firewire to USB?

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Billy's Little Trip
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firewire to USB?

Postby Billy's Little Trip » Tue Dec 29, 2015 1:45 pm

I've see the firewire to USB adapters, but then read they don't always work or have conflicts. I get that firewire is a steaming signal, where USB is packets? So different format entirely.
My question, is there a proper way?

My issue. I'm ready to stop using my desktop and jumping through hoops to reduce fan noise when recording.
I have a great laptop (pc) that's way faster, noiseless, tons of ram, a tig of storage, etc. It has a lot of ports, including 3.0 USB. The only problem, no firewire port. My Focusrite Saffire is firewire.

Any ideas would be great. I'd hate to buy a USB interface because this one is still great.
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Re: firewire to USB?

Postby fluffy » Tue Dec 29, 2015 5:11 pm

The appropriate way to do this is to just buy a new USB-based interface instead of trying to plug in FireWire where it's not really supported.

FireWire to Thunderbolt is fine, but FireWire to USB is probably not going to give you the performance or latency that you want. It's only suitable for things like plugging in an old scanner or hard drive that you really really want to keep on using, and even then it'll be tricky and fragile. For audio interfaces it's an especially terrible idea.

If your laptop has an ExpressCard slot or Thunderbolt port you can just get a FireWire interface for that. Or, you can pick up a Tascam or PreSonus USB interface for pretty cheap these days.
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Re: firewire to USB?

Postby jb » Tue Dec 29, 2015 6:31 pm

Firewire to SATA?
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Re: firewire to USB?

Postby fluffy » Tue Dec 29, 2015 6:57 pm

That makes no sense except as a means of hooking up a storage device. And most laptops don't have external SATA ports anyway.

Also, all of the firewire to SATA adapters I can find are for hooking up a SATA drive to a firewire computer, which makes a lot more sense than going the other way.
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Re: firewire to USB?

Postby fluffy » Tue Dec 29, 2015 7:05 pm

Hey BLT, could you post what make/model of laptop you have? And also a photo of all of the ports might be helpful.

EDIT: Here are the two specific ports you should look for.

This first one is ExpressCard, which used to be very common on PCs, although it's less common now, and it used to be available on Macs until a few years ago:

expresscard.jpg
expresscard.jpg (115.92 KiB) Viewed 1226 times


And this is Thunderbolt, which is available on all current Macs and is starting to show up on PCs:

thunderbolt.jpg
thunderbolt.jpg (183.76 KiB) Viewed 1226 times


Both of them are the laptop equivalent of a desktop PC card slot (in fact they both are basically PCI-Express, just with different plugs), and both have FireWire adapters available, among other things. ExpressCard to FireWire adapters cost around $20, and Thunderbolt to FireWire are around $40. I can't speak to the ExpressCard ones, but I use Apple's Thunderbolt one on my Mac Pro and it works great.

Also, if your laptop is really old (like, more than 10 years) it could potentially have PCMCIA, which is the predecessor to ExpressCard, but it's pretty unlikely.
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Re: firewire to USB?

Postby Billy's Little Trip » Wed Dec 30, 2015 11:29 am

Alrighty then, thanks for the info, fellers. I don't think the slot I have is an express card slot. It looks like a slot for a memory card for my phone, etc. It says "SD" next to it. I do have what appears to be the thunderbolt port. But it says HDMI next to it, so I think I'm out of luck.

This laptop that I want to dedicate to music is an ASUS. http://www.bestbuy.com/site/asus-15-6-l ... Id=4584200
It's that one in the link except I upgraded to 12 gigs of ram.
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Re: firewire to USB?

Postby jb » Wed Dec 30, 2015 12:49 pm

you should give the USB thing a try. can't be that expensive right? see if it'll just work.
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Re: firewire to USB?

Postby fluffy » Wed Dec 30, 2015 2:34 pm

JB: Um, which USB thing? I've found a bunch of "USB to Firewire cables" out there but they're all fraudulent things that will probably destroy your USB port. I haven't found a single legitimate Firewire interface for USB.

BLT: Yeah your laptop doesn't have anything suitable for plugging in Firewire. You'll just have to get a new interface. Sorry, dude. :/ Time to start checking http://musiciansfriend.com/stupid regularly and wait for a suitable Tascam or M-Audio or whatever.
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Re: firewire to USB?

Postby jb » Wed Dec 30, 2015 2:54 pm

fluffy wrote:JB: Um, which USB thing? I've found a bunch of "USB to Firewire cables" out there but they're all fraudulent things that will probably destroy your USB port. I haven't found a single legitimate Firewire interface for USB.


Well all right then. (I was sure there's an adapter for everything! Serves me right.)

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Re: firewire to USB?

Postby Billy's Little Trip » Wed Dec 30, 2015 3:46 pm

Yeah, I was about to just give it a shot like JB said. The adapter is less than 15 bux. But then I read that it could cause hardware issues. That's when I decided to ask here after hearing so many answers about hubs and DV adapters.

I'm not opposed to buying a new USB interface, I just hate consumption without good reason. I figure if I gave it my best effort to find a solution and my only option was to buy a new interface, then I can live at peace with myself. :D
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Re: firewire to USB?

Postby fluffy » Wed Dec 30, 2015 8:16 pm

Yeah, the thing is that firewire and USB are completely different protocols with completely different voltages and so on. All of the "adapters" I can find are just mass-manufacturers who produce cables with arbitrary connectors on either end, regardless of whether it makes sense; so for example, the firewire to USB cables out there are just a passive cable with the data and voltage pins tied to the equivalent ones on the other end. Come up with any two arbitrary connectors and it's pretty much guaranteed that someone will be selling an adapter for it on Amazon.

And, USB is 5 volts, while Firewire is 12 volts.

So, plug a Firewire (12 volt) device into your USB (5 volt) port, and you're likely to be short a USB port. It definitely WILL NOT WORK in any case.

It's ridiculously irresponsible for Amazon to allow these retailers to continue to sell these devices, but Amazon vendor relations are like playing whack-a-mole.

Look at the reviews on these devices on Amazon - almost entirely 1* (the 3* ones are usually "well it didn't work for me but maybe it'll work for someone else" NO IT WILL NOT), and all of them have "it didn't work" in common, and many of them also add "and now my USB port doesn't work at all."

Now, it is theoretically possible to make a FireWire interface that's connected via USB, but it'd cost a hell of a lot more than $15 (probably as much as just buying a USB audio interface, really) and it'd be a constant struggle with driver issues and latency and so on. With BLT's initial post I had assumed that he'd found such a thing. But as far as I can tell nobody makes anything like that.
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Re: firewire to USB?

Postby fluffy » Wed Dec 30, 2015 8:30 pm

BTW, BLT, remember you can always sell your old FireWire interface on here or on eBay or Craigslist or whatever. So it's not a total loss. :)
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Re: firewire to USB?

Postby Billy's Little Trip » Thu Dec 31, 2015 10:37 am

I'd probably just give it to someone in need. Or just keep it hooked up to my desktop. The only time it's an issue is for mic recording because of fan noise and lack of being portable. When I do direct in recording, it's fine.

I like the idea of everything on the laughtop for easy portability. At the moment I have to take my focusrite and external HD. Then spend an hour loading drivers and trying to get the computer at the other end to work right. So I started taking my whole tower too. It's ridiculous!
It'll be so nice to just take an interface and laptop with everything I need. Then just use headphones and/or plug into their monitor speakers from the interface.

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