[Ardour-Users] USB C Guitar Interface Recommendations?

Martin Lynch martin.lynch.toronto at gmail.com
Fri Aug 24 09:03:04 PDT 2018

Firstly, sincere thanks for all the excellent replies, and for helping
clarify my thinking on the USB-C form factor versus the USB protocol itself
- great stuff, and much appreciated! I looked into USB interfaces a great
many years ago, and seem to recall determining they weren't sufficient at
that time. I'm hoping that's changed (and it sounds like it has).

I didn't do a good job of explaining what I'm hoping to accomplish: I've
been using Ardour for nearly a decade now via my M-Audio FireWire Solo,
often directly recording guitars, but also mic-ing cabs, recording vocals,
etc. I'd like to try using Ardour on my Pixelbook, and while there are
various hacks to get Linux on a Pixelbook (like Crouton), I'm awaiting the
official release (Crostini - coming with Chrome OS v69 in a couple of
weeks, as I understand it). Since the Pixelbook doesn't have a FireWire
port (and FireWire --> USB doesn't seem to be a thing), I need an audio
interface. The Pixelbook only has USB-C, so that's where my search began -
with the plug. My latency on my Linux box as reported by JACK in settings
is 2.7ms, which is great, and very important when playing guitar against a
recorded track while hearing a bit of the live amp (typically a Marshall
that's way, way too loud...in a good way!). I'm hoping to avoid any major
latency increases (while guessing that the containers used by Crostini may
themselves introduce latency - this may yet prove to be a failed

Also hoping to get feedback on good USB interfaces in terms of the DAC
(appreciate the feedback on the RME HDSPe AIO, Ralf, but looks to me like
that's a PCI card, which won't work with a Pixelbook - or am I looking at
the wrong model?).

>...while Linux apps are running on the Pixelbook in Chrome OS via
crostini, sound support does not exist for them as of yet

Thanks - I wasn't aware that Crostini lacks sound support thus far - I see
from the Chromium bug report that it's scheduled for V70, so looks like
I'll have to wait a bit longer (which gives me some more time to research
interfaces and decide if this is a good idea!).

>Perhaps a pixelbook _is_ like a "real" laptop.

Yes, it is: Intel Kaby Lake i5, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD all inside a pretty
amazing package. It's not a $200 Chromebook incapable of doing anything
else - it's a full-on laptop, with perhaps the best keyboard I've ever
used. I'll stop gushing here...

>Not really much benefit from 3 vs 2.

Good to know - thank you.

Interesting discussion re: power supply - I'm hoping not to require one and
am guessing (read: hoping) the Pixelbook has enough juice - I currently
power a secondary monitor via a USB-C connection only.

Thanks again for all the feedback and discussion - as always, learning tons
from this mailing list.

Kindest regards,


On Wed, 22 Aug 2018 at 15:09, Paul Davis <paul at linuxaudiosystems.com> wrote:

> On Wed, Aug 22, 2018 at 2:55 PM, Martin Lynch <
> martin.lynch.toronto at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Hi,
>> Wondering if anyone is using, and can recommend, a USB C guitar
>> interface?
>> I presently use an M-Audio FireWire Solo, however with Linux soon coming
>> to my Pixelbook (which has 2 USB C ports only), I thought I'd try running
>> Ardour on that. Is USB C sufficient for guitar recording with minimal
>> latency? Or is this a bad idea?
> You should avoid device-specific interfaces wherever possible. Just get a
> regular USB based audio interface, and add whatever electronics you need
> between your guitar and its input ports.
> Most USB interfaces these days Just Work on Linux, thanks to the
> requirement that they also Just Work on iPads, where manufacturers cannot
> provide device drivers but must rely (as effectively they do on Linux) on
> the common USB audio driver that comes with the system.
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