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Discussion Starter #1
I'm looking to simplify my studio setup a bit... currently I've got two Delta 1010LT cards and a rackful of ART preamps, which if I replaced with a firewire preamp/AD interface, I could do recording with my firewire-equipped laptop whenever we have gigs and still use the interface for home recording work.

So my question is... does anybody here use the Presonus Firepod for recording? If not, what firewire interface do you use?

While one Firepod would be enough to get me started, to do a full band live I could foresee picking up a second Firepod at some point.

Thanks!
--B
 

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brent, try the motu 828 mk2. it is just a bit more expensive than the firepod, but has an adat in, which coupled with a behringer ada8000 is a 16 channel input device. which is cheaper than 2 firepods. plus, the motu stuff is really pro-tools friendly.


rich
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Rich--

Thanks for the tip... I've been eyeing the motu 828/ADA8000 combo as well. Downside for me is that it's only got 2 mic pres, and when coupled with the ADA8000, that gets me to 10 pres. Most of the recording I'm doing now is with a full band (live), so I typically run about 11-14 channels at once.

How are the preamps in the motu 828 and Behringer ADA8000? One of the reasons I was really eyeing the Firepod is that it seems a lot of people have good stuff to say about the Firepod's pres.

--B
 

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I've owned the MOTU 828MKII and the Presonus Firepod, and I believe the Firepod is a superior product. The MOTU is glitzier, but I feel the quality is far superior in the Firepod (better sounding pres, better construction, drivers, and easier functionality). Plus it's cheaper.

MOTU also has ZERO tech support and are known to breakdown often. I vote for the Firepod no doubt.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Cool... well I lucked out... some guy offered to buy my complete studio setup (all my ART preamps + Delta 1010LT cards + a few other items), so I went ahead and pulled the trigger on the Firepod. It arrived today, and certainly was a piece of cake to install and update the firmware. Did a 30-second test in Sonar and it seems to be recording/playing back properly. Yea!

Hopefully I'll get some free time this weekend to take it for a respectable test drive. If I like what I see (hear), then I'll probably order a second one next week to complete the setup.

--B
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Well, I spent many hours this weekend working with the Firepod. Wish it could have been under better circumstances... my wife's grandfather passed away, and we were asked to perform a song at the funeral. Knowing that she would not be in good shape to sing then, we decided to record the song prior to attending the funeral.

Overall, I didn't put a lot of stress on the Firepod, as the track was an acoustic track (4 guitar tracks + 3 vocal tracks, recorded 1-2 tracks at a time). I was quite impressed with the clarity & relative warmth of the Firepod's preamps, although there were a few odd clicks that found their way into the mix (which may or may not have been the fault of the Firepod, I haven't had a lot of time for troubleshooting yet). Seemed to work well with both large & small diaphragm condensers as well a direct instrument feed from a piezo-equipped acoustic. Operation is far simpler than the combination of M-Audio 1010LT cards and rack-mounted preamps that I previously owned.

--B
 

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The Firepod drivers have a lot of options which should help you figure out any of those anomalies like clicks. Just read the manual and you should be in good shape (Im sure you know what you're doing, but it has some useful tips).

I just wish I could figure out how to record my drums with it :( (i posted another thread about this).
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Well, I did a little googling the past couple of days, because (in addition to the clicks & pops) the Firepod started changing bitrates in Sonar (sounds like a record slowing down) and dropping out completely during playback. Sounds like the Firepod's WDM drivers may be a bit flaky, so I switched over to use the ASIO drivers (no big deal, since Sonar supports both). It definitely reduced the number of dropouts/playback anomalies. Based on the sound, I put in an order for a second Firepod (MF had an open-box one for 30% off), so I could see what the performance is like with dual Firepods chained together.

In a word... ****ty.

When I rigged up the second unit yesterday, performance completely tanked... dropouts, pops, crackles, distortion everywhere. I can't keep the units in sync to save my soul... seems like one of them drops its connection every minute or so. I've tried both drivers (WDM & ASIO), I've tried both of my firewire interfaces, I've tried hooking the Firepods up in reverse order.

Presonus support, being very helpful, I must say, has given me a pretty massive list of tips to work through (everything from simple Windows XP performance tuning to suggesting I not use Sonar anymore to reformatting my hard drive), so I'm starting with the simple stuff, and if it doesn't help, I'll be sending them back. I've got far more invested in Sonar (over the years) than I do in Firepods so my first inclination is to find other cards that perform well under Sonar (I mean, the M-Audios weren't killer sounding, but they rarely dropped out, distorted, etc. in a couple years of heavy use). Or maybe it's a limitation of how firewire is implemented in XP... maybe I'm just not getting all the bandwith I deserve, and need to go back to a PCI-based solution.

So we'll see... if I do some of the performance tuning and don't get anywhere, I'll probably send the Firepods back and look into a Hammerfall card and a couple of mic preamps w/ ADAT interfaces like the Presonus Digimax LT or Focusrite Octopre LE, maybe a Behringer ADA8000 just to get me off the ground. While not quite as simple/elegant as a solution as the Firepods, it'd still be more convenient & toneful than the old ART/M-Audio setup.

--B
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Here's an update on my Firepod woes...

I took the advice that I got from Presonus tech support to tune my Windows system, and it didn't help with the performance issues. I also tried a few tuning tips mentioned in the Sonar forum... still no luck. So then I went ahead with the complete reformat, XP reinstall, etc. While it improved the distortion issues, both playback and recording continued to suffer from clicks & pops. With much disappointment (partly over the Firepods, partly over all the wasted time & effort) I packed up both Firepods & sent 'em back for a refund.

After a little more research, I decided to go back to using PCI cards... the bummer is that it won't work with my laptop, but it should have less impact on system performance. And I paid a little more attention to the Cakewalk hardware compatibility list, too. :) I ended up buying a Frontier Design Dakota card with the Montana expansion card. Then for starters, I picked up a Behringer ADA8000 preamp/AD converter, just to test the performance of the Frontier Design cards. If all goes well, I'll look in to a couple nicer preamps/converters like the Presonus Digimax or Focusrite Octopre.

I'll keep ya posted on how the new setup, but for now, my advice is:
If you want to use Windows and Sonar, don't buy a Firepod. And certainly don't buy two!

--B
 

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Your problems with the Firepod sound familiar. A freiend of mine went through several of them recently, and could never solve the sound problems he had. The biggest problem was the slowdown that you described ... which would happen some time into the recording. (He is doing long recordings, and things that can't be repeated if it goes wrong ... you might get away with it for short recordings.) After trying practically all of the firewire devices available and having similar issues with them, he has moved on to trying a mixer with hard drive recorder. Whether it's the firewire drivers or Windows itself, firewire recording on Windows is apparently just not a reliable option (with either driver).
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Well, the Frontier cards arrived last night... they turned out to be much more "plug & play" than the Firepods, which is somewhat ironic since I actually had to open the computer up to install them. I have both the Dakota and the Montana... the Dakota has 16 channels of ADAT I/O plus 2 channels of SPDIF plus 2x2 MIDI I/O, and the Montana expands that with 16 additional channels of ADAT I/O plus wordclock sync. I didn't have time for major stress testing, but basic recording and playback is pop & crackle free with the Behringer ADA8000 (the cheapest preamp/AD converter I could find on the market). One thing that impressed me... the Dakota's control panel has a built in monitor mixer that is as close to zero-latency monitoring as I've ever had on a PC (the downside is that no FX can be added, but at least monitoring levels can be set, so it's a step up from the Firepod there). The Frontier cards appear to be placing less load on the CPU during the recording & playback process as well.

Based on the initial experience, I've ordered a Focusrite Octopre and Presonus Digimax, both of which should have higher quality preamps & converters than the Behringer. Both should be here by the end of the week, so this weekend I should be able to get them wired up and do some more substantial performance testing (e.g., try to record 24 tracks at once). Wish me luck!

--B
 
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