FireWire Hard Drive Requirements with Pro Tools Systems on Windows

Pro Tools System Compatibility

FireWire 400 Hard Drives

The Avid MediaDrive rS80, Avid MediaDrive rS250, DigiDrive FireWire 80, and third-party FireWire 400 drives with the Oxford 911 chipset have been qualified for record and playback with the following Mac & Windows systems:

  • Pro Tools|HD Accel Systems (with Pro Tools 6.2 or higher)
  • Pro Tools|HD Systems (with Pro Tools 5.3.1 or higher)
  • Pro Tools|24 MIX Systems (with Pro Tools 5.1.1 or higher)
  • Pro Tools LE Systems (with Pro Tools 5.1.1 or higher)

FireWire 800 Hard Drives

FireWire 800 drives with the Oxford 912 interface have been qualified for record and playback with the following systems on Windows XP:

  • Pro Tools|HD and Pro Tools|HD Accel Systems (with Pro Tools HD 7 or higher)
  • Pro Tools LE Systems (with Pro Tools LE 7 or higher)
  • Please Note: Hard drives using the Oxford 912 interface have USB 2.0, FW400 and FW800 ports on them. Only the use of the FW800 or FW400 port is supported on these drives with Pro Tools.
  • Up to 4 FireWire 800 daisy-chained drives supported when used without other FireWire drives
  • FireWire 400 and FireWire 800 drives should not be combined

Windows System Requirements

General Technical Specifications

Performance Expectations

  • Supported track count (per drive) with Pro Tools LE systems: 32 tracks per drive at 48 KHz/24-bit . Two drives required for 32 tracks at 96 KHz/24-bit .
  • Supported track count (per drive) with Pro Tools TDM systems: 24 tracks per drive at 48 KHz/24-bit
  • Maximum 2 drives for a total of 48 tracks (Pro Tools|24 MIX systems)
  • Maximum 4 drives for a total of 96 tracks at 48 KHz/24-bit (Pro Tools|HD systems)
  • Digidesign has qualified configurations containing a maximum of four DigiDrive FireWire drives daisy-chained to a Pro Tools workstation using Digidesign supplied cables. (more than 4 drives may result in -6042 errors on all systems)
  • Individual user experience regarding track count and performance may vary depending on edit density and available CPU cycles. (things like automation, RTAS plug-ins, or other CPU-dependent processes)
  • For more information, see the Hard Drive Requirements specific to your Pro Tools system in these Digidesign Compatibility Documents

Additional Configuration Requirements & Guidelines

Keep in mind the following when configuring DigiDrive FireWire & MediaDrive rS80 drives:

  • The FireWire cable between the Pro Tools workstation and the first drive (or between any two ports) cannot exceed 14.76 feet (4.5 meters).
  • The total FireWire cable from the system to the last drive cannot exceed 236 feet (72 meters).
  • A 12-inch (30.5 cm) FireWire cable ships with each DigiDrive FireWire 80 drive to daisy-chain the drives.
  • Either FireWire connector on the drive can be used to connect to the system and other drives.
  • Maximum compatibility is achieved when your system has dual FireWire ports. Daisychain FireWire drives to one port and use the other port for cameras and video decks.
  • FireWire drives do not require a terminator.
  • Although FireWire drives can be hot-swapped without rebooting the host computer, it is necessary to quit Pro Tools before swapping drives and then re-launching Pro Tools.
  • If your Windows CPU does not have an IEEE 1394 (FireWire) port built in, you will need to install a PCI-to-FireWire card:
  • While other Windows FireWire cards may work, Digidesign cannot guarantee results or performance on all cards. With any multi-port card, connect to the first port if at all possible.
  • In order to use Mac HFS+ formatted drives (for transfer only) on Windows systems, MacDrive is required.
  • Windows formatted drives will not be recognized as audio drives by Pro Tools on the Mac. (NTFS required for use as a transfer drive to Mac OS)
  • It is highly recommended that you not spread audio files from one session across different types of storage (i.e. SCSI, FireWire, IDE/ATA). This is not possible on Pro Tools HD systems, and may cause bus problems on other Pro Tools systems. On the other hand, you may see improved performance if you store QuickTime video files on one type of drive and play the audio off another. This is because QuickTime video results in high bus traffic, while audio requires a lot of drive seeking. So storing QuickTime video files on your FireWire drives and audio on your SCSI drives may provide better performance than having audio and video playing together over the same bus.
  • FireWire drives are not qualified for use with AVoption|XL, which requires SCSI storage for recording and playback. However, you can use the FireWire drives to back-up your video storage SCSI drives.
  • For additional information see the Digidesign Storage Guide in the Technical Document Library of the Support/Tech Support section of the website (printed manual included with the DigiDrive FireWire 80 & Avid MediaDrive rS80) and the Avid MediaDrive rS80 SPECS in the Products/All Products database.

FireWire Drive Formatting

  • Drives should be formatted with Windows XP disk administration without Dynamic Disk selected
  • FAT32 or NTFS file system for Windows XP
  • Windows XP is unable to create a FAT32 partition on a drive that is larger than 32 GB. If your drive is larger than 32 GB, either use a partitioning application such as PartitionMagic® or use the NTFS file system.
  • Windows NTFS or FAT32 formatted drives supported on Mac OS X for transfer only
  • Mac HFS+ supported on Windows XP for transfer only when using MacDrive 6

DV Tookit 2 & Music Production Toolkit Options — Maximum Track Count Information

The purchase of either of these options expand a Pro Tools LE system from 32 total voiceable tracks to up to 48 mono or 48 stereo tracks at up to 96 kHz (interface permitting*). Most desktops are capable of 48 stereo tracks at up to 96k, providing the system meets the following recommended requirements for maximum track count:

  • 2GHz or higher processor
  • 1GB total system RAM or more
  • 2 or more hard drives dedicated for audio record and playback:
    • 1 internal IDE/ATA and 1 internal SATA drive
    • 2 internal SATA drives
    • 2 SCSI drives
    • 2 or more FireWire drives

Other FireWire Drives

Although not fully tested and supported with Pro Tools systems by Digidesign, you may be able to use firewire drives from other manufacturers with similar results, given the same guidelines noted above. To date only FireWire drives with the following specifications have performed well with Pro Tools systems:

  • Oxford 911 FireWire bridge chipset
  • 7200 RPM drive

Check with the drive manufacturer to verify that their drive has the "Oxford 911" or comparable chipset & drive speed of 7200 rpm.

Additional Notes for Macintosh System Compatibility and Portability

While third-party drive format utilities may work on the owner's CPU where that application's software and extensions are installed, the best way to ensure compatibility on all Macs with firewire drives is to use the Apple Erase Disk function in Mac OS 9 for formatting, or the Mac OS X Disk Utility as outlined above. If you plan to also use your FireWire drive on other machines that may not have the same third-party drivers, your drive may not mount on that machine, or you may experience DAE or system errors. The guidelines listed previously on this page for the DigiDrive FireWire 80 will generally yield the best results when using FireWire drives with Pro Tools.

  • In order to use Mac HFS+ formatted drives (for transfer only) on Windows systems, MacDrive is required.
  • Windows formatted drives will not be recognized as audio drives by Pro Tools on the Mac. (NTFS required for use as a transfer drive to Mac OS)

Digidesign Compatibility Documents Index