It is amazing to see how far the computer has come in the world of pro audio for recording, editing, mastering, live recording, etc. It is all done via the PC or Mac. One key component that has to keep pace with a computer's power and sophisticated software capabilities is the hard drive.
I remember when I first got in to desktop publishing in the mid-1980s, the hot machine was a $2,599 Mac Plus that stored data on internal floppies. If you wanted a hard drive you went for an external 20 MB SCSI drive; it was about $400. Today you can purchase 4 GB of storage for $25 in a USB pocket flash drive.
External hard drives connecting via USB, FireWire, eSATA or Ethernet are now dirt cheap, thanks to technical advances and overseas production capacity. I just bought a robust 750 GB, USB/FW400/800/eSATA connected external drive from FireWire Direct, based in Austin, Texas, for $279. So far, the Chinese-manufactured drive has delivered flawless performance. It came with a host of standard accessories including connection cables for USB, the two FireWires and an eSATA, all included. And it cools via a whisper quiet fan. It's lightning fast through an Intel Mac with FW800 connection.
I believe these kinds of hard drives are ideal for pro audio. Of course, there are drives of various price ranges and some are assembled in the U.S. The lower priced drives often don't have cooling fans, which could lead to premature failure. But I have heard positive reports from drive makers Avastor, the aforementioned FireWire Direct, Glyph, and G-Tech. Avastor has pro audio, audio-for-video, and video in mind; the company even provides a handy carrying case to make your drive secure and portable to work at different studios or take-home projects. For the data intensive tasks, most of these companies also make the large capacity RAID set-ups.
G-Tech No drive is 100 percent guaranteed against failure, and you should have backup capability, but the newer drives seem pretty robust for backups as well as primary use. At the end of the day, if you are a professional doing work with audio, you gotta have a hard drive. So do your homework in the prebuy process, and you should be rewarded with years of reliability.
This month, we have a feature entitled "Trends in Instrument Miking," which is indicative of the specialization in microphones for various instruments. In the article, Heather Johnson interviews some of the key players in the microphone manufacturing world.
More and more manufacturers are using the latest technologies to make mics that have full frequency response yet are small enough to fit inside a piano, on a violin, in a saxophone, etc. And yet, these small mics don't make concessions to sound quality. They flatter the instruments quite well. I have tried a few them on acoustic guitar and have been quite happy with the results.
Here is just a reminder to all our friends who are going to be at the AES Convention Oct. 2-5; stop by the New Bay Media booth, number 718, and say hello. Judging by the number of companies exhibiting this year, there should be numerous new products that will likely pique your interest. Of course, PAR staff will be out in full force looking for the hottest products to bestow the 13th annual PAR Excellence Award.