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FireWire vs. PCI with UAD-1


New Member

I have a UAD-1 and love it. I'm taking it out of my PC and getting a new G5 next week and need to get a better interface. With all the problems with PCI-X and the UAD-1 and the problems with certain PCI audio cards and PCI slots in the new G5s, is there a speed or performance advantage/disadvantage with Firewire audio compared to a PCI card? I'm looking at the Moto 828/Traveler or Yamaha 01X. Would using a Firewire audio interface help the UAD-1 to perform better on these new G5s? Last thing I want is pops and clicks, that's one of the big reasons I'm leaving the PC to go back to the Mac.




Universal Audio
UA Official
Hi Mike,
The biggest downside against FW interfaces is [1] Bandwidth and [2] the FW controller. Since FW is controlled by the host CPU, Firewire audio interfaces get quite unstable under heavy CPU loads, so if you are running large, cpu intense sessions, FW interfaces are not ideal. The second is bandwidth. Even FW800 has a slower rate than PCI. Typically this doesn't have too big of an influence, unless you plan on using multiple FW interfaces together or recording to Firewire harddrives. Not to say that FW interfaces are bad (I own a 828mkII myself) but you'll get more stable performance and more CPU overhead with a PCI sound card.

That being said, you'll want a PCI sound card that uses Bus Mastered DMA, (which is most, except the MAudio Delta series - stay away from these) as well as one that does not use a excessive amount of PCI bandwidth, if you want to run a large number of UAD-1 plugins (the 324/424 cards can use up a lot, especially if you have multitple I/O boxes connected). Based on our testing here RME and Lynx have some of the best PCI hardware and drivers. I have heard great things about the Echo line as well, but I haven't personally tested any of them. As for Firewire, I have been very pleased with my 828mkII, but if I was to be purchasing a new FW interface, I would pony up for the Fireface 800. It's been amazingly solid, even under heavey CPU load, and also comes with great drivers and software (you can even disable unused I/O to save FW bandwidth. This is quite a bonus and I'm not aware of another FW audio interface that allows this).

The bottom line here is I would say don't skimp on the interface and get as high a quality as you can afford 8)


New Member
Thanks so much for the information. I'm going to be using the interface in my home studio to record two vocals, acoustic guitar, bass, Motif ES8, Fantom Xa and local VSTi tracks. One of the main things I'm looking for is to be able to have everything wired up and ready to go to record without having to re-patch anything, so that would be at least 8 ins, the 01X would allow me to connect the Motif ES with mLan, though I'm not sure how stable that is. The Fireface 800 looks great but is $2000.00 here in Canada and out of my budget. I also have a 17\" PowerBook G4 1.33 2Gig Ram that I'd like to be able to use with the interface on the road wich is why I'm thinking 828MKII or 01X.

Given my setup and needs, do you think the UAD-1 would be happy in a Dual 2Ghz G5 PCI with either an 828MKII or 01X? No pops & clicks or reboots and resets? Also what kind of latency can you get with your 828MKII?

Thanks so much again,



Active Member
That was great advice from James. I happen to have a Yamaha O1X and have been getting familiar with it. Its a nice unit, but it is a little strange at first. I guess anything that is as deep as the O1X is going to take a minute to get the hang of.

There's a useful DVD instructional video. You get not only the DAW interface, but Midi, FX and signal processing on every channel. I use it with SX3 and it works great. I have a G5 2x1.8Ghz w PCI-X slots. I have 4 UAD-1's in a 33mhz Magma Chassis. It all works solidly. Some bad reports came out about the O1X initially, but it seems they've worked out all the kinks.

I like having the FX available on input monitoring without worrying about latency. This way Singers can have a wet mix and things are nice and tight, no matter what the Buffer size is. Having an actual mixer is a nice thing too. Being able to control SX3 without always using the mouse or keyboard is also nice. I haven't had it very long so i'm still learning how to use all of the features.



Universal Audio
UA Official
We don't have any known issues with the O1X, and as Trace mentioned, it has great integration in Cubase SX/Nuendo. It would definitely give an edge over the 828mkII if you plan on using either of those hosts.

I use the integrated CueMix mixer in the 828mkII to monitor my inputs so technically I have \"zero latency\" monitoring, but that's not monitoring what's \"coming back\" from Cubase (you can also patch in external FX so if a singer really needs to hear some reverb, you can mix it in without tracking it). I have been able to track 8 tracks at a buffer size of 64 on my 1Ghz Powerbook G4 without any problems, but I didn't have any plugins running or anything special, so I could have easily gotten away with having a higher buffer and using CueMix. If you are looking to track at very low latencies and monitor the returns from the DAW application (with plugins on channels, etc) I would recommend a PCI interface for robustness, especially if you want to lower the buffers halfway through a pretty big mix for some overdubs. It basically comes down to how you are going to use your DAW most of the time. I very rarely track through plugins or processors in the computer have no reservations against using the \"no latency\" syle monitoring and using high hardware buffers when tracking, so my Firewire interface has always been fine (except in the case of a few sessions where my poor powerbook just don't have the CPU for everything. In these cases I expect an iterrupted playback or two). If I were tracking bands where they wanted to monitor the FX/plugins in the DAW during tracking, I would definitely get a fast desktop and solid PCI soundcard and be running as low of latencies as possible.

I haven't tested the 828mkII with the new Dual 2.0 yet. I don't forsee it having any problems, but if time permits this week I'll bring mine in and see how it stands up to the Fireface 800 that I have tested with. I'm considering buying a new machine, so I'd like to see how it performs with this Dual 2.0 as well ;)


New Member
James, thank you so much for all the information. It's great to get this kind of support!

I checked, and my local music store has both an 01X and an 828MkII in stock. I know the manager very well and he's going to let me try both for a few days to make a decision, very nice of him. It's looking to me like a firewire interface should be fine for the type of work I do. Plus, that gives me two slots in the G5 to add more UAD-1s.

I'm going to order my G5 Dual 2Ghz PCI on Monday (unless Apple does something cool at the WWDC) and when it arrives I'll pick up the interfaces to try. I'll have to load Panther to try the UAD-1 but the performance should be close enough to make a choice. I'll post my results if anyone is interested. I can't wait!

thank again,


P.S. A UAD-1 on a PC card for laptop users would be a cool idea!


James, thnx for valuable information.

I am also in market for a new soundcard because sometning ain't right with Digi002. Perhaps latency of 95 samples when tracking into PT LE along with no automatic plugin delay compensation.

My \"other\" software of choice is DP, but I'll probably buy Cubase also.

So, my next setup should be:
\"New\" PM Dual 2.0 (2nd internal SATA HD for audio)
2 UADs
1 PoCo PCI Mk II
FW audio interface: Fireface / Traveler / Digi002R / 01X?

I could use PoCo FW instead od PCI Mk II (in order to make place for third UAD :wink: ) but I am afraid to share FW bus between audio interface and PoCo.

Would Fireface or Traveler work better than Digi002R? Are there any latency issues there as well?


Active Member
Good to know these little tidbits :)

Now if MOTU would ake a PCI version fo the Cue Mix Bounce Back faeture instead of it just being a Firewire feature


Active Member
giles117 said:
Good to know these little tidbits :)

Now if MOTU would ake a PCI version fo the Cue Mix Bounce Back faeture instead of it just being a Firewire feature
Is there a bounce back feature with firewire motu devices? I have a 828 mk2 and I don't even know about it. Where do I find it? :D


Active Member
Here is a quote from MOTU's web site

Bounce Back
A new \"CueMix Bounce Back\" feature lets you route one of the four CueMix DSP mixes back to the computer. This allows you to record, for example, your entire mix - including monitored inputs - back into the computer.
This feature is only available on the firewire interfaces with the onboard mixing feature.

CueMix DSP™ (Traveler, 828MkII, 896HD)

The Traveler provides DSP-driven digital mixing and monitoring for all 20 inputs. You can connect mics, guitars, synths and effects processors, and monitor everything from the Traveler's main outs or headphone jack with no separate mixer needed and no latency.


New Member

I buy new Dual G5 2.0 to avoid AMD PCI-X Controler trouble.
(I love UAD-1!)

Now, I need good perfomance audio interface, which can handle
64 sample buffer setting while on tracking(for Virtual instruments).
I have MOTU 828mkII, but that's performance isn't good as PCI interface as you mentioned.

But I found RME and M-Audio recommend G5 with PCI-X, and NOT recommend G5 without PCI-X. (see below)

This is my dilemma.

I need some clue to choose safe PCI audio interface with UAD-1.

[RME Says]

gpiccolini wrote:
> Hello RME :)
> Just wanted to know why dual 1.8 with PCI slots are not good for audio,

Because their PCI bus is incompatible. TC Electronic an M-Audio also
have reported problems and advise against these machines.

> and
> if that´s the same case with the new dual 2.0 ( with PCI slots).

I don't know (yet), sorry.

> Have I to
> look for a machine with PCI-X slots???

No such problems have been reported with these, so I would recommend it.

Daniel Fuchs

[M-Audio Says]
Apple Dual 1.8 / 2.0 G5 PCI incompatible with Delta Series PCI cards

Apple’s most recent DUAL G5 1.8 GHz system (the June 2004 model) and
also their DUAL G5 2.0 GHz system featuring PCI slots and 4 RAM slots
are NOT compatible with M-Audio's Delta Series products. Technical
changes to the computer’s PCI card support have rendered many PCI
card-based audio interfaces incompatible.

At the present time we cannot recommend using Delta Series PCI cards
in the Dual 1.8 GHz and Dual 2.0 GHz G5 with PCI-slots and 4 RAM slots.

M-Audio has worked closely with Apple to determine the source of this
problem and it has been found to be the interaction of the host PCI
controller (Apple's part named \"K2\") and the Delta PCI card.

The incompatibility manifests itself as noise in the signal, sample
dropouts, and possibly no audio output at all.

There is presently no fix for this interaction in software, either Apple's or
M-Audio's, which can remedy the incompatibility.

The slightly older version of the Dual G5 1.8 GHz as well as the previous
version of the Dual 2.0 GHz, which Apple advertises as “PCI-X” and not
“PCI,” and which are also different from the newer model in that they
have eight RAM slots instead of only four, ARE compatible and work
perfectly well with M-Audio Delta Series PCI card.


Active Member
So it seems that all the Apple's G5 computers are fucked up with the PCI and PCI-X slots. :D

btw, I was running my RME HDSP9632 with a powercore pci just fine with my dp1.8.

Now I'm waiting for the new powercore pci mk2 to arrive that I can test if the virus powercore plugin works with it. Now it doesn't work in this computer together with powercore pci & motu 828 mk2. The sound goes nuts (crackles, pops, noise, bit reduction, sample rate reduction etc. and finally the motu's driver resets itself or finds the right digital clock again). Maybe it's the mac's fault then.


New Member
Couldnt' wait, I picked up the 01x and it's working great. On the Mac that is. I tried for 12 hours to get it working on the PC with no luck... intalls, reinstalls, IRQs, firewire buffer overflows, a new firewire card, MS firewire patch, PCI bus priority settings, you name it, I tried it! Set it up on the Mac in five minutes and it works like a charm! Can't wait for the 3.9 drivers so I can try the UAD-1 with the 01x setup. I intalled the 01x with my 17\" PowerBook G4 1.33 and my Dual G4 533, everything works perfect, the 01x is a great unit. Thanks for your advice.

After Mondays MacIntel announcement I was a little unsure if I should go ahead with my dual 2Ghz PCI G5 purchase. But after thinking about if for a couple of days, I'm going to order it today. I have a lot of music I want to make and the G5 with the UAD-1 will be great tools for as long as I want them to be. I also don't want to miss the opportunity to get a PCI G5 and take the chance that the next rev of PowerMacs only offer PCI-X and my UAD-1 won't work as well!

I think Apple is doing the right thing with Intel and we will all benefit from it. I don't think we as users will see anything different in the end other than the \"Intel Pentium 4 3.6Ghz\" in the \"About this Mac\" dialog box, or Pentium D or Extreme or whatever chips Apple uses. I'm sure it may take some time for all our software to be updated, but how different is that from waiting for the 3.9 driver for 10.4? The Mac OS and Apple's hardware quality/functionality is what I like and think the real draw to the Macintosh is all about, not what CPU is under the hood. We're not going to see beige boxes with wires everywhere and have to deal with IRQs, viruses and all that makes up the generic PC. Unless you like that kind of thing, which can be fun some times, I like my P4 WinTel box, but I \"love\" my Macintosh systems (and my UAD-1!). Two or three years from now I'm sure I'll be loving my 4Ghz multi-cpu dual-core PowerBook with a UAD-2 on a PCMCIA/PC-card!!

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