USB hubs - a bad idea?

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sysrqer
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USB hubs - a bad idea?

Postby sysrqer » Fri May 11, 2018 2:20 pm

I've got a few usb midi controllers and a usb soundcard that I use with a laptop. It's a bit of a pain to plug/unplug it all if I want to take the laptop somewhere else so I've been thinking about getting a hub so I just have one thing to plug in. I have no idea what effect this would have in terms of audio though, does anyone here have experience using these? I would be using it with Windows as well so any experience on that side would also be helpful.

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Re: USB hubs - a bad idea?

Postby lilith » Fri May 11, 2018 2:51 pm

Midi input devices shouldn't be a problem. It might be a problem with the interface, but this you have to check out. Also the maximum current it can deliver is important. So, an active USB hub might make sense if you need more than 500 mA. And here I would buy quality, cause the cheap ones can back power the motherboard which might destroy the USB controller in the worst case.

I heard good things about this one: https://www.thomann.de/de/elektron_overhub.htm
Personally I'm using a D-Link Hub: https://www.amazon.de/D-Link-DUB-H7-7-p ... d-link+hub

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Re: USB hubs - a bad idea?

Postby bluebell » Sat May 12, 2018 7:53 am

sysrqer wrote:I've got a few usb midi controllers and a usb soundcard that I use with a laptop. It's a bit of a pain to plug/unplug it all if I want to take the laptop somewhere else so I've been thinking about getting a hub so I just have one thing to plug in. I have no idea what effect this would have in terms of audio though, does anyone here have experience using these? I would be using it with Windows as well so any experience on that side would also be helpful.


My experiences with Linux, active "CSL – USB 3.0 Hub" (7 port) and Focusrite USB-Interfaces are good.

On one of my notebook computers it's much more important which USB port on the computer I choose. One doesn't work with buffer sizes <= 128.

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42low
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Re: USB hubs - a bad idea?

Postby 42low » Sat May 12, 2018 9:11 am

One usb entry has it's limits. If you put up a hub on that one with X entries, you eventually confront the first ones limits.
You can have 50 doors to enter the building, but if all visitors together eventually have to go through one door to get in the hall this will stagnate totally. Probably with big fights at that door.

If you want to expand usb entries i suggest to build in PCI cards (or in the front).
This way you still have limit, but only on each entry for itself.

And they cost sh** if you buy used ones. If your wishes are low they'll cost nothing if you collect some written off computers with pci-usb's or ask around among friends who has some unused laying around.
Even hardly cost much if you buy new ones. €9,95 and up (and probably lower too).
So why not choose for the best and quickest system? Why risk latency problems??

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Re: USB hubs - a bad idea?

Postby Luc » Fri May 18, 2018 1:42 pm

I just tested my interface with a hub and it didn't work:

Code: Select all

Fri May 18 10:35:44 2018: Starting jack server...
Fri May 18 10:35:44 2018: JACK server starting in realtime mode with priority 10
Fri May 18 10:35:44 2018: self-connect-mode is "Don't restrict self connect requests"
Fri May 18 10:35:44 2018: Acquired audio card Audio3
Fri May 18 10:35:44 2018: creating alsa driver ... hw:Omega,0|hw:Omega,0|2048|4|48000|0|0|hwmon|hwmeter|soft-mode|32bit
Fri May 18 10:35:44 2018: Using ALSA driver USB-Audio running on card 3 - Lexicon Lexicon Omega at usb-0000:00:1a.0-1.4.4, full speed
Fri May 18 10:35:44 2018: configuring for 48000Hz, period = 2048 frames (42.7 ms), buffer = 4 periods
Fri May 18 10:35:44 2018: ALSA: final selected sample format for capture: 24bit little-endian in 3bytes format
Fri May 18 10:35:44 2018: ALSA: use 4 periods for capture
Fri May 18 10:35:44 2018: ALSA: final selected sample format for playback: 24bit little-endian in 3bytes format
Fri May 18 10:35:44 2018: ALSA: use 4 periods for playback
Fri May 18 10:35:44 2018: ERROR: ALSA: could not start playback (Broken pipe)
Fri May 18 10:35:44 2018: ERROR: Cannot start driver
Fri May 18 10:35:44 2018: ERROR: JackServer::Start() failed with -1
Fri May 18 10:35:44 2018: ERROR: Failed to start server
Fri May 18 10:35:44 2018: Released audio card Audio3
Fri May 18 10:35:55 2018: Controller deactivated.
Fri May 18 10:35:55 2018: ------------------
Fri May 18 10:35:55 2018: Controller activated. Version 1.9.11-RC1 (unknown) built on Sat Jul 22 07:03:22 2017
Fri May 18 10:35:55 2018: Loading settings from "/home/luc/.config/jack/conf.xml" using expat_2.2.0 ...
Fri May 18 10:35:55 2018: setting parameter 'engine':'driver':'(null)' to value "alsa"
Fri May 18 10:35:55 2018: setting parameter 'engine':'self-connect-mode':'(null)' to value " "
Fri May 18 10:35:55 2018: setting parameter 'drivers':'alsa':'device' to value "hw:Omega,0"
Fri May 18 10:35:55 2018: setting parameter 'drivers':'alsa':'capture' to value "none"
Fri May 18 10:35:55 2018: setting parameter 'drivers':'alsa':'playback' to value "none"
Fri May 18 10:35:55 2018: setting parameter 'drivers':'alsa':'rate' to value "48000"
Fri May 18 10:35:55 2018: setting parameter 'drivers':'alsa':'period' to value "2048"
Fri May 18 10:35:55 2018: setting parameter 'drivers':'alsa':'nperiods' to value "4"
Fri May 18 10:35:55 2018: setting parameter 'drivers':'alsa':'hwmon' to value "true"
Fri May 18 10:35:55 2018: setting parameter 'drivers':'alsa':'hwmeter' to value "true"
Fri May 18 10:35:55 2018: setting parameter 'drivers':'alsa':'duplex' to value "true"
Fri May 18 10:35:55 2018: setting parameter 'drivers':'alsa':'softmode' to value "true"
Fri May 18 10:35:55 2018: setting parameter 'drivers':'alsa':'monitor' to value "true"
Fri May 18 10:35:55 2018: setting parameter 'drivers':'alsa':'dither' to value "s"
Fri May 18 10:35:55 2018: setting parameter 'drivers':'alsa':'inchannels' to value "0"
Fri May 18 10:35:55 2018: setting parameter 'drivers':'alsa':'outchannels' to value "0"
Fri May 18 10:35:55 2018: setting parameter 'drivers':'alsa':'midi-driver' to value "none"
Fri May 18 10:35:55 2018: setting parameter 'drivers':'alsa':'hw-alias' to value "true"
Fri May 18 10:35:55 2018: Listening for D-Bus messages
Fri May 18 10:35:57 2018: ------------------
Fri May 18 10:35:57 2018: Controller activated. Version 1.9.11-RC1 (unknown) built on Sat Jul 22 07:03:22 2017
Fri May 18 10:35:57 2018: Loading settings from "/home/luc/.config/jack/conf.xml" using expat_2.2.0 ...
Fri May 18 10:35:57 2018: setting parameter 'engine':'driver':'(null)' to value "alsa"
Fri May 18 10:35:57 2018: setting parameter 'engine':'self-connect-mode':'(null)' to value " "
Fri May 18 10:35:57 2018: setting parameter 'drivers':'alsa':'device' to value "hw:Omega,0"
Fri May 18 10:35:57 2018: setting parameter 'drivers':'alsa':'capture' to value "none"
Fri May 18 10:35:57 2018: setting parameter 'drivers':'alsa':'playback' to value "none"
Fri May 18 10:35:57 2018: setting parameter 'drivers':'alsa':'rate' to value "48000"
Fri May 18 10:35:57 2018: setting parameter 'drivers':'alsa':'period' to value "2048"
Fri May 18 10:35:57 2018: setting parameter 'drivers':'alsa':'nperiods' to value "4"
Fri May 18 10:35:57 2018: setting parameter 'drivers':'alsa':'hwmon' to value "true"
Fri May 18 10:35:57 2018: setting parameter 'drivers':'alsa':'hwmeter' to value "true"
Fri May 18 10:35:57 2018: setting parameter 'drivers':'alsa':'duplex' to value "true"
Fri May 18 10:35:57 2018: setting parameter 'drivers':'alsa':'softmode' to value "true"
Fri May 18 10:35:57 2018: setting parameter 'drivers':'alsa':'monitor' to value "true"
Fri May 18 10:35:57 2018: setting parameter 'drivers':'alsa':'dither' to value "s"
Fri May 18 10:35:57 2018: setting parameter 'drivers':'alsa':'inchannels' to value "0"
Fri May 18 10:35:57 2018: setting parameter 'drivers':'alsa':'outchannels' to value "0"
Fri May 18 10:35:57 2018: setting parameter 'drivers':'alsa':'midi-driver' to value "none"
Fri May 18 10:35:57 2018: setting parameter 'drivers':'alsa':'hw-alias' to value "true"
Fri May 18 10:35:57 2018: Listening for D-Bus messages
Fri May 18 10:35:58 2018: Starting jack server...
Fri May 18 10:35:58 2018: JACK server starting in realtime mode with priority 10
Fri May 18 10:35:58 2018: self-connect-mode is "Don't restrict self connect requests"
Fri May 18 10:35:58 2018: Acquired audio card Audio3
Fri May 18 10:35:58 2018: creating alsa driver ... hw:Omega,0|hw:Omega,0|2048|4|48000|0|0|hwmon|hwmeter|soft-mode|32bit
Fri May 18 10:35:58 2018: Using ALSA driver USB-Audio running on card 3 - Lexicon Lexicon Omega at usb-0000:00:1a.0-1.4.4, full speed
Fri May 18 10:35:58 2018: configuring for 48000Hz, period = 2048 frames (42.7 ms), buffer = 4 periods
Fri May 18 10:35:58 2018: ALSA: final selected sample format for capture: 24bit little-endian in 3bytes format
Fri May 18 10:35:58 2018: ALSA: use 4 periods for capture
Fri May 18 10:35:58 2018: ALSA: final selected sample format for playback: 24bit little-endian in 3bytes format
Fri May 18 10:35:58 2018: ALSA: use 4 periods for playback
Fri May 18 10:35:58 2018: ERROR: ALSA: could not start playback (Broken pipe)
Fri May 18 10:35:58 2018: ERROR: Cannot start driver
Fri May 18 10:35:58 2018: ERROR: JackServer::Start() failed with -1
Fri May 18 10:35:58 2018: ERROR: Failed to start server
Fri May 18 10:35:58 2018: Released audio card Audio3


My interface is picky with the USB ports. It doesn't work on any port on the back of the chassis, just the frontal ones. I connected the hub to a frontal port and it still didn't work.

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Re: USB hubs - a bad idea?

Postby CrocoDuck » Fri May 18, 2018 8:41 pm

Luc wrote:My interface is picky with the USB ports. It doesn't work on any port on the back of the chassis, just the frontal ones. I connected the hub to a frontal port and it still didn't work.


Got a similar issue with my old computer. It turned out that the ports on the front of the chassis (the ones that did not work in my case) were connected to the motherboards with long wires that would drop too much voltage on the 3.3V, making impossible for the interface to powerup properly.

sysrqer wrote:I have no idea what effect this would have in terms of audio though, does anyone here have experience using these?


To me they always been an hit or miss. I tried the last one on a Mac Book Pro running Mac OS El Capitan, just a cheap passive USB one. It was pretty weird: when using the hub you would record background noise triggered by other USB devices, even if not on the hub. For example, I could make noise appear by moving the trackpad. Not a lot of noise, but very evident with Baudline.

That's it: you can expect any range of hardware quirks and problems, and how well they work will not depend just on the hub, but also on those internal to your computer. The only way is to try really.
Check my Linux audio experiments on my SoundCloud.
Browse my AUR packages.
Fancying a swim in the pond?

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Re: USB hubs - a bad idea?

Postby Luc » Sat May 19, 2018 2:18 am

CrocoDuck wrote:(...) It was pretty weird: when using the hub you would record background noise triggered by other USB devices, even if not on the hub. For example, I could make noise appear by moving the trackpad. Not a lot of noise, but very evident with Baudline.

I have two sets of dirty cheap speakers, and they have to be connected to the computer directly. If I have them share the hub with the mouse, I can hear it through the speakers when the mouse is moved.

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Re: USB hubs - a bad idea?

Postby 42low » Sat May 19, 2018 10:47 am

Luc wrote:My interface is picky with the USB ports. It doesn't work on any port on the back of the chassis, just the frontal ones. I connected the hub to a frontal port and it still didn't work.


That's why i said. Get some cards and build those in your computer.
You can find on the internet which one will be plug and play under linux.

Luc wrote:I have two sets of dirty cheap speakers, and they have to be connected to the computer directly. If I have them share the hub with the mouse, I can hear it through the speakers when the mouse is moved.


I suggest to use an external amplifier with speakers on it.
Some jobs are for the computer and some not. Amplifying isn't one.

And don't underestimate the quality. Many soundcards are HQ and send great sound.

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Re: USB hubs - a bad idea?

Postby Luc » Mon May 21, 2018 5:51 pm

CrocoDuck wrote:Got a similar issue with my old computer. It turned out that the ports on the front of the chassis (the ones that did not work in my case) were connected to the motherboards with long wires that would drop too much voltage on the 3.3V, making impossible for the interface to powerup properly.

I decided to check that up and quickly realized that the ports on the front are the ones that have wires, and they work. The ones on the back are soldered directly to the motherboard, and they don't work. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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Re: USB hubs - a bad idea?

Postby CrocoDuck » Mon May 21, 2018 9:10 pm

Luc wrote:I decided to check that up and quickly realized that the ports on the front are the ones that have wires, and they work. The ones on the back are soldered directly to the motherboard, and they don't work. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


Go figure... Voltage regulators maybe? Who knows...
Check my Linux audio experiments on my SoundCloud.
Browse my AUR packages.
Fancying a swim in the pond?

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42low
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Re: USB hubs - a bad idea?

Postby 42low » Wed May 23, 2018 1:19 pm

I remind. Two straight in pci's with 4 ports = 8, without cable or voltage problems or whatever. Ready for about €20-25. Or €10 if one x4 is enough.
Most computers have several/lot's pci slut's spare and unused.


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