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Author Topic: No more audio interfaces that require card slots for me  (Read 228 times)

Richard B. Ingraham

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No more audio interfaces that require card slots for me
« on: November 10, 2018, 07:10:54 AM »
I've been having an interesting few weeks.  My computers to run AMP have been getting longer in the tooth for a while now but being away from home and them seeing little use for the better part of year has seemed to take it's toll.  I've been having lots of little odd failures.  Some I figured out just needed a new CMOS battery.  Fairly simple.  Others just seem to be giving up the ghost, not sure if it's motherboard or power supply, RAM, who knows..  not worth the hassle to figure out for systems from an XP or Vista vintage really.

So I got some new systems (refurbised).  One at Microcenter and two on eBay.  Microcenter didn't have anything with full height slots made by Lenovo.  So I got an HP.  Mistake!  This thing is built like crap.  All was fine while I was getting AMP set up and drivers installed, etc..  Dropped the MOTU 424 card in.  All still good.  Plug in the firewire cable that hooks up the I/O boxes to the 424 card and the machine crashes.  Won't reboot.  Finally figure out that the opening for the slot is very narrow and the firewire cable is touching the sides of the slot.  It must be shorting something out because no matter what I did, the machine would't boot with that cable hooked up.  Remove cable, boots fine.  There was some little metal shield around the slots, tried removing that, no change.  Sum up, this machine is now worthless except at a GUI machine. 

OK, how about the two Lenovos I picked up on eBay.  Open them up....  Oppps!  They only have PCIe card slots.  And I only have one 424 PCIe card, which is in use in a show.  Great.. also worthless. 

Just wasted several hours trying to make something work but I guess I'm going to have to go to the show that is running and swap that PCIe card for a PCI card in that machine so I could drop the PCIe into one of these Lenovos.  And hopefully they will work.

Sorry to vent.  Just frustrated.  And the next solution for audio interfaces, whatever that ends up being, will NOT be reliant on a PCI or PCIe card.  Nope, no more.  I'm done.  All sorts of great little machines out with built in Thunderbolt and/or USB 3.  But few with card slots.  And I'm just not interested in going back to building my own.  Not to mention that now days that costs two to three times more, unlike when I started with computer audio and rolling your own saved you money.

I'm still on the fence about what path I will end up.  But I know I've narrowed one thing down.  No more card slots.  Even if it's Dante, it will be thunderbolt or USB to the host computer.
Richard B. Ingraham

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Re: No more audio interfaces that require card slots for me
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2018, 02:00:00 PM »
Yep, that's why networked audio is going to be the way it's done.  We are actively looking into this, and various options.

In the mean time, look for "Tower" PCs - you will usually have a much better shot having one with PCI slots, or at least full-height PCIe.

Bob

Richard B. Ingraham

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Re: No more audio interfaces that require card slots for me
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2018, 02:39:57 PM »
Yep, that's why networked audio is going to be the way it's done.  We are actively looking into this, and various options.

In the mean time, look for "Tower" PCs - you will usually have a much better shot having one with PCI slots, or at least full-height PCIe.

Bob

Are you trying to get networked audio supported directly on the built in NIC?  That's interesting and would be very cool.  But it seems even Audinate can't make that happen or doesn't want to.  One of the two.

Yeah I know I need a "tower" PC.  And I in fact bought one, but I never ran into the issue of the Audiowire (firewire cable for the MOTU 424 card) shorting something out and crashing the PC. 

It's harder and harder to find a tower PC that isn't some ridiculously priced gaming computer with a massive tower and flashing lights and crap.  Maybe I should just go back to rolling my own but that's such a hassle.  But I guess I could build rack mount PCs then and put them in rack cases. 

I just think that like so many things most computer makers are following apple and going with slot less computers.  And that means that the future is either Thunderbolt or USB 3.  And I would prefer to just have the audio interface use that connection in some fashion.  Unless of course a stock NIC can be made to work.  Makes it easier to grab almost any PC in an emergency and press it into service, particularly USB 3.

Richard B. Ingraham

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Re: No more audio interfaces that require card slots for me
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2018, 03:37:29 PM »
Yes, you are right that it is getting harder to find things you can put full height cards into.  We are working on some networked audio stuff right now that will not require any card... More details once I have something more concrete to report.

Bob

Richard B. Ingraham

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Re: No more audio interfaces that require card slots for me
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2018, 05:09:18 PM »
Yes, you are right that it is getting harder to find things you can put full height cards into.  We are working on some networked audio stuff right now that will not require any card... More details once I have something more concrete to report.

Bob

Sounds good.  Look forward to it.  Until then I guess I need to pick up some used MOTU 424 PCIe cards and just wear out all my stack of various MOTU I/O boxes.  Some of them are still going strong.  Other are starting to show their age.  The ADAT optical shit has become particularly hit or miss.  I really won't miss that protocol at all and hope to ditch it all soon.
Richard B. Ingraham

mattseymour

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Re: No more audio interfaces that require card slots for me
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2018, 10:18:49 PM »
When you consider that now all the AV installs on the university campus I work for is all network, thatís the way... audio, video, control data, all over the same network. Biggest headache is everyone assumes you have a network dedicated to their product. We donít.

Iíve been tempted to sell my Dante cars and get one of the rme usb offerings for just the reason you talk about Richard but the channel count is too low.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2018, 10:20:25 PM by mattseymour »

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Re: No more audio interfaces that require card slots for me
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2018, 02:24:12 PM »
While Dante, AES67, and even the DMX ARTNET can go over standard networks that are shared with other computers, there still is a reason to have at least your own VLAN.  When you start mixing a bunch of computers that might be doing gigabit file transfers, that *will* compete with audio packets.  Most people aren't going to want to set up all the QoS stuff, so it is just easier to just say, "Put this on its own network" when you are dealing with mission-critical stuff.

Bob

Richard B. Ingraham

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Re: No more audio interfaces that require card slots for me
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2018, 04:40:36 PM »
When you consider that now all the AV installs on the university campus I work for is all network, thatís the way... audio, video, control data, all over the same network. Biggest headache is everyone assumes you have a network dedicated to their product. We donít.

Iíve been tempted to sell my Dante cars and get one of the rme usb offerings for just the reason you talk about Richard but the channel count is too low.

Do you mean get a RME USB-Dante card?  That allows for 64x64 I/O.  That seems like quite a lot for most applications I would think.  Or did you just mean analog I/O?

Frankly, if money was not object I would just go buy what I've been saying is the best choice (fully available and working right now) for years and that is an RME MADI based solution.  Solid gear, you know it's going to work and you can ramp up to hundreds of I/O even with USB 3 and the right ports on your computer.  But for me that falls into the "if you have to ask how much this costs" category.

With regards to dedicated networks for most users I don't think it's really that large of an issue.  For most of the systems I design for clients I just put in at least 2 switches sometimes 3 or 4, with one of those usually being a spare.  Make one of them your Dante (or whatever) switch and then you don't need to worry about it.  Even Audinate recommends this and says if you go about it that way you really can just plug and play for the most part. 

I've designed systems for several universities.  This questions about campus networks always comes up and frankly once I explain what it's for and that we really don't want these switches sitting on the campus network most network admins are very happy to not have to deal with it.  For those that have insisted that they will need to set it up and maintain it I simply ask...  "OK, so it's 630PM on a sat evening and there is an 8PM show and something is wrong..  are you or one of your staff going to be available all weekend just to be safe and make sure this little network is working correctly.  Because as soon as something goes wrong the theatre department will be calling you and do you want your team responsible for the show happening that night?"  When you phrase it like that and give them real work issues, most seem very happy to let you go on and set up your own dedicated networks and in some cases make a trip thorough one of their CAT or Fiber patchbays even.  I've only had one network admin type that insisted they be in charge of the switch and that we use the campus standard switch and he seemed eager to be responsible for it.  And in that case the faculty was happy for that solution because they were IP clueless.  We'll see how that works out in the real world when the project completes.  I suspect after a few heated weekend phone calls down the road the policy will change.  :-)

But I get what you're dealing with.  I'm sure it's more about routing various data all around campus rather than within a single facility.

The Tascam Dante converters look interesting to me even though it's roughly the same cost per I/O as the TIO.  A compact amount of Line Level I/O makes a lot of sense for me.

https://tascam.com/us/product/ml-32d/top
https://tascam.com/us/product/ml-16d/top
Richard B. Ingraham

mattseymour

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Re: No more audio interfaces that require card slots for me
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2018, 06:50:48 AM »
Stuff is on separate vlans... thing is we have building management, security, Dante, video over ip, lighting systems and each one ďrequiresĒ its own network.

Youíre right though Richard, 64x64 would be plenty for me.... but Iím greedy, right now I have 128 ;)