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USB 2.0 External Drives bad for audio?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by chriscali, Oct 23, 2004.

  1. chriscali

    chriscali Guest

    I was having a problem chaining my firewire 400 drive through my metric halo and into my mac. I discovered that since firewire 400 is only half-duplex, that was causing the problem (when the computer tried to write the data to the drive, it had to stop the incoming audio..Duh). So I bought a USB drive so that i could have the IO and drive on seperate buses. Somebody told met hat USB drives are bad for audio (grounding problems?). Has anybody every heard/experienced this? A/B'd a firewire drive versus a USB drive?

    Thanks,
    Chris
     
  2. kinetic

    kinetic Guest

    USB drives are great for backup and archiving, not so great for streaming audio realtime. Never heard of technical issues like bad grounding with these drives. I would imagine that sort of problem would affect any performance, not just relating to audio. I don't think there is any truth in the proposition.
     
  3. djfresha

    djfresha Guest

    I have recently bought a USB 2.0 external drive, witha Maxtor 160Gb Harddrive, souley to be used for audio projects (Cubase / Nuendo) as a faster drive to work from. The drive is fine itself, the grounding problem I have though is a pain, it causes a buzzing in my centre speaker only using my Audigy soundcard and 7.1 speakers. All otehr speakers are fine bar this one - even if i don't connect the USB socket to the PC and just touch parts of the rear casing metal with the USB lead, the buzzing still occurs - not sure if this is down to the lead that has come supplied with my external case, or if the PSU with the USB is causing the issue, doubtful the latter as I can power up my drive and no interference occurs - anyone know about grounding an external casing? The buzzing sounds similar to a record deck not having the earth connected (low 'hum'), but i cannot understand why it is occuring through my centre speaker only - maybe something to do with the signal being sent is using the line 3 (digital) socket on soundcard? Any ideas anyone? would be greatly appreciated, as searching down articles regarding this is pretty damn hard.
     
  4. djfresha

    djfresha Guest

    Another quick finding to those having USB drive problems with Mac/PC file transfer & saving....

    Yesterday I initialised and partitioned my 160Gb harddrive (in a USB housing) on an XP platform, to the full 160Gb (152.xGb, usually common to lose a few Gb in the process anyway). Now after initialising it, I USB'd the drive onto the MacOSX system. A very nice looking USB-drive icon appears. All good :) . Now i opened the drive, also all good, size of the drive 152Gb as indicated on Windows. Now when i dragged a file onto the new drive window on the Mac, a 'no-go' symbol appeared next to the file i wanted to copy :evil: . The hard-drive is write protected, according to the Mac, but Windows will write to it regardless. So I opened the Mac (after shutting down) and took my harddrive out of my USB casing, whacked it into the Mac on the IDE lead as a slave drive, re-booted and re-partitioned on the Mac instead, but made a few partitions to see which would work with Windows. I used all the format options, and found that Windows would not mount the drive correctly at all, stated that there were no new partitions, just one 'unallocated' partition.. :evil: which made me pull my hair out. 3 hours I was trying it for, all different methods but still no joy :( . So i left the studio, and decided to scour the net for an answer. :!: :!: :!: Lo and behold I may have found one now. Its apparently all down to the format type of the partitions on XP, and the size of the partition too. MAC systems don't get on with the NTFS format, they can read from it, but can't write to it. But... MAC systems allegedly DO work with FAT32 drives / partitions for read&writing... but (another but :roll: ) to format at FAT32, the partition CANNOT be any larger than 32Gb. If it is bigger, Windows takes over and only lets you format as NTFS. This is how all the USB Flash mem sticks work (on FAT32), so Mac and PC can read them. I'm going to try and format my USB Flash mem stick as NTFS (its FAT32 at the mo) to see if I then get the "can't write to drive" issue again from the Mac to USB stick. If so, then I'm going to repartition my drive (again!!) to have 2x 32Gb FAT32 partitions (for my AUDIO files and EDITS, so I can then save files from a MAC to use on a PC and vice versa), and 2x 50Gb NTFS partitions (for my SOUNDBANKS and MISC files as a library source when on MAC only, but PC will let me edit). I do own a PC at home, and use MACs at a studio, all with cross-platform software, so hopefully I can now save my AUDIO tracks on PC, and edit them at the Studio on the MAC, save the new files and extra Audio files to my FAT32 partition!! Will keep all posted to see if this works fine... fingers crossed!! :wink:
     
  5. djfresha

    djfresha Guest

    YAY!! SUCCESS!! with the MAC/PC multi-partition

    After Wednesday's madness of pulling the Mac apart and playing around with my harddrive, I can now say I've successfullt sorted out the multi-reading drive. Here's how to do it....

    Get your USB 2.0 casing & harddrive partitioned using a PC: All those of you who have or want a drive bigger than 137Gb then you'll have to partition it using a RAID PCI card, unless your motherboard can support larger that 137Gb drives (highly unlikely, but maybe someone has a motherboard that can do it?). I partitioned my 160Gb / 7200 rpm* harddrive as 2x 32Gb partitions formatted as FAT32, then 2x 49Gb(approx, was the remainder of the drive divided by two) formatted as NTFS. A MAC cannot format or partition a harddrive using 2 indexing methods - it just wont do it!! (wouldnt with me on OSX anyway). Once all done take this into consideration: You can write to any of the partitions using a PC (best to make sure you have NT/Me/XP, but imagine '98 should work ok too). On a MAC however you can read and write to FAT32 partitions ONLY!!, and only read from an NTFS drive. This may be beneficial if you use soundbanks / sample libraries on the NTFS drives and don't want to accidently kill or erase files, the MAC simply wont let you edit them - locks the drive. PC can do whatever they want.

    In regards to speed, the USB drive is basically a dark bit of kit, I've just installed the BFD Drums Plugin for Nuendo / Cubase, with the sounds installed on the USB harddrive. The plugin wanted to know the location of the default drumkit, so I pointed it to the correct partition I installed it too (only needs to do this the once). Now when I play the BFD with MIDI controller / keyboard, the USB drive lights up and runs in all its glory, sending data superfast to the plugin and superbly - on my 2.5GHz Celeron / 1.5GHz RAM system, my latency in Nuendo is using an ASIO driver with my Audigy card - set at 40ms average for input, set a decent enough quantize/record snap, and omg!! Runs sweet as!! Most impressed. Obviously while i was using the plugin with a second VST instrument, Nuendo was saying 'oi..son... don't stress me out...' at about 50% (that was using the BFD All setup, so not surprised really), but all i would have done is 'freeze' the BFD track so it writes an audio to, yes youguessed it, the USB drive, so it would free up loads of processor, and the disk processing is minimal, becasue they send so quick!! Hope this helps out with anyone who's considering the USB option, I can't fault it yet, but it is early days, hopefully I won't have any complications later!! :lol:

    Still no joy on the centre-speaker hum when the USB harddrive is added, maybe it's not too much of a problem if i'm only doing stereo work, I'll just disconnect that one speaker (a pain i know - if anyone has a theory then by all means let me know!!)

    Peace n out

    * NOTE: for best performance, make sure your drive runs really quick, the faster the better for audio. Apparently if you make partitions, the 1st partition is best for audio 'pooling'(think i read it in a Computer Music mag somewhere), which is what ive done, seems to run really good so far.
     
  6. djfresha

    djfresha Guest

    New issue... check all your connectors!!

    Ok i've managed to sort out my files mixed down on my PC at home, saved all the files using my external via the USB. Take it all over to the studio where the MACs are. Plug-in, all good, OSX detects the files, edits & mixed down audio. Open Cubase SE - all good. Open the edit file and tell the system where all my files are on the external. All good. Now i press play.... and the External hard-drive whirrs away... the performance level increases on the Disk percentile meter... then it runs over! Dag-namit!! It took me 15-20 mins to copy 1Gb of info from the USB drive via my 2.0 lead. So why's it taking so long? After investigating all the MAC details on http://www.apple.com and a few googles later, I find that earlier G4s/G3s only have USB1.1 sockets!! So i'd advise ANYONE who's working with this sort of medium to get on eBay and find some PC/MAC USB 2.0 PCI cards (ALi make some PC/MAC ones) - i bought two just now from someone for £16 incl the postage!! Just some more friendly advise (oh and the track sounded HEAVY on the studio setup in the end!!)
     
  7. djfresha

    djfresha Guest

    Solving the 'hummmmm...' (hopefully)

    Ok, quick and easy way to solve the ground 'hum' coming of the USB Enclosure (if you find you have one in your system...)

    My advice.... sell old case with the 5pin power unit connection, buy either an I-Buddie (not cheap) or one with a straight DC single pin (like mains adapter) socket. I'm awaiting a new unit in the post, since I get the 'humm..' off my drive in the studio too. Couldn't test another PSU since no one else there has the same type of socket (I-Buddie uses a 4pin and has no grounding problems)... let you know how I get on...
     
  8. djfresha

    djfresha Guest

    ... the saga continues....

    I-Buddie all the way people - you don't get any grounding issues at all with this drive, but I have been getting a couple of disk errors when i use on mac / pc - my drive has 4x partitions (think i mentioned before) - 2x 32Gb FAT32 drives, 2x50Gb(ish) NTFS drives. The last partition is the one i'm having issues with - at home using my USB2 socket the pc spots that i have a mass amount of files & 5x folders - on mac / another pc it spots only 1x folder and a zipped file. What a pain in the ass!! So i'm going to investigate this issue, see what the problem is asap. Might merge the two NTFS drives together, better ghost the drive since i filled up 28Gb on one of these in the first week of owning the drive!! Second issue... there's a fan installed on the I-buddie casing - all good, bar its noisier than my PC fan!! FFS!! never ends!! - found a silent fan from http://www.pcsilent.de for about £15: its a 25mm fan, super small and super quiet!! - modded my case now so ultra silent as well as staying cool as before!! check them out to get more silent fans, also try out http://www.quietpc.com for sound absorbsion kits for your pc - will muffle evem more noise in yur unit so you can get even quieter running pc!!! will get my case sound kit after xmas now, gotta please my hunny with lots of gifts!! Well a couple anyway lol

    If im not back before happy xmas all & new year!!
     

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