:arrow_right: I would appreciate :ugeek: expert :nerd: advice and opinion on PC hard drive configuration for music production.

…I know this is, to a large extent, a subjective matter. But your advice or opinion may help many people “beyond” your reply to me.

I do know the “basics” about RAM, HDD-speed, etc, but when it comes to the matters of installation of program files, location of VST-libraries, -“working projects”, -samples, RAID config, which drives should be SSD and which can remain HDD, :unamused: I get confused.

:neutral_face: I also know that this is maybe too much too expect, but my current “set-up reference” is the You-Tube video of “Aurosonic”, a brillliant Russian Progressive House PC-music producer at :arrow_right:”. He’s set-up is explained from 07:25 onwards, however I still have some questions.

:arrow_right: Essentially, Arosonic’s set-up seems to be 3-part: OS-system (C:), Working(maybe D:), and (I suppose) Back-up (E: or whatever).

:arrow_right: I suppose my questions to you may be:

  • Should I have my Programs installed on C, but
  • their libraries, and all other samples to D:?
  • Back-ups to E:
  • Do I work on projects on D: ( a sort of “Working-HDD” or “Temporary HDD” as Aurosonics refers to) and back them up to E:
  • Should I RAID the “Working-HDD”? RAID 0 or 10?
  • Should I Have the C: and D: as SSD’s or is it sufficient to only have the “Working-HDD” (D:) as SSD?

:imp: Separating program files of VST’s from the drives their libraies are located on, have been a very-recent experience of mine wrt Spectarsonics’ Trillian and Omnisphere. I’m still awating their reply wrt that Pactch Updates that do not see the STEAM-Folder on D:, altought I made the suggested pointer- short-cut on C: to D:.

:arrow_right: So in essence, “where” should “what” go and “what” should be “RAID-ed”? Raid 0 or 10? And of course, to make the lesson trancend this post, “Why”?

:smiley: Your “expertise”, time and assisatnce will be highly appreciated.

Thank you.

There are several variables that would determine the ideal setup for any particular person. But you’ll get really good results from the following configuration:

  • Use a dedicated HDD or SSD for the OS/Program Files. The SSD option here is only beneficial for fast booting of the OS, so if that’s not important to you then a normal HDD will suffice. You could also store samples that load into RAM here based on space availability. However, do NOT store sample libraries that stream from disk in this drive.

  • Use a dedicated HDD for your Cubase Projects. Only use a RAID 0 configuration if you’re working with super high audio track counts (i.e. 200+) or if working with uncompressed HD video files (in which case I’d suggest using a separate configuration for this).

  • Use a dedicated SSD for very demanding sample libraries, like EWQL Hollywood Strings and the like. Most other sample libraries will work just fine in a fast HDD. However, based on the number of sample libraries you own, you will need to spread them out into several HDD or SSD drives for best performance.

  • Definitely invest on a Backup drive for your projects. This can be a normal HDD connected to your computer via FW, USB2, UBS3 or eSata. As long as you can backup your stuff, it doesn’t really matter.

    That’s about it. Hope it helps!


:wink: Off course its helps very much and confirms more or less my inderstanding of the “Best”- or at least, “Good” logical set-up.

However, there are some :unamused: technical soft-/hardware intercations I do not fully understand in order to figure out the appropriate configuration myself.

:question: Questions:

:arrow_right: Which samples are loaded in RAM, and which are the streaming-type. (EWQL, for eg. load into RAM, while plain Wav samples stream!? Correct?). Are Wav samples used by VSTi’s (which are normally part of their Lib’s) loaded into RAM, not streamed?

:arrow_right: The reason for “spreading demanding sample libraries” out, is it because to spread the load of loading into RAM between different drives rather than one, therefore speed?

Thank you very much.

Actually, PLAY, VSL and Kontakt libraries, to name the most popular ones, stream from disk. Yes, some of the samples in these libraries load small portions of the instruments into RAM, but the rest will stream from the Hard Drive. These libraries are the ones you want to spread out into various HDDs or SSDs. Otherwise, you’ll be taxing the drives pretty hard, and that will obviously detriment performance. How you spread them depends on how big the library is. The bigger ones, that have several mic positions and consume lots of RAM, are best put into a dedicated SSD (i.e. Hollywood Strings Diamond). If you don’t have enough drives, then the next best thing would be pairing big sample libraries with small ones. Try to avoid filling up mechanical drives past 50% it capacity as that will also slow down read speeds.

On the other hand, you have sample libraries, like the Toontrack ones, that load completely into RAM. In this case, you can simply store these samples in the main OS/Program drive since they don’t stream from the HDD and thus the drive will not get taxed (perhaps only during loading of the samples). That will also give you more room on the other sample drives if needed. But, if you have the space, installing these sample libraries along with a streaming library should be fine too as long as you’re not trying to play the project at the same time it’s loading the samples. That could cause problems.

Audio streams from the HDD, so that’s why you want it on it’s own separate drive.


:slight_smile: Oh, OK! So, audio (formats like Wav etc. streams from the HD).

:blush: Not to labour the topic, but this is critical for my understanding…, so maybe just 2 more questions:

I would have :astonished: thought that PLAY Symphonic Orchestra loads samples completely into RAM. Thought that that was what the PLAY progress bar was about!

:arrow_right: Importantly, how do inserts effects and plugins work? :question: Their settings are saved with the Cubase Proj (say, on D:), but once they are loaded and played in the project with automation, what then? How I “give them the path of less resisstance”? Are they fine on the system drive C:?

Thank you so much for your time and interest to assist someone you don’t even know :slight_smile: .

Considering the sizes of these sample libraries, unless you had 100’s of GB of RAM, then there’s no way you could load a full orchestra with a single system. That’s why disk streaming is so awesome, because not everything needs to be loaded into RAM. The HDD acts as a sort of RAM storage, though much slower. This is why you don’t want to over-saturate your HDDs, and the reason why it is better to spread these libraries out.

Audio FX and VST Instruments (VSTi) are loaded into RAM. So they would go from your C: drive straight to your RAM. Only the project settings are stored in your D: drive, if that’s where projects are being saved. However, audio FX as well as VSTi do tend to be more taxing on the CPU (some more than others). They don’t eat RAM like sample libraries do.

Take care!

:exclamation: Jose, you just laid my foundation of :bulb: understanding these “intricacies”. I decision on how to configure my system optimally will solely be based on this undersatnding.

:arrow_right: Thank you very much!

if working with uncompressed HD video files (in which case I’d suggest using a separate configuration for this).

I do film composing, and host the video on an entirely separate machine: using Sony Vegas acting as an MTC slave over ipMidi, with Cubase as the master. Not only does this eliminate video streaming on my Cubase/mostly VSL music machine, it also eliminates Cubase issues with video (like crashes). The video slave machine doesn’t have to be anything fancy. (In addition to Sony Vegas, my video slave machine also hosts Finale.)


:wink: Thank you, your input is appreciated.

I am sure “newbies” to the audio/video scene or that want “more complex setups” will benefit from this. I’m not in that league yet though :unamused: .