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Audio interfaces - USB 3.0 available yet?

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  • Audio interfaces - USB 3.0 available yet?

    Has anyone seen an audio interface that utilizes USB 3.0 technology?  All those that I have seen utilize USB 2.0, which is significantly slower than USB 3.0.  I called M-Audio to find out if they made one, and was told by Tech Support that M-Audio only manufactured USB 2.0 interfaces, and also that he had not seen a USB 3.0 interface among their competitors. He also stated that firewire is on the way out, and that its performance gain over USB 2.0 was not signficant. 

    Wikipedia states that USB 3.0 is faster than firewire, but that firewire is faster than USB 2.0.  That should indicates that a audio interface based on USB 3.0 would have better performance than firewire and USB 2.0.  On the other hand, it may be that USB 2.0 is fast enough that the speed increase of USB 3.0 would not provide any further benefit.  Can anyone provide further input? 

    I am asking this because I want to replace my Tascom USB-122 with an interface that works with my laptop, which has both a USB 2.0 and a USB 3.0 port. 


  • #2

    Wikipedia states that USB 3.0 is faster than firewire, but that firewire is faster than USB 2.0.

    The speed of electricity stays the same.  usb3 would allow higher bandwith capacities, that is, more simultaneous channels (usb2 without special drivers craps out at 12-16 channels.)  Because usb sends packets and has some built-in overhead instead of continuous data streams, in the real world it is actually slower/less capable than firewire.  Firewire can exceed the capability of mechanical hard drives to send/receive data and usb cannot do that. Firewire also chains multiple devices off of one port, up to 67 on one chain.

    The bottom line is that if you can get by with less than 16 simultaneous channels you don't need usb3

    Right now the RME Madiface is the only usb3 interface on the market.  And it's expensive.


    A quick summation:

    usb1.1 - 2 channels in/out

    usb2 - up to 16 or so simultaneous channels

    usb3 - I read once they really expected usb3 to crap out at 75 or so channels.  The RME box does 64.

    firewire400 - 100 or so channels

    firewire800 - 200 or so simultaneous channels.

    Thunderbolt - has 16x the bandwidth of firewire. Also backward compatible with firewire using a $30 adapter (I'm running a firewire Glyph drive on my thunderbolt port.)

    Tim O'Brien


    • #3
      Personal experience says that USB2 can't handle 16 channels of full digital audio. Firewire 400 easily handles 16 channels of digital audio, and I've been daisy chaining a HD in line too, with 16+ channels return simultaneously. I know that the accessory port is going away from firewire, I've gotten to love and respect the technology. Will probably be looking at USB4 by the time I give up on firewire. One more note: USB2 has a burst speed of 480 mbs and firewire 400 has a burst speed of 400 mbs. Looks like the USB 2 should be faster, but all the control is from the computer. Firewire, each device negotiates communication, so actual throughput is about 3 times the throughput of USB 2.

      Please note that I recognize that USB 3 is a lot faster then USB 2 and probably faster than firewire 800. And there is that issue that firewire devices are vanishing from the market. Good luck.


      • #4
        Not quite Thunderbolt but double 3.0 and ready to roll.
        Originally posted by Unconfigured Static HTML Widget...

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