Dell Inspiron and M-Audio Firewire Problem

Not long ago, my homebuilt desktop computer died. This happened around the same time that Cakewalk started shipping Sonar 5. I had pre-ordered the upgrade to Sonar 5 and it when it arrived I was eager to try it out.

Since I had also recently purchased a Dell Inspiron 6000 notebook computer and since it had a built in firewire so that I could connect my M-Audio firewire 1814, I decided to try installing the new Sonar on it until I could get a replacement for my desktop.

Once I got it all set up, I encountered all sortss of audio problems using Sonar. When playing back projects I previously recorded, the audio was crackly and then after I while I would lose all audio altogether. The only way to get it back would be to restart the whole system. Recording was just as bad. I could record for a few minutes and then I would lose all audio.

Since I was using both a different computer and a new version of Sonar, I wasn’t sure what the source of the problem was. I decided to try the easiest fixes first. I went to the M-Audio site and they had a new driver version, so I decided to try that first. I uninstalled the old driver and installed the new driver. But I still had the same problems.

Next I thought I would see if it was a problem with Sonar 5. I uninstalled Sonar and installed version 4, but that didn’t fix it either. In order to rule out any conflicts with other software on the PC, I reformatted the laptop and did a clean install of Windows XP. Then I reinstalled the M-Audio drivers and Sonar 4. This didn’t work either.

I started to worry that it was a hardware problem with the M-Audio interface. It worked fine on the desktop, but maybe I did something that fried it. I searched the web, but couldn’t find any information. I couldn’t find anything in the Cakewalk or M-Audio forums. Finally, after trying many different searches in Google, I ran across a post on some DAW forum of someone having a similar problem with a different inspiron model and a different M-Audio firewire model, also I think they were using Cubase instead of Sonar.

The solution that worked for them was to get a CardBus firewire adapter instead of using the Inspiron’s built in port. So I went to CompUSA and got a FireConnect 3 Port Firewire CardBus card. (Since it was the same one that the person on the forum used and I didn’t want to take any chances.)

Sure enough, everything worked fine with the new firewire port. Apparently there is some compatibility issue with M-Audio interfaces and the firewire port on an Inspiron. The laptop performed pretty well with Sonar 5 after that. The CPU load was pretty high, but since my mixes don’t have a lot of tracks it wasn’t a big issue. I’ve since replaced the desktop, but it worked for me in the interim.

This all happened several months ago, but I’m hoping that if anyone else is having the same issue, they will find this post and save themselves a lot of frustration.

2 thoughts on “Dell Inspiron and M-Audio Firewire Problem

  1. Thanx i’ve been having a WHOLE lot of problems with exactly the same specs as you.
    I’ll try that.

  2. I’ve been having the exact same bloody nightmare!
    Did the FireConnect 3 Port Firewire CardBus work for you too Paul?

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