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Topic: Audio recording and firewire?

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  1. #1

    Audio recording and firewire?

    This is probably a silly question and I didn't quite know where to post it but since I am a GPO-user, I thought I could ask one of by fellow GPO-users for help.

    Here goes: Does anyone know if an external firewire hard drive could be used for multitrack audio recordings? (I want to keep my internal HD clean from audio.) I know I should probably get a second internal HD for audio recordings but since I am no expert, I would like to know what my options are!

    Lets just say that I'll record my midi-mockups to this firewire HD, track by track, and as you all know, the HD in which the audio is recorded would then have to stream lots of tracks simultaneously if I was to monitor them all, depending on the sice of my composition of course. Any thoughts about that?

    So, please... Give me some pros and cons (or just the cons if you would not recommend a firewire HD for audio recordings at all)

    Chris

  2. #2
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Re: Audio recording and firewire?

    This is an excellent question Chris. I've been thinking of using a firewire external HD but not really to stream tracks but rather to separate my music software and files from the internal HD.
    Let's hope Tom, J.B. and other pros answers your post.
    Styxx

  3. #3

    Re: Audio recording and firewire?

    Quote Originally Posted by Styxx
    This is an excellent question Chris. I've been thinking of using a firewire external HD but not really to stream tracks but rather to separate my music software and files from the internal HD.
    Let's hope Tom, J.B. and other pros answers your post.
    Sorry I'm not one of the pros, but I've got a Maxtor External Firewire/USB2.0. I've not tried to use it for multitracking, just backing up and transferring data around. However the spec sheet quotes sustained transfer rates of up to 41 MBytes/s. So below some maths - pay attention now!:

    A mono 16 bit 44.1hHz signal needs ~ 5Mbytes/minute = 0.08Mbyte/s
    Therefore you theoretically could have 41/0.08 = 512 audio tracks (mono 44.1) streaming from your external HD! Alternatively that would be 78 stereo 24bit/96kHz tracks. In reality it would probably give up long before then though.

    I'll give it a try later on to see if what happens and will update.

  4. #4

    Re: Audio recording and firewire?

    I'm using a LaCie firewire 800 drive with my Powerbook. Just fine for streaming samples and multitrack recording/playback.

    Firewire 400 is just fine too.

    Are you on a Notebook or desktop? What are the specs?

  5. #5

    Re: Audio recording and firewire?

    Quote Originally Posted by Marty
    I'm using a LaCie firewire 800 drive with my Powerbook. Just fine for streaming samples and multitrack recording/playback.

    Firewire 400 is just fine too.

    Are you on a Notebook or desktop? What are the specs?
    I've got a desktop with an AMD Athlon 64 3500+ cpu, 2GB ram 120 GB 7200rpm HD.

    What I really wonder though is how much a firewire HD differs from an internal HD. A firewire HD can transfere up to 400 Megabits per second and a normal internal IDE HD can only transfere somewhere around 150 Megabits per second, I think...

  6. #6
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    Re: Audio recording and firewire?

    Quote Originally Posted by Shantar
    I've got a desktop with an AMD Athlon 64 3500+ cpu, 2GB ram 120 GB 7200rpm HD.

    What I really wonder though is how much a firewire HD differs from an internal HD. A firewire HD can transfere up to 400 Megabits per second and a normal internal IDE HD can only transfere somewhere around 150 Megabits per second, I think...
    Hi, here is some info about Firewire & USB HD, it was on the forum not too long ago, hope it helps:


    ...I have a Seagate 160GB external, with both Firewire 400 and USB 2.0 interfaces.

    Using USB 2.0, SiSoft Sandra clocked the drive at something like 12MB/s - maybe a little less; it's been a while.

    Using Firewire, SiSoft Sandra clocked the drive at 27-30MB/s.

    There's also the CPU loading factor. USB is host-oriented, meaning the CPU has to do a fair bit of grunt work moving bits around. By contrast, Firewire is peer-oriented, and a Firewire controller can just blast data between the drive and PC memory without any CPU overhead to speak of. I've seen benchmarks showing 18% CPU loading for a USB 2.0 interface going full-bore, vs. 0 percent (not a typo) for Firewire moving at least the same amount of data. Would you rather having your CPU hand-carrying data from your drives, or running a couple more plug-ins ??

    Personally, I like Firewire. (Firewire-based MIDI also inherently has more accurate timing than stock USB MIDI (1.1 or 2.0) because Firewire quantizes MIDI messages to around 1/3 millisecond (strangely enough, roughly the transmission time for a byte of data over a 5-pin MIDI cable), while USB quantizes data to the 1 millisecond USB frame rate. USB MIDI drivers can exhibit more jitter too, since USB MIDI traffic is not guaranteed to arrive at any particular time, whereas Firewire MIDI has strict delivery guarantees. (USB audio and Firewire audio both provide strict delivery guarantees for audio, because otherwise you'd hear terrible glitching all the time, instead of just some of the time. However, the USB MIDI designers didn't feel glitch-free timing delivery was critical for MIDI....... to be fair, current USB MIDI devices (like the Edirol UM-550 I use) seem to be much better than first-gen USB MIDI products were. Sorry about the rant; I used to work on MIDI specs as part of my day gig (I edited the Firewire MIDI spec, among other things), and I still think it's very important to preserve expressive musical timing (no matter how many clinkers I personally play....).

  7. #7

    Re: Audio recording and firewire?

    Firewire is plenty fast for heavy-duty audio chores. I use Metric Halo Mobile I/Os for audio (some of the best portable audio interfaces around) and they connect via FW400...no problems running my audio interface and many tracks of audio streaming from a FW hard drive (7200 RPM ATA drive in an external FW enclosure sold by OWC). IN fact, I recall a couple of years ago having to recall a project to tweak a few mixes....It had been on one of my internal ATA drives, but I moved it to the FW drive to make way for new stuff...anyway, it was 50+ tracks of 44.1/24-bit audio per song, again with the Mobile I/O on the same FW bus...ran without a glitch, even with the CPU choking on a million plugins...

    Now I have an external FW800 drive (also from OWC), so when recording I can run the Mobile I/Os on my PowerBook's FW400 bus, and the record drive on the faster FW800 bus...heaviest thing I've tried was simultaneous recording of 10 tracks with 4-6 playing back, @ 96K/24-bit...again, it didn't break a sweat.

    Brian

  8. #8

    Re: Audio recording and firewire?

    Quote Originally Posted by NDEE
    Hi, here is some info about Firewire & USB HD, it was on the forum not too long ago, hope it helps:


    ...I have a Seagate 160GB external, with both Firewire 400 and USB 2.0 interfaces.

    Using USB 2.0, SiSoft Sandra clocked the drive at something like 12MB/s - maybe a little less; it's been a while.

    Using Firewire, SiSoft Sandra clocked the drive at 27-30MB/s.

    There's also the CPU loading factor. USB is host-oriented, meaning the CPU has to do a fair bit of grunt work moving bits around. By contrast, Firewire is peer-oriented, and a Firewire controller can just blast data between the drive and PC memory without any CPU overhead to speak of. I've seen benchmarks showing 18% CPU loading for a USB 2.0 interface going full-bore, vs. 0 percent (not a typo) for Firewire moving at least the same amount of data. Would you rather having your CPU hand-carrying data from your drives, or running a couple more plug-ins ??

    Personally, I like Firewire. (Firewire-based MIDI also inherently has more accurate timing than stock USB MIDI (1.1 or 2.0) because Firewire quantizes MIDI messages to around 1/3 millisecond (strangely enough, roughly the transmission time for a byte of data over a 5-pin MIDI cable), while USB quantizes data to the 1 millisecond USB frame rate. USB MIDI drivers can exhibit more jitter too, since USB MIDI traffic is not guaranteed to arrive at any particular time, whereas Firewire MIDI has strict delivery guarantees. (USB audio and Firewire audio both provide strict delivery guarantees for audio, because otherwise you'd hear terrible glitching all the time, instead of just some of the time. However, the USB MIDI designers didn't feel glitch-free timing delivery was critical for MIDI....... to be fair, current USB MIDI devices (like the Edirol UM-550 I use) seem to be much better than first-gen USB MIDI products were. Sorry about the rant; I used to work on MIDI specs as part of my day gig (I edited the Firewire MIDI spec, among other things), and I still think it's very important to preserve expressive musical timing (no matter how many clinkers I personally play....).
    Thanks buddy! Exellent info!

    Chris

  9. #9

    Re: Audio recording and firewire?

    Quote Originally Posted by bmonroney
    Firewire is plenty fast for heavy-duty audio chores. I use Metric Halo Mobile I/Os for audio (some of the best portable audio interfaces around) and they connect via FW400...no problems running my audio interface and many tracks of audio streaming from a FW hard drive (7200 RPM ATA drive in an external FW enclosure sold by OWC). IN fact, I recall a couple of years ago having to recall a project to tweak a few mixes....It had been on one of my internal ATA drives, but I moved it to the FW drive to make way for new stuff...anyway, it was 50+ tracks of 44.1/24-bit audio per song, again with the Mobile I/O on the same FW bus...ran without a glitch, even with the CPU choking on a million plugins...

    Now I have an external FW800 drive (also from OWC), so when recording I can run the Mobile I/Os on my PowerBook's FW400 bus, and the record drive on the faster FW800 bus...heaviest thing I've tried was simultaneous recording of 10 tracks with 4-6 playing back, @ 96K/24-bit...again, it didn't break a sweat.

    Brian
    Thank you for replying.

    I'll probably go for a firewire HD in the near future.

    BTW, you didn't tell me if those 50+ tracks you transferred to the FW hd were stereo or mono.

    Chris

  10. #10

    Re: Audio recording and firewire?

    Quote Originally Posted by Shantar
    Thank you for replying.

    I'll probably go for a firewire HD in the near future.

    BTW, you didn't tell me if those 50+ tracks you transferred to the FW hd were stereo or mono.

    Chris
    A mixture, I was counting stereo as 2 mono, I think the densest song on the project was aout 58 voices total.

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