Powered USB hubs and AIs

ecc83

Well-known member
It has long been Home Recording Lore that the two do not mix. I certainly had a problem with an M-A interface some years ago that actually crashed my PC.
I have now however had it on good authority that you CAN use an interface on a powered hub in almost all cases. Indeed, my NI KA6 was quite happy on a hub as is my MOTU M4.

Dave.
 

Ujn Hunter

Active member
Yeah, it all depends on what type of powered USB hub, what AI you're using and the drivers... some AI don't like USB 3.0 and will crash Windows for whatever reason... HUB or no HUB, trial and error.
 

ecc83

Well-known member
Yeah, it all depends on what type of powered USB hub, what AI you're using and the drivers... some AI don't like USB 3.0 and will crash Windows for whatever reason... HUB or no HUB, trial and error.
I have had more information. It seems old, and we are talking 10yrs+, hubs would not run USB 2.0 speed if a slower device was plugged into the hub. No 'modern' USB 2.0 hub should do this and DEFINITELY not a USB 3.0 hub.

Re the 'random crashing of the 'AI/PC universe'? I read of this quite a lot but can honestly say that in the last 16 years or so I must have used at least 10 laptops/desktops with a good half dozen USB interfaces and every Windows OS I think from 98se to Ten and I have never had a serious problem.

Dave.
 

Ujn Hunter

Active member
Avid Eleven Rack for instance when plugged into a USB 3.0 port on Windows 10 is known to BSOD. Plugging it into a USB 2.0 port and it works like a charm. IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
Avid Eleven Rack for instance when plugged into a USB 3.0 port on Windows 10 is known to BSOD. Plugging it into a USB 2.0 port and it works like a charm. IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL
I've had issues with couple of old items that didn't like USB3, but I figure that's to be expected when you are trying to use something that was release before the USB3 spec was even released. One flash drive got REALLY hot, obviously it wasn't engineered to handle the power available via USB3. I think it was actually a USB 1.1, 128MB, so it's really obsolete.
 

Pinky

and The Brain...
Yeah, it all depends on what type of powered USB hub...
This is the primary factor. Each USB port on a computer is rated based on a specification, but "hubs" that we add split the power from that single computer port across all the connected devices on the hub. POWERED hubs (that have a USB cable to connect to the computer, AND a dedicated power cord from an ac adapter) will have their own strategy and specification. Not all powered hubs provide full power output on every port, many/most will allow full power on one or more but not all. The specifications included with the hub would indicate total power output, and you'd have to do the math on how that translates to the intended load/connected devices being powered.

Hypothetically, if using a powered usb hub and a USB 2/3 interface, you should be able to connect say a single thumbdrive and maybe a keyboard/mouse without drawing too much power. Interface plus a portable usb hard drive (like a 1/2TB usb drive) will probably be the max power draw allowed.

While I understand the relatively low power needs for audio interfaces, and convenience of only having one cord for data and power over usb, I've always wondered why all audio interfaces don't typically come with an ac adapter (*). That extra duty of internal power management by the interface seems like complexity being added that isn't required.

(*) I wonder if part of the strategy is noise shielding... relying more on the computer's design to reduce interference than trying to bake that into a budget interface... (?) Adding a power cable from the wall definitely increases the odds of introducing some noise from the ac adapter and/or power cabling.
 
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TalismanRich

Well-known member
(*) I wonder if part of the strategy is noise shielding... relying more on the computer's design to reduce interference than trying to bake that into a budget interface... (?) Adding a power cable from the wall definitely increases the odds of introducing some noise from the ac adapter and/or power cabling.
I would think that any noise would be minimal. My Tascam has an external PS and it's a simple 12VDC switching supply. All the filtering etc, is already done at the wall wart, which is 4 ft away, so there would be no more noise than from a computer's switching supply.

The simplest reason to use USB power to run an interface is obviously cost. Adding in a $5 wall wart just adds cost. Piggy back on that computer's PS and you've saved a good chunk of $$$. CFOs love that kind of engineering!
 
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