Cakewalk DAW Labs Product Spotlight: Rain Computers FireWire ExpressCard

Rain Computers FireWire ExpressCard - Image 1
Rain Computers FireWire ExpressCard - Image 2
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For users that own and operate FireWire interfaces there are usually two dichotomously opposed experiences. It's either love at first site or you're engaged in a never ending battle with dropouts, clicks, pops, and other frustrating instability issues. Differences and incompatibilities between varying interface chip sets, motherboards, and add-on cards have significant muddied the playing field in the past.    

Out of this calamity, Texas Instrument's(Ti) FireWire chip set became the de facto standard within the audio industry. For desktop users this wasn't too bad. Cards could be swapped around and finding a stable configuration was easily achieved. Laptop users on the other hand were not so lucky.

Before the development of FireWire Ti ExpressCards there were a few PCMCIA Ti FireWire adapters on the market. One downside was that the PCMCIA standard was relatively slow. Allowing only 133Mb/s, while FireWire can theoretically run at 400Mb/s. This resulted in lower track counts and limited multi-input recording. As with most technology, the PCMCIA format was quickly superseded by the ExperssCard standard that allowed a 2.5Gbit/s throughput. Once the bandwidth issue was resolved, Laptop FireWire based recording became an attractive option again.

Rain Computers was kind enough to let Cakewalk DAW Labs examine one of their new cards. We ran the adapter through our usual gauntlet of tests. Multiple name brand interfaces were tested across SONAR projects that exhibited high track counts, numerous VST plug-in's, and a barrage of Soft Synths. Not only did the Rain Computers ExpressCard perform flawlessly but, after proper setup we experienced no audible pops, clicks, or other undesirable artifacts.      

Key features include:

  • Two FireWire 400 Ports
  • Texas Instruments Firewire Chipset (recommended for PreSonus, M-Audio, MOTU, and others)
  • 34mm PCI ExpressCard
  • Auxiliary USB power connector for bus powered FireWire Devices
  • Windows XP, Vista and 7 64-bit compatible

If you're moving to a mobile solution, upgrading an existing laptop, or itching for a FireWire Express card backed by solid Customer Service visit Rain Computers.

Article #1004, 6/20/2011 Version: 1.00
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