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#1869918 - 01/10/08 01:45 AM Is Fire Box a high-end recording interface?
chris673 Offline
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Registered: 01/10/08
Posts: 4
Loc: Canada
Is Fire Box a high-end recording interface? I am looking for a more
studio quality sound card to replace my M.Audio192 pci card i am using
right now. I am using sonar6 producer, and mostly recording vertual
instruments. The only thing i record analog would be my vocal. I
also use mackie 1202 vlz. I don't know what really suites my need
here. My budget is around $500 cdn. Is external interface better
than pci cards? Can anyone help me please. I really appreciate ur
help.

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#1869968 - 01/10/08 06:03 AM Re: Is Fire Box a high-end recording interface? [Re: chris673]
audiorulez Offline
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Registered: 06/20/07
Posts: 745
The Firebox is a mid line interface, good quality for the money, but definitely not what I would consider "high end". It is a nice little box, well built, that supports multiple i/o via firewire and had 2 decent mic pres. The converters are quite good as well.
It does NOT support the 192K sample rate your current card does.

I'd recommend, since all you need is a mic pre for vocals, is to spend your money on a mic pre. Check out the Grace 101 or FMR RNP, both I think are in your price range.

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#1870006 - 01/10/08 07:31 AM Re: Is Fire Box a high-end recording interface? [Re: audiorulez]
chris673 Offline
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Registered: 01/10/08
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Loc: Canada
Thanks for the quick response, my main concern is overall sound quality of my music at a professional level, not the number of inputs and outputs. What do u think of Fire Studio Project by Presonus. Would that take care of the preamp and sound card situation for me? It is also within my budget. Would that be more superior than M-Audio and Mackie?

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#1870032 - 01/10/08 08:28 AM Re: Is Fire Box a high-end recording interface? [Re: chris673]
chris673 Offline
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Registered: 01/10/08
Posts: 4
Loc: Canada
I am also looking for more definition in sound quality. I am not recording any live instruments. I mainly use samples, keyboards and vertual instruments for arranging the music. How would u compare Fire Studio Project by Presonus, and Fireface 400 by RME?

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#1870054 - 01/10/08 09:16 AM Re: Is Fire Box a high-end recording interface? [Re: chris673]
Griffinator Offline
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Again, why would you waste money on a replacement soundcard when you can get a good mic pre with digital outs like the ones AR listed for the budget you've given?

Something like a Joe Meek British Channel Strip - http://www.zzounds.com/item--JOESIXQ - which comes with SPDIF and optical outputs would make for a nice upgrade without giving you a bunch of features you don't need - and it will plug right into your M-audio card via a digital coax or TosLink cable.

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#1870100 - 01/10/08 10:09 AM Re: Is Fire Box a high-end recording interface? [Re: chris673]
audiorulez Offline
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The Fire Studio Project is Presonus' new version of the Firepod. Again, it does not support sample rates over 96K, and the pres, while good, are not anything special. Given you need one great pre for vocals, this seems like a waste to me. Your existing card has better converters than this or the Firebox.

IMHO you should be looking into a great pre for your budget. Whether it has digital or analog outs IMHO is somewhat (although not entirely) moot, as the converters in your existing card are excellent.

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#1870259 - 01/10/08 12:45 PM Re: Is Fire Box a high-end recording interface? [Re: audiorulez]
Griffinator Offline
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While I agree that M-Audio makes solid converters, last I knew they don't mag-shield their PCI cards, so their ability to resist jitter errors et al is mitigated by sitting inside a box with super-high-frequency electronic emissions bombarding them.

Hence, I suggested a good mic pre with a digital out to alleviate this problem.

YMMV, and of course, if the mag-shield issue has changed in the last year or so, I'll happily stand corrected.

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#1870404 - 01/10/08 04:25 PM Re: Is Fire Box a high-end recording interface? [Re: Griffinator]
audiorulez Offline
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While I cannot say for certain that it has, I know several people with the 192, and none to my knowledge have had any issues with them.

I worked on a mix session just last week from one of them done on the 192 with analog pres, and everything sounded great. I know their card is at least a year old.

I'll see what I can find out.

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#1872609 - 01/14/08 01:31 PM Re: Is Fire Box a high-end recording interface? [Re: audiorulez]
Bill@Welcome Home Studios Offline
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External devices are NOT better than PCI devices. They are more convienent, and the life expectency of the PCI bus is limited as PCIe comes of age.

Given your mixer (and from that choice, I expect that the rest of the system/mics/monitors/room are of similar quality) you will be well served by any of the obvious choices out there. If you are seriously interested in high quality, a much higher dollar investment is required. My own favorites for low-mid budget work are RME and Lynx, but these are a few dollars more than your limit. M-Audio, Presonus, Tascam, Terratec and others all have workable options that will not shame you in terms of sound quality. Most of the major players are so because their gear works, and sounds decent. Additional costs buy better service and support, fewer compatability problems, and often more ease of setup and use, allowing you to be more of a musician and less of a computer geek.

Bill
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"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

Steve Martin

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.


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#1872705 - 01/14/08 04:25 PM Re: Is Fire Box a high-end recording interface? [Re: audiorulez]
Griffinator Offline
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 Originally Posted By: audiorulez
I worked on a mix session just last week from one of them done on the 192 with analog pres, and everything sounded great. I know their card is at least a year old.


I'm curious - were they recording in 192? If so, that may well have pushed the jitter problems so far outside of the audible spectrum that they were rendered moot.

Back in the day, if a card wasn't mag-shielded, and you were tracking at 24/48 or lower, you were paying the price in the loss of definition in the 15K+ range.

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#1872869 - 01/14/08 08:23 PM Re: Is Fire Box a high-end recording interface? [Re: Griffinator]
Bill@Welcome Home Studios Offline
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 Originally Posted By: Griffinator
...their ability to resist jitter errors et al is mitigated by sitting inside a box with super-high-frequency electronic emissions bombarding them.



correlated (EMI) and uncorrelated (like from a hot unshielded signal cable of some sort) jitter in sound cards? Now, I've pretty much always used a more upscale card, but I thought thst this issue was solved back with the Sound Blaster 16 card, no?

Bill
_________________________
"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

Steve Martin

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.


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#1872953 - 01/15/08 05:26 AM Re: Is Fire Box a high-end recording interface? [Re: Bill@Welcome Home Studios]
audiorulez Offline
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Registered: 06/20/07
Posts: 745
 Originally Posted By: Bill@Welcome Home Studios
External devices are NOT better than PCI devices. Bill


This is incorrect, as the quality if the device is dependent on the converters. While true the PCI card can process faster, if it had inferior converters to the compared FW card, then the quality of the FW card audio would be better.

 Originally Posted By: Griffinator
I'm curious - were they recording in 192? If so, that may well have pushed the jitter problems so far outside of the audible spectrum that they were rendered moot.


The sessions were 24/44.1. Everything sounded great, no issues whatsoever.

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#1872976 - 01/15/08 06:22 AM Re: Is Fire Box a high-end recording interface? [Re: Bill@Welcome Home Studios]
Griffinator Offline
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 Originally Posted By: Bill@Welcome Home Studios
correlated (EMI) and uncorrelated (like from a hot unshielded signal cable of some sort) jitter in sound cards? Now, I've pretty much always used a more upscale card, but I thought thst this issue was solved back with the Sound Blaster 16 card, no?

Bill


EMI was a problem for quite a long time - and the SB16 was just as bad as the rest of SB's stuff during the 90's and early 00's.

But hey, far be it for me to perpetuate an "old wive's tale", if that's what this is.

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#1873001 - 01/15/08 07:00 AM Re: Is Fire Box a high-end recording interface? [Re: Griffinator]
Bill@Welcome Home Studios Offline
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 Originally Posted By: Griffinator

EMI was a problem for quite a long time - and the SB16 was just as bad as the rest of SB's stuff during the 90's and early 00's.

But hey, far be it for me to perpetuate an "old wive's tale", if that's what this is.


Sorry, I meant -after- the SB16.

I saw a lot of debate on the 'net about this for years and years, but I never experienced it firsthand, nor do I know anyone else who has. Perhaps this has something to do with the people that I know, the systems that they choose to use, the motherboards and other components they pick, etc. I know that everyone is always trying to save a buck, but I (and those that I know/hang/and corespond with)needed reliable performance in mission-critical situations, so I spent a little more and had a lot fewer headaches and tummy aches.

Depending upon the situation, jitter may be observed in transmission but not recorded.

I'd be a lot more concerned about the sending and receiving chips and the quality of the cable or fibre when it comes to jitter, than any EMI or RF being introduced to the signal through the sound card.

But to tell the truth, I haven't had to worry about jitter or even think about it in over 14 years. This is an interesting exercise in remembering. (hmmm... what was my name again....???) Does anyone know if it is really a factor in any modern sound card setup?

Bill
_________________________
"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

Steve Martin

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.


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#1873004 - 01/15/08 07:02 AM Re: Is Fire Box a high-end recording interface? [Re: audiorulez]
Bill@Welcome Home Studios Offline
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 Originally Posted By: audiorulez
 Originally Posted By: Bill@Welcome Home Studios
External devices are NOT better than PCI devices. Bill


"...the quality if the device is dependent on the converters. While true the PCI card can process faster, ..."


You are equivocating. Quality of the converters was not the question.

Bill
_________________________
"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

Steve Martin

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.


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#1873020 - 01/15/08 07:19 AM Re: Is Fire Box a high-end recording interface? [Re: Bill@Welcome Home Studios]
Griffinator Offline
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 Originally Posted By: Bill@Welcome Home Studios
I'd be a lot more concerned about the sending and receiving chips and the quality of the cable or fibre when it comes to jitter, than any EMI or RF being introduced to the signal through the sound card.

But to tell the truth, I haven't had to worry about jitter or even think about it in over 14 years. This is an interesting exercise in remembering. (hmmm... what was my name again....???) Does anyone know if it is really a factor in any modern sound card setup?

Bill


The reason why it was such a problem in soundcards was because of the proximity of the AD/DA to the CPU. It wasn't about cable connections, because if you were using an outboard AD, you weren't suffering those kinds of problems. Yes, jitter was a much-discussed problem in long digital cable runs, but that was a completely different animal than the EMI emittence problems we experienced with having our ADC's a few inches from a super-high-frequency device with no magnetic shielding.

(edit)

And, if we accept AR's anecdotal evidence, it isn't a problem in modern soundcard devices.


Edited by Griffinator (01/15/08 07:20 AM)

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#1873041 - 01/15/08 07:42 AM Re: Is Fire Box a high-end recording interface? [Re: Griffinator]
Bill@Welcome Home Studios Offline
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 Originally Posted By: Griffinator
...The reason why it was such a problem in soundcards was because of the proximity of the AD/DA to the CPU. ...the EMI emittence problems we experienced with having our ADC's a few inches from a super-high-frequency device with no magnetic shielding...


Yes, I understood your concern. As I said, I saw it bandied about on the web for years and years. I just never saw any evidence that it actually existed in any of the systems that I or my friends bought or made. Indeed, we tended to use better motherboards (which means better shielding, and if we assume that all interference came soley from proximity to the CPU itself, we are ignoring other potential paths...the inside of a computer is hell in that regard.), and better sound cards. I was into the DAL CardD and CardD+ and daughterboard early on, which had internal converters. RME has had internal daughterboard converters for many, many years. Lynx. Digigram. Mixsteam. The list of cards from 10+ years ago with internal converters but no EMI or RFI problems goes on and on. I can't talk about what might have occured with lower priced options because they are simply out of my experience.

I am curious if it exists as a problem today though. Just from a 'hey, I remember that problem!' standpoint.


Bill
_________________________
"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

Steve Martin

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.


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#1873074 - 01/15/08 08:48 AM Re: Is Fire Box a high-end recording interface? [Re: Bill@Welcome Home Studios]
Griffinator Offline
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The cards you referenced all had mag shielding. A lot of others didn't. ;\)

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#1873134 - 01/15/08 10:21 AM Re: Is Fire Box a high-end recording interface? [Re: Bill@Welcome Home Studios]
audiorulez Offline
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Registered: 06/20/07
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 Originally Posted By: Bill@Welcome Home Studios
External devices are NOT better than PCI devices. They are more convienent, and the life expectency of the PCI bus is limited as PCIe comes of age.


 Originally Posted By: Bill@Welcome Home Studios
 Originally Posted By: audiorulez
 Originally Posted By: Bill@Welcome Home Studios
External devices are NOT better than PCI devices. Bill


"...the quality if the device is dependent on the converters. While true the PCI card can process faster, ..."


You are equivocating. Quality of the converters was not the question.

Bill


Hardly. If the converters of the PCI card are not at least close to quailty of the FW device, the audio will not be "better". As we all know, quality of converters is what defines a good digital audio interface. If one wishes to make judgement between the quality of a PCI vs FW interface, the quality of the converters is going to be paramount.

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#1873236 - 01/15/08 12:39 PM Re: Is Fire Box a high-end recording interface? [Re: audiorulez]
Bill@Welcome Home Studios Offline
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To the questions: "Is external interface better than pci cards?"

The correct answer is "No."

Were I to use (just to stay in the same manufacturer)an RME HDSP9652, a Digiface w/PCI interface, or a Fireface 800 (three different ways to go) there is no 'better' until you begin to define what you mean by 'better'. You've listed two concerns... processing speed, and the sound of the unit, erroniously ascribed to the converters. You cannot mate that entirely with 'converters', as so many devices use the same converters yet sound radically different; and many devices have, over their manufacturing lifespan, used more than one model ADC or DAC at different times in different production runs.... yet you never hear people talking about that special "Terbo Crumpus from the Jan 2008 production run, which used the Sosumi 5435 ADC...". The associated analog circuitry plays a much larger part in the sound of a unit than is typically accepted/understood.

Yes, you can insert your personal concerns about what constitutes "Best", but without the introduction of other factors to the orignal question, the correct answer remains, "No.".


Bill
_________________________
"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

Steve Martin

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.


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#1873248 - 01/15/08 01:05 PM Re: Is Fire Box a high-end recording interface? [Re: Bill@Welcome Home Studios]
audiorulez Offline
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So then what you are effectively saying is the converters don't matter if the throughput speed if faster.

Thanks, I needed a good laugh!!!!!!!!

I guess we should all go sell our FW interfaces for Magma chassis and $20 consumer cards then.....everyone, OFF TO RADIO SHACK!!!!!!!!!

Bill, please tell me you don't believe that audio quality is "erroniously ascribed to the converters".

LOL this is just too funny!!!!

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#1873276 - 01/15/08 01:30 PM Re: Is Fire Box a high-end recording interface? [Re: audiorulez]
Griffinator Offline
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Here we go...

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#1892585 - 02/15/08 11:38 PM Re: Is Fire Box a high-end recording interface? [Re: Griffinator]
audiofreek Offline
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OK, I think That Bill may have been stating that the front end and filter quality of the converter is a more critical factor,especially when recording at lower sampling rates,any coverter can sound good at 24/192,but the quality of the filters is critical when recording at 24/44.1.


Edited by audiofreek (02/15/08 11:40 PM)

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#1896150 - 02/22/08 07:44 AM Re: Is Fire Box a high-end recording interface? [Re: audiofreek]
audiorulez Offline
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Obviously the better the signal going into the converter, the better the result, however to say that "any converter can sound good at 24/192" IMO is not true. A bad converter is a bad converter at any sample rate.

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#1896836 - 02/23/08 08:31 AM Re: Is Fire Box a high-end recording interface? [Re: audiorulez]
Griffinator Offline
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Well, if you take a look in the Massenburg archives on this very site, and examine the mountain of evidence presented by a certain Nika about converters and high samplerates, you could reasonably conclude that, since a 24/192 ADC pushes the filtering so far out of the audible range, that, truly, any intelligently manufactured converter can sound good at 24/192, or even 24/96 - no matter how cheap - because ultimately the ADC/DAC chips are all coming from the same handful of manufacturers.

Therefore, Bill's assessment isn't far off the mark - that there are dozens of components in an AD/DA box that are more important than the converter chipset itself, and that a "bad sounding converter" does not sound bad because of the choice of AD/DA chips, but because of the design and quality of the rest of its internals.

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#1897245 - 02/24/08 07:26 AM Re: Is Fire Box a high-end recording interface? [Re: Griffinator]
audiorulez Offline
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To clarify, within this discussion my reference to converters refers to the entire AD device from input to output, not just the chipset.

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#1978908 - 08/10/08 01:09 PM Re: Is Fire Box a high-end recording interface? [Re: audiorulez]
Mortal Engines Offline
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I never really understood the difference that converters really could make (I just go 24bit 44.1khz) until I lost use of my Mackie Onyx. I always thought it sounded pretty good and then I upgraded to OSX Leopard (without checking for hardware compatibility...OOOPS!). I found myself buying an Apogee Duet and the difference is pretty much night and day.....Anyone wanna buy an Onyx 1220 (LOL!.....but seriously, I am gonna sell it)?. If and when I purchase another interface I am gonna go ahead and budget about 2 grand for it. There definitely is a difference.

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