PCI of Firewire interfaces??

Posted on

I tune down down...
Member Since: Jun 11, 2007

It will be awhile before I upgrade again, but I was wondering what "ya'lls" opinion is. Do you think an A/D converter that needs a PCI card is better or one for the same price/sample-bit rate that is Firewire is better?

Also, which do you believe handles 48 channels or so better?

[ Back to Top ]

Chief Cook and Bottle Washer
Since: May 10, 2002

Mar 20, 2008 10:49 pm

Definately PCI. Your hardwired to the buss. On the 48 channel gig, I can't help you much. That's a lot of I/O going on. For direct into the DAW I have eight. I also use an HD24 when I need 24, but that is usually on site recording, hence the portable unit.

Since: Mar 03, 2008

Mar 20, 2008 11:23 pm

My issue with PCI is that there is a potential for noise from inside the computer tower. Now, EM interference can effect a Firewire unit as well but it is less likely. If you have a wireless card or an ethernet card or a poorly built graphics card these all "may" cause interference. It's not necessarily true but there is a slight chance.

That being said there are some very good PCI cards out there from ESI, Mark of The Unicorn, M-Audio, RME and many others. However these same company's also produce Firewire cards which are equally capable.
Many of these are capable of better than 16 inputs.

I doubt that you will find any hardware save a ProTools HD(PCI) system that will handle 48 simultaneous inputs. Get ready to spend some money though. You'd be looking at about 8 grand just for the core card. Then you have to consider the A/D converters and preamps. Don't forget to check your computers compatibility. But, that's for 48 simultaneous tracks at 96kHz.

You could however daisy-chain some of the Firewire units together to make up 48 tracks but it is still dependent on how fast your computer is.

Do you need to record 48 tracks simultaneously? I don't know anyone who has the room for that many stands, much less a mic closet with that many microphones. Even then, I don't know many people who use more than 8-12 mics at a time.

Eat Spam before it eats YOU!!!
Since: May 11, 2002

Mar 20, 2008 11:46 pm

The best card for lots of channels is probably RME.

However, firewire is supposed to be infinitely expandable limited by the available ports and the PCI buss... or even firewire bandwidth... honestly audio is not very hardware intensive... usually video gets in the way first.

Czar of Turd Polish
Since: Jun 20, 2006

Mar 21, 2008 12:23 pm

48 channels for the final mix or actually capturing 48 channels at once?

There are plenty of units linkable by firewire (Motu for one) that could get you up to 48 channels, but if looking to capture all 48 at once, I would think the PC is going to be the limiting factor.

Czar of Midi
Since: Apr 04, 2002

Mar 21, 2008 08:14 pm

The MOTU PCI interfaces can go that high and are absolutely clean. You can actually go all the way to 96 channels with the 24 i/o on one PCI card that uses a proprietary firewire like interface for the breakout boxes and it is a superbly clean signal.

I'm not sure were someone got the idea that a PCI interface is noisier then a firewire or USB because it is not the case.

The interface cards in the upper price range and even in the mid price range are designed to have the cleanest signal possible.

Since: Mar 03, 2008

Mar 21, 2008 09:35 pm

Yup. I was expecting that. My digi(PCI) was a good interface. Clean and quiet.

Long ago. I had a Delta 44. It was noisy and suffered from some interference with my wireless card(Linksys if it matters.) It's not the cards themselves that are noisy. With a card like the Audiphile 2496 it might be more likely to happen because of the unbalanced connectors. I never said they ARE noisy. I said the possiblity of interference is there. Particularly with a cheaper tower.

Higher end cards don't have the problem because the D/A conversion happens in the breakout box. Not in the CPU tower. Hence the audiowire connector A La Motu.

With a Firewire interface that possiblity is eliminated(with the exception of the dreaded Firewire whine) because all of the components are out of the tower.

Czar of Midi
Since: Apr 04, 2002

Mar 21, 2008 10:55 pm

I use a Delta 44 on an older PC here and don't suffer any type of noise at all. And that PC is loaded with 6 hard drives and a full array of PCI cards plus a high performance video card. None of it seems to interfere with the card or its performance. I've used it in several PC's without any trouble. And both my ESI interfaces are PCI and they are extremely quiet. I'm not sure what the situation was with yours but I have to state that PCI is much more stable and straight froward to install and use then either firewire or USB.

My smaller ESI ineterface has the AD/DA on the card internally as well and doesn't have any issues.

I agree that the bandwidth is good on firewire and USB but the driver problems and the finicky operation just keep me from going that route or even recommending it with a good feeling. I've installed several firewire set ups for others and most have several issues that need to be resolved before they can be fully functional. Not had that issue at all with PCI based interfaces.

Related Forum Topics:

If you would like to participate in the forum discussions, feel free to register for your free membership.