Would 128GB SSD be enough for "Sample Content Libraries"?

Hi, Im a home studio producer and Im not doing monster scores…yet… but after reading some posts I realize that in addition to installing Windows 7 and Cubase 6 on my SSD, it would be to my benefit to obtain another SSD on which to store the VSTi sample content. Not having much experience with such libraries, I would like to know if a 128GB SSD would be enough for this purpose?

Also, if I had to buy just one SSD (in addition to the one I already have for my OS and Programs), would it be best to use it for a) Sample libraries, b) Page file (swap), or c) Project/audio files?

That would depend on how big your “Sample Content Libraries” are.

Most VSTi will have information on required disk space, so you could estimate and allow for a bit of extra for new ones if you were to buy more.

128 GB minus say 20+ GB for the system, you are talking 100 GB (give or take) available to store stuff like that. That is decent storage, however… considering where you would store content of your actual projects (audio recordings, etc. takes up room too), how big of a sample library you may have or build yourself, etc.

Some commercial instruments come with ridiculously huge sample stacks.

Elektrobolt, when you say “128 GB minus say 20+ GB for the system,”… what system are you talking about? I thought when installing the VSTis all the .DLLs would be installed with the rest of the VST instruments on the C: drive, and ONLY the samples would be installed on that secondary 128GB SSD? Unless you are referring to the amount left after the 128GB SSD has been formatted? Oh yeah, thats probably what you mean… right?

I have a 500GB drive that I use for nothing but plugin sample content, and that drive is about 2/3 full.

Serious question: If you’ve got a lot of RAM, does an SSD even really help you much? When I open a project with a lot of samples, all the samples are loaded into RAM. I’ve got 12GB of RAM, which is like 21 hours of CD-quality audio. When I’m playing, the hard drive never gets touched. Even my laptop, which only has 6GB never loads anything after the project’s opened.

SSD can improve the speed of launching OS and apps and loading the samples into your project, but if Cubase never hits your drive after that, I don’t see a great overall benefit to smaller, more expensive SSD drives, especially for pre-recorded samples.

Is there some other benefit that I might not be aware of?

True dat. There is no benefit to putting samples on an expensive tiny drive like this. Not only will you run out of space (eventually)…but the cost vs performance makes no sense. Since most samples are read and then stored to system RAM anyway (in most cases with most VST’s)…“where” the samples sit prior to the read to RAM doesn’t really matter. They are read once and then your expensive SSD does nothing after that.

If it were me - get a modern 1TB SATA and rock on. The cost/storage is much more advantageous and you will see the exact same performance in the end.


As far as my previous answer: The question was about the sample content libraries on a solid state drive, and that would depend on what instruments you plan to install.

(And, Metrosuperstar, by system I mean to the OS, host and VSTi’s, etc., i.e. not the content.)

All these other points (I naturally agree with UltimateOutsider, Vocalpoint) goes for any system setup. I mean, how fast do you really need the system to boot? Making music is not really a speedy process in itself. If you get so many lost ideas while loading, get a pocket recorder to record your ideas on (lyrics, humming a melody, document an idea, etc.) and you can use it away from the computer even. Furthermore, if your system takes “that” long to boot or load, I say your system overall is fairly inadequate. Spend the money on improving the overall computer instead (more RAM, faster hard drives, etc.), or if it already is fast, then buy another instrument maybe. :slight_smile:

Thanks Vocalpoint, UltimateOutsier and Elektrobolt.

I had not truly understood the process of what makes samples play back with minimal latency. I thought that by having them on SSD, there would be a significant advantage but given the cost/storage capacity, and the fact that I have 32GB RAM (DDR3-1600) and my OS and Cubase are already running on an SSD, I guess I wont be having any problems if I store my samples on a mechanical hard drive.

I didnt know that they were just read once and stored to RAM for the session(and then called from there).

So I guess i makes more sense for me to invest in a 7200RPM drive with a large cache (64MB)…something like a WD Caviar black (1TB or more) so that I have ample room to store the sample libraries I’ll be getting?

As a final tweak, maybe I could instead get a SSD for the swap file… something I have read about a little bit…some people doing that…although I have no clue yet what this file does, why it is beneficial to have on a separate drive, and how big the drive needs to be for that. Any further feedback is welcome…

Not all plugins does this though. HALion 4 for example will partially stream off of your drive. Most plugins will have options on how to handle samples, in some form or another.

Oh no! There HAD to be an exception! :frowning: OK, so I kinda feel like Im back to square one…

What do you think is the best recommendation in my case? (now that you have an idea of my setup)
Worst case, I could setup and SSD Cache for the 1TB HDD.

Again - unless you are made of money and want to spend it to get no perceptible performance gain whatsoever - get an SSD. However - if you want to best value for your dollar get a 1TB normal SATA drive and get to it.

The fact that the SSD drives simple wear out (cannot store data in their cells after a while) and the biggie - if/when they fail - the data is usually 100% unrecoverable - I wouldn’t ever use an SSD to store anything valuable on - especially my sample libraries.

Conversely - I have hard drives from 2001 that are still going strong. :slight_smile:


Your best option is still the biggest SSD you can get for OS/apps, and a big, quiet 7200RPM traditional drive for samples only. If all the computer is doing with that drive is reading what little sample content can’t/won’t fit in your RAM, you will never have any problems at all with that setup.

I just looked at my 500GB sample drive again, and it’s more like 50% full. Nearly all of it is stuff I bought just in the past four months (the Native Instruments Komplete library, Alchemy and one expansion, Nexus and 4 expansions, RealGuitar and RealStrat). I’ll outgrow this drive within the coming year.

I use Kontakt, Nexus, and Battery for most of my sample stuff- they all have hard disk monitors and indicators of when sample content is fully loaded. They always use RAM first when it’s available, and load the sample content when you open the project. Have never worked with HALion, so I don’t know whether there are options to choose when to stream versus load to RAM.

EDIT: And now it’s time to start thinking of backup solutions…

Great replies everyone! I’m happy I asked!
I’ll get a 2TB WD Caviar Black, half of which I will use for samples (I have very few right now) and the other half of which I will use as an Adobe Cache/Scratch Disk (for when I do video/photo editing).

THanks for all the assistance fellas! :slight_smile:

I just read through this thread and I’m honestly surprised at how one sided this discussion has been.

How much sample streaming is going on is totally dependent on your content. A drum kit will easily fit in RAM. An entire orchestra will most definitely not. So it’s not entirely accurate to say in all cases your samples will be loaded in RAM and your hard drive won’t be stressed afterwards. In fact, if you do use such large comprehensive libraries, your hard drive will be working really hard to keep up, as only initial portions of samples are kept in memory and the rest is streamed and flushed as required. This is where SSD really does shine, because random access to data is so much faster on them than from HDD. And there’s no moving parts. SSD wins hands down in this department.

It’s true that SSD will wear out much faster if your read and erase from them than if you just read from them; but that’s also what makes them ideal for libraries. Just put your data on them and don’t use them for anything else unless you need to add content or update your libraries, and there’s a good chance they’ll outlive their warranty. All electronics will eventually fail, so SDD or HDD, you’d be foolish not to keep a backup of your data on an extra external drive, or some other backup solution either way.

So as far as OS vs Sample disks, I see it the other way: what difference does it really make how fast your OS and DAW launches compared to the time loading in a big project? If you’ve ever worked in a production setting, the last thing you want to do is have customers wait endlessly for another version of a project to load up. The speed of a large sample-based project load-in is significantly enhanced by the use of SSD for your libraries.

Sorry, I had to say something…

The big point is the little real world difference VS the cost (and tiny size) of these things. Can anyone actually “feel/notice” a couple of millseconds here and there in load time for some random sample? It’s not like Nuendo will sit there tapping it’s fingers waiting whether a sample loads in 1ms or 3ms.

My biggest issue continues to be cost - spending all that cash on a puny drive that is suddenly too small - like in a mere matter of months.

However - if you wanna blow big cash on a tiny drive - that’s your call.


All of this depends on what sample libraries are being used and what workflow. For me putting the OS and apps on an SSD would be pointless. I don’t care how quickly my programs load. However, if I can reduced my pre-load buffer in Kontakt (for example) to 4kb rather than 60 kb, this is a huge saving of both memory and time, when opening multiple projects.


And for my workflow - I would be the opposite. “Snappiness” of the OS and apps would be most important since using them every second of the working day is what we do.

On the other hand - I would care less how quick Kontakt would load anything. I am not playing “live” and since I know I am going to be sitting there working something out in Kontakt for a long while anyway (changing my mind 100 times along the way etc) - that I save a few ms seconds here or there is of no consequence.

Size of the drive (being able to easily access 500GB to over a TB of samples at any given time) and cost far exceeds any speed benefits for my workflow.



This is the bottom line. Even sample-based synths like Omnisphere become incredibly snappier loading from SSD. It totally depends on how you work and with what.

That’s why I felt I needed to post as this discussion veered the OP towards a decision that may or may not work for him based on personal experiences that may not be ideal for his workflow and needs.

In the end it’s a personal decision, but it’s important for it to be an educated one as well.