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I'm interested in improving my home studio setup with better production performance gear.

Lately I've been looking into Native Instrument's abundant collection of plugins & sound libraries. I've noticed however, that some of those individual plugins consists of several GBs (Gigabytes).

How do music producers manage storage for such libraries? Do you need complex hard-drive partitions? What type of system are more fit for the job, laptop or desktop?

I'm thinking, ideally - a Mac Pro with a few SSD drives in it to hold the most used applications and plugins would be the smart move (provided some spare physical Hard-Drives back them up in case of catastrophic failures). But for the time being, it's not exactly the next item on my shopping list - unless I won the lottery.

Is there reliable, affordable setups for those kinds of MASSIVE (no pun intended) sound libraries?

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2 Answers

The simple answer is, the faster the better when dealing with huge sample libraries. A fast disk will load your samples much quicker. You should note that some samplers load all the data for a patch into RAM up front, meaning that it is only the patch load time that is affected by disk speed, while others can do "direct from disk streaming", which saves on RAM and makes patches load quicker but means your disk needs to be very fast to avoid dropouts.

Most laptops tend to come with fairly slow hard disks, spinning at 5400 rpm. If you are using a laptop, try to get at least a 7200 rpm disk. If you have lots of money, then solid state drives are the fastest way to go. For a desktop, you could look at the 10000 rpm internal drives and if you have a USB3 port on your computer, you can connect one of the newer external USB3 hard disks that run pretty fast.

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For the samplers that load the data into RAM up front, more RAM would be a great help and allow you to get by with a slower/cheaper hard drive. –  Friend Of George May 5 '11 at 21:19
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If you are serious about audio production and use a ton of softsynths/vsts stay away from OSX, period. Stick with Windows 7. CoreAudio on OSX is absolutely horrid. I can easily run twice as many plugins at half the latency in Windows 7 vs. Snow Leopard. Until Apple improves CoreAudio I'd stay away from it for audio production. SSDs are great, but the only benefit you'll probably see is having your samples loaded into memory faster. Probably the best thing you could do would be to get a good interface and use a good DAW, I'd recommend REAPER, it might have the best audio engine out there for multi-threaded real-time audio processing, from my experience it does an amazing job using all the resources you have.

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Why the downvotes? –  zeekay May 14 '11 at 0:51
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