One of the best things about my career—technology—is also one of the worst! In the field of music production, technology has made the process much easier and faster, giving you tools that 30 years ago would have cost a fortune. At the same time, having all of your work flow confined to just one unit can also be quite frustrating. It seems that in the past 10 years, I spend more time upgrading and updating hardware and software, which usually leads to massive amounts of troubleshooting. So when I am fortunate to stumble across a great product that makes my life easier, I am so grateful. This has been the case since I was introduced to Drobo hard drives.
I work on a Mac Pro G5, a Mac mini, and use Pro Tools 10 as my software of choice. With this comes the necessity of having a good external hard drive. The external hard drive is an important tool because it is what’s writing and reading the audio data of my recording session in real time during every session, so as to free up CPU power.
This is and has been a pretty common standard practice in production for quite some time. The problem has always been finding an external drive that is solid, reliable, and FAST. While this might not seem like such a tall order, it has, in fact, been one of the main problems I’ve always run into through the years. I’ve probably switched to different drives fifteen, maybe twenty different times in the past ten years. This has been due to a few things—most commonly speed. Sessions always would freeze for me when Pro Tools couldn’t get the data fast enough from the drive. Another common problem was crashing, which damages the system permission. This then requires me to fix or at times even reformat the thing again. I attribute this to bad firmware.
About a year ago, I was working in a recording studio in Los Angeles where the mix engineer was using a Drobo drive for all his sessions. He said it was “the Bentley of HDs and the damn thing will never give up.” After working with it for a good week, I was hooked.
I recently upgraded to the newest Drobo Mini, which is now housing my entire work flow. For its small size, the unit is a BEAST! What’s amazing, too, is the CPU usage bar has never been lower. Pro Tools is known for taking A LOT of the computer’s processing power. Usually when the computer’s CPU is being too stretched during a session the CPU usage bar starts to peak, and then lo and behold, “The Freeze.”
During the first week using the Drobo Mini, I wasn’t even using the Thunderbolt connection. In fact, I had it hooked up via USB. I was blown away by how it handled because it was outperforming my Firewire 800 drive. That alone sold me on this unit, because when I am traveling to different studios, whether project or professional facilities, I never know what I’m going to be faced with computer-wise. I need to be ready for any and all situations.
Along with the session that I’m running, the Drobo Mini is also holding a very extensive audio sample library. This also includes large libraries that belong to a variety of VSTi (Virtual Studio Technology instruments). These alone suck up a great deal of processing power, so having these on a separate drive frees my computer up even more. With the Drobo Mini, I have had no problems running them—no freezing and no audio glitches of any kind. I continue to throw curveballs at this drive, from massive sample libraries, to running a 192 track session with EVERY plug-in slot filled. The Drobo Mini keeps running FLAWLESSLY!