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What is the difference between a firewire interface and USB?

Discussion in 'Converters / Interfaces' started by gwin_7, Mar 2, 2010.

  1. gwin_7

    gwin_7 Active Member

    Which one is better and why?

    I am curious as to if a USB interface would be fine for what I am looking for. I just want something rock solid that does not have any audio drop outs or clicks and pops. Not looking to do tons of simultaneous tracks. Maybe 3 at once at most.

    thanks for the help
     
  2. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    For three tracks at once, then EMU makes some good USB interfaces. USB is neither a bidirectional or controllable interface. It works in bursts which is why for larger track count interfaces firewire is the preferred external method. Any other device can come along in the queue and hog up the connection delaying the audio. To counteract this often buffer settings are higher than those found on an equivalent firewire interface. Of course it's hard to compare apples and apples.

    Now, things have come a long way since the beginning interfaces, and where once USB was almost synonymous with "beginner" and "poor quality" that is not necessarily the case. That said, the majority of USB interfaces are still crap. The quality USB interfaces are more expensive but that quality translates into less headaches in the long run. EMU, RME, apparently Cakewalk/Roland now are pretty good. Lexicon, Motu, also make some decent things. You really want to minimize any other USB connections as they can cause issues. You also want to make sure computer is pretty much audio only. The more things you do with the computer the less you can rely on it's stability when you want it-when recording. It's better to have even a used netbook for multipurpose use. Or if you tweak hard enough use the netbook for recording and save your main machine for multipurpose.

    Truly, the most rock solid interfaces are PCI or PCIe just because of how they plug into the computer.
     
  3. gwin_7

    gwin_7 Active Member

    Thanks for the response. Would a PCI have less problems with drivers as well? Or is that pretty much the same can of worms.
     
  4. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Companies that write good drivers are typically the ones that make good interfaces of whatever type. The best company bar none in my opinion is RME in the driver category. Alesis is one of the worst. Digi is somewhere in the middle. Again this is my opinion and thank god I don't have to write the driver code for all the many hardware variations and try to make it idiot proof.
     
  5. Johnny_B

    Johnny_B Guest

    PCI and PCIe are both preferred (and is as better choice) more-so than Firewire, although
    you will pay a premium for an RME FW interface because they just KNOW how to write superior code.
    Even RME's USB 2.0 spec interface rivals most FW interfaces due to their architecture.

    If the lowest possible latencies are a requisite when you record? Go PCI.
    A PCI card sits directly on the bus, as opposed to say a USB or FW device that needs a cable
    and usually a break out box in order to function. This adds latency.

    If not? You can still save money and go FW.
    I'd heard issues from Tascam, to even Motu and RME.

    I feel most issues are user error.
    Reason being is I have a FW based interface...it runs well in a 64bit environment.
    People have had issues with it but it could be a number of issues.

    If you don't need mic pres?
    If budget permits? An RME PCI card is a smart buy.

    E-mu makes PCI based interfaces that work well and for their low cost offer superb
    performance for the money.

    1616m I think has the same converters as an HD protools setup.
    Check it out.
     
  6. gwin_7

    gwin_7 Active Member

    Really appreciate the advice. I will look into those.
     

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