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Hi there,

I am looking to create a Fireface 800 rig for use with Boom Recorder that can either be used on location using a 2.66ghz, 4gb ram dual core Macbook Pro 15" (no express card) + two Focusrite Octopre's for up to 26 Analogue inputs. I would also like to be able to chain a Lacie Rugged drive via FW 800 to this setup.

MBP FW800 port > Fireface 800 (2X Octopre's connected via adat) > Lacie Rugged Drive - bus powered

I would also like to be able to expand this system to 52 inputs, by using two FF800's + four Octopre's connecting the FF800's via separate firewire cables to a Mac Pro (quad or 8 core, depends on my budget).

Mac Pro Firewire 800 port #1> Fireface 800 #1 (2 X Octopre's connected via adat)

Mac Pro Firewire 800 port #2> Fireface 800 #2 (2 X Octopre's connected via adat)

Mac Pro Firewire 800 port #3> Lacie Rugged or G Drive

My question is, will these two options be viable and stable regarding cpu usage and bandwidth on the firewire bus?

* my reason firstly for wanting to use two FF800's opposed to a MADI system is firstly my laptop does not have an express card slot, and secondly, the second FF800 can act as a backup for when on location in tough environments where less than 26 ins are needed (which is most of the time). 

Thanks in advance for your help.

I am also up for suggestions of using a different rme system to be able to use between 8 and 56 inputs depending on the job.

Regards,

Julian

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No need for separate firewire ports. Daisy chain is fine especially with the firewire 800.

Cpu usage is a non issue. The interface DSP does all the work.

With the risk of getting people pissed of:

If RME makes a DEVA/788t device it would kill.

Zaxcom is safe with the Zaxnet and all the wireless implementation.

But SD will have a great competion.

I have used gear from Russian Tape recorders,studer,Alesis ADAT, apogee, RME and now sound devices.

I have never experienced a product as reliable as RME.

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I would recommend not bus powering the drive.  Get a power supply for it. 

My rig (Mac Mini - Motu 828 - Boom recorder) has been fine until lately.  I have had problems on my recent shoot getting it started each morning - really weird stuff with apps crashing and such.  I finally determined it was the bus powered firewire drive that was the issue it was chained after the interface.  It might actually be the interface, but I still have further testing to do to figure this out.

-Greg-

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Motu is known for crappy drivers especially for osx.

Some people can do it "RME" some people are trying to do it "Motu"

For the OSX users: RME usually have the OSX drivers ready before the update is even out.

Well, I somehow can't imagine that's the case.  I'm usually recording around 4 to 7 tracks at 48khz.  I would think FW400 should be able to handle that just fine.

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Motu is known for crappy drivers especially for osx.

Some people can do it "RME" some people are trying to do it "Motu"

For the OSX users: RME usually have the OSX drivers ready before the update is even out.

RME stuff is great.  MOTU stuff works fine too, you just can't push it as hard, I've found.  I would not try to record above 20 tracks or so via FW400 w/ any computer + interface on a bus that also has drives on it.  FW800 I haven't used as much--new RME box looks very interesting, esp if one has a late model computer.  BTW, the computer DSP DOES make a difference in # of tracks vs. performance and reliability.

phil p

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On a lark, I used the latest version of BR and recorded 96 tracks via USB to a  bus powered Gtech mini 5400rpm( older intel MacBook w 2ghz ram)  Recording 96 as a poly was more stable than monophonic. I only had the Uln8 hooked up but duplicated all the the tracks in BR. My point is, why bother daisy chaining a drive on FW? Leave that for your interface, whatever it is.

If your doing high track counts(32+) and multiple interfaces then probably different busses and aggregates are desirable or madi or the rme system.

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On a lark, I used the latest version of BR and recorded 96 tracks via USB to a  bus powered Gtech mini 5400rpm( older intel MacBook w 2ghz ram)  Recording 96 as a poly was more stable than monophonic. I only had the Uln8 hooked up but duplicated all the the tracks in BR. My point is, why bother daisy chaining a drive on FW? Leave that for your interface, whatever it is.

If your doing high track counts(32+) and multiple interfaces then probably different busses and aggregates are desirable or madi or the rme system.

Recording a poly IS less of an issue for a computer-based system.  The problem is that no one wants a 96 (or 32 or 24 or 16) channel poly as a deliverable!  The channel files wouldn't have names that reflect more than their chan. number, scene/ take number (thus not what's in them like an instrument etc), and even BWF Widget can only crack polys up to 24 chan.  The industry standard for large stacks of tracks is MONO files, and a big stack of those is harder for the system to deal with (esp on FW400).

phil p

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I never considered using the USB ports for the HDD, thats a good idea. 

Once I have all the gear I will do some tests between chaining the drive through firewire, or using USB.

My only concern with USB, is that in the past I have seen huge fluctuations in transfer speed between different USB devices, but im assuming if I connect the HDD's power and data connector it will hopefully give a constant transfer speed. This option would only be for on remote location use where I would use no more than 8 - 24 tracks. I assume that USB 2 will handle up to 24 mono tracks being transferred.

Another question. I will be using a 744t as the clock master, is it possible to loop external WC through a FF800 ?

And if so, would this be a stable solution ?

Word clock chain:

744t > FF800 #1 > Octopre #1 > Octopre #2 > FF800 #2 > Octopre #3 > Octopre #4 

Thanks again for all the help.

I'm really excited to get this setup going!

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When I used my FF800 on location it was mostly with a ExpressCard eSATA adapter. While the most poignant example of this was working on an album (which never materialised) - my MPB was able to record and playback about 30 tracks at 88.2kHz/24b without issue, off of a single eSATA hard disk (it might have well been able to do more, but our tracking counts never got higher than that.)

While for most Mac users the above option is now moot since they removed the ExpressCard slot on the 15" MBP (still wish it was an option!), if you happen to have a 17" MPB then it remains a viable solution when using a firewire audio interface and still needed fast disk access (or if you use a windows laptop.)

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I never considered using the USB ports for the HDD, thats a good idea. 

Once I have all the gear I will do some tests between chaining the drive through firewire, or using USB.

My only concern with USB, is that in the past I have seen huge fluctuations in transfer speed between different USB devices, but im assuming if I connect the HDD's power and data connector it will hopefully give a constant transfer speed. This option would only be for on remote location use where I would use no more than 8 - 24 tracks. I assume that USB 2 will handle up to 24 mono tracks being transferred.

Another question. I will be using a 744t as the clock master, is it possible to loop external WC through a FF800 ?

And if so, would this be a stable solution ?

Word clock chain:

744t > FF800 #1 > Octopre #1 > Octopre #2 > FF800 #2 > Octopre #3 > Octopre #4 

Thanks again for all the help.

I'm really excited to get this setup going!

I think you have way too many passive splits in that WC chain.  MOTU, anyhow, recommends that you not daisy chain more than two boxes on a WC line--with more than that they suggest a word clock generator driving each box in the system directly.  There is nothing wrong w/ using the 744T as a master (do it all the time),  but distributing the WC that way is very dicey for such a big system.  The Octopres make ADAT out, and the FF800s have 2 ADAT inputs each, so I'd take two Octpres to each FF800, with the Octopres looking at ADAT as their clocks, and then jump the 744 clock to FF800 #1 and then to FF800#2.  This is JUST a serving suggestion--I haven't ever tried this so please do lots of tests!  Apologies if this is how you were set up already.  BTW, this seems like WAY too many channels for one Firewire chain....can you use two (one per FF800)?  Are you on a tower style computer?  Let us know how it goes.....

phil p

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When I used my FF800 on location it was mostly with a ExpressCard eSATA adapter. While the most poignant example of this was working on an album (which never materialised) - my MPB was able to record and playback about 30 tracks at 88.2kHz/24b without issue, off of a single eSATA hard disk (it might have well been able to do more, but our tracking counts never got higher than that.)

While for most Mac users the above option is now moot since they removed the ExpressCard slot on the 15" MBP (still wish it was an option!), if you happen to have a 17" MPB then it remains a viable solution when using a firewire audio interface and still needed fast disk access (or if you use a windows laptop.)

The ExpressCard slot also works great with a Firewire 800 card as well, and having seen some eSATA troubles on the part of a local DIT, I'll stick with that. Note that the troubles may well have been operator error.

Occasionally, a 15" MBP will crop up on the Apple refurbished page, so keep an eye out. I'll venture to guess that will end soon.

Best regards and Happy Thanksgiving to all,

Jim

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Thanks Philip,

Your suggestions are great. I am about to buy all the gear, so just trying to get a work flow together for the setup,

I was unaware that you can let the octopre's grab WC from the adats in's. That might be a much better alternative.

When operating with two FF800's, it will be on a mac pro which has more than one firewire 800 port. so i will use 1 port per FF800.

This setup would be for a house setup, so I might consider hiring in a master clock with multiple WC outs.

Is there a way I can check my test recordings to see if there is no jitter. is there software that can analyse bwf's ?

Thanks once again for all your help everyone.

I would love to be running off a madi system, but i really just dont have the budget for it.

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There is nothing wrong with ESATA.

The ExpressCard slot also works great with a Firewire 800 card as well, and having seen some eSATA troubles on the part of a local DIT, I'll stick with that. Note that the troubles may well have been operator error.

Occasionally, a 15" MBP will crop up on the Apple refurbished page, so keep an eye out. I'll venture to guess that will end soon.

Best regards and Happy Thanksgiving to all,

Jim

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I love eSATA myself, but there was a huge amount of Mac Snow Leopard trouble when that OS was first introduced. All the eSATA drivers were bad, and it took months and months to get that sorted out. As far as I know, it's all fine now.

USB3 is still an unknown quantity with Mac OS, as is Lightpeak. Both of these are gonna be screamin' fast compared to Firewire, once they get them to work.

--Marc W.

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RMEs USB is no regular USB 2.0

It is a higher bandwidth modification.

I never considered using the USB ports for the HDD, thats a good idea. 

Once I have all the gear I will do some tests between chaining the drive through firewire, or using USB.

My only concern with USB, is that in the past I have seen huge fluctuations in transfer speed between different USB devices, but im assuming if I connect the HDD's power and data connector it will hopefully give a constant transfer speed. This option would only be for on remote location use where I would use no more than 8 - 24 tracks. I assume that USB 2 will handle up to 24 mono tracks being transferred.

Another question. I will be using a 744t as the clock master, is it possible to loop external WC through a FF800 ?

And if so, would this be a stable solution ?

Word clock chain:

744t > FF800 #1 > Octopre #1 > Octopre #2 > FF800 #2 > Octopre #3 > Octopre #4 

Thanks again for all the help.

I'm really excited to get this setup going!

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USB3 is slower at sustained speeds then Esata.

Edit: forgot to add the 3 to USB

I love eSATA myself, but there was a huge amount of Mac Snow Leopard trouble when that OS was first introduced. All the eSATA drivers were bad, and it took months and months to get that sorted out. As far as I know, it's all fine now.

USB3 is still an unknown quantity with Mac OS, as is Lightpeak. Both of these are gonna be screamin' fast compared to Firewire, once they get them to work.

--Marc W.

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RMEs USB is no regular USB 2.0

It is a higher bandwidth modification.

I'm curious about this. Do you mean that they use USB cables between two RME pieces of gear and achieve a better data transfer rate than typical USB 2.0 would--and so isn't really USB 2.0 at all? Or do they somehow put a driver on the computer that allows the computer to better utilize its USB port to get better results?

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I'm curious about this. Do you mean that they use USB cables between two RME pieces of gear and achieve a better data transfer rate than typical USB 2.0 would--and so isn't really USB 2.0 at all? Or do they somehow put a driver on the computer that allows the computer to better utilize its USB port to get better results?

I believe what Rado is referring to is that RME's USB implementation within their devices are their own designs (like their Firewire implementation) so that they can best take advantage of (and alleviate some issues related to) audio over USB.

Whereas most vendors use strict off-the-shelf firewire or USB silicon, I believe RME claims (and performance has proven to some degree) that their bus interfaces (whether it's Firewire or USB) are very efficient at keeping isochronous data transfers stable at any of the speeds/tracks counts/sample rates they support.

UPDATE: Perhaps more simply put, their custom designs allow for much lower non-audio data overhead which leaves them able to take advantage of a higher percentage of available bandwidth for performance and time-critical data.

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