New Interface - USB, TB, or FireWire?

Talk about your MIDI interfaces, microphones, keyboards...

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PaulyWally
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New Interface - USB, TB, or FireWire?

Postby PaulyWally » Thu Sep 05, 2019 2:34 am

So... I think my trusty M-Audio Profire 2626 FireWire interface (8x8 analogue I/O) is dead. I still have some testing to fully determine if it's the interface or the controller. But if the interface is in fact dead, I'll need to consider what to replace it with.

I'm going to make a case to replace with another FireWire unit. Potentially another 2626. So please call me out if I'm just being plain ignorant on USB or TB.

For all intents and purposes FireWire certainly seems to be dead. But FFADO still seems to have plenty of support. And as a bonus, the Profire 2626 drivers work on Windows 10. FireWire always seemed very rock-solid to me. Nowadays USB is certainly faster (on paper) than 1394. But FireWire is more than capable of 8 channels of full duplex audio I/O. Theoretically, FireWire also doesn't suffer from the possible issues that might plague a USB bus when the desired performance is low-latency or real-time. Finally, used FireWire interfaces can be had pretty cheap nowadays and (as always) money is a little tight.

Soooo... any thoughts?

TIA!

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Fmajor7add9
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Re: New Interface - USB, TB, or FireWire?

Postby Fmajor7add9 » Thu Sep 05, 2019 11:46 am

PaulyWally wrote:So... I think my trusty M-Audio Profire 2626 FireWire interface (8x8 analogue I/O) is dead. I still have some testing to fully determine if it's the interface or the controller. But if the interface is in fact dead, I'll need to consider what to replace it with.

I'm going to make a case to replace with another FireWire unit. Potentially another 2626. So please call me out if I'm just being plain ignorant on USB or TB.

For all intents and purposes FireWire certainly seems to be dead. But FFADO still seems to have plenty of support. And as a bonus, the Profire 2626 drivers work on Windows 10. FireWire always seemed very rock-solid to me. Nowadays USB is certainly faster (on paper) than 1394. But FireWire is more than capable of 8 channels of full duplex audio I/O. Theoretically, FireWire also doesn't suffer from the possible issues that might plague a USB bus when the desired performance is low-latency or real-time. Finally, used FireWire interfaces can be had pretty cheap nowadays and (as always) money is a little tight.

Soooo... any thoughts?

TIA!


Hoping your Profire keeps the flame burning and all channels warm!

I have a laptop with Firewire 400 (1394a) and a M-Audio FW interface as well.

Wanted more disk speed and got a dock with eSATA and a adapter box for that (x2 vs. FDD, ca. x3 vs USB2). Tried 2 different USB3 Exprescards with no success. That was years ago and for whatever reason I never thought of using the firewire port for disks also until recently.

Turns out they are still being sold at standard to above avarage prices compared to USB2 and 3, but used market was much better with some 1tb and 4tb boxes for cheap. Probably more to come from Mac users surplus in the years between USB2 and thunderbolt.

Would expect the same for functioning interfaces, maybe more so for units with more than 2 or 4 i/o, as in previous owners patiently keeping them up for sale instead of dumping them.

Firewire PCI cards and ExpressCards are still available and compatible with lots of hardware and quite a price vs. performance add-on value for older Thinkpad/HP/Dell/etc. laptops (with card adapters for USB 3 and firewire 800 (1394b), twice as fast and carries bus power as well (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IEEE_1394 ... d_versions)).
The ability to daisy-chain or hub even more so, in my case that could have dismissed both dock and power supply for the interface.

FFADO will hopefully stay in kernel for years to come as long as the interfaces and disks keeps on working.

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Re: New Interface - USB, TB, or FireWire?

Postby Jamesf » Thu Sep 05, 2019 11:57 am

USB, I think.

I regretfully retired my beloved FA-101 recently, when my last Firewire-equipped workstation died. The interface still works as brilliantly as it did a decade ago, but that standard is going away and there's not a lot we can do about it. My own understanding of the advantage of Firewire came down to there being a controller on the device end as well as on the host end, reducing the load on the host and link for controlling the device itself.
If I were to build another audio workstation in the near future, I'd absolutely invest in a FW card and put that interface back to work, but I just can't justify the money at the moment.

I looked at TB for a replacement interface, since my laptop has a TB-equipped USB-C interface, but that really seems like a minority market unless you're willing to go full Mac.

USB has come a long way over the years, and Class-Compliant USB-2 devices deliver pretty good responsiveness these days. Unless you're working on a professional level, in which case PCIe would be a better bet, I'd say it's the way to go.

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Fmajor7add9
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Re: New Interface - USB, TB, or FireWire?

Postby Fmajor7add9 » Thu Sep 05, 2019 12:26 pm

Jamesf wrote:USB, I think.
I looked at TB for a replacement interface, since my laptop has a TB-equipped USB-C interface, but that really seems like a minority market unless you're willing to go full Mac.


- did you find any TB-to-FW adapters while looking? (if such gizmoz even existsz?)

Jamesf
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Re: New Interface - USB, TB, or FireWire?

Postby Jamesf » Sun Sep 08, 2019 3:23 pm

Fmajor7add9 wrote:
Jamesf wrote:USB, I think.
I looked at TB for a replacement interface, since my laptop has a TB-equipped USB-C interface, but that really seems like a minority market unless you're willing to go full Mac.


- did you find any TB-to-FW adapters while looking? (if such gizmoz even existsz?)

Sadly, no.
I did hear rumours of some Rube Goldberg setups involving translation across about 4 different protocols to land on FW400, but no reliable accounts. If you happen across one, I'd love to hear about it.


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