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Ubuntu and Firewire Interface for Audio

A week ago I went to Long & McQuade in Vancouver and took away a TC Electronics Konnect 24 firewire interface to start testing. I will need to be able to record audio in the field and my recent camera research confirms the need for an external recording device for quality audio. There are dedicated field recorders designed for every quality level and I would really like to own one for the ultimate convenience. For this project, I am trying to minimize the amount of equipment I carry and I will already be bringing at least one notebook computer. Ergo, I need an interface to capture audio (analog) and convert it to a digital signal recognizable by my computer (digital).

Current technology in audio capture is advancing quickly and with any of this technology it is best to wait until the last possible moment to actually lay out the cash. As soon as you make that decision and take the unit home, a leap forward will be made, operating systems will be upgraded and you are on your way to obsolescence.

As I am investing in the Linux operating system now, it is very important that the firewire interface work in this OS. The notebook is dual boot with Vista, so compatibility with that flavour of Windows would be an asset and I want it to work with the studio’s G4 Mac OSX 10.3.9. You may think that every interface would support Windows, but many manufacturers support proprietary systems, such as the Apogee converter system that only works on Apple products. To balance this there are certain other systems that are weighted towards integrating with ProTools software on Windows. There are no dedicated Linux products (July 29, 2008 — in ten years we will see this statement become antiquainted).

T.C. Electronics Konnekt 24

I looked at the Free Firewire Audio Drivers site to see which interfaces would work with Linux. I was pleased to see a front page posting “More Experiments: now with the TC Konnect”. The recording studio I work for has a TC Electronics System 6000 effects processing unit that I also use as a mastering device. This is one of the highest quality pieces of gear I have ever worked with and the touch screen interface is intuitive and quick to operate. Could it work with Linux?

A week later, I am returning the TC Konnect24 because it not only is not supported in Linux, but it is not recognized in Mac OSX3.9. The excellent TC Electronic support explained that they have stopped supporting this operating system, even though it is listed as a minimum requirement on the box. They expect that it will work, but if it doesn’t there’s nothing they can do. This is with an Apple operating system — the only way I would be able to get it to work in Linux would be to create settings in Windows, reboot the computer into Linux and and use the converters only when plugged in to Linux. This is a major setback, as part of the reason to pay a premium for the TC Electronics unit is to obtain some of the great reverbs and other software goodies packed into the box. Although the converters are pristine, I would want to use the outstanding mixing and DSP effects. I did not try the unit in Windows Vista, but I’m sure it would work and with a good Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), I would have a powerful recording tool.

Front panel of T.C. konnekt 24

I will now be looking at Focusrite and Echo firewire interfaces because they are supported in Linux and should work with the Mac. The reasons for this decision:

  1. I do not want to have to buy any more operating systems. I have bought every Windows version from DOS to Vista and every Apple from Basic to OSX10.3.9. Surely I should get one free upgrade?
  2. Time=Money. If I work to get money, then I have no time to use the gear that I can afford because I have to work.
  3. The current commercial software sales method means I have to buy equipment and troubleshoot to get it to work on an OS using software I paid money for. In Linux, I still have to do the work, but we are sharing the burden of development. I don’t have to pay for software that has been given freely and that gives me time to help develop it as a high level user. I can own the tools of my trade rather than having to work for someone who owns them.
  4. No piracy. I cannot justify using someone else’s work to create my own without paying for their tools that I use. The fact that the huge software companies may not be ethical does not change my ethics.
  5. Linux is the future of multi-media.

It is raining in Vancouver today, so it is a good day to take the interface back to the store and continue with my plan to get my truck into the body shop. My trusty old truck needs some attention before I store it for the rest of the motorcycle season, so that is why it still has a plate on it. In 2010, I hope to have it registered as a collector vehicle. I try to keep it in good shape and imagine driving it years from now, if I can still get propane. Work today for a future image of the many people who will see it and smile to think about the Ford Econoline they once owned. A preserved memory in a city that is tearing down and disposing of the memories of Vancouverites and replacing them with shiny condos.

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