This week I bought the Apple Thunderbolt to FireWire Adapter from the Apple Store to add an extra Firewire 800 port to my iMac. I had been planning on getting one since they were announced along with the Retina Macbooks in the summer. At $29, is it just another overpriced white plastic Apple accessory?
I wouldn’t say it’s overpriced. At this time it’s the cheapest thunderbolt accessory and the only way to add additional firewire ports to an iMac or MacBook Pro.
In case you’re not familiar with the port options on the current iMacs, there are 4 x USB2 ports, 1 x firewire 800, and 2 x thunderbolt ports. I ran out of USB ports a long time ago. The firewire peripherals I use daily are a LaCie D2 Quadra hard drive (Firewire 400 or 800) and an M-Audio Profire 2626 recording interface. The configuration only works one way. Firewire 800 to 400 cable to Profire, firewire 400 cable to LaCie hard drive. Both devices run at firewire 400 speed. It’s very stable this way. You can’t have one running at 800 and another at 400, that just doesn’t work. Until now.
This adapter is not just another firewire jack. It’s actually a connection to a separate bus on the motherboard. Adding the Thunderbolt to FireWire adapter I’m finally able to run my hard drive at full Firewire 800 speed. Also, my drive is now safer. A wild toddler pushing buttons on my interface won’t kill the firewire connection anymore which has happened several times this year!
Keep in mind, this adapter doesn’t automatically make your devices faster, you probably won’t get lower latency or anything like that. Unless you’ve got a bunch of devices that are struggling to stay connected, in that case it will help for sure. Another thing, it only works in one direction, so don’t expect a thunderbolt device to work on a Firewire 800 connection to the computer.
Edit 10/12/12 – I didn’t notice it at first but since moving the external drive to the thunderbolt adapter Finder is much more responsive. There is less delay opening folders or searching. That difference between FW400 and FW800 is evident even there.
Do I recommend it? Yeah I do. I think a lot of home studio guys are in a similar situation to me, they have an audio interface and one or more hard drives to connect. We all want the best performance from our gear. I think $29 is the perfect price for this. For the guys with the new Retina MacBooks, it’s a no-brainer and the ONLY way to get FireWire devices working.
Buy Apple Thunderbolt to FireWire Adapter on Amazon and support the Home Recording Show Podcast.
@theaudiogeek I’ve read about Thunderbolt hubs out there on the intertubes, but WHERE ARE THEY TO BE FOUND?
RT @theaudiogeek: New AGZ Post – Review: Apple Thunderbolt to FireWire Adapter: http://t.co/fJcYf3ta
[…] most discussed cable yet to be used by the Audio Podcast team, Audio Geek Zine has a review of the Thunderbolt to Firewire adapter online […]
Review: Apple Thunderbolt to FireWire Adapter http://t.co/d19ptvH5
Hi, could you please give me an advice?
I use a profire 2626 interface (bought in 2010) as well and I want to connect my new macbook pro, but I cannot connect the two devices with the firewire cables I have. Could you please tell me which adapter or cable I should buy?
That’d help me so much!
Get the Apple Thunderbolt to Firewire adapter and a Firewire 400 to 800 cable.
I use this one from HOSA, but you can also find this one from Belkin at the Apple store. That one is less durable though.
Do you think there will be (or is there already) a PCIe card I can drop into my late 2009 MacPro to add Thunderbolt to it???
It doesn’t look like that’s going to be an option. Seems that the Thunderbolt tech must be part of the motherboard and isn’t compatible with the xenon based macs.
[…] Apple Thunderbolt to Firewire adapter [AGZ Review October 2012] […]
I notice a latency problem with the profire interface wich I don’t have on a Windows PC with Firewire.
It is in the order of 50ms or even worse. I can’t use it this way. I have a Macbook Air and the Firewire-Thunderbolt interface cable.
That’s interesting, there are certainly a lot of variables changed though. Hard to say where the blame is. On Windows the Profire mixer has a buffer setting, but on the Mac it’s set by whatever app is using it.
Check your buffer size in the DAW. Reaper tells me that at 64 samples I have 2.9 & 2.9ms i/o latency which is pretty excellent, but I’m running direct into the iMac, not through the thunderbolt adapter.
Thank you for the review! I have a question, does somebody know if you can use the firewire 800 port (via this adapter) on windows running on a iMac (via bootcamp or parallels desktop)?
Many thanks for your reply!
Good question. Unfortunately I’m not able to test that.
I bought a mini mac 2014 that dont have firewire and I use for recording, an m audio profiree 2626,
the problem is that this mas doesnt have a firewire port, so if I buy the adapter do you think that It will be works?
Yeah that should work fine. Remember the profire only has drivers up to OSX 10.10
thanks very much man!