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Question for PC Users: USB v. Firewire v. PCI


KTempo

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Let me start off by apologizing in advanced if this question has been posted before but I really need help with choosing the right set-up: PCI vs. Firewire vs. USB. I would like to know what are you using to record your audio?

 

I was in ZZounds site yesterday searching for compatible audio interfaces and/or bundle package deals and such because I need something better to record audio back into my computer. My AMD computer has the Via chipset, Asus K7 motherboard, Sound Blaster Audigy 1394, 40G HD @7200, running Windows ME. I was considering either the Roland VM3100Pro Bundle Package deal, Terratec, ST Audio C-Port, MOTU 828 Firewire, or M-Audio products. I want something that won't drain my CPU (and have at least 4 multiple recording ins at once, digital ins/outs, monitoring, mic preamps, etc). And it doesn't matter if it's PCI, Firewire, or USB as long as it and it's drivers will work properly on my computer.

 

Any suggestions for something other than the brands listed above is welcomed.

 

Thanks.

 

Kim :(

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Originally posted by ktempo7of9@aol.com:

I really need help with choosing the right set-up: PCI vs. Firewire vs. USB. I would like to know what are you using to record your audio?

 

(

PCI, Firewire and USB are totally different. Once you understand the differences, I think you will find your decision becomes a lot simpler.

 

PCI is an internal computer bus. It interfaces cards to the system bus. So any PCI card has to physically sit in your computer.

 

USB is a LOW SPEED bus for things like keyboards. It is totally unsuited to pro audio. It is just adequate for consumer grade audio. There is something called USB 2 coming out which is much faster and will be a plausible system for real audio applications. However, almost nothing is available at present.

 

Firewire is a newer replacement for SCSI. It gives you high speed data transfer. It looks promising for digital audio and well priced gear is starting to appear. However you will need a firewire (PCI!) card for your computer. Last time I looked, these run you about the same as a low end ("semi-pro" audio set up (around $500). That was some time ago so they have probably come down in price.

 

If I were setting up a new system now I would look seriously at Firewire. I think it is the way of the future. However I developed software for the Atari ST once, so my judgement in such things can prove unreliable!

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Byrdman--Thanks for your help but I do know the difference between the three.

 

All I wanted to know from other PC Users is what working for them--that's all. I guess I didn't state that too clearly. I know that firewire is the newest thing and should be worth the investment. Being a MOTU product--is it going to work properly on a PC? For those who are using the 828, is it working for you? You know, things like that!

 

If only I can test all three to see which one I like best...

 

I've read other user reviews of the products that I listed but they really didn't say that their computer is AMD or Pentium 4 or whatever. They basically said was that their OS is either Win 2000, 98SE, ME or that they're using a Mac or basically, stating that it's a great product or it's terrible. Since I know the problems of Via--which one of the three would be the better choice? Or would it even play a role--only the OS?

 

I'll just take my chances with something and call it a day!

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One thing to consider. Many people end up using a firewire adapter that goes into the PCI bus. If you have to do this you might as well go direct to the PCI bus, otherwise you just add another link to the chain.

 

Robert

This post edited for speling.
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I use an 828. It's great, but I'm using it on a Mac. I've heard that MOTU drivers have some issues on Wintel machines, but I don't know any more than that. They may be nothing. Check on the Dave Frangioni forum for more details.

 

I like the whole concept of Firewire, esp. the fact that you don't have to reboot the computer to turn on a peripheral.

 

I've also used a MOTU 2408 PCI interface in the past. The 2408 handles a few more channels and works well for format conversion (between ADAT and TDIF, for example), but the 828 is easier to use and it sounds better. You can plug an instrument of a mic right into the 828 for a streamlined setup.

The Black Knight always triumphs!

 

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Thanks Dan. I know I heard the same problem with the compatibility issue in Wintel and MOTU 828 (the drivers). Has anybody experience this problem with their Wintel and the 828 setup??

 

K.C.--The 828 is the only Firewire I/O recording device I know of. I maybe wrong or there maybe some in the makings--but so far, MOTU has this market.

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Other than the need to go mobile, I'm not sure why anyone would want to use FireWire on a PC. It's kludgey, with the possible exception of the DV camera implementation on Sony Vaio notebooks. A PCI card inherently has much higher bandwidth. I suppose if you had enough other things on your PCI bus (plug-in accelerators, SCSI card, etc, extra video card, etc) there could be some appeal to giving your audio its own doorway.

 

RME cards have a great rep on the PC side, and do not have a problem with Via chipsets.

Stephen Fortner

Principal, Fortner Media

Former Editor in Chief, Keyboard Magazine

Digital Piano Consultant, Piano Buyer Magazine

 

Industry affiliations: Antares, Arturia, Giles Communications, MS Media, Polyverse

 

 

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Thanks SteveFortner!!

 

I'll take your suggestion into consideration. I'm still undecided. It's between the MOTU 828, M-Audio Delta 1010 and the Roland VM3100Pro Studio Bundle Pack. I'll look into the RME cards. Thanks!

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Originally posted by SteveFortner:

Other than the need to go mobile, I'm not sure why anyone would want to use FireWire on a PC. It's kludgey, with the possible exception of the DV camera implementation on Sony Vaio notebooks.

Really? I'm sold on it. I don't know about music apps, but for video editing, FireWire is great. I have a 1GHz Athlon with built in FireWire support, and I've never had any problems with it. Before this system, I was in breakout box hell. Audio/Video sync problems, frame dropping, etc. are a thing of the past.

 

I have trouble believing music needs more bandwidth than full motion video. I don't really know, though. Just a hunch.

 

BTW, I know this is a keyboard forum, but I'd just like to give props to the guys at Sonic Foundry. I can't say enough good things about Vegas Video. Works as advertised.

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Originally posted by Bubbajazz:

Originally posted by Byrdman:

However I developed software for the Atari ST once, so my judgement in such things can prove unreliable!

Hey, don't knock the ST. I'm still using mine for MIDI sequencing.

 

What software?[/QB]

A Compiler called FTL Modula-2.
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Originally posted by Rabid:

One thing to consider. Many people end up using a firewire adapter that goes into the PCI bus. If you have to do this you might as well go direct to the PCI bus, otherwise you just add another link to the chain.

 

Robert

Why doing so can be a win is as follows. With a standard bus, the drivers inside your computer should be standard drivers. The software that comes with the audio device should run using standard drivers.

 

If the firewire device cannot do this, but requires you to install special drivers for your firewire device, avoid it. You are no better off than with a PCI audio card. What you are hoping to achieve by going the firewire route is expandibility and forwards compatibility with OS changes. Many people with older audio cards (me, for instance) cannot upgrade to XP because the drivers do not exist.

 

With a properly done firewire system, you should be able to upgrade your os, and you should be able to add multiple devices. The latter is a bear with PCI because of the shortage of IRQs and because some of the audio card drivers are not written to handle IRQ sharing. You cannot afford to add a PCI card per device.

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