USB vs. FIREWIRE (audio interface)

#1
I'm planning to purchase a new audio interface for my MacBook Pro (Logic Studio). I'm torn between getting a USB (M-Audio Fast Track Pro) and a FIREWIRE (M-Audio FW410*) interface. I plan to do simple recordings and I think the 2 inputs of the said hardwares are enough for my needs. I also have plans of sequencing using samples eventually (Kontakt).

Is it necessary for me to have a "fast" (firewire) audio interface if I plan to sequence samples? (Will it even affect my sequencing?) Or would the Fast Track Pro be enough for my needs?

Thanks!

*I know there's a newer model but my budget is limited
**In my area, M-Audio is the most "available" brand. If I'd want Apogee or MOTU, I'd have to order it online which is not yet an option for me.
 
#2
I'm planning to purchase a new audio interface for my MacBook Pro (Logic Studio). I'm torn between getting a USB (M-Audio Fast Track Pro) and a FIREWIRE (M-Audio FW410*) interface. I plan to do simple recordings and I think the 2 inputs of the said hardwares are enough for my needs. I also have plans of sequencing using samples eventually (Kontakt).

Is it necessary for me to have a "fast" (firewire) audio interface if I plan to sequence samples? (Will it even affect my sequencing?) Or would the Fast Track Pro be enough for my needs?

Thanks!

*I know there's a newer model but my budget is limited
**In my area, M-Audio is the most "available" brand. If I'd want Apogee or MOTU, I'd have to order it online which is not yet an option for me.
Did you see my Echo Audiofire 2 for sale for only $100? I honestly believe it has better sound quality than those 2.
 

michaelo

LUG Emeritus
#3
I would not recommend the Fastrack Pro. I purchased one to help out a friend setup a cheap, basic system. It was complete crap and never fully functional. M Audio support simply gave up and offered no help . Very low end gear in my opinion.

Michael.
 

michaelo

LUG Emeritus
#4
Is it necessary for me to have a "fast" (firewire) audio interface if I plan to sequence samples? (Will it even affect my sequencing?) Or would the Fast Track Pro be enough for my needs?
USB and Firewire 400 are similar speeds, however given the choice you are probably best off with firewire rather than USB. Firewire takes the load off the CPU.
 
#5
Firewire is better, but given a budget you can't go wrong with either (assuming the USB version is using USB 2.0).

I've got an M-Audio USB Pre (USB 1.0), and it works OK, but sometimes it just stops working for no reason, and the only way to get it working again is to restart my computer.

I have heard other people having the same problem.

If you can afford it, get a Firewire device, but keep in mind some computers (especially PC's) need a Firewire adapter to make it work. Some Apple laptops don't have Firewire either.
 
#6
FireWire is what you should choose. Only USB1 is class compatible (will work under GNU/Linux without a special driver) but can only support a simple stereo channel. USB2 devices can support more, but there are simply no drivers for those devices yet.

Also there's a big difference between USB 2.0 and FireWire. The USB protocol was designed to be fairly simple and cheap component wise why it need the CPU to help it out. That is not a big problem for most applications and devices the protocol was designed/envisioned for -- but far from ideal for high performance applications.

The FireWire protocol on the other hand do not require any help from the CPU and will mind it's own business.

So check out the FireWire decives supported by FFADO or consider a PCI audio interface (like one from the M-AUDIO Delta series).
This is what I have always told people too but it may be out of date. RME has a new UBB 2 interface called the Fireface UC that has a driver that addresses these issues and early reports are that it is as good, perhaps better, than their Firewire audio interfaces.

However it is way out of the OP's price range.
 
#7
FireWire is what you should choose. Only USB1 is class compatible (will work under GNU/Linux without a special driver) but can only support a simple stereo channel. USB2 devices can support more, but there are simply no drivers for those devices yet.
On the Mac, there are drivers for pretty much everything... Logic doesn't run on Linux, so I'm not sure why that would be a concern.

That being said, Firewire is faster and better in most situations, but tends to cost more unless you can get a deal on something used (like I did). I got a used Alesis Multimix 16 Firewire, which apparently they don't even make anymore because they moved all of their lower end equipment to USB 2.0.
 
#8
I used to love M-Audio audio interfaces many years ago,
but recently found that some entry price interfaces really sound like crap and are not worth the money. I didn't test the interfaces with octane preamps though, should be OK.
IMHO: you'll never have quality problems with the XLR mic amps (octane) inputs, but I found the other inputs (1/4" jack inputs) *poor* compared to other brands.
I never used USB audio, because I have so many USB peripherals that I guess I don't want to risk any conflict, any high cpu use/overload problem. But it might work well for you.

Just my 2 cents.
 

Peter Ostry

Administrator
Staff member
#9
IMHO: you'll never have quality problems with the XLR mic amps (octane) inputs, but I found the other inputs (1/4" jack inputs) *poor* compared to other brands.
In case you refer to the instrument inputs, these are poor on many interfaces. I think you can be happy if you get a good one but otherwise rely on a decent DI-box.

Btw, I moved this thread from the "Lounge" to "Studio Techniques".
 
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