usb/midi adapter - which ones work well?

Larry David larrydavid07 at
Tue Jan 27 17:54:47 GMT 2009

Hey Rob,

Others here know the answers to your questions with certainty, but  
I'll tell you what I think based on my research so far.   I'm pretty  
sure that you will need a driver for the expresscard.  If you're  
lucky (or smart and look into it before you buy) you'll get a card  
that is supported by the FFADO driver - a free FW driver for Linux.   
Check the list of supported devices here: to see if  
any card you're looking at is supported, and if so at what level.

I too am thinking of getting a new Linux laptop (switching from a  
Mac) and find that most of them do not have FW ports.  Since FW  
support is sketchy at best, and since the ALSA site (http://www.alsa- suggests that any "standards  
compliant" USB audio interface will work with the ALSA driver, I'm  
wondering why anyone would use FW over USB 2.0.  The only reason I  
would is that I already have 2 FW audio interfaces.  But I would sell  
one and get a USB interface if it worked with Linux (neither of my FW  
interfaces are supported by FFADO; one actually doesn't even work  
with my G4 Macs, but that's another story).  In your case, if you  
have to go buy an audio interface of some kind anyway, I would check  
into USB interfaces.  M-Audio has one that looks pretty good on paper  
(or display, as the case may be) - Fast Track Ultra something: 

And to comment on the original post below; I'm going to see if I can  
find out whether Mackie is supportive (either actively and/or  
philosophically) of a Linux driver (or at least providing sufficient  
info to FFADO) for the Onyx 400F firewire interface.  This is the one  
I have that has never worked with my G4's - though I think they have  
a new driver release that I have yet to try.  Needless to say I have  
not had a good experience with either Mackie or Apple concerning this  
device - I bought it a couple years ago when it first came out and it  
has the best sounding pres I've heard on anything at that price - or  
double the price.  But it produces all kinds of pops and crackles  
when recording via FW.  I kept it because it was worth the price just  
for the 4 pres in it; but thought it was pretty lame to put out such  
a broken product, and then take so long to fix it (if it is indeed  
fixed now, which it may not be).  Anyway, all of that is to say that  
if Mackie is friendly to the FLOSS community - maybe sends a unit to  
FFADO developers, or <gasp> writes a Linux driver for it themselves -  
then that would be a very happy turn of events.

Mackie has forums here: 
ultimatebb.cgi  that I stopped visiting out of disgust over a year  
ago, but as I said, I will go back and nose around.  Maybe something  
good will happen if enough Linux users go over there and rile things  
up a bit - in a nice way of course. :-)


On Jan 27, 2009, at 7:10 AM, Robert Klaar wrote:

> S'cuse me if I'm highjackin a bit but ok?!, so someone mentioned  
> firewires; I was thinkin of buying a new computer, a laptop,  
> problem is; it's got none!(no firewire), but I was thinkin that  
> it's got an expansion(Expresscard/54), I've found such  
> firewireexpresscards and I was wondering; is there going to be a  
> problem in linux, do I need somekind of drivers for the expresscard?
> Anyways, I'm a bit intrested in using midi to for my beatmachines,  
> I'm gona look it up a bit and post what I find...
> //Rob
> On Tue, Jan 27, 2009 at 2:15 AM, Atom Smasher <atom at>  
> wrote:
> i could be wrong here, someone feel free to jump in and correct what i
> think i've found...
> it seems like the m-audio (2x2, 4x4) adapters work, but require  
> drivers
> that aren't supported by the manufacturer.
> it seems like the tapco link.midi 4x4 works out of the box, and the  
> street
> price is close to (or less than) the m-audio 2x2. it also seems a  
> little
> bit tougher (recessed front/rear panels, rubber padding) and a little
> better designed, overall (different color LEDs for input/output/power,
> kensington lock hole). of course, i'm just looking at pictures on the
> 'net, so i could be off by a tad ;)
> ideologically, i'm also leaning towards the mackie because it seems to
> "just work". i'd rather spend my money with a company that's following
> standards, rather than a company that uses proprietary drivers and  
> merely
> tolerates linux users developing an independent driver, with no  
> company
> support (if i understand it correctly).
> it even looks like the tapco firmware upgrades are just a sysex  
> file... so
> i wouldn't expect any problems using amidi to upgrade the firmware.  
> that's
> actually two points they've scored; in addition to using sysex for
> upgrades, they have upgrades!!
> like i said, this is based on a few minutes googling, and may not
> accurately reflect reality.
> if anyone can comment on these (or other!) usb/midi adapters... please
> do...
> thanks...
> --
>         ...atom
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