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Firewire interface compatibility Update 2016

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aquataur
Posts: 567
Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2012 12:01 pm
Location: Innsbruck, Austria

Firewire interface compatibility Update 2016

Postby aquataur » Fri Oct 09, 2015 4:25 am

I just recently built a PC predominantly (but not exclusively) used as DAW.
Since I am not into Laptops with all their limitations, it was going to be a desktop PC with all the luxury of installing cards as needed.

I use an external audio interface with firewire 400 interface and had to find a suitable FW400 card for this.

As you may know, not many FW interfaces are known to work, particularly not those that use combo FW400/800 interfaces or combinations with USB. Here are two compatiblity lists, one from Focusrite and one from Presonus

Since not all of those interfaces are in current production or available easily, I had to choose a card by chipset. I chose the Startech 2 Port 1394a FireWire PCI Express Schnittstellenkarte, Product-ID: PEX1394A2V (Chipset Via - VT6315N) which is a two port FW400 interface with a native PCIe interface.

(...) the FireWire card also integrates a native PCIe single chipset design. With no secondary bridge chipset, your FireWire devices communicate quicker with your PC to ensure seamless operation of your connected peripherals.

(taken from the manufacturer´s product description)

The card is not in the lists but has the recommended chipset. It installed by P&P and works flawless with no dropouts.

-helmut
Last edited by aquataur on Wed Apr 27, 2016 3:41 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
aquataur
Posts: 567
Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2012 12:01 pm
Location: Innsbruck, Austria

Re: Firewire interface compatibility

Postby aquataur » Wed Apr 27, 2016 3:37 am

Update 04/2016.

Recently planned to extend the number of inputs of my interface with an ADAT device and wondered if the FW 400 is fast enough. Their web pages are full of rant on Thunderbolt Audio Interfaces.

Thunderbolt is a very fast bus interface type predominantly promoted by Apple. PC interfaces are scarce, native audio interfaces are non existant yet.

I asked if their ado about Thunderbolt compatiblity yields any gain in audio interface performance (like latency). The answer was: No. Their interfaces are all FW400 type, but can talk to FW800 interfaces. They can talk to Thunderbolt devices with an FW to Thunderbolt adaptor. Read their statement about performance:
(...) there is no benefit it using firewire 800 in terms of performance. When you connect a firewire 400 device to an 800 port it simply lowers the firewire 800 bus speed down to 400. There is sufficient bandwidth available on the 400 bus to handle all of the channels of the interface, including the adat channels.

This could amount to 16 channels. So this is this discussion settled. :lol:

However, the previously mentioned compatibility chart (still online, but no longer directly linked to...) seems a bit outdated for W10.

Focusrite ran into firewire compatibility issues with W10 systems. Read their article How can I tell if my Firewire chipset is compatible with my interface?:
While we previously also recommended VIA chipsets, we have seen more incompatibility issues with these cards since the release of Windows 10

Also read here. They work on it, I´ll keep you updated.

In short, the Texas chipset equipped PC cards work with W10. FW400 interfaces are more than fast enough to handle all audio traffic. Any latency imposed will be caused by conversion time (possibly two ways!) and not by bus speed.

-helmut


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