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Author Topic: New to laptop taping, thinking of Firebox  (Read 3748 times)

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Offline bluefox

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New to laptop taping, thinking of Firebox
« on: October 27, 2007, 08:33:08 PM »
Hello folks, I am new to this forum, have been lurking a little bit. I used to tape some in the early 90's, AKG 451C's > Casio DAR-100. I sold my rig and bought a Tascam DAP-1 in '99 which I mostly used to tape off the SBD or patched out of others until I bought a Rode NT-4 last Fall. I've been having some issues brickwalling with the shitty built in pre-amp on the DAP-1 so I was thinking of going to a laptop rig since I already have a MacBook Pro.

I was thinking of a Presonus Firebox because it would be nice to have 4 channels if I wanted to ever do a SBD/AUD Matrix but from what I understand there is no gain control (or phantom power) over the 2nd set of inputs.  Also I have read that the Firebox doesn't really do 96khz input, only 48 which really is ok with me though it does rub me the wrong way considering it is false advertising.

Is there another box I should be looking at in a similar price-range? I need something that would work well w/the Mac.

I also was wondering how things are going to work out if I am taping in the field on battery power. As I understand it the FireBox will provide phantom power to the NT-4 and that the FireBox will be powered off the FireWire from my latop. Does anyone have experience with a rig like that? It seems as if I might suck a lot of power off my laptop battery.

Any and all advice would be appreciated. Also apologies in advance if someone has already answered these questions in another topic, I searched some but still am getting the hang of this place.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2007, 03:22:41 AM by bluefox »

Offline ambo

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Re: New to laptop taping, thinking of Firebox
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2007, 10:38:19 AM »
Firebox can only be run off of Macbook pro battery bus power if the laptop is first plugged in to AC. then you can unplug it and it supposedly will run off of the batteries. Mine doesn't. A well documented quirk of the Macbook pro.  And yes, for the direct inputs you would need a separate preamp for level control and phantom power. If 2 channel is okay I would look at the Apogee Duet, just released and getting good reviews. This will run off of battery firewire bus.

Offline bluefox

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Re: New to laptop taping, thinking of Firebox
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2007, 08:17:33 PM »
Thanks for the info. Anyone have any experience w/the PreSonus Inspire 1394? What about the MOTU UltraLight?
« Last Edit: October 28, 2007, 09:02:22 PM by bluefox »

Offline ArchivalAudio

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Re: New to laptop taping, thinking of Firebox
« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2007, 09:56:39 PM »
Hey
I have (had) I dont use it any longer  a Presonus Firebox
got one of the first units released
returned it
got a seconded unit
too hit or miss
I never had satisfactory results, mosty of the time I was plagued with did noise clicks n pops
and did EVERYTHING presonus and other suggested...

the MOTU Ultralite was not available when IK got my Firebox, and it is more $
but
I must say I really like the ultrlite

I run an older iBook G4 1.2ghz and 1.25 GB RAM
in OSX 10.3.9
no plans to upt to 10.4 or 10.5 yet...
my software functions fine, and  I like what I got

I power my Ultralite  (as I did my Firebox) with a 12v SLA battery  (powersonic 3.4 amp hour)

yes both are BUS powered via the Firewire (6pin) from my Mac
but it greatly limits battery life if using the phantom power...

the ultralite
hands down is musch more stable and user friendly

if you are on a mac
check out
mac music forums

the firebox
solution to digi noise was to exit  cubase, oepnn AMS (Audio Midi setup)   and chang ethe sample rate, then chang e it back
which causes the recording to stop
and when I had to do this over 12 x during a greg brown performance
that was the final straw

you can also install CHUD and in the Pref Pannel  turn  the processor nap off (this is different that hard drive sleep) but even this did not help the firebox

feel free to check out this thread I started before I got my firebox
and after I retired it
here

http://en.440forums.com/forums/?s=5f7c587c017ede1a355e9a63772d61e8&showtopic=18396&st=180&#entry254810



I will say that
the software that comes with the ultralite
is AudioDesk and it can record in the background
and has a mini applet
that lets us use the ultralite as a 4 bus mixer
sending different mixes to different outputs
which is really cool
the firebox can only output to one out
either mains or spdif
not both simultaneously


any other questions?


~ Archival Audio ~
Archiving Worthy Music
since 1986 & digitally since 1995

https://www.facebook.com/ArchivalAudio/

Main Mics: Milab VM-44 Links • Milab DC-196's (Matched  Pair)  • MBHO KA500 or KA300 • Line Audio CM3's
PreAmps:  Naiant LittleBox • Naiant [Milab VM44] TinyBox • Naiant PIPsqueak
Recorders: MixPre 10T •  Tascam DR-100 mkIII • Sony M-10 

macMini 3Ghz i7 16GB Ram 500GB SSD • MOTU UltraLite
Naiant MSH-2's •   TOA K1's • Beyer TG 153c's •  AT 853 (4.7kmod darktrain) • Countryman B3's (1 k mod)  + other assorted mics

easy jim

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Re: New to laptop taping, thinking of Firebox
« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2007, 10:59:05 PM »
I'll second ArchivalAudio's suggestion of the MOTU UltraLite.  It comes bundled with AudioDesk, which is the 'lite' version of Digital Performer and is really great and comparatively stable software for recording and mixing (though slow and cumbersome for resampling).  I used to own one for over a year, and subsequently got a full sized Traveler for the additional connectivity. 

With the Ultralite, you get the multiple ins and outs, plus the ability to use it as a stand alone unit.  I pretty much always have/had access to AC power when I use/used my laptop in the field, so I cannot comment too much about the battery power solutions available.  There are only two drawbacks with the MOTU gear in my experience: (1) while the A>D is top notch, the clock is so/so; (2) the mic pres are also only so/so.  The two drawbacks are reasonable solveable, however: (1) run any kind of outboard A>D through the s/pdif input for clock sync (also to make 'sample accurate' DAT transfers); (2) run your favorite pre in front of the UltraLite and send the feed through any pair of 1/4" inputs.

ArchivalAudio: Did you ever have Busman mod the pres on your MOTU?

Offline ArchivalAudio

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Re: New to laptop taping, thinking of Firebox
« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2007, 11:44:23 PM »
I have not yet had busman mod my pres
mostly because of $ and a bit of time, mostly $

I am going to see Tuck & Patti next Saturday (nov 11th) and would be great to heave them modded
but
may be after that I'll again talk to him about moddin it
I am sure that would be very sweet


~ Archival Audio ~
Archiving Worthy Music
since 1986 & digitally since 1995

https://www.facebook.com/ArchivalAudio/

Main Mics: Milab VM-44 Links • Milab DC-196's (Matched  Pair)  • MBHO KA500 or KA300 • Line Audio CM3's
PreAmps:  Naiant LittleBox • Naiant [Milab VM44] TinyBox • Naiant PIPsqueak
Recorders: MixPre 10T •  Tascam DR-100 mkIII • Sony M-10 

macMini 3Ghz i7 16GB Ram 500GB SSD • MOTU UltraLite
Naiant MSH-2's •   TOA K1's • Beyer TG 153c's •  AT 853 (4.7kmod darktrain) • Countryman B3's (1 k mod)  + other assorted mics

Offline bluefox

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Re: New to laptop taping, thinking of Firebox
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2007, 03:21:53 AM »
Thanks for the input, you guys have swung me in favor of the MOTU UltraLite, now I hope I can find one this week because I have a couple of shows to tape this weekend. I really don't have the budget for the MOTU, the Firebox is a lot more affordable but I want something I can depend on and grow with. Sounds like I can get the pre modded or go outboard if I need to though down the road. One thing I read on this topic (very helpful if anyone is trying to choose FireBox vs. UltraLite) :

http://taperssection.com/index.php/topic,63624.0/all.html

It seems that if you modify the clock you lose the ability to slave yourself to a different clock source. However  I guess I don't understand what makes a clock bad and what sort of problems having a bad clock creates.

Once again thanks for the info, if I understand this place correctly I would give you +T but since I'm new I can't do that yet...
« Last Edit: October 30, 2007, 03:38:32 AM by bluefox »

easy jim

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Re: New to laptop taping, thinking of Firebox
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2007, 03:33:59 PM »
Other folks here - I believe - can answer the clock question better than myself.  The gist, however, is that better/more accurate clock = better sound and better A>D conversion.  Analog to digital conversion involves both the actual 'converters' in relation to a clock.  A lesser clock may result in jitter if not stable, which is a type of digital error.

I'd be happy to help by PM with any questions re: the UltraLite if you choose to buy one.

Roving Sign

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Re: New to laptop taping, thinking of Firebox
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2007, 04:06:21 PM »
You really may want to weigh the benefits of a 4 track recorder like an Edirol R-4...

Laptop taping has it's own set of problems...some folks even get bitchy about the glow from the screen...depends alot on the venues...

easy jim

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Re: New to laptop taping, thinking of Firebox
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2007, 07:17:09 PM »
You really may want to weigh the benefits of a 4 track recorder like an Edirol R-4...

Laptop taping has it's own set of problems...some folks even get bitchy about the glow from the screen...depends alot on the venues...

Agreed.  I love the ease of the R-4 Pro by comparison to my laptop rig.  I only bring out the laptop now when I need/want to run more > 4 tracks, and I almost always ran/run at least a backup 2 track recording out of one of the output pairs of the interface. 

For me, laptop taping was too cumbersome unless I had free reign in the venue to help reduce the associated issues like power (batteries vs. AC access), safety (security from theft/beer spills/wookies, etc.), and vibrations.  While using a Mac and MOTU gear is IMO one of the most stable laptop set-ups for field recording, I agree with many others before me who have said here that laptop taping is not ideal if you want to make sure you walk out with a clean recording.  There's just a lot more that can go wrong with a laptop rig.

Offline ArchivalAudio

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Re: New to laptop taping, thinking of Firebox
« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2007, 11:36:49 PM »
yes the lappy mysteries
are many
but I know
my friend
tapermark 
on here
got rid of his  busman modded R4
cause he kept getting Harddrive slow errors

my issues was always getting a successful DAT > computer transfer
which is why I wanted to to  direct to my computer...

though just transferring raw files  would be a bunch easier than real time music moving

I am considering a Fostex FR2-LE  for the reasons of not lugging so much gear around
and being able to "stealth"
since
mostly where I could  want to stealth they really don't search any ways it would be perfect.. though it's only 2-channel  no Harddrive or moving parts!   :)

good luck

again I second easyjim
the MOTU  Mac is very stable and not a bad choice
~ Archival Audio ~
Archiving Worthy Music
since 1986 & digitally since 1995

https://www.facebook.com/ArchivalAudio/

Main Mics: Milab VM-44 Links • Milab DC-196's (Matched  Pair)  • MBHO KA500 or KA300 • Line Audio CM3's
PreAmps:  Naiant LittleBox • Naiant [Milab VM44] TinyBox • Naiant PIPsqueak
Recorders: MixPre 10T •  Tascam DR-100 mkIII • Sony M-10 

macMini 3Ghz i7 16GB Ram 500GB SSD • MOTU UltraLite
Naiant MSH-2's •   TOA K1's • Beyer TG 153c's •  AT 853 (4.7kmod darktrain) • Countryman B3's (1 k mod)  + other assorted mics

Offline wilsonedits

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Re: New to laptop taping, thinking of Firebox
« Reply #11 on: November 01, 2007, 12:40:32 AM »
sorry for hijacking the thread but among the same lines... what to connect my UA-5 to my powerbook ?
P2 yo

easy jim

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Re: New to laptop taping, thinking of Firebox
« Reply #12 on: November 01, 2007, 03:40:10 PM »
sorry for hijacking the thread but among the same lines... what to connect my UA-5 to my powerbook ?

You'd need the USB 2.0 cable, the driver disc, and whatever software you choose to use for recording.  There should be a lot of more detailed info. available if you try searching: UA-5, mac

Offline bluefox

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Re: New to laptop taping, thinking of Firebox
« Reply #13 on: November 02, 2007, 08:13:22 PM »
Yep, I know laptop taping isn't as surefire as other rigs but stuff can go wrong with anything. With my DAP-1 I am always worried about dirty heads, bad tape etc. Also I'm not getting rid of the DAT anytime real soon and for any shows I can't live without I can always run it as backup. I don't tape that many shows these days anyway.

I got the Ultralite and have been fooling around with it, very cool. One thing I haven't figured out yet and if anyone has any help, please chime in, is if there is any gain control for the inputs other than 1+2. I haven't figured out the mixing functions and it seems there is some gain control there. I'm sure it is in the manual but I am having a bit of information overload.

I wiped my hard drive and have a clean install of 10.4.10 on one partition which I am going to keep clean of weird installs for audio figuring that will increase the reliability of my rig as well.

Offline ArchivalAudio

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Re: New to laptop taping, thinking of Firebox
« Reply #14 on: November 04, 2007, 01:43:54 PM »
well yes and no
there is a
some gain control
by using the front panel;
with the 4 knobs on the right front of the unit
if you push the upper left knob
which is
PAGE and setup
you can get to the mix settings
and by turning the knob below that it adjusts the cursor
then by turning the lower right knb
it adjusts
the value or gain
for a particular mix
this is a 4 bus mixer
so we can assign 4 separate mixes... or output routings

you'll notice
that you can push and turn the knobs
to acheive some control in the mix
there is also PAN controls etc

although I believe thees only really effect the outputs and not truly the ins

what I have found on input 1 & 2 the mic ins
is that I almost always need to run at the  pad full on other wise I can achieve clipping

are you running into AudioDesk?

or using other software?


if you have other quest
checkout
unicornation  a motu user BB
very helpful there
the mac OSX hardware forum is here
http://www.unicornation.com/phpBB2/viewforum.php?f=2

~ Archival Audio ~
Archiving Worthy Music
since 1986 & digitally since 1995

https://www.facebook.com/ArchivalAudio/

Main Mics: Milab VM-44 Links • Milab DC-196's (Matched  Pair)  • MBHO KA500 or KA300 • Line Audio CM3's
PreAmps:  Naiant LittleBox • Naiant [Milab VM44] TinyBox • Naiant PIPsqueak
Recorders: MixPre 10T •  Tascam DR-100 mkIII • Sony M-10 

macMini 3Ghz i7 16GB Ram 500GB SSD • MOTU UltraLite
Naiant MSH-2's •   TOA K1's • Beyer TG 153c's •  AT 853 (4.7kmod darktrain) • Countryman B3's (1 k mod)  + other assorted mics

 

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