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Old June 23rd, 2008, 05:08 PM   #1
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Audio interface for Mac Pro

From my research it looks like I have 3 options for sending audio to monitor speakers - toslink, firewire, and USB. I plan to go ahead and install 5.1 audio support for future use, but right now I'm primarily looking for a monitoring solution for Soundtrack Pro and FCP stereo audio. Is toslink a viable option for this or would I be better off using fw, or USB? Some interfaces I've seen recommended are those from M-Audio and Focusrite (Saffire). I've also seen positive comments about toslink output to the Logitech Z5500. Comments on those or other recommendations would be appreciated. End product will be documentary DVDs with music and narration.

Thanks.
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Old June 23rd, 2008, 06:14 PM   #2
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Jim:

It really boils down to the audio interface you want to use. The USB and FW ports generally aren't used for audio unless you have an external sound interface you are going to use. The Mac Pro has the TOS interface (digital) which can go into any device that supports and has a TOS interface. This allows you to use the internal sound "card", which on the Mac Pro isn't too shabby. You can also put in a PCIe card for audio. It's all a matter of what you want, and how much money you want to spend.

Wayne
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Old June 23rd, 2008, 06:25 PM   #3
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MOTU 896 now mk3 model with much better clock. very nice warm sound compared to what your video card does. 8 mic / line ins and outs, plus a bunch of additional digital I/O's if you want them. FW interface.
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Old June 23rd, 2008, 08:38 PM   #4
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I use Toslink to a set of Edirol MA-15d speakers and am very happy with the set up. A lot of bang for your buck. I think I paid about $200 for the speakers and the Toslink.
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Old June 24th, 2008, 04:16 AM   #5
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Since your present need is just "a monitoring solution for Soundtrack Pro and FCP stereo audio", you could use the line out of the mac to drive a pair of respectable powered monitor speakers. Have a look at you options at B&H... I'm happy with my m-Audio bx5a's using this same hookup at the moment. Not sure I'd go with the Logictech speakers for monitors... looks like a nice set up for video games or watching movies on but not really meant for editing work.

Add a firewire interface when needed... Have a look at the Focusrite or Edirol boxes, but there are plenty of others.
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Old June 24th, 2008, 04:55 AM   #6
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I am feeding stereo audio from FCP and Soundtrack Pro simply from the audio out jack on my Mac Pro. Cleaner sound than from an external box top-of-the-line Creative gold system on my PC (3 years old). So why make things more complicated than needed?
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Old June 24th, 2008, 06:22 AM   #7
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I recently bought the Apogee Duet to use as an audio interface and have had excellent results. It has both 1/4" and xlr breakouts and is very portable.
Cheers
Jon
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Old June 24th, 2008, 06:33 AM   #8
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I'm assuming the digital out is going to be cleaner sounding than the line out. Also, I tend to try to future-proof myself where possible, so the 5.1 support makes sense in case I start to experiment with creating audio tracks for that. Thanks for the tips and for the pointer to the MOTU unit.
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Old June 24th, 2008, 01:42 PM   #9
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Jim,

FYI, the Mac's Toslink output will not let you monitor 5.1 surround sound. It can only play back previously encoded surround sound from a DVD, but not encode it in real time. For that, a FireWire or PCIe audio interface is probably the best solution - and I've heard the argument that FireWire is preferred between these two because it keeps the sound outside of the computer case with all its electronic noise.

I don't believe there's a clear winner among those audio interfaces - there are a lot of good ones. I'm very happy with my Echo AudioFire8.

- Martin
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