new to audio: need USB or FW audio interface???

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by malch, Jan 20, 2008.

  1. malch macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2008
    #1
    Hi there,
    I've got a Mac powerbook (G4, 1.67GHz, 2GB RAM, Mac OS 10.4.10), which sometime soon I have to replace with a MacBook Pro.

    I do a lot of video editing (Avid Xpress Pro v. 5.7.7), sound and pictures, corporate videos and documentaries - - mostly interview clips combined with music and background sound - - and need to do audio mixes in my small and rather humble office. My editing software is Avid Xpress Pro, version 5.7.7. Again, I'm on a Mac (not a Windows machine). I have USB, FW (400 and 800) outs, as well as a headphone jack.

    So... I'm not talking about a huge studio set-up or anything too elaborate... no big audio boards or anything like that... but I admit I've been guilty of ignoring the audio side of what I've been doing for years (mostly worrying about the pictures) - - I now really want to do better audio mixes than I've been doing...

    I got some pretty good (I hope) speakers/monitors (KRK Rokit 5) the other day, and the salesman said I now need a USB or FW 'interface' piece of hardware, to connect my laptop with the speakers. The speakers have both XLR outputs on the back, and big 1/4” (or 1/8”?) jacks. My powerbook has a small audio out, and USB and FW (400 and 800) ports: all of them already in use, of course (in fact I already have two USB hubs in use; firewire I've been daisy-chaining, and I'm thinking of getting a fw hub).

    Keeping in mind that I'm not wanting to record live music on 24 tracks (the kind of thing that I suspect a lot of you on this forum do) - - I usually work with four voice tracks, two bg sound tracks and two or four background music tracks - - can you tell me what piece of hardware I might need to connect speakers to computer, to allow me to mix my items properly?

    I should add that I was told by the buy who sold me the speakers to get a PreSonus Firebox (a firewire interface), but someone at PreSonus told me it would only work with Avid if Avid supported ASIO drivers, and from what I've gathered at the Avid/Mac forum, Avid does NOT support ASIO drivers.
    Do you think this rules out the PreSonus Firebox, or would it probably work even if Avid doesn't support these drivers. I've discovered over the years that Avid often doesn't officially support something, that works regardless.

    Or am I just as well off with the Tapco Link USB interface?

    I was leaning towards a firewire interface because I have a few USB devices whose connection is kind of flaky... sometimes they're there, and sometimes I have to unplug them, and plug them back in (annoying).

    Sorry to ramble. Any advice would be appreciated.

    Cheers,
    Malch
     
  2. malch thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Jan 20, 2008
    #2
    I guess I should try to distill an overly long question into something a little easier to deal with...
    Question 1: USB or Firewire audio interface box - - does one have an advantage over the other? (Taplink USB vs. PreSonus Firebox vs. something else?)
    Question 2: does audio - routed through a USB or Firewire box - work independently of other, non-Apple software? Someone at PreSonus told me the Firebox would work for me (I'm an Avid editor) only if Avid supported ASIO drivers... Avid in fact does not support ASIO drivers (at least not on Macs), but someone else told me he thought a Firebox would work anyway. Any thoughts?
    Thanks for any help,
    malch
     
  3. khollister macrumors 6502a

    khollister

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2003
    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    #3
    Unless you need more than 2 mic pre inputs, 2 line inputs and 2 outputs, it is really hard to argue for something other than the Apogee Duet. It is great sounding with excellent mic pres. It also has a pretty good headphone amp built in.
     
  4. malch thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Jan 20, 2008
  5. malch thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Jan 20, 2008
    #5
    Hi - - khollister or someone who knows the Apogee Duet - - I'd love some advice...
    I just bought an Apogee Duet on your advice, downloaded the software, and connected it to my two speaker/monitors via the breakout cable. (info you may need: Mac powerbook G4 1.67GHz, 2GB RAM, OS 10.4.11)
    I see Maestro, I've got the solid green 'OUT' light on the Duet, and I configured my Sound Prefs so the Duet is my default Output... but the only sound I get over my monitors (which are connected via 1/4“ TRS cables) are my System sounds (you know, the beeps and whatnot). iTunes and everything else comes out of my built-in powerbook speakers, which isn't what I want.
    I've re-started my computer to no avail. By the way, there IS a bit of sound that does come out of the monitors... but it's not what I want to hear - - it's a static-like sound, occasional, not constant.
    Can anyone advise me please?
    Cheers,
    malch
     
  6. khollister macrumors 6502a

    khollister

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2003
    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    #6
    OK - first, did you change anything in the Maestro software? You should be good to go with all of the default settings. In the Apple Audio MIDI Setup application (it's in the Utilities folder under Applications) both the Default Output & System Output need to be set to the Duet. The Default Output is what applications (like iTunes) use, the System Output is the OS alert sounds (just like it says). Can you PM me screen shots of the Audio MIDI window (the Audio Devices tab) and the 2 Maestro windows?

    Wait - I just reread your post. You have to use the Audio MIDI app to set the core audio devices. The Sound preferences app only controls the system sounds. I think this is your problem.
     
  7. malch thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Jan 20, 2008
    #7
    Hi k.,
    I'm sure I did this, via the Audio MIDI (which I access through SoundSource)... this didn't work, but I'll try again and report back tomorrow morning.
    Thanks so much for getting back to me.
    malch
     
  8. malch thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Jan 20, 2008
    #8
    Hi again k.,
    Still can't get it to work. I emailed Apogee last night... haven't heard anything yet (they're in California, lucky dogs). Audio MIDI settings (Default Input, Default Output and System Output all say Duet, so I don't know what else to do.
    The odd thing is, with the Duet powered on, and the speaker/monitors on, I can hear a faint static-like sound coming out of the speakers, if I put my ear close.
    I also, as I think I mentioned, hear my System sounds (alerts, etc.). But iTunes, and everything else, still comes out of my internal speakers.

    Any other ideas would be appreciated.
    Cheers,
    malch
     
  9. malch thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Jan 20, 2008
    #9
    O.K., this is interesting. I just launched Avid Xpress Pro, and the audio came out of the speaker/monitors! So maybe it's just iTunes, that, for some reason, isn't connecting with my Duet/monitors.
    I've searched in the iTunes settings, but don't see anything obvious (like, 'Use powerbook internal speakers') that I can uncheck, or change.
    The not-so-good news is that the sound I get via Duet/monitors (now from Avid) isn't very clean (the static-like sound I mentioned before).
    malch
     
  10. khollister macrumors 6502a

    khollister

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2003
    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    #10
    OK - Let me make sure I understand the symptoms: system sounds play fine thru the line out/speakers, but app audio uses the internal output with some faint sound in the external speakers? If so, I would try the following:

    1) connect some headphones to the Duet. If, as I suspect, it is a software problem, you should hear the same faint distorted sound in the headphones on app audio as you hear in the speakers. If so, we definitely have a SW issue, IMHO.

    2) Trash the apogee prefs and reinstall the driver. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE DOWNLOADED THE LATEST LEAOPARD COMPATIBLE DRIVER FROM THE APOGEE WEB SITE. THE ONE ON THE CD IS NOT THE LATEST AS FAR AS I KNOW. Leave everything in Maestro in its default state. Double check the Audio MIDI settings using the Apple utility.

    3) If that doesn't fix it, you may have some conflict with another audio app like the SoundSource util or something like AudioHijack which might have screwed up the CoreAudio OS stuff or the Apogee sw. There may be another audio application that hijacks some of the CoreAudio functionality that prevent the Apogee driver from working properly.

    4) It's possible there is some other OS issue with respect to audio. Short of reinstalling OS X, I'm not sure how to fix this.

    Apogee has a pretty good rep on service, so hopefully they can help you if thiese ideas don't work.

    Keith
     
  11. malch thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Jan 20, 2008
    #11
    Hi Keith,
    Good to hear from you. The following is in response to your last note:

    1) using headphones I don't hear any static whatsoever... (just to remind you: all I can hear are system sounds, but they are clean and clear)
    2) I trashed the com.apogee.mAEstro.plist file (home folder/Library/Preferences) and reinstalled the Duet_Software (OCT07) software, and restarted. Audio MIDI settings are set to Duet (I'd send you screenshots, but I tried, and they don't show up in these Replies). Are there other drivers I don't know about?
    3) Shall I take AudioHijack, which I have loaded, off my hard drive?

    other notes (something might jump out at you):
    - I did attach my M-Audio MicroTrack unit directly to my speakers, and the audio plays cleanly, without static.
    - when my speakers are on, and the Duet is off, there's no odd static
    - when my speakers are on, and I plug the fw cable back into the Duet, I get the low-level static again...

    I don't know what else to say, except that I appreciate your attempts to help.
    Cheers,
    malch
     
  12. khollister macrumors 6502a

    khollister

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2003
    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    #12
    So the app audio (iTunes, etc) does not play either thru the headphones or speakers? But you only get static thru the external speakers?

    With the exception of the static noise when the FW is connected, I would say you have a software issue. I'm not sure I can offer too many other ideas. You could try removing AudioHijack. I also wonder if the Avid application installs some sort of audio driver that interferes. I think you really need to get in touch with Apogee on this. It sounds like something is conflicting with the Duet driver. There might be a HW issue on the FW static, but I'm not at all certain.

    Sorry I can't help you to solve this - feel bad that you purchased the Duet on my recommendation, but there has been very few issues with the Duet that I have heard of.
     
  13. malch thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Jan 20, 2008
    #13
    Hi Keith,
    Please don't worry about the Duet recommendation - - it's a great piece of hardware... known to be Mac-friendly. I can only imagine the problems I'd be having with one of the alternatives. Apogee did respond today - - with not nearly the attention to detail that you've provided... but enough for me to now email back to them, in hopes they can help. I'll post back if things get resolved.
    Thanks again for your help.
    malch
     
  14. khollister macrumors 6502a

    khollister

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2003
    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    #14
    Let me know what happens - I'm curious now. Good luck.
     

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