There might not be an occupation in the world better suited to showcase the newest incarnations of Solid State Drives than DJing. Performing with a laptop is comparable to putting your gear into a rugby match- anything goes and it’s best to prepare for the worst. Not only are you blocking drunken requests while crossfading, but bass from the speakers is constantly threatening to send your hard drive into a panicked seizure. In these messy environments we find ourselves playing, Solid State Drives make a lot of sense, but are they ready for prime time djing? Lets take a look.
Foremost in our needs, there are no moving parts in an SSD. That means no spinning platters that can suffer from a mechanical break down caused by sudden jolts. For example, when the bus you are playing on swerves to miss a prostitute in the streets of Miami, jumps the curb and sends your laptop to the floor. Most SSD’s are rated to with stand up to 1500G’s of shock (Standard HDDs are rated at 2-300 GS) so they can theoretically withstand just about anything a club can throw at your laptop.
Second they are blazingly fast, equivalent to a 20000 rpm hard drive, which is twice as quick as the fastest hard drive in the world. The life span of a solid state drive is also equivalent to that of a conventional drive, about 5 years and some even use less power for longer battery life. While this all may sound too good to be true- SSD’s do have their dirty little drawbacks.
As of right now, SSD’s get slower the more you use them, which sucks, especially when writing smaller files like ID3 tags on your tracks. The reason this happens is because of the ways solid states write data across the drive. When data first gets written, recalling it can be up to six times faster than the fastest hard drive. However, when it’s time to re-write or delete data, things get more complicated and the drive can slow down. Moving information around is job of the controller chip so its that processor that determines the quality of writes, erases and rewrites. Unfortunately the controller chip is where the development of SSD’s needs to evolve and also where manufacturers differ. To further complicate things there are no standards to currently determine the rate of this degradation.
AND THE GOOD AGAIN
The good news is that drive speeds level out over time and still remain much faster than an ordinary hard drive. They can also be brought back to their highest speeds by doing a full format. In an effort to bring prices down there are many SSD manufacturers making substandard drives by using inexpensive controller chips- so be careful in selecting an SSD. In my research I found two drives that stood well above standard hard drives even over time, the Intel X25-M and the OCZ Vertex. The Vertex is not ready for firmware updates on Macs yet so that pretty much leaves many of us with the more expensive Intel for now. While there are many more drives available, without measuring standards it’s impossible to know whats gonna be junk and whats not. These two were tested extensively and the numbers looked really good.
Intel X25-M (MAC and PC FRIENDLY) 160 gig = $475 (Review)
OCZ Vertex (PC for now) 120 gigs= $390 (Review)
LIGHTER THAN A BAR OF GOLD
Cutting edge technology comes at a cutting edge price tag so SSD’s cant be compared to standard hard drives, which are typically an 1/8th of the price. “Is it worth it”, you gasp? Well, It really depends on what you do with the equipment. If you don’t see yourself playing out that often then it’s probably not gonna be a good investment yet. If however, you’re regularly traveling through the battlefields of clubdom it’s going be an excellent investment. For the producer out there, SSD’s are also amazing devices. Most sounds are streamed from the hard drive, into ram and then into your DAW. So with a super fast SSD drive there are no more “disk too slow” errors, which alone is worth the money. For most people a standard drive will more than cut the mustard, but if your regularly getting paid good money for studio or dj work, investing in a solid state drive could be as important as the computer you put it in.
or you could replace your internal for SSD, chuck your old one in an external usb caddy and boot from that one during WORK in the day.
Comparrrrrrrrre the hard drives….dot com.
If you use ur mac in the day for work, and can live with using an External usb DVD read /writer you can get a caddy an install an SSD in where the CD drive lives at the mo!
Install a fresh version of your favoured version of OSX on the SSD and optimise it for DJ ing only!
U can have a stripped down OSX version on the SSD with no wifi – blutooth – printer drivers blah blah blah that you dont need while DJing then you will have a super fast and reliable DJ machine, and dual boot into standard mode off your standard HDD while at work!
Voila – best of both worlds!
finally something useful for that darn expresscard slot…
[quote comment=”25216″]”I think this is a great article. I have a question though! If I am DJ-ing with Traktor it would save me file access time, however will I run into problems with recording (writing a large WAV file to the HDD)?” I have also the same question????Could you please answer to me….[/quote]
Write speeds are very much quicker than standard drives as well. -Nisus
“I think this is a great article. I have a question though! If I am DJ-ing with Traktor it would save me file access time, however will I run into problems with recording (writing a large WAV file to the HDD)?” I have also the same question????Could you please answer to me….
Great article I must say. I too am holding out on replacing my old Macbook with a Macbook Pro with a SSD drive, as I want to wait next year and see if prices for SSD will go down. I can see the 3.5 & 2.5 inch hard drives going the way of the dodo in another say 3-5 years time.
[quote comment=”25072″]Not sure if anyone else mentioned this, but E-Sata is retardedly fast and if you pack your gear correctly and ensure its safety you should have no need to upgrade to SSD. Once SSD matures and becomes less expensive, than I can see it being more viable. But seriously 100 bucks for a TB of E-Sata awesome is too hard to pass up.[/quote]
I think the point of all this, is to avoid to hurt your HD. Bringing one other external HD it’s like looking to double your chance of broking your drives.
THANKS FOR THE IMPORTANT INFO TECHTOOLS..)
Not sure if anyone else mentioned this, but E-Sata is retardedly fast and if you pack your gear correctly and ensure its safety you should have no need to upgrade to SSD. Once SSD matures and becomes less expensive, than I can see it being more viable. But seriously 100 bucks for a TB of E-Sata awesome is too hard to pass up.
SSD’s are not nothing new, admittedly the market has been flooded by options from most chip manufacturers. however it’s truly a high price if you choose to go with complete ssd adaptation. personally myself i do all the id’ing of tracks and the likes on my main machine then i copy whatever to laptop if i wanted to play out with it. ssd’s have positives in the fact they don’t take up as much system load but a for most people a simple memory stick would be a safer purchase because there cheaper and a more adaptable format to have your tunes on.
Is it or will it be possible to run your OS on an SSD?
One question, there is a famous vid of a guy in a serverroom yelling at a hard drive array and you see the bandwith going down.
Does anyone know something about low performance of harddisks in clubs because of heavy bass sounds?
Modern 2.5″ hd have a very high capacity and could in my oppinion have problmes with those extrem vibrations cuased by deep club bass sounds. That could be another reason to go for ssd drives.
Self healing 2nd generation Samsung based MLC drives for the win! I love my Corsair P128! 3 months ago did a fresh install of snow leopard with no unnecessary fonts, printer drivers, etc. and loaded up logic, traktor, ssl, live, reason, etc. and all my “regularly” used music and projects, still got around 30GB free. Performance hasn’t degrade over time for me, and loving it! best $285 spent!
@[quote comment=”25041″]I know apple wants them so I’m sure the manufacturers are hustling to get them right. Trim is available on Windows 7 but not Snow Leopard. The way the two OS’s write their data is different and it might not even be necessary on a mac.
Of course it is necessary for any OS to implement the Trim feature in order to tackle the mentioned issue … Look what wikipedia says about the topic! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TRIM_%28SSD_command%29
$475 for the SSD? My black MacBook was $500!
but the black macbook probably came with 1gb of RAM. Club DJing requires expensive, good quality machines, just like any other performing musician needs top of the line gear for playing live. I used to use a $300 tube amp for my guitar setup, and after a few months of use it would short out and stop working after 20 minutes. When I got a new band going, and we were about to start booking shows, I bit the bullet and bought a $2,100 amp and could never be happier. Sometimes you have to spend big money to have quality, solid, reliable gear.
I’m glad you guys enjoyed the post, thanks. I think we are really close to a break through in the performance and size of these drives. I know apple wants them so I’m sure the manufacturers are hustling to get them right. Trim is available on Windows 7 but not Snow Leopard. The way the two OS’s write their data is different and it might not even be necessary on a mac.
The space thing is difficult, but if you are used to carrying crates or pulling tracks from your back up drive before your set it just becomes a part of your working process. You do have everything backed up right? uh,right?:)
I’ve got the 256 with the Mac. That is plenty of space for DJing. Keep the rest of my unused songs and files on an external. The speed is insane
maybe if i had a dedicated MacBook Pro for DJing, but it’s also my day job computer. even with a 500GB HD i’m running out of space, so 256 just wouldn’t cut it. now if i could drop the DVD player and replace with a SSD with the system and music on it, that would be perfect.
I dont think any discussion of SSDs today is complete without talking about the two major technologies that are currently competing in the SSD market. This would be Single-Level Cell (SLC) drives and Multi-Level Cell (MLC) drives.
For a really great article concerning the differences between these two technologies please refer to this forum post over on notebookreview http://forum.notebookreview.com/showthread.php?t=223173
Anyone seriously interested in buying a SSD should take the time to read it as the differences in the technology will potentially impact your buying decision.
In short, SLC drives are more expensive, but offer much better performance and much longer lifespan than MLC drives. However, MLC drives are cheaper at the cost of performance.
A lot of initial criticism over SSD were really pointing at the poor performance of the controller chip for MLC drives. The way I understand it… Because MLC drives store multiple bits inside a physical data cell on the chip (unlike SLC), the data cell must first be read, then unset, then written. Because of the complex nature of not being able to just set 1 bit, the “bad” MLC controller chips could get swamped easily in the case of a large number of small write operations.
I must say, for me, just the startup time that is reduced alone to get into Traktor is a huge benefit when playing out.
Once functions like TRIM become more mature in the use of the SSD, the speeds of the drives should average closer those the New Out of Box speeds.
Well worth the investment for me.
mac osx does not support the trim command!
but i´m using a super talent ssd with 128 gigs in my 13″ mbp without any problems and i´m loving it. its really fast (boot up in 16 secs) and has enough space for all data that i´ve got to carry around with me
AND it was much cheaper than the intel, but nearly as fast as the x 25-m (!)
I’ve received my MacBook Pro, ordered with a 250G SSD, I can say that it’s so much faster, very reliable regarding place with vibration. I’m not afraid anymore to bring it wherever.
i wonder why my macs hard drive is clinking when i pick up my mybook pro in working condition.
it should also be mentioned that if you google you will find plenty of guides that show you how to swap out your dvd drive for an ssd. iirc you can even throw the dvd into an external case. this allows you to run in “hybrid” mode. as in you can keep your large cheap magnetic harddrive as backup and additional storage while keeping all your most important stuff on the ssd.
“The Bad” is wrong.
“SSD’s get slower the more you use them” was correct when the first generation of SSD’s were released, but nowadays, they make use of the so called Trim feature, that automatically deletes the unused portions of the SSD and thus preserves the drive speed.
Do better research before you post such an article, please. SSDs are awesome, yet still expensive. I wouldn’t go for a SSD as data storage drive yet, I’d rather recommend buying one for your system and most important programs.
I’m sure it wont take too long for prices to fall & capacities to increase.
Once we get to approx £200 for a 320 Gb drive, then i’ll be onboard!
I think this is a great article. I have a question though! If I am DJ-ing with Traktor it would save me file access time, however will I run into problems with recording (writing a large WAV file to the HDD)?
can you replace/change one of these in a Mac??
OCZ released a “mac” version of their Vertex-Series several month ago and from what I checked, they are even in stock here in Germany.
The price are way too steep for my liking, as is the GB-size. I don’t have a dedicated DJ-Laptop and my 500GB HDD only has 100GB left.
Especially with a mac; how do you streamline your system to fit into 120GB? Do you simply take only certain parts of your library with you to a gig? Isn’t that like carrying record-cases with you all over again?
Was reading that Apple will have awesome SSD’s in the new Macbook Pro. Will be interesting to see how they go in the long term…
well thats good to know. I’m a producer and I’m always trying to find ways to improve the speed of my PC. Not that I didn’t know about ssd, but now I know which is best. Thanks a bunch!
Sweet post, the less moving parts the better for me. Sadly I don’t crap money so I’ll be waiting for a couple years until the price is a little more friendly.
great article, I’m putting this one in the schkin Box