Masterlink hard disk drive upgrade


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I finally found the time to update the drives in my pair of Masterlinks. I backed everything off to CD24, and ripped into them. Here's how it went:

First, unplug the power. No, really! Then, pull the rack ears (3 screws each). Then, remove the cover (5 screws). Not much in there, eh? The case is 60% empty space... Using a 7/32" nutdriver, remove the 4 captive-lockwasher nuts that hold the drive assembly down. You can then remove the lock plate on the inner side that keeps them from sliding, and slide the entire drive assembly towards the rear of the chassis until the face of the CDROM drive clears the front panel, and the "slot" in the drive mount lines up with the threaded stud that clamps it down. You can then slide the drive assembly towards the middle of the chassis to slip it out from under the power supply. Remove the data and power cables from the hard drive, located under the CDROM drive. Pull the 4 screws that hold the hard drive mount plate, and then the 4 screws that mount the drive to the plate. The drive is then free to swap.

Installation is, as they say, the reverse of disassembly. (;-)

The original hard drives in mine were Seagate ST34313A 5400rpm 4.3 Gb drives. I replaced them with Seagate ST340810A 5400rpm 40Gb drives for the princely sum of $100 each. When I first powered up and tried to reload, the machine crashed: the hardware cannot actually support any drive bigger than 32Gb, as it turns out, so I overbought. The front panel blanks, and the machine just sulks. But these drives just happen to have a convenient jumper that will limit their capacity to 32Gb, so I installed it... Power up, and the machine will ask if you want to load the OS. Insert the CDR that you have prepared in advance with the new MLOS on it (I used 2.11, thanks to Bruce- although it is now available from the web site as well). The Masterlink will ask you if you want to install the OS, and then if you want to format the drive. Answer yes to both, and you're done.

It'd be hard pressed to be any easier, especially if you buy 32Gb or smaller drives to start with. Don't go to 40, because it just flat can't use it. Total time to upgrade two machines: 45 minutes. Would have been less if I hadn't had to pull the first one apart again to put in the 32Gb-limit jumper.

It's fun to power up and see the display say *51 hours* of recording time is available at 16/44.1, 34 hours at 24/44.1, and 17 hours at 24/88.2... I ain't a-gonna run out of recording time on live dates anymore, nosirree.

Piece of cake. If you have a Masterlink, this is a worthwhile upgrade!
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New member
Thanx Skippy.... Great upgrade info, ever think about writting " A Practical Approach" manual? U R very detailed yet easy to follow, informative and precise. Da Bears, Da Bulls, Da Link!

Oh, any forseeable problems with heat??

Thanx Again!



New member
Hey, thanks for the kind words! I'm sort of old-school on that front, I guess. I remember the old days of electronic communication, when nobody would ever know anything about you except by the words you wrote. So I still try to write that way: accurate and complete. And some would say "too freakin' wordy"! It's all part of being a dinosaur...

No problems at all with heat last night: the drives are from the same general design family, and according to their specs, they should dissipate very close to the same amount of heat: 7.5w versus 6.5w for the original.

Going with a 10-12w 7200 or 10000rpm drive would almost certainly cause problems, though: there is zero airflow in and out of that box. There are several stories of upgrade difficulties due to excessive heat over on the MusicPlayer forums. That's part of why I chose this specific drive. The other reason is that this drive family is designed for very quiet operation, just as the original was. Very important for this upgrade: low acoustical noise and low power dissipation are *much* more important than raw speed for this application!

There's a 30Gb version that might be a better deal than the 40Gb I bought. Dissipates the same power, but wouldn't require the jumper to downsize it. If you can find it for cheaper, I'd say that it might well be the way to go. Otherwise, I can attest to the 40Gb working very well indeed, once it is strapped for 32Gb operation.

All the specs are available on the Seagate web site: it's a useful design resource...

ST330610A 30Gb U-series drive that might be good to investigate:,1081,375,00.html

ST340810A 40Gb U-series drive (the one I bought):,1081,372,00.html


New member
Just a followup: I set up the Masterlink in my road rack and recorded 12 straight hours of National Public Radio at 24/88.2 yesterday, just as a stress-test. I figure that if that didn't kill it, nothing would... (;-)

The road rack is pretty tightly packed, so it is the worst case for heat dissipation. No problem at all... So I'm ready to declare the big-drive upgrade to be fully ready for prime time.


New member
heh heh...just like my Mackie HDR24

I just read this thread..

I've got the same problem with my Mackie more then 32 GB drives...pain in the butt when 100 GB drives are out there.


Blue Bear Sound

New member
Skippy... I just ordered the same drive you did (I tried for the smaller one, but it is not available ANYWHERE in North America now, according to Seagate - their own words "we have them out there, but we don't know who has them!"

I hope the jumper trick will work for me too.... should be here on monday.........

Thanks again for the great info Skip!



New member
You'll have no problem. If that trick ever worked, it should *always* work on the current production hardware...

You'll find the jumpers right between the power and data connectors. The drive in the unit, and your new drive, will be installed with 1 jumper already in place: that one configures the drive to be the IDE master/single drive. On the 40Gb drive, you can just steal the master jumper from the old 4.3Gb drive, and reuse it. The master jumper is the one closest to the IDE connector on both drives: the 32Gb-limit jumper is the one closest to the power connector on the 40gB drive. It's very well documented with a label on the drive itself, though: you can't miss it. It's a walk in the park.

I loaded all the stuff from my road Masterlink back onto the studio Masterlink via CD24, and am currently doing up several independent projects from that one live date. No problems so far, and I still have 32 hours of empty space on the drive. Happy camper. That sucker has in fact paid for iteslf.

Blue Bear Sound

New member
Got the drive...

...did the upgrade yesterday.

Piece of cake, like Skippy said........ I have 34 hours of 24-bit recording capability at my disposal! (51 at 16-bit!!) Should keep me going for a while.... save on Playlist backups to make room for projects.............

Anyone with a Masterlink -- it's virtually an essential enhancement. And easy and inexpensive too... what more could you ask for???!!!


Great post Skip!


Blue Bear Sound

New member
Well.... maybe not hot-aswappable as such, but I bet if you left the top off (it's in a rack anyways) so that the cables are accessible, you could easily put in one of those rack-mount drive-bays (Glyph???) that allows hot-swapping....

I haven't seen the drive bays as such, but I imagine the masterlink doesn't really care whether the drive is physically within the unit or not, simply that the right drives are used and the connecting cables can reach the bay!

Just a thought... this is more of Skippy's area than mine.

OTOH, with 51 hours of recording available, it's not really necessary, since you can easily back up playlist to CDs as always...............



New member
I put this info in my favorites file a while ago and finally got round to installing the new hard drive.I got the same Seagate 40gb drive as stated before and used the jumper switch to limit to 32gb.Thanks Skippy for the detailed how to do list! One word of warning don't overtighten the nuts back up on the thread when putting the drive back.I did this and snapped one of them! They are quite delicate.Dosn't affect it though as it is still quite secure.51 hours recording time,yipee!


New member
I just wanted to say that 8 years later this thread is still useful. I just bought a used Masterlink that functions very well except for the 4gig drive. A new drive is on the way.

Thank you for your excellent retention!


hilltop studios

New member
Can you tell me what hard drive you went with for the upgrade. Everything I'm finding out there seems to be TB's these days. Thanks, Dave

Terry Wetzel

New member
Skippy, Hi, I'm new here,(well, sort of), and I don't know my way around the forums that well but, I own Alesis equipment,(I.E.) HD24 and Masterlink. Please explain why I would want to do the upgrade described when the manual explains that when the drive is full, you can delete everthing,(after backing up), and return the drive to brand new condition?
I'm always on the lookout for any helpful knowledge tips on Alesis equipment. The only problems I've encountered thus far was due to lack of understanding on my part. I have had problems with the remote for my HD24 but I've ordered a new one thru Sweetwater. This seems to be a way around the reported Alesis parts supply problems. I guess a major retail sales/distributor has more clout than the Alesis customer.(?). Anyway, the drive swap info may well prove to be useful and I saved it. Thanks

Brian Oshman

New member
The newer ones already record up to 51 hours out of the box. No need for upgrade. Mine is probably 4 years old so they were making them with that capacity for that long now.


New member
OK, how about putting in a Solid State Drive?

What drive would work?
How would you do it?

I'm guessing a 30 gig would do and it wouldn't have to be super fast.

I just want a solid state drive instead of a platter. No damage if dropped or bumped while recording.