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Logic 8 Hot Plugging

Discussion in 'Logic 8' started by Eli, Apr 6, 2009.

  1. Eli

    Eli Senior member

    Hey All,

    What is the current state of being able to hot plug an audio interface from a current generation MacBook Pro. Is it safe to do? Are there specific interfaces it works better/worse with? Do either USB 2.0 or FW interfaces work better than the other in general? A buddy of mine is looking for an interface for a new MBP and wants to be able to do routinely do this without having to reboot if possible.

    Any thoughts or experiences about this would be greatly appreciated.
  3. Peter Ostry

    Peter Ostry Administrator Staff Member

    Hotplugging Firewire devices is not a good idea (almost as dangerous as hotplugging SCSI). It works if you hold the plug straigt but an angle can destroy the port. I already ruined the ports of a Fireface and a MacBook at once, as I just moved the laptop on the desk without holding the Firewire plug firmly.

    USB is no problem.
  4. Eddie Sullivan

    Eddie Sullivan Senior member

    I plug and unplug my MOTU UltraLite all the time with no problem. Since I've got a laptop sometimes I'll make beats and things in bed early in the morning- if something is working I'll jump out of bed and plug my laptop in to the Firewire interface with Logic running- no issues. If I unplug the interface with Logic running all I get is an error saying the audio interface was removed and Logic finds the internal audio.

    I doubt Firewire is 'as dangerous as SCSI' to plug and unplug, except maybe for drives- which SCSI was most used for... even then, as long as you're unmounting them, it's probably fine to unplug them as you need to...
  5. Peter Ostry

    Peter Ostry Administrator Staff Member

    Well Eddie, you may doubt it and Firewire is designed for hotplugging, but this cannot remove the facts from the planet :). The plug is the problem.

    I definitely advice people NOT to hotplug Firewire. This applies of course only to connections which carry power. See below.

    You would talk like me if you had the same experience: one week without the MacBook (Apple Service, very costly) and two weeks without the interface (RME service, they did it for free (!) except of shipment). Both reported damaged firewire ports.

    Here is just one article about that. You can find more and also many statements like "I do it all the time". I won't do it again, but make up your own mind.
    According to the article above I am not on the safe side because I plug Firewire with one device on. Actually I thought it is safe until I found this text today ...

    Same here. We have still a lot of SCSI disks in our servers and SCSI connectors to RAID systems. You can hotplug them, although SCSI is not built for that. But on a bad day you can hold the plug in the wrong angle, the current will reach the wrong pin frst and the port is gone.
  6. Maurits

    Maurits Member

    I don't often unplug my audio interface (MOTU 896 firewire) but I do switch it on and off when needed. And doing that I noticed that Logic, other than other software, can't cope with this change in audio configuration and crashes, if I switch the unit on or off while Logic is running.

    At least in 7.2 this is the case for me.. maybe that changed in 8..
  7. Eddie Sullivan

    Eddie Sullivan Senior member

    The Firewire 800 connection seems more robust, this is the connector on my Mac Book Pro. I think that common sense dictates that one would exercise care when 'hotplugging' any Firewire Device. I mean damage can occur if one is careless with a plug even when the devices are powered off. The Firewire standard describes a connection that is hot swappable. Computer cables are delicate and deserving of respect, but this does not mean that you should not use them in the way they are intended.

    The only problem I have ever had with plugging in a Firewire cable is that the 800 connector fits very neatly into an Ethernet port. It took me 1/2 hour to figure out that I had done this one time, and in front of someone I was 'showing off' to... lol I learned a valuable lesson in pride that day ; )
  8. Peter Ostry

    Peter Ostry Administrator Staff Member

    I did this last week for the first time. The plug looks normal in the Ethernet port. I figured it out quickly, but only because I wanted to connect the Ethernet cable too and didn't find a hole for it ...
  9. JonHob

    JonHob New Member

    As a total novice to Logic and Macs... what is hotplugging? I use a Edirol FA-66, do I need to be careful???

  10. pbasswil

    pbasswil New Member

    Hi all,

    I'm Eli's friend Peter, on whose behalf he started the thread.

    I'm getting the picture: you may be able to get away with hot-plugging firewire for many moons; but eventually you may get bit!
    I just bought an expensive new MacBook Pro, so I don't think I'll run the risk.

    For my light duty recording I think I'll get a USB interface (I haven't heard of anything getting fried with one of them). So far I'm totally unfamiliar with what's out there.

    Can anyone recommend a decent USB 2.0 audio interface somewhere in the US$200 to $400 ballpark?
    My priorities, in order, are:
    -- Solidity of Mac drivers
    -- At least a pair of decent preamps -- mostly to be used with bass, but mics too.
    -- Solidity of Mac drivers!
    -- Compact would be nice

    Thanks in advance,

    Peter W
  11. Peter Ostry

    Peter Ostry Administrator Staff Member

    I am not familiar with USB interfaces. With Firewire in this price range I would go for the Focusrite Saffire LE or the Presounus Firebox. Both are solid, small and sound good. I personally prefer the Firebox.

    Regarding the bass: Instrument inputs of audio interfaces are usually not that good. Think about buying a nice passive DI-Box first, with a good transducer and >1 MΩ input impedance and go to a mic input. Later you can look for a decent bass driver or preamp like the Sansamp products.
  12. pbasswil

    pbasswil New Member

    Thanks for your input, Peter O.

    I'm don't leave my MacBook Pro set up for music all day, I'm in and out and doing many other things with it in other places; so I highly value being able to hotplug the interface, to avoid having to constantly reboot every time I want to do a little music.

    For the reasons discussed earlier in this thread, I will get a USB 2.0 interface -- i.e, for the safety of my computer when hot-plugging.

    To start off with, I'll mostly be using Logic as an elaborate bass practice device. So the low-fi inputs/preamps on an interface will do me for now. As for impedance, my bass has an internal preamp.

    I'm all ears for anyone's recommendation of a reasonably solid USB 2.0 interface.


    Peter W
  13. Doug Zangar

    Doug Zangar Senior member

    I know this is a little askew from some of your requirements (it's firewire and perhaps slightly more $$$) but I have an Apogee Duet and think it's great. I think list is US $499.00.

    I also have plugged/unplugged (hot swapped) regularly with no problems (well, not yet anyway). I was reluctant to do so at first, fearing damage to interface or computer. I was told by Apogee rep it is not a problem, regarding their interface. Logic has never crashed.

    However, I'll be the first to admit that you're possibly safer not doing such regarding computer. But, as already pointed out - the firewire standard is hot swappable.
  14. pbasswil

    pbasswil New Member


    You could go for months or even years without any hot-plugging problems; and then one day, a pin gets bent, or you unthinkingly jam the connector in at a weird angle and *poof*, there goes your computer's FW bus.

    I just don't have the disposable income to roll with big repairs like that -- this is the best computer I've ever had, and it'll have to last me for years.

    If I had pro recording needs, I'd buy a desktop and leave a FW interface plugged in. But I'll get by with my MacBook Pro for casual, personal recording, and hot-plug a decent USB 2.0 interface -- when I can identify one.

    So far I don't have a clear winner; the ones I've looked at so far all work well for some users and cause misery for others. :^/ I'll keep looking.

    Peter W
  15. bambony

    bambony Administrator Staff Member

    Edirol UA-101 (USB 2.0) works well here and does not sound particularly inferior to my FW MOTU 828Mk2. In fact the MOTU has proven less reliable (shipped with faulty FW cable, early drivers weren't so hot, LCD backlight has gone - these are very common problems among 828Mk2 owners although I am sure later shipments were more reliable).

    However the accompanying routing software for the UA-101 is not a 'patch' (excuse the pun) on Cuemix which is not a deal breaker for me but might be for some.

  16. Eli

    Eli Senior member

    I would definitely say that some form of direct monitoring is important. I know Peter, and he won't want to have any latency in his headphones when he's tracking his bass. So here are some new questions to throw out to the panel:

    * Do USB interfaces, in general, perform well at low buffer settings? ie: is 64 a realistic possibility? (I have my 8 core Mac Pro and 828 mk ll routinely set to 32 with nary a problem)

    * Do USB interfaces generally come with direct monitoring capabilities?

    PS: Tony - I've had my 828 mk ll for a few years now and have not had any problems with it. Granted though, i bought it once the product and drivers were mature - ie: not the first run models)
  17. bambony

    bambony Administrator Staff Member

    64 buffer setting is fine here but I tend to play more safe when recording multiple tracks

    I think almost all inerfaces have some kind of direct monitoring and it is not a function of the interface connection protocol but of internal design.

    I think most problems were ironed out by the 2nd or 3rd run but there were tons of issues with the first batch - many were returned due to faulty LCD screens. I think MOTU happily replaced them and the product grew to be a real winner for them I'm sure.

  18. pbasswil

    pbasswil New Member

    Tony, I looked at the Edirol UA-101. Edirol's website seems to indicate that it only operates at USB 1.1 bus speeds with a Mac. I guess that could be outdated information... but I don't see it corrected or updated anywhere.

    I also looked at the Tascam US-144; but saw too many references to flaky drivers and Mac support.

    After considerable sifting thru Google searches and various user reviews, the Emu 0404 USB 2.0 is emerging as a promising candidate.
    Eli: It has hardware zero-latency direct monitoring. And the only instance I read of someone using it with a Mac, they reported a completely trouble-free experience.

    Peter W
  19. bambony

    bambony Administrator Staff Member

    I am 99% sure the latest UA-101 drivers are USB 2.0 compatible:

    I have certainly recorded more than 4 inputs simultaneously! Probably up to 7 at 16 bit and 6 at 24 bit which far exceeds the USB 1.1 spec.

    I wouldn't take my word for it though and check thoroughly before any purchase.

    The Tascam US-144 is a dog: built like a tank but extremely flaky drivers for both Windows and OSX. The Emu 0404 is a good device but I've only used this on a Windows machine.

    I've built quite a few systems for all different sorts of people over the years and also run a school recording studio so get to try bits and pieces out. It's a shame RME don't have an simple entry level device...

  20. Eli

    Eli Senior member

    Tony: I know that most audio interfaces these days have direct monitoring - good to know that the USB protocol is not an obstacle. I wasn't sure.

    Peter: The term "zero latency monitoring" is a marketing term. What it really means is "really small negligible latency". As long as a device has direct monitoring, you'll be okay. The latency will be in the < 5 - 10 ms or so range - which is perfectly fine.
  21. Peter Ostry

    Peter Ostry Administrator Staff Member

    Mhmm ... perfectly fine is 0 ms, especially when you listen through headphones. Best is to monitor the signal directly, either via splitters or, if you use external preamps, by simply splitting it between preamps and interface in a patch bay.

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