USB Hubs. Evil, or salvation of the world?

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USB Hubs. Evil, or salvation of the world?

Post by MarkOne »

I was getting some tech support advice from Focusrite about the input circuitry on a Scarlet 2i4, and I explained the reason for my question, mentioning that my live rig was laptop based with the 2i4, and three keyboards on a USB hub.

The (very helpful) chap answered my input circuit ok, but advised me strongly against using a hub, and connecting the Scarlet directly to the computer (completely infeasible as it’s a 13” MacBook Pro with only two sockets for everything including power)

He sited potential unexpected instability, but so far, I have been using this interface exclusively on a hub with no issues.

Anyone else come across issues?
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Re: USB Hubs. Evil, or salvation of the world?

Post by muzines »

It's just one more variable to exclude, as not all USB hubs are equal.

For what it's worth, I'm also running a Scarlett connected to a USB hub through to a USB C port on an M1 Macbook Pro, and it's absolutely fine. I do power it from it's own power supply though, if that makes a difference.
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Re: USB Hubs. Evil, or salvation of the world?

Post by The Elf »

I make it a rule for myself to attach any audio interface directly to a computer, but anything else I'm happy to use a hub.
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Re: USB Hubs. Evil, or salvation of the world?

Post by Drew Stephenson »

The Elf wrote: Tue May 10, 2022 7:06 pm I make it a rule for myself to attach any audio interface directly to a computer, but anything else I'm happy to use a hub.

I take this approach too.
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Re: USB Hubs. Evil, or salvation of the world?

Post by muzines »

The Elf wrote: Tue May 10, 2022 7:06 pmI make it a rule for myself to attach any audio interface directly to a computer, but anything else I'm happy to use a hub.

So did I, but then my new machine no longer had USB-A ports, and I had to rejig to figure out how best to connect up things, and it turns out I've had zero issues, so...
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Re: USB Hubs. Evil, or salvation of the world?

Post by Aled Hughes »

The Elf wrote: Tue May 10, 2022 7:06 pm I make it a rule for myself to attach any audio interface directly to a computer, but anything else I'm happy to use a hub.

Same here when possible, just to be on the safe side.

The only interface I have which has been picky on occasion though is my Soundcraft UI24R, but I think that was due to a specific USB port rather than a hub.

I have run my RME Babyface Pro on a hub a few times without problems, but I can't tell if it was as stable as usual at low buffer sizes.
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Re: USB Hubs. Evil, or salvation of the world?

Post by N i g e l »

The Elf wrote: Tue May 10, 2022 7:06 pm I make it a rule for myself to attach any audio interface directly to a computer, but anything else I'm happy to use a hub.

yep.

Ive got a scarlett directly on the USB C port of laptop, the USB 2 port to a hub is for low speed stuff like mouse, controller, midi keyboard etc......
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Re: USB Hubs. Evil, or salvation of the world?

Post by Eddy Deegan »

Hubs are essential for me. I've got two powered 10-port hubs hanging off my DAW into which all the USB MIDI devices in my studio are plumbed. One of those hubs is located 8 feet away from the PC to minimise the length of the USB cables on that side of the room.

All work just fine. My interface has its own dedicated USB port on the PC itself.

There are a small number of things that don't play well with hubs in my environment but these have all been one-off requirements such as a firmware upgrade or configuration change. When that happens I just use an ad-hoc direct connection from my laptop to perform whatever job is required. Everything related to normal MIDI operation works just fine through the hubs though.
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Re: USB Hubs. Evil, or salvation of the world?

Post by James Perrett »

This question seems to keep on popping up. Surely the answer is to use a docking station that takes Thunderbolt from the Mac and converts it to multiple USB ports as well as all the other useful ports needed by creative users. Since Thunderbolt is effectively PCI-E (as I understand it) it would be the equivalent of connecting the USB sockets to the computer's internal bus.

Would something like

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09J7ZQXY9? ... P8KNXEYFQT

work?

I'm not a Mac user but I do use a docking station (though not Thunderbolt) with my laptop with no problems.
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Re: USB Hubs. Evil, or salvation of the world?

Post by ef37a »

James Perrett wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 12:03 am This question seems to keep on popping up. Surely the answer is to use a docking station that takes Thunderbolt from the Mac and converts it to multiple USB ports as well as all the other useful ports needed by creative users. Since Thunderbolt is effectively PCI-E (as I understand it) it would be the equivalent of connecting the USB sockets to the computer's internal bus.

Would something like

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09J7ZQXY9? ... P8KNXEYFQT

work?

I'm not a Mac user but I do use a docking station (though not Thunderbolt) with my laptop with no problems.

I do not think that Amazon device is a docking station as they are generally thought of James? I have a quite early one for my Lenovo T510 that has 6 USB 2.0 ports,VGA, Ethernet, audio in/out,digital vid out and a Display Port. This connects via a very 'dense' connector similar to a 25 pin D sub.
I don't think many modern Windows laptops have the connector in their base now? Apple for sure won't do it now if they ever did?

The mac stuff is SO expensive and SO inconvenient it seem to me that I cannot help thinking the company is 'testing' their followers to see just how much ***ing about they wiil put up with before going Msoft postal?

The question about hubs and AIs has been debated on another forum. I shall go and find the facts and report the morrow. Pitting now.

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Re: USB Hubs. Evil, or salvation of the world?

Post by Guest »

As has been mentioned above USB hubs are not all equal.

One thing I have read about in the past is if you get one with more than 4 ports it will also have an internal hub to split the ports down to 4 or less, so an 8 port hub would look like:

Code: Select all

Computer 
    |
   Hub
  |   |
Hub  Hub
This means you are always going through 2 hubs.

So it is recommended to use 4 port hubs, if that is not enough daisy chain some and stick "unimportant" usb devices on the chained hub.
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Re: USB Hubs. Evil, or salvation of the world?

Post by Rich Hanson »

I've used audio interfaces though USB hubs for years without issue. Just make sure you get a good quality hub.

I had one issue many many years ago and that was due to a crap hub (I was skint at the time so I bought the cheapest one I could find - lesson learned!)
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Re: USB Hubs. Evil, or salvation of the world?

Post by James Perrett »

ef37a wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 1:48 am I do not think that Amazon device is a docking station as they are generally thought of James?

With the advent of Thunderbolt docking stations have changed. The Thunderbolt connection is PCI-E brought out to a connector so you don't need that big multiway connector any more because you have direct access to the computer's internal expansion bus.
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Re: USB Hubs. Evil, or salvation of the world?

Post by ef37a »

James Perrett wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 12:24 pm
ef37a wrote: Wed May 11, 2022 1:48 am I do not think that Amazon device is a docking station as they are generally thought of James?

With the advent of Thunderbolt docking stations have changed. The Thunderbolt connection is PCI-E brought out to a connector so you don't need that big multiway connector any more because you have direct access to the computer's internal expansion bus.

Looking at more pictures I can see what you mean James. Pity they did not design it to go under the laptop? You have nearly as much desk space to find again as the computer.

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Re: USB Hubs. Evil, or salvation of the world?

Post by James Perrett »

I think the one that I linked to on Amazon is designed to sit under the back of the laptop so that it operates at a very slight angle. The Dell ones for the current version of the laptop that I use are just boxes that sit behind the computer.
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Re: USB Hubs. Evil, or salvation of the world?

Post by DC-Choppah »

Unpowered USB hubs cannot be in spec regarding power and voltage when multiple high power devices are used. With the drop in voltage, the device might not work.

Powered USB hubs can maintain full power and voltage for all of devices connected.

Some folks use a USB coffee pot! Try plugging those into your unpowered hub.

I have an old Lexicon audio interface that draws all of its power from USB. It is very convenient as a portable interface. But it does not work in a USB hub.
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Re: USB Hubs. Evil, or salvation of the world?

Post by cooneyblue »

I actually had terrible trouble with my scarlett 18/20. The USB connection kept dropping out (It had been plugged into PC directly, which was advised). Windows kept thinking the USB port was not being used.
I eventually got it to work buy plugging into a USB hub with other devices instead. Works perfectly now.
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Re: USB Hubs. Evil, or salvation of the world?

Post by resistorman »

cooneyblue wrote: Wed Jun 15, 2022 4:31 pm I actually had terrible trouble with my scarlett 18/20. The USB connection kept dropping out (It had been plugged into PC directly, which was advised). Windows kept thinking the USB port was not being used.
I eventually got it to work buy plugging into a USB hub with other devices instead. Works perfectly now.

Goes to show that accepted wisdom is not always correct :beamup:
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