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For those who use an external HDD for their music instead of NAS: Which drive?


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I'm seriously considering taking down my NAS as it's long overdue for a drive upgrade anyhow. I currently running a 3tb vortexbox which has been full for some time. I had contemplated a raid based replacement, however nowadays you can buy external 5 & 6tb single drives so I am considering that as an option. I am concerned though with electrical and audible noise coming from an attached spinning drive. So what do you use? What should I stay away from? Any tips?

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I've used a usb connected HD for many years. I have a Mac Mini as source. In order to minimize potential problems I download the tracks I'm going to listen to to the computer and listen to them from there usually with Audirvana. When I'm done I delete them. To be honest I've listened with the HD connected to the computer and streaming as it were from there and I'm not sure I hear a difference.

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You can also try external SSD drives if you're concerned about "spinning drive" issues - but that will cost a small fortune of course (if you're looking at 4+ Tb).

 

I have a 5-bay JBOD enclosure with a bunch of Western Digital RED drives (a few 3Tb & one 6Tb drives). They are in theory designed for NAS-related use and may be a bit more reliable; as there are probably no concerns about saturating the bus, I doubt performance should be an issue. I have not had any problems, but I did have a cheaper Seagate 3Tb HD die on me after a year or so of operation.

 

As for sound: I swapped a friend's SSD drive into my JBOD enclosure, copied a few of the same 24/96 music files to it, and then played back the same music from the spinning drive and the SSD via Audirvana (not the latest version 2, but the one before that). Drive enclosure is direct to 2012 Mac Mini i7 via Thunderbolt cable; no fancy power adaptors or mods for the Mini. Neither myself nor any of my friends could tell a difference in which file was being played. My system is (by design) not super-resolving (although my equipment was still pretty nice), so your mileage may vary......but that test was enough to convince me that if there is a difference, the "average audiophile" would need to have an extremely detailed system (or use good headphones) and be listening in a dedicated no-noise listening room in order to spot these differences.

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Since putting my Mac Mini in place as my music server in 2010 I have used two external HDD connected via daisy chained with FW 800. I have used Western Digital MyBook and Lacie Quadra. I prefer the build of the Lacie. Other then when they first spin up when opening my library I hear nothing from them during playback at any volume level.

 

My own conundrum is I am approaching needing larger than my current 2TB units and the current Lacie don't support FireWire and my Mac Mini doesn't have Thunderbolt. I don't want to share the USB

"If you fly a flag of hate you are no kin to me"

Ry Cooder

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Since putting my Mac Mini in place as my music server in 2010 I have used two external HDD connected via daisy chained with FW 800. I have used Western Digital MyBook and Lacie Quadra. I prefer the build of the Lacie. Other then when they first spin up when opening my library I hear nothing from them during playback at any volume level.

 

My own conundrum is I am approaching needing larger than my current 2TB units and the current Lacie don't support FireWire and my Mac Mini doesn't have Thunderbolt. I don't want to share the USB

 

_DSC1854sm.jpg

 

I don't know if this applies to Lacie or WD but with Seagate drives the following seems to apply: When you buy any of their desktop external drives, they sit on a base which contains a plug for the actual HDD itself. This plug seems to be universal among most of their models. You can buy a USB model off the shelf and simply swap bases with a firewire one. If you don't have one already, there are several on that auction site for a reasonable price.

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So what do you use?

 

I am using a Synology NAS with WD Red drives as a file server for listening. The NAS is located in the adjacent room as its fan noise is low, but disturbing during listening.

 

However I am keeping my original rips, downloads etc. on a couple of external Firewire drives (WD Passport Studio). Their spinning noise is rather low and would not disturb if used as a main storage while playing some music.

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Since putting my Mac Mini in place as my music server in 2010 I have used two external HDD connected via daisy chained with FW 800. I have used Western Digital MyBook and Lacie Quadra. I prefer the build of the Lacie. Other then when they first spin up when opening my library I hear nothing from them during playback at any volume level.

 

My own conundrum is I am approaching needing larger than my current 2TB units and the current Lacie don't support FireWire and my Mac Mini doesn't have Thunderbolt. I don't want to share the USB

 

I have been using enclosures like this for external storage for years:

 

OWC OWCME3QHKIT0GB Mercury Elite Pro eSATA,... in stock at OWC

 

My current favorite HDD to put in these enclosures is WD Red drives.

Sometimes it's like someone took a knife, baby
Edgy and dull and cut a six inch valley
Through the middle of my skull

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This unit can be configured as RAID 0 yielding a fast, 4TB HDD that runs off FireWire 800 bus power. So, no mechanical or electrical noise from an internal cooling fan or external SMPS. The unit will power down completely via the FW bus when you put your computer to sleep.

I have the 2TB (7200 RPM) version and am happy with it.

 

OWC MEMD3FH5T4.0 4.0TB (2.0TB + 2.0TB) Mercury... in stock at OWC

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I have been using enclosures like this for external storage for years:

 

OWC OWCME3QHKIT0GB Mercury Elite Pro eSATA,... in stock at OWC

 

My current favorite HDD to put in these enclosures is WD Red drives.

 

Is there a cooling fan with this enclosure? What kind of "life" have you been getting with the HDD's?

Main System: Auralic Aries G2, Ayre QX-5 Twenty, Ayre KX-5 Twenty, Ayre VX-5 Twenty, Revel Ultima Studio2, Iconoclast speaker cables & interconnects, RealTraps acoustic treatments, TP-Link MC200CM (X2)

Living Room: Sonore ultraRendu, Ayre QB-9DSD, SimAudio Moon 340iX, B&W 802 Diamond

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Is there a cooling fan with this enclosure? What kind of "life" have you been getting with the HDD's?

 

The single drive enclosures I have don't have fans. It is hard to say what the lifespan of the HDD would be. None of the WD drives I have put in these enclosures over the last couple of years have failed. On the other hard, I had three Seagate drives die on me in the last couple of months so I won't be buying that brand again.

Sometimes it's like someone took a knife, baby
Edgy and dull and cut a six inch valley
Through the middle of my skull

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The single drive enclosures I have don't have fans. It is hard to say what the lifespan of the HDD would be. None of the WD drives I have put in these enclosures over the last couple of years have failed. On the other hard, I had three Seagate drives die on me in the last couple of months so I won't be buying that brand again.

 

I think the fact is that all hard drives fail at some point. I myself have owned exactly 3 WD drives over the years and all 3 failed in less than a year. I've probably owned in excess of 20 Seagate going all the way back to a 20 meg drive and have never had an issue.

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I think the fact is that all hard drives fail at some point. I myself have owned exactly 3 WD drives over the years and all 3 failed in less than a year. I've probably owned in excess of 20 Seagate going all the way back to a 20 meg drive and have never had an issue.

 

Interesting how your experience has been the reverse of mine. So far I've been lucky with the WD Red drives which are designed for NAS use.

Sometimes it's like someone took a knife, baby
Edgy and dull and cut a six inch valley
Through the middle of my skull

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I am using 4 WD Red drives in my NAS for nearly two years now, I have 2 WD My Passport Studio FW on my desk hooked-up and running on my Mac, and a second (backup & rarely used) Synology NAS with two WD Red drives ... no failure, no issues, just doing fine all the time now and very confident they continue their work.

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  • 2 weeks later...

@kumakuma & @blownsi: I am not surprised by your replies. A test (don't recall the firm) from a very large datacenter pointed out that the WD Red is the most reliable NAS drive, but fails more often in the first year than other brands. After one year however, the drive hardly fails, where other brands become less reliable.

 

Greetz,

Zittergie

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@kumakuma & @blownsi: I am not surprised by your replies. A test (don't recall the firm) from a very large datacenter pointed out that the WD Red is the most reliable NAS drive, but fails more often in the first year than other brands. After one year however, the drive hardly fails, where other brands become less reliable.

 

Greetz,

Zittergie

 

You may be thinking of Backblaze. There was an article floating around the web about a year ago with similar information.

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  • 1 month later...

I have let Raid run its course at my place. I am moving to a 6Tb single drive as soon as I can. I also have a Mac Mini and have installed a 1Tb SSD inside along with the factory SSD. I have a second SSD, 1 TB that I attach via USB 3. I like the SSD's for the scroll speed response, but can not tell a difference musically. I had hoped otherwise… I will at some point be all SSD, but until then a big single hard drive will work well for me. I feel that Raid/NAS has trended out, most folks will be glad to get back to fewer/bigger drives along with the simple upkeep and backup tasks/chores.

 

What ever works for you is best however…

Some people are still afraid of the dark… Purveyor of Remorseless Audio

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I have let Raid run its course at my place. I am moving to a 6Tb single drive as soon as I can. I also have a Mac Mini and have installed a 1Tb SSD inside along with the factory SSD. I have a second SSD, 1 TB that I attach via USB 3. I like the SSD's for the scroll speed response, but can not tell a difference musically. I had hoped otherwise… I will at some point be all SSD, but until then a big single hard drive will work well for me. I feel that Raid/NAS has trended out, most folks will be glad to get back to fewer/bigger drives along with the simple upkeep and backup tasks/chores.

 

What ever works for you is best however…

 

hi RJ, please could you advise how easy it was to add the extra 1Tb SSD to your mini, and which SSD can be used ?

I have a 2010 model; which version did you do it on ?

thanks for any comment,

mike

Aurender X100L > Audiophilleo USB/SPDIF > Devialet 200 > Verity Audio Parsifal Ovation

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Someone on one of these threads mentioned using a 5400 rpm HDD. I gave it a try and wow! As fast as I could ever need, quiet as a mouse, and it allowed me to disable the fan in the enclosure - totally silent. Using them (a pair of 3TB drives) in a small Nexstar MX enclosure as USB drives.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Western-Digital-Caviar-Green-Desktop/dp/B004RORMF6/ref=sr_1_2?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1421719148&sr=1-2&keywords=wd+external+hard+drive+green

Analog: Koetsu Rosewood > VPI Aries 3 w/SDS > EAR 834P > EAR 834L: Audiodesk cleaner

Digital Fun: DAS > CAPS v3 w/LPS (JRMC) SOtM USB > Lynx Hilo > EAR 834L

Digital Serious: DAS > CAPS v3 w/LPS (HQPlayer) Ethernet > SMS-100 NAA > Lampi DSD L4 G5 > EAR 834L

Digital Disc: Oppo BDP 95 > EAR 834L

Output: EAR 834L > Xilica XP4080 DSP > Odessey Stratos Mono Extreme > Legacy Aeris

Phones: EAR 834L > Little Dot Mk ii > Senheiser HD 800

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I am happily using a 2TB Samsung F4.

Like WD's Cavier Green drives, it's 5.400RPMs.

I looked for the quietest drive - on sites like silentpc.com and the like.

It's been a while, so I'd suggest googling quiet drives.

(Although, I admit, my drive is a little slow - but think that's mainly due to over-filling the poor thing!!)

 

I put a small SSD into my 2010 Mac mini. Not too difficult (but managed to break the heat sensors... oops..)...

TF cards (LPSon  usb hub) -> GentooPlayer in RAM on mini fanless/supercap NUC -> Audio GD R-27 -> S.A.T. Infinity monoblocks -> Gallo Stradas + TR-3 sub Hifiman HE560

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