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 Post subject: Thunderbolt interfaces
PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 11:18 pm 
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Anyone using one, and care to comment on how they stack up against USB interfaces?

I currently have an NI Komplete Audio 6, which is...fine. Basically an NI-branded Focusrite. I might need to upgrade in the near future. Am looking at thunderbolt interfaces from MOTU and UAD, as well as the Focusrite Claretts.

(Basically I'd be controlling 3 hardware synths, recording vocals and guitars, and the rest is ITB.)

Thoughts/experiences?


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 Post subject: Re: Thunderbolt interfaces
PostPosted: Fri Jan 26, 2018 3:14 pm 
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I dont think you will notice any difference. They are not faster. But they can just handle more channels. Good drivers are much more important when it comes to latency


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 Post subject: Re: Thunderbolt interfaces
PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:26 am 
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PixelKind wrote:
I dont think you will notice any difference. They are not faster. But they can just handle more channels. Good drivers are much more important when it comes to latency


Interesting. I had thought thunderbolt interfaces generally had lower latency than USB interfaces. Mainly based off of stuff like this: https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques ... best-audio

But if that isn't true, it's not really a priority for me, as I won't ever need the extra channels for the kind of music I do.


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 Post subject: Re: Thunderbolt interfaces
PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 8:21 am 
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Hades bought a MOTU 16A, I believe partly as a result of me singing its praises.

I use it with USB 2 (with a PC) and he used Thunderbolt with his Mac. He had all sorts of problems getting it working iirc, but mine worked fine first time.

I think I he made a post about it.

For what it's worth, the 16A is a great interface, though might be a bit OTT for how you've described you'll use it...


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 Post subject: Re: Thunderbolt interfaces
PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 9:02 am 
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Basically I just go in circles. When I'm back in LA I'll want to hook up 3 hardware synths (stereo), a guitar and a mic (mono) and maybe eventually a TR-8 or something like that. Rest will be ITB. Can never decide if I want to get a better interface or a Soundcraft MTK mixer that has an interface built in. May be forced by space issues to go for an interface and mix ITB.


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 Post subject: Re: Thunderbolt interfaces
PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 11:19 am 
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I had a saffire and upgraded to a clarett and there was a difference in sound quality, the clarett sounds great.

Also I can run the clarett at high buffer rates like 512/1024 and still be able to play keys in perfectly, the latency is improved over the firewire saffire for sure.

That's just my experience of going to thunderbolt, only gripe is Focusrite are pants at driver support for windows users, not updated it in over a year where as Mac users get constant updates since launch, not that it matters much, the windows driver is fine at present but if they are updating Mac they should be doing the same for PC.


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 Post subject: Re: Thunderbolt interfaces
PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 4:16 pm 
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I have a Saffire Pro 40 right now. I love the thing. Would like to upgrade to a UAD setup in the future, because I am doing a lot of multitrack recording all the time, and I want to move into bands and shit, too. While I was doing research on my new computer build I just found out that you can do Thunderbolt on a PC.


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 Post subject: Re: Thunderbolt interfaces
PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 10:09 am 
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terryfalafel wrote:
Hades bought a MOTU 16A, I believe partly as a result of me singing its praises.

I use it with USB 2 (with a PC) and he used Thunderbolt with his Mac. He had all sorts of problems getting it working iirc, but mine worked fine first time.

I think I he made a post about it.

For what it's worth, the 16A is a great interface, though might be a bit OTT for how you've described you'll use it...


all sorts of problems ?

I had tons of problems with my old Apogee Ensemble FW interface, as soon as Apple dumped FW and I had to use a convertor piece,
but not with my Thunderbolt one.
Maybe I had a small issue first time I installed it or something, but it can't have been that important since I don't even remember anything now. :)

There's only 2 things I would say nowadays :
ever since I have this interface, when I am on the internet long enough and I still have Live open,
Live will stop responding, to my APC and to me just clicking on the play button as well.
But it still saves perfectly fine.
I'm pretty sure this is more some strange sort of bug behavior in Live than the MOTU.
It just means I close my internet when I'm gonna be in Live for a long time and vice versa,
which actually does make me more productive, which is also why I never bothered inquiring to Ableton or MOTU what the problem can be
(and changing browsers doesn't solve it). :D

It asks me to do a firmware upgrade, BUT this can only happen via an ethernet cable.
I'm not getting why I would need an ethernet connection to do that.
I've had 2 Echo Audio interfaces (one big for studio, one small for portability),
I had 2 Apogee ones,
none of these ever needed an ethernet connection to do a firmware upgrade.
My studio MBP doesn't even have ethernet any more, FFS...
One of these days I'm gonna use my older MBP to do the upgrade, nothing urgent.

But don't let that give you the impression this interface is not good.
It's a really great machine.
I don't like messing around with interfaces much. I expect to install them just once,
not having too fuss too much with updates often,
and preferably not even needing to use their control panel either. (I prefer using my mixer or Live)
And with this one, I don't think I even opened the control panel more than twice in the almost year or so that I have it.

Maybe they should have added a headphones out on the front panel.
Other than that, it's a great unit.

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 Post subject: Re: Thunderbolt interfaces
PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 10:11 am 
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nomadjames wrote:
I have a Saffire Pro 40 right now. I love the thing. Would like to upgrade to a UAD setup in the future, because I am doing a lot of multitrack recording all the time, and I want to move into bands and shit, too. While I was doing research on my new computer build I just found out that you can do Thunderbolt on a PC.


well, I do plan to build a proper desktop as well, and I sure as fuck plan to install Thunderbolt on it. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Thunderbolt interfaces
PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 10:16 am 
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oh yeah, one thing to take in mind with Thunderbolt : the cables are extremely expensive.
And they only have very short lengths most of the time.

Because I needed about 4 meters to be comfortable in my studio,
I had to order a 5m cable at the time.
Not sure what the current prices are, but I paid 180€ for that cable. :|

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 Post subject: Re: Thunderbolt interfaces
PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 1:00 pm 
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little update,
I just got my older MBP in here, installed and used my 16A via USB,
not a problem whatsoever,
and upgraded my firmware via my ethernet...

and would you look at that when I look at older versions fixes :

Quote:
Fixes an issue where Thunderbolt connection could cause a system freeze


well well, leaving my internet open just to see if indeed that's one problem less...

still think using ethernet for upgrades is completely unnecessary, but yeah...

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 Post subject: Re: Thunderbolt interfaces
PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 7:32 pm 
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Hades wrote:

still think using ethernet for upgrades is completely unnecessary, but yeah...


Why does the firmware update require a network cable?
We designed the firmware update to work over ethernet mostly for convenience. If you're a user with lots of networked boxes, you can upgrade them all from a distance (even over Wi-Fi) without having to plug in directly and without having to download or run an updater application.

We also decided on this approach for engineering reasons. We put a heavy emphasis on reliability. When installing an update, the device reboots into a stripped-down recovery partition to guarantee that you can always finish updating, even if the power goes out mid-update. Since updates can also affect the Thunderbolt or USB chips, we can't use them from the update mode.

http://www.motu.com/techsupport/technotes/avbfirmware


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 Post subject: Re: Thunderbolt interfaces
PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 10:45 pm 
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terryfalafel wrote:
Hades wrote:

still think using ethernet for upgrades is completely unnecessary, but yeah...


Why does the firmware update require a network cable?
We designed the firmware update to work over ethernet mostly for convenience. If you're a user with lots of networked boxes, you can upgrade them all from a distance (even over Wi-Fi) without having to plug in directly and without having to download or run an updater application.

We also decided on this approach for engineering reasons. We put a heavy emphasis on reliability. When installing an update, the device reboots into a stripped-down recovery partition to guarantee that you can always finish updating, even if the power goes out mid-update. Since updates can also affect the Thunderbolt or USB chips, we can't use them from the update mode.

http://www.motu.com/techsupport/technotes/avbfirmware


"mostly for convenience" was not and will never be the case in my case.

all my previous interfaces had their updates doing just fine without any ethernet connections.
but then no doubt there's some reason Thunderbolt and USB are far more "unreliable" than FW or whatever...

I'm a user, not an engineer.
I'm a musician, not a technician.
I had a whole year of shit breaking down in my studio or, stuff like this,
which is of course far less worse, but still takes an unnecessary amount of time away from music making.
I guess only time will tell me if it really does prove to be more reliable.

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 Post subject: Re: Thunderbolt interfaces
PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 12:31 am 
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Hades wrote:
nomadjames wrote:
I have a Saffire Pro 40 right now. I love the thing. Would like to upgrade to a UAD setup in the future, because I am doing a lot of multitrack recording all the time, and I want to move into bands and shit, too. While I was doing research on my new computer build I just found out that you can do Thunderbolt on a PC.


well, I do plan to build a proper desktop as well, and I sure as fuck plan to install Thunderbolt on it. :)


Hackintosh? I'm keen to build one as well, so I'd love to hear your plans.


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 Post subject: Re: Thunderbolt interfaces
PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 9:28 am 
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yeah man, I'm done paying too much for Apple shit and I hate how they give you less and less options to choose from anyway.
But like I said above : I'm a musician, not a technician.
I'll need a few more months to get the funds and then some friends with better skills than me.

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 Post subject: Re: Thunderbolt interfaces
PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 1:56 pm 
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The 'it's more convenient' stuff does sound a lot like bollocks for the casual user.

The other reason they mentioned seems like good sense to me. It's worth some faffery when upgrading to protect the device against being totally bricked if a firmware update goes wrong.

Re hackintosh : if you choose the recommended bits (ie components which have worked for others) and use a recommended image, I see no reason why it won't work. My experience of building a hackintosh was quite straightforward tbh and it worked perfectly. This was quite a few years ago but I see no reason for it to be different now.


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 Post subject: Re: Thunderbolt interfaces
PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 7:20 pm 
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terryfalafel wrote:
The 'it's more convenient' stuff does sound a lot like bollocks for the casual user.

The other reason they mentioned seems like good sense to me. It's worth some faffery when upgrading to protect the device against being totally bricked if a firmware update goes wrong.


ow, I'll admit it does sound quite reasonable from an engineering point of view, and on paper.
I mean, the protection issue seems like a good idea, but I never had any firmware update go wrong in the past in all those years, so yeah, what can I say : I guess I'll see if that makes sense in a few years from now.

I don't know, I don't want to come across as a complaining motherfucker who doesn't even bother to do a little research on shit or whatever. I mean, if I had looked into that issue of Live freezing up on me when I was on the net too long, I would have found out about that bug fix ages ago. (But as said, I kind of liked the improvement on the workflow it had as a practical result. :D )
But nonetheless, I will always, in general, look at things from a simple user point of view, not from a technical engineering point of view. So yeah, more convenience, my ass... :)

I was thinking yesterday evening about what it is that gets on my nerves about things breaking down, or companies giving you lousy upgrades/updates/customer service/...
And honestly, it comes down to 2 kinds of things :
the stuff you have the feeling you can learn something from,
and the stuff that you'll learn nothing new from at all, and that will just get on your nerves for days, weeks, possibly even months, and will just cost you money.
To me, that's a very important distinction there.

Let's think of a few examples...

A few years ago, I got a new Midas mixer, got some patch bays, and rewired the whole studio.
I just replaced all my unbalanced cables with balanced ones.
For some reason, as soon as I played the kick of my Jomox through my mixer, it would go "tack", just some sort of extremely loud high snap sound. Reason : the signal just got far too hot instantly. Problem was solved immediately when I ran an unbalanced cable from my Jomox to my patch bay. Funny thing was this was only necessary for like 3 or 4 of the maybe 8 outs. No idea why, not a real motivation/interest to find out either. :)
Took me some time, and a few crappy mails back and forth with mr Michaelis
(who can be a grumpy bastard at times),
but afterwards, I really had the feeling "hey, now I really learned something, I knew on paper the big difference in signal levels between balanced vs unbalanced, but boy, hearing it like that sure puts that carved into your brain in a way you won't soon forget".

And of course there's so many other little problems.
In the last 1,5 years or so, I had each of my monitors fail on me. Good thing I have a tech that can make them for a very reasonable price, but you're still temporarily fucked.
Then my power conditioner broke down, like 4 months out of a 5 year warranty. :roll:
Then I had it fixed and it broke down again like 3 weeks later, so I just went out and bought a new one.
And power supply's, who just get cheaper and cheaper, so of course they break down more easily.
And fucking USB cables man... I had at least 3 or so break down on me in the last 6 months.
And though I never remember one single MIDI cable break down on me in my first 15 years with synths,
I somehow had at least 4 or 5 break down on me in the last year...

You learn from the problem solving shit. You learn to think about every different aspect in the chain that could possibly be the reason for something not working. And of course there is a certain sense of pride when you get it solved. Especially if, like me, you are someone with no technical background whatsoever earlier on in life.
But it's always the stress, the fucking stress, and the frustration, and the "losing time again" feeling.

So yeah, in the end, I just wonder : what the fuck was this or that ever useful for ?
Like the whole fucking irritating experience with the FW to TB and the lousy Apogee response ?
That was just a huge fucking waste of time (and money when you think about it).
Things break down, I know - I even have an emergency fund for my studio which I save up for every month,
just so I have some cash for when something "serious" breaks down - and I know I shouldn't expect every stupid little breaking down moment to possibly hold some value in the end. But nonetheless, it's a way of looking at frustrating shit to make them less negative in the long run. Call me naïve. 8-)

But a few weeks ago, some of the keys of my trusted XV88 have stopped coming back up,
only after 15 years of heavy (and very loyal !!) service.
I use this thing every day, so it's very annoying to me.
I know I can send it in, and then wait for a few weeks and then pay a few hundred euro's probably.
But I looked around on youtube a bit, and found this video of some guy showing you how you can replace the keys yourself. So yeah, fuck that shit, I'll just order me some keys and try it myself.
After all, this is more a mechanical problem. It's not some bug in a program somewhere that I can't even touch.
You know what I mean ?

So, to end my long rambling,
I found the ethernet upgrade just a waste of time tbh,
and I have the feeling I learned fuck all from it in the end. :D

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 Post subject: Re: Thunderbolt interfaces
PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 7:22 pm 
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terryfalafel wrote:
Re hackintosh : if you choose the recommended bits (ie components which have worked for others) and use a recommended image, I see no reason why it won't work. My experience of building a hackintosh was quite straightforward tbh and it worked perfectly. This was quite a few years ago but I see no reason for it to be different now.


if you have any website to check out, I'm sure mr G and me would be very grateful.

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 Post subject: Re: Thunderbolt interfaces
PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 10:07 pm 
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I agree with you, mostly. Some stuff's a good learning exercise. Some problems are a drain of time and money and nothing more.

But... the equipment we're using is past the complexity of normal consumer electronics. We're using professional tools at a professional level, and these tools need some technical skill and experience to get the best out of them, to maintain them, to fix them. Using (or troubleshooting) a drum machine is not like learning how to use a new flat screen telly. As easy or intuitive as it's designed to be for people who're into music tech, it's always going to be trickier than what most people consider to be 'complicated' technology.

Anyhoo, this is (or was...) a good hackintosh resource

https://www.tonymacx86.com

There are loads more.


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 Post subject: Re: Thunderbolt interfaces
PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:00 am 
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terryfalafel wrote:
The 'it's more convenient' stuff does sound a lot like bollocks for the casual user.

The other reason they mentioned seems like good sense to me. It's worth some faffery when upgrading to protect the device against being totally bricked if a firmware update goes wrong.

Re hackintosh : if you choose the recommended bits (ie components which have worked for others) and use a recommended image, I see no reason why it won't work. My experience of building a hackintosh was quite straightforward tbh and it worked perfectly. This was quite a few years ago but I see no reason for it to be different now.


I've built PCs before, so I have no issues with putting together the hardware. It's getting the software to work!

Found this handy guide...doesn't seem too tough.

https://lifehacker.com/the-always-up-to-date-guide-to-building-a-hackintosh-o-5841604

...or I might get lazy and get an iMac.


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