Update: Since writing this piece, I have had the Liquid Mix working perfectly on Windows 10; this guide still applies to that OS – This update is for a few Gearslutz who were asking about it.
Update 2: I have noticed that using ASIO4ALL helps with stability issues compared to my Focusrite Scarlett driver, which looks like caused issues with the LM; there have been no issues when running ASIO4ALL
Update 3: It looks like it is essential that you install the 44.1kHz emulations, even when using a higher sample rate. When I have not had those installed, running at 48kHz, I would run into a fair few issues so I recommend doing this regardless of whether you have experienced issues yet or not.
Update 4: Another update; it looks like the download file from Microsoft is gone. Thanks to Manuel Ricciardi who emailed me his copy of the file which I have included as an additional download link.
One of the biggest improvements with Windows 8.1 over Windows 7 is the general performance boost. Everything from a day-to-day standpoint is snappier and that little bit quicker. For DAW work, there is no perceivable difference for me but one of the biggest drawbacks is that the Focusrite Liquid Mix won’t work. Since I use Windows 8 for work and general duties, having to dual-boot to Windows 7 can become a pain.
At least, that was the case until recently. The issue is that the Liquid Mix is old enough that it needs the Legacy Firewire Drivers to operate. In Windows 7, it was very easy to switch to those drivers; however, they were dumped in Windows 8 and 8.1, and you were not able to install them from a Windows 7 machine as the drivers were not digitally signed. This means that the firewire chip in your computer could not be switched to the old driver.
To be fair to Microsoft, they listened to the complaints of myself and many others who relied on the legacy driver and released an installer (alternative download) which places the legacy drivers in your Program Files folder, where you can right-click a certain file and install the driver to your system. Then, as with Windows 7, all you have to do is switch over to that driver in the Device Manager. The instructions are pretty clear from the link earlier in this paragraph.
There is another issue which I want to cover in more detail here, which is on the Focusrite side of things. Where Microsoft have solved the digital signing issue for the legacy firewire driver, Focusrite have not sorted the Liquid Mix driver so the actual driver for the Liquid Mix needs to be installed in a convoluted way.
1) Using your keyboard press Windows Key + the letter I,
2) “Change PC Settings”,
3) “Update and Recovery”,
5) “Advanced Startup” and “Restart Now”.
The computer will then restart. You will be sent to a special screen which asks you what advanced features you need. At that screen, select option number 7, which is shown below. This disables the check which Windows does to stop drivers being installed which are not officially signed, until the next restart of the computer.
Image taken from a more detailed Advanced Startup guide which can be found here.
6) At this point, start the Liquid Mix installer. You may get a driver installation warning, which is what we are looking for so press OK or Continue. Windows is no longer blocking the installation, it is just warning us about it like it did in Windows 7.
7) Once it gets to the point where it says “connect the Liquid Mix”, open the Device Manager and navigate to the Liquid Mix, which should be “Unknown device” of some sort. Update the drivers for it, and select the manual option so you can then point it to the Liquid Mix folder in your Program Files. This will do something for a while, but once complete then your Liquid Mix installer will finish and you will have a fully working Liquid Mix again. I have run it for a good while and all is well!
Finally, no need for dual boots with Windows 7 and 8. Thank you, Microsoft! Focusrite, it would be great if you could just patch this one little fix for us!
After a restart or two, you may have to double check that Windows 8 is still using the legacy firewire driver. Since writing this, it switched to the regular one and the Liquid Mix stopped working and I think it was down to me using the laptop without the firewire card, so keep an eye out with that as when I put the FW card back in, it reverted to the “normal” Texas Instruments driver. I may look at removing that driver completely if it becomes a persistent issue.