Best Choice For USB Thumb-drive for Multitrack From SQ

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This topic contains 13 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Tobi Tobi 2 days, 8 hours ago.

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  • #109135
    Profile photo of tourtelot
    tourtelot
    Participant

    I am being a bit lazy as I know that there has been years of updated info on this but a friend is setting up a little recording rig and plans on using his SQ5 as the recorder.

    No time to experiment.

    So any thoughts on the best 64GB (-ish) thumb-drive to record to as of today? Or a link to a current list of qualified drives?

    Thanks.

    D.

    #109136
    Profile photo of tourtelot
    tourtelot
    Participant

    I have a SanDisk Extreme Pro USB 3.1 256GB that I could give him if that is a known good drive.

    Thanks again.

    D.

    #109143
    Profile photo of KeithJ A&H
    KeithJ A&H
    Moderator

    Hi Doug,

    We do not recommend using thumb/pen/stick drives for multitrack recording as they often lack the consistent write speeds required.
    The amazing community here have submitted their findings when using many drives with both Qu and SQ though, including how successful they’ve been for multitrack : https://www.allen-heath.com/usbdevicelist

    Cheers,
    Keith.

    #109147
    Profile photo of tourtelot
    tourtelot
    Participant

    Hi Keith and thanks.

    I looked at that list and there are, it seems, quite a few thumb-drives listed as being okay for multi-track recording. I am confused about what make one such drive acceptable even as you seem to imply that they are not appropriate.

    Thanks for further information.

    Best,

    Doug

    #109155
    Profile photo of tourtelot
    tourtelot
    Participant

    I attached a USB 1TB spinning drive to the SQ and it seems to be happily recording 18 tracks at 48k. My San Disc Extreme Pro 3.1 thumb seemed to show the same no-load recording ability as the spinning drive.

    I see in the manual that for a “stereo recording”, there is a 2-hour limit? For the 18-track recording, I am showing over four hours at 96k and over 8 hours at 48k. Is this an improvement over what I see in the manual or just different than making a stereo recording?

    This is my first experience recording from my friend’s panel. I always use a dedicated hardware recorder, a JoeCo BBR-64 Dante, when I work so I am not at all familiar with the ins and outs of SQ-USB.

    D.

    #109159
    Profile photo of KeithJ A&H
    KeithJ A&H
    Moderator

    Hi Doug,

    There are some thumb drives that will work for multitrack recording/playback, it’s just that you are more likely to come across ones that don’t!
    It’s the opposite for external drives which usually have far better constant read/write speeds, with ‘constant’ being the important part as many advertise only their top read/write speeds which they may only achieve in bursts.

    The performance meters we added to the SQ-Drive pages are the best indicator of how well a device is performing – you’ll notice that errors occur only when the meter maxes out, so as long as you’re in the green when recording the number of channels at the sample rate you require, you should be good to go! A 5min test recording is enough to gauge this.

    As in the reference guide, the maximum recording time depends on the sample rate and whether you are recording stereo or multitrack.
    This is because the maximum length of recording is determined by the maximum file size of the file structure used.
    With multitrack, you are recording multiple mono files, so the maximum length is twice that of a stereo interleaved file.
    The same is true when comparing 48kHz to 96kHz – twice as many channels or twice as many samples mean you reach the maximum size quicker:

    Stereo 96kHz = approx 2hrs
    Mono 96kHz (multitrack) = approx 4hrs
    Stereo 48kHz = approx 4hrs
    Mono 48kHz (multitrack) = approx 8hrs

    Cheers,
    Keith.

    #109166
    Profile photo of tourtelot
    tourtelot
    Participant

    Ah, Keith. That is an awesome explanation.

    And yes, I did figure out the whys and wherefore of maximum recording times, AFTER I CAREFULLY read the manual. I do tend to type before I read but you also distilled that to a very understandable form. I think that the thumb drive I have may well work. I saw only the faintest “blip” of green while recording 18-tracks at 96k. I will max it out to 32-tracks at 96k just to test the theory today.

    Thanks for the help.

    D.

    #109173
    Profile photo of Hugh
    Hugh
    Participant

    Another factor to consider is fact that the external power supply that comes along with most good quality external HDs avoids one of the primary problems with thumb drives. Keith is absolutely correct: externals work better & longer than thumb drives. The choice is between convenience or dependability.
    Hugh

    #109178
    Profile photo of tourtelot
    tourtelot
    Participant

    I am wrong to consider the needs of an external spinning drive for a separate power supply would relate to the “spinning”? Nothing moving in the thumb drive.

    Just asking; sincerely curious.

    D.

    #109184
    Profile photo of Hugh
    Hugh
    Participant

    All thumb drives attain power from the connected source and there in is the primary reliability problem.
    Hugh

    #109217
    Profile photo of Rob T
    Rob T
    Participant

    Providing DC power via a USB-A connector is not rocket science, and managing the ground connections is easier when the power and signal wires go the same place, vs. when they originate separately. The presence or absence of an external power supply has very little bearing on if the USB drive can support the sustained data rates required for recording. And as A+H support has noted on multiple occasions, the primary reason for a USB thumb drive not working reliably for recording is insufficient sustained data rates. There are plenty of bus-powered external USB drives based on 2.5″ laptop drives or M.2 SSDs that work just fine for recording on an SQ desk.

    #109248
    Profile photo of Hugh
    Hugh
    Participant

    Keith has identified the heart of the matter: When one of the fresh flash drives that are on the “better list” are first deployed, there are obvious transportation and tactile advantages. However their degradation rate accelerates very quickly when compared to the reliability of spinning externals that require 12.5 V external power.
    I have deployed a Glyph external HD for both video editing and audio multi-tracking over the past 17 years with out a single failure. The GT051 was the first one with a GPT50 next and the newest is the studio model: they are all still totally reliable hd storage tools. The only occasion that I will choose a Flash drive is when sharing a data file is necessary.
    Clearly flash drives will offer much smaller form factors but the consistency of their performance is highly dependent upon the quality of components that are a long way from uniform. This is one of many reasons they are much cheaper to purchase. If a recording from any A&H desk is important deploying a Flash drive is fools gold. No one can assure a dependable sustained performance with any flash drive, so in my work flow, their only use is for data copys to be passed on to others.
    Hugh

    #109255
    Profile photo of QLE
    QLE
    Participant

    I agree with Hugh here — an external drive usually beats any thumb drive. I would prefer the one that can power itself through USB, and won’t have any spinning mechanisms (oh hi WD Raptor). While waiting for my new SQ5, I am considering the recording options. This one should do the trick, I think:

    SanDisk 1TB Extreme Portable SSD – Up to 1050MB/s – USB-C, USB 3.2 Gen 2 – External Solid State Drive

    #109272
    Profile photo of Tobi
    Tobi
    Participant

    +1 for SSD… There are small 2.5″ housings which can be used with an SSD. I am using Samsung EVO, works perfect.

    Best Regards,
    Tobias

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