There are many brands of FireWire interfaces and ExpressCards.
Apart from the build quality, what you should care about for compatibility is the actual OHCI chipset that they use internally.
Some manufacturers list the used OHCI chipset, and if they go for a different chipset they change the product name accordingly.
Other manufactures don't list the chipset at all and therefore we are not in a position to reliably recommend a FireWire interface.
The System tab (Windows only) in the ‘Allen & Heath FireWire’ or ‘ZED-R’ driver control panel allows a utility to interrogate your computer's FireWire 1394 OHCI controller and determine its compatibility with the GS-R24 or ZED-R16.
It will report:
- Manufacturer name
- Chipset Name
- Chipset revision
- The number of isochronous contexts for transmitting and receiving that the chipset supports (if known)
- Whether the chipset is supported by the DICE driver (supported, limited support, unsupported, or untested)
- A notes field with any details about compatibility
If ‘Look Online’ is ticked when clicking the Scan button, the tool will retrieve the latest information from TCAT in case the chip has been tested later than the release of the driver firmware.
The FireWire controllers that are currently known to work with the DICE chipset used by Allen & Heath recording consoles are:
LSI (Agere) FW322 PCI
LSI (Agere) FW323 PCI
LSI (Agere) FW643 PCI Express
TI TSB43A PCI
TI TSB82A PCI
TI TSB83A PCI
TI XIO2200 PCI Express
TI XIO2213 PCI Express
VIA VT6306 PCI (limited number of channels with some older motherboards)
VIA VT6307 PCI
VIA VT6308 PCI
The FireWire controllers that are currently known to be not compatible are:
JMicron JMB381 PCI Express
JMicron JMB382 PCI Express
JMicron JMB383 PCI Express
NEC D72870 PCI
NEC D72871 PCI
NEC D72872 PCI
NEC D72873 PCI
NEC D72874 PCI (limited functionality)
You should avoid cards that use a JMicron, NEC, or Ricoh chipset.
If you have no chance of confirming which OHCI chipset a card uses before purchasing it, it's best to avoid that card.
As an alternative, you will be safe by purchasing a FireWire 800 capable ExpressCard from a manufacturer with a good build-quality reputation.
This is because at the time of writing there are only a few OHCI chipsets that support the faster FW800 speed and they are all on the recommended list.
All of the recent ExpressCards with FW800 use either the TI XIO2213 or LSI/Agere FW643 chipset.
Tested FW800 ExpressCards include:
Note that if the ExpressCard only has FW800 ports, you will also need an FW800 to FW400 cable.