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Ask, December 2011

12/1/2011

Solid-state drives realize the potential and promise of RAM recording—but the price of admission means they''re not for everyone.

Solid-state drives realize the potential and promise of RAM recording—but the price of admission means they''re not for everyone.

I''ve been hearing a lot about the advantages of solid-state drives for audio, but their high cost is making me think twice (ten times, actually). Is it really worth putting some bucks into replacing my hard drives (laptop and/or studio) and going SSD?
Donna Johnson-Smith
San Diego, CA
VIA EMAIL

It depends. SSDs are quiet, fast, reliable, and—as you''ve already found out—expensive. For laptops, they''re welcome because of their resistance to mechanical shocks, along with reduced heat and lighter weight. However, you won''t extend battery life much because 2.5" drives draw less current than SSDs when idling, which they''re doing most of the time. And if you need a really high-capacity drive, it will probably cost more than the rest of the laptop.

For your studio, consider scaling a desktop computer down to two SSDs using MLC (Multi-Level Cell) technology—one for the operating system, and one for a music/recording data drive. If you have large sample, loop, or virtual instrument libraries, use a single, high-capacity, standard hard drive to hold them. Then, keep some conventional hard drives around to back up your SSD data drive, image your operating system drive, and archive projects. (Note that MLC SSD drives are much less expensive than Single Level Cell drives, and while considered somewhat less reliable, we''re recording music—not storing sensitive military data).

You can always play the waiting game and wait for SSD prices to fall, but SSDs offer enough advantages now that for many, the current admission price is worth it.
—The Editors

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