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Old Jun 5, 2009, 02:18 PM   #1
basement zombie
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iMac suggestions for storage & audio interface

Hi all, aside from occasional word processing on Macs back in college computer labs (mid 90s), I am completely new to Macs and absolutely loving my new refurbished 20" iMac 2.66. Why'd I wait so long!?

I'd really like some input from you Mac-knowledgeable folks to help build my system right the first time, and thus, save myself from time and ca$hola. Here is my situation:
  • I am looking for a recommendation for a decent audio interface. This will be for solo home recording. Bass, guitar, vocals. I don't need to record many tracks simultaneously since I will be using this solo at home for the majority of the time. I am looking for a good, solid, 'bang for buck' recommendation. Firewire or USB?
  • I currently own a 1TB USB WD Elements harddrive that I bought for my previous PC. I bought it to store all of my iTunes lossless music (currently 100gig and increasing slowly). My current iMac has a 320GB harddrive. I am concerned about the internal harddrive being filled with my iTunes music. Additionally, I need a plan for where I will store my garageband (future logic express) recordings. What do you recommend? Should I keep this USB external harddrive and continue to use it for my iTunes and future garageband (logic express sometime down the road) files? Or, should I try to get rid of it (sell it to someone I know) and replace it with a firewire external? As far as I can tell, I will need to decide if I am going to go firewire for the external or firewire for the audio interface.
  • Additionally, I would like to use Time Machine. Should/can I do that using my current 1TB USB external? Maybe I should go a different route?
Sorry for being all over the place, and thanks for your help.
I'll be back on the forums after work to respond to any follow-ups if necessary.
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Old Jun 5, 2009, 04:25 PM   #2
VirtualRain
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I would suggest you look at a Lexicon U22 audio interface. Full featured, looks great, and sounds awesome.

I don't think Firewire has much advantage over USB and even Apple is shifting away from it slowly.
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Old Jun 5, 2009, 08:42 PM   #3
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In terms of USB vs. Firewire Externals. iThink most will agree there is a pretty substantial benefit of having Firewire. If we are solely talking about back-ups and you are planning on doing them overnight or when you are out, etc... USB is probably fine, but having Firewire for anything would be nicer given its higher speeds and consistency.
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Old Jun 6, 2009, 04:34 AM   #4
musio
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I bought the EMU 0404 usb ...in white!

http://www.emu.com/products/product....&product=18388

It's brilliant!
separate volume control for headphones and monitors
all the i/o you need
ground loop switches
great converters used in the high end protools cards
cheap!
sits on the desk nicely next to the imac..

Absolutely the best bang for the buck peice of gear that looks nice in white to boot. Read reviews - people rave about the converters. Good praise from head-fi.org

As for external drives, you'll find a lot of information on this hot swapable, will grow with you, device. one word for you.

DROBO


http://www.drobo.com

P.S.

always backup your gear. Imagine the feeling of loosing your whole itunes library? good. backup.
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Old Jun 6, 2009, 11:18 AM   #5
basement zombie
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Thanks for the responses! You guys rock.
Here are my follow-ups:
Quote:
Originally Posted by VirtualRain View Post
I would suggest you look at a Lexicon U22 audio interface. Full featured, looks great, and sounds awesome.

I don't think Firewire has much advantage over USB and even Apple is shifting away from it slowly.
Looks pretty cool, and the price is right. Do you own one? I'm a bit ignorant of all the technojargon details. What do you really like about it? Do you have enough experience to compare it to the EMU0404 suggested by another poster below?

Quote:
Originally Posted by thegoldenmackid View Post
In terms of USB vs. Firewire Externals. iThink most will agree there is a pretty substantial benefit of having Firewire. If we are solely talking about back-ups and you are planning on doing them overnight or when you are out, etc... USB is probably fine, but having Firewire for anything would be nicer given its higher speeds and consistency.
Mm thanks.

My internal iMac HD is 320GB. I currently have over 100GB of lossless music. I'm concerned about hogging up my limited internal space with all that music, which is why I'm considering external storage. Perhaps I should keep my USB 1TB external to use strictly for full nighttime backups/time machine, and buy a new firewire external to serve as my 'music hub' with my itunes lossless and future garageband/logic express recordings.

Thoughts about that idea?

Quote:
Originally Posted by musio View Post
I bought the EMU 0404 usb ...in white!

http://www.emu.com/products/product....&product=18388

It's brilliant!
separate volume control for headphones and monitors
all the i/o you need
ground loop switches
great converters used in the high end protools cards
cheap!
sits on the desk nicely next to the imac..

Absolutely the best bang for the buck peice of gear that looks nice in white to boot. Read reviews - people rave about the converters. Good praise from head-fi.org

As for external drives, you'll find a lot of information on this hot swapable, will grow with you, device. one word for you.

DROBO


http://www.drobo.com

P.S.

always backup your gear. Imagine the feeling of loosing your whole itunes library? good. backup.
That EMU looks nice, and the price is right.
How would you compare/contrast it with the above suggested Lexicon U22?

That external solution you suggested looks great, but is out of my price range. Taking cost into account, what would you suggest for a Firewire external that would meet my needs (serving as the source for my lossless tunes and music recordings) and be a good 'bang for buck?'
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Old Jun 6, 2009, 12:53 PM   #6
ChrisA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by basement zombie View Post
Hi all, aside from occasional word processing on Macs back in college computer labs (mid 90s), I am completely new to Macs and absolutely loving my new refurbished 20" iMac 2.66. Why'd I wait so long!?

I'd really like some input from you Mac-knowledgeable folks to help build my system right the first time, and thus, save myself from time and ca$hola. Here is my situation:
  • I am looking for a recommendation for a decent audio interface. This will be for solo home recording. Bass, guitar, vocals. I don't need to record many tracks simultaneously since I will be using this solo at home for the majority of the time. I am looking for a good, solid, 'bang for buck' recommendation. Firewire or USB?
  • I currently own a 1TB USB WD Elements harddrive that I bought for my previous PC. I bought it to store all of my iTunes lossless music (currently 100gig and increasing slowly). My current iMac has a 320GB harddrive. I am concerned about the internal harddrive being filled with my iTunes music. Additionally, I need a plan for where I will store my garageband (future logic express) recordings. What do you recommend? Should I keep this USB external harddrive and continue to use it for my iTunes and future garageband (logic express sometime down the road) files? Or, should I try to get rid of it (sell it to someone I know) and replace it with a firewire external? As far as I can tell, I will need to decide if I am going to go firewire for the external or firewire for the audio interface.
  • Additionally, I would like to use Time Machine. Should/can I do that using my current 1TB USB external? Maybe I should go a different route?
Sorry for being all over the place, and thanks for your help.
I'll be back on the forums after work to respond to any follow-ups if necessary.
Yes, get Time Machine. But it is only useful if you get it it's own disk drive. That drive needs to by roughtly 1.5 times as large as ALL the DATA on the computer. But think ahead you will have more data later. Always used you LARGEST disk drive for Time Machine.

You TM drive does NOT need to be fast. So,.... Buy a nice new FW drive for your data and then use the old 1TB USB drive for TM. Later buy a larger FW drive for TM and use the old USB drive for off-site backup.

Once you start investing tame in "making stuff", be that photography, music or writing then you really want a good backup system that includes TM and multiple redundant copies and off-site storage. Keep that "extra" 1TB drive, maybe even buy a couple more

Buy any of the USB or FW interfaces. If you are only doing a very few channels you don;t really need the more expensive FW device. Look at the specs. You really do want 24-bit samples. But you decide if 48K samples per second or 96K is enough. But do go for 24-bit. Also look at the company's driver download page an see if they are up to date and making frequent releases and stil suport older products.

One good way to shop for audio interface is to download and read the user manuals. All of them are on-line. If you don't like the UM don't buy the product
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Old Jun 6, 2009, 02:24 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by basement zombie View Post
I am looking for a recommendation for a decent audio interface.
what software will you be using? pick that first, then your hardware.
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Old Jun 6, 2009, 03:39 PM   #8
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if you are recording yourself and it's a bit of fun don't worry at all. Even cheaper soundcards will be fine. The 0404 is more than enough. Preamps in these consumer devices are all pretty much medioka with no real big difference in this day and age unless you get over the 700 mark..which you aint, so don't worry. Years ago when pro soundcards were the big thing, it did matter.

RE firewire vs usb....time machine archives so again, it doesn't matter much. Your only choice is an external. I'd get a 2nd hand usb drobo if price is a concern
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Old Jun 6, 2009, 04:50 PM   #9
basement zombie
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisA View Post
Yes, get Time Machine. But it is only useful if you get it it's own disk drive. That drive needs to by roughtly 1.5 times as large as ALL the DATA on the computer. But think ahead you will have more data later. Always used you LARGEST disk drive for Time Machine.

You TM drive does NOT need to be fast. So,.... Buy a nice new FW drive for your data and then use the old 1TB USB drive for TM. Later buy a larger FW drive for TM and use the old USB drive for off-site backup.

Once you start investing tame in "making stuff", be that photography, music or writing then you really want a good backup system that includes TM and multiple redundant copies and off-site storage. Keep that "extra" 1TB drive, maybe even buy a couple more

Buy any of the USB or FW interfaces. If you are only doing a very few channels you don;t really need the more expensive FW device. Look at the specs. You really do want 24-bit samples. But you decide if 48K samples per second or 96K is enough. But do go for 24-bit. Also look at the company's driver download page an see if they are up to date and making frequent releases and stil suport older products.

One good way to shop for audio interface is to download and read the user manuals. All of them are on-line. If you don't like the UM don't buy the product
Great info!
Ok, to sum up - what I understand you are suggesting is that I use my current 1TB USB WD Elements external HD to serve as my Time Machine backup. Next, I should choose and purchase a new FW external HD for my data. My iMac internal HD is 320gig. I currently have 100gig and counting iTunes lossless music. I am guessing that for my new FW external drive, I should choose one that is 500gig?

For my audio interface, correct, I do not need to be able to do a bunch of channels at once. Only 2. You recommend going at least for 24bit samples. What difference will I notice/experience when comparing models that are 24, 48 and 96 bit? Does the sampling rate refer to how much data is recorded? IE - the difference between 128kb vs. Lossless recordings?

Quote:
Originally Posted by zimv20 View Post
what software will you be using? pick that first, then your hardware.
I will first be using Garageband on my iMac, and I plan to eventually upgrade to Logic Express. Taking that into account, do you have any recommendations?

Quote:
Originally Posted by musio View Post
if you are recording yourself and it's a bit of fun don't worry at all. Even cheaper soundcards will be fine. The 0404 is more than enough. Preamps in these consumer devices are all pretty much medioka with no real big difference in this day and age unless you get over the 700 mark..which you aint, so don't worry. Years ago when pro soundcards were the big thing, it did matter.

RE firewire vs usb....time machine archives so again, it doesn't matter much. Your only choice is an external. I'd get a 2nd hand usb drobo if price is a concern
Good to know about the preamps and not noticing much difference until you get to a higher price point.

As I mentioned earlier, I already have a 1TB USB WD Elements external HD, and I am assuming it would be in my best interests to use that as my Time Machine backup for the time being. I suppose I am now looking to get a FW External to store my iTunes lossless music (100gig and counting) and my garageband (and future logic express) recordings. My rationale about putting my iTunes music on the external is to keep my iMac operating files and my 'fun stuff' separate. Is that smart? Silly? Overkill?
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Old Jun 6, 2009, 05:07 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by basement zombie View Post
I will first be using Garageband on my iMac, and I plan to eventually upgrade to Logic Express. Taking that into account, do you have any recommendations?
as musio said, quality is about the same in the consumer arena. best bet is to choose on features, since everything will (or at least should) be compatible w/ GB and Logic.

that said, if i were in the market for a consumer interface, i'd start by looking at Presonus.
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Old Jun 7, 2009, 03:35 AM   #11
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Presonus is ok but i'm still singing for the 0404 feature wise

hardware/software doesn't matter unless you go into protools..in which case look into m-audio. they have some cheap interfaces also so scout around.

RE your time machine drive, sure your 1tb is fine but if you will buy ANOTHER drive for data, you have to back THAT up too. you can backup your computer and external to ANOTHER external with time machine (i asked the lovely people here for that question) But at some point, you'll have so much data you won't be able to manage with lots of externals...which is why i recommended the drobo. Even that though needs to have a backup. Remember back up everything you care about.
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Old Jun 8, 2009, 10:56 PM   #12
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I just picked up Logic studio today, and I"m trying to organize myself with respect to storage as well. I believe I've heard its not a bad idea to work off of an external hard drive, rather than working off of the built in drive.

If you're doing that, is USB okay or is it best to have FW or FW800? I've already got a 320GB USB external, and my internal is also 320GB, 7200rpm (its a MBP) that's about half full. I'm on Tiger now, was waiting for Snow Leopard, but might as well just get Leopard now since you get the cheap upgrade to 10.6, so I guess I'll start using Time Machine now, in which case I guess two external drives could be a good call. Maybe I"ll use the 320GB USB drive for time machine and get a second external specifically for Logic projects and all the Logic audio content, as well as other random backups outside of time machine.

Also, does the speed of the drive matter? I'm comparing two drives, both around 200$, both 500GB, FW800. One has a 7200rpm drive, the other is a "portable" bus-powered drive at 5400rpm.
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Old Jun 9, 2009, 02:37 AM   #13
VirtualRain
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Quote:
Originally Posted by basement zombie View Post
Here are my follow-ups:

Looks pretty cool, and the price is right. Do you own one? I'm a bit ignorant of all the technojargon details. What do you really like about it? Do you have enough experience to compare it to the EMU0404 suggested by another poster below?
I do own a U22. The 0404 has more extensive features but I chose the U22 for the form factor. I like the larger knobs and the VU meters as well as the aluminum/black look along with the angled front panel that sits beautifully under your display (assuming you have a separate display). The Lexicon also has all the connections I need and has decent specs and reputation. I'm sure you can't go wrong with either product so pick the one that suits you best.
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Old Jun 17, 2009, 01:20 PM   #14
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FINALLY!!! A U22 reviewer!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by VirtualRain View Post
I do own a U22. The 0404 has more extensive features but I chose the U22 for the form factor. I like the larger knobs and the VU meters as well as the aluminum/black look along with the angled front panel that sits beautifully under your display (assuming you have a separate display). The Lexicon also has all the connections I need and has decent specs and reputation. I'm sure you can't go wrong with either product so pick the one that suits you best.
I Have looked everywhere on the internet to find a I-ONIX U22 user! I have a new IMac, do some recording on a stand alone Yamaha and am now searching for an interface. Was about to pull the trigger on the Presonus firebox , but the lexicon caught my eye. It is so new I cannot find any reviews on the U22, only it's big brother.
What is your opinion and how well would you think it would work with a new IMac????? I'm not hung up on the firewire thing since I will record 1/2 max at a time, condenser mics, electic/ accoustic guitars and vocals with some midi.
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Old Jun 17, 2009, 03:18 PM   #15
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Keep you current 1TB disk, use it just like you said. Keep the iTunes and your own recording on it. But plan to upgrade in stages...

The next disk to buy (Buy it ASAP) would be for Time Machine. Always use your largest disk for TM. Yes it is tempting to use the newest disk for data but, no, the largest disk should be used for TM because it will have to hold multiple copies of all your data. Buy a 1.5TB external disk. USB is "good enough" because TM runs in the background and you don't care about speed. But still I'd buy a FW800 disk for future usage.

Next buy a 1TB FW800 disk to replace your current USB 1TB disk. It will be twice as fast. This frees up the current drive to be used as a backup.

Next buy a second backup drive. Now you have enough so that you can rotate them to an off site location. Keep one at home and one at the office or a relative's house

Every year or so I replace my oldest disk with the largest one I can afford or find. That becomes my new Time Machine drive and I give away or whatever my oldest smallest drive.

If you have data you can't replace, such as live music performances or photos then you REALLY do need a couple externals dives stored far away plus TM. Lightening, fire, theft and so on are major causes of data loss so you need "off site". Once you are set up plan on buying a new disk drive every year that way, You keep up.
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Old Nov 28, 2009, 06:03 PM   #16
basement zombie
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisA View Post
Keep you current 1TB disk, use it just like you said. Keep the iTunes and your own recording on it. But plan to upgrade in stages...

The next disk to buy (Buy it ASAP) would be for Time Machine. Always use your largest disk for TM. Yes it is tempting to use the newest disk for data but, no, the largest disk should be used for TM because it will have to hold multiple copies of all your data. Buy a 1.5TB external disk. USB is "good enough" because TM runs in the background and you don't care about speed. But still I'd buy a FW800 disk for future usage.

Next buy a 1TB FW800 disk to replace your current USB 1TB disk. It will be twice as fast. This frees up the current drive to be used as a backup.

Next buy a second backup drive. Now you have enough so that you can rotate them to an off site location. Keep one at home and one at the office or a relative's house

Every year or so I replace my oldest disk with the largest one I can afford or find. That becomes my new Time Machine drive and I give away or whatever my oldest smallest drive.

If you have data you can't replace, such as live music performances or photos then you REALLY do need a couple externals dives stored far away plus TM. Lightening, fire, theft and so on are major causes of data loss so you need "off site". Once you are set up plan on buying a new disk drive every year that way, You keep up.
Wonderful suggestions and plan, Chris - thanks so much!

UPDATE
I decided to use my current 1TB USB external for Time Machine backups. Now, I want to buy an external to use to hold all of my iTunes music and future garageband (and maybe eventually Logic Studio) recordings.

Questions:
  1. What currently available 1TB Firewire compatible external hard drive(s) do you recommend?
  2. I haven't yet bought an audio interface. If I'm planning to use a Firewire external for all of my iTunes and Garageband recordings, that would tie up my single FW connection. Do I need to buy a USB audio interface? Or can I get some sort of solution that would enable me to have both my FW external and a FW audio interface plugged in at the same time?
Thanks in advance for your help.
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Old Nov 29, 2009, 02:19 PM   #17
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Old Nov 29, 2009, 02:23 PM   #18
ChrisA
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Wonderful suggestions and plan, Chris - thanks so much!

UPDATE
I decided to use my current 1TB USB external for Time Machine backups. Now, I want to buy an external to use to hold all of my iTunes music and future garageband (and maybe eventually Logic Studio) recordings.

Questions:
  1. What currently available 1TB Firewire compatible external hard drive(s) do you recommend?
  2. I haven't yet bought an audio interface. If I'm planning to use a Firewire external for all of my iTunes and Garageband recordings, that would tie up my single FW connection. Do I need to buy a USB audio interface? Or can I get some sort of solution that would enable me to have both my FW external and a FW audio interface plugged in at the same time?
Thanks in advance for your help.
You want a FW800 disk, not FW400. But if you pug in a FW400 audio interface to the FW chain then it all slows down to FW400 speed.

You don't need FW for two tracks of audio.
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Old Nov 29, 2009, 02:50 PM   #19
basement zombie
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You want a FW800 disk, not FW400. But if you pug in a FW400 audio interface to the FW chain then it all slows down to FW400 speed.

You don't need FW for two tracks of audio.
Thanks for returning to the thread, Chris.

1) You are correct - the majority of the time, I will be doing either 1 or 2 tracks of audio at a time. Solo stuff here at home. Taking that into account, do you recommend that I consider USB audio interface offerings? Any recommendations for a home hobbyist? Don't want to break the bank, but I want something that has good quality - bang for buck.

2) I just searched newegg.com for 1TB FW external HDs - there are a ton, and a wide variety of pricepoints. Any recommendations?
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Old Nov 29, 2009, 02:58 PM   #20
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ChrisA - someone else posted the following audio interface suggestion in another thread today:

Quote:
M-Audio Fast Track Pro. An audio interface with all the i/o the duet lacks plus possibility to run protools all on a USB port
http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/FastTrackPro.html

DRIVERS are what count - maudio just released some snow leopard ones. Apogee have great drivers too but you pay the price.
Thoughts for my purposes?
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