Firewire vs. USB

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by bigboy99, Jul 4, 2007.

  1. bigboy99 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2005
    Location:
    Sarasota, FL
    #1
    I'm shopping for a new interface and need guidance as to the better of the two protocals. I will only be getting a two input device, but require phantom, mic/line, XLR, direct, & MIDI in/out inputs. Also, low latency is important.
     
  2. gvdv macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2007
    #2
    Hi,
    Most (all?) of the higher quality audio interfaces seem to use one of the two firewire protocols (400 mb/s or 800 mb/s, with the former being more common at the moment).

    I've also read - and people can correct me if I'm wrong - that although USB 2.0 might be faster than its firewire equivalent, that fact is a bit of a red herring because the speed refers to data travelling in one direction only. I.E., firewire has the ability to pass data in both directions simulataneously; I see this as being important in a multitrack situation where you'll be monitoring (listening to) pre-recorded tracks, while singing/playing along to them.

    I don't know what your budget is (that would help others here to make suggestions for you), or if you think that there's ever any possibility of needing more than the ability to record more than two tracks simultaneously; that's worth thinking about.

    The other issues that you might want to consider, and which affect price a great deal are: quality of the 'pre's' (preamplifiers), stability of the drivers, and quality/accessibility of technical support (presumably, if the first two criterial here are satisfied, you won't need to consider the third).

    I know that RME makes universally acclaimed, reliable/stable, reputedly great sounding audio interfaces, and I'm going for the RME Fireface 400 - capable of recording 4 tracks simultaneously. I'm a little nervous that I might very occasionally want to record more than 4 tracks at a time, but the cost of Fireface 800 means that I can only afford the 400.

    I hope that this has helped somewhat.

    Good luck.

    GVDV
     
  3. iBookG4user macrumors 604

    iBookG4user

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2006
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #3
    Firewire is generally faster than USB and has a constant data throughput, while USB fluctuates. I would go Firewire over USB.
     
  4. plinden macrumors 68040

    plinden

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2004
    #4
    I don't have any audio device experience, but as an example, I have an external HDD with FW400 and USB2. With FW I get sustained data transfers of 38MB/s while I get only 14MB/s with USB2.
     
  5. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    toronto
    #5
    does anyone have any evidence that USB-based interfaces suffer because it uses USB? generally, those tend to be 2-channels, and USB is fast enough for that.

    because absent problems inherent in the technology, and assuming manufacturers are making their devices to stay w/in USB limits, i don't see why USB vs. firewire should be a practical consideration when choosing an interface.

    features, quality of audio, software compatibility, yes. but USB/firewire? who cares?
     
  6. bigboy99 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Nov 12, 2005
    Location:
    Sarasota, FL
  7. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    toronto
  8. bigboy99 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2005
    Location:
    Sarasota, FL
    #8
    Just to see if you'd keep at it. I wouldn't have started the thread if I didn't care (on some level.)

    The OS X has several known issues with USB devices causing kernal panics/crashes, and if there was any preference for one interface it would be helpful to know this information.
     

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