Thinking RME HDSPe - Windows or Mac OS?

I am in a transition period for my studio, and it seemed to me that you guys might have some wisdom that could help guide me to make a more informed decision.

My number one desire is for a system that has really low latency for tracking vocals and acoustic guitars, while running multiple VSTi’s without having to freeze tracks.

At present, I am back and forth between PC and Mac. I have a fairly decent PC (i7 3930k, 32Gb Ram, 512SSD). I also have a new Macbook Pro 15 Retina (2014) Loaded with 2.8 CPU, 1TB drive, 16GB ram, etc. It is basically the best Macbook Pro 2014 you can buy right now. I am considering the Mac Pro, but I want to get what is coming next, not the 2012 Mac Pro.

For current interfaces: Dual MR816CSX’s. I have a UA 4-710d Connected to the MR via ADAT. I also have a Avalon VT737sp and a ISAONE pre connected into the UA 4-710d so they come into my MR816 via the ADAT and bypass the preamps. I also have a Behringer X32Rack with USB interface, but not all that pleased with the sound for a primary audio interface.

I bought the MacBook Pro in January to explore running Logic Pro X, instead of Cubase Pro 8. While I kinda like Logic, I am struggling with the learning curve. I decided to stick with Cubase, but have had issues with it running on my MacBook…basically realtime CPU spikes. I rolled back to my PC, and decided to rebuild it. I put Windows 8.1 on it, only to find that Microsoft has crippled the support for FireWire, and now my MR816’s dont function stable on Windows 8.1. So, in frustration, I rebuilt my system back to Windows 7(64).

I thought perhaps I need to look at changing my Audio Interface, and perhaps get an even more powerful computer system. Looking at some posts on Steinberg forum, has lead me to look primarily at RME. I also like the idea of splitting out the functions of my gear. I have a few decent preamps, and dont really need to rely on the interface for mic pre’s. It seems to me, PCIe is the best way to go for the low latency that I am looking for. I am thinking HDSPe of some kind. Just not sure which way to go, and whether I should I run on Windows or Mac OS?

In what way?

Here is a thread that discusses it, but the solution did not fix the problem.

My MR drivers would not run with Windows 8.1. Couldnt see either of my devices, no matter what I tried.

So it is not a universal issue with Firewire, but related to the devices you have.

What Firewire card are you using?

More particularly, is the chip a TI one?
ANY other brand may lead to significant issues with professional audio interfaces.

I am running W8.1 with two TI-based PCIe cards with RME FireFace 400 on one, and a FireFace 800 on the other, at 256 sample buffers at 192k. The drivers are the stock (non-legacy) Win 8.1 ones.

Even with these Firewire cards, I had to use a separate card for each audio interface, but that appears to an issue with the particular TI chip, as the TI chip on my previous motherboard could handle both devices.

When I got the new motherboard, the non-TI Firewire chip on it was useless, so I was willing to spend up to $200 to test some TI-based PCIe cards, after which, if there was no joy, I would have dumped the RMEs. As it was, I only had to spend $100 for both the cards to get a fully functioning system. That means I get to keep the RMEs for a couple more years.

I’m running a RME Raydat, in my PC. Before that a MR816 connected to a PCIe FireWire card with a TexasInstruments chipset. My MR816 is now connected to the Raydat using ADAT. The performance is a lot better than with FireWire, and I can get down to usable 32 sample buffers that’s 0.7ms latency. I only regret what I didn’t get it earlier.

The card I am running is: Syba Low Profile PCI-Express 1394b/1394a (2B1A) Card, TI Chipset, Extra Regular Bracket SD-PEX30009.

Raydat was what I was thinking, but I wasnt quite sure how I would route the audio back out for 4 studio Cue mixes and main monitors. I would like to still use my MR816CSX’s. They work good, and give me a lot of I/O when I need it.

+1 for Raydat with any choice of analog I/O connected via ADAT – all your driver issues will be gone forever. You can use TotalMix to create any submixes you want – be prepared to invest a little time and it will be well rewarded.

I just ordered the Raydat. I will try to make it run with my PC, which I am going to rebuild again to Windows 8.1 while I wait for the card to arrive. If it gives me trouble, then I will get the Sonnet PCie Thunderbolt chassis and use my MacBook Pro as my primary DAW platform, and use VE Pro 5 to run my more taxing vsti across my other machines. Thanks for the nudge on the Raydat.

That IS one of my cards. It worked for one device, but not two.

Then I bought a SIIG card, which it turns out was also based on the same TI chip, and it worked the same way: x1 = yes, x2 = no.

The XIO2213A TI chip appears to be the culprit that mysteriously won’t work with two devices.

I then tried the two cards at once, with one device on each, and they worked perfectly, as they did on the previous motherboard, at 192k with 1.3ms recording latency and 4ms end-to-end.

Now, while that latency is not down to the 0.7ms for PCIe that peakae gets – presumably at 44.1k – it is still very respectable, and certainly worth keeping one’s current interfaces, if they end up working, than the much larger expense of buying new interfaces.

I had only one MR816CSX plugged into the card…then linked them via firewire, as designed. This has always worked for me. I really want to run Windows 8.1 for the better support of SSD. I also am looking forward to having a the RayDAT card since it is a bit more future proof. RME appears to already have drivers for Windows 10. .7ms RT latency might work too, and that will be awesome! I can use an old laptop to make any minor adjustments I will need to route the ADAT returns through the MR816’s via firewire, but I won’t have to rely on Firewire for my DAW anymore. That will be a blessing.

Did you use Windows update to get the drivers for your Syba card? I guess I don’t recall downloading a driver from a website, other than Microsoft, so perhaps that was my mistake. I didn’t spend enough time trying to solve it, before I got frustrated and rolled back to Window 7(64). I will know by the end of the day, after I rebuild to Windows 8, and reinstall all my DAW/VST software.


Daisy-chaining devices by Firewire didn’t work for me either. Only dual cards did.

Didn’t specially install any driver. Just Windows supplied 1394 driver. Device Manager shows two instances corresponding to the two cards:
Device Manager / IEEE 1394 host controllers / Texas Instruments 1394 OHCI Compliant Host Controller x 2

I have a second card, so i can try that. Although, it wont matter by Monday when the Raydat arrives.
What do you think of the Asus P9x79-E WS board?
I have P9X79 Pro and found it to be buggy. The usb 3 ports have not worked right from day one. I thought about swapping out my MB. I have 3930k cpu on this computer

Remember that the MR816 needs to be configured, before you remove any FireWire card. Once You have found the right settings you don’t need the FireWire anymore. Unless you want to have access to the DSP fx in the MR816.

I got it so that I had a choice of i7 or Xeon CPUs, and that 2011 socket CPUs were to be supported into the future. Unfortunately, Intel didn’t tell the full story, namely that the v3 CPUs are not compatible with the X79 chipset, so it is not as future-proof as I had hoped.

However, it provides seven full PCIe connectors, and plenty of ports, so it should last a while. At this time I am not doing any recording, so its CPU is pretty underutilised.

The USB3s work OK. They are connected into two Dell S2340T touchscreens, each with an inbuilt USB3 hub. Not really pushing them speed-wise though.

Yeah - I actually will use my Macbook with the firewire - Thunderbolt adapter to config MR816CSX’s as needed. Infact, I am messing around with that now using the editor. I decided against blasting back to Windows 8.1 right now. I was about to this morning, and then when I looked at the system I just felt like it was too much hassle. I spent hours getting it all rebuilt again on Windows 7, with all my VST stuff installed. If i build another machine (5960x), that will get Windows 8, maybe 10 if the drivers are all working for everything I use. That is not likely. Although RME seems to have windows 10 drivers built in to the last release.

Pajanjali - I dont think we can count on much being future proof, ever. It is planned that way so we have to keep upgrading and buying new stuff. At least things like my UA4-710d won’t have to get tossed along with the interface or old computer. I should be able to use that for many years to come. Same with the MR816’s. I am really starting to get the idea of splitting out components, instead of everything in one box.

Nothing is forever!

I am really looking forward to Audio over IP (AoIP) coming into its own. Using a single ASIO (or whatever) driver, Ethernet and dedicated hardware for best latencies, it promises distributed heterogeneous (mixed manufacturer) audio IO, that can be expanded (or retracted) as required without having to replace anything.

At the moment, an ASIO driver only works for similar devices from the same manufacturer, and you cannot use multiple ASIO drivers in Cubase.

If the Firewire cards had not worked out, I was not looking forward to buying non-AoIP devices as an interim measure.

AoIP coupled with PCoIP (remote video+USB), would allow computers to be fully out of the recording area, allowing them to be as noisy as they need to be to get the most power from them, or even a bunch of virtual machines in a big centralised server.

We are on the cusp of several major computer media possibilities, but they just are not there yet = not cheap and ubiquitous enough to feel safe to invest in for us not-so-full-on users.

For professional users, who are making enough to cover the investment, these technologies are available now.

If I can get consistently below 3ms RT latency, I will be forever happy. Even 5-6 has been tolerable. I really just want to be able to track vocals and acoustic guitars along with midi driven VSTi parts that have not been frozen or exported, just becuase of latency.

I will say this, I recently bought Vienna Ensemble Pro 5. It works amazingly well, so far as I have tested it. Running a VST on a computer in another room, connected only by Ethernet is super cool! It allows exactly what you are describing for about $200. Noisy machine can be super powerful and 100+ feet away from me. Latency is super low. It sends all midi and returns audio over CAT5. Easy to work with on Cubase. You dont even need an interface on the other end. I didnt get it working with my WAVE plugs yet, but when I do…I think it will blow away MultiRack…which I spent $500 on.

I have my recording computer in an adjacent room now, and cut a port whole between the wall to my Control Room, so noise is not an issue at all. But still, to be able to link 3+ computers and dedicate one to drum VST tied into my Roland TD30kv is one of the main goals for getting it.

Basically AoIP does for audio interfaces what VEP does for VST(i)s. Audio data, clock and even power via Ethernet.

Okay, that will be great. You said the technology is already available? On what device?

Audinate does the Dante system. And there is RAVENNA, which is a open standard. These two are pretty big in large scale installations.

Focusrite does their Dante-equipped RED range, which have large numbers of IO, as well as resell the Audinate PCIe master card.

There are many PA, mixing console and amplifier manufacturers who provide Dante-compatibility, including Yamaha, typically using an Audinate module.

While there are some manufacturers who do devices with small numbers of IO, there are not many at this stage that really do devices suitable for hobby/small studios. That is, a standalone 2in/2out or 4in/4out unit with Power over Ethernet (PoE), so that a PoE Ethernet hub in a studio could feed a device for mics/DI/foldback for each performer via one cable each, and the hub would be connected back to the computer by one cable. And all the devices’ IO can be managed back at the computer as a single map, regardless of the manufacturer. Most small IO devices seemed aimed at hiding out-of-sight as part of an audio distribution management system.

The side benefit of AoIP is that it uses the ubiquitous stock-standard low-cast Cat5/6 GbE cables and switches. Just go into your local computer store for all your audio distribution needs! No expensive super-heavy multi-snakes again.

So, yes, AoIP is available now, but pretty well only those who are making big bucks are going to invest in a whole kit-out of the type of high IO count devices like the REDs for their studios.

However, it will only take a top manufacturer to realise that there is a huge untapped market of hobbyists that could use a basic setup to start with, and add devices as their needs grow, without having to trade-in existing devices.

With AoIP and PCoIP, a big studio could lay down a multi-10GbE backbone, feeding into PoE GbE hubs in each studio and PCoIP ‘terminals’ driving multiple video monitors in each control room. and just shift around AoIP IO devices as required, while centrally configuring it all, even having templates for layouts. And all while keeping all the devices since they started as a lone hobbyist!