USB 2.0 for Audio Recording; Pros v Cons

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by kolax, Mar 11, 2009.

  1. kolax macrumors G3

    kolax

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2007
    #1
    I currently have an Alesis MultiMix8 FireWire, and I am looking at replacing it with a USB 2.0 one (considering exchanging my MacBook Pro for a MacBook). I do casual recordings with my band, and we'll never have more than 4/5 inputs being recorded at once.

    Will USB 2.0 be sufficient for this? Recording say 4 independent channels simultaneously without any glitch? Any problems?
     
  2. barkmonster macrumors 68020

    barkmonster

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2001
    Location:
    Lancashire
  3. kolax thread starter macrumors G3

    kolax

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2007
    #3
    On an Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz machine, you'd think I'd have latency problems? Recording 4 mono channels at 16-bit with monitors?
     
  4. barkmonster macrumors 68020

    barkmonster

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2001
    Location:
    Lancashire
    #4
    I'd never recommend USB for audio as my Mbox 2 is so cranky compared with the PCI card based system it replaced.

    This is a USB 1.0 device but with an Audiomedia III PCI Card on a 300Mhz G3 I was able to mix down in Pro Tools with a 512 buffer and run smaller sessions with a 256 buffer.

    With the USB interface on my current mac, doing ANYTHING with Pro Tools needs at least a 512 buffer to start with. Mixing down or sessions with a large number of tracks I often need to go as high as 2048!

    In theory, for simple recording, the throughput of USB 1.0, let alone USB 2.0 is more than enough for 4 mono channels of 44.1Khz audio, even at 24 bit but current USB standards aren't full Duplex like firewire is, simply recording and monitoring on the same device is going to tax your CPU more than a firewire or PCI interface to some degree.

    I'm recording to a dedicated audio only disk on it's own ATA bus but a firewire drive with an oxford chipset is the only option with laptops or "desk laptops" like the iMac or Mac Mini because of the limitations of current USB standards.

    If you're moving to a system with no firewire, it's going to be difficult. I'd stick with what you have, boost the RAM, replace you're system drive with an SSD for extra performance and then save up for a mac book pro!

    The screen shot shows Pro Tools LE 7 with a 512 buffer under OS 10.4.11 not even managing to play back an old session that originally ran fine on a beige G3 with only 320Mb RAM and a PCI interface. That was under OS 9 back then and it also had 4 midi tracks playing the software synths "Unity DS-1" and "Retro AS-1" at the same time too.
     

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  5. kolax thread starter macrumors G3

    kolax

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2007
    #5
    Thanks for the info. You had trouble with USB on your 300MHz machine? You think I'd have the same issues on a faster CPU?

    For the casual recording - 4 tracks at once, using monitors etc, you think USB won't cut it? I'm hoping for very low latency, consistent recording (I know USB projects at bursts, rather than constant like FireWire) quality etc.
     
  6. barkmonster macrumors 68020

    barkmonster

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2001
    Location:
    Lancashire
    #6
    It was a PCI card on the 300Mhz G3, I only started using USB on my G4 because Digidesign stopped supporting the Audiomedia III card and I was forced to get an Mbox2 because it was the only system that enabled me to use Pro Tools with OS X that I could afford. They do firewire interfaces too but the point I was making was less about the interface's suitability for recording, it's more the problem with any system that lacks firewire and room for a second internal hard drive to record to.

    I believe you can replace the optical drive in laptops with a 2nd internal hard drive with something called the Optibay so that would solve the hard drive issue.
     
  7. kolax thread starter macrumors G3

    kolax

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2007
    #7
    Would the hard drive issue exist on my current setup then? I record straight to the internal - I don't have a scratch disk.

    To be honest, majority of the time, I'd be recording just one track. Everyone plays and I just take the drums down. Then add the next part etc. Depends if it is a polished demo or a rough demo.

    I am using a 320GB 7200RPM hard drive in my MacBook Pro which I'll take out and put in the MacBook.
     

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