Saturday, April 5, 2008

Firewire Audio Devices

Using Linux unfortunately limits one to certain hardware. This is because the companies which make these devices do not create Linux drivers. This is a downfall, but one which is easily avoided - don't buy equipment before you know it works in Linux! How do you check this? Well thats why I'm writing this article.

When buying audio hardware you would want a multi-channel recording facility. In other words, you want a mixing desk or soundcard which can record to multiple channels in Ardour or another DAW simultaneously. In my opinion the best way to do this is to use is super-fast and quite well supported in Linux. FFADO (previously known as FreeBoB) is an organisation which creates firewire support within Linux. Here is a link to FFADO's list of devices they support: FFADO Devices Support. Make sure that any firewire products you want to buy appear on their list before you buy it!

The Mackie ONYX and M-Audio NRV-10 mixers are both excellent choices for home recording projects. I heard of Linux-users who are happy with the PreSonus Firepod which is essentially a multiple input firewire soundcard. There are many audio devices out there which work exceptionally well in Linux... just please make sure you do your homework before you fork out tonnes of cash on something.

Other posts you might find interesting:

Microphone Review: Shure SM57 Microphone
The Best Programs in Ubuntu Studio
Audio Recording in Ubuntu - Part 1: Plan your Project
Audio Recording in Ubuntu - Part 2: Recording a Hydrogen Drumbeat
Hydrogen Drum Machine Basics


Jamie Jessup said...

Hey Just a thought,

I am curious what interface you're using to do your recordings. I was thinking about going for a Saffire Pro 26. They are fully supported with FFADO and Freebob. I keep having trouble building ffado so I will probably just use freebob until a package is released. But is this a good direction to go in?


Brian said...

Hey Jamie,

Thanks for the fantastic feedback. Currently, I'm in process of buying audio equipment so I'm not entirely able to help. This post came about because I was researching into products which would work in Linux. I think, personally, I would love to get the Mackie ONYX with a firewire card, but it is flippin expensive. So right now, my eyes are set on the M-Audio NRV-10 which is a cheaper and simpler alternative. Bare in mind, that all music equipment in South Africa is Imported and thus much more expensive. For advice on FFADO, it would be best to ask on their site.


Jamie Jessup said...

Thanks For All the help,

Yeah I have gotten a lot of frustration out of building FFADO. I have only been a Linux guy for around 4 months so building a program is a tough concept for me. Shouldn't the IDE do that for you lol! (Pokes the Microsoft VB IDE). I had it going on my gusty setup. However, since switching to my new sexy quad core with all the bells and whistles including Hardy, I always run into a scons error with something to do with dbus-c++.
I was thinking of Mackie as well but as an interface and a Mixer, to me it seems to be a little compromised on either side. As a mixer I kind of wanted to go digital but thats another story. The lack of 100mm faders is kind of upsetting but I'm guessing that was marketing to keep the price down. Not a big deal, just personal preference.
So especially with uni soon for me its a little more logical to go with a firewire interface at more than half the price that can accomplish more in a studio setting rather than the Mackie price tag in case I need to do live sound. They are damn sexy though!


Brian said...

If I were rich and famous I could justify buying the Mackie. But then again, if I were rich and famous, I would just pay a number of professionals to record my songs in an awesome studio.

Truth is - I'm not rich and I'm, sure as hell, not famous (Maybe one day, if Brian's Bedroom gets enough support). So, I'm not buying the Mackie - but "They are damn sexy though!"

This blog is all about doing things cheaply and effectively. I haven't done much research into the Saffire Pro 26, but I'll check it out when my wallet gets full enough. I do, however, quite like the idea of a Firewire mixer - it is extremely versatile.

Thanks for the input, keep it up.