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USB 3.1 "Data Transfer Only"

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USB 3.1 "Data Transfer Only"

Postby Andy__D » Thu Jan 30, 2020 1:06 am

I recently bought a new laptop, which I'd intended for a software development project, that ultimately never happened. I wasn't specifying the PC for music, but, seeing as I've got it, and it's an i7 8th gen with 16Gb RAM, I thought it'd make a good replacement music PC...

...but it doesn't! I've tried two different audio interfaces (Focusrite Scarlet and Presonus AudioBox), and both cannot record audio without pops and crackles, or, at worst, a very distorted whine (which sounds like the sound I used to get when I had 2 PCI soundcards hooked up to the same PC, and the clock cable came loose - so I assume something could be causing the clock to not be "locked").

What I noticed when I went back and reviewed the specs of the PC was that the USB ports are specified as: "3.1 Gen 1 (Data transfer only)". Does this meant that they're suited only for using with a hard drive for file i/o, and not for using with an audio interface? If I use the same interface(s) on a much lower spec i3 laptop, with standard USB 3.0 ports, the audio works fine - so I'm confident it's not an issue with the interface or drivers (I've made sure I've got up to date drivers on both machines) - and both are running the same build of Windows 10 and the same version of Reaper.

Did I just buy a dud? Unfortunately, USB , HDMI and Ethernet are the only ports this has - no USB C, Thunderbolt or anything like that which I could use instead.
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Re: USB 3.1 "Data Transfer Only"

Postby Eddy Deegan » Thu Jan 30, 2020 1:19 am

My understanding is that "USB 3.1 data transfer only” is USB 3.1 at half speed, without video, charging or thunderbolt capabilities.

This in and of itself shouldn't in theory be a dealbreaker for audio, as USB 2 is fast enough to support multichannel audio and to the OS there is no difference between audio and data (Pete K., Martin W. or others may have more to say on that). It does rule out buss powered devices though I think.

However if it's having issues with a USB interface then this could be a case of reality overrriding theory.

It would help to know the exact model of laptop you are using.
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Re: USB 3.1 "Data Transfer Only"

Postby Andy__D » Thu Jan 30, 2020 3:03 am

Thanks Eddy,

That's a very interesting point about not supporting buss powered interfaces: that does make a lot of sense as the lights on the interface do come on and it's recognized by the PC, but it's not working "right", so it makes sense that it might not be getting enough power to operate correctly.

The laptop is this one: https://store.hp.com/us/en/pdp/hp-15t-laptop-best-value-5hh94av-1 - I have tried the interface on both the USB 3.1 and 2.0 ports, and see the same behavior, so I'm liking the idea that the issue might be power, rather than port speed And yes, I concur with any suggestion that choosing a laptop with "best value" in the title was probably a monumentally bad idea... :)
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Re: USB 3.1 "Data Transfer Only"

Postby Johnny Stecchino » Thu Jan 30, 2020 10:47 am

Hi Andy,
just checked on the net The models of the sound cards you mentioned and understand that both of them can be charged only through The usb port (presuming you have the lower Scarlet model), right?
What program do you use for recording? Oh now I see it’s Reaper.
Did you check that the buffer you use is not too low? Pops and clicks might happen because of that, here is a short explanation, you can probably find other info regard buffering in the net.
https://www.sweetwater.com/sweetcare/ar ... in-my-daw/

Hope that help!
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Re: USB 3.1 "Data Transfer Only"

Postby Agharta » Thu Jan 30, 2020 10:56 am

Strange choice of term which should just mean it’s a regular USB port as providing power is an integral part of the spec and there’s a minimum that it should support.
Have you tried connecting a bus powered drive to it to see that it works?
I’d update the bios and drivers and then look in the bios for any power options.
Have you tried recording whilst using mains power?
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Re: USB 3.1 "Data Transfer Only"

Postby CS70 » Fri Jan 31, 2020 1:38 am

Andy__D wrote:...but it doesn't! I've tried two different audio interfaces (Focusrite Scarlet and Presonus AudioBox), and both cannot record audio without pops and crackles, or, at worst, a very distorted whine

Need a little more info to have an opinion.

How old are are the interfaces? USB shouldn't be a problem so long the interfaces are USB 2.0. USB 1,1 can just about work but it's so close to its bandwidth limits when recording even a single stereo track that it's very easily disrupted.

Then, are you using ASIO drivers, or WDM or WASAPI? If the first, which buffer size? If WASAPI, is it shared or exclusive? WDM is unlikely to work.

Are the power settings to "maximum performance" and have you disabled power management on the USB ports in the Device Manager? On laptops that's essential as they often come configured for maximum length of operation and not performance.
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Re: USB 3.1 "Data Transfer Only"

Postby blinddrew » Fri Jan 31, 2020 11:26 am

Worth thinking about what else is connected to your rig as well. If it's just laptop, interface and microphone(s) you may have a floating earth. This can cause pops and crackles as well.
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Re: USB 3.1 "Data Transfer Only"

Postby ef37a » Fri Jan 31, 2020 11:42 am

Re "USB 1.1" CS70?
I had an M-A Fast track Pro that was 1.1 and you could use both channels in and out plus S/PDIF in and out if set to 16 bits but if you disabled digital IO you could run 24 bit audio.

Once setup the interface was rock solid but then it could run as a stand alone converter both ways so it probably had more on board DSP than modern budget AIs?

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