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Laptop... should I put samples on separate SSD?

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Laptop... should I put samples on separate SSD?

Postby starman9 » Fri Mar 16, 2012 2:06 am

As mentioned in another thread, I'm dabbling with the idea of buying a PC laptop. This machine would have two roles. One, to be my computer in my home recording setup. The other, for live use: I'll be using something like Brainspawn Forte as a host and will be playing string libraries and perhaps the odd piano from a mother keyboard. For live use, I will need to achieve lowest possible latency (both audio and midi) and glitch free performance. (I really can feel the tiniest latency btw so 'every little helps' here.)

I'm thinking about the possible pennies needed... And I'm wondering if it would help performance and reliability to put the samples onto a separate SSD rather than on the main system drive? (assuming the system drive to be an SSD in any case). And, if so, would there still be anything to be gained by the system drive being an SSD?
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Re: Laptop... should I put samples on separate SSD?

Postby Fealow » Fri Mar 16, 2012 2:21 am

Yes, using an SSD would be better for storing and retrieving your samples. Simply because 1) It is light years faster than any HDD and 2) Your current HDD will be better of focusing on running your programs efficiently and thus reducing latency.

Have you tried "ASIO4all"? It can really help latency issues with basic set ups if you have a laptop/desktop with good modern specs.
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Re: Laptop... should I put samples on separate SSD?

Postby Exalted Wombat » Fri Mar 16, 2012 3:44 am

Fealow wrote:Yes, using an SSD would be better for storing and retrieving your samples. Simply because 1) It is light years faster than any HDD and 2) Your current HDD will be better of focusing on running your programs efficiently and thus reducing latency.

Have you tried "ASIO4all"? It can really help latency issues with basic set ups if you have a laptop/desktop with good modern specs.

He's going to need more than a "basic setup" with ASIO4ALL to get the sort of latency figure he requires!

A fast (or slow) system drive will affect how fast the computer boots up, and how quickly programs load. After that, it takes little part in "running the program". Latency is determined by the soundcard and its drivers. How low you can set it may be limited by available processing power. Not particularly by disk performance.
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Re: Laptop... should I put samples on separate SSD?

Postby Fealow » Fri Mar 16, 2012 3:53 am

Exalted Wombat wrote:

He's going to need more than a "basic setup" with ASIO4ALL to get the sort of latency figure he requires!

A fast (or slow) system drive will affect how fast the computer boots up, and how quickly programs load. After that, it takes little part in "running the program". Latency is determined by the soundcard and its drivers. How low you can set it may be limited by available processing power. Not particularly by disk performance.


When I said basic set up I simply meant outboard gear, like his keyboard and interface etc... Not his actual Laptop specs. You can get latencies below 20ms from most modern laptops these days using ASIO4all if all you're doing is monitoring a keyboard with samples (Self tested)

As for the rest of it I was simply implying that the less your HDD has to do in the process the better, not that it has a massive direct impact on actual latency. It's not as if I was giving him false and detrimental information. Perhaps I should have been a bit clearer with my words?

Anyway, putting the samples on an SSD won't actually lower the latency between you hitting a key and the note sounding. It will just load the sample library ALOT quicker which will be useful when changing between songs or even during songs as long as the audio playback is coming from the HDD? You should also make sure you have USB2 on the laptop to make sure it's as fast as it can be.
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Re: Laptop... should I put samples on separate SSD?

Postby starman9 » Fri Mar 16, 2012 4:06 am

Many thanks for the replies.

Yes I'm looking to use the laptop with an RME interface of some sort... I'm hoping I might be able to use my existing Multiface 2 with express card, in fact...

It's possible I might be using the computer live on tour, hence I need to achieve rock solid performance and reliability. Even a tiny extra edge offered by better disk performance is of interest.

Thanks for the comments re. the system drive, Exalted. Could there be a potential advantage in terms of long term reliability, at least, in using an SSD for system drive?
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Re: Laptop... should I put samples on separate SSD?

Postby Fealow » Fri Mar 16, 2012 4:33 am

If all you are doing is using (for example) a DAW to play back a track and monitor sample libraries on a keyboard then I don't think you will have much to worry about in terms of stability and glitch free playback, should be pretty rock solid even on a laptop. I think your main concern here is the latency, which if you are using an interface should be pretty easy to manage. It will take a load of the laptops CPU and should help you get those low latency levels. I'm using an M-audio interface as the example to give you these answers about the latency, so I may be wrong with other interfaces. please correct me where necessary on that Exalted as I don't have experience with a large number of interfaces.
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Re: Laptop... should I put samples on separate SSD?

Postby starman9 » Fri Mar 16, 2012 4:44 am

Hi Fealow, I'll just be using the machine to play various soft instruments live from a mother keyboard. Ivory and LA Scoring Strings for sure, possible a lot else too if all works well. But there has to be zero prospect (well as near as...) of glitches etc. I understand the RME drivers to be as solid as they come so will be sticking with RME, whatever I do.

Am just looking at all options at this point, actually. I may yet buy a rack mount PC instead. That route would be far less convenient for some gigs but offer better performance, I'm sure. But I'd then need to find some sort of rack mount touchscreen monitor to use live...
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Re: Laptop... should I put samples on separate SSD?

Postby Fealow » Fri Mar 16, 2012 5:25 am

Well if you are only using the laptop to load sample libraries for use with the keyboard and not expecting it to playback audio tracks at the same time I really don't think you will have any problems at all with stability or glitches. You may have to tweak to get the desired latency though.

Can you give a rough estimate of what latencies you find uncomfortable to play at? For example for most uses 30ms is perfectly acceptable and is practically inaudible while playing or listening. 30ms is also a realistic goal for most modern spec laptops and desktops.
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Re: Laptop... should I put samples on separate SSD?

Postby ef37a » Fri Mar 16, 2012 6:52 am

I has been a few years since I have been on a stage (bass) but I would say that if you have even considered an alternative to a laptop, do it! The prospect of relying on a feeble usb or FW connector for sounds is terrifying to me.

Why a touchscreen monitor for a rack system? Would the laptop be so equipped? If not surely a modest 17" screen would suffice and wireless keyboards and mice are very reliable, even the very cheap ones from PCWorld.

And I am no keyboardist or hitter but 30ms seems a lot to me?

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Re: Laptop... should I put samples on separate SSD?

Postby Fealow » Fri Mar 16, 2012 8:39 am

Yeah 30ms can be a lot in some situations, but generally it suits most applications in favour of performance IMHO. I was just using it as a baseline more than anything, start at 30 and work your way down until you find something comfortable that is stable.
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Re: Laptop... should I put samples on separate SSD?

Postby starman9 » Fri Mar 16, 2012 6:17 pm

30ms is waaaaaay too much for me!!! I find many (most) hardware keyboards to suffer from unacceptable latency when played locally, actually. While I probably would not notice a delay of, say, 6ms if applied to a whole part in an already recorded song, my nervous system is VERY aware of 6ms when I'm playing, which can then negatively affect my playing. So... I'd hope to run reliably at 64 samples if possible.

Why a touchscreen if I go for rack mount PC? Only because the monitor would need to fit nicely into a 19" rack flight case. A touchscreen could be mounted horizontally and just pull out on one of those 19" drawer attachments. To use a normal monitor + keyboard/mouse would take up a lot of rack space... and the necessary rack mounting gadgets appear to be ridiculously expensive too! I did see the following, which looks interesting, though:
http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=370592415210&clk_rvr_id=324349421740

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Re: Laptop... should I put samples on separate SSD?

Postby Fealow » Fri Mar 16, 2012 6:41 pm

Fair enough, you're probably more sensitive to those latency times then I am. Bearing in mind it has been a long while since I monitored any live instruments through a DAW for playback purposes.

I have been on hiatus for an annoying amount of time.
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Re: Laptop... should I put samples on separate SSD?

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sat Mar 17, 2012 3:44 pm

starman999 wrote:Thanks for the comments re. the system drive, Exalted. Could there be a potential advantage in terms of long term reliability, at least, in using an SSD for system drive?

The jury is out on how long these devices last compared with mechanical drives. Certainly they're less likely to break if you drop the computer, which is far from a trivial point!
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Re: Laptop... should I put samples on separate SSD?

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sat Mar 17, 2012 3:48 pm

Fealow wrote:When I said basic set up I simply meant outboard gear, like his keyboard and interface etc... Not his actual Laptop specs. You can get latencies below 20ms from most modern laptops these days using ASIO4all if all you're doing is monitoring a keyboard with samples (Self tested)

He's not exactly "monitoring". He wants to use the computer as a live instrument, played from a keyboard. I'd say 10ms delay between key-press and sound is the maximum acceptable, half that (or less) would be preferable.

Anyway, he's got a good audio interface, with ASIO drivers. ASIO4ALL is no longer under discussion.
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Re: Laptop... should I put samples on separate SSD?

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sat Mar 17, 2012 3:49 pm

Fealow wrote:Can you give a rough estimate of what latencies you find uncomfortable to play at? For example for most uses 30ms is perfectly acceptable and is practically inaudible while playing or listening.

You obviously aren't a keyboard player :-)
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Re: Laptop... should I put samples on separate SSD?

Postby starman9 » Sat Mar 17, 2012 4:34 pm

All this talk of latency makes me want to get on my soapbox. But I will just say that latency (or lack of it) is SO important to me... If, for example, I'm playing a fast clav part, I need to feel that clav RIGHT under my fingers. ANY latency immediately changes my... process. The more latency, the more I find myself resorting to familiar finger patterns and the more 'left brained' my playing becomes. Not good!

When the sound is right under the fingers, I find that my playing is much more spontaneous and that I can place each note EXACTLY where (I mean WHEN!) it needs to be. The lower the latency the more I groove! I've known some keyboard players who do seem able to immediately adjust to latency. But not me, more's the pity.

I own a great many keyboards and find that many of the newer ones feel late under the fingers... grrr. Of course none of this matters when playing most string parts etc. but can matter a lot for piano type parts etc. I do believe that 'playability' in general is massively overlooked in keyboard design.... So many patches LEAP up in volume at that next velocity layer (this is just rubbish sound programming...), or the velocity curve is wonky anyway, or the keys are short pivot making any real expressive control of black notes nigh on impossible or the processor can't keep up - causing big chords to spread etc etc.! Rant over!
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Re: Laptop... should I put samples on separate SSD?

Postby starman9 » Sat Mar 17, 2012 4:49 pm

But back to subject. Presumably, it is the case that in some circumstances, soft instruments will need to stream from the sample drive rather than play direct from RAM. And presumably, in these circumstances, having an SSD rather than a conventional drive helps avoid any possibility of glitches. Also, I'm guessing that the more RAM I have, the less chance there is of samples needing to stream from the drive in the first place. Are all these assumptions correct?
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Re: Laptop... should I put samples on separate SSD?

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sun Mar 18, 2012 1:28 am

starman999 wrote:But back to subject. Presumably, it is the case that in some circumstances, soft instruments will need to stream from the sample drive rather than play direct from RAM. And presumably, in these circumstances, having an SSD rather than a conventional drive helps avoid any possibility of glitches. Also, I'm guessing that the more RAM I have, the less chance there is of samples needing to stream from the drive in the first place. Are all these assumptions correct?

Yup. Particularly the one about having ample RAM installed. Do everything you can to avoid the possibility of needing on-demand streaming.
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Re: Laptop... should I put samples on separate SSD?

Postby Fealow » Sun Mar 18, 2012 2:30 am

I've been on hiatus from all this kind of stuff for a while due to working nights for the past year or so. I apologise if I'm a bit of base with my post's, but I'm just trying to be helpful.

I do play keyboard, but as mentioned above it has been a while... So I'm just talking from what I remember really.
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Re: Laptop... should I put samples on separate SSD?

Postby ef37a » Sun Mar 18, 2012 8:23 am

This Latency/playing business is complicated!
As I say, I am no player but Son plays keys and guitar (and clarinet and learning trumpet, F'im!).

He tells me that when running a guitar thru' something like GR2 the latency can be quite high. He finds he needs a quicker system to play keys but nothing hyper if he is JUST playing, i.e. laying down some chords.

Where he needs the lowest possible latency is when adding a keyboard part to an existing drum or click track as keeping time with even a tiny delay is very hard. However, a usb kbd (Evo Ekeys 49)into a 2496(into DIN MIDI) set to 256 samples and running Cubase LE6 on a 2x2.7G HP PC W7/64 seems to be good enough. He also finds Pianoteq to be even a wee bit faster, in fact we CAN run that at a glitch free 64samples but don't for "safety".

Dave,
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Re: Laptop... should I put samples on separate SSD?

Postby johnny h » Sun Mar 18, 2012 1:30 pm

starman999 wrote:Many thanks for the replies.

Yes I'm looking to use the laptop with an RME interface of some sort... I'm hoping I might be able to use my existing Multiface 2 with express card, in fact...

It's possible I might be using the computer live on tour, hence I need to achieve rock solid performance and reliability. Even a tiny extra edge offered by better disk performance is of interest.

Thanks for the comments re. the system drive, Exalted. Could there be a potential advantage in terms of long term reliability, at least, in using an SSD for system drive?

For the best performance use a PCI Expresscard which should work fine with the Multiface.

Get a large fast SSD which you can put the operating system and all your samples on. They are so quick that multiple drives are not necessary at all. Its really shocking how slow a PC feels on a hard drive when you have got used to a SSD. I'd really recommend them to anyone.

As for reliability - just get an external backup drive and keep it updated. Some SSD manufacturers are better than others too. OCZ are crap, samsung and intel are very good.
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Re: Laptop... should I put samples on separate SSD?

Postby starman9 » Sun Mar 18, 2012 11:43 pm

johnny h wrote: Get a large fast SSD which you can put the operating system and all your samples on. They are so quick that multiple drives are not necessary at all. Its really shocking how slow a PC feels on a hard drive when you have got used to a SSD. I'd really recommend them to anyone.


Ah that's interesting... If there's really nothing to be gained from putting samples onto a separate drive that makes me rather happy as I will save some pennies!
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Re: Laptop... should I put samples on separate SSD?

Postby ef37a » Sun Mar 18, 2012 11:59 pm

starman999 wrote:
johnny h wrote: Get a large fast SSD which you can put the operating system and all your samples on. They are so quick that multiple drives are not necessary at all. Its really shocking how slow a PC feels on a hard drive when you have got used to a SSD. I'd really recommend them to anyone.

Ah that's interesting... If there's really nothing to be gained from putting samples onto a separate drive that makes me rather happy as I will save some pennies!
Ah! The 750G WD drive in my Asus living room PC stated making a bit more noise than usual (never been THAT quiet!)
What is the smallest (and hence cheapest!) SSD I could get away with for XP pro, Cubase, Sonar X1, and a few other programs? My idea is that the noisy drive would just be a data dump and not run very often. It will be full of BBC iPlayer stuff so if it eventually croaks, no big deal.

Dave.
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Re: Laptop... should I put samples on separate SSD?

Postby Exalted Wombat » Mon Mar 19, 2012 2:06 am

ef37a wrote:Where he needs the lowest possible latency is when adding a keyboard part to an existing drum or click track as keeping time with even a tiny delay is very hard. However, a usb kbd (Evo Ekeys 49)into a 2496(into DIN MIDI) set to 256 samples and running Cubase LE6 on a 2x2.7G HP PC W7/64 seems to be good enough. He also finds Pianoteq to be even a wee bit faster, in fact we CAN run that at a glitch free 64samples but don't for "safety".

If it's a recording situation, you can tweak for fastest response and tolerate the odd glitch in sound. When mix-down time comes, set latency nice and high for safety. Any audio glitches you monitored while tracking won't have been recorded.

Live, it's different. The instrument MUST respond promptly, there MUSTN'T be audio glitches. And Murphy attends every gig! I'd be very wary of using a computer-based sample player live. If I had to, it would be over-specified and under-stressed as much as possible.
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Re: Laptop... should I put samples on separate SSD?

Postby johnny h » Mon Mar 19, 2012 2:41 am

ef37a wrote:
starman999 wrote:
johnny h wrote: Get a large fast SSD which you can put the operating system and all your samples on. They are so quick that multiple drives are not necessary at all. Its really shocking how slow a PC feels on a hard drive when you have got used to a SSD. I'd really recommend them to anyone.

Ah that's interesting... If there's really nothing to be gained from putting samples onto a separate drive that makes me rather happy as I will save some pennies!
Ah! The 750G WD drive in my Asus living room PC stated making a bit more noise than usual (never been THAT quiet!)
What is the smallest (and hence cheapest!) SSD I could get away with for XP pro, Cubase, Sonar X1, and a few other programs? My idea is that the noisy drive would just be a data dump and not run very often. It will be full of BBC iPlayer stuff so if it eventually croaks, no big deal.

Dave.

Depends on how many sample banks you want to run off it, but I think a 120gb could work fine. Noisy hard drives are signs of trouble though so don't keep anything on that old disk you can't live without...
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Re: Laptop... should I put samples on separate SSD?

Postby johnny h » Mon Mar 19, 2012 2:43 am

starman999 wrote:
johnny h wrote: Get a large fast SSD which you can put the operating system and all your samples on. They are so quick that multiple drives are not necessary at all. Its really shocking how slow a PC feels on a hard drive when you have got used to a SSD. I'd really recommend them to anyone.

Ah that's interesting... If there's really nothing to be gained from putting samples onto a separate drive that makes me rather happy as I will save some pennies!

Well it depends, a 500gb SSD won't save you too many pennies... But yeah with a SATA III interface and a modern fast SSD it will be super fast with no need to spread out the OS, samples and audios onto different drives.
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Re: Laptop... should I put samples on separate SSD?

Postby ef37a » Mon Mar 19, 2012 7:32 am

Please forgive my ignorance...

A swift Googe shows the 2.5cm drive to be far more common than the 3.5. Is the smaller drive a plug in replacement using standard SATA power and data leads or is there more freakin adaptors to buy?

My 750G drive is not old! It is in fact a replacement from Maplins of a WD drive that went completely T's U (think this is a Samsung actually)but I am well out of the warranty period now.

Anyway, just a whim, what do I need a blindingly fast PC in the living room for?!

Dave.
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Re: Laptop... should I put samples on separate SSD?

Postby johnny h » Mon Mar 19, 2012 1:11 pm

ef37a wrote:Please forgive my ignorance...

A swift Googe shows the 2.5cm drive to be far more common than the 3.5. Is the smaller drive a plug in replacement using standard SATA power and data leads or is there more freakin adaptors to buy?
No its the same connections. Some drives come with a little metal adapter to stop it rattling around.


My 750G drive is not old! It is in fact a replacement from Maplins of a WD drive that went completely T's U (think this is a Samsung actually)but I am well out of the warranty period now.

Anyway, just a whim, what do I need a blindingly fast PC in the living room for?!
That's up to you to answer.
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