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Top 5 External A/V-Rated Hard Drives for Audio Recording

written by: Sam Blanchard•edited by: Amy Carson•updated: 10/29/2010

Choosing the right hard drive for recording audio is almost as important as choosing the right microphone. Here are some of the favorite external hard drives for audio recording among industry pros.

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    Why An External Hard Drive?

    The world of sound recording has become severely condensed, wrapped up in the package of consumer audio products. With some decent software, a mic, and an analogue to digital interface one could instantly set up their own project studio. One crucial element always seems to be overlooked, and that’s a good external hard drive. External hard drives for audio recording are essential to any recording studio. As sound files grow larger, it becomes necessary to store and operate these files using a third party piece of gear. Computers are equipped with only so much storage space, and no matter how many gigs of ram you have, the accumulation of big sound files will surely slow down your machine.

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    What Makes a "Good" Drive?

    First, it must be understood that if you're working with large amounts of digital information, your hard drive must be A/V-rated. This means that the drive is suited specifically for audio and video. While there is currently no industry standard for what constitutes an A/V-rated drive, in short it largely has to do with how quickly the drive can “keep up" with the data transfer rate of the software you’re running. Simply stated, if your hard drive is slower than your program it’s likely you don’t have an A/V-rated hard drive. Secondly, it’s important to have a hard drive with multiple interfaces — meaning connection options to your computer. Without a doubt, Firewire must be one of them. Firewire is a fast connection. And as stated earlier, speed is key. Having multiple interfaces is convenient when you’re moving around a lot, as not all computers will have the exact same ports.

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    LaCie d2 Quadra

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    LaCie d2 Quadra 

    The d2 Quadra is a good option for its multiple interfaces — eSATA, Firewire 400, Firewire 800, and USB 2.0. Comes in 500 Gig, 1Terabyte, 1.5 Terabyte, and 2 Terabyte options. That's a lot of storage! The d2 Quadra has an acceptable transfer rate at 3Gbits, but gets points off for clunkiness with an external power supply.

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    Iomega UltraMax

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    Iomega UltraMax 

    Iomega's UltraMax is a viable option - the 500 Gig boasting USB 2.0 and Firewire 400 interfaces, and the 1Terebyte with additional Firewire 800 and eSATA. Iomega has been a reliable brand within the recording industry for years, recommended by top audio professionals. A favorite among Mac users, the drive can also be formatted for PC. The UltraMax has a sleek — and quiet — design but is also at the mercy of an external power supply.

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    G Tech's "G Drive"

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    G Drive 

    Another favorite among industry professionals is G Tech’s G Drive. A built-in cooling system and a sleek design make it an excellent desktop storage disk. Equipped with Firewire 400 and 800, eSATA, and USB, it can plug into just about any system. The G Drive also requires an external power supply, however G’s are proven to have long life spans.

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    Glyph GT 050Q

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    A fantastic choice, the Glyph GT 050 Q is an independent spirit unbound by an external power supply, making this a viable portable or desktop drive. Proven to last longer than most, Glyph drives have an excellent reputation within the audio industry. This unit has Firewire 400 and 800, eSATA, and USB interfaces, as well as a built-in cooling fan (the fan does, however, make a bit of noise). You can get the GT 050 Q in 250 Gig, 500 Gig, or 1 Terabyte variations. Glyph GT 050 Q 

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    Rocstor EAGLEROC E9

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    EAGLEROC E9 A powerhouse in the audio industry, Rocstor drives have an infallible reputation for withstanding the test of time. The EAGLEROC E9 is easy on the eyes with varying color options, but is also equipped with Firewire 400, Firewire 800, and USB interfaces. Though it’s tied to the external power supply it’s built for the road, with an integrated “chamber" designed to absorb bumps and accidental drops. It is also an amazingly quiet unit.