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My Wish for USBStudio Project w/ADAT Lightpipe...
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schmenge
Prenoob

Joined: 08/02/2012 17:19:33
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Just sent the text below via contact form to the folks at Presonus. Figured I'd post it here in the spirit of sharing and to solicit peanut gallery input.

TL/DR version is I want a Firestudio Project with ADAT lightpipe (and USB instead of Firewire) so I get the grey faceplate, 3-segment input level monitoring on each channel, relatively trouble-free use, and 16 decent-quality analog ins which can be used with a non-boutique Windows laptop (try finding one for less than $1500 with Firewire), so I can have a relatively affordable, awesome, tiny, mobile recording rig with 16 inputs and unique (not "more me", but unique) headphone mixes for 5 musicians.

Here's my note to Presonus. All recommended additions, deletions, cheers, jeers and me-toos welcome ;^)

Hey there,

I usually don't suggest product ideas to companies, and in your case am quite sure you have things pretty well worked out product-development-wise, but I figured I'd shoot you a note, just for the hell of it and just in case.

What I want, basically, is a mixture of the 1818VSL and the Firestudio Project. From the front, it'd look like the FSP, so it'd be grey with blue knobs and not the other way around (this due to my aesthetic preference, matching with the HP60, and - though I might be full of beans here - easier to size up status-wise at a glance). It would also look exactly like the FSP from the front in other respects - pretty much everything except it'd say "AudioBox Project" or "USBStudio XP5000 Mk. II" or some damn thing in the upper left corner. So you'd have the combo XLR/quarter inch along the left 2/3 of the front, and a visually and functionally identical setup to the FSP on the right, with the blue input level knobs in a row, 8 green/yellow/red level meters above the knobs, and (this isn't crucial, but still would be very, very cool) phantom power selectable in pairs of inputs, not groups of 4.

The 1818VSL's contribution to this thing's DNA would be the ADAT light pipe and USB. Not concerned with the VSL built-in effects (if folks wanna blow two grand on an Apollo, let 'em), but you can keep 'em in there if you want. If I got to be picky, I'd have all 8 outputs fully assignable like the FSP and not have 7/8 be the same as the headphone out a la the 1818, but that isn't a deal-breaker. With the 1818 and an HP60 you can still have 5 unique mono headphone mixes by using outputs 3-6 plus the headphone jack on the 1818. Good enough for the girls I go with.

And if you wanted to, you could also sell, for a few bucks less, a dumb "slave" unit, with exactly the same stuff on the front, but with only ADAT out and 12VDC in on the back side. All this unit would do is provide the user with inputs 9-16, with similar ADC and preamplification (and rudimentary input level monitoring) as 1-8. I suppose this unit wouldn't have a headphone amp or headphone jack.

This 3U setup (either two of the USBStudio Project with ADAT connectivity or one plus one slave unit - with the addition of an HP60) would be all I need (all all lots of other folks would need - hint, hint!) to record a full band with a garden-variety, non-boutique, Windows laptop, and have the whole setup be portable, as well as being seen by the computer as a single entity. Just a laptop, my 3U road case, and a USB hard drive. Assuming my laptop bag had a shoulder strap, I could carry my whole rig from the car (minus mic stands and cables and whatnot) in a single trip without help.

Now you have my 2 cents. Thanks.

-Scott

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 08/02/2012 17:38:51

MikeRivers
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Joined: 28/07/2010 15:44:52
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I'm sure that PreSonus has heard all of that before but one more vote never hurts.

While you're waiting, you might have a look at the Focusrite Saffire 18i6. It doesn't have the the Fat Channel processing but it has most of the I/O connectivity that you're looking for.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 08/02/2012 18:28:21

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schmenge
Prenoob

Joined: 08/02/2012 17:19:33
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Cool, thanks. Also looking at some of year-before-last's laptops (right now the HP ProBook 6550 and 6555) which came outfitted with Firewire ports. I've heard very, very bad things about using express card adapters. That way I could just get a 2nd FS Project and be done with it. Would only ever use the laptop for mobile recording, so just 16 inputs and a few headphone mixes - no DSP, then would later mix at home on the fancypants i7 desktop...

(luckily it'll take a while for my finances to catch up with my current whim, so I have plenty time for research and will also allow technology a chance to catch up to my needs and budget!)
MikeRivers
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schmenge wrote:Cool, thanks. Also looking at some of year-before-last's laptops (right now the HP ProBook 6550 and 6555) which came outfitted with Firewire ports. I've heard very, very bad things about using express card adapters.


Jason (one of the PreSonus Tech Support guys who posts here regularly) recommended a couple of slightly out-of-date Lenovo (IBM) models that work well with the Startech ExpressCard adapter. The problem seems to be not with the adapter itself (both Startech and SiiG make Firewire adapters with the TI and VIA chipset, both of which work fine with the PreSonus gear) but with the chip that controls the ExpressCard slot. But still, that makes it a system problem which doesn't seem to have a solution other than to try a different laptop computer.

One of the things about Lenovo is that they're a fairly enterprise-wise company and sell computers to customers who buy them by the carload knowing that what they buy this month will be the same as the batch they bought last month. It's not the same with Compaq, where, as soon as they find a cheaper component that will do the same job for the majority of users (surf the web, show movies, do e-mail and Facebook, and that's about it) they change it out. If that affects what you need to do, you're out of luck if you buy the wrong version of a "known" make and model.
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schmenge
Prenoob

Joined: 08/02/2012 17:19:33
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Mike,

Thanks tons for all your help. I've been on a bit of a tear just now research-wise, which is kind of silly, as by the time I'm ready to pounce and actually make a purchase, both the laptops and the interfaces available will have changed. Right now my DAW of choice is Pro Tools, but that's not really relevant. But so far what I've stumbled across in my Googling and forum-reading is that Rain Computers, who seem to be respected as DAW-PC builders, sell an Express/34 card with the TI chipset. I assume this is merely someone else's card rebranded, but at least they've done the heavy lifting testing-wise. But if this forum recommends Startech, that's good enough for me...

Also, there's a web page with laptops tested and recommended for use with Cakewalk. But none of these tests mention the chip that runs the Express Card adapter. Also, looks like it's getting harder and harder to find laptops that even have Express/34 or /54 slots. Ack! Might have to just chill out and wait for braver souls to report back regarding something they've found that actually *works*. Seems like the deeper I get into this, the more I am confused.

Um, what was the model name/number of one of those Lenovo laptops, and was someone able to actually record 16 channels via two daisy-chained FW interfaces into an external (USB or FW) hard drive with it?

-Scott
schmenge
Prenoob

Joined: 08/02/2012 17:19:33
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And yes I know I'm supposed to use the "search" feature.

Doing that now...
MikeRivers
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schmenge wrote:
Also, there's a web page with laptops tested and recommended for use with Cakewalk. But none of these tests mention the chip that runs the Express Card adapter. Also, looks like it's getting harder and harder to find laptops that even have Express/34 or /54 slots.


Cakewalk has a few interfaces (Roland, actually) but I think they're all USB, so there's no need, with Cakewalk's hardware, to get a Firewire adapter. It's true, too, that bus expansion card slots are getting rare fast. A few months ago when I was in my local Micro Center store, I looked at all the Windows laptops they had on display, maybe 30 or 40, and not a one had an ExpressCard slot, nor a Firewire port. Buying a Firewire audio device for the future just isn't a good idea. I'm sure the next generation of StudioLive mixers will connect with USB or Ethernet. Those will be with us for a while yet because they support many differerent peripheral devices. About the only reason computers ever supported Firewire was because manufacturers of video cameras decided to put a Firewire port on them (and I have a Creative Nomad Jukebox 3 - my first digital hard disk recorder - that has a Firewire port, but also USB). Now that video cameras all use flash memory cards, computers have memory card reader slots, not bus expansion slots.

It doesn't look like USB3 is going to get any traction with audio I/O hardware either. The new UA Apollo interface has USB2 and Thunderbolt, and when I asked one of the major Firewire and USB audio chip manufacturers at NAMM whether they had a USB3 chip in the works, they said no, that they didn't see sufficient demand. Both Prism (SADiE) and DiGiCo have MADI-to-USB2 converters and are doing 48 channels bi-directionally so there's really no practical need to get any more speed between the interface hardware and the computer.

So as long as you don't have the money yet, I say you should wait and see what will be coming down the pike with USB in the future. Everybody is doing it, everybody has a little different set of gee-gaws and gadgets to make somebody prefer theirs over the other guys'. When you're ready, that's the time to pick out the one that will do what you need. And it'll probably have a USB port on it . . . . unless you wait long enough and there's an Ethernet-based standard taking off.

Visit http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com for some useful audio info
"It's much easier to look for a magic solution than it is to adapt to reality." - Allan Sloan
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schmenge
Prenoob

Joined: 08/02/2012 17:19:33
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New plan. First order of business was to get this Firestudio Project that's been sitting in its box since June '08 set up (leaped on a deal where you get a Firebox for free was just ending and get a free Faderport was just beginning, or maybe it was the other way 'round) - been puttering with PT and my MBox 2 Mini off and on for quite a while. So, unbox and hook up the FSP. PT *will not* play nice. I've got wireless internet turned off and data going to a separate data drive, and I've verified that my FW chipset is okay (TI 2200 or maybe 2200a if memory serves) and I'm getting all sorts of demanded restarts and alleged clock errors so I do a load of Googling and finally try it with S1 and Cubase (not yet willing to commit to a DAW...) and it works *just fine*. Well, mostly fine.

So step one is to toss a coin and fling myself at the learning curve of either Cubase or S1 and to continue tweaking my setup so it works mostly and most of the time while I learn to record more than one track at once. I'll be doing this at home, as I think I'll wait 'til I have half a clue before doing any mobile recording.

But I do really like the FSP. Like the look, like the inputs on the front, like the metering, like the feel of the knobs - just like it. Not concerned with using a condemned interface/protocol/cable/port as my trusty self-built i7 rig will surely last a while, plus I can buy a couple FW PCI cards if I get scared and just install 'em in my next couple PCs. So, not scared. Plan to one day buy a 2nd FSP for inputs 9 thru 16. And a matching HP60.

So, once I get re-bit by the mobility bug, I can go find what will by then be a well-used Lenovo E520 and fit it with a FW express card, or use the ancient Mac Mini that I have sitting around (was intended to be the brains of a music server) and see if it's up to the task of 16 tracks at once plus outboard FW HDD, or I might just build a SFF Shuttle box and stick an FW card in there, giving it way too much CPU and RAM to make up for losses due to integrated graphics and tiny mobo. Again, this PC would only be used for laying basic tracks, with low-latency headphone mixing taking place inside one of the FSPs, then the project would be dumped to the primary desktop for the addition of 100 soft synths and several seconds of gated 'verb on the snare.

Realistically, this mobile recording fantasy would only actually occur once every few months at the bassist's house, where we rehearse, so - assuming I build my own little studio in 5 years - it'd only happen ten or fifteen times. So maximum ultra-portability isn't really that much of a concern. Suppose I could just throw this desktop in the station wagon, but I'd likely build the Shuttle, as I do enjoy building PCs.

Just posting this for the fun of rambling, and to maybe (though this isn't likely) benefit future forum-searchers.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 09/02/2012 18:55:37

 
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