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Microphone Month 5

FireWire and the New MacBooks and MacBook Pros

Q: I just heard that the new aluminum MacBooks do not have FireWire ports and that the MacBook Pro has only a single FireWire 800 port. Is this true?

A: The new aluminum MacBook Pros do, indeed, only have one FW 800 port and no FW 400 ports. Is this cause for panic? Apple says no! See, the multiple FW 400 connections on previous model MBPs were all running off the exact same bus, so there’s no real difference between connecting an I/O and hard drive to two separate ports compared to simply daisy-chaining both from one port. Also, a simple FW 400 to 800 cable or adapter is all that is needed to connect a FW 400 hard drive or I/O to the new MacBook Pros.

It’s also true that the new aluminum 13-inch MacBooks do not have any FireWire ports. However, the new entry-level MacBook in the white plastic case still has a FW 400 port. As for the aluminum MacBooks, there are a ton of excellent USB 2.0 audio I/O options (not to mention data storage). Here are just a few examples (and there are many more):

  • MOTU 828 mkII USB – 24bit/96kHz 20×22 – $795 Retail
  • TASCAM US-1641 – 24bit/96kHz 16×4 – $499 Retail
  • Digidesign Mbox 2 – 24bit/48kHz 4×2 – $495 Retail
  • PreSonus AudioBox USB – 24bit/48kHz 2×2 – $179 Retail
  • M-Audio Fast Track USB – 24bit/48kHz 2×2 – $129 Retail

You are not going to notice any real speed difference between FireWire and USB 2.0. The main difference is that USB 2.0 hardware cannot be daisy-chained, but you can purchase inexpensive hubs that allow multiple USB 2.0 devices to interface with your MacBook through just one port! For example, the Belkin F5U237V1 USB Hub allows you to connect up to seven devices through a single USB port, so there certainly are simple workarounds!

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