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Which drive?

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Which drive?

Postby saltybrian » Tue Mar 30, 2021 12:48 pm

Hi all,

I'm trying to choose a couple of external drives for an upcoming project, and am completely bewildered by the choice. If anyone could offer any thoughts, especially a specific example / link to something available fairly quickly in the UK, that would be fantastic..

The project is audio recordings up to 20 simultaneous tracks to accompany film for the (online) 2021 edition of our local festival.

I'm using a Soundcraft UI24r with my 2011 MB Pro and Logic Pro X.

I plan to record 1) directly into Logic with an external drive 2) straight from the UI24r to an external drive. Belt and braces.

I understand both need to be externally powered for acceptable performance, but aside from that am not sure where to start.

Any help greatly appreciated
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Re: Which drive?

Postby uselessoldman » Tue Mar 30, 2021 1:15 pm

Not really that difficult, depends on your system for a start. You have Thunderbolt and USB and then you have the actual size and storage capacity. Thunderbolt should be faster than USB and just buy one that fits your budget for size.

For example, I bought a USB 8Tb from Currys cos it was cheap at the time, about £120. I don't have Thunderbolt so it had to be USB, I didn't need 8Tb for external storage but I did need it for a desktop/tower system, SO I bought the 8Tb took the drive out and put a smaller one in and reused the 8Tb where it was better suited.
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Re: Which drive?

Postby BJG145 » Tue Mar 30, 2021 2:10 pm

^^

There's capacity, interface type, and drive type. I'd have thought you'd want a faster SSD for recording. ("Solid state", as opposed to the older/traditional "spinning" type.)

I don't use Macs, but it sounds like Thunderbolt will be the fastest interface on yours. I'd check to see if you have Thunderbolt 1 or 2, then just look on Amazon for eg Thunderbolt SSD 1TB or something depending on budget.

Depending on storage requirements, you might consider a fast smaller drive for recording and a large slower one for archiving.
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Re: Which drive?

Postby Luke W » Tue Mar 30, 2021 2:36 pm

I'd vote for an SSD as well. Bandwidth isn't going to be a problem with track count of around 20, but I'd still be happier with the extra durability of a drive with no moving parts, especially on location.

The 2011 MBP gives you the choice of USB2, FireWire 800, or Thunderbolt 1, I'd probably go for USB personally. FW and Thunderbolt 1 devices are becoming less and less common now, and are usually more expensive.
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Re: Which drive?

Postby James Perrett » Tue Mar 30, 2021 2:46 pm

As far as the UI24r is concerned, go for whatever Soundcraft recommend. Some of these digital mixers are fairly fussy about which drives they will work with. I had a similar job involving an A&H Qu mixer and found that even different capacity drives in the same series had different levels of success according to the A&H forum. I ended up using a Western Digital Elements 500GB drive which worked well.

For computer based live recording I always use the internal drive - most drives made in the last 15 years should be able to handle 20 tracks. I just keep the buffer size high.
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Re: Which drive?

Postby Wonks » Tue Mar 30, 2021 2:50 pm

The Soundcraft need a USB3 drive to record directly with, so I'd suggest getting two the same. I know people who have suffered occasional dropouts with external hard drives in loud environments, so would certainly get SSDs.
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Re: Which drive?

Postby saltybrian » Tue Mar 30, 2021 2:52 pm

Thanks everyone.

So, looks like the smart money is on USB SSD.

I think I'm right in saying that 500gb will get me 50hrs recording 20 tracks at 24bit/48khz? That will be ample space for this project and plenty besides.

Is there much difference from brand to brand? I'm seeing Samsung, Seagate, Sandisk all coming in around £70 for a 500gb USB SSD.

Will I need a powered hub to run this off the Macbook as well? That is the advice I'm seeing elsewhere for recording direct from the UI24r, (I would probably get another SSD the same for that purpose)
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Re: Which drive?

Postby flozzi001 » Tue Mar 30, 2021 2:56 pm

It is a tricky question, due to your old Laptop. USB 2.0 is not really an option it is to slow at least when you want to record directly to it. Thunderbolt would work, but you have Thunderbolt 1, I think.
So, for a recording session directly to your external drive, I think you can’t get hold of something which is reliable enough.
You can try to get a TB3 drive and find an Adapter from TB3 to TB2. Technically it should be able to work but never was intended to. Second option would be to get a TB2 to USB 3 adapter and then use a normal USB 3 SSD to record on. But same as before after a quick search I didn’t find any which I would trust on.
I don’t know any TB1 or TB2 which are for sale right now. So its also not an option.
I guess the safest and cheapest way to solve your issue would be to record to your internal drive and then copy it over to an external one when you are finished. For the future maybe try to get hold of a Laptop which at least has USB3.
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Re: Which drive?

Postby flozzi001 » Tue Mar 30, 2021 3:00 pm

No, you don’t need to get a powered hub. SSDs don’t need much power, your USB can easily provide that. Samsung T5 or the newer T7 is an option.
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Re: Which drive?

Postby Luke W » Tue Mar 30, 2021 3:18 pm

flozzi001 wrote:I guess the safest and cheapest way to solve your issue would be to record to your internal drive and then copy it over to an external one when you are finished.

Having witnessed a MacBook Pro of a similar age spitting its dummy out during a live show whilst recording to the internal drive, I'd be a little more cautious myself. :lol:

Not saying it won't work, but I have seen more errors whilst recording to system drives than I have dedicated/externals of all sorts of varieties.
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Re: Which drive?

Postby ef37a » Tue Mar 30, 2021 8:07 pm

Or! Pickup a cheap S/H Win laptop and a USB 3.0 external SSD? Even my 8yr old HP g6, i3, 8G ram has one USB 3.0 port and would run 20 tracks without breaking a sweat. Slap on a copy of Reaper for the duration.

Belt, braces AND piece of string!

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Re: Which drive?

Postby James Perrett » Tue Mar 30, 2021 8:16 pm

ef37a wrote:Or! Pickup a cheap S/H Win laptop and a USB 3.0 external SSD? Even my 8yr old HP g6, i3, 8G ram has one USB 3.0 port and would run 20 tracks without breaking a sweat. Slap on a copy of Reaper for the duration.

Same goes for my ancient 16 year old Acer laptop - no problems recording 24 tracks to the internal disk for extended periods using Reaper - often in loud environments.
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Re: Which drive?

Postby saltybrian » Tue Mar 30, 2021 10:16 pm

Thanks again all. The old Macbook has served me well thus far. I was going to retire it a few years ago but got a new SSD for it instead and it handles what I throw at it. That hasn't been quite up to the level of what I'm proposing to use it for over the next month though, so I will maybe try a dry run at the end of this week just to see if it can still manage.

As per Luke's experience, the original internal drive wasn't up to much so I have been recording externally to a 5400rpm hard drive for years. It's getting fairly full and fairly old so thought it best to replace. Maybe the new internal SSD would cut it, but I think I'll try a dedicated external one first.
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Re: Which drive?

Postby saltybrian » Tue Mar 30, 2021 10:26 pm

Come to think, I've omitted a crucial piece of info in that last post:

the Soundcraft interface is untested with anything more than 6 channels of audio. Up until a few weeks ago I've been recording with an old MOTU 8pre, both the interface and HDD connected via Firewire.

I take it then, that USB could be a significant backwards step compared to that setup?
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Re: Which drive?

Postby flozzi001 » Tue Mar 30, 2021 11:52 pm

Dont worry too much about.
Like you said the best thing which you could do, is a test run and afterwards check if you got any issues with artifacts or dropouts.
If you record 22 tracks, 24bit 48kHz you have a bit rate of 25mbps
USB 2 is capable of 480 mbps minus headroom so let’s say 320mbps.
So around 10 times more than you need….
Okay okay it is becoming unnecessarily technical, what I want to say in theory you should be fine.

The issue with USB though, it is not intended for anything time critical.
Because of this reason Firewire and now Thunderbolt is actually much more preferred for audio interface and gives you a much lower latency than USB.

There is one solution though to get around this time critical problem: Just throw a massive amount of Headroom on your application and hope for the best. This is the reason why everyone is using USB 3 for this kind of application instead of USB 2, not because it is necessary from the data rate.
Also because of this I recommended the internal storage over the external, because SATA is much more reliable than USB.
Although the point that it is not the best idea to record to the same drive as the OS is also true and even more valid if there are known issues with the MBP

I also don’t know how Reaper or the DAW which you are using is handling it, if it has issues with writing to the drive. It is possible that it is giving you a write error but continuing recording which would be audible like crackling or dropout, it is possible that it writes to RAM during the issue and then writing it out clean to drive, or it is possible that the DAW completely stops recording.

So really the only way to find out if it is going to work, is like you said giving it a test shot.

Also I saw that can record directly to USB too, if this is possible simultaneously with the DAW output put there also a USB Stick and record it simultaneously Just in case something might fail.

It is just my experience, I definitely didn’t do much live recordings but when I did, I always was lucky enough that something with my recording happened. One Windows Update that can’t be post boned, or a DAW crashed exactly in this situation, when before it never happened, or got a blue screen etc. therefore I tend to at least record the master redundant (with two different recording methods).
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