In the Chips

In my dream, I plug some stuff into a computer and it just works. Sometimes reality is similar to the dream; sometimes not.

I’ve been trying to get my Yamaha Motif XS to play nicely with my new Windows 7 PC. They’re both swell pieces of gear, and after only a couple of missteps I managed to get all of the driver software installed.

On listening to the computer’s audio output playing back through the Motif (which is part of the point, though far from the only thing the gear is going to do), I hear an audio dropout of a half-second or so, about once a minute. Yamaha tells me that the chipset Hewlett Packard uses for their Firewire bus, a chipset made by VIA, has some sort of clocking problem. Yamaha recommends the Texas Instruments chipset.

So okay, I’ve ordered a new Belkin 3-output PCI Firewire card from Amazon — only $35, with shipping. I can deal with that, always assuming it solves the problem.

But I’m left with a lingering question, namely: Why wasn’t this problem solved years ago? If the VIA Firewire chipset truly doesn’t work for sustained real-time communications (which is what you need for music), has Yamaha alerted VIA to the problem? Do the VIA engineers just not care? That’s entirely possible. Pro audio has to be a vanishingly small portion of their market.

I’m told that one of the reasons Yamaha’s Firewire technology doesn’t work with VIA when audio interfaces from other vendors do work is that Yamaha is sending more channels of data back and forth. That makes sense, up to a point. Of course, it would theoretically be possible to write a driver that would look at the chipset and say, “Oh, I’m going to have to limit the user to four channels of data.” But that would mean extra work in order to produce a less capable device, and Yamaha would still get complaints, and who knows what all.

I’m just hoping the Belkin card is compatible with the HP form factor. I’m not going to try to research that; I’m just going to hope for the best. Wish me luck.

This entry was posted in music, technology and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s