One would imagine that if you need such things as SMPTE timecode support
or mega I/O support, the PCI support by non-standard interconnect to the
outside hardware might have some advantages as well. If a secondary
external PSU is not used for the external hardware, that would also be a
consideration. I can imagine a case (in both directions for all the
interface types) could be made for latency issues under heavy use, but
again I basically agree with the previous assessment as well. In any
case, both approaches work well and don't have the design difficulties
that a completely computer-internal solution has. As have been noted on
list, there are some excellent internal cards out there, products of
very fine design. However, for all of that, you still end up with
massive connector dongles and other shortcomings that have to go along
with the physical card size/format as well as cost. *There just ain't no
free lunch...* 

-----Original Message-----
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Richard L. Hess
Sent: Friday, September 23, 2005 9:23 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] USB/Firewire v PCI card was : [ARSCLIST]
Reducing soundcard/circuit noise

At 10:04 AM 9/23/2005, andy kolovos wrote:
>A friend visited me last week and, being the total losers that we are, 
>the topic of our conversation eventually ranged to A/D conversion and 
>digital file input to a PC.  We were talking around the benefits of 
>using a quality outboard A/D unit that feeds a digital audio signal 
>into a quality PCI card versus using an quality outboard A/D that feeds

>the digtial signal in via USB or FireWire.
>Thing is, no one I've asked has been able to give me a clear 
>explanation of the benefits and drawbacks either way.
>I can imagine at least one--outboard DAC-to-PCI can input an AES 
>signal--and can guess at a couple others, but I'm curious to get 
>people's opinions, especially since most people in the field and the 
>best practices out there always instruct in the use of a DAC-to-PCI 
>setup.  Specifically, is the DAC-to-PCI approach just a hold over from 
>a time when that was the only way to go?  What are the benefits over 
>quality USB/FireWire input devices?

Hi, Andy,

I think your analysis is correct. Let's briefly follow what RME in
Germany has done. I use that as an example because I have the first

The RME Multiface has 8 analog I/O and an ADAT I/O (8 more channels at
up to 48 ks/s, 4 at 96 ks/s) plus SPDIF I/O and an analog monitor out
for 18 channels in and 20 channels out or 38 channels. It uses a
dedicated PCI card that connects to the outboard unit via a FireWire
cable, but is not using FireWire protocol. I have two of these (with two
PCI cards installed) You can have up to three for 24 tracks. 
There is also a PCMCIA card interface available, turning a laptop into
an 8-channel recorder. THis product is about 3-4 years old.

This is a year-old (more or less) product that has a total of 56
channels and connects to the host PC via a FireWire 800 interface. It
has 10 analog inputs (including four with mic pres) and 10 analog
outputs. It also has two ADAT inputs/outputs and an SPDIF I/O. You can
probably use three of them with FW800 connections (it can also connect
to FW 400 with loss of throughput) although they suggest disabling the
ADAT ports when you do that. The manual is available on the above page
and page 90 of the manual describes bus loading.

Oh, both do MIDI as well.

So, with RME (who I consider to be an excellent but not esoteric
supplier of PC interfaces--Steinberg also rebadges the Multiface--I have
one of each flavour) we can see a progression from a dedicated PCI card
to a FW 800 interface. As both sound cards and PCs stabilize, I think
using standard interfaces makes sense. The dedicated PCI cards are more
expensive than a standard PCI card, by the way.



Richard L. Hess                           email: [log in to unmask]
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