Archive for the ‘laptop’ Category

More Misery from the PC-based Audio Laptop

Friday, February 1st, 2008

So, convinced as I was that I needed a TI based chipset for firewire on my Dell 6400 Crap-Top, I purchased the SIIG ExpressCard Firewire adapter. I was actually able to get the laptop to track audio with the MOTU Traveler! I was so happy that I had a functioning machine that I immediately went to do some mobile tracking.

So here’s what was working (sort of):

If I used a Lacie Extreme External Hard Disk using the USB 2.0 Interface I could record up to 5 or 6 tracks of 24 bit 88.2 Khz audio at a time. USB interfaces are not known for their ability to move a lot of data and are VERY rough on your CPU cycles. If I tried more than 6 tracks at a time, the CPU would get pinned at 100% and I would get drop outs or other unacceptable problems with audio.

Here’s what wasn’t working at all:

When I switched to using the Lacie External as a firewire drive I was unable to get even 2 tracks of audio without drop outs. I found out about this at a mobile recording gig. Both my customer and I were SUPER pissed.

I submitted a Tech Request to MOTU and here’s what I learned:

Reprinted from my MOTU Tech Support Response:

Hi Hendrik,
Due to the firewire implementation of Windows XP Service Pack 2, firewire audio interfaces may not work properly if multiple firewire devices are being used simultaneously.
You can remove Service Pack 2 as follows:

Go to the Add/Remove Programs control panel.
Locate Service Pack 2 and remove it.

If you cannot remove SP 2, you can minimize this behavior by disabling inputs and outputs if you are not using them, such as the optical ADAT I/O. Also, we have found that while the behavior is still present in Vista, by changing your host’s Buffer Size you should be able to find a setting which allows multiple devices to work in your system.
Additionally, there is a second Service Pack 2 FireWire issue which may compound this. Microsoft has offered a hotfix that may resolve this. Go to for more information and instructions for installing the hotfix. This does not affect systems with Vista.

This would seem to suggest that there is no good way to record mobile on a Windows XP Service Pack 2 computer. Firewire is only the real choice for an external disk. If you want to record, then you’re going to need to use the internal drives.

Give Apple another point on this one…