look at the ULN-2 and dropped it off the list when I saw it is really more for a MAC based system.

Thanks for everyone's help on this. I could just get anothe M-Audio, but I wanted to get something quality and if Terratec is a step up then I want to look at it more serious. No sense in getting a FF if I won't use but 20% of it.

Scott
Old 23rd December 2005
  #15
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by smoore98
Yeah, I did look at the ULN-2 and dropped it off the list when I saw it is really more for a MAC based system.

Thanks for everyone's help on this. I could just get anothe M-Audio, but I wanted to get something quality and if Terratec is a step up then I want to look at it more serious. No sense in getting a FF if I won't use but 20% of it.

Scott
The terratec is no way better than M audio
Old 23rd December 2005
  #16
Gear Addict
 
musicjon's Avatar
 

Saffire

I'm pretty happy running the Focusrite Saffire. The onboard DSP and multiple headphone mixes are very useful.

Edit: I think I know you. Do you work for FBC?
Old 25th December 2005
  #17
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rush's Avatar
 

For cheap I just got an Onyx 400F and after some initial fiddling it's working really well for me .. no complaints.
Old 27th December 2005
  #18
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Don S's Avatar
 

FWIW - I really like my Fireface800. I use it with external pres and a mytek AD on some of the channels. The routing is fantastic and the platform very stable. I've been using it for field recording in a rack case for about a year so far with excellent results.
Old 28th December 2005
  #19
ULN-2+dsp & 2882+dsp for sale...

i'm selling these stellar pieces! email for details!
best
tv
[email protected]
Old 28th December 2005
  #20
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jpupo74's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by smoore98
I've spent about 3 hours now going through the forums looking for information about the best PC recording interfaces that have firewire or USB. I still can't find what I am looking for.

I have a mobile studio that I take on the road, which is a toshiba laptop using a M-Audio FastTrack and Cubase. I would like to move up to 2 channels on the interface and move over to Firewire instead of USB. I'm getting a Lacie Firewire 800 PCMCIA card to dedicate to this connector. I don't think I'll be getting something that can actually take avantage of the 800, but it has a 400 connector on it too.

I have looked at the Apogee Mini-Me because I want high quality conversion, but it does not have firewire (only USB). I love the RME stuff (and use a Multiface at home), but the Fireface is ovekill for what I need. I will never record more than 4 tracks at the same time, probably never more than 2, while on the road.

I have also looked at the Mackie Onyx 400F and the Presonus Firebox, and they look like options. What I am looking for is Apogee clarity, RME stability with Cubase, and the Mic pre's of the Mackie.

I also use a Presonis TubePre into the M-Audio. I would like to add a higher end pre later, like a Seventh Circle or Millenia Media, but this firewire interface issue needs to be solved.

Price is not the real issue here, its quality plus portability - using firewire.

Anyone know what I am looking for?

Hey man,

I just don't get your point!
What's the deal with the firewire? You can easily work the Minime with USB and save the money u r spending on the Lacie...800??? what for??? You have said you will be using 2 channels only...with Apogee sound...well...you have the answer. You can also take a look to Grace Design's Luna V3.

Good Luck,
Pupo
Old 28th December 2005
  #21
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I have been having some problems with the fasttrack and USB in general where if I leave a project up and walk away for an hour or two and come back to it, the sound is gone. I have to reboot. I changed the settings in windows to prevent it from causing any of the USB roots to go to sleep but it doesn't matter. I have not heard of this issue with firewire devices.

Also, I would like to free up that USB slot to use for another external drive. I figured if I kept the audio interface as firewire and external drive USB I wouldn't be sharing the voltage bandwith and could keep the maximum amount flowing to the devices.

I had already set my mind on the fireface when I bought the Lacie card (which I have now and its ready to go), but then I got to thinking about how it is really overkill. I hoping to get something with half the inputs and I didn't know if the Presonus firebox was as good on the pre's/converters.

I use a multiface at home and I have been comparing a few snippets of audio between home and this "on the go" rig and there is a huge difference in the bottom end and the overall body of sound. The bass disappears easily and I tend to over compensate for that, causing everything to be boomy in the mix. I was hoping to solve that problem as well by getting something RME since that is what I am used to.

RME's products seem to hold their value very well and its hard to go wrong by getting one. I was reading a lot of the ariticles hear about how clean the Apogee stuff is (I have never heard myself so I have no clue), so I was hoping to get everything I needed from the MiniMe. I guess I could try it, but I still think firewire is a more reliable interface to Windows.

Sometimes I think I just need to switch to Mac and be done with it!

Scott
Old 28th December 2005
  #22
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jpupo74's Avatar
Hi,

Well, I've never heard before about this USB problems, maybe somebody out there can help. Mac's r kindda better man, that's for sure.

Pupo
Old 28th December 2005
  #23
Gear Addict
 
smoore98's Avatar
 

I have had something similar happen on my home system and it is a custom built server done by someone who builds them for a living in Nashville.

If you leave a project up with a vst instrument like Hypersonic and just go away for a while (like 8 hours or so) and then come back to it and try to do something like play the keyboard, you will hear a gritty distorted sound, almost like when the CPU gets maxed on a VST while playing. Reboot and everything is back to normal. I believe this has something to do with the systems power saving features, even though its supposed to be disabled.

M-Audio had a suggested fix for at least their fasttrack USB interface on their knowledge base, but my home system is an RME multiface.

Scott

Last edited by smoore98; 30th December 2005 at 02:27 PM.. Reason: clarification
Old 29th December 2005
  #24
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I haven't got one myself but based on a number of tests by respectable magazines ans websites, the Terratec IS better than your standard M-audio unit. That's just the way it is. It's got good converters, inserts, balanced ins/outs (as opposed to, say, the Edirol FA-66), phantom power selectable for each channel... lots of good stuff there.
Old 30th December 2005
  #25
Gear Addict
 
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Went to the local music store yesterday. I took a look at the Presonus Firebox. They just came down on the price to $299 (instead of $399).

I wanted to look at ANY Apogee stuff, but of course that is special order stuff. I've been doing a lot of research and taking into consideration a lot of what you guys are saying and I keep coming back to the RME Fireface. If you consider the following factors:

RME quality of their Converters/Pre's - "Cleanliness"
Driver Stability, especially w/ Steinberg products
192Khz, not just 96Khz
Firewire - will run 800 too! I checked the RME web site and my LACIE FW800 was tested to be compatible.

Those were the most important factors to me. I am not sure my ears are discerning enough to go a step above the RME to a Grace Design or Apogee, especially for the price point.

RME needs a FF200 with the exact same specs, that is a half-rack size like the Multiface - for between $399 and $499. They could do a FF400 for $899. I believe they could capture a whole new market space and blow a lot of the lower end stuff out of the water. It would be a no-brainer to go with RME.

I have heard rumours that RME is planning a smaller unit but I don't know if it is anything like my "wish machine" described above, but I am looking for an announcement in the next couple of months. I may just go ahead and get a the FF800 and swap over if something smaller ever materializes.

Scott
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