Firewire Vs. Usb
Shredly
May 19 2010, 01:49 PM
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Im using a crappy little pandora px5d usb. My macbook has a firewire port. I only record with garageband because im not that knowledgeable and its easy. Should my next interface be firewire or should I just stick with USB?

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Saoirse O'Shea
May 19 2010, 03:36 PM
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For most general prosumer use USB2 (not USB 1 or USB1.1) is usually the better option if the quality of the preamp and AD/DA of the fw and the USB are equal...

Generally firewire is a better option if and when you have to chain several devices together - and this tbh doesn't happen that often.

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Ivan Milenkovic
May 22 2010, 05:39 PM
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Any is good, if you aim for basic purpose recording, USB is quite enough.

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Bogdan Radovic
May 22 2010, 06:42 PM
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I think USB would be much easier and convenient option (and will work equally well!)...

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Saoirse O'Shea
May 22 2010, 07:24 PM
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Just a bit more why I've suggested that at prosumer that USB is generally the better option if pre-amps etc are all equivalent...

Technically prosumer firewire audio can be prone to a form of jitter because it uses an isochronous mode for audio data transmission since most are based on the IEC61883-6 standard. This presumes that clock info will be embedded and extracted with a PLL to get phase lock from the stream. To some extent many manufacturers attempt to get around/negate this by using a PLL based on a digital phase detector like the Philips 74HC4046 but these suffer from a dead zone where the phase detector has yet to register signal. It's only the newer (and more expensive) Philips 74HC9046 that can operate as a PLL without a dead zone. For anyone who's interested there is a more technical explanation here.

It tends to only be the higher end professional firewire devices (think Prism Orpheus etc) that can reliably extract clock info from a firewire isochronous transmission. I don't have an Orpheus here to open up at the moment but I'd assume it's got the 9046 PLL circuit. That's one reason why prosumer firewire audio often really benefits by being slaved to an external master clock device. There's also a comparison of various external master clocks in this month's (June) issue of Sound on Sound - to over-simplify the article a bit these provided most benefit on the low end consumer/prosumer devices as per IEC61883-6.

This is of course isn't to say that prosumer firewire is bad for audio just that it can have jitter issues. For some this may be important for others it may not...

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Ivan Milenkovic
May 23 2010, 09:26 PM
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That's a great expert info, thanks tony. Didn't know all these details. I will read the article a bit, sounds interesting! smile.gif

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Todd Simpson
May 27 2010, 08:18 AM
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Wow. That is impressive. Well done! Who knew?

Todd

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