Best Hard Drive and Enclosure for Music Server

I'm going through the muck dealing with a faulty OWC miniStack. It's a great idea since it fits perfectly under a Mac Mini. But I had lots of problems with its connection to the computer dropping. I returned it for repair, they said the controller board failed its tests, replaced it and sent it back. Now the thing is giving me trouble again. The drive just disconnects.

Also just bought a Western Digital 1.5TB Green Caviar drive that's supposed to be really quiet. So far it's so-so. On idle it sometimes has a high pitch that goes away once it's accessing the disc.

Looking for a relatively rock solid solution that's not too noisy. Any suggestions or experiences to share?
Drobo with Droboshare. Not the cheapest, but to me the absolute easiest, safest and pretty much infinite expandablity.

Check out their website.
Unfortunately the Drobo was too noise for my taste (even with WD Green Caviar drives).

The only way to get really quiet storage is to go for a bunch of 2.5'' drives, which are quite a bit more expensive though (and only availabel up to 500-640GB).
I'm getting good, quiet service from my USB external Seagate 1 TB drive. It was a breeze to setup - attach the power and USB cables and you're done! During operation it runs stone cold quiet, I rarely hear it and it's only 2 feet away from my left ear.

I believe they are selling for right around $100 and the 1.5 TB model is going for about $150. Check,, or

I recommend you stay FAR away from, they ripped me off for a $100 rebate and then basically told me to go pound sand...

In three years I've had 3 outboard hard drives. Seagate, LaCie and Western Digital. The LaCie matched the Mac Mini and really looked cool and only lasted a month. The last Seagate lasted less than a week. They both came in sealed enclosures. The WD 2 TB MyBook II, knock on wood has been great. I use firewire cable for the connection and it is sitting on the floor behind my component rack, out of site and very quite.

After spending a month with the WD I went out a bought another 1 TB drive. I replaced one of the drives in the enclosure and now keep it stored away. I am not going to load all those CD’s again.
I don't understand why the noise from a Drobo would bother anything? Mine are in another part of the house. They are next to the router, and the Droboshare is connected to the router, this allows the whole wireless network to use it.

I have (4) 1TB drives and that gives me about 2.8TB of usable space, and the rest used for Back up.

MY AppleTV uses the Network to grab the info off of the Drobo and then I use a v good TosLink cable from the AppleTV to a Bryston BDA-1 DAC. It works stunningly well.

Drobo is super safe and easy to use, it replaced a RAID array for me.

I suppose if you have the $$$ some Solid state HDs could be the quietest available.

I use a 1TB Iomega NAS. I also use a WD 'My Book' USB, and have a couple USB & SATA enclosures so I can exchange OS drives and back them up from one pc to another.

The computer audiophile dot com offers a few options for you. The post alluding to a wireless configuration which allows you to sequester your server/drive elsewhere is a good one.

I found if you use compliant nodes or pods beneath your ??? the noise from that drive or server will drop drastically. A bit more if you also have it connected to a good cond. AND the sound improves too.... but don't take my word for it, try it for yourself.

The Iomega X NAS has two USB ports so it can be added to. Under $300 as well. great reachable support too!

I've got a Seagate 1TB Barracuda and a few WD drives with no issues so far.

I am going to go with a hot swap-able server of sorts soon as I can though.

Good luck... try those Bright Star nodes or Vibra pods... they provide a more than noticeable lessening of the SPL them gizmos produce!
I use a pair of Western Digital MyBook Studio Edition 1TB with my Mini (see my system). They are very quiet.

I don't understand why the noise from a Drobo would bother anything? Mine are in another part of the house.

Another part of the house would be in the bedroom or the bathroom in my 1-bedroom place ;)

The Drobo is otherwise very nice, but if in the same room as the music system my friend's Drobo was loud enough for me to hear while listening to quiet music . It is a bit louder than a fanless hard drive enclosure. The Raid array is hard to beat though.
Restock, that makes a difference for sure. Apt looks very cool though!!

I had a Raid array, and I found it took a bit more mainenence that I was comfortable with doing myself. It was definitely more cost effective, I had mine in an old desktop enclosure, and networked.

I don't remember it making any noise, but it was in the office in our house too, so.

I am using the Seaport Free Agent Go Pro 500GB external hard drive for my MAC Book pro to store my music files. I have a 2nd Seaport for backup. I have had no problems with either hard drive. I load all my music on the external hard drive. It sounds better if it is on a different controller than the DAC, which means a FireWire hard drive. The Seagate is a portable external drive and has a 2.5" drive inside it. The advantage of this over a bigger external hard drive with a 3.5" drive is that it will be much quieter and it will run off the power provided by the bus. This means you will not need an extra wall plug for the hard drive.

Please see
I am using two 1tb western digital green enterprise drives in an Icy Dock enclosure. The Icy Dock has a variable speed fan which I keep at the lowest level. It is rather quiet.
I wish I could put my DirecTV receiver and computer stuff in another room, but there's no space. I'm also in a 1 bedroom set-up. And even with Wireless-N running I still get weird dropouts now and again due to the fact that there's at least 8 other wireless networks within reach of my place. That's what drove me to drop sending my audio wirelessly through an Airport Express.

Maybe I could move the fanned components off my rack and into a cabinet below the TV that has a glass door or just a regular door and I could stick IR extenders on them.

I might look at the Icy Docks. I actually have an old version of their stuff in an 8 drive RAID and it's been rock solid for 4 years.

It'd be cool if someone designed an enclosure for MacMinis & storage that allowed for heat dissipation with little noise. It'd be kind of specialty, but hell, I want to stop fussing with it all and listen to music.

Of course everyone is wondering when/if Apple will make a more flexible product out of the AppleTV.
I use 2 LaCie d2 Quadras, 500GB each, and I've had good results. They are fanless and very quiet. They are 8 feet from my listening position and I cannot hear them (I only have one drive on at a time, and that helps). No failures so far after 6 months, but that is of course inevitable. I second Blindjim's suggestion to use isolation under your drives. I use Bright Star isonodes under both my drives - inexpensive and effective.
also check out the computeraudiophile dot com for more on this topic.
I've read a lot over at computeraudiophile but there's nothing about measured noise and little anecdotal info about quiet Firewire drives. there is a website that fastidiously rates computer equipment for noise, but they don't test external enclosures.

this morning i was looking at Caldigit and EZQuest. both market their products to audio/video production. EZQuest has two tempting single drive products. One is the Thunder Pro with no fan and the other is the simply named Pro with a ball bearing fan.

I have a Fantom Drive that works great with no fan but it's front grill exposes the drive and the drive noise echos outward.

Macworld and MacNN both gave nice reviews to the Thunder so I might give it a shot and report back.
I have been happy with a LaCie 2big NAS drive so far - I am running to 1 TB drives in Raid 1 (mirror).
Lots of great ideas here already... for more I'd look to computer based mags or websites for just such info. PC & Mac World, PC Magazine, etc. I just began Googling for best rated encloseures, servers, NAS drives, etc... found reviews and went shopping for my picks from those which best suited my budget and needs. I bought a NAS drive instead of a server. For me, it works great enough... and I've found the support for it exceptionally good too. Iomega 1TB NAS w/2 ext. USB slots. $235.00.
So I installed a WD Green Caviar 1.5TB drive in an EZQuest enclosure. The enclosure doesn't have a fan so it doesn't contribute to noise, but doesn't do much to absorb noise from the drive. During operation it's O.K. and the drive makes too much noise when it's idle. Might be a dud. Not happy. So I'm back to using a Fantom enclosure with a Seagate 1TB. My conclusion is that there aren't any quiet enclosures. For now solid state is too expensive and NAS wireless is too slow for video (at least in my place). I've decided to try to stow the drive away. I wonder if I could build a foam padded box to put the enclosure in.
Perhaps a new case. I use the Antec Sonata III with excellent results.
I think you would have good luck with the aluminum enclosures from Other World Computing ( They specialize in Macs, but their external drives will work with any computer, and you can spec out the HD inside the case (call them if you need a specific drive that is not listed).

I would choose a Seagate drive for the least drive noise. In my experience they are much quieter than those offered from other manufacturers. I know they sometimes get a bad rep, but all consumer level drives fail on occasion, and this is not unique to Seagate.
My WD green drives are very quiet. They are enterprise level so that may make a difference. They are also 5400rpm. I think that most 5400 rpm drives will have less noise than those running faster. For music the 5400rpm seems to work just fine for me. My Icy Dock enclosure has an adjustable fan speed. I keep it on the slowest speed. It is very hard to hear but with no music it can be detected. I placed the drive in a wooden box with an open back and what little noise it made was gone.
I'm running 2 Seagate USB drives, one is 1.5 Tb (main) and the other 2 Tb (backup). Total cost: about $300 or so.

They are in a small 12X12 room with my other equipment ( I need to post some updated pictures), attached to my laptop running Windows Media Server (with sharing enabled for remote access from Roku network players, one on my main system in the same room, and one on my other system upstairs).

They are not perfectly quiet but quiet enough to not be an issue during listening even in those tight quarters.

These drives were painless to set up, have been 100% reliable, and the scheduled back-up software included also works like a charm with very simple setup.

Highly recommended for an effective and painless experience overall.

I currently have the 1.5 Tb main drive about 1/4 to 1/3 full with several hundred Cds (about 75% of my collection) ripped in .wav lossless format (over 9000 individual tracks) so far.

My most common listening scenario these days is to listen to cuts from my collection available off the server in random play mode with the Rokus. What a great way to discover and rediscover perhaps otherwise hidden or forgotten gems in ones music collection!
Dmailer: You are probably right about 5400 rpm drives being quieter. Also, I really doubt that you would see any problems in music from a 5400 rpm drive. Common interfaces for external drives (USB and Firewire) may not be able keep up with the read speed on a single file (like a song) of modern SATA drives even with the slower 5400 rpm spindle speed. This means that there would probably be no performance penalty for the 5400 rpm drive for this use. E-SATA interfaces can outpace some slower drives, but this level of performance is not necessary for playing music files, even at very high resolutions.

I believe that the aluminum enclosures from Other World Computing that I recommend above do not have fans, which would make them very quiet. They normally don't sell them with 5400 rpm drives, but you could get them to install one, or buy just the enclosure and do it yourself.