Pro Tools M-Powered Audio File Storage

Hard Drive Requirements with Mac OS X

As with all Pro Tools systems, drive performance depends on a number of factors, including track count, edit density, and the use of crossfades or processing such as plug-ins.

Qualified Drives

IDE/ATA, SATA & FireWire Hard Drives

  • Full 32 track, 24-bit, 44.1/48 kHz performance from one dedicated IDE/ATA, SATA, or FireWire 400 audio drive is supported with Pro Tools M-Powered Systems
  • Minimum drive speed of 7200 RPM
  • FireWire 400 drives require Oxford 911 FireWire bridge chipset (check with the drive manufacturer to verify that their drive has the "Oxford 911" or comparable chipset & drive speed of 7200 rpm)
  • FireWire 800 drives with Oxford 912 interface have not been tested with M-Powered systems

SCSI Hard Drives

SCSI drives have not been tested with Pro Tools M-Powered systems.

Transfer Drives — Not for Record or Playback

Drives of any speed with the following formatting can be used to transfer Pro Tools sessions (session files and audio files) from another system:

  • Mac OS Standard (HFS) formatted drives
  • NTFS or FAT32 Windows formatted drives

Mac OS X will be able to read those drives and allow you to transfer the files to a Mac OS Extended (HFS+) audio drive for Record or Playback.

Music Production Toolkit Option — Maximum Track Count Information

The purchase of this option expands a Pro Tools M-Powered system from 32 total voiceable tracks to up to 48 mono or 48 stereo tracks at up to 96 kHz (interface permitting). In order to reliably achieve maximum track count, Digidesign recommends the following on Mac OS X:

  • Digidesign-Qualified Power Mac G5 Dual Processor 2GHz or higher, including Power Mac G5 Quad
    • Power Mac G5 Dual 2GHz (first generation model M9032) may not achieve maximum track count
  • 1.5 GB total system RAM or more
  • 2 or more hard drives dedicated for audio record and playback:
    • 2 internal SATA drives
    • 2 external SCSI drives & qualified SCSI HBA
    • 2 or more external FireWire drives

Additional Drive Requirements & Formatting

  • Minimum speed of 7200 RPM & average seek time of less than 10.0 ms
  • Boot drives may be used for audio tracks, however performance/track count may vary
  • Recording to boot drive not recommended or supported
  • For 24-32 tracks, drives must be dedicated for audio (internal or external)
  • Mac OS file system: Mac OS Extended (also known as HFS+ format)
  • Mac OS Standard (HFS) formatted drives can be used for transfer, but are not recommended for recording or playback
  • Pro Tools does not support RAID technology. Please do not activate this feature on any Pro Tools recording drives.
  • Supported formatting utility for all recording drives: Apple Disk Utility, included with Mac OS X

Formatting Instructions

  1. Open from the following location: Applications->Utilities->Disk Utility, or in the Apple Menu when booted from the OS X installation CD.
  2. Select drive from the list on the left
  3. Choose either the Erase or Partition tab
  4. Choose Mac OS Extended (Journaled)
  5. If you plan on using your drive on both Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X, check the box next to "Install Mac OS 9 Drivers".

Note: partitioning is not an option using the Erase command. To increase performance and improve seek time Digidesign recommends that you allocate a portion of your hard drive for recording. In Pro Tools, Choose Setups/Preferences and click Operation. Under the Open Ended Record Allocation option, select Limit To and enter a number of minutes to be allocated.

Macintosh Journaled File System Now Recommended for Pro Tools

Mac OS X 10.3 and 10.4 incorporates a journaled file system, which will automatically log any file modifications. If your computer crashes badly enough to require a restart (or a restart from a power failure), the OS will then use the journal to aid in fixing any disk problems caused by the crash.

Mac OS X 10.3 and 10.4 ships with journaling on by default. Digidesign now recommends that customers format their media drives with journaling turned on. When using Apple"s Disk Utility program to format drives, Digidesign recommends choosing "Mac OS Extended (Journaled)" format, instead of "Mac OS Extended."

To enable journaling on an existing drive in Mac OS X 10.3:

  1. Run the Apple Disk Utility, located in Application/Utilities.
  2. Select the disk or volume in the left column of the Disk Utility windows.
  3. Click "Enable Journaling" in the toolbar, or choose "Enable Journaling" or Command+J from the File menu

If you want to turn journaling off for any reason, select the volume and choose "Disable Journaling" or Command +J in the File menu of Disk Utility. Note that disabling journaling will slow recovery if your system has to be rebooted to recover from a kernel panic or power failure.

Note: Mac OS 10.4 includes two new formatting options:

  • Mac OS Extended (Case-sensitive, Journaled)
  • Mac OS Extended (Case-sensitive)

Digidesign has not tested these new formatting options with Pro Tools, and therefore these are not recommended. Please choose the following option for drive formatting:

  • Mac OS Extended (Journaled)

Storage Guidelines


  • Pro Tools has a single audio file size limit of 2048 MB. This equates to about 4.5 hours at 24-bit, 44.1 kHz.
  • High Speed Drives require manufacturer-approved enclosure to ensure correct heat dissipation, required for sustained drive reliability.

Approximate Storage Consumption (Megabytes per Minute per Track)

Sample Rate (kHz)
MB per Minute @ 44.1k
MB per Minute @ 48k
MB per Minute @ 96k
16-Bit — MB per Min
5 MB
5.5 MB
11 MB
24-Bit — MB per Min
7.5 MB
8 MB
16 MB

Approximate Track Counts — IDE/ATA or SATA Drives with Pro Tools M-Powered Systems:

Qualified Hard Drives
44.1/48 kHz
96 kHz

Approximate Track Counts — FireWire Drives with Pro Tools M-Powered Systems:

Qualified FireWire Drives

44.1/48 kHz
96 kHz


Digidesign Compatibility Documents Index