Mac Mini recording -- USB 2.0 interfaces with USB 3.0 ports

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by RT81, Oct 24, 2013.

  1. RT81 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2013
    #1
    Figured I'd post this in the Mac Mini forum too since it applies to both the mini and the iMAC.

    Can anyone confirmed they are successfully recording using USB 2.0 interfaces on the USB 3.0 ports under Mountain Lion or Mavericks? Something like a POD HD or a Scarlett 2i2?

    In researching whether to build a new PC or get a Mac, I came across reports of problems using USB 2.0 interfaces on USB 3.0 ports due to isochronous streaming. The Audio crackles or distorts or the USB 3.0 ports just stop working. Most problems are with Windows, but a couple did involve OS X. The fault is something related to Intel and the Ivy Bridge chipset controlling USB 3.0. The reports tend to dry up around the beginning of 2003, so perhaps Microsoft and Apple fixed something.
     
  2. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #2
    [[ The reports tend to dry up around the beginning of 2003, so perhaps Microsoft and Apple fixed something. ]]

    Well, that was 10 years ago.
    If they haven't got it fixed by now, my guess is that it's not going to be "fixed".

    If you're hedging about whether to get a new Mini or not my advice would be:

    Get yourself a firewire-based interface instead. Firewire remains an excellent technology for audio recording, and I'll predict it will continue to be used for some years to come.

    Actually, this forum isn't the best regarding answers and others' experiences with audio recording software and hardware.

    You should also check out gearslutz.com and perhaps the user forums for the products you currently use.

    Just wondering -- what is your DAW software preference right now?
     
  3. Luap macrumors 65816

    Luap

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2004
    #3
    When I was last there, it was increasingly populated by bored Apple troll kiddies. Plenty of experienced people here too though, particularly in the digital audio section of MacRumors.

    My own experience with USB 3 audio is brief however, but USB 3 ports have given me no bother with my music gear.
    That said, for audio interfaces, I tend to stick to firewire, which fortunately MacMini's are still equipped with. And even for macs that don't have firewire, the Thunderbolt-firewire adapter works perfectly well (i've tried that too).
    A number of audio interfaces happen to come with both USB and Firewire, which is a good thing.. I like MOTU these days, but there are a multitude of other good interfaces to choose from also.
     
  4. omnisphere macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2011
    #4
    Most audio interfaces should work! if not, the drivers for the interface is not very good. It is not Apples fault some of the manufacturer has bad drivers.
    ;)
     
  5. OllyW Moderator

    OllyW

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2005
    Location:
    The Black Country, England
    #5
    I've had no problems using a Focusrite USB 2.0 interface connected to the USB 3.0 ports on my 2012 Mac mini.
     
  6. RT81, Oct 24, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2013

    RT81 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2013
    #6
    Yikes! Sorry, I meant 2013, NOT 2003.

    I won't use Firewire, sorry. All my interfaces are USB. I universal capability. So that means USB. I know I can get Firewire on a PC, but I'd have to add a card, which I can't do on a laptop, for example. Maybe once I know I'll stick with Apple (and Apple decides to stick with Firewire), but not now. I need to use what I have on hand.

    I have checked all those places. Again, all the complaints seem to stop towards the beginning of this year. I have found a few instances of people using USB interfaces on Macs, but no info given on what year those Macs were made or if they have USB 3.0. I probably do need to register and ask them directly, though.

    My DAW is Reaper.

    ----------

    Thank you! That's encouraging. :) I couldn't see Apple NOT resolving this issue if it indeed was an issue with OS X.

    ----------

    Didn't even realize that section was there, thank you! :)
     
  7. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #7
    If you are talking bat a 2 or 4 channel audio interface USB 2.0 is faster than you needs.

    Assume 96K samples per second at 24-bits. Call it 100K at 24 bits per sample. So one channel is 2,400,000/second Four channels is 10 million bits per second.

    USB 2.0 is exactly 48 times faster then you need.

    OK, USB is not as fast as they say. It can't really carry the full 480 Mbits/sec Say it can only do 1/4 of that. Even so it is still way faster then you need

    They say USB uses a bunch of CPU overhead. It does. But you are hardly using any of it's available bandwidth the effect is minor.

    DIFFERENT story if you have a 16 or 24 channels audio interface but for 2 inputs just on't worry about it.
     
  8. RT81, Oct 24, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2013

    RT81 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2013
    #8
    Here's a great example of what I've seen in my research:

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1500187&highlight=usb+3+0

    Notice the date? Late 2012. They all seem to start in 2012 but I can't find any more complaints after maybe 04/2013 which, along with some of the other experiences shared, makes me think this has all been resolved. People more often than not don't go back and report their successes in the same thread.
     
  9. RT81 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2013
    #9
    Update

    Sorry to bump this old thread, but I just want to come back and update it for posterity in case anyone else searches for this topic. :D

    I bought a new Mac Mini (maxed out with the 2.6 ghz i7). I'm using my POD HD right now with the latest drivers downloaded from Line 6 Monkey and all is well! No issues whatsoever using it for recording on the USB 3.0 ports. I had contacted Line 6 ahead of time and the confirmed they have had no reports of any issues either.
     
  10. jlanpheer macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2014
    #10
    Thanks for bumping this, i ran across this in my search for information. I am in the midst of transitioning from an outdated PC to a Mac Mini. I was doing the song/dance waiting for the rumored Mini refresh and decided not to wait anymore.

    I see the Mini as being the basis of a music recording studio downstairs. Currently, i have an Echo Digital Layla soundcard which connected from my PC to it via a standard 30 pin interface. I was HOPING to continue to use the Layla with my new Mini, but don't know if that will be possible.

    The inputs that my Layla supports are: (1) the aforementioned 30-pin interface, (2) S/PDIF, (3) Optical In/Out, (4) 8 standard 1/4 instrument in's.

    My initial thought was that i could just buy an adapter cable to take the Mini's mini-headphone output jack and route that signal into the Optical In. After a visit to my local electronics store last night, i quickly realized that there is no such thing, the analog signal from the Mini headphone jack would have to be converted to a digital signal first.

    So, my original solution to this problem would involve 2 cables (mini headphone to RCA plug and optical in/out) and an analog-to-digital converter in between the two cables. Basically, it would cost around $70! Then, i would also wonder about latency...

    So, i ask the forum if they see a more cost-effective way to get audio from new Mac Mini into my existing audio interface. Maybe 'the answer' is that i need to upgrade my audio interface, but i'd love to save that $$ if i can.....

    Any advice from anyone?
    thanx and cheers!
     
  11. pianoman88 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2010
    #11
    Apogee Duet had issues - Komplete Audio 6 doesn't

    When I downsized from a 5.1 Mac Pro to 2012 Mac Mini server, I had issues with sounds whenever the hard drive was accessed or when I moved the cursor. This was using an Apogee Duet (FW connection).

    I tried replacing all of the cables and eventually gave up, moving to a USB device (Komplete Audio 6). No problems since then.
     
  12. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #12
    [[ Currently, i have an Echo Digital Layla soundcard which connected from my PC to it via a standard 30 pin interface. I was HOPING to continue to use the Layla with my new Mini, but don't know if that will be possible. ]]

    Short, simple, concise answer:
    Not possible.

    The Layla was designed specifically for computers with a PCI bus.
    Of course, the Mini doesn't have one.

    If you want an Echo interface to work with the Mini, I'd suggest either a
    - AudioFire4 or
    - AudioFire8 or
    - the 8-XLR-input AudioFire (don't recall the exact name)

    I believe both the AudioFire4 and AudioFire8 are discontinued items, but can probably be found used at decent prices.

    I have the AudioFire8, very solid unit.

    There are many other interfaces available.
    I would STRONGLY SUGGEST you pick up one that is Firewire based.
    Although USB has come a long way, there are still too many conflicts out there with drivers, latency, etc.
     
  13. jlanpheer macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2014
    #13
    Thank you Fishrrman for confirming what i was pretty sure was the case. I guess the Layla goes onto eBay! I have a second audio interface which i had bought to run on a laptop a few years ago. It is an earlier version of the MOTU Traveler (not the recent mk3 edition). I grabbed an existing Firewire cable that i had, went to hook the Mini to it and..... (DOH! :mad:), the Firewire cable that i had did not fit in the Mac mini Firewire port. A little research quickly showed me that there is a Firewire 400 standard and an 800 standard, with my Traveler being on the '400' and the Mini being on the '800' standard. Yesterday, i found a 6-pin to 9-pin conversion cable, and (though i haven't tested it yet), i expect that this will work.

    So, my (hopefully last) question about this topic is this: Is Firewire 400 a fast enough throughput to support audio ins/outs to Logic Pro X and/or Ableton Live? (I am assuming that the effective throughput of the Firewire connection would be 400 and not 800......). Can you confirm whether my existing hardware will do the job?

    On a sidenote, there is a brand new MOTU interface, the 828x, that appears to support Thunderbolt throughput. It is brand spanking new and not much info or reviews are available, but i would expect to see more of these. In the meantime though, i am hoping that the above will get me to where i need to go.... for now. :rolleyes:

    thanx and cheers,
    jim.
     
  14. Fishrrman macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #14
    [[ So, my (hopefully last) question about this topic is this: Is Firewire 400 a fast enough throughput to support audio ins/outs to Logic Pro X and/or Ableton Live? (I am assuming that the effective throughput of the Firewire connection would be 400 and not 800......). ]]

    Yes. It should work fine.

    [[ Can you confirm whether my existing hardware will do the job? ]]

    No. Because I don't have your hardware -- you have it.
    Best course of action -- try it and see.
     
  15. BigRed1 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2011
    #15
    The firewire cable should work just fine and firewire 400 is more than adequate. Try that unit out and see how it goes before getting anything else.

    I like the MOTU stuff. I like their hybrid devices a lot, too. I was really disappointed that the updated 8pre was not a hybrid device and is basically just a USB unit.
     
  16. beestigbeestje macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 17, 2007
    Location:
    Belgium
    #16
    Apogee Duet iPad Mac

    I've purchased a Duet a couple of weeks ago and I've had nothing but trouble with it. I've been experiencing audio dropouts. Like 1 second glitches. Tried unplugging all peripherals, disabling BT and WIFI, reinstalling Apogee software, reinstalling Mavericks. Even a 2nd time and nothing installed, it would still occasionally.
    The dropouts would occur in iTunes, vlc, Logic (no matter what buffer size)

    I contacted Apogee from the first day and they haven't been helpful and now the guy says he has no clue why this is happening to my macbook pro. I'm running mavericks on a 1st gen 15 inch rMBP 2.6ghz
    Also contacted applecare, but since the internal soundcard works fine, they can't help me.

    Is there maybe a way to disable the usb 3.0 drivers so it only uses 2.0?
     
  17. Luap macrumors 65816

    Luap

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2004
    #17
    The problem is nothing to do with USB 3.0 or USB 2.0
    The problem is Apoggee's shoddy drivers.
    My Duet worked fine up until OS X 10.8 (and onwards), where I got exactly the same issues you describe. I replaced it with a MOTU which has been fine.

    You can check if there are any firmware updates available for your unit. But failing that, if you bought it new, then i'd return it for a refund and get something else.
     

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