Possibility of porting ALSA driver to CoreAudio? (M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8R)

I know this is not strictly on-topic on Ardour forums but this is the only place I could think of where free software, DAW’s, Linux and macOS are all relevant to a certain extent, so I hope you’ll forgive me. :slightly_smiling_face:

I have the M-Audio Fast Track Ultra 8R audio interface which works great on Linux: all the internal routing is exposed in alsamixer including changing the effects on the internal DSP, the only thing I haven’t tried is MIDI and S/PDIF since I can’t find the breakout cable for it anymore.

The situation is not so rosy for macOS, the only officially supported platform for it along with Windows: the driver from 2014, last supported OS version is 10.10.1, installs, loads the kernel extension and its control panel detects the device is connected just fine on 10.13.6, but trying to play any sound from Ableton Live 11, Ardour 6.9 and Pro Tools 2020 results in the DAW’s locking up to various degrees with no sound coming out. The irony of an unofficial driver on an unsupported platform working better than the official driver on a supported platform is palpable (though I am aware that it’s far from unusual).

Since I’m not too familiar with macOS, I’m sort of assuming the driver and/or its parts use features that have been deprecated or removed from newer versions of macOS and therefore it’s practically unusable anymore. This is a problem for me since I’m primarily a macOS user for audio work and I hate to see perfectly functional hardware end up in a landfill because the vendor decided to stop supporting it.

I did have a thought though: since the interface works perfectly OOTB on Debian 11 (5.15 kernel from backports) under ALSA, the method of controlling and communicating with it must already be known since ALSA and the driver the interface uses is free software, and therefore it should be theoretically possible to write a driver for it for macOS and CoreAudio. Right?

I’m no programmer, kernel-level or otherwise, so I couldn’t do this myself. Assuming that writing a driver for CoreAudio based off the existing ALSA one is possible, how would I go about finding someone who would be able and willing to do so? Not for free, obviously…

I also own M-Audio ftu 8R, and it is indeed a very fine interface, almost fully supported in Linux since 2012. The only thing that doesn’t work is switching clocking to SPDIF in.

I think it is almost certain that noone is interested in writing or adopting drivers for MacOS for the 10 years old piece of hardware.

I think the best solution would be to sell it to some Linux user, and buy something supported with the OS of choice.

The Linux ALSA subsystem differs significantly from Mach/Coreaudio.

However due to lack of documentation from m-audio, reading the source-code of the Linux driver can help to understand how the device works and would make it easier for someone to write a driver for macOS.

It doesn’t help that Apple an no longer allows to install kernel extensions on recent versions of their OS anymore (at least not without jumping through major hoops). Those have been replaced by DriverKit.

@vasakq has a good point. You’ll be likely the only user, and [paying someone for] writing a driver will be more expensive than buying a new soundcard.

I’m afraid so, the FTU 8R didn’t seem to be a terribly popular interface, so the chances of someone still owning it and being interested in writing drivers are incredibly slim. That’s why I would be offering a bounty for it.

That was exactly my train of thought when writing the OP.

That wouldn’t be too much of an issue for me personally, I can’t move further than Catalina anyway due to FireWire anyway. I do understand it would be an issue for the longevity of the driver is it would be DOA, or rather OOA, Obsolete On Arrival.

Noted. You and Paul are probably the forum’s most qualified on the subject given the work done on Ardour and your plugins, so I’ll take your word for it. I’m a little disappointed but I wasn’t holding my breath anyway, this was my last shot at trying to keep the poor interface alive and in use.

This topic was automatically closed 28 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.