You are here

ADSG JAZ Drive & Media

Removable Media By Paul White
Published January 1999

Adsg JAZ Drive and Media

Direct‑to‑disk recording has many advantages, but cost‑effective and low‑cost backup is not one of them! However, removable drives are getting cheaper and larger in capacity, to the extent that they are already rivalling two‑inch tape in terms of cost per track minute. The 1Gb Jaz removable media drive from Iomega has become popular for hard disk audio, as it is fast enough for small‑to‑medium scale multitrack recording and the cartridges, while not exactly cheap as an archivable media, are reasonably affordable. Recently, a new 2Gb Jaz drive has come onto the market, offering backwards compatibility with the 1Gb media while being fast enough to handle around 16 tracks of simultaneous audio playback. The professional market, however, is understandably concerned about reliability — and that's where ADSG comes into the picture.

ADSG, or the Advanced Digital Systems Group to give it its full title, is an R&D facility belonging to Sony Pictures that markets its own professional drive and media products. Having seen the Jaz drive, they felt that it could be adapted to professional work, and the outcome is that Iomega now manufacture for ADSG a version of their drive fitted with a special version of firmware, then tested for 48 hours. ADSG then go on to test the drives for a further 24 hours continuously under the control of specially developed software that really puts the drive through its paces. ADSG have also devised a stringent 48‑hour media test that checks each cartridge through multiple read/write/verify cycles in nine different drives, so as to ensure compatibility when media is moved from one drive to another. Product that passes the test gets the ADSG badge, but as you'd expect from this additional testing, the price is a little higher than the standard Iomega product. However, this only puts around 10 percent on the drive cost, and the media is essentially the same price as off‑the‑shelf Jaz media.

On paper, the drive looks reasonably fast, but still not as fast as even a fairly standard fixed drive. The relevant figures are: Transfer rate 8.7 Mb/S max, 7.35 Mb/S average and 20Mb/S burst rate. The seek time is 10mS on read and 12mS on write with an access time of 15.5mS. A number of clients who also use the drive with Pro Tools and Dreamhire report that the drive will handle 16 tracks of simultaneous editing. Certainly I managed to confirm this using my own Pro Tools system, though drive fragmentation and complex edits may reduce this number in real‑life applications.

It's rather too early to say if the 2Gb Jaz drive will become an 'industry standard' means of interchanging audio files, but in the short‑to‑medium term, it seems to have a lot going for it. Jaz drives have turned out to be rather more reliable than was initially expected, and having 2Gb available in the same format cartridge is very attractive. If paying 10 percent more for the drives secures a properly tested piece of hardware that's been optimised for audio/video applications, then it has to be worth it.