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Using a separate hard drive for recording audio: is this still necessary?

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  • Using a separate hard drive for recording audio: is this still necessary?

    Based on reading a few manuals I was under the impression that you still needed a separate hard drive for your audio if you wanted a nice, stable PC recording setup, but then I read this article:

    http://www.rainrecording.com/pro/hardware/two-drives-for-audio/

    and if what he's saying there is correct, the only reason you really need it these days is to avoid your audio data becoming fragmented as a result of running other programs on the PC, so what I'm wondering is: assuming that I had a PC that was solely dedicated to recording Audio would there really be any benefit in having an extra drive for the Audio data?

    Also, there's a quote at the end of that article:

    Digidesign do not support recording audio onto the OS drive, neither do they support the use of RAID configurations - although in our testing both these options work fine.


    ...just to get this straight, is he saying that you have to have a separate drive for your audio if you're running Pro tools, or is it only if you're recording at the higher sampling rates/bit depths?

  • #2
    He's saying you don't NEED to use another drive, and Pro Tools (from Digidesign) will work without another drive, but they don't "support" it.

    I personally highly recommend it, but it depends on a lot of things... Hard Drive Speed, PC Specifications, Recording Software etc.

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    • #3
      He's saying you don't NEED to use another drive, and Pro Tools (from Digidesign) will work without another drive, but they don't "support" it.


      You mean they won't give you any technical support unless you have your audio on a separate Hard drive?

      I personally highly recommend it, but it depends on a lot of things... Hard Drive Speed, PC Specifications, Recording Software etc.


      Well I thought that might be the case - that you might be able to get away with it if you had enough RAM/CPU power and didn't use too many tracks.

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      • #4
        While I don't condone it I have been doing it myself for about a year now. I picked up a decent new computer when I bought my FP10 that had a 160 g SATA drive. I meant to get another drive but just ended up using it as is. I record 8 tracks at a time and play back over 24 with Cubase at 24/48 and have had zero problems. When I go to defrag it always returns a not required. I do burn DVD's of backup pretty often as running only one drive is living dangerous when it comes to reliability.

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        • #5
          Also a good idea to have a separate hard drive that is usb or similar, so you can take your sessions elsewhere with all of the relevant data. I.e. going to another studio to record a part you couldn't at the first one, or to do a mix somewhere else or whatever really..

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          • #6
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            • #7
              I think it's still necessary. I don't think it has to do with fragmentation so much as data from from your DAW program and your OS trying to spin off the same drive as the audio you're trying to play back. Ideally, if you use a lot of sample-based soft synths these should also be on yet another drive.

              I would almost bet money that the fact that your projects have not exceeded the 24 track ballpark is the reason that you haven't run into problems yet. It's when you get up into the 40's and 50's that you start to appreciate having separate drives.

              Also, keep in mind that in your current setup, a hard drive crash (when it happens) will take down everything that's on that drive.
              "wouldn't it be more of an act of rebellion if you didn't spend so much time buying blue hair dye and going out to get punky clothes? it seems so petty. stop me if I'm being offensive. you wanna be an individual, right? you look like you're wearing a uniform. you look like a punk. that's not rebellion. that's fashion."

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              • #8
                Also a good idea to have a separate hard drive that is usb or similar, so you can take your sessions elsewhere with all of the relevant data. I.e. going to another studio to record a part you couldn't at the first one, or to do a mix somewhere else or whatever really..


                You do NOT want to be using USB if you're playing back or tracking with an external. Firewire is definitely the only plug-and-play bus I would trust for this application. The large majority of USB 2.0 externals out there are made for consumer archiving purposes. In a high-performance professional situation where lots of data is going both ways, the inherent limitations of the USB bus architecture will be a problem. Trust
                "wouldn't it be more of an act of rebellion if you didn't spend so much time buying blue hair dye and going out to get punky clothes? it seems so petty. stop me if I'm being offensive. you wanna be an individual, right? you look like you're wearing a uniform. you look like a punk. that's not rebellion. that's fashion."

                - slc punk

                "No other formula past or present has been as successful with lesser capital investment risks."

                -HKSBlade1

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                • #9
                  Safety and speed are the two key issues. Drives are cheap and theres no reason not to be running a few. Even if you partition large drives its safer than a single. If the OS crashes the other positions will usually remain intact.
                  Plus with XP it only takes a few minuites to partition a drive. It used to require a reformat and reinstal of the entire OS to set up partitions, but you can do it any time you want with XP and not mess anything up. Just defrag ahead of time.

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                  • #10
                    Yes, a 2nd hard drive is still necessary for top performance.Internal is the best option for trouble-free best performance.

                    An external USB drive is not recommended for this application.

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                    • #11
                      for stability, its better to have at least 2 drive. Windows uses virtual memory on disk. You could set your windows to use vmem just on your sistem drive, and leave the other drive. (right click on mycomputer -- select property -- and click performance) The other drive can be used exclusively for project data, so when your DAW software scratches it for playback or record, the hdd head doesn't have to cover too wide area of the disk (which will happen if windows make them work for reading/writing DAW data and virtual memory data at the same time). If you use lots of sound module (VSTs plugin), it will increases vmem allocation. If you dont have big enough physical memory (RAM) then windows will store everything in the vmem. So, before thinking about second hard drive, might be better considering larger RAM.
                      Also, if you have second drive, better to make it two partition. Make first partition (first partition will be made closer to inner cylinder of the disk) enough just for one project -- the one you working on, and the other less-imediate project on the second partition. After working with that one project, store it back to the second partition, format the first partition, and move your next project (from the second partition) to it. That way you will always free from the time consuming process of fragmentation. Hope this help.

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                      • #12
                        To explain about USB vs Firewire -- USB never quite reaches it's maximum throughput, actually only 50% give or take, of it. Firewire reaches maybe 95-97% from what I've read.
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