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Firewire or PCI on old computer?

Discussion in 'Converters / Interfaces' started by mellotron, Dec 8, 2007.

  1. mellotron

    mellotron Guest

    I'm pretty much new to computer-based recording.

    It's 2 Ghz and only has 256 MB RAM. I wanna upgrade it to 1 gig.

    I'm planning on ditching my previous Firebox plan. I really have no idea if I'd be better off quality-wise using firewire or with PCI; I just know that PCI would be a lot cheaper for me.

    I might go with the M-Audio Audiophile 24/96 sound card, M-Audio DMP3 mic preamp, 2 Naiant MSH-1's, 1 Studio Projects B1, Presonus HP4 headphone amp, a pair of headphones yet to be determined. Would this setup work if I plan on a solo project of recording acoustic guitar, cello, and piano?

    Also, what software would be good to start out with? I have a little experience using Audacity. I used a Zoom H2 field recorder/USB audio interface for really rough multitracking.

    Any advice, please?
  2. cfaalm

    cfaalm Active Member

    It's hard to argue a plan like that, but let me give you my thoughts.

    PCI is running out of steam at some point in the not so distant future. If you would e.g. buy a new Mac you'd be clean out of PCI-slots today. So what I'm saying is, your upgrade path with a PCI card is limited. Besides the 1GB RAM, you would need a dedicated HDD for audio only.

    If you believe that at some point in time you will want to upgrade your computer then a good FireWire device will go a long way. Qualitywise there is no real difference in going PCI or FW. There are still very good PCI-cards for sale today.

    I will let others comment on the rest of your gearlist, since I am not familiar with any of those.

    If you have experience with Audacity, then by all means use it. It can do 16 channels simultaneous recording. That seems to be enough for what you are doing. You might get another app included with your interface or soundcard, at which point you can learn to work with both.
  3. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Not if you buy a Mac Pro. It has three PCI express slots. Many PCI cards are PCI express compatible. I doubt that PCI expansion slots will ever be totally be phased out.
  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    Most personally, I'd still go with a laptop and external devices these days. Don't know why you want to scrap your original plan? It was a good one.

    You can still accomplish what you want to accomplish with everything being of a smorgasbord like buffet selection. No need to think inside the box anymore. I have 7 currently in use computers. But the 2 laptops with the external stuff, is really getting the work out these days. I have dedicated expensive PCI cards both for audio and video in 2 of my desktop workstations that aren't getting much of a workout anymore. The newer the audio interface, the newer and better your analog-to-digital conversion becomes as well. Today, it's hard to find any that aren't adequate for everyday professional use. Sure, there are esoteric (Place fantasy here) units to purchase but at what cost and why? What is your design goal? Do expect millions of dollars to be involved? Or tens of dollars?

    I've always found it peculiar that some people want the "best audio" equipment but rarely do they drive the best car. Eat at the finest restaurants. Wear the finest clothes. Go to the finest universities. Or vote for the best president. You're talking to a lot of Americans who made the same mistake twice! I didn't vote for the ass hole. Not the second time and certainly not the first time. I'm in to demo crap and so that's how I vote for the finest demo crap available.

    I want the best demo crap in my studio
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  5. mellotron

    mellotron Guest

    Alright, thanks for the info.

    Yeah, I guess quality isn't the issue for me, it's the practicality for starting out and my learning process. I'm mostly looking for a basic setup to get my feet wet. I know a laptop would be less of a headache setting everything up, since I'd have to lug around my PC.

    I have some newb questions just to get things straight, since I'm not in tune with technology these days:

    Is firewire geared more towards laptop users, especially Mac?
    If I get a laptop other than a Mac, would I have to get some sort of adapter to connect a firewire device such as the Firebox? Do I just get an ExpressCard firewire port?

    I really want to learn all I can before jumping into computer recording. Is it important to know the science behind analog and digital before getting into this stuff?
  6. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    No, this is incorrect. Parallel PCI and serial PCI Express (PCIe) are different buses and are incompatible at the slot level. You may be thinking of PCI-X, which is a faster, wider version of PCI and is what you actually get these days as PCI slots. Standard PCI cards can be plugged into PCI-X slots, but not into PCIe. To use PCIe you need cards specially designed for the serial PCIe bus.

    A good proportion of new medium-to-high end PC laptops have FireWire fitted as standard. It wouldn't restrict your choice much to confine yourself to those ones. All laptops have PC-card in its various forms, so a FireWire adaptor is a possible though less convenient route, as you suggest. PCI FireWire adaptors are readily available for desktop computers for those that do not have it already on the motherboard (sometimes not brought out to external connectors).

    Useful, but not absolutely important. Choose the right combination of gear and you don't have to be an expert before you start. That's where this forum can help.
  7. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    "No, this is incorrect. Parallel PCI and serial PCI Express (PCIe) are different buses and are incompatible at the slot level. You may be thinking of PCI-X, which is a faster, wider version of PCI and is what you actually get these days as PCI slots."

    Right you are. Sorry to have caused any confusion.

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