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Solid state hard drive or not?

There are lots of things on the market for the computer world these days with the trend of Thunderbolt being included on motherboards and digital gear providing the connections.  I am a proud owner the Universal Audio Apollo Quad that supports the TB system if I wanted to dish out the $500 for the option card.

Every two years or sooner it seems I update my studio PC with the latest items to get better performance.  Today my system has 24gig Ram, with a Quad HT Processor providing the illusion of the system using 8 Cores of processing power.  The system is solid and pretty near flawless in and out of sessions using high demand of typical 24bit / 44.1 audio tracking. The UA Apollo Quad works great with its seamless latency for recording live drumming with playback it’s kind of awesome without the dreaded latency issues.

Maxing out a PC system is easy when using processor eating plugs like Drumagog,  Slate Digital, BFD and the UA Plugin line. Nothing could be worse than the pop up window from UAD with the “One or more of your plugins has been disabled” message.  Frustration is not even the word that comes to mind at that time.

Thunderbolt seemed like a must and required a motherboard upgrade maybe $400+, and the Thunderbolt option card for the Apollo $500 to eliminate those messages. My concern though, would this do away with these types of error messages? or would doing this upgrade still act no different than being hooked up to my  trusty Firewire800 card.

Solid State Drives have really been a direction I wanted to take at some point. I inquired to my PC guy, who is one of the best I have dealt with over the years.  He explained going SSD would make my PC faster and going RAID0 would increase speed even more.  So I decided to take the plunge and go SSD while removing my Sata drives and reformatting from scratch.

Once I had the system up and running with all my day to day software and plugins installed, I loaded a 29 audio file. The file contained one of my projects that featured Kenny Aronoff on the drums that was taxing on my previous setup. I took the hard road first to see where the limits were and the project had 8 UA plugs, 6 Waves plugs, 2 Slate Digital, 2 Fabfilter and a couple others. The latency was set to 64mm sec which is really fast at the 24bit /44.1setup.  To make things interesting, I also loaded 29 more audio tracks and armed them for recording.  I remembered feeling like a mad scientist working on the creation of a new beast. Before hitting record I also decided to arm for automation on the existing 29 tracks and surely this would cause all kinds of grief.

To recap, the test with 64 tracks of which were 29 audio tracks, another 29 blank audio tracks in record mode, up to 20 plugs, 64mm sec super low insane latency, 29 tracks armed with automation all going to 9 buss and then all output to the Main Buss.  So I hit record and the DAW went into playback and record motion. I noticed the CPU power was showing 14% of use while previously it was 3 times higher. The system was running stable and dealing with the load I was dishing. I then started throwing fades in and out on random channels watching the system record the automation moves also.  Amazed at the setup I had to do a little dance in the studio because of the money I just saved by not needing to go the Thunderbolt route.

In conclusion, going Solid State Drive in RAID0 makes one heck of a difference to anyone who needs more power. I can honestly say my system is 50% faster and so quiet which is another great bonus of going SSD.

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