Upgrade Hard Drive to SSD & add RAM for Recording ?

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
Need some computer advice for my Mac.
I have a mid 2012 MacBook Pro 13". 2.5 GHz i5 dual core processor with 4GB ram. Would converting the stock hard drive to a 500GB SSD and adding 4 more GB of RAM help with multitrack interface recording? I currently get speed warnings and a monitor delay if I try to record 8 tracks at once. I am using a Tascam USA-1800 usb interface. I have been using GarageBand. Thanks in advance.
 

BillRayDrums

Gold Member
It would definitely stamp out the latency that writing to a mechanical disc seems to bring about. Also good call on the memory. When in doubt, add memory! :D

Just make sure you create backups of your data because when a SSD fails it's usually gone.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Definitely up the RAM - when I bought my MacMIni, I had them install 8GB right off the bat before they shipped it to me. You can never have enough of that.

Regarding the 500GB SSD, don't they have 1TB drives pretty cheap now? Might as well get as much as you can if it's cheap! If SSD is the state-of-the-art, then go for it. But hard disk recording does really well if you have a faster 7200RPM drive, which you could probably get really cheap as a FireWire drive as SSD prices drop too. Your current hard drive is only a 5400 rpm model, and nobody ever recommends that for hard disc recording.
 

ncc

Silver Member
Adding memory and faster disk may help if that is where your contention is, but there are there are other factors that could also cause issues. The worst culprit is poorly written device drivers - at least with windows boxes. I'm not sure how much of this may be true for Apple though, but i wanted to throw it out in case some other non mac person was feeling the pain.

Im using Sonar X3. I have a US-1800 that works with the Tascam WDM drivers - better than the ASIO drivers. I do not use ASIO4ALL for anything. I also have a Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 that initially I could not get to work right. However, after a lot of research I found the issue was with resource contention from the wireless network interface. Shutting everything off that not needed for audio makes all the problems go away and lets me record as many track as I would like. I need ADAT so i use the Focusrite ASIO drivers.

For windows, there are tools that let see if there are going to be latency problems. Unfortunately, that is all they tell you. You need to figure out yourself what is causing the problem by turning every device and combination off and on. I'm sure there must be similar tools for MAC.

I would not worry too much about storage size unless money is no object. A 256GB drive is not going to be faster than a 512 GB SSD. The SDD will be best (I have not played with the new hybrid drives). Even a small 256GB SSD will let you store a lot of material. Remember, performance is keyed 1st on recording and second on playback; ie writing is more important than reading. If you want to see how much you can store on a disk, simply record 5 minutes on one track and look at the size of the audio file created. multiply that by the number of tracks you want to record per song and you will see how many songs you can keep on a drive.

My 2 cents. ;-)
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
Thank you all.
I think that we all agree that adding more ram will help. I have read that there is no point in going higher than 8GB because my processor won't be able to use anymore than that anyway. I have seen 16GB available for my computer.

A faster conventional hard drive may be a less expensive solution. I have also looked at a hybrid drives but there wasn't much info on them as far as track record. My current drive is 500GB and it is enough for me so that is why I was looking at that size in the SSD's.

Good point about shutting down unneeded things like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when recording because they burden the system. I should have thought of that. Duh!

I am using the latest Tascam drivers for my computer downloaded from their site.

Perhaps I should add the ram and try it before upgrading the hard drive although I am impressed with the startup speed of an SSD.
Maybe I will go with the 480GB SSD and the 8GB ram from the Crucial site. http://www.crucial.com/usa/en/scanview/83A4016931D926C3
Even if it doesn't solve my recording issues I will still have a kick butt MacBook :0
I will sleep on it and make my decision.
 

BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
Bob!

With regard to recording, if you're working with fewer than (say) eight live tracks at a time you're not going to have a huge issue recording, even with a 5,400RPM drive. I speak from a lot of experience here - I used a 2009 MacBook Pro as my main computer for about five years and recorded a lot of projects on it.

The limiting factors don't tend to come into play until you start editing. If you're heavily editing tracks in a DAW then RAM and SSD upgrades make a huge difference - especially RAM. Files are uploaded onto the RAM from the mass storage for quick access. For this reason, RAM is the first thing I would upgrade and that's what I did on my 2009 model. It made a nice difference and was relatively inexpensive to do. The 5,4000RPM HDD - whilst not ideal - worked well enough. The other limiting factor will be your processor but only if you're using heavy effects like Space Designer constantly. There are ways of doing this more efficiently if you are. Your i5 MBP is quite well specified (apart from the RAM) to deal with most of what you're likely to be doing.

My new MBP is a 13" Retina model with an SSD. It is much faster to boot, load and edit with the SSD (the RAM is the same) and the faster processor. I run some quite heavy applications and it works without an issue.

In order of importance for improving performance of your computer with regards to recording and editing:

RAM -> Storage -> Processor.

Obviously, a new processor would mean a new system. You don't need to do that at this point and probably not for at least a few years.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Bob I have a 500 Gb external drive, Seagate, that I use to back up my Laptop. They can be fairly inexpensive if you look at Amazon for sales.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
Thanks guy's, I ordered a 7200rpm 500GB external hard drive and 8GB of ram.
I think that this will solve the issues based on all of your responses.
In the future I may upgrade to an SSD just so that I can boot and load faster from my main drive.
When I record I will use the external drive as the destination. The 4GB of extra ram will increase the speed.
 

BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
Bandwidth-wise, USB2 has plenty for an external drive. It's a decent solution and the way I used to run when I was recording on location regularly. Good moves all around and cheaper than the SSD solution!
 
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