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Old 04-13-2007, 03:37 PM   #1
Amberience
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Default Well... I took a leap.... got an Alesis IO26 coming..

Will post a review of some kind once I've had a week or so to play about with it.

A dude is coming tomorrow at noon to buy my Layla3G - I really hope I'm not going to regret selling it!!

Only time will tell on the Alesis. I've read one review saying that the drivers for the mac aren't that good, but thats one review, and I'm on a PC.

Will post more once there is more...
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Old 04-16-2007, 04:20 AM   #2
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why did you sell the 3g? i mean, in what ways are you expecting the alesis to be better?
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Old 04-16-2007, 06:53 AM   #3
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I needed the portability. There was nothing wrong with the Layla3G.

The Alesis is doing fine at the moment, the WDM drivers are a bit buggy though. ASIO is perfectly fine.
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Old 04-16-2007, 07:43 AM   #4
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I'd be interested in your experience with the Alesis. I am considering one, though in no rush at the moment.

Give us a review when you have time
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Old 04-16-2007, 10:13 AM   #5
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Well when I'm recording everything is fine. No drop outs at 128 buffer size. Good latency performance (the driver panel reports 2.9ms but I think thats just input, so the whole thing is at least 8ms probably)

But when I'm listening to mp3's in Winamp or watching movies in Winamp or Windows Media Player, there are sometimes drop outs. This mostly occurs when I use WDM, but also sometimes when I use ASIO.

When I minimize winamp, it cuts out until its fully minimized - but if I use the WDM driver, this doesn't happen.

So the sound quality is very good. At least as good as the Layla was. But the performance of the unit can vary depending on the application. It is perfectly capable of recording all eight analog inputs without a hitch in Reaper.
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Old 04-16-2007, 11:16 AM   #6
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Quote:
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Well when I'm recording everything is fine. No drop outs at 128 buffer size. Good latency performance (the driver panel reports 2.9ms but I think thats just input, so the whole thing is at least 8ms probably)

But when I'm listening to mp3's in Winamp or watching movies in Winamp or Windows Media Player, there are sometimes drop outs. This mostly occurs when I use WDM, but also sometimes when I use ASIO.

When I minimize winamp, it cuts out until its fully minimized - but if I use the WDM driver, this doesn't happen.

So the sound quality is very good. At least as good as the Layla was. But the performance of the unit can vary depending on the application. It is perfectly capable of recording all eight analog inputs without a hitch in Reaper.

Hi,
Sounds like they are probably using the same FW chip from the other Alesis units which the same one that Mackies uses. What Firewire Chipset does your computer use?
Chris
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Old 04-16-2007, 12:04 PM   #7
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Not sure to be honest. How can I find out?

edit: wait, I think its by VIA
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Old 04-16-2007, 12:38 PM   #8
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Does anyone know what the recommended FW chipset is for the Alesis? I guess I could go check their website...

D

EDIT: Nope. Not on their website... anybody?

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Old 04-16-2007, 02:21 PM   #9
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HI,
Texas Instruments would be the way to go for the most compatibility.
You can see if you system uses a TI chip set by going to the device manager and look under "IEEE-1394 Bus Host Controllers".
The sub heading will say "Texas Instruments OHCI Compliant IEEE-1394 Host Controller". If it says something other than that then it is not a a TI chip set. I could be either VIA or NEC or RICOH all of which can have compatibility problems. If you machine does not have the TI chip set then the easiest thing to do would be to pick up a TI chip set based Fire wire PCI or PCI-e card and install the fire wire audio device on that instead of the on board.

If you are running Windows XP SP2 then you might want to also try the Firewire hotfix Microsoft has. It does require a reg edit so you would want to be real careful.

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/885222


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Old 04-16-2007, 05:10 PM   #10
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Quote:
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HI,
Texas Instruments would be the way to go for the most compatibility.
You can see if you system uses a TI chip set by going to the device manager and look under "IEEE-1394 Bus Host Controllers".
The sub heading will say "Texas Instruments OHCI Compliant IEEE-1394 Host Controller". If it says something other than that then it is not a a TI chip set. I could be either VIA or NEC or RICOH all of which can have compatibility problems. If you machine does not have the TI chip set then the easiest thing to do would be to pick up a TI chip set based Fire wire PCI or PCI-e card and install the fire wire audio device on that instead of the on board.

If you are running Windows XP SP2 then you might want to also try the Firewire hotfix Microsoft has. It does require a reg edit so you would want to be real careful.

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/885222


Chris
Thanks Chris! I think I may pick up one of those PCI cards you speak of. My onboard is a VIA, but if a PCI card would give me better performance, I may splash out.
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Old 04-16-2007, 05:27 PM   #11
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Thanks Chris. I have my eye on either the IO26 or IO14. 14I/O for about 300 USD ain't too shabby (already have an ADAT box)... and portable to boot.

D
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Old 04-16-2007, 05:30 PM   #12
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Just got a Belkin card with the texas instruments chipset, should be all good to go now!

I assume that I should disable the onboard firewire ability once I install the card.
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Old 04-16-2007, 05:32 PM   #13
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Thanks Chris. I have my eye on either the IO26 or IO14. 14I/O for about 300 USD ain't too shabby (already have an ADAT box)... and portable to boot.

D
the IO26 sounds very good. Definitely as good as the two cards I've had previously - the Audiophile 24/96 was my first card, and then I got the Layla3G.

Takes a little getting used to using the main level control, and I also had to mute all of the channels in the software mixer because I monitor through Reaper so I can hear effects. After that though, all was good.
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Old 04-16-2007, 05:38 PM   #14
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You probably need not worry about disabling the onboard FW ports.

Let me know if the TI chipset improves things OK? I am interested in one of these things... probably the IO14.

Thanks,

D
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Old 04-16-2007, 05:42 PM   #15
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Cool, will do. I suspect that the ti chip will help, because Chris seems to know what he's talking about.

I wont hate him if it doesn't though, hey, the card was only £10 (bout $20)

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Old 04-20-2007, 02:58 PM   #16
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The alesis is going back. Piss poor drivers make it a pain in the arse to use on my desktop, and because of the lack of a dedicated firewire interface on my laptop, I cannot use it for the mobility that I wanted.

The mobile factor was the only reason I bought it. I'm now considering a MOTU 828mkII USB2.0 - I know USB2.0 is fast enough to be able to do the work I want it to, and I know USB2.0 devices work fine with my laptop.

At this point, because of the drivers, I don't recommend the Alesis IO26. Very frequent dropouts in the audio signal on my desktop machine. Very sloppy implementation with non-asio programs (winamp, windows media player, etc..) and the direct monitoring program uses a shedload of CPU - not acceptable for professional recording.

The firewire PCI card did not fix my issues. Dropouts in audio when surfing the net, when browsing my computer, and when moving around inside Reaper. I could've put up with this last one were it not for the lousy issue of lack of firewire on my laptop - that was the last straw, although admittedly this has no direct relevance to the Alesis. Although why couldn't they have given it both usb2.0 and firewire connectivity.
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Old 04-21-2007, 06:54 AM   #17
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Thanks for the info, Amberience. I've had my eye on the io26, but have been waiting for hands on reviews like this. Seems to be a lack of user reviews on this unit so far. Seems I should look elsewhere for now! Andy
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Old 04-21-2007, 09:44 AM   #18
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I assume you were using the latest Alesis firmware and drivers Amberience? (asking because, at that price, the IO26 is awfully tempting...)
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Old 04-21-2007, 01:29 PM   #19
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Yes, latest firmware and latest drivers.

I mean... c'mon Alesis. Even with an archaic sound blaster, people can listen to their mp3's without the signal dropping out. What's more, the signal not only dropped out, but somehow the buffers would lock up. Going back to the winamp screen and pressing play again would clear the buffers and sound could continue.

Shouldn't have to mess around like that. Honestly guys, I wanted to love the unit, and if it had worked with my laptop (the laptop I am now sending back and getting a full refund btw!) I would've persevered until better drivers were available.

At the moment though guys, I'd avoid it.

Now if you're at all curious about my plans, read on:

I originally had a Layla3G PCI for my desktop. Great card, great quality, no nonsense recording. But I did not want to have to lug around my desktop computer and CRT monitor to record my band. So I got to thinking, "Hey! I could get a laptop and a firewire soundcard!" ...ha! More fool me.

The laptop I ordered did not have a firewire input. So they told me, "get an expresscard and you can add a firewire input to the laptop" ... it didn't work. The Alesis just stuttered along like a little biatch.

So my plan...

Send back the Alesis IO26. Pay the difference for the Tascam FW1804.
Send back the laptop. Get full refund. Take advantage of a friend of a friend who works for apple. Use their 15% discount to buy a intel core duo 1.83ghz mac-mini.
Connect the tascam to the mac.
record my band.

I should have my refund by the end of the week, and I should also have the tascam by the end of the week. (end next week I mean!)
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Old 04-21-2007, 03:43 PM   #20
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Why not a Boss BR1200 or BR1600 then? Cheaper than a laptop AND multichannel audio interface, and no messing about with driver, buggy software or just plainly with a glorified typewriter that wasn't made for recording, it just work straight out the box.

I'm trying to find one used, if I don't within a month or so I'll be buying new. I still want more channel for my main DAW, but depending how I do with the Boss unit I might forgo that altogether...
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Old 04-21-2007, 04:37 PM   #21
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Hmmm... I dunno if I like the idea of a boss unit. The way I see it, a mac-mini will at the very least be able to record 8 tracks with no effects, and that's all I really want to do at this point.

The bulk of the work I can do afterwards on my desktop machine.

Also it is a pain in the arse to edit things on those boss units. Whereas recording with say Reaper on a mac... plenty of editing options.
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Old 04-21-2007, 05:17 PM   #22
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Just throwing that out like that, ain't got nothing to sell anybody but you can record 8 tracks simultaneously with the Boss, then transfer to your main DAW in waveform by USB for editing/mixing; that's what plan to do, unless I were to find mixing/editing easier on the Boss. The advantages, for me anyway, is that it's all self contained within one easy to carry unit, fast to setup on location, no configuration/bugs or incompatibility to deal with, the effects are supposed to be very good and it's cheaper than a PC/Mac based system (even the Mac mini once the necessary accessories are added, and no need to carry keyboard, mouse, LCD screen, audio interface...).

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Old 04-22-2007, 04:35 AM   #23
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Well see my friend has a BR600, and we both hate it with a passion, so I'm not keen on buying anymore Boss products.

Not saying this is definitely how it is for everyone, but how it is for us at least. The units are really finicky and a pain to use.

Just two weeks ago we set it up, left it recording. Set the levels and all that. 3 minutes later "card full" ... we had not set anything up wrong. The quality was the same as always, and we have a 1GB card. We managed to record 3 minutes.

Just yesterday, as it was saving the recordings at the end of our session, without thinking my guitarist pulled the plug out because we were packing up after our rehearsal. We lost everything. Now I know that was his fault, but when you press stop in Reaper, you can save everything or delete everything. When you close Reaper it asks you if you want to close. And if you turned the PC off, I'm pretty sure your recordings would survive (at the very least Ableton Live has a recovery feature)

I know I'm whining, but it does affect the band, we were all really pissed off yesterday because of that one little mistake. This kind of gear shouldn't be hard to use.
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Old 04-22-2007, 09:47 AM   #24
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Some of those might not be issues with the bigger 1600 unit, but I'm glad to read that as it makes me think I might be better off buying from a store with a liberal return policy. And no, those thing shouldn't be hard to use, simplicity and rugedness is their main selling point so if they are too finicky then they just dropped to the bottom of the barrel of desireability as far as I'm concerned.
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Old 04-22-2007, 09:52 AM   #25
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Some of those might not be issues with the bigger 1600 unit, but I'm glad to read that as it makes me think I might be better off buying from a store with a liberal return policy. And no, those thing shouldn't be hard to use, simplicity and rugedness is their main selling point so if they are too finicky then they just dropped to the bottom of the barrel of desireability as far as I'm concerned.
Well try one out. I know in Sound Control you can try out the Boss recorders, they have them on display.

But in all honesty, I don't think I could ever part with a 17inch display of all my tracks and processes. It is just too good to give up.

PS: I'm actually trying to get enough cash together to get the 17inch iMac rather than the Mac-mini. I figure its a better investment.
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Old 04-22-2007, 06:22 PM   #26
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Default Boss 12-track

Hey Bullshark,

I just was fooling around with the Boss 12-track machine, transferring files from a Korg D1600 last weekend. Be aware that the Boss only allows 16-bit WAV files in. Also, the Boss 12-track has the smallest display screen I have seen on an all-in-one unit, and NO wav editor function we could find in the manual.(I was trying to align imported wav files, and eventually had to align by ear and trial-and-error.)

If you want to go the all-in-one route, I prefer the Korg user interface over the Roland, and particularly over the Boss system. History - I used the Roland system for four years, and have used the Korg system for two years.

The Boss is pretty crippled (compared to the Roland.)

As far as sound goes on all three units... well, I'm moving to one of the firewire interface boxes.

Hope this confuses things,
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Old 04-22-2007, 08:10 PM   #27
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A firewire interface and what? A laptop? I've considered it, but I have no use for a laptop outside of recording, they're expensive (out of budget for me) and I don't trust them; had one a few years back, when things start to go wrong with those, say goodbye to social life as they will suck all your time and money trying to fix them. Bleh.

The Rolands units are outside my budget, but the Korg maybe not. But I haven't seen any localy; maybe worth looking into a bit more.
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Old 04-23-2007, 06:23 AM   #28
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Well Mr. Shark... an update on my own situation.

Because I am a student, I qualify for the student pricing. I can get the iMac 1.83ghz with 1gb of ddr2 667 ram, for £700.30 - this includes apples 3 years warranty.

The advantage of this over the boss unit for me:

I can record multiple tracks very easily, not having to go through menu after menu.

I can see what I've recorded very clearly. No "ear based alignment" for me.

It is still portable enough that I can use it at home, unplug it, take it to the studio where my band rehearses, set up a bunch of mics, and carry on from there.

This means that my plugins are portable: I can get a drumloop together that I've programmed, and show my drummer, who can then learn it. I can take in recordings I've made, and show the band members, and they can learn parts I've written.

I can record the whole 3 hour rehearsal session, keep the best bits, kill the dross.

A lot of this I could probably do on the boss too, but with a tiny screen and menus within menus within menus - just not that appealing to me.

At the end of the day, I prefer the advantages of a dedicated computer for audio than a Boss recording unit.
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Old 04-23-2007, 03:25 PM   #29
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What I'd love to have doesn't exist. My prefered unit would have a 15" screen, 8 simultaneous input with clean pres, at least 8 motorized faders switcheable between input level and mixing level plus regular array of control (transport control, jug wheel etc.); and all included within a self contained portable unit, with pull out hard drive and flip screen. Oh, and preferably running Reaper, boot up in less than 10 seconds and run off household current or rechargeable batteries. Also, it should cost less than $1500.00...Kind of a cross between a laptop, the Boss unit and a ProjectMix I/O. Beer fridge and coffee maker optional, I ain't greedy.

But since that doesn't exist, I'll have to settle on something less. Let us know how you do with the iMac thingaminy, always interesting to know about more options.

Oh, and please lay off the Mr., Mr. Shark is my father
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Old 04-23-2007, 04:26 PM   #30
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At this point, because of the drivers, I don't recommend the Alesis IO26. Very frequent dropouts in the audio signal on my desktop machine. Very sloppy implementation with non-asio programs (winamp, windows media player, etc..) and the direct monitoring program uses a shedload of CPU - not acceptable for professional recording.
Bummer... But I suspect that there was some kind of a problem with the firewire interface that you added to your PC. My son has been running an IO26 for a month or so hooked up to a Dell laptop with built in firewire port with no problems. He prefers it to the Edirol FA-101 (10 in - 10 out) that he was using before.
T
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Old 04-23-2007, 04:29 PM   #31
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Bummer... But I suspect that there was some kind of a problem with the firewire interface that you added to your PC. My son has been running an IO26 for a month or so hooked up to a Dell laptop with built in firewire port with no problems. He prefers it to the Edirol FA-101 (10 in - 10 out) that he was using before.
T
Well with the laptop I was using a texas instruments based express card. It was really bad.

With my desktop, I was using a texas instruments based PCI firewire card. It should have been fine, but it wasn't.
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Old 04-23-2007, 05:01 PM   #32
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Well with the laptop I was using a texas instruments based express card. It was really bad.

With my desktop, I was using a texas instruments based PCI firewire card. It should have been fine, but it wasn't.
I don't doubt that what you say is true.

It could be that you had a defective IO26.

Also, firewire interfaces can be weird. I am now using the FA-101 firewire audio interface that my son was previously using. When he hooked it up to his Dell laptop, it would not communicate properly unless he started his computer before starting the FA-101. I have a cardbus firewire card that I use with my Dell laptop. To get the FA-101 to work right with it, I must turn on the FA-101 before I start the PC. Exactly the opposite.

But having spent many hours around the IO26, I know that your experience differs radically from ours. The fact that you had problems interfacing the IO26 with two different PCs does suggest to me that you might have had a defective unit or you were horribly unlucky with interface compatibility issues. Maybe you've used up all of your bad Karma, and your next choice will work better for you.

T
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Old 04-24-2007, 01:01 AM   #33
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Maybe you've used up all of your bad Karma, and your next choice will work better for you.

T
Hopefully. I opted for the Tascam FW1804. Once I return the Alesis, they'll ship it out. I've read good things about it, and I reckon the converters will probably be better too.
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Old 04-24-2007, 02:21 AM   #34
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Also, firewire interfaces can be weird. I am now using the FA-101 firewire audio interface that my son was previously using. When he hooked it up to his Dell laptop, it would not communicate properly unless he started his computer before starting the FA-101. I have a cardbus firewire card that I use with my Dell laptop. To get the FA-101 to work right with it, I must turn on the FA-101 before I start the PC. Exactly the opposite.T
btw: I was thinking. I also had a Dell laptop. Maybe it isn't the firewire interfaces are weird, maybe its the Dell laptops.

Maybe they use a certain FW chipset or they design their power systems a certain way, and that causes the conflict.

There are plenty of people who use firewire interfaces without problems.

Just a thought.
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Old 04-24-2007, 06:42 AM   #35
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btw: I was thinking. I also had a Dell laptop. Maybe it isn't the firewire interfaces are weird, maybe its the Dell laptops.

Maybe they use a certain FW chipset or they design their power systems a certain way, and that causes the conflict.

There are plenty of people who use firewire interfaces without problems.

Just a thought.
My own experience has been once you get a firewire interface up and running properly on the Dell, it is more stable than USB 2. But there is more involved in the compatibility issue than the firewire chipset, and I think that set up problems and compatibility issues might be more common than you think.

I've never found an information source that really discusses all of the factors related to firewire compatibility with audio applications coherently, but its pretty clear that there are sometimes buss contention issues, and sometimes conflicts with hard drive access. When I needed to pick a firewire interface card for my laptop, I finally gave up on trying to pick a compatible card based on specs, and bought a cheap cardbus firewire port on the theory that if it didn't work, at least I wouldn't be out a lot of money. Cost was $10 off e-bay and to my surprise, it worked with the FA-101. I then found that it uses the NEC chipset which is supposed to be problematic for audio. Go figure.

By the way, if you go with a USB interface, you are not guaranteed of trouble free operation either. Before I switched to the FA-101, I was using an M-audio USB audiophile interface. Maybe it was the M-audio drivers, and not the use of USB per se, but for some reason during editing /mixing of songs, both N-track and Reaper would frequently lose communication with the interface. I was never able to fix the problem. Also, several years of observing the behavior of audio applications convinced me that either the driver or the USB interface on my Dell were not very efficient, and presented a performance bottleneck.

T
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Old 04-24-2007, 08:26 AM   #36
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My own experience has been once you get a firewire interface up and running properly on the Dell, it is more stable than USB 2. But there is more involved in the compatibility issue than the firewire chipset, and I think that set up problems and compatibility issues might be more common than you think.

I've never found an information source that really discusses all of the factors related to firewire compatibility with audio applications coherently, but its pretty clear that there are sometimes buss contention issues, and sometimes conflicts with hard drive access. When I needed to pick a firewire interface card for my laptop, I finally gave up on trying to pick a compatible card based on specs, and bought a cheap cardbus firewire port on the theory that if it didn't work, at least I wouldn't be out a lot of money. Cost was $10 off e-bay and to my surprise, it worked with the FA-101. I then found that it uses the NEC chipset which is supposed to be problematic for audio. Go figure.

By the way, if you go with a USB interface, you are not guaranteed of trouble free operation either. Before I switched to the FA-101, I was using an M-audio USB audiophile interface. Maybe it was the M-audio drivers, and not the use of USB per se, but for some reason during editing /mixing of songs, both N-track and Reaper would frequently lose communication with the interface. I was never able to fix the problem. Also, several years of observing the behavior of audio applications convinced me that either the driver or the USB interface on my Dell were not very efficient, and presented a performance bottleneck.

T
Very strange. I was whizzing around the laptop with my friends Emu 0404 perfectly fine. And ever since this whole thing kicked off, I stopped using the Alesis with my desktop and have been using my PodXTLive ever since.

Outstandingly, the PodXTL is so so stable. Not a glitch. I'm whizzing around in Reaper and Ableton Live without any problems.

Blasted technology huh??!
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Old 05-06-2007, 02:12 AM   #37
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If anyone is curious, I'm now using a Tascam FW1804, and its running without problems. Firewire interface too, so I'm going to lay all the blame for my prior complaints at the Alesis IO26's door.

Also I ordered a 2ghz C2D iMac, that should be coming this Tuesday. Pretty portable recording setup for my band, and for gigging with should I choose to do any gigs after university.
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Old 05-06-2007, 02:52 AM   #38
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Also I ordered a 2ghz C2D iMac, that should be coming this Tuesday. Pretty portable recording setup for my band, and for gigging with should I choose to do any gigs after university.
Same machine I have, I do love how it's portable and large screened...are you getting the 20inch or 24inch?
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Old 05-06-2007, 03:00 AM   #39
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I'm getting the 17inch mate. I couldn't afford to spring for the 20 inch, but 17inch viewable isn't bad at all, and it'll be slightly more portable than the 20inch or 24inch.
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Old 05-06-2007, 06:14 AM   #40
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I'm getting the 17inch mate. I couldn't afford to spring for the 20 inch, but 17inch viewable isn't bad at all, and it'll be slightly more portable than the 20inch or 24inch.
Ahh no worries, you can get a bigger monitor later anyway. The iMacs make great PCs
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