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No more Focusrite interfaces for me

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Re: No more Focusrite interfaces for me

Postby Arpangel » Tue Apr 06, 2021 7:09 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
Probably only after Armageddon on Planet Earth. I can't say what will happen on Planet Arpangel as my life force is not compatible with that universe... :lol:

I don’t know why I bother with the longevity of stuff like this, the way I’m feeling my current OS will se me out

:crazy:
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Re: No more Focusrite interfaces for me

Postby BobTheDog » Tue Apr 06, 2021 7:48 am

The Elf wrote:
BobTheDog wrote:RME software may go on forever but from my experience their hardware doesn’t, I have two dead firefaces here, neither lasted longer than 5 years.
Two Fireface 800s here still working perfectly.

Good to know, maybe I have even unlucky.

The first I had gradually started loosing channels, I think 4 went in the end, always the left channel.

The second just died, I guess some power supply issue.

They are both in the cupboard of "things you really should try to fix".
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Re: No more Focusrite interfaces for me

Postby ef37a » Tue Apr 06, 2021 8:05 am

"Rebuild the computer" Useless? WTF!
My son has enough trouble with them as it is. He zips around Samplitude pro X3 like a pro but get away from that and musical matters and he is lost.

Then there is the problem of software re registration. He has Sam X3 on DVDs and has had problems and it is always a pain getting MAGIX to give him a new code.

If the software companies would recognize that W10 cocks things up from time to time and be a little more relaxed about getting peeps going after updates that would be useful.

Dave.
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Re: No more Focusrite interfaces for me

Postby Arpangel » Tue Apr 06, 2021 8:11 am

ef37a wrote:"Rebuild the computer" Useless? WTF!
My son has enough trouble with them as it is. He zips around Samplitude pro X3 like a pro but get away from that and musical matters and he is lost.

Then there is the problem of software re registration. He has Sam X3 on DVDs and has had problems and it is always a pain getting MAGIX to give him a new code.

If the software companies would recognize that W10 cocks things up from time to time and be a little more relaxed about getting peeps going after updates that would be useful.

Dave.

That’s another thing Dave, codes, licenses, you pay four hundred quid for something that’s restricted to one or two machines, and when you try and move it around, god forbid, I had horrendous issues with Reason, loads of mails to them, it’s "my" program FFS, I bought it!
I know piracy is a problem, but the way it’s dealt with is still a mess.
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Re: No more Focusrite interfaces for me

Postby ef37a » Tue Apr 06, 2021 8:33 am

Arpangel wrote:
ef37a wrote:"Rebuild the computer" Useless? WTF!
My son has enough trouble with them as it is. He zips around Samplitude pro X3 like a pro but get away from that and musical matters and he is lost.

Then there is the problem of software re registration. He has Sam X3 on DVDs and has had problems and it is always a pain getting MAGIX to give him a new code.

If the software companies would recognize that W10 cocks things up from time to time and be a little more relaxed about getting peeps going after updates that would be useful.

Dave.

That’s another thing Dave, codes, licenses, you pay four hundred quid for something that’s restricted to one or two machines, and when you try and move it around, god forbid, I had horrendous issues with Reason, loads of mails to them, it’s "my" program FFS, I bought it!
I know piracy is a problem, but the way it’s dealt with is still a mess.

Right on Tone! I L.O.V.E. Sound on Sound, the magazine and the forum is THE best but. I think they are far too "Gentlemanly" about this issue and should kick some A about it.

I suppose though, if you have "A Name" you rarely get hassled by the likes of MAGIX?

Like how, when the BBC consumer people get involved "Ryan Air" magically find that refund some poor sod has been trying to get since 2019!

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Re: No more Focusrite interfaces for me

Postby Arpangel » Tue Apr 06, 2021 9:22 am

ef37a wrote:
Arpangel wrote:
ef37a wrote:"Rebuild the computer" Useless? WTF!
My son has enough trouble with them as it is. He zips around Samplitude pro X3 like a pro but get away from that and musical matters and he is lost.

Then there is the problem of software re registration. He has Sam X3 on DVDs and has had problems and it is always a pain getting MAGIX to give him a new code.

If the software companies would recognize that W10 cocks things up from time to time and be a little more relaxed about getting peeps going after updates that would be useful.

Dave.

That’s another thing Dave, codes, licenses, you pay four hundred quid for something that’s restricted to one or two machines, and when you try and move it around, god forbid, I had horrendous issues with Reason, loads of mails to them, it’s "my" program FFS, I bought it!
I know piracy is a problem, but the way it’s dealt with is still a mess.

Right on Tone! I L.O.V.E. Sound on Sound, the magazine and the forum is THE best but. I think they are far too "Gentlemanly" about this issue and should kick some A about it.

I suppose though, if you have "A Name" you rarely get hassled by the likes of MAGIX?

Like how, when the BBC consumer people get involved "Ryan Air" magically find that refund some poor sod has been trying to get since 2019!

Dave.

Oh dear, Samplitude, my weapon of choice about fifteen years ago on my dual core PC.
Fantastic program, I drifted away from it when I got Reaper as it’s less complicated, albeit less good as an editor than Samplitude.
I suppose if you’re "a name" you don’t have to deal with any of this, you get your tech to handle it, while you’re off doing something nice like making music, or sipping a brandy.

:D
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Re: No more Focusrite interfaces for me

Postby blinddrew » Tue Apr 06, 2021 9:32 am

ef37a wrote:If the software companies would recognize that W10 cocks things up from time to time and be a little more relaxed about getting peeps going after updates that would be useful.
Funnily enough Focusrite have always been really good at recognising this with me. I must be on my third 'batch' of registrations with them now as every now and then a big MS update will use up another of their software registrations. When it gets to four, I drop them a note and they reset it with no bother or questions.
And to be fair to other software companies as well, when I shifted computer last year I had very few niggles with transferring stuff over, and nothing that wasn't pretty quickly sorted.
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Re: No more Focusrite interfaces for me

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Apr 06, 2021 10:07 am

Arpangel wrote:I had horrendous issues with Reason, loads of mails to them, it’s "my" program FFS, I bought it!

No mate, it's not your program, buying a licence is just permission to use it for as long as the licence agreement lasts (or the company want you to). The code (software) still belongs to the sw company.

I know piracy is a problem, but the way it’s dealt with is still a mess.

No argument with this though :thumbup:
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Re: No more Focusrite interfaces for me

Postby Rockrooms » Tue Apr 06, 2021 10:09 am

uselessoldman wrote:I take a couple of days off visiting the girlfriend and it takes almost as long to catch up.

It has grown into quite a thread.
I never owned a Liquid 56, was very tempted by them back in the day and apparently they were very popular in Italy for some reason.

uselessoldman wrote:It is wrong and bad in my books to blame Microsoft or Windows 10. Yes they have made some silly mistakes with updates and screwed users over for a few days, but those faults were quickly sorted. The whole ethos of Windows 10 is consistency and continuity what worked yesterday should work today and continue working in the future.

(see previous disclaimer, my personal thoughts)
I wasn't trying to blame Microsoft per se, the OS is a factor, especially for the test matrix. Windows runs on an incredibly diverse set of hardware and regrettably some combinations just stop working after updates and sometimes things get fixed, sometimes they don't. The huge install base is such that your milage will vary.

My current development laptop, a Dell XPS with a 7th Gen i7, 6 years old now, is stuck on Windows 1909, for which support runs out shortly and it's long out of Dell warranty / support. If I upgrade to Win 2004, the thunderbolt / USB-C port loses hotplug functionality. It has the latest BIOS, chipset drivers / Dell updates. As hot plug is one of the key driver tests that gets run on it, very shortly I'm going to have no choice but to move to 2004 and that's the end of this laptop for any dev work. Whilst hotplug might not be a deal breaker for some, unfortunately for me it is. I could spend time trying to fix it, but have tried in the past to no avail and it takes away time from "real" work and the cost of my time would rapidly exceed the cost of buying a newer laptop. That really grates, but that's the hard reality.

I volunteer at CoderDojo helping kids get into programming and have a bunch of old (10 years+ in some cases ) laptops that I do my best to keep running, but over time the pool has been declining, mostly because things like wifi / network ports, usb ports or displays just stop working after an update. They're a range of Dells, Sony, IBMs, from Core 2s to 2nd gen I5, so old and have had a good run and it is very frustrating when an update breaks them, especially as the cost of replacing them is expensive to effectively replace what was a perfectly working device. That said newer ones are usually considerably lighter, which when multiplied by 10-15 has a considerable health benefit for my back and are more power efficient.

Sometimes getting parts such as CPU or RAM or batteries for the older laptops is crazy amounts of money, to the point of buying a newer laptop is not much more. As a volunteer, my time for doing the maintenance is "free", but if it wasn't then again the cost of paying someone to do it would be prohibitive and buying a new / newer device is the only sensible option. Again it really bugs me, but as I'm personally funding keeping them going, I have to make a decision between the wider goal of the club aims and where my time / finances are best spent, my tiny equivalent of how wider businesses work.

This thread has raised a lot of wider issues on how as a society we deal with the trail of stuff our rapid technology development is leaving behind us. I personally despair of the amount of energy consumed (and heat produced by) crypto currencies, others believe that they are going to end wars (seriously!) and bring the dawn of a new age.

I can't speak of what Focusrite was like when Forte was being designed, but I would say that these days, Focusrite is the most eco concerned company I've worked for and not just "lets do some carbon offsetting to salve our conscience". Ecological concerns are part of the development process, there's a team who are very active in trying to reduce our carbon footprint and I've got a number of meetings leading up to Earth day looking at our impact in several different areas. We're working with https://juliesbicycle.com/ as part of that process. There are limits to how much we can do at once, but as a company things are happening that will help reduce our impact and by extension our customer's impact on the environment.

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Re: No more Focusrite interfaces for me

Postby merlyn » Tue Apr 06, 2021 10:25 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:You upgrade your white goods every x years.

If you treat an audio interface like a washing machine then ten years is a pretty good innings. (It's difficult to get the Persil out.)

Let's say an audio interface is a tool. How long do tools last?

If a screwdriver breaks it wasn't a very good screwdriver. Or for the more electronically minded let's take a professional tool -- a Fluke multimeter. Forever isn't a bad approximation to how long a Fluke lasts.

The key difference with either of those tools is that you, the user, decide when to replace it -- not the manufacturer.

If audio interfaces are like screwdrivers then we have a situation where screw and screwdriver manufacturers keep changing the size and shape of screws. In this analogy a screwdriver has to be replaced because it is obsolete -- it no longer fits the new screws -- not because it has worn out.

So far, so free market. Repeating the mantra of "that's just the way it is" is a sure fire way to make sure it stays that way. Perhaps it's more reassuring to think that things are basically OK, but there is an increasing amount of evidence that they're not.
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Re: No more Focusrite interfaces for me

Postby JackFocusrite » Tue Apr 06, 2021 1:41 pm

Hi all,

Joe (Rockrooms) has already posted on here but I thought I'd summarise a few points:

- We don't ever want to stop providing updates for any of our devices. We don't directly gain anything by ending development support for a device and we're well aware that, when we do have to do so, it will upset some of the users of that product. If we could, we'd support all devices indefinitely.

- At the same time, there sometimes becomes a point where it's simply not viable for us to continue to provide updates for very old products. This viability depends on a number of factors, ranging from engineering availability to technical practicality, amongst other things. Our hand is sometimes forced by OS/platform updates (e.g. Apple M1).

- Where we can, we have provided software support for products well beyond the trends happening elsewhere in the technology sector. As an example, Apple typically provides OS updates for their hardware for around 7 years - the last update we provided for the FireWire Saffire range was in 2019, a decade after they were launched. The update in question means that Saffires will still work with Intel-based systems running the very latest macOS (Big Sur, launched towards the end of 2020).

Please bear in mind that the Saffires are FireWire 400 devices and Apple stopped putting FireWire 800 ports on their machines back in 2013. At this point in time there really aren't that many FireWire peripherals (audio interfaces or otherwise) that work with the latest Mac hardware/operating systems.

There are, of course, plenty of examples of other technology products receiving updates after both longer and shorter amounts of time than this.

- When we stop providing updates for a product or range we communicate this as clearly as we can on our Help Centre. Us announcing that we're no longer providing software/driver updates does not immediately mean that the product in question stops working. As a user the option to hold off on updating your computer's operating system is always in your hands (though, of course, we recognise that everyone likes a good update!).

I also thought I'd directly address a few points from various posts in this thread. I don't post on here particularly often so apologies if the formatting is a bit iffy. My comments are meant purely to clarify, not in any way to attack the various views expressed in them (I can quite understand some of the conclusions and confusions in the statements):

"Thing is, writing a driver is not particularly difficult.

It's actually much easier than building a complex business application or even a website. Drivers are easy simply because if you have a very well defined scope and clear interfaces both on the OS side and on the hardware side."


Writing good audio drivers is a very particular skillset bestowed upon relatively few software engineers (in many ways it's not really like writing "software", it's often closer to middleware).

When you bear in mind how many devices we do support and the huge variety of Windows systems that we do our absolute utmost to ensure compatibility with (not to mention OS updates) the complexity of the code and the ensuing test matrix are very significant constant undertakings for our Engineering team.

"But the forte is USB. Yes, it probably came with a boilerplate driver from the chipset manufacturer that the 'rite programmers simply adapted and branded."

We write and maintain our drivers (Mac and Windows) in house.

"Microsoft cannot change the Windows Audio/Midi subsystem, the whole world would be up in arms"

Changes to Windows frequently impact the performance of peripheral devices, including audio interfaces. We absolutely do sometimes have to push out driver updates in order to deal with OS changes, including incremental Windows 10 updates.

"ceasing support after only ten years isn't going to inspire confidence in the marketplace."

I don't think any of us here disagree with this point, Hugh! We don't take decisions like that lightly and we never make them without very hard contemplation as to the alternatives (when there are any).

When developing a product it's unfortunately impossible to predict what will happen in X years time, hence the reason that most peripheral manufacturers can't really predict or message in advance at what point in the future providing software updates becomes unviable.

"My position and argument is why stop supporting anything that is currently still working. I specifically was interested in what Rockrooms had to say since I own the Liquid 56 a Focusrite product that they discontinued making and supporting that is still working fine with the current version of Windows."

This somewhat goes back to one of the bullet points at the top of this post - if everything is working well for you in your system then it should continue to do so indefinitely.

If, however, that system changes in a manner which we're aware is likely to be problematic (in this case, an OS update) and that we can't, for one reason or another, offer a solution for, then the best we can really do is provide the appropriate public messaging that we wouldn't advise making that change to your system.

Apologies for the very long post, I wanted to try to address as many individual points as possible!

Best,
Jack // Focusrite Technical Support
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Re: No more Focusrite interfaces for me

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Apr 06, 2021 2:33 pm

Thanks Jack. Your input and insight is much appreciated.
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Re: No more Focusrite interfaces for me

Postby CS70 » Tue Apr 06, 2021 2:45 pm

JackFocusrite wrote:Hi all,

Joe (Rockrooms) has already posted on here but I thought I'd summarise a few points:

- We don't ever want to stop providing updates for any of our devices. We don't directly gain anything by ending development support for a device and we're well aware that, when we do have to do so, it will upset some of the users of that product. If we could, we'd support all devices indefinitely.

Thanks Jack. Let me make a couple of follow up remarks to the point that pertain my original and followup posts.

- At the same time, there sometimes becomes a point where it's simply not viable for us to continue to provide updates for very old products. This viability depends on a number of factors, ranging from engineering availability to technical practicality, amongst other things. Our hand is sometimes forced by OS/platform updates (e.g. Apple M1).

So much is clear, and reasonably uncontroversial.

Thing is, the Forte is not very old. As an example, one of my interfaces is a RME Hammerfall Multiface built circa 2001. 20 years ago. That I can accept that is very old and I truly marveled when I found out it worked flawlessly with w10 and it continues to do so update after update.

The Forte was launched in 2012 and has been sold, I guess, for a few years after. So someone might have bought one in say 2016 and now - from his/her perspective - be 5 or 6 years from the purchase. Now I find it difficult to reasonably qualify something that's been 5 or 6 years old as "very old"?

Furthermore, it is connected via USB 2.0 and nothing dramatic has happened to USB 2.0 in itself in this time (certainly not remotely as dramatic as the introduction of a fundamentally different hardware execution architecture). I am not aware of any dramatic change in Windows support for USB2.0 either (but I cannot be certain as I have not worked with it in the past few years, so please tell if that's the case, with some concrete reference to where to go look). There's also an argument that - if Windows support had changed so dramatically - it would have affected all similar USB devices.. and it patently hasn't.

So it would be cool to have an idea of what are the technical aspects that are stopping maintenance, beyond the usual somewhat generic arguments. That's because - from the point of view of someone reasonably familiar with the technical aspects of it, I cannot fathom any (and not for lack of trying). I could easily fathom the business reasoning beyond these changes, but I'd rather not - hence my post. :)

Just tell the world what's happened, in some degree of precision. While that kind of transparency is undoubtedly unusual (and occasionally can prove slightly embarassing - "we've lost the source code!"-style :D) it could really be helpful to maintain credibility in what is, after all, a relatively niche market. It buys good will to no end, and good will buys product as much as good prices.

As an aside, it'd be very cool if you made the codebase open source so that someone else can actually adapt it. But I completely understand that that is difficult, so no requesting it :D

- Where we can, we have provided software support for products well beyond the trends happening elsewhere in the technology sector. As an example, Apple typically provides OS updates for their hardware for around 7 years - the last update we provided for the FireWire Saffire range was in 2019, a decade after they were launched. The update in question means that Saffires will still work with Intel-based systems running the very latest macOS (Big Sur, launched towards the end of 2020).

Please bear in mind that the Saffires are FireWire 400 devices and Apple stopped putting FireWire 800 ports on their machines back in 2013. At this point in time there really aren't that many FireWire peripherals (audio interfaces or otherwise) that work with the latest Mac hardware/operating systems.

There are, of course, plenty of examples of other technology products receiving updates after both longer and shorter amounts of time than this.

That is nice to hear, but once again, it has little bearing on the Forte issue. Firewire has experienced a gigantic loss of market place which has shifted the hardware situation immensely. While not fun, I wouldn't complain about lack of FireWire support because FireWire is by now, well, "very old".

Not so for a plain USB2.0 product.

As of Apple: it is among the worst sinners when it comes to dumping technology and users, so hardly an example to follow in my humble opinion. But Apple is chiefly a consumer company, it seems to me - which makes the behavior at least understandable, if not agreeable. In other words, I expect my iPhone to be out of date in a handful of years and I do not rely on Apple hardware for anything business related because of the same reason.

Again, the Forte was marketed as a "professional" product (from the manual's introduction:
Thank you for purchasing the Focusrite Forte, one of the family of Focusrite professional computer audio interfaces incorporating high quality Focusrite analogue pre-amplifiers.)

- When we stop providing updates for a product or range we communicate this as clearly as we can on our Help Centre. Us announcing that we're no longer providing software/driver updates does not immediately mean that the product in question stops working. As a user the option to hold off on updating your computer's operating system is always in your hands (though, of course, we recognise that everyone likes a good update!).

Well frankly, I would be surprised if you didn't (communicate clearly etc) :D

My argument is exactly with the decision of not providing continued support in the face of no overwhelming changes in the system landscape - changes such as the shift to ARM platforms or to a completely different connection protocol.

With Windows, the system landscape continuously undergoes a slow change (as said, I haven't checked for a few years now, but I doubt that the USB infrastructure changes with every update). Of course, it would be even easier if it didn't, but it does.

Writing good audio drivers is a very particular skillset bestowed upon relatively few software engineers (in many ways it's not really like writing "software", it's often closer to middleware).

As I already replied to Joe, any discussion about difficulty is somewhat pointless, as it depends on the context and the capabilities and experience of the person speaking (or writing).

The sense of the statement is as I clarified already. Nobody is saying that the activity is trivial. Building a house is not trivial. And yet is the job that people building houses have elected to do. Same goes for audio interfaces or any hardware interfacing with a Windows computer. After all, there are literally millions of hardware devices doing so in the world.

Your use of the term "middleware" is different from the one I recognize, but the word is fuzzy and overloaded, so no point in going there.

We write and maintain our drivers (Mac and Windows) in house.

No problem - apologies for my incorrect guess. It was based on personal experience of receiving boilerplate examples of driver code from hardware manufactures, that a development team often takes as a starting point.

It was also in the context of my guessing what possibly could cause a USB device to be dropped. Happy to hear it's not the case... but that gives even more force to the question on why in the world that in-house work cannot keep on.

You're telling me you own the entire codebase, the Forte hardware hasn't obviously changed, and the only changes are relatively well-documented changes in generic Windows USB infrastructure, if any... :D

I do not mean to give you a hard time (and as I said, I like Focusrite): as written already, I do think that a degree of transparency on concrete whys and hows, while unusual, would be really a tremendous differentiator in an ever more crowded marketplace.
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Re: No more Focusrite interfaces for me

Postby MOF » Tue Apr 06, 2021 2:57 pm

Also some cars such as the 2014 onwards Nissan Leaf, I don’t know why it’s not mandatory, can play a part in balancing the grid, so no need to fire up a generator at peak demand.

Although V2G (vehicle to grid) hasn’t been made mandatory VW has just announced that from next year all their electric vehicles will be V2G capable.
https://electrek.co/2021/04/06/vw-elect ... next-year/
This is a big deal because Tesla don’t enable their cars that way though they do sell a home based Powerwall, which along with their solar roofs, are doing great business especially in Texas since their electricity and gas grid failure a few weeks ago.
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Re: No more Focusrite interfaces for me

Postby uselessoldman » Thu Apr 08, 2021 12:46 am

This thread has turned into a defence of the indefensible.

If a specific item of hardware still works with the current version of Windows/IOS/Chipsets then to stop supporting it simply cos a company has released a newer "better " product is in my eyes, not an excuse or reason to simply stop support, for the sake of it. Oh the new product is USB not firewire and what so you are saying anything that is firewire you no longer support?

Simply cos laptop do not have firewire is no excuse, Apple/IOS has Thunderbolt, and I would expect so will all Windows Laptops in 18 months time. So you are now going to say ah but firewire does not work with Thunderbolt, but you can't cos you know it does. I would never recommend anyone at home buy a laptop as their main computer, there a business tool a toy and usually an expensive liability. Says me about to buy a Surface Pro 4.

So should I upgrade update my LIquid 56 with its ADAT expansion for something else? I guess I did I bought aa X32 Compact, yeah I replaced a Focusrite with Behringer, OMG the thought makes me laugh to myself

A business can write off its kit against profits offset VAT, someone at home cannot in fact we get taxed on our wages and on the product so we have to make critical decisions on what we buy and when and need a really really good excuse and reason to change, I see no reason to change cos my Liquid still works fine, the X32 is a mobile multitrack recording mixer/desk and looking forwards to live music returning to use it.
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