Computers now play an integral part in music production; for many applications, additional hard disk storage is no longer a luxury, but an essential. Look in any computer mag and you'll see any number of ads for disk drives, but not all of them are ideal for musical applications. Audio recording places tough demands on disk seek and access time, as well as on data throughput rate, and some drives simply can't cut it. And in the case of those that can, you might find that the fan is too noisy for studio use.
Music House Data Products' answer is Power Master, a 1U, dual‑drive unit that can be fitted with one or two drives, each with independent connections. You could opt for a Syquest drive in one side to service your sampler, and a 1Gb hard drive in the other for your hard disk recording needs. Alternatively, you could specify a CD‑ROM drive, or one of the new TEAC Stor removable hard drive systems, for which Music House Data Products are sole UK agents. Both drives run from a common voltage‑sensing power supply (runs quite happily all over the world), which helps keep the cost down, and the fan cooling system has been designed to produce as little noise as possible.
The review model contained a Syquest 44Mb drive in one side and a 1.2Gb drive in the other. No formatting software is provided, because hard disk recorders often work better with specialist formatting software. I formatted the big drive using Silver Lining (a formatting program recommended by Digidesign), and set about giving it a good thrashing with my Sound Tools system. In comparison with other drives in my studio, the Power Master was surprisingly quiet, though the designer told me that he is trying to improve on this still further. I ran a complex Sound Tools session without any disk or software errors; this can't always be said of my current drive, which is formatted with exactly the same software.
The Syquest Drive was a standard 44Mb model with a SCSI interface, which meant it could be used with any of the current SCSI‑equipped samplers, or with a computer for conventional data storage.
I was initially sceptical of the idea of putting two drives in one case, because you don't always want your drives in the same place, but if you can rearrange your system to accommodate this arrangement, the saving in space, cabling and fan noise is most welcome. The Power Master hardware is nicely styled, and for users wanting to use two drives, the price is very competitive. The cost is still fairly competitive if you only need one drive, but with a unit like the one I had for review, you have the option to add the second one later if you need it. Music House Data Products are also going to great lengths to offer hard drives that they know are suitable for hard disk recording, which is reassuring. Paul White