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Topic: Firewire alternative to audio interfaces?

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  1. #1

    Firewire alternative to audio interfaces?

    I\'ve got this five computer gigastudio setup I\'m working on (4 Gigastudio slaves, 1 DAW). I\'m looking for a way to send the audio stream from the gigamachines to my DAW.

    I threw this question at my local audio expert and when I mentioned buying audio cards for all my gigastudio computers, she seemed to think that would be a massive waste of money. She said it would be much more cost effective to skip audio cards on the gigacomputers completely and instead run the audio out using Firewire cables.

    I\'m not too sure of this, but if anyone has any information about it I\'d certainly like to consider it. From what I\'m to gather I assume I\'d run the firewire cables out of the Gigacomputers and into a firewire hub, which would reduce the four cables down to one. From there I could plug that into something like the MOTU 828mkII and run ADAT out of there into my DAW.

    Is this a completely retarded way of going, or would this actually work well? How does this option stack up to the forthcoming FX-Teleport/Gigawrapper option?

    I think my main concern is with the firewire hub. Would there be a significant loss of audio fidelity by putting four firewire signals together like that?

    Thanks for any help.

  2. #2

    Re: Firewire alternative to audio interfaces?

    Originally posted by Musica142:
    I threw this question at my local audio expert and when I mentioned buying audio cards for all my gigastudio computers, she seemed to think that would be a massive waste of money. She said it would be much more cost effective to skip audio cards on the gigacomputers completely and instead run the audio out using Firewire cables.
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">There is something called mLan from Yahama, it is supposed to send audio and midi through firewire cables. The problem though, is that there are no drivers for windows stand alone; all drivers come bundled with hardware and not least _look_ for that hardware.

    Now, I haven\'t tried connecting two computers with firewire with the express intent of streaming audio data, just normal networking. Someone who has a couple of audio computers could easily test this though. Just plug the two computers together with a firewire cable and open your fav sequencer and see if you can assign audio to the firewire cable.

    I have been waiting for mLan to hit the Windows OS for this purpose, because I agree with your audio expert: mLan would be the best solution.

    mlan is 400Mb pr sec, that\'s 40megabyte per second, and a 192KHz, 24 bit mono audio channel use slightly over 0.5 Megabyte per second, so in theory Firewire would be much better for this than any of the optical interfaces out there...

    I\'m not too sure of this, but if anyone has any information about it I\'d certainly like to consider it. From what I\'m to gather I assume I\'d run the firewire cables out of the Gigacomputers and into a firewire hub, which would reduce the four cables down to one. From there I could plug that into something like the MOTU 828mkII and run ADAT out of there into my DAW.
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">This would be a solution (if mLan is implemented in the windows os, as I note above I don\'t know it for sure). Remember that hubs will share the bandwith between all connected computers, in your setup it would be 100Mbit pr second pr gigastudio computer.

    Why use ADAT to your DAW? You could just as well run the firewire there directly.
    Is this a completely retarded way of going, or would this actually work well? How does this option stack up to the forthcoming FX-Teleport/Gigawrapper option?
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Separate issues. The clinch is the mLan drivers.

    I think my main concern is with the firewire hub. Would there be a significant loss of audio fidelity by putting four firewire signals together like that?
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">With almost 80 channels available all in all, you\'d have 20 channels per gigacomputer; lets say 16 to take some overhead into account. Same as a dual ADAT lightpipe; no wrong, because an ADAT lightpipe will only do a stereo pair of 192KHz/24bit audio and in the firewire example it is 16 of those for each computer.

    You could use two or more Firewire boards in your DAW and route the firewire cables directly in and thus have a higher overall bandwith available.

    There also are firewire 2 interfaces out there, but then we\'re talking extrra investments again.

    No good answer from me, just my views on this and some shady computations of bandwidth [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]

    I hope someone can enlighten us on this even more; I\'ve been waiting for mLan since the first time I heard of it, several years ago, the point being that I\'ve always had 1394 ports in my computers and thus wouldn\'t need to invest in expensive audio I/O.

  3. #3

    Re: Firewire alternative to audio interfaces?

    mLAN is an audio and midi protocol that uses the Firewire (IEEE 1394) standard as its base.

    However, to actually USE the mLAN protocol, you have to have devices that that \"understand it\".

    Having Mac or Windows mLAN drivers won\'t do you any good -- those simply allow your computer to \"speak\" mLAN. You also need some type of device that can send/receive mLAN audio data.

    All of the \"mLAN enabled\" hardware I am aware of all has been designed for mLAN. Example include:
    - Yamaha 01X (audio interface/mixer)
    - mLAN16E (mLAN interface for Yamaha Motif ES)
    - Kurzweil KSP8 w/mLAN option (effects box).

    Given you are trying to effectively \"send mLAN data out\" of each of your 4 GIGA machines, there would need to be something in each one of those machines that could generate \"mLAN speak\".

    Here are some links about mLAN:
    http://www.mlancentral.com/

    http://www.mlancentral.com/mlan_info/current_prod.php

    Regarding your problem, most \"turnkey\" GIGA computer solutions appear to use audio interfaces that provide multiple ADAT outputs:

    http://www.truespec.com/computersystems/daudio/index.shtml

    http://www.carillondirect.com/clnweb/clnwebsystemsindex.jsp?application=CARI-SAMPLER&country=US

    http://www.visiondaw.com/systems.asp

  4. #4

    Re: Firewire alternative to audio interfaces?

    Well, I was looking specifically at the MOTU 828mkII. It has a Firewire input and the Windows Firewire drivers can be downloaded from the website.

    Why would it not be possible to use just one of these machines with all four Gigastudio computers? Granted it would require pairing down the four firewire channels to one, but there must be something on the market right now that can do that. Any guesses?

  5. #5

    Re: Firewire alternative to audio interfaces?

    Of course you need something understanding the mLan protocol, that\'s why I was lamenting the missing drivers for Windows. With the right drivers you should be able to use mLan as a point to point interface between computers, not only between dedicated audio hardware and the computer.

    The only thing missing is a proper driver. I know that drivers are being developed for Linux, and their goal is to use it not only between the computer and external audio hardware, but also as a computer to computer interface.

    It\'s just that those who have gotten the mLan licences all make audio hardware and thus have an vested interest in using the protocol as a way to send audio to and from the computer to their hardware.

    There is nothing impossible in the proposition to make mLan drivers which would function between two computers, it is just that noone interested in doing so has the time/money to develop the drivers.

  6. #6

    Re: Firewire alternative to audio interfaces?

    [ QUOTE ]
    Well, I was looking specifically at the MOTU 828mkII. It has a Firewire input and the Windows Firewire drivers can be downloaded from the website.

    Why would it not be possible to use just one of these machines with all four Gigastudio computers? Granted it would require pairing down the four firewire channels to one, but there must be something on the market right now that can do that. Any guesses?

    [/ QUOTE ]

    You would still need an audio interface on each computer to get the audio data to the MOTU 828mkII. Just think of Firewire as a \"Computer peripheral connection standard\" just like USB, Serial, or Parallel -- connection of a peripheral to a computer.

    With the MOTU 828mkII, it is using a Firewire connection to connect it to your computer. You still need to get audio to the MOTU.

  7. #7

    Re: Firewire alternative to audio interfaces?

    Great. Thanks for the help you guys.

  8. #8
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    Re: Firewire alternative to audio interfaces?

    Both of my newish SONY VAIO desktops (RX series) have an S/PDIF *out*. I\'ve heard of folks also going the 1 gig LAN approach with a fibre optic connector so I would expect that we are about to see a number of improvements in this area (particularly on the Windows platform).

    It\'s a shame that Firewire isn\'t more readily available as a peer-to-peer \"network\" connection. With the throughput (400 Mbps) it\'s between the lower end 100 Mbps of \"typical\" LAN and the 1000 Mbps superLAN.

  9. #9

    Re: Firewire alternative to audio interfaces?

    Quote Originally Posted by KevinKauai
    Both of my newish SONY VAIO desktops (RX series) have an S/PDIF *out*. I\'ve heard of folks also going the 1 gig LAN approach with a fibre optic connector so I would expect that we are about to see a number of improvements in this area (particularly on the Windows platform).

    It\'s a shame that Firewire isn\'t more readily available as a peer-to-peer \"network\" connection. With the throughput (400 Mbps) it\'s between the lower end 100 Mbps of \"typical\" LAN and the 1000 Mbps superLAN.
    It works out of the box in Windows XP as a network solution, unfortunately you get the same problem as for ADAT, you need to have enough firewire inputs in the computer receiving the data. That is a problem since most computers have no more than 1 firewire port, and using PCI cards for additional ports is not a good solution.

  10. #10

    Re: Firewire alternative to audio interfaces?

    Why is that?

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