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USB vs Firewire: Is there advantages over the other?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
In my recently raoming of the intertubes I came across This. It got me thinking about how people site transfer rates in coax vs optical as a potential source for higher fidelity. So, my non-electroengineerish brain started wondering if there was a potential different bewteen USB and Firewire when it comes to audio fidelity.

Could there be any advantage in using Firewire400/800?

Has anyone tested the differences between asyncronous USB and asyncronous Firewire?
post #2 of 11
Quote:
Has anyone tested the differences between asyncronous USB and asyncronous Firewire?
Yes. I did so last night in response to another thread.

I own a MOTU Ultralite Hybrid. The hybrid in the name means it connects via either USB 2.0 or Firewire 400.

I've had 10 channels in and 14 out running simultaneously on both USB 2.0 & Firewire. Pristine.

Firewire is theoretically better but any real world differences, if they exist at all, are beneath my personal cba threshold.

btw 'jester. You don't need to go firewire. The same comapny sells this as well

ed: formatting
post #3 of 11
none of them seem to be able to offer galvanic isolation(except in the most expensive units), deal breaker for me
post #4 of 11
One possible advantage for firewire is that the clock master can be the DAC. For USB, it's almost always the host, and then the DAC has to deal with relocking and all of that jitter-related stuff. With firewire, if implemented well, jitter becomes a non-issue.

Leeperry: galvanic isolation is cheap. It can implemented on the DAC pretty easily, and in fact it's probably better to do it that way.
post #5 of 11
Quote:
For USB, it's almost always the host
Not any more mate. All the devices mentioned so far utilise asynchronous USB.

The OP knew this. vis

Quote:
Has anyone tested the differences between asyncronous USB and asyncronous Firewire?
post #6 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by RonaldDumsfeld View Post
Not any more mate. All the devices mentioned so far utilise asynchronous USB.

The OP knew this. vis
AFAIK, Windows doesn't even support this without a custom driver, at least not in the way I suggested.
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by leeperry View Post
none of them seem to be able to offer galvanic isolation(except in the most expensive units), deal breaker for me
I thought that this does, although it is possibly introducing extra components in the chain.

So, the fact that Firewire can offer faster data transfer rates does not affect sound quality? I know I am straying into the the big cable debate... I am merely asking on a pragamatic level (as in do the circuits respond better).
post #8 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Audio Jester View Post
I thought that this does, although it is possibly introducing extra components in the chain.

So, the fact that Firewire can offer faster data transfer rates does not affect sound quality? I know I am straying into the the big cable debate... I am merely asking on a pragamatic level (as in do the circuits respond better).
A 16 bit .wav file at a 44.1khz sampling rate takes up about 10MB per minute, right? That's about 166KB/s. Even low-bandwidth USB 1.0 can transfer 183KB/s. USB 1.1 can transfer a whole minute of .wav in 7 seconds. USB 2.0 can do it 40 times faster than that.

USB speeds

The only time USB 1.0 will not work adequately is when the .wav or .flac is encoded at higher bit depth and sampling rate. Then 1.1 should handle it fine. Though I suppose you can run into problems when the bandwidth is near saturated.

And it's digital, so there will be no audible difference between the two. Unless one has a significantly lower jitter (and I doubt even the audibility of that, but I won't get into it because you as well as I don't want a debate here).
post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by b0dhi View Post
Leeperry: galvanic isolation is cheap. It can implemented on the DAC pretty easily, and in fact it's probably better to do it that way.
indeed! there's this unit that boasts about it: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f43/fs...e-drop-480195/
Quote:
Galvanically isolated USB stage.
but that guy went nuts with groundloops over firewire: FireWire 4-wire cable to break "ground loop" - mLAN Forums

and that other guy nailed it down: Building a PSU for an external firewire soundcard - diyAudio
Quote:
The firewire optical isolator is basically optical isolation for firewire device. So there is no ground loop flowing between your soundcard and the PC (PC ground is extremely dirty).
USB and firewire need a shared ground by design, and only the very top units seem to bother adding galvanic isolation on top...I'll never go back to shared ground with the computer, that's for sure!
post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Head Injury View Post
A 16 bit .wav file at a 44.1khz sampling rate takes up about 10MB per minute, right? That's about 166KB/s. Even low-bandwidth USB 1.0 can transfer 183KB/s. USB 1.1 can transfer a whole minute of .wav in 7 seconds. USB 2.0 can do it 40 times faster than that.

USB speeds

The only time USB 1.0 will not work adequately is when the .wav or .flac is encoded at higher bit depth and sampling rate. Then 1.1 should handle it fine. Though I suppose you can run into problems when the bandwidth is near saturated.

And it's digital, so there will be no audible difference between the two. Unless one has a significantly lower jitter (and I doubt even the audibility of that, but I won't get into it because you as well as I don't want a debate here).
Thanks for that info! I guess that half answers my intial question. I was also wondering if the progamming behind Firewire is different and might have some impact? Now all we need is a USB/Firewire port that does not have that integrated power and clocking issue... come on Steve Jobs I know you are reading this! RoFL
post #11 of 11
Firewire, by Apple & TI, was purposefully designed for pro audio folks in handling their real-time multi-channel video applications (under critical time control) unlike USB which was primarily for consumers, aimly for being a license-free communication standard in the PC world.

Asynchronous (audio) USB is just a smart way for acheiving the lowest possible jitter control in PC audio playback applications.

Both Firewire and Async USB also require good implementation, mainly hardware design and quality components, in order to get the "best" sounds. IMHO, it depends on the budget you will grant for your (new) DAC. Either of these technologies will make you very happy !
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