1. Welcome to the new MacRumors forums. See our announcement and read our FAQ

External Hard Drive for Recording

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by jasonrhcp, Feb 7, 2013.

  1. macrumors member

  2. macrumors 601

    How do you plan to connect your external?

    Thunderbolt, USB3, Firewire, USB2 ??
  3. macrumors G4

    Yes. In fact it is a good idea to use a FAST external drive and you will need on if you are doing more than a few audio tracks. Make sure the connection is faster than USB2.

    Many people will use a disk array, at least a mirror (aka "raid 2") and even then you need to get the data backed up a few times as soon as you can.
  4. macrumors member

    I have a 15" rMBP so i am using usb3.
    Thanks for the info!
  5. macrumors 6502a


    Get one of these. You'll be able to use both USB3.0 and FW800. I recommend FW800 because it's been used for audio for a long time now. Very reliable.
  6. macrumors 6502a


    Nowhere does Seagate say what the spin speed is on this drive so I'm assuming it's a 5400 rpm drive vs a 7200 rpm drive.

    If it is then I wouldn't recommend it for audio recording. That's why I won't buy the Western Digital My Book Thunderbolt.
  7. macrumors member

    No moving parts. Its all flash.
  8. macrumors 65816

    Are you saying that the Seagate Backup Plus drive in your link above is a flash disk? $100 for a 1TB SSD? I don't think so...
  9. macrumors member


    External Hard Drive for Recording

    I use a LaCie rugged and it works fine
  10. macrumors 601

    My suggestions are probably different than those that most others will offer.

    I'd suggest you consider a USB3/SATA docking station, such as:

    If you'd prefer an actual "enclosure", get this:

    Then combine with a "bare" hard drive or SSD drive of your choice. For audio projects, an SSD could probably take anything you could throw at it.

    You might also consider partitioning an external drive, to create at least one or two "work partitions" that will be roughly 2x-3x the size of the projects you normally create. The advantage is that by "cordoning off" a partition of the drive, all your input is recorded to a small area of the drive's platters, reducing the time the drive has to spend "sweeping the surface" of the platters to find sectors to which to write. It also makes it easy to defrag the work partitions, to keep large blocks of free space available.

    That's what I do, works fine for me...
  11. macrumors 601



    i mean that literally: get two. one for recording, one for backup. these are the drives i use for location recording and all my backups.
  12. macrumors newbie

    Does USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt trump the 5,400 RPM deficiency?

    I just bought a 1TB Lacie 3.0/Thunderbolt External Drive for recording, but after I ordered it I realized it was only a 5,400 RPM. I'm also new to the mac world, but just got a 15" MBPR with a 256 GB Flash Storage Drive and 8 GB of RAM. I will be running PT9 from that main drive but recording to the external.

    I know it has been common practice to use a minimum 7200 RPM drive to record to, but now that USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt increase the transfer rate so much, is the HDD RPM a moot point?
  13. macrumors G4

    The kind of connection (USB, FW, Thunderbolt) only tells you how fast the connection between the computer and the drives "cache" is. Cache is typically small, like 32MB give or take. For recording you care about the "sustained rated" which is much lower then even USB2.

    What you need to care about is the number of bits that fly under the read/write heads per second. That is the product of the bit density times the rotation speed. So 7200RPM only puts more bits under the heads if the bit density is equal. Without knowing the bit density you shouldn't care about RPMs.

    Today if you need performance you buy a solid state drive. Those of course have zero RPM.

    Now that we have FLASH. I think the old advice to not record to the system drive goes away. The reasoning used to be that the read/write heads would move to much. Loading software and swap and data all on the same drive would make the head "thrash" but now there are no "heads" on a flash drive.

    Try it. I bet you get the best performance recording to the system drive. Then after the recording session copy the data to the large external drive.
  14. macrumors 65816

    I agree. I'm using Logic Pro on a MacBook Air with 256GB SSD. I do all my recording to the system drive and it works like a charm. Using my 2 channel USB interface I get about 7ms latency and I get about 10ms with my 4 channel USB interface.

    Every so often I do some housecleaning and delete audio files I no longer need. I still have over 100GB free on the SSD after a year and a half, so I should be fine for awhile. My audio use is pretty basic though, typically 4 tracks with microphones.
  15. macrumors G4


    The problem was never just "speed" it was always "disk head contention" and it goes away with Flash.

    The problem was that the marketing people knew that "head contention" was far to abstract and technical for most buyers to understand so they ran with "RPM" which is a simpler to understand concept.
  16. macrumors newbie


    I never pondered the idea of using different partitions. If I was recording say a dozen tracks. How much space would my partition need to be around? I'm basically just doing rough demos to get ideas down.
  17. macrumors G4

    Easy to compute...

    If you record 24 bit samples that is 3 bytes.

    If you record 48,000 3-byte samples per second let's call that 150,000 bytes per second

    Now you are doing this twice if you are recording two tracks so it comes to 300,000 bytes or 1/3rd MB per second.

    I'm sure you can work out different senarios like if you were recording 96K sample rate you'd double the above and if doing four tracks you double it again.

    So in the worst case it is still less than 2MB per second. A hour has 3,600 seconds so figure less than 7.2GB per hour. Round up to 8GB per hour for four tacks of 96K samples.

    Audio data is not that large and the data rates are not that fast.

Share This Page