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FireWire/Notebook question

Discussion in 'Converters / Interfaces' started by alias07, Sep 24, 2007.

  1. alias07

    alias07 Guest

    Hey all,

    I'm a newbie here, so please be gentle :D.
    Also, I'm unsure whether I've posted this in the right forum, but please feel free to move me if not.

    Okay, so here is my dilemma:

    I'm about to purchase a notebook computer to accompany my Presonus Firepod for recording purposes. I currently have my eye on the Sony Vaio SZ, 13.3", T7700 2.4Ghz Core 2 Duo, 2GB Ram, 160GB SATA 5400rpm HDD;
    and also the Asus V2S, 14.1", T7500 2.2Ghz Core 2 Duo, 2GB Ram, 160 SATA 5400rpm HDD.
    (In either case, the hard drive will likely be upgraded to an external 7200rpm drive in future).

    Firstly, I'm after some advice in terms of notebooks for recording. What do I need to know before I make my decision/purchase? Any key points, crucial things to note?

    Secondly, the FireWire matter has got me somewhat baffled. Since Mac laptops are generally the only ones that incorporate the 6 pin FireWire port, how does one get around recording with a laptop/system that doesn't have a 6 pin port? The Firepod requires a 6 pin to 6 pin connection. Both laptops I've been looking at have a 4 pin port.

    So far, I know a 4 pin adapter, 6 pin to 4 pin cable, and PCIMCIA FireWire card are options, but I am concerned about audio quality loss, and a decrease in data tranfer rate, performance, etc. Is audio quality compromised in using any of the above? How do you guys record with notebooks? I wouldn't want to compromise the sound of my recordings.. Any advice as to my best option here would be very much appreciated.

    My apologies for the incessant questioning. Though I need to make a decision on a laptop within the next few days, and would like to have a clear grasp on which machine would be best suited.

    Thanks in advace for any help / advice. :)
  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    The extra two pins that a 6-pin FireWire cable has over a 4-pin are used for power. If the equipment that is plugged into the FW port has a method of being powered other than via the FW cable (as the FirePod/FP10 does), then you can happily use a 4-pin to 6-pin cable. There is no difference in the data and hence no difference in the audio quality.

    As for laptop choice, the advice from others on this forum is to look for laptops that have the Texas Instruments FireWire chipset, at least for Windows-based machines.

    Also, you should be looking for laptops that have at least two FireWire ports. Plug your audio interface into one of them and an external FW hard drive into the other. Use this external drive from the outset exclusively for audio, and don't be tempted to record on to the internal drive.
  3. tlenthe

    tlenthe Guest

    For those of us in the PC/Windows world (and only have ONE firewire port :cry:), are there any thoughts about USB 2.0 external disks vs. firewire?

    I'm assuming that the biggest benefit is having the data storing activities on a seperate data link from the audio/control, correct?

    Thanks! - Ted
  4. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Yes, the main point is to get the audio data storage on to a separate drive from that used by the OS for swapping virtual memory and other OS-related activities.

    That said, USB can have more latency and throughput issues than a good FireWire implementation, so I would expect an external FireWire drive to be able to handle a larger number of channels than a USB drive before dropouts and other problems manifest themselves. However, for moderate channel counts, external USB is fine and a lot more predictable than recording to the system disk.
  5. alias07

    alias07 Guest

    Hey everyone, sorry for the delay- work has been keeping me rather busy.

    Boswell, thanks for your response. I feel better about knowing that using an alternate connection won't impact on the audio quality.

    Though as far as purchasing a notebook with a Texas Intruments chipset goes, I'm at a loss. I haven't heard of a notebook with a T I chipset.. A little more info would certainly be handy.. And, mind giving me a few examples of notebooks that have this?? The notebooks I mentioned aren't suitable choices, in your honest opinion?

    I have yet to see 2 firewire ports on a Windows notebook, as 'tlenthe' mentioned, and was wondering whether the PCIMCIA card (which would have 2 firewire ports) would be the better option then? Or does using an external card influence speed/quality?

    As I said before, your help is greatly appreciated..

  6. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    I think I would do two things from here.

    (1) Search these forums for the author "ADK Audio". Scott is much more knowledgeable than I am about suitable laptops for audio. He has posted several detailed and helpful replies to other people in your position. Checkout also the following thread: (Dead Link Removed)

    (2) If that doesn't help, post a separate enquiry in the "DAWs and Computing" forum.
  7. VonRocK

    VonRocK Active Member

    Don't forget to look into Apple.
  8. cfaalm

    cfaalm Active Member

    Forget two FW ports. Make sure it has FW and eSATA. You can hook up the external audio drive to the eSATA port and your soundcard to the FW.

    An external audio drive is a must have on a laptop. The internal drive will not satisfy you in the end, though it can handle a couple of tracks. Just don't expect too much from it. Also, an internal drive is usually only 60-80GB. For an audio drive you should be looking at around 300GB 7200rmp 16MB cache etc.

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