12 Home Studio Necessities #7 – External/Dedicated Hard Drive


This is a concept that has been a little fuzzy for a lot of home studio owners. Whenever you’re getting into multi-track recording, it’s important to have a dedicated hard drive for streaming all your audio.

What do you mean dedicated?

Recording music to a computer can be a pretty intense process, especially when you start recording and playing back ten or twenty individual tracks of music or more. Each of those audio files has to be streamed in real time from your hard drive.

The system hard drive on your computer (the one that came with your computer) will technically work as your audio drive, but it’s not the best idea. For one thing, your operating system and all the software you own is installed on the system drive. Before you even fire up Pro Tools or Garage Band, the system drive is already working pretty hard. It has a full-time job of simply running the operating system.

Now to ask that drive to handle all of your audio streaming is just too much. What that means in the real world is you will start to get freezes and error messages in your recording software.

For this reason I (along with every DAW software manufacturer out there) recommend using a dedicated hard drive for recording. This means you want to use a second hard drive that does nothing but stream your audio to and from the computer. (more…)

3 Home Studio Nightmares to Avoid

halloweenYou know I couldn’t let Halloween go by without some sort of Halloween-themed post, right? Right.

I’ve had plenty of “scary moments” over the years in my studio. After all, you put your blood, sweat, and tears into the thing, an it definitely hurts when things don’t go exactly as planned.

If you’re just starting out, here are a few things you want to avoid as much as possible. If you’ve been recording for years, you should read this too and make sure you’re not getting lazy. Any of these can happen, and most of them are avoidable. (more…)

Backing Up Isn’t Dorky

Remember the video tour I posted of McPherson Studios a few weeks ago? Well, I was hanging out with Michael (the engineer) yesterday, and he was telling me about a recent session he had that almost became disastrous.

He had booked a week’s worth of sessions in the studio for an album project. They hired great musicians for the week. They originally planned to track 12 songs, but they got in the groove and ended up tracking 18. All in all a really productive week.

The last session was on Saturday, May 1st. As you may recall, we got a little bit of rain that weekend. They finished up recording, and there was a break in the rain on the forecast. They had about thirty minutes to get home before the heavy rain started up again.


Common Hard Drive Questions

Today’s post is not about the HSC Production Club, although you do still have three more days to sign up. 🙂 It’s time to get back into some “regularly scheduled programming.”

Hard drives. You’d think they’d be pretty easy creatures to deal with, right? Well, these little guys can be a real pain in a home recording studio.

It seems like every other “Ask Joe” question I get has the words “hard drive” in the subject line. There are a lot of questions floating around out there about hard drives, let’s see if I can clear some of those up today by answering some common questions.

If you’re wondering why you need an external/dedicated hard drive, then you need to read this article first: External/Dedicated Hard Drive.

How do I connect multiple firewire devices?


Poll Results, Plus Ask Joe #3

Thanks to everyone for participating in the reader poll I posted last week! You can see the poll results here.

I’ve got a good idea about the direction I want to go with this site, and your feedback helps tremendously. If at any point you have further suggestions or comments, please head over to the About page and shoot me an email!

A few of the poll results are what I expected. There were a few surprises, however. I was surprised by how many of you want to see more product reviews. I’ve got a few in the works that I’ll be posting soon (think: guitar pedals). Perhaps I can dedicate one day per week (or every other week) to product reviews.

As far as posting frequency goes, after seeing the poll results, I think I will commit to six posts per week. You can expect something from me every day but Sunday. If you haven’t already, subscribe to my RSS feed. It’s the easiest way to keep up with new posts, or to catch up on posts you may have missed. (If you’re still unsure as to what exactly RSS is, check out What is RSS? by Darren Rowse of ProBlogger.net.)

I have a lot of great ideas for videos and articles. I’ll try to keep an even balance of beginner-focused material and stuff for the more intermediate/advanced users. 

Ask Joe #3

To change gears a bit, it’s time for another episode of  “Ask Joe.” I did episodes 1 and 2 as videos. You can see them here and here

I got a sneaky suspicion that the videos are a bit long, and that perhaps no one is watching them all the way through. So, in an effort to develop a better community here at Home Studio Corner, I opted to do an article version of Ask Joe. Enjoy!

Question #1 


VIDEO: Ask Joe #2 – Hard Drive Chipsets, Virtual Instruments, and More

Here’s the second edition of “Ask Joe.” If you’re new to Home Studio Corner, “Ask Joe” is basically a question-and-answer portion of the blog where I address questions submitted by readers via the Ask Joe form. (I tried to post this last night, but YouTube wasn’t playing nicely.)

I mention at the beginning of the video how the previous video was a bit on the long side (10 minutes!)…but this one ended up being 8 minutes. However, I’m only dealing with four questions today.

Video Summary:

  • 0:25 – A good all-around virtual instrument package?
  • 1:44 – Hard drive chipset for Cubase?
  • 3:13 – Good audio interface for a band?
  • 5:57 – Using a Yamaha PSR keyboard as a MIDI controller?

Related Articles:

Productivity Part 4 – The Importance of Hard Drive Backup

In my latest newsletter I wrote about a friend of mine who lost a lot of work due to a hard drive failure. In light of the last several articles dealing with productivity, it’s important that we look at archival and backup. Our theme has been making the most of your time in your home studio. Backing up your files can be a huge time-saver.

If you haven’t already, be sure to read this article on why you should use a dedicated/external hard drive for recording. With that in mind, the next step is to acquire another drive for backup purposes. Ideally you’ll have at least three hard drives:

  • System Drive – This holds your operating system
  • Recording Drive – This is where you save your session and audio files. (All your audio streams to and from this drive.)
  • Backup Drive – This is where you…drumroll please…save backups of all your files. (more…)

VIDEO: How to Make Your Hard Drive an “Audio Record Volume” in Pro Tools

One of my readers, Guinn, sent in a question last week about how to make his hard drive work with Pro Tools. Pro Tools kept telling him that it wasn’t an “audio record volume.” I remember this was the first tech support issue I had with my first Pro Tools system, and I thought it would be a good topic for a video.

Questions? Leave a comment!