Staying at 24-bit/48kHz, consider a more realistic real-world USB 2 bandwidth of 240Mbps (a slightly conservative figure, giving us plenty of overhead to allow for the connection limitations discussed earlier): you’d still have the ability to work with up to 40 channels of broadcast-quality audio simultaneously! Moreover, the computer you’re using for the recording also contributes to the speed, so it’s not only the interface. While USB has improved in that respect, and Thunderbolt seems finally to be catching up with PCIe, there’s no good reason to abandon a PCIe-based audio interface as a matter of principle — they’re still capable of great performance. The foremost thunderbolt enforcers are Focusrite, which has a unique scope of its powered interfaces. In the event that you do experience compatibility issues, though, it’s probably not the end of the world: current motherboards continue to include a small number of USB 2 headers, so you’ll have a stable fall-back option until any remaining teething issues are dealt with by the interface manufacturer. USB-C changes all that, because it’s intended to be a universal cable and connector specification. If you’re buying second-hand, though, it would be worth a quick Web search to check for known issues on the specific model in question. Mastering Essentials Part 5 - Compression & Limiting, Mastering Essentials Part 4 - Mastering EQ: Balance, Don’t Match, Re: newbie --- trying with no success to record, newbie --- trying with no success to record. Firewire. Despite the increasing adoption of USB 3, don’t discount USB 2 interfaces: they offer more than many of us need and, currently, do so for less money than dedicated USB 3 devices. Audio Interface Vs. Mixer – What’s the Difference? First, USB C is just a form of USB hardware interface, while Thunderbolt is an interface standard combining PCI Express data transmission technology with DisplayPort display technology. Both can do the same thing, but the main difference is in the speed of delivery. Another potential benefit of USB 3 (all generations) is that its ports can make more current available for bus-powered devices: 900mA, rather than the 500mA offered by USB 1 and USB 2. Manufacturers are beginning to take advantage of the better capability of USB 3. PreSonus StudioLive 32SC Series III Mixing Console. This looks like being good news for those who either want to hook up lots of outboard or run large recording sessions, but who are unhappy with recording at 44.1 or 48 kHz — it should push the prices of such systems down in the long run. Thunderbolt 3 is being touted as the one cable to rule them all. In practice, that didn’t always work so well with Firewire, but that was largely because of the more limited bandwidth. These requirements deliver a wide range of studio-quality and are expandable to add more sounds. A: Most audio interfaces today communicate with your computer either though a FireWire connection or a USB connection. The Apple and Google systems mentioned earlier use the new USB Type-C connector, which features a smaller, reversible plug design. In practice, it tends to be closer to 3.2Gbps — over 10 times the bandwidth of USB 2. Similarly, most USB 1 and 2 devices function quite happily when connected to a USB 3 port. The mic has an analog circuit designed to provide more reliable bandwidth and lesser distortion. First Look: Pro Tools | Carbon. Firewire (IEEE 1394) has never reached quite the same level of adoption on Windows PCs as on the Apple platform, and direct support on motherboards has tailed off almost completely in recent years, meaning that users of Firewire interfaces acquiring a new desktop machine have to fit a third-party card. The Komplete Audio 6 allows you to experience every best of your sound even if it’s recording or virtual instruments. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. It costs over ten times than a regular USB cord. Best professional audio interface for live recording. 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A USB audio interface is an excellent choice for mobile recording as the interface draws its power from the computer via the USB cable. It has continued (slowly, to date) to make inroads with the Windows PC market — a number of motherboards now support it, either directly, with a port on the motherboard, or via an add-in card. The USB 3 standard is certainly mature enough at this point that any new interface you purchase in future should already have any such problems ironed out. Many users have expressed surprise at the relatively slow uptake of USB 3 by audio-interface manufacturers, and it’s only in recent months that we’ve started to see more than the first couple of USB 3 models brought to market. It helps you to blend the tracks with ease. Indeed, shortly before going to press the first public noises were being made about the arrival of Thunderbolt 3, with the first official support due to arrive as part of Intel’s ‘Skylake’ chipset release, which is due towards the end of 2015. Hence, thunderbolt speeds up the transfer of files ten times in a very easy way. But which is better, and which will be the most popular? Thunderbolt interface can do some things that USB 3.0 cannot do, for example, connecting an external GPU or a Display screen (because it can transfer audio and video signals), and connect a docking station to extend external port. by Pablo Bellinghausen – There’s never been a better time to buy an audio interface, with more accurate converter chips and circuitry than has ever been possible in portable, inexpensive devices. The ‘USB 3.1 Gen 1’ (‘Gen’ meaning generation) ports found on the laptops mentioned don’t offer greater speed/bandwidth than USB 3.0, but they provide greater standardisation of the feature set and improved efficiency. Thunderbolt devices in the same domain can synchronize within 8 nanoseconds of each other, which is far better than other interconnection technologies. It also removes unwanted noise from the clips and enhances the quality of the sound. Technical Difference between the Thunderbolt vs USB Audio Interface. At the time of writing, USB 2 is the most common type of PC data connection in general use, but it’s clear that USB 3 will be similarly widely adopted, and many motherboards are now being released with more USB 3 sockets than USB 2 ones. Every upcoming artist should know that the best USB audio interface is not as fast as thunderbolt technology. Apogee Element 88 is a high-quality audio interface that helps you capture every detail of your recording into your computer. There’s been one major frustration over the years, though, particularly for PC users: because the Firewire standard requires more by way of two-way communication between the devices at each end of the connection (in this case, the computer and the audio interface), it means that there are more potential points of failure. 8 min read. Win! Now let’s see examples on both device models. by Studiospares. It’s already the gold standard of home and pro recording alike and put simply, investing in a Thunderbolt audio interface is … It also features a digital stereo input to prevent loss of signal transmission. There’s much more available with Thunderbolt, which could make Thunderbolt audio devices appealing given the relatively limited connectivity offered by most modern laptops: not only does it mean you don’t need an adaptor, but it could also free up USB ports for external drives, iLok dongles and so on. All these factors made Firewire the preferred connection standard in larger studios for a long time. .wp-pros-cons { But then it shows that the Thunderbolt interface is the best professional audio interface. Yet, you should know that thunderbolt alone won’t give you the highest speed. It’s still seen on some of the more specialist broadcast-industry cards for this reason, and it means that some older cards by the likes of RME and Lynx still offer fantastic performance. Web site designed & maintained by PB Associates & SOS. Since its thunderbolt connected its very selective on the systems, it can work on. An overview of the Universal Audio Arrow Thunderbolt 3 audio interface; Thunderbolt 3 vs USB 3.1 audio interfaces; They’ve built the first Thunderbolt 3 audio interface with Unisson preamps; Introducing your personal mixing console, Universal Audio’s Console 2.0; Experience Universal Audio’s suite of modelled analog plug-ins Some audio interfaces, like the newest Universal Audio Apollos, use the bandwidth and performance offered by Thunderbolt, as they host DSP plug-in processors as well as delivering audio to and from the computer. That said, there are, unfortunately, a few exceptions. Moreover, it helps you edit, record, mix and compose with Cubase Le 6 features. Just to confuse things further, Asus, who have 3.1 motherboards already available, and a number of manufacturers who will be updating their product ranges over the coming months, have adopted the higher–speed Gen 2 ports, whilst still keeping the classic single-orientation USB connector design. If your manufacturer doesn’t offer specific advice on the matter, it’s worth remembering that the most commonly recommended solutions are PCIe controller cards built around Texas Instruments controller chips (the presence of these is often indicated on the product box). As before, there is a variety of physical connectors for the new standards, which can make things confusing. Before purchasing an audio interface, the first step is to ascertain what type of communications your computer supports. You may login with either your assigned username or your e-mail address. All rights reserved. An even newer USB 3.1 Gen 2 is also emerging. Cost – Low Budget USB Mic vs Higher Budget XLR Mic + Interface. Apogee Element 88 – Thunderbolt Audio Interface, 2. The second generation of Firewire (Firewire 800, or IEEE 1394b) has also been around for a number of years now. All that is in the future, though, and we’ll probably be well into 2016 before Thunderbolt 3-enabled computers and external devices start to become widely available. In a bid to transfer these huge files from one place to another, Native instruments came up Komplete package. The reason for the high price is that it entails using an Intel or Apple-owned technology. If you own one of these and are planning on updating a desktop machine, it might be worth finding one with a PCIe slot available. Thunderbolt 1 and 2 are mainly used in Apple laptops. Sound production could be confusing for a first-time recording artist. The performance gap has decreased in recent years, though, and in some cases, high-end USB 3 interfaces have managed lower latencies than Firewire ones. Universal Audio Apollo Twin USB Audio Interface, DUO. Likewise, Focusrite’s Clarett 2 comes with eight optical-cable inputs on the back with a standard two ports in the front. 10/02/2018. Technical Difference between the Thunderbolt vs USB Audio Interface, 1. Most Firewire 400 devices can operate on Firewire 800 connections. According to the specifications, USB 3.0 can achieve an impressive 5Gbps but, just as with USB 2, this is reduced in real-world implementations. The feature allows you to add high-quality workflows as used by many professional recording artists. This offers the features of Gen 1 but doubles the speed, increasing the theoretical throughput to 10Gbps, as well as improving data encoding to reduce the overheads. In Stock. } With this feature an audio interface could even function when plugged into a host computer supporting only USB 2.0 using a USB-C to USB-A … 5 stars (11) 4 stars (0) 3 stars (1) 2 stars (0) 1 star (0) £666.00. As time went on, the need arose to move larger files at a faster rate than average. Furthermore, with a good quality converter, you’ll hear each track better. It can also connect with eGPU or eGFX, including external graphics. The interface market reflects this. The very first connection type was USB 1.1 and now we are using thunderbolt 3 USB-C connection. It looks like the main thing you can purchase is a USB or Firewire audio interface. Thunderbolt, the input/output interface found predominantly on Apple desktops and laptop computers, promises unbelievable data and power transfer speed. It’s not a good comparison as thunderbolt is twice as fast as any USB device, and trust me, its a good thing. .wp-pros-cons .wppc-header .wppc-box-symbol i { A USB-C connector is a significant improvement over the bulky connectors of the past: it’s reversible, so you can’t plug cables in upside down, and it is wicked thin so it will fit in just about anything — whi… The views expressed are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of the publishers. For people buying right now, I’m afraid the market is in a state of flux as the various standards evolve. Moreover, the digital to analog conversion gives you a clear sound as opposed to other interfaces. Thunderbolt cables are the newest connection type featured on this list.Originally codenamed “Light Peak,” Thunderbolt was first a technology that was developed by Intel. At the theoretical maximum USB 2 bandwidth, you’d be able to record just over 40 tracks of 24-bit, 96kHz audio, while halving the sample rate to 48kHz would give you 80 tracks. When it comes to speed, thunderbolt is the best professional audio interface even better than the USB 3 interface. Average rating 4.8 / 5. It used to be that each protocol had its own connector type — you wouldn’t mistake an SCSI port for a FireWire port, or USB for Thunderbolt. Techspirited tries to conclude which of the two is a better interface. Universal Audio Apollo Solo. But we’re already seeing more affordable units too, including those with few I/O. Just to confuse things, all this will be done via a cable designed around the same reversible connector standard as USB 3.1 — and the Thunderbolt 3 port will even be backwards-compatible with USB 3.1, although it will only offer the slower 10Gbps and lower charging rates employed by the USB standard when a 3.1 device is connected.The small number of physical connectors on modern laptops means there is still a role for smaller Thunderbolt interfaces, such as the Zoom TAC2 pictured here, as they can often reliably be daisy-chained with other Thunderbolt devices. CTRL + SPACE for auto-complete. Also, systems that accept the medium is in the high-end category. If your using an iOS-enabled device, it will connect to the audio interface using USB. You may think that comparing thunderbolt and USB 3 is like a Mac vs PC features contest. Audio Interfaces: USB 3 vs Thunderbolt. In the last year, a newer Thunderbolt 2 standard has arrived — it was required to facilitate 4k video streaming and capture, among other high-bandwidth applications. I bought an M-Audio Delta series PCI card about 10 years ago, and it's worked great, but I'd like to get a new card that uses PCI Express. }. It is true that USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt offer higher bandwidths but our interfaces simply don't need the additional bandwidth that these connections offer. They also produce a high quality of thunderbolt, as seen in claret devices, giving users access to quality sounds. If you can’t tell the differences between thunderbolt technology and USB audio interface, you need to get insight to help you make the right choice. The Universal Audio Arrow desktop audio interface came out in 2018 and brought UAD processing to the USD 500 price range. Apollo Solo is the world’s finest Thunderbolt 3-powered desktop recording audio interface for Mac and Windows — delivering class‑leading audio conversion, two Unison ™ mic preamps, and a suite of onboard UAD plug-ins for recording album‑quality results, in real time. While USB 3 does offer some advantages, there are several good reasons for the apparently slow progress. Let’s translate that into more practical audio terms. color: #000; PCIE – which has long been the standard connection for professional interfaces, because it offers additional processing power and extremely fast data-transfer. When it comes to bandwidth, the first-generation Firewire 400 standard (IEEE 1394a) is slightly worse (400Mbps) on paper than USB 2, but in practice it holds several advantages. Both Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.1 use the USB Type-C connector and port. Refurbished Windows 10 Laptop Spec for DAW?. Onboard, you get 2×2 analog I/O, two XLR mic input, a headphone slot, and TRS jack for guitars and basses. While there are not yet many USB 3-specific interfaces, the early trend is towards models with a higher I/O count, and support of more channels at the higher sample rates. But is it worth waiting for? If you wish to fasten your transfer of files during recording, you have one gold standard, the thunderbolt audio interface. Thunderbolt and USB are not even remotely similar bus types. Thunderbolt 3 protocol is compatible with USB 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1. The USB 2 specification states that it has the ability to transmit data at up to 480Mbps, but due to bus constraints, the way the data is handled, and designers leaving headroom to ensure the best possible results in day-to-day use, even a well-designed USB 2 interface is likely to have a throughput closer to 280Mbps. While Thunderbolt technically offers a lower latency, is this difference even perceptible in practice? border-radius: 10px; This should, in theory, allow manufacturers to develop better bus-powered interfaces, either with more facilities or more channels of the same. Also, it comes with a microphone preamp that captures your recording’s sound details, be it drums, vocals, or strings. Several interfaces that offer large numbers of high-quality I/O — some with on-board DSP processing to boot — have been available for a while and more will follow. Thunderbolt docking stations. In practice, that has worked well with most general-purpose peripherals, but some users of older USB audio interfaces have experienced unexpected problems when trying to connect via USB 3 ports. Those who need to add Firewire support to a desktop machine can do so easily via an inexpensive PCIe card. Thunderbolt is the brand name of a hardware interface developed by Intel (in collaboration with Apple) that allows the connection of external peripherals to a computer.Thunderbolt 1 and 2 use the same connector as Mini DisplayPort (MDP), whereas Thunderbolt 3 re-uses the USB-C connector from USB. It benefits from a peer-to-peer connection system compared with USB’s more intensive master/slave approach, meaning that Firewire wastes less of its bandwidth and offers more stable throughput of data. Otherwise, it remains backwards-compatible with the original standard. So now let’s make some comparisons of the XLR microphone and audio interface versus a USB Microphone. After all, how many of us can hear a difference between 96kHz and 192kHz recordings? As a result, it usually achieves lower latencies than USB equivalents, and Firewire interfaces have sometimes offered higher I/O counts than USB 2 devices. It also offers devices for intuitive song-writing and tools to improve your ideas on music and studio effects. Furthermore, it features a headphone output with independent level control and source switch. background: #27c110; This should, over time, bring a reduction in the number of connected devices requiring the dreaded ‘wall wart’. It offers twice the bandwidth of FW400 so, as you might expect, most FW800 interfaces are high-I/O solutions, with the added benefit on some models that multiple interfaces can be daisy-chained for even more recording capability. Thanks to its widespread adoption, the multitude of interfaces available also find themselves competing for market share, and this helps keep them keenly priced. Thus, the faster the medium, the lower the time it takes for your guitar note to get to the speakers. In this article, I’ll try to tell you what you need to know when investing in an audio computer and/or audio interface. Thunderbolt 3 ports look the same as USB Type-C ports, but they're speedier, and the two have key inner differences. This information would help to choose your work tools. The small number of physical connectors on modern laptops means there is still a role for smaller Thunderbolt interfaces, such as the Zoom TAC2 pictured here, as they can often reliably be daisy-chained with other Thunderbolt devices. color: #fff; If you’re choosing a new audio interface or a new computer, what are the pros and cons of the many different connection protocols that are on offer? A FireWire audio interface connects with a FireWire 400 or 800 connection and is comparable to USB 2.0 in speed. If this is your first foray into home recording studio setup, then cost may be the main issue for you. A more recent standard is Thunderbolt, which has already become well established on the Apple Mac platform, thanks to their early adoption. Audio recording technology is continuously evolving over time. The contents of this article are subject to worldwide copyright protection and reproduction in whole or part, whether mechanical or electronic, is expressly forbidden without the prior written consent of the Publishers. Audio interfaces are essential to recording sessions both in the studio and on stage. As such, every recording artist should be able to tell the premium models to use. Evolution continued… Especially in device connectivity we’ve seen 7 major generations. For a budget audio interface with mic preamps, line-level I/O, and Thunderbolt 3 support, the Universal Audio Arrow provides excellent value for your money. The delay in uptake of Thunderbolt on Windows PCs means that most new PC boards are skipping Thunderbolt 1 and are starting to offer Thunderbolt 2. Well, Thunderbolt offers the same benefits as Firewire did. In terms of data speed, Thunderbolt is one of the fastest platforms available and is on the path to be the future of data transfer, overtaking USB 3.0 (see above). The necessary power needed for processing a data transfer from a hard drive to a DAW is the basis on which the developed USB 3. Nonetheless, you should be careful about whether the PC or Mac you use the thunderbolt on. Mixing your projects will be a lot easier since the quality of the sounds involved is top-notch. There are a lot of technical differences between a USB and Thunderbolt interface. Finally, the write up also reviews the two interfaces and features that make each unique. As for Thunderbolt, these interfaces are still relatively expensive, but will no doubt become less so as more products enter the market. .wp-pros-cons .wppc-btn-wrapper .jd-wppc-btn { It offers the same 20Gbps as Thunderbolt 1 but does so over a single channel, whereas Thunderbolt 1 delivered 10Gbps on each of two channels. This way, there will be no need to try slow media since it’s built for only fast ones, which is where thunderbolt comes in. This speed, called latency, is how fast the medium sends your input signal in and out of your computer. A Thunderbolt interface could only function as a Thunderbolt interface when connected via its Thunderbolt port. By way of example, RME’s MADIFace USB is a USB 2 bus-powered 128-channel digital audio interface. More so, since it limits the product range, it tends to cost more. But this doesn’t change the fact that this device remains the best USB audio interface. With elite hardware features and stunning software advancements, this audio interface delivers the ultimate recording experience. The speed and capacity of the more limited bandwidth has recently become popular with newer interfaces... It more than Walton of studio-quality and are expandable to add Firewire support to a Thunderbolt port too various evolve... 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