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Thread: Record Drive options for Pro Tools 10 on a Mac Mini (mid-2011), Firewire/Thunderbolt?

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    Record Drive options for Pro Tools 10 on a Mac Mini (mid-2011), Firewire/Thunderbolt?

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    Hey guys, I have a Mac Mini (2011 model) that I am using with Pro Tools 10 and a Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 Firewire interface. My problem is that I want to hook up an external record drive, and Avid recommends using Firewire. Unfortunately, the Mac Mini only comes with 1 Firewire port. However, there is a Thunderbolt port, which I don't know a whole lot about in terms of its compatibility with Pro Tools 10. Could I simply get a Thunderbolt-to-Firewire adapter and use that with an external Firewire drive? Or would it be better to get an external Thunderbolt drive? Are either of these options compatible with Pro Tools 10?

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    Thunderbolt is backwards compatible with firewire, if I recall correctly.

    Firewire and thunderbolt are also both daisy-chainable, so having only one port isn't a restriction.

    You also have the option of replacing your optical drive with a second internal hard drive on some mac minis.
    That's not something that appeals to most people, but I'm just letting you know.

    Hope that helps.
    ---------- Steenaudio Website ----------

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    Thanks for the reply. My friend also suggested the daisy-chain option, but I am skeptical about how it may affect performance, with one Firewire port on my Mac Mini handling my interface's input, output, *and* the write-to-external data. Again, I'm not a technical guy, so maybe what I said didn't make any sense, but that seems like three lanes worth of 1's and 0's trying to squeeze down a two-lane highway. Can a single Firewire port handle that much without tripping over itself?

    Since you mentioned that TB and FW are backward compatible, I think I will end up using the Thunderbolt port with a Firewire adapter in order to hook up the external hard drive, so that way my interface and external hard drive have their own dedicated ports. I don't know if that will make a difference, but it will give me peace of mind, haha.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Idiomatic View Post
    Since you mentioned that TB and FW are backward compatible, I think I will end up using the Thunderbolt port with a Firewire adapter in order to hook up the external hard drive, so that way my interface and external hard drive have their own dedicated ports. I don't know if that will make a difference, but it will give me peace of mind, haha.
    To be honest, I'm not up to spec on the bandwidth restrictions either, but I'm aware of several people who have used external storage and an interface in line.
    The only reason I remember is because there's a preferred order.
    Harddrive at the end of the chain, maybe? IDK.

    Anyway, yeah, you may as well use thunderbolt. It'll do no harm, right?
    Apple sell the adapters for 3000 or so, but you get a snazzy back to walk home with.
    ---------- Steenaudio Website ----------

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steenamaroo View Post
    To be honest, I'm not up to spec on the bandwidth restrictions either, but I'm aware of several people who have used external storage and an interface in line.
    The only reason I remember is because there's a preferred order.
    Harddrive at the end of the chain, maybe? IDK.

    Anyway, yeah, you may as well use thunderbolt. It'll do no harm, right?
    Apple sell the adapters for 3000 or so, but you get a snazzy back to walk home with.
    You mean Apple's Thunderbolt monitor? Yeah, there's that. However, Apple also makes a Thunderbolt-FW800 adapter for about $30. I would expect a device attached to such an adapter to perform nearly identically to a FireWire device attached to the internal port.

    My advice would be to try it with just the internal port, and if you run into performance problems, buy the adapter. Or, if you really want maximum flexibility, buy an external hard drive that has both FireWire and either eSATA or Thunderbolt (your call).

    I'm hopeful that we'll see reasonably priced Thunderbolt-to-eSATA adapters before too long. There's already one on the market from LaCie, but it's (IMO) horribly overpriced at $200, particularly once you realize that you still have to add another $50 for the Thunderbolt cable. And there's also Belkin's dock, which is priced at an even more jaw-dropping $400.

    For now, though, the cheapest Thunderbolt to eSATA solution I'm aware of is a Sonnet Echo Pro Thunderbolt-to-ExpressCard/34 adapter ($133 at B&H) and an eSATA ExpressCard (about another $40). Plus the $50 cable, of course.
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