Firewire audio pricecrash

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Tubetec

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Id been on the look out for a  Firewire audio interface for a good while , some are still holding their value remarkably well despite compatibility issues with modern hardware  ,
I happened upon a TC electronic Konnekt24d , looked like an interesting box , all the standard stuff 'you want from a computer sound interface like  2 mic pres, four line inputs ,four line outs all balanced ,spdif/optical/adat /midi.

What this unit and other units in the TC Konnekt range have is a built in DSP which can be preset to work without a computer attached , the exact processing depends on model , in the case of the 24D you get an instance of the TC Fabric R and Fabric C , which are reverb and eq/three band compression plugins  , these are usable in realtime ,or very close to real time , good enough for live performance  , the set up menu and presets are accesed via a pc or mac based TC NEAR control panel software , and you can save the units routing and soft controls to one of three memory presets for stand alone opperation .

Other units in the Konnekt range can also co exist on the same firewire network ,effectively operating in parallel in terms of processing power, either within a daw or standalone  . When used with MAC the native fireware port makes life easy , its a bit more work to get it going via Windows , and there was some weeping ,cussin' ,knashing of teeth and pulling hair to get my 24D to talk to the legacy pc and OS ,but the blue Firewire led is solid now  everything seems to be working very well . Drivers and software for the Konnekt range were maintained up until a few years ago so you can expect compatibility with modern windows , I found for windows Xp ,version 2.5 of the TCNEAR program was as high as I could go or Fabric C/R functionality was lost . Theres a few different flavours based on the same basic box  from TC including Konnekt 24d, Konnect Live, and impact twin, all dedicated to  live performance usage .

Something like the Konnekt 6 desktop could be a really smart way of integrating standalone eq/effects and recording/vst capabillity into a Tube mixer project ,


Below you see the Fabric R reverb, looks like it was intended for touch screen operation , 



 

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Bo Deadly

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Firewire is on the way out near as I can tell. For long term usability I would think it would be better to use whatever the most popular connector is right now or is going to be in the near future which seems to be USB 3 or maybe USB-C (which is compatible with thunderbolt). Otherwise, with Firewire you'll have to use some screwy adapter.
 

Tubetec

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Hi Squares,
Of course I didnt buy one of these new , I just picked it up second hand for small money .
I'll probably be using this with a dedicated laptop in my workshop for test and maybe some small recording jobs now and again . I dont need or want modern os ,software or plugins ,just a simple box that doesnt have glitchy sound will do fine .
I knew way to many people who went bankrupt trying to keep pace with 'state of the art' computer recording over the years to be bothered trying to keep up .
 

cyrano

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I see only one thing keeping me from buying a TC Electronic, even on the cheap: drivers.

I believe their update range isn't very wide. Of course, that isn't a problem, as long as you are willing to run the older system, if needed. And all of it is viewed from the Mac side of things. Dunno 'bout Windows.
 

ruffrecords

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I think you can get firewire to USB converters so maybe that would be a way to take advantage of the firewire price crash.

Cheers

ian
 

iampoor1

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ruffrecords said:
I think you can get firewire to USB converters so maybe that would be a way to take advantage of the firewire price crash.

Cheers

ian

A decent firewire card is 15-20$ if you have an open PCI or PCI-X slot on your computer. Given how finicky some firewire interfaces are even with legitimate chipsets, I would imagine a firewire to USB dongle would just be asking for trouble.
 

ruffrecords

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iampoor1 said:
A decent firewire card is 15-20$ if you have an open PCI or PCI-X slot on your computer. Given how finicky some firewire interfaces are even with legitimate chipsets, I would imagine a firewire to USB dongle would just be asking for trouble.

But the only option? if you only have a laptop.

Cheers

ian
 

cyrano

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ruffrecords said:
I think you can get firewire to USB converters so maybe that would be a way to take advantage of the firewire price crash.

Cheers

ian

Yes, Ian, there is one (or was?) USB to Firewire adapter out there. It only works for a limited number of camera's. Mainly early Sony video camera's. It does not work for anything else. Not even a plain old USB HD.

Unfortunately, all the others fall into the "should not exist" category. There are very cheap cables that just connect the pins, with sometimes disastrous results. Connect a USB harddisk to a Mac that has 15V on the FW port and most harddisks won't survive it.

If anybody knows of any purpose for these cables, please tell me. I've been hearing about this as an adapter for a very long time, but, so far, I've only seen damaged gear and confused buyers.
 

Tubetec

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Im sceptical about those simple usb to firewire cables , it cant really work without extra electronics in there.

I happened to have an older Lenovo thinkpad lying around , has Fireware 400 on it but using the Ricoh chipset ,not Texas instruments which is the prefered option  .
I took a bit of a gamble on being able to get the unit to work , it payed off in my case , and I think its safe enough to assume Lenovo T series with Firewire will work using any of TC electronics FW units . A Lenovo T420 sells secondhand now for around 100 euros , its a really solid laptop and with a fresh install of Windows and some basic hardware upgrades ,like memory and SSD ,you'll have a pretty good dedicated music pc by anyones standards .

An older mac mini would of course be another option  ,native firewire would make life easy .

One thing that caught me out setting up the firewire connection to the TC was ,I hadnt remembered to disengage the firewall ,so my device wasnt visible to software , once I had the proper laptop drivers in , Tc driver/software  and fire port open ,it works great.

Im currently using a lenovo T61 with windows xp to run the Konnekt 24D , it works well ,but  Xp wont make the best of the dual cores and has memory limitations , so I'll probably move to Win7 64 bit at some point .  Anyways lots of good value in older computers and sound interfaces out there ,but do be aware Firewire can be fiddly to set up . 

There is of course other options like a firewire to cardbus adapter for laptops ,but again you need to check compatibility first ,or it could end up a waste of time and money .

I was going to add in relation to Cyrano's point  , I can see the driver situation in Mac os is quite different ,things very much go past their sell by date due to the way it updates .
I think the situation with TC electronic and windows drivers looks good , there certainly are people using TC Konnect range of units sucessfully with Windows 10 , with the caveat of having suitable firewire conectivity .
 

iampoor1

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ruffrecords said:
But the only option? if you only have a laptop.

Cheers

ian

Most older laptops have an expansion slot that you can put a proper FireWire card in. Pcmia I think it's called. Otherwise..i guess you are out of luck, as usb to FireWire cables are just asking for trouble.
 

cyrano

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Tubetec said:
I happened to have an older Lenovo thinkpad lying around , has Fireware 400 on it but using the Ricoh chipset ,not Texas instruments which is the prefered option  .

Even Ti has a few chipsets that don't work too well for audio these days. Ricoh should be fine. I have an old Toshiba with that chipset ad it works fine. And AFAIK, Ricoh only made one series of FW chipsets.

Im currently using a lenovo T61 with windows xp to run the Konnekt 24D , it works well ,but  Xp wont make the best of the dual cores and has memory limitations , so I'll probably move to Win7 64 bit at some point .  Anyways lots of good value in older computers and sound interfaces out there ,but do be aware Firewire can be fiddly to set up . 

You betcha!

I'm typing this on my "new" 2008 Macbook Pro. No speedstepping, no hyperthreading. Just works.
 

Tubetec

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I said Id follow up the story with how I got on with the TC Konnekt software on various OS.

So I partitioned and dual booted the  computer ,  Xp and 7(64),
It took a little time to figure out which version of the driver worked best with which OS ,
I settled on Tcnear V2.41 for the XP install and v3.3 worked best with Win7 , it was only these software revisions allowed me access to running the Fabric R and C plugins from the DAW ,and also allowed me to use both the TC M40 reverb and another resonant filter plugin while the hardware is connected .

I did encounter a few difficulties clearing out old versions of the TC driver ,so I wound up using a handy little app called driverstore explorer to delete depricated drivers from the system , once I freshly installed the correct version for each OS its
working great , even when I restart the machine and switch from one OS to another , the firewire led on the Konnekt simply blinks for a few seconds before reconnecting under the other drivers on Win7 , there isnt as much as a click bang or pop from the audio outs of the card .

Xp, as you would imagine takes a major hit the moment you try and do any  processing , but in terms of basic playback or record function I think the kernel is way less busy than Win7 , so even though the throughput is an order of magnitude less than 64bit ,theres also less chance of OS housekeeping tasks tying up processor time to the point audio drops outs . There is a DPC latency test app along with the TC software , its quite obvious XP makes many many times less writes/reads from the hard drive than Windows7 , There are of course other things you can do with an Xp installation to stop needless system tasks forever  ,which in turn means less chance of anything internal to windows causing glitches.

I got to try out  the standalone capabillity  of the DSP Fabric R and C plugins , astonishingly good sound quality ,especially at 96khz , where your limited on one instance of either reverb or eq/dyn . The lack of any delay or  extraneous digital artifacting is instantly noticeable ,you feel like your using a proper standalone effects unit ,which you are .

I guess now I have the driver issues sorted out it kind of opens the doors to connecting other TC konnekt  gear , they can be easily daisy chained as each unit has a pair of firewire connectors , probably safe to assume anything I connect in that loop now will pop up in TCnear without an issue .

I'll re run the entire experiment soon using an SSD drive ,
I also want to try one of the ultra low latency linux distributions ,
I think the Konnekt interface might be visible to linux ,but only for basic input output functionality , might be a case of configuring  the internal routing of the interface in windows with the TC  software , then rebooting into linux to actually record on an ultra stable/low latency platform.

Ultimately the latency issue ,with direct monitoring set up properly is not a major problem  for the performer or the engineer , as far as seeing  DAW processing that does'nt  glitch out , I dont think I've  ever seen it done .  I think even having a mouse connected to a pc thats processing audio is a  liabillity ,if it needs to update the screen at  just the wrong moment your audio could end up down the priority list and you'll get a splat sound.

Id be interested to hear what other Linux versions people have used as a basis for  a multitrack recording  and processing pc.















 

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