USB or firewire soundcard?
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  1. #1
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    Default USB or firewire soundcard?

    i was looking for a soundcard and the first question i asked myself was: would i go for USB or firewire?
    here are some arguments...

    pro's for USB:
    - bus powered on a Mac or Windows laptop
    - easy and not so expensive

    con's for USB:
    - ?? bigger latency than firewire ??

    pro's for firewire:
    - lower latency

    con's for firewire
    - if a get a windows laptop, i need the power supply because of the 4-pin firewire


    can anyone give me other arguments for USB of firewire?

  2. #2
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    get usb, imo, doesnt make a huge diff in terms of the sound. USB 2.0 is fucking fast. Firewire is kind of better for some things (video or mass data transfer mostly). Firewire is just a bitch as most PCs dont have it. Not to mention having to use a power adapter is a bitch.

  3. #3
    Dr. Bento BentoSan's Avatar
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    Firewire has lower latency than usb thats correct.
    If you have a firewire-400 port you will need a power adapter.

    I am pretty sure if you did a blind test of a decent USB vs its firewire competitor you would have a hard time telling the latencies apart, thats if you could tell the difference at all.

    However... generally speaking firewire devices seem to contain higher level quality components. Digital to Analogue converters seem to be more or less standard across the board when you get into USB or Firewire units. The Analogue to Digital converters are generally much better in firewire devices than their USB counterparts.

    You should really research any device you wish to purchase so you know exactly what you are getting before it lands at your door, USB or firewire.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by BentoSan View Post
    I am pretty sure if you did a blind test of a decent USB vs its firewire competitor you would have a hard time telling the latencies apart, thats if you could tell the difference at all.
    so if you have an the Edirol UA 25 (USB) and the Edirol FA 66 (Firewire) and you just want to playback music from traktor with low latency, the Edirol UA 25 does the job?

  5. #5
    Tech Guru Fatlimey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by djAmbeye View Post
    can anyone give me other arguments for USB of firewire?
    You've pretty much got the main points there. The reasoning behind lower latency comes into play when you're doing real-time recording or processing of input signals. Say you're recording someone singing into a mic and you want to play a processed version of what they're singing back into their headphones - that's when latency is really important, any noticeable delay will throw them off.

    For just pushing sound *out* of a laptop then USB is fine, and the ability to bus-power the USB device is a godsend. I went with the Firewire option (FA66) because I do occasionally record with my Condenser mic and I needed the lower latency, but I pay the price in having to carry around a Wall Wart power brick.

    If you're not going to record much or use your soundcard for studio production with real-time inputs, go with the USB. If you find yourself recording a traditional band with guitars, bass, multiple mics on the drums then USB would be fine, it's just inputs. If you then want to play back some prerecorded tracks into their headphones for them to play along with as you record them, you need to look at Firewire or internal soundcards as you're mixing inputs and outputs, and delays becomes a problem.

    That's why there's no clear advice on what to buy, there are so many different situations. But for the Digital DJ the issues are clear:

    1. You want to push out sound? USB is fine.
    2. You want to record offline? USB is fine.
    3. You want to record, process and play in real time? Get Firewire.
    4. You want to record a full band with submixes? Get Firewire or an internal card.


    Also, make sure you have at least 6 usable outputs on the device - one day in the future you might want to add some elements to your DJ setup that take another couple of channels or you might need to run some Booth speakers. Having the option to route some sound out of another set of outputs will future proof you (e.g. 2 for headphones, 2 for Stereo Left, 2 for Stereo Right into a hardware mixer, or route a couple of Ableton Live channels through an external Effects device.)

    Hope that helps.
    Last edited by Fatlimey; 05-12-2008 at 02:16 PM.

  6. #6
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    I agree with the outputs thing, i've got an audio kontrol 1, and altough its great and pretty much all i need for now I can see me getting pissed off in the future that it doesnt have more outputs, and inputs for that matter, and will probably buy a new card.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fatlimey View Post
    Also, make sure you have at least 6 usable outputs on the device
    i can have the Presonus Firebox (nearly new) for just 190 euro's (2/3 of the price here in europe)
    but if i look at the back of the firebox, i see 4 ouputs and 2 mix outs... so does that make 6 usable outputs?

    and what do you think of the ESI U46 XL (USB), because that's my second option in that price range (up to 200 euro)

  8. #8
    Tech Wizard DaTomBomb's Avatar
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    so if you are a DJ who:

    - only uses a midi-device like the VCI 100 SE
    - only uses it for mixing in bars and small/semi-large clubs
    - wants his soundcard to be easy to use and carry (bus-powered is a great plus here)

    a USB soundcard would be best, right?

    next question: which one is decent enough? :-) (around 200 and 250 euro)

  9. #9
    Dr. Bento BentoSan's Avatar
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    Thats right TomBomb just make sure you do your research on whatever you buy

  10. #10
    Tech Wizard DaTomBomb's Avatar
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    researching as we speak ;-)

    not easy though, good to know that the firewire-option can be cancelled for my use :-)

    choosing the right soundcard is actually more difficult than choosing the right midi-controller :-D


    an M-Audio Fast Track Pro perhaps?

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