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Viewing topic "best computer to use with FW16e"

Posted on: June 12, 2020 @ 09:18 PM
Total Posts:  8
Joined  06-01-2020
status: Newcomer

I want to get the best computer i can to use the FW16e card in my Motif XF while they are still available on the used market.  Best as in reliable and affordable..  appropriate, not some sort of gaming setup.  If any one has any suggestions, i would love to hear them.

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Posted on: June 13, 2020 @ 02:27 PM
Total Posts:  175
Joined  01-16-2012
status: Pro

I have been using a MacBook Pro(13 inch, mid 2012) for years with the FW16e and it works flawlessly.  I am using MacOS Sierra, version 10.12.6, processor 2.9 Ghz intel core I7, memory 8 GB 1600 MHz DDR3.  It has served me well and I use it mainly for the XF, that way I don’t have to keep upgrading software and drivers.  I use Cubase, XF standalone Editor and John Melas Total librarian.  Works for me.
Good luck!

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Posted on: June 14, 2020 @ 10:49 AM
Total Posts:  24
Joined  01-27-2012
status: Regular

A wholeheartedly agree with RobinVT. Go with a Mac, and strongly consider an older refurbished model.  I had originally purchased a 2011 MacBook Pro nearly a decade ago to go along with the Motif and FW16E, even though I was/am a hardcore Windows user for everything else.  I simply wanted something that was reliable for music production. 

For a variety of reasons, I hadn’t touched this combination of products in over 5 years, and only fairly recently took them out of storage.  Faced with a now near 10 year old Mac running an O/S that is nine versions old (Snow Leopard), I posted a couple of messages here seeking advice on connecting the Motif and FW16E to a Windows laptop. But I received no responses, which in itself tells you something.  I had basically resigned myself to abandoning the FW16E and purchasing a brand new Windows 10 laptop along with a USB-based audio interface, as I had no desire to shell out a lot of money for a new Mac computer when you can buy a powerful Windows laptop for much less.

But after researching how finicky Windows 10 can be with audio interfaces and with music production software in general, I have ultimately decided (just a couple of days ago in fact), to do a complete ‘360’ and go back to using the 2011 MacBook Pro. I have topped the unit out with 16GB of RAM, replaced the HDD with an SSD, and updated the O/S to High Sierra. Total upgrade cost: around $100. Using a Mac this old is somewhat of a bet, but articles and videos posted on the Web indicate that the 2011 MacBook still offers plenty of horsepower for music production. 

So bottom line after this long-winded response:  I’d suggest researching refurbished older MacBook Pro’s which you can probably pick up for several hundred dollars on eBay.

Good luck, and wish me luck in return!

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Posted on: June 14, 2020 @ 07:58 PM
Total Posts:  26
Joined  08-12-2013
status: Regular

A PC laptop can be used for flawless audio transmission from your XF through firewire, rivaling Macbooks.  To reference a brilliant reply to a November 2011 post by 5pinDIN (thanks 5pinDIN - you’re a hero to so many!!) - I thought I’d respond to chipd or anyone else looking to gain a used computer that runs firewire faithfully on the PC side of the computer kingdom.  Nevertheless, chipd made no preference in requesting info on a desktop or laptop.  My response is in regard to laptops of the PC variety.  Here goes:

Setting my XF up for the first time in 2014, I ordered an HP Elitebook 8570w laptop which I ordered with an ExpressCard port.  I use an IEEE1394 ExpressCard firewire adapter to avoid using the motherboard’s firewire port (see additional reading below).

Truth-be-told, my Elitebook came with Windows 7 with the option to upgrade it to Windows 8.1.  When I upgraded, HP had to replace the motherboard to facilitate Windows 8.1.  I increased the RAM and tweaked the power settings, etc., added the FW16e card to the XF and never since had a pop, dropout or crash (unless I forgot to disable my WiFi for the recording session).  I don’t know where the max-out point is, but in testing I’ve recorded 48 simultaneous, pristine, 20 minute stereo audio tracks.  We XF owners will never need that much; the max, I believe, is 8 simultaneous stereo channels.

All this to say that for those who would like to purchase a used PC-type laptop for this purpose, this is one way to do it, if you know how to select one.  With careful tweaking it will give flawless results.

Additional reading: for those who would like to take this avenue, you will need an IEEE1394 ExpressCard adapter with a Texas Instruments chip.  This will bypass the motherboard’s own IEEE1394 chip.  Lengthy hard pagefault resolution times cause the pops and dropouts ("DPC latency") audio aficionados can be cursed with.  Most PC laptops that have an IEEE1394 port in the motherboard (like mine), have an IEEE1394 chip manufactured by Ricoh or others.

These are harnessed with the internet transmission, power settings, and other processing calls that the laptop’s processor puts out. This momentary “signal takeover” is what obstructs the audio stream that the firewire transmission depends on.  One instance of internet activity, and Presto! - pops and dropouts in your audio.  The “outboard” ExpressCard IEEE1394 adapter bypasses the processor activity.  You may not need any ExpressCard adapter if your Texas Intruments chip is installed with the motherboard, but they are rare.  Texas Instruments may be the only manufacturer of IEEE1394 chips that do very well to avoid being affected by these interruptions.  (Also good to know if you have a desktop PC). To finish with this, as I said before, I also disable my WiFi when recording audio from my XF to my laptop for this purpose.  Extra-credit studying on this subject can be found just about anywhere on the web.  I sure hope this helps.  Thanks for your patience.

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Posted on: June 23, 2020 @ 10:27 AM
Total Posts:  8
Joined  06-01-2020
status: Newcomer

Robin, thanks for that input.  After research, it appears that 2012 macbook pros were the last computers designed to interface properly with the Motif XF.  So i think a refurbished 2012 macbook pro with all the options is the way to go for a dedicated computer for the Motif now.

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Posted on: June 24, 2020 @ 09:50 AM
Total Posts:  13
Joined  05-05-2012
status: Regular

I had been using a MacBook Pro circa 2011 with no problems.  the MacBook Pro died.  I’ve replaced it with a new iMac 27” running Mojave.  Initially, to accommodate the firewire from the Motif, I used two Apple adapters, which worked for a while, but suddenly became troublesome.  I now have OWC’s Thunderbolt 3 dock with a firewire slot and connects to the Thunderbolt 3 port on the Mac.  Works perfectly, and I believe the dock is currently on sale.

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Posted on: June 24, 2020 @ 01:58 PM
Total Posts:  11681
Joined  09-16-2010
status: Legend

Some users might be interested in using a Mac, but not necessarily want a laptop. I was discussing this with someone I trust who knows Macs well, and he provided the following:

If portability isn’t a requirement, another option in the Mac world is an older Mac Mini. The Mini is an ultra-compact desktop machine with a smaller footprint than a MacBook Pro. Of course, as a desktop, it requires an external display and keyboard/mouse/trackpad, which could be seen as either a pro or a con, depending on your needs and priorities.

Mac Minis produced in 2009-2012 could be considered. The 2009 models (there are five with different specifications) can be had for as little as $50 (including shipping) on eBay. They have one Firewire 800 port, five USB 2.0 ports, a Superdrive (CD/DVD read-write optical drive), and support up to 8GB of RAM. CPUs are in the Core 2 Duo family. The latest off-the-shelf version of Mac OS supported is 10.11 (El Capitan).

The 2010 models also use Core 2 Duo processors and retain the optical drive. They have one Firewire 800 port, four USB 2.0 ports, an SDXC SD Card slot, and support up to 16GB of RAM. Video support includes an HDMI port (not found on the 2009 models). The latest off-the-shelf version of Mac OS supported is 10.13 (High Sierra). This is the last Mac Mini that can natively boot Mac OS 10.6 (Snow Leopard), which was the last version to include the Rosetta emulator for running PowerPC applications.

In 2011, the internal optical drive was dropped and the processors shifted to Core i5 and i7 models. The port configuration is similar to the 2010 models, but substitutes a Thunderbolt port for the mini-DVI port. Again there’s a single Firewire 800 port and four USB 2.0 ports. Maximum RAM is again 16GB and up to Mac OS 10.13 (High Sierra) is supported.

The 2012 Minis are very similar to the 2011 models except for faster processors and USB 3.0 support. Other than the move to USB 3.0, the port configuration is the same as in 2011, including the single Firewire 800 port. Maximum RAM is still 16GB, but the latest Mac OS supported is 10.15 (Catalina), which is the current version. Prices for used units vary a lot depending on configuration. They can be found for as little
as $100, or as much as $1000 (usually with maximum RAM and one or two large SSDs)

The 2012 models were the last to have a Firewire port.

Of course, newer models can be adapted for FireWire. This is what Yamaha had to say about that a while ago:

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