firewire or USB for external music storage drive?


Are there any advantages to using a firewire 400 interface for a terabyte Western Digital hard drive with music stored as FLAC files over using the USB 2.0 interface?

The laptop is running XP with the last service pack and the audio is using Jriver Mediacenter ver 12 with ASIO for USB output.

I use a Hag usb converter to go to my old sonic frontier MkII DAC.
tcatman
No, not really. Firewire 400 is generally a little faster than USB2, despite USB2's faster theoretical maximum speed (480 mbps vs. 400), but both are far faster than the rates needed to support audio. Firewire 400 is preferred for video editing work, because the protocol guarantees that the transfer rate will never drop below what is needed to handle the dv (digital video) format without dropouts, while USB's transfer rate will fluctuate and occasionally drop below that minimum. But for audio either should be fine.

Regards,
-- Al
Firewire is probably the better choice if you are using a USB DAC. Every USB item you attach will share the bus with any others that happen to be demanding throughput at the time. So if you're running a USB DAC and a USB hard drive they will split the USB bus (and divide it further should you use any other USB devices at the same time). Using a Firewire drive will give that much more dedicated throughput to your USB DAC (or in your case your HAG converter). As Almarg implies, audio is not that demanding in terms of transfer speeds, so all of this may be a non-issue, especially if your computer is doing nothing but serving your audio signal.
USB will rob the processor of cycles, while the firewire will not.
all good except that you will find many more USB DACs then FW DACs...
all good except that you will find many more USB DACs then FW DACs

I was under the impression the poster was asking about storage devices to store the music library on, and not about DACs.

If you are asking about the DAC interface I'd be looking at asynchronous USB DACs. Firewire DACs are few and far between, partially because software needs to be written for each operating system and update thereof in order to use the DAC. There are other advantages to the USB interface from the functional standpoint. There's another thread on this subject here which gets into the interface debate where the DACs are concerned, but you'll have to sift through quite a few responses.

From that thread, definitely check out these interviews for some interesting viewpoints on the current state of computer audio.
Jax - my bad - thnx for setting me right

I think it's all been well said by the other poster -

the only thing I can contribute is that in my experience I have seen no evidence that USB robbing the processor of cycles is an issue in any way, shape or form - now if we were talking about video it might be an issue but then we'd also be talking about FW800
Thanks all

I an currently using the USB 2.0 cable to the hard drive. The only change I made to the standard setup of JRiver was to increase the buffering of the Asio driver by about 20%. It correlated with removing the occasional dropout.

So it looks like my old laptop is fast enough as a stand alone music player for red book flac 'd content.

I was also curious about the newer high resolution formats. So based on this conversation the Hard drive to PC through USB 2.0 won't be a problem since the file size will just be larger and a high resolution DAC will take care of the rest.

Thanks
About the usb dac thing, and I know that isn't what the original poster was asking - while Firewire Dacs are few, firewire to spdif converters aren't, and they are relatively inexpensive ($200), so you wouldn't be limited to a USB dac - you can get any dac you wish.
About the usb dac thing, and I know that isn't what the original poster was asking - while Firewire Dacs are few, firewire to spdif converters aren't, and they are relatively inexpensive ($200), so you wouldn't be limited to a USB dac - you can get any dac you wish.

I suggest you read the set of ten interviews on Positive Feedback that I linked to in my original post. Pay particular attention to the interface most of the designer / manufacturer / engineers are using and why they prefer it. I believe it is the first question each of them ask. It's interesting reading. Most, but not all, choose USB for very similar reasons.

In practice I would completely agree with you regarding USB not actually running up against any walls when streaming audio. I was not, however, talking about robbing the processor of any speed or capacity, it is robbing the USB bus of throughput/device. A USB 1.1 bus has a maximum speed of 12mbps and USB 2.0 480mbps. The more devices that are using the same USB bus, the more limited the actual transfer rate of each device becomes. As I said, I've never run up against the wall except when using the computer to do other memory intensive processing at the same time and I don't think that had to do with the bus being taxed in those cases. My point was, if given a choice, why tax the transfer rate of the interface you are using to deliver the music to the DAC (assuming you are using USB which is very likely). If you use a firewire drive you will not tax the USB bus.
Hi everybody.

I have a USB cable running out of the rear of My PC to my USB DAC. I also have a USB cable running out of the PC's front to my printer. I have no idea if the 2 cables are riding on the same bus.

Assuming that they are on the same bus, does the printer USB "tax" the DAC USB only when I use the printer or is it a conitnuous thing?
Assuming that they are on the same bus, does the printer USB "tax" the DAC USB only when I use the printer or is it a conitnuous thing?

The printer will "tax" the USB bus only when it is active. I doubt very much whether the throughput would interfere with the flow of music though. You can test it out yourself.