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Firewire buss power, laptop or desktop. Thunderbolt and USB-C adapters

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Firewire buss power, laptop or desktop. Thunderbolt and USB-C adapters

Postby FMajor7add9 » Wed Apr 14, 2021 4:39 pm

Having read what I could find here on the topic I'd very much appreciate confirmation to counteract further confusion.

I need 1 and at times 2 or 3 firewire (FW) devices at a time. Sometimes off-grid if possible. How can they be powered?

I understand most laptops with FW ports are FW 400 4 pin with no buss power. My current is like that, all other I find likewise.

For older laptops with express card ports cards are available with 1/2/3 FW ports.

There are PCIe cards available for desktop PCs.

Is it all possible to power any audio devices from a laptop's battery through the FW buss? Some devices are 12-15-20 W I guess.

If not, what should I look for in desktop PCs?
I'd prefer small form factor with low wattage specs that could be a powered for some hours by an external battery pack of sorts alongside other audio gizmos. That may as well be a beefy laptop with a good battery I guess. Overall specs are modest, rarely more than 12-15 tracks and 3-4 fx busses.

I don't mind hooking up a remote client, MIDI controller and some snake cables to get away from fan noise and clutter.

For newer laptops with Thunderbolt (Macbooks mostly) and USB-C ports adapters are available to reach a FW device. Sold at ridiculous prices to fund the Apple tax-free giant pool of money. Would prefer to avoid that route.
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Re: Firewire buss power, laptop or desktop. Thunderbolt and USB-C adapters

Postby FMajor7add9 » Wed Apr 14, 2021 6:22 pm

Just measured:

  • a laptop power supply, 19v, draws 55-60W.
  • M-audio ozonic firewire interface and MIDI controller: 6W
  • daisy chain of fx pedals and a ID:core 20 amp about 7W

So a battery power pack could also be geared towards peripherals only and then have laptop run on its own. Seems simpler than powering a mini PC on the go. Incoming caveats are welcomed.
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Re: Firewire buss power, laptop or desktop. Thunderbolt and USB-C adapters

Postby FMajor7add9 » Wed Apr 14, 2021 9:07 pm

another info bit, from https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/m- ... rewire-410

Although USB 2.0 ports can supply up to 500mA at 5 Volts, six-pin Firewire ports must offer up to 1.25 Amps at 12 Volts, which is simply beyond the capabilities of laptop PSUs and batteries, so many laptops only offer the four-pin variant, which doesn't supply buss power to external devices.

A suitable adaptor cable is included for these four-pin Firewire interfaces (commonly referred to as iLink), and M‑Audio also include a 12V DC 1A wall-wart power supply. However, if you really want to make your recording rig totally mobile, you can buy 12V batteries of varying capacity to power the Firewire 410, as long as you can make up a suitable adaptor lead.
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Re: Firewire buss power, laptop or desktop. Thunderbolt and USB-C adapters

Postby N i g e l » Wed Apr 14, 2021 9:38 pm

FMajor7add9 wrote:......I understand most laptops with FW ports are FW 400 4 pin with no buss power......

I think that was the main factor in the decline of Firewire. When I had my Edirol AI, Firewire was slightly faster than USB and the 6 pin ports were speced to supply more power to accessories: all good but Laptops went for the 4 pin ports so as not to drain the laptop battery.
With a USB laptop, you could have a portable PC DAW platform that could also power and converse with an AI using just 1 cable, very convienient.
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Re: Firewire buss power, laptop or desktop. Thunderbolt and USB-C adapters

Postby James Perrett » Wed Apr 14, 2021 10:55 pm

Firewire is pretty much obsolete now. If you don't already have the Firewire gear then I'd say go for a USB based solution. You probably won't find something bus powered with lots of mic inputs (as deriving phantom power requires quite a bit of current at 5V) but there are plenty of multi-channel USB interfaces around.

My current portable setup now revolves around an RME Digiface USB connected to an Audient ASP008 and Focusrite Saffire Pro26io Firewire interface working in stand-alone mode (with a Behringer ADA8000 if I need more channels).
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Re: Firewire buss power, laptop or desktop. Thunderbolt and USB-C adapters

Postby FMajor7add9 » Fri Apr 16, 2021 8:59 pm

The portability factor isn't that important in this case. With FW 400 I could still carry along external battery power for interface(s) if ever needed. There are also ExpressCard FW 800 options (35-ish euro) if the FW 400 bus can only handle one interface.

Choice of FW boils down to budget constraints and 2nd hand FW interfaces availability. A refurbished i5 Thinkpad with SSD and 1 year warranty and a 4-8 channel interface with ADAT and S/PDIF are easily below 500e with cables and all, around 350e isn't unrealistic either. Even if one of them dies early loads of others are still alive as are replaceable spare parts.
A modern TB/USB 3 PC/Mac and interface is literally x 3+ as expensive.

And someone just gave me his M-audio 1814 (2 mic pres, 8 line ins, ADAT i/o). Another lists his 410 at 5e due to missing Win 10 drivers. There's a Saffire Pro 26 i/o (8 mic pres) listed at 60 because 2 of the 8 line out jacks are broken. The Focusrite Liquid Mix DSP (eq and comp, 32 bit only) is 65e.

Units like Saffire 24 DSP, Pro 40 and TC Konnect has DSP comp, fx, reverb and can be used as small standalone mixers, without a FW host PC/Mac.

Most of them can be daisy chained by FW and/or ADAT.

So see you in 2030 :) I'll seal all Windows 7 doors till then and pull its gateway to any future shocks.
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Re: Firewire buss power, laptop or desktop. Thunderbolt and USB-C adapters

Postby FMajor7add9 » Fri Apr 16, 2021 9:07 pm

James Perrett wrote:My current portable setup now revolves around an RME Digiface USB connected to an Audient ASP008 and Focusrite Saffire Pro26io Firewire interface working in stand-alone mode (with a Behringer ADA8000 if I need more channels).

Looked at the ADAs also, some of the 8000s are around 100e which is some 30-50e cheaper than most of the 8 mic pre FW racks listed now like Saffire Pro 40 or 26 i/o and PreSonus FireStudio Project. TC's 48 with the remote and MOTU Travellers are still at around 250-300e and likely worth it.

I find the Saffire's standalone mode do make them more usable as the ADAs and the routing options reduce cable usage in some scenarios where the software mixer can bus a few stereo outputs needed for monitoring.

Pro 40 even got gain knobs for each analog input and for 3 independent monitor mixes (2 of them headphones) https://fael-downloads-prod.focusrite.c ... sh04_0.pdf. Pro 26 i/o something similar, haven't looked into that one yet.

What use is an ADA when it's not hooked up as mic pre with ADAT output?
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Re: Firewire buss power, laptop or desktop. Thunderbolt and USB-C adapters

Postby FMajor7add9 » Fri Apr 16, 2021 10:09 pm

BTW:

HUGE shout-out to SOS for keeping all archives open and free. A goldmine for retro bottom feeders like me.
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