MOTU 24i with Ardour

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MikeLAK
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I'm thinking about building myself a computer and switching to Ardour from Digital Performer. I've previously only used pre-built systems (G4s and G5s with thats omeonee lse has put soundcards into etc), so I'm pretty green. My computer nerd pal and I can get the hardware requirements etc figured out, but there are some things I thought I should ask.

Currently we use a MOTU 24i. I don't know what soundcard is in the computer (it belongs to another guy in the band). My questions are:

1) Does anyone use a MOTU 24i with their Ardour set up? Are there any driver issues? Does it play nice with JACK? Basically, what do I need to do to get it to work and run well.

2) What's the best soundcard for using the MOTU and doing multitrack recording/mixing (drums, guitars, vocals, mastering,etc).

I'm looking for any and all tips/suggestions.

MikeLAK
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sorry...did some research. let me tryt his again:

does anyone know if you can get the pci324 card to work with JACK and Linux? i know MOTU is shitty with driver support, but does anyone know if this card can work?

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sampo
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I'm sorry but this is the extent of MOTU cards supported by alsa:
http://www.alsa-project.org/alsa-doc/index.php?vendor=vendor-Mark_Of_The_Unicorn#matrix

Take a look at the M-Audio cards (the PCI delta cards) or RME products. Always check the Alsa sound card matrix to make sure that the card is supported.

MikeLAK
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looks like i'm gonna have to sell the MOTU. good thing i'm saving some $$ on software and hardware by not having to use a MAC :)

we currently run the direct outs from our 16 track Alesis board into the MOTU. is there anything linux-friendly you know of that can do the same job the MOTU is doing, or will i have to sink deeeep into debt and get a pair of Firepods (or something like them)?

of course, if you could use a card other than the pci-324 with the MOTU box there wouldn't be a problem.

oh, and thank you btw.

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jnc
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I've been using an m-audio 1010 rack unit with great success. It's only 8 channels, so you might want to look at your options before taking the plunge. I only really need 8 channels for home recording action.

sampo
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You can use ardour in OSX on a mac as well. You might not need to sell the macs at all. Have you thought about that?

MikeLAK
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the idea, currently,is to upgrade our mac a bit so that it'll run ardour well enough to record the raw tracks (up to 16 at once, an average of 12) without freezing up on us. from there, i'll transfer the session to a juiced up laptop to do editing/mixing/plugins.

so my question now is: how much ram and how fast a processor does one need, generally speaking, to work with a project like that? if i had a session with maybe 20 minutes of audio, 16 tracks, with maybe 2 or 3 plugins on each tracks (eq, compressor, maybe a verb or chorus), what kind of specs are we talking? i've seen a lot of people with 2 or 3 gigs of memory and a 1.5ghz processor....is that enough?

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MikeLAK
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our issue is that we record band practice a lot for fleshing out songs, so we're doing 11 or 12 tracks at once. our aging G4 with Digital Performer does pretty ok, but once you start adding plugins it can get real slow (7733 mhz processor...yikes). because of budget, we're trying to avoid buying two 8 channel boxes. if we were going to though, the m-audio and the Presonus Firepod would be at the top of the list.

http://www.loversandkillers.net

sampo
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It's very difficult to say how much processing power you will need. You say 2-3 plugins on each track, but I don't know how many tracks you'll end up having in your session, or which processor will you choose, or what disks. If you run out of processing power, you can always use larger latencies when mixing which increases processing buffer sizes and thus eliminates a lot of overhead caused by the extra context switches.

Having a lot of memory will help, but 1Gb should suffice.

Instead of telling you what you need, I'll give you something to compare to. I have a session here with about 25 tracks (a few of which are stereo, others mono) 10 buses (mostly stereo) plus the master bus. The session has 46 plugins of variable complexity in total. The session also has a lot of sends.

When running that session with 2x128 @ 44.1kHz which translates to 5.8msec latency, Ardour reports about 50% DSP usage. If I change the buffer size to 512 (23.2msec) DSP usage drops to about 37%. Remember that when mixing, latency will not really matter, especially since Ardour does automatic latency compensation.

Remember though, that you can't ever go to 100% DSP usage. You normally can't get above 80% reliably because random spikes due to the data the plugins are processing or other processes might at one point eat up a slightly larger chunk of processing time which leaves no time for the audio process to complete it's tasks in time.

I'm using a PIV 2.8GHz processor. Remember though that GHz's tell nothing about the performance differences between different processor types. A 1.6GHz Pentium-M is a lot faster than this PIV!

(For the record, I'm using 2Gb of RAM but 1 would suffice for audio work. I need the extra gig for Ardour development)