External firewire hard drive to go with Mac Mini.


Hope someone could help me out. I'm getting the Tranquility USB DAC. I ordered the Mac Mini and looking to get external 1 or 2 TB firewire hard drive to store my music. Can anyone recommend a QUIET, RELIABLE external hard drive for the Mini? Thanks.
dracule1
I've had the best experience with the newer Lacie drives. I've had some trouble with newer Seagates (which surprises me). I've had good experience with Western Digital, but I've mainly used their USB versions.

Don't rule out using a NAS or Apple Time Capsule. They can be placed anywhere and eliminate one more physical connection to the music source. Also evaluate the Apple Remote app and the AirPort Express. Very handy devices.... ;)

What type of internal hard drive are you using with the Mac Mini? I think good SSD drives sound much better if you are connecting the Mini directly to the DAC.
I use FANTOM GF1000T (1 Terabyte) with MAC Mini on Firewire interface. One is storage for ALAC while the other is backup. Drives are $99 after rebate here: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822207009&nm_mc=OTC-Froogle&cm_mmc=OTC-Froogle-_-Hard+Drives+-+External-_-FANTOM+DRIVES-_-22207009

Fantom is drive builder - I'm not sure what HD is inside but it is Firewire 400 only (My MacMini doesn't have 800) and 5000rpm. Drive is running cool (heavy aluminum case) and quiet plus have good reputation (check user review at Newegg and Amazon).
I have been happy with my Western Digital 2TB my book studio version. It runs firewire or USB. I had a problem with one of my Lacie drives (I had 5 stacked 250MB drives at one point) and I did a little research and seems like the all arrows pointed to the Western Digital drives.
the seagate 1.5tb drives have performed very well for me. also, remember to get 2 so you can backup your drive. don't be fooled by the drobo, raid, etc... always have a backup. also, for macs, use firewire 800 if your mac has that capability.
btw: a ssd will not get you better sound. there are a few people that will tell you that certain hard drives will get you better sound also. the ssd's that you can install in pc's/macs are the cheaper ones that will wear out much faster than a hard drive. the better ssd's cost over $10k for a few hundred GB's, the ones for a few hundred are the cheap ones. what ssd's will get you much faster access to the data, faster writes, great for databases with a large # of users, a waste for music (for the price right now). the IOPS/MBPS requirement of reading from a disk for music is quite low also.
Thanks for your suggestions. Is the WD 2TB mybook studio HD very quiet?
I'm using a 2TB Cavalry (raid configuration) with an iMac and it has worked very well for 3 years now. It has firewire and USB capability. I use the firewire. It is not very quiet though.
Try the aluminum external drives for Other World Computing (http://eshop.macsales.com). You can spec out the internal unit (I recommend a Seagate for low noise) if you give them a call. The techs there are very knowledgeable and may be able to help you pick the best configuration. The cases have no fans, so should be quiet with the right drive mechanism. Other World Computing also sells the NewerTech MiniStack line and these may also work well.
The WD 2TB drives (green, not black) should be a good choice. They spin at 5400 rpm (vs 7200 rpm for most full size SATA drives) and by default have decent acoustic management. The black ones should be ok too but you don't need the extra speed and power consumption for audio files.

There are 1.5 TB Seagate desktop drives that have firmware issues. The problem is that after x number of power cycles they turn in to a "brick". "x" is not really known. If you have a Seagate 1.5 TB drive make sure you check their website for FW upgrade based on your drive's S/N.

All SATA drives should have acoustic management settings. If you're savvy enough figure out how to set the acoustic management setting you may be able to reduce some noise. A lot depends on the drive itself. I never checked but I would hope that most external drive packages via USB or Firewire have the acoustic management settings set to quietest since by design they're not meant for performance (because of the USB or Firewire interface).
Thanks Larry, are you talking about the WD 2TB My Book Studio Addition II with RAID?
I went with the WD green drives (5400rpm) but bought individual enterprise level drives. I feel that these are better than the consumer level drive. They are very quiet. I put them in an Icy Dock enclosure with a variable speed fan,.
Dracule1,
I don't know what drives WD puts in their "black boxes". I only have access to "raw" drives from manufacturers. In general, especially light home use, any of their drives should be fine. Same for most manufacturers.
Rbstehno, thanks suggesting the Seagate. I was interested in the Free Agent 2 TB HD, but there seems to be a problem with Free Agent drives and Macs. Specifically, there is an Amazon review by a guy who bought this drive for his Mac. Here is A. Leong's review on May 31, 2010:

"Do not buy this drive if you use sleep/ hibernate on your mac. I bought two of these to house my media library and to serve as a backup drive for my Mac Mini in my living room. First the positives: this drive is fast. I didn't have any problems with delay when I accessed data on the drive (iTunes library, movies, pictures). It's also quiet. It's fanless so no distraction when listening to music. The light on the bottom is anoying, but tollerable. Now for the big problem: if the drive goes into hibernate, it will not wake up, freezing you computer and forcing a hard reboot. With the updated firmware from Seagate, it takes about 15 min on inactivity. I used an applet to constantly ping it so that it wouldn't sleep. That was fine except if your mac goes to sleep, it will also hiberate this drive. Somehow, the time machine drive would still sleep everyday and freeze the mini, as a result. So, in short, if you're the kind of user who boots up your computer, does what you need to do, and then shuts it down, these are the drives for you. If you leave your computer on for any period of time, don't buy these."

http://www.amazon.com/Seagate-FreeAgent-FireWire-External-ST320005FJA105-RK/product-reviews/B002DW94WS/ref=cm_cr_pr_recent?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending

Have you had any problem like this?
WD formerly made everything from the silicon in there own wafer fabs to manufacture of complete drives. This was over a decade ago. Now? They probably buy other peoples chipsets. I worked for 'em for over a decade.

I like the idea behind the dual drive externals w/firewire 800 for Mac. When I build one, it'll probably be just a single drive for backup, but if cost were no object.....some kind of Raid5 would be in order.

I know its been a while, but for the last drive I replaced I used an IBM / Hitachi drive which was very quiet.

Thanks to above tips for external enclosures.....I could only find a few firewire models and they didn't appeal.
Anyone have any problem with the Seagate drive and Macs like the guy I posted about above?
Magfan - I found out that Fantom uses Micronet drives 7k rpm. Firewire is only 400 (same on my Mac Mini). Firewire 800 might have some use for file transfer but not for the music server since Firewire 400 is already about 300 times faster that CD data stream (150KB/s). Firewire does not involve main CPU in file transfer as much as USB.

I'm not a big fan of Raid. The way it is executed in Dell computers (stripping) increases only disk performance creating additional hazard (one fails = all fail). Mirroring offers protection but only in case of disk failure and not from the virus or OS going crazy.

I keep three 1TB identical drives (copies) - one in use, one in safe and one at work. That way I'm protected if something happens during copying (both damaged) and also from theft, fire, flood, lightning, hurricane, tsunami, earth quake, wild dogs and mother in-law.
Magfan - I found out that Fantom uses Micronet drives 7k rpm. Firewire is only 400 (same on my Mac Mini). Firewire 800 might have some use for file transfer but not for the music server since Firewire 400 is already about 300 times faster that CD data stream (150KB/s). Firewire does not involve main CPU in file transfer as much as USB.

I'm not a big fan of Raid. The way it is executed in Dell computers (stripping) increases only disk performance creating additional hazard (one fails = all fail). Mirroring offers protection but only in case of disk failure and not from the virus or OS going crazy.

I keep three 1TB identical drives (copies) - one in use, one in safe and one at work. That way I'm protected if something happens during copying (both erased or damaged) and also from theft, fire, flood, lightning, hurricane, tsunami, earth quake, wild dogs and mother in-law.
Would appreciate if people limit their posts to my original question and about the Seagate drive.
Dracule1 -

Sorry for posting twice. I think I'm doing exactly what you asked - recommending very quiet, cool and reliable external disk for Mac-Mini. Choice of interface is also important while backup/mirroring goes into reliability that you asked for.
Kijanki, no worries. Thanks for your input on the fantom drive.
Dracule1 - do you know we have same speakers (HPS-938)?

I bought initially Fantom for my work (backup) because of good reviews and three more for myself later - no problems so far. I bought previously external drive for my nephew from Other World Computing (macsales.com) and it works for many years without problems. Similar to Fantom - silent, heavy aluminum case. I only heard good things about them. Both Fantom and OWC come with all interface cables. Fantom comes now already formatted for Mac Extended format.
Thanks. Will look into the Fantom. How far do you sit from the Fantom drive when you listen to your system? Which model do you have specifically? I like the Seagate because it comes with 5 year warrenty, something no other hard drive maker can match.

The 938s are great speakers - really can't touch them unless you are willing to spend over $10k. I am finally moving onto different speakers which cost a lot more but better sounding.
It is GF1000T. It is triple interface but only Firewire 400 (is your MAC-Mini 800?). Warranty is only 1 year but I assume that warranty doesn't make item better (Hyundai has better warranty than Toyota) and I keep 3 copies. 1TB external drives are below $100 now. My drive is at floor level (side of the sofa) while I'm sitting on the sofa - perhaps 4 ft between my ear and a drive. I can hear when it comes-up from "sleep mode" but after that is almost silent.

I was toying with idea of drive upgrade to 1TB in my DVR. Drive that was highly recommended by users for it's quietness was Western Digital (don't remember the number). It comes with software that allows you to lower/tweak the noise even further.

My 938s are amazing. These are relatively new speakers (bought recently 6 month old dealer demo) with heavier bracing (changed design in 2004/2005). I only wish for a little more extension (both) but it might be as well an issue of my room acoustic I'm trying to fix now. What are you getting and how is it better than Hyperion? Have you heard 968?
Well, I'm not sure I would use Hyundai and Toyota as an analogy given Toyota's recent debacle. You may be surprised if you test drive the recent Hyundai's. Unfortunately, most HD fail within the first three years, and some in the first year. I think most of these HD makers only give 1 year warranty because they expect it fail not too soon after warranty. I have not had a HD last more than 4 years, so 5 year warranty is reassuring. I have Mac Mini with FW 800.

WD has been recommended for its quietness but it has virtual Smartware you can't get rid of taking up 700 MB of disk space. Seems like there are as many good reviews as bad on WD drives.

Haven't heard the 968's. I've heard it's an improvement over the 938s but not on another level. Hyperion has had some issues with customer support, although I have had great support from them. I'm getting the Ridge Street Audio Sason. It's a two way but sounds like no other two way I've heard, including the Magico Mini's. I can send you some pics if you want, just email me.
I remember Ridge Street Audio Sasons - company is located in Indiana, if remember correctly, and they sell direct. At the time I looked it was too big of a "jump" for me but I keep my eyes open. I think I read "Positive Feedback" review. The way they build them I'm surprised it doesn't cost more.

Toyota problem was exactly the same that Ford has now - people were placing all-weather mats on the top of existing mats in spite of manufacturer warning no to do it. I have two Avalons - 14 year old and 9 year old - 1 small defect on each, that's all. Absolute perfection. Hyundai is pretty good now but even many years ago they had 10 years bumper to bumper warranty. To me it is just different sales strategy - nothing else.

One guy at work does a lot of computer repair for friends and he profoundly dislikes Seagate. I found one (Fantom) that had great reviews but another audiogoner had problems. I assume that drive might fail so it needs backup protection. If it fails every few years I don't mind. Chances that all three drives fail at the same time, while two are in storage unpowered, are zero. I payed more attention to heat and noise.

WD used to be the cheapest (and worse) company 20 years ago but it changed. I wouldn't be afraid to buy WD HD now. Processes are better controlled now and for instance SMT assembly made in China will be of same quality as one made in US.

I found some info on Fantom/Micronet. Micronet does not make drives. Here is info from Micronet website:

"MicroNet / Fantom Drives uses only the highest quality disk drives from top-tier hard disk manufacturers such as: Western Digital, Seagate, Hitachi, and Samsung. We carefully vet each model of hard disk we carry to ensure that it meets our rigorous demands for quality and performance. In addition, any disk mechanism we use will meet or exceed the stated specifications for any particular MicroNet or Fantom Drives product."