How is possible to connect a new Thunderbolt 3 port to an old Firewire 400 port?

I' have a new MacBook and must to connect an old audio board MOTU ultralite have only 2 audioWire female ports (with standard FireWire 1694- 400)
It's possibile to use the new thunderbolt 3 port? Downgrade of transfer rate is supported?
If it's possible, please, where i can found an adpater cable?

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7 Answers from the Community

  • Best Answer:

    I have successfully connected an old (2001) Sony DCR-PC110 Mini-DV camcorder to my MacBook Pro 2016 via a Thunderbolt / Firewire chain. I used the following adapters to connect the Sony's 1394 / Mini-DV connection to MacBook Pro USB-C: Apple Thunderbolt 3 [USB-C] to Thunderbolt 2 [Mini DisplayPort] (MMEL2AM/A) --> Apple Thunderbolt 2 [Mini DisplayPort] to Firewire 800 [9-Pin] (MD464LL/A) --> Tripp Lite Firewire 800 [9-Pin] to Firewire 400 [4-Pin, 1394] (F019-006). All in about $90.
    I was able to control the camcorder and capture video from Mini-DV tapes.
    This chain may work for other Firewire 400/800 peripherals.

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  • Apple sadly doesn't offer Thunderbolt 3 to Firewire adapters. But for a Thunderbolt 3 port, you should be able to use an Apple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter, and then connect a Thunderbolt to Firewire Adapter to that.

    Unfortunately, the 2015 and 2016 MacBooks (not MacBooks Pro) do not have a Thunderbolt 3 port — it is merely a USB-C port. And there is no way to go from USB to Firewire in a sensible way; they are so utterly different protocols that you'd essentially need an entire computer to convert from one to the other.

    (There were a couple converter boxes fifteen years ago that claimed to convert between USB and Firewire, but they only claimed to work for DV homevideo, and from all accounts, didn't really do that, either.)

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  • I have a Focusrite Saffire Firewire Interface and a MacBook Pro from late 2016.

    After 3 to 4 hours of online research, trying to figure out how to put those two things together, I decided to just try it the following way:

    Saffire Pro 40 FW 400 --> FW 800 Adapter --> OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock Station (which you can find on Amazon) --> Apple Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3/Usb-c Adapter

    I can officially confirm that it works that way!
    The OWC Dock Station has a Firewire 800 slot and I think they just released a new Dock Station for Thunderbolt 3, which also has a FW slot (thank you very much for that OWC). So you wouldn't need any adaption from TB 2 to TB 3.
    Everything works out perfectly, except for the Saffire Mix Control...the software doesn't seem to register the interface and I haven't figured out how to make it work yet.

    Now the thing is, I don't know if it works with the casual MacBooks as well. I have been told that there´s a difference between TB3 and USB-c and that the Macbook Pro´s slots are more TB3 than USB-C.
    I have no idea what that means, but I know that Firewire and USB don't work together, but Firewire and Thunderbolt do.

    So if you wanna buy a new MacBook Pro but you´re scared that things wouldn´t work out with your beloved Firewire Interface - I can assure you that it does, if you´re willing to spend like 250-300$ extra.

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  • I got Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 working with OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock using a Firewire 400 to Firewire 800 adapter, connected to a 2017 MacBook Pro running Mac OS 10.13.1. If you see a situation where the Mac system report shows the Thunderbolt 3 device, and the Saffire Pro 40 Firewire device, but not the audio device, then this is likely a preference problem. Try removing all your audio preferences, and rebooting. This worked for me. Remove these files and reboot:

    /Macintosh HD/Library/Preferences/Audio
    * com.apple.audio.DeviceSettings.plist
    * com.apple.audio.SystemSettings.plist
    ~/Library/Preferences
    * com.apple.audio.AudioMIDISetup.plist

    After doing this, all my Firewire audio devices are now showing up on my new MacBook Pro connected through Thunderbolt 3.

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  • Hi mate,

    You will need 3 adapters :/ tb3 to tb2 + tb2 to fw800 then fw800 to fw400. i imagine soon there will be a tb3 to fw400 or at least to fw800 cable made by Belkin or Moshi or one of those 3rd party adapter people.

    be careful of USB type-c. it. the identical connector can be either USB 2.0, USB 3.0, USB 3.1 and also thunderbolt 3. plus i think some can do different variations of video out and some can do charge input...

    also be careful of cables suggesting otherwise.. Thunderbolt and Firewire can never pass over any type of USB controller into any machine...

    all the best

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  • I have a new iMac and have used a thunderbolt 3 to thunderbolt 2 convertor, a thunderbolt 2 to firewire 800, a firewire 800 to mini fire wire convertor and can control my legacy Sony DCR-PC330E camcorder from Final Cut Pro.

    I have also used a thunderbolt 3 to thunderbolt 2 convertor, a thunderbolt 2 to firewire 800, a firewire 800 to 400 to control a RME Fireface 400 audio interface. There is not enough power from the iMac to run the Fireface 400, so you need to use an external PSU. My trusty MacBook Pro from 2011 could power the Fireface with no problems.

    All connectors and cables bought from Apple.

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  • I can confirm that I got my Focusrite Pro 40 (FireWire 400) working with my 2016 Macbook (Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports) by using a number of adaptors:

    FireWire 400 -> FireWire 800 -> Thunderbolt 2 -> USB-C

    The only issue I ran into was that macOS High Sierra would not load the drivers automatically, I had to manually approve the developer before they would load.

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