Firewire is not as commonly used as other types of audio interface connections, so it just sounds like an intimidating name, doesn’t it? Regardless, Firewire connectivity backs up that intimidation with super fast bandwidth, faster than USB interfaces (below USB 3.0). This means it sends data at a quicker rate, cutting back the latency and delivering better performance, consistency, and stability in your audio.
So if you’re looking to record a bunch of tracks at once without losing audio quality, a Firewire audio interface should be a part of your recording studio setup. Let’s dive into the details of why.
Top 3 Best Firewire Audio Interfaces
The PreSonus FireStudio Mobile audio interface, when compared to other interfaces built for on-the-go recording, is a top performer. It’s durable and small yet still offers professional quality audio, thanks to two preamps, phantom power, and easy-to-use software. This simply designed interface lets you easily record audio and avoid wasting time.
You have so many options when it comes to audio interfaces, but Focusrite is a name that always jumps out. With the Saffire Pro 40, they uphold their reputation by offering a high-quality, affordable device marked by killer preamps and eight XLR/line inputs. That’s music to the ears of artists recording from home.
The MOTU Audio Express takes a strong step into the audio interface market, but not without first stumbling just a bit. The inconvenient design of this device greatly takes away from its overall value, which is high. With a simpler design, this could be one of the top performing audio interfaces.
More features, fair price
Firewire audio interfaces usually offer more than USB interfaces, but that means they’re a bit pricier. For a decent interface, you will need something in the range of $300-$500. But this is cheaper than a lot of Thunderbolt interfaces and will offer more features than USB interfaces.
Many Firewire interfaces come with pretty darn good software, too. A couple examples include the PreSonus FireStudio Mobile, which comes with its own PreSonus Studio One Artist DAW software, over 6 GB of virtual instruments, plug-ins, loops, and samples. Additionally, the Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 comes with Midnight Plug-in Suite.
Speed and reliability
The advantage of using Firewire, as I mentioned above, is the speed at which these devices transfer data. This can give you confidence in its reliability when you’re recording with several channels simultaneously. With the entry of USB 3.1, less computers are being made with Firewire ports, but if your computer has one, it’s one of your best options for an interface. Also, if your computer doesn’t have a Firwire port, you can buy adapters (i.e. Firewire to USB or Firewire to Thunderbolt).
Sending data differently, better
Firewire is also different, at least from USB, in that it streams data rather than packets data, meaning you have a more stable sync and overall better performance.
Plus, you can expand your recording setup with other Firewire devices (USB can’t do that), giving you more inputs and outputs. This is one of the most underrated features of Firewire devices. Imagine if you’re recording a full band, including a full drumset. You’ll need as many inputs as possible, and with multiple Firewire interfaces, you won’t need to worry about not having enough. Firewire devices typically have plenty of inputs to begin with, but having the option to add more is fantastic.
So when you’re in the market for a new Firewire audio interface, keep these things in mind before you buy: the types of inputs and outputs you’re using (XLR, quarter-inch, MIDI, S/PDIF or ADAT) and how many you want to use. Fortunately, the best Firewire interfaces out there provide most, if not all, of those types of inputs and plenty of them. And as I mentioned in the last section, you can always add another Firewire device to give yourself even more inputs and outputs.
So if you’re looking for a fast, audio interface for a fair price, look no further than a Firewire device. It’s faster than USB 2.0 interfaces, cheaper than Thunderbolt interfaces, and often transmits data better than both. If you have a decent sized budget (or maybe just some wiggle room in your DIY budget), Firewire is a safe and sure buy.