Where are all the thunderbolt soundcards?
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  1. #1
    Tech Mentor dsquareddan's Avatar
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    Default Where are all the thunderbolt soundcards?

    for something that is supposed to have such amazing speed, why are we not seeing any external portable thunderbolt sound cards?

    yes I know about the UA Apollo, but that's not portable and it's also extremely expensive. I was hoping by now that Apogee would announce something to replace the Duet2. I have only 2 USB ports on my Retina Macbook, but 2 thunderbolt ports (that never get used). Running everything through USB hubs is sketchy for me, especially in a live situation.

    What else could thunderbolt ports be used for that's practical besides a secondary display or external storage?

    I'm just afraid this damn port is going to end up like Firewire did in 3 years time

  2. #2
    Tech Mentor rjc's Avatar
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    Probably won't see many more thunderbolt sound-cards until it becomes more prevalent in PC computing. There aren't many PC Motherboards that support it yet. It has many of the same advantages in regards to latency as fire-wire does, so it's likely to be implemented into newer studio mixing desks and cards. It's just not that wide spread of a technology yet

    In the meantime, it still is backwards compatible with Firewire through an adaptor, which gives you tonnes of options to work with.
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    Tech Mentor Joel Santos's Avatar
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    Thunderbolt will be a little bit like firewire.

    People who make soundcards just want to sell (like any product-cored company) and most of the people use computers with only USB so... You have some interesting soundcards under firewire that are more for professionals than normal usage. Professionals who use pro tools and software like that. Those kind of softwares are most of the times used my MAC users which have firewire since... along time ago!

    So... thunderbolt. I put it the same way I put firewire. Even most people that have a mac don't really have thunderbolt. It's like... Traktor still makes software to Windows. Why? Because the majority of computer users are windows based not because is better, not because it's easier to make. They even have to spend more time developing one more platform! You don't see Linux users using Traktor!

    They make what sells. Thunderbolt still doesn't sell.
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  4. #4
    Tech Mentor Paka Ono's Avatar
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    The Thunderbolt port is proprietary and costs ~$50 just for the port/controller chip/licensing fees. So right there adds $50 to the bottom line of such a device, which would then roughly add $100 to the MSRP. However, it would not provide any advantage since audio bandwidth will never exceed the specs of USB 2.0.

    Such devices will probably exist in the future, but be forewarned since you will be paying more but not getting anything out of it.

  5. #5
    Tech Guru lethal_pizzle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dsquareddan View Post
    for something that is supposed to have such amazing speed, why are we not seeing any external portable thunderbolt sound cards? I was hoping by now that Apogee would announce something to replace the Duet2.
    Thunderbolt is massive, massive overkill for a 2-in 4-out card. USB2 is plenty good enough.
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  6. #6
    DJTT Administrator del Ritmo padi_04's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dsquareddan View Post
    I'm just afraid this damn port is going to end up like Firewire did in 3 years time
    FW is still alive and kicking in the pro audio world. It might not be as massive as USB but I don't see that as a problem.

    Audio pros are known to be conservative hardwarewise, if it does the job and performs well, no need to spend money on a new box with a new connection. Personally I think thunderbolt bandwith is overkill for consumer grade stuff and manufacturers won't really delve into it until there is a decent ammount of people having that connection available.

    FW devices can be used via thunderbolt with an adaptor so you might want to go that way till then if you are tight on USB slots.

  7. #7
    Tech Guru sobi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lethal_pizzle View Post
    Thunderbolt is massive, massive overkill for a 2-in 4-out card. USB2 is plenty good enough.
    I think the OP hits a valid point though, which your reply somewhat misses. With the limited number of USB ports on macs, and thunderbolt being capable of so much, it's high time that peripherals which have high data transfers start utilizing tools such as Thunderbolt in order to free up ports for other lower end equipment.

  8. #8
    Tech Mentor M.Beijer's Avatar
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    firewire/thunderbolt is good if u want to record like 16 different channels at the same time, thus not something that we djs need, usb2 is good.

  9. #9
    Tech Guru djproben's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sobi View Post
    I think the OP hits a valid point though, which your reply somewhat misses. With the limited number of USB ports on macs, and thunderbolt being capable of so much, it's high time that peripherals which have high data transfers start utilizing tools such as Thunderbolt in order to free up ports for other lower end equipment.
    ^^^This is true. Although what really needs to happen is affordable thunderbolt hubs. A single TB port could host multiple USB and FW controllers. I'd rather spring for a thunderbolt hub that incorporates a powered USB hub and a couple FW ports than upgrade all my controllers and sound cards to TB versions. After all TB ports are also limited on Macs. And unfortunately there just aren't any good hubs available yet for TB; the ones available are way overpriced ($400 + a $50 cable) and entirely limited (no FW). Even the $450 Belkin only has three USB ports, which just seems stingy when TB could easily handle a 7-port USB 2 hub and a couple FW ports. I got excited when I saw this but it's just a fraud masquerading as a TB hub. I'm not sure any of these options are actually available now. Seriously if I did enough bong hits I would suspect some kind of conspiracy among these companies to help Apple sell a few more $999 TB monitors (which connect via TB and include FW and USB ports) and their pathetic one-to-one TB adapter cables.... I was considering a new Macbook purchase when TB first was announced but decided to hold off until useful hubs were available (since I have FW devices and these macbooks have no FW at all); needless to say, I still haven't gotten a new Mac.
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  10. #10
    Tech Mentor No Left Turn's Avatar
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    Yeah, that is true, but it also doesn't make any sense for a business, Focusrite for example, to say, "You know what, our customers aren't really using their Thunderbolt ports for anything, let's make interfaces that free up their USB ports." The easy solution here would be to use a TB->FW cable with a FW interface. That uses up a TB port and doesn't take up a USB port. What would be really awesome is a Thunderbolt USB hub. With all the bandwidth that TB provides, having 4 USB devices running through that one port would probably be a lot more stable/reliable than going through a single USB port.
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