USB vs Firewire audio interface- Select which one is best for you

OK supposing you now have a powerful desktop PC, Mac or Laptop that you plan to use for your home recordings. You are now deciding which type of audio interface to buy: USB or a Firewire audio interface?
First you should know is that you cannot simply buy any of these types and hope for the best. You need to examine a lot of factors before deciding which one to buy. These factors will be thoroughly discussed in this blog post. Hopefully at the end of this post, you now have a clear idea what type of audio interface you are going to use.

Criteria #1: Does your computer supports Firewire or USB connectivity?

For example, here in Cebu Philippines, you can hardly find a laptop or a ready-made PC with built-in Firewire connections (as of Oct 2011). I went to big malls and PC shop but cannot easily find one. You can have a Firewire connection if you buy a motherboard that supports Firewire or accepts PCI Firewire card then assemble the desktop PC. This can be costly. It will even get harder for laptops; it is because I seldom find one with built-in Firewire connection except for those very expensive laptops. One method though is to make sure the laptop includes an express card slot on it. You can then have Firewire connectivity by simply plugging an Express Firewire card on it like this one:

Express card firewire

This goes to say that a majority of latest computers being released strongly supports USB connectivity over Firewire. A USB audio interface is an advantage in this case because most PC supports USB.

Criteria #2: How many tracks do you plan to record at once?

This is important. On my experience, Firewire audio interface are often designed to handle simultaneous multi-channel recordings of more than 4 tracks at once (essential for recording a live band). The primary reason is that Firewire is significantly faster than USB 1.1. If USB 1.1 is used for these types of recordings, the bandwidth or data transfer rate are not enough to handle this amount of simultaneous tracking.

However since the release of USB 2.0 and even the new version USB 3.0, data transfer rates is now the comparable or even faster than the native Firewire. But you need to make sure that your PC or laptop supports recent USB versions (such as USB 2.0). This can be checked by this procedure: