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Card reader interface into iMac

Discussion in 'Recording' started by mryeffe, Feb 5, 2002.

  1. mryeffe

    mryeffe Guest

    My son is thinking of buying a combined digital I/O and A/D device so he can do some serious home recording with an iMac. One product he likes has a memory card interface identical to those that are used with digital cameras. The product is made to be used with Powerbooks that have built-in card readers, and the actual output is a card on the end of a cable. But for a few bucks he can get a card reader that goes directly into the firewire port in his iMac. The device's manufacturer doesn't know if there's any slowdown in throughput from card to firewire (firewire devices typically run at 400mbps). Any help along these lines would be appreciated.
  2. Opus2000

    Opus2000 Well-Known Member

    Not sure what you are asking but if you are asking if a card reader can be put into the multi-track device..no, I highly doubt the device is meant for that type of application.
    Your best bet is to get a USB audio device or a firewire device..
    USB deivces such as Tascam US428..best one out there for the buck
    Firewire device such as Motu 828..but not too good on ASIO drivers personally
    otherwise try and let us know what it is you are asking us
  3. mryeffe

    mryeffe Guest

    My fault for not giving you clear information. What I'm talking about is Echo Digital Audio's MONA, the model made expressly for powerbooks. I've since learned that the input protocol is Cardbus which is simply a portal to the SCSI bus. In other words, there is apparently no way to input from MONA to Firewire at all. There are USB adapters around but why bother with that?

    Now, what's your beef with the ASIO drivers?

    Thanks for your prompt reply to my original post.

  4. Opus2000

    Opus2000 Well-Known Member

    Ahhh!! The Mona!! Great unit!! Havent worked with the PCMCIA version..not a laptop user(only because I dont have one :p )
    Anyhue, the portal is for the PCMCIA slot..or as they call it..a Card Bus..samething..it's not really SCSI and it's not for Firewire unless there is an adapter for the card reader as you were saying...if there is a Firewire reader then that might do..Firewire is 400Megabits(not Bytes) per second so it comes out to 50MegaBytes per second..which is fast enough to handle it..USB is only 12MegaBits per second and can only handle a tiny bit over 1MegaByte per second which really isnt enough to handle that much...only 24/48 at 4 channels in at once.
    Once USB 2.0 comes out that will be a different story but your Imac wont have that option!
    I guess it all depends on the drivers that the card reader comes with..so I would have to say, try it out, if it dont work, it dont work and you should then return the card reader!!
    Interesting idea tho..if you try it let us know!!
  5. mryeffe

    mryeffe Guest

    Alright now! We're on the same page. That's my question to start with...would using a PCMCIA reader into firewire...and there are such beasts, take full advantage of firewire's 400 mbs? Or would I experience pretty much the equivalent of a USB throughput? Obviously, I must be the only person in the universe asking this question as everyone else seems to be busy getting on with the work they bought a computer to do, mostly, it seems, through SCSI interfaces. (-;
  6. Opus2000

    Opus2000 Well-Known Member

    Yes, I think you are indeed the only one to ask this question...but a good one indeed!!
    I like the rare ones!! Makes me actually think/work for this answer. As I said before..it really depends on the device and the drivers and whether the audio software will recognize it or not. That is the question..to be recognized or not to be recognized!!
    If the device has ASIO drivers then you are 100% golden and it will take advantage of the 400Megabits per second transfer rate! Gigafire(which is the 800Megabits per second data transfer) is supposedly to be out at the end of this year..that will be amazing!! 100MegaBytes per second!! God damn..thats fast!!
    Opus :D
  7. knightfly

    knightfly Active Member

    Hey, Jeff - couple of clarifying points, one question, a smidgen of false hope, just a dash of "Oregon-o" (my moss-laden hangout of choice)

    First, the PCI bus in PC's and Macs, is spec'd as a 32 bit bus. PCI stands for Peripheral Connect Interface. Although it is a parallel architecture as is SCSI (Small Computer Systems Interface), they are not compatible other than plugging a SCSI interface card into a PCI bus slot so SCSI peripherals can be used.

    PCMCIA (which stands for Personal Computer Memory Card International Association, which is why everyone now just calls it PC card - originated as a 16 bit parallel interface which coincided with the (then) 16 bit half of the PCI bus that paralleled ISA card slots. PCI, when it was introduced, just added 16 more data lines to the main motherboard bus, and eventually upped the speed of that bus from 8 mHz to 33 mHz, where it is now. (The exception to that is the brand new, hardly available, 64 bit/66 mHz PCI slots just now emerging on some motherboards.)

    Anyway, there are two protocols and three sizes (possibly four)of PC cards now, some of which are being phased out. The term Cardbus refers to the later incarnations of PCMCIA, and is 32 bit. At a bus speed of 33 mHz, you would have a bus thru-put of 132 MB per second. The Cardbus spec also supports full bus-mastering, so a true "cardbus" device plugged into a laptop should be able to both "be da boss", and run at firewire's full data rate of 50 MB per second without breaking a sweat. I was thinking just yesterday that if my own laptop was newer and faster, that a good experiment would be to plug in one of Maxtor's 80 GB 7200 rpm external firewire drives thru a cardbus/firewire adapter, and see how many tracks Samplitude required to choke it to death... Maybe when I get a Dell 8100 - This could make a valuable addition to a "road-warrior" machine, since I have yet to see any laptop (at least in the PC world) that has a faster than 4500 rpm hard drive.

    The question: You mentioned that PCMCIA reader/firewire adapters are out there - my preliminary scratchings didn't uncover anything, but if you have a link to said beasts I would be interested. I'm pretty good at reading between the lines, between the sheets, propped up on the couch, etc. - maybe I could go from your link to something resembling "aha!" Who knows, with all the stuff I'm angling on for my new studio, it might come in handy for me as well as for your son.

    The bottom line - As Opus puts it, it'll still come down to drivers. If you talk to enough of Echo's tech support people, you may stumble across someone who's actually doing what you want to do - a similar fluke happened to me about a month ago. Otherwise, "ya pays yer money and ya takes yer chances".. Meaning, buy it only if the store will let you bring it back if you find out it doesn't work with your stuff. Get it spelled out in writing, or you'll end up taking it back to the store and the one guy who "promised" has taken a roady job with Barry Manilow, realized his mistake, and committed suicide two days before.... Hope some of my ramblings were a help instead of a "huh?" - Steve
  8. mryeffe

    mryeffe Guest

    Thanks for your thoughts, knightfly (are you a Donald Fagan fan?) The card reader I saw is in the MacConnection (paper) catalog on page 3. Made by Maxtor it takes Compactflash into Firewire. But a big question is the drivers? These devices are made to work with AV and still digital images. Anyway, what we want is a working setup, not to be pioneers in adapting retail products to uses they were never made for. So it looks like MOTU might be the best solution. I just can't imagine anyone actually buys and is happy with any of the USB devices.

    Oh, yes, about Oregon-o. I'm moving there as soon as I can sell my Newton, MA house. West Coast: get ready!
  9. Opus2000

    Opus2000 Well-Known Member

    Actually Jeff....
    The Tascam US428 is a great product...USB audio, Midi and controller surface.
    plenty o people buy that and are extremely happy with it!
    Just thoght I'd throw that in the loop...
    And remember
    PCMCIA...People Cant Memorize Computer Industry Acronyms!!
    Ha ha ha ha
  10. knightfly

    knightfly Active Member

    Hey, Jeff - Hope ya like rain - but then again, 3 of the 4 seasons in Mass suck too... If you end up within reasonable driving distance, maybe we can get together and dring some beer, watch the moss grow, play some "gweeter", (my kid's term) But NOT in that order - the only liquids I allow in my studio are 99% IsoPropyl and Xylene, and those are both in flip-top self-pumping lab bottles -

    Hopefully the MOTU stuff will work for you - Scuttlebutt says they like Mac's a lot better than they do PC's. Also, I think I saw a driver download for the 828's that allows multiple 828's to run on one system (just in case you want to expand later) It certainly wouldn't be a bandwidth problem, their other stuff claims up to 3 "boxes" on one PCI-324 card - not firewire, just uses the same components with different protocol, similar speed...

    With Win98SE or later, USB was OK - Lotta people seem to like the US-428. Maybe more as a control surface, I'm not sure. The one difference in the I/O department is, what if you want to separately mic a drum kit, or record live with multiple mic's ? You didn't mention if your son has a band, if so it would be really easy to outgrow 2 or 4 inputs. You could use an outboard mixer, but that wouldn't let you record multiple DISCREET tracks simultaneously like an 8 or 12 input soundcard would. (This would allow you to record in the same room with the band, and have a lot more control over the mix without having to tweak a couple of levels on the mixer and re-record the whole thing until it sounds right on "tape" - This has been one of the bug-a-boo's of working without a dedicated engineer in a separate sound-proof control room with his input coming only from speakers, instead of being in the room with NO IDEA of what is actually being recorded until you play it back)

    Man, this little bitty window sure makes it easy to get lost and ramble when you can't see everything at once (that's my excuse anyway) maybe I'll start writing posts in Wordpad and pasting them when I'm thru...

    You're right about giving up on the wierd interface, unless your goal is to become a "guru of the arcane" - If the goal is making music, pick something that works out of the box, plug it in and BLAST, man...

    Yeah, Fagen is cool - plus the name had a nice sound to it, plus the knight thing has some history for me, plus (Now the important part) the domain was available (note the term "was") so once I get the time to configure things and get my kid to help with the webpage design, my email will become "steve@knightfly.com" - for now, it's knight001@compuserve.com -

    Opus, stay loose - I knew there was a "truer" version of PCMCIA, just "couldn't remember it"... (hehehe)(So, do girls laugh "shesheshe" ?)Gotta go spend-spend-spend - just wish I could find a way to route the bill-bill-bill to Bill Gates... Steve
  11. Opus2000

    Opus2000 Well-Known Member

    Steve...I think I'll have to say you are completely out of your mind!!
    You humor is making my co-workers look at me with strange concerns that I'm psychotic or schitzophrenic(sp?)(Hey I'm an audio geek not an englilsh major!!) as I laugh out loud for no apparent reason while reading your posts!!
    I think we've nailed this one down for Jeff to make up his mind in one way or another!
    Peace love and lots o good music!
  12. mryeffe

    mryeffe Guest

    Yes, you two have supplied info I couldn't find elsewhere. Thanks for that!

    This recording effort will get underway by recording single tracks and then overdubbing, overdubbing, overdubbing.

    Ben (my son) has a residential basement for a band room so the notion of an engineer behind the glass is way off in the future, if this project gets him going, that is.

    Thanks again, guys.


    JCosloy Design
    (print designer to the plebes)
  13. mryeffe

    mryeffe Guest

    Hey knightfly: I'm moving to Metro Portland...northeast or north most likely. I just returned after a month, most of the time waiting for my granddaugher to be born.


    Stalking the guitar shops...much better prices for vintage instruments than in the East. Found a fretless electric bass I just had to have...but had to restrain myself. I'm now glad I did. $1200. is awfully handy to have around and a guitar is not readily liquidable.

    As for the moss...yeah, more moss than I've ever seen in my life. Every waking hour has been 4:20. Got to cool it on that too.


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