[LAD] [LAU] Linux Audio 2012: Is Linux Audio moving forward?

Jonathan Woithe jwoithe at just42.net
Sat Oct 13 05:42:37 UTC 2012

Hi Drew

[ Note: due to the way the LAD mailing list mail server and my mail account
interacts, this reply is unlikely to make it to the list.  Feel free to
forward it to the list if that's the case. ]

> Let's say I want at least 24 ins.  What do I get?

I assume you're referring to 24 analog ins.  Within a single unit that may
be challenging.

> I have heard focusrite mentioned. Firewire. Fine, but a bit iffy considering 
> reports of firewire being "put out to pasture" - is this something to worry 
> about?

It depends on who you speak to.  Certainly in the consumer realm it seems to
be going out of favour.  For semi-pro and professional audio however it
appears to be carrying on for the moment (most likely because the bus
architecture is so much better than USB for things like AV transport).  This
is evidenced by the manufacturers continuing to release new firewire-based

Over the next few years I expect thunderbolt interfaces to come to the fore
(assuming the interface is adopted widely and quickly).  However, there
remains a huge number of very good firewire-based interfaces out there, and
people will continue to want to use them for a number of years yet.  As a
result, I suspect that there won't be major issues attempting to obtain
firewire host cards for the foreseeable future.

> So, what focusrite firewire setup will get me 24 ins at once and be linux 
> compatible?  Go to ffado:
> :
> Focusrite	Saffire PRO 40		Experimental
> Focusrite	Liquid Saffire 56	Reported to work

This status is true, unfortunately.  I should clarify that the
"experimental" tag for the Pro 40 come about because FFADO has not received
any information from the manufacturer about this device AFAIK.  However, it
is proving to be similar to earlier devices (excepting the DSP, which isn't
relevant if all you're looking for is raw I/O) and it appears that progress
is being made.  Ultimately the slow progress is mostly due to a lack of
manpower to work on the drivers.  Admittedly this doesn't help your current
quest.  Note that I am not overly familiar with the Focusrite interfaces or
the FFADO driver for them; to obtain more detailed information about them it
would be best to head to the ffado-user and/or ffado-devel mailing list and
post your queries there.

> I have seen talk of RME firewire stuff not being well supported. Is that still 
> the case if it ever was?

Back a few years ago it was true; those working on FFADO were unable to get
in contact with the right people at RME to facilitate the work on a driver. 
This changed a couple of years ago and as of FFADO 2.1.0 the Fireface-400
and Fireface-800 are almost fully supported (MIDI I/O and the FF800 TCO are
the most significant omissions).  In terms of getting 24 analog channels
into the computer, you could use a FF800 with two 8-channel ADAT pre's of
your choice.  Again, it's not a single box with 24 inputs and it's a costly
solution, but it should be workable.

The RME UCX and UFX devices are currently not supported by FFADO.  Adding
the support for these is mostly dependent on getting physical access to
sample devices.  This is still being worked on (financial issues are proving
to be a problem).

Disclaimer: I work on the FFADO RME driver.


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