Digital Audio Engineer Mike Gillies Impressed with SNS Hard Drives in Studio and on Road
St. Louis, Missouri, July 24, 2003 – The biggest fear of any artist recording in the studio is losing that one perfect take, that moment that simply cannot be recreated. Errors, which can lead to lost content, occur in the studio all the time, some due to human miscalculations and others to equipment failures. Hard drives tend to be a usual suspect when it comes to gear malfunctions, but as Metallica learned while recording their new album “St. Anger,” Studio Network Solutions’® A/V SAN™ not only refused to skip a beat, but also redefined their creative process.
Metallica’s digital audio engineer Mike Gillies, who has been using the A/V SAN for about three years, describes what he believes to be “a first” in the recording process. “For the ‘St. Anger’ sessions, not one band member showed up to the studio with a single riff or lyric written,” he states. “They would jam out for hours, sometimes for 8-9 hour sessions, and anytime anyone had an instrument in their hands, I recorded it. Then we went through and found the little bits that we liked, looped them and that’s how the songs were written. This just isn’t the way records are made, and there is no way this could be done before the fibre channel technology of the A/V SAN.”
The A/V SAN system, which utilizes the fibre channel communications protocol to achieve extremely high transfer rates, is capable of eliminating almost all hard drive and I/O-related PCI bus errors. This type of drive is ideal and pertinent for bands like Metallica who want to capture their raw creativity and spontaneity in a studio setting.
“This will give an idea of how much data we’re talking about,” he continues. “Just the cross-fades alone on some sessions were 12-13 Gigabytes, and all told, we totaled over 2.5 Terabytes and more than a million files. I never lost a single bit of data, no drive ever went down and I never had one DAE error. We even found the finite end of Pro Tools, which stopped at about 13 ½ hours on a 44.1K 24-bit session. One of the most powerful pieces of recording software quit before the A/V SAN.”
Gillies, who has been working with Metallica since their 1996 album Load, not only ended up with songs that had an incredible amount of edits across every track, but he also accrued every bit of a year’s worth of recording, all sitting on the same edit template as the final mix. And while he was amazed at the A/V SAN’s ability to handle to such an immense data load, he was even more surprised by the rugged durability of the drive out on the current “Summer Sanitarium” tour.
“I find that most pieces of gear that are so high-tech and efficient tend to be a bit finicky and delicate,” Gillies continues. “But not the SNS drive, and I have really abused it. The A/V SAN is out in the summer heat, right next to flashpots and other pyrotechnics on top of a shaky, rattling stage. Combine that with dust, smoke and the rigors of traveling from city to city, and I’m really astounded that I’ve never had so much as a hiccup out of it.”
A big reason that Gillies decided to take the unit out on tour was so he could quickly turn over live tracks to radio stations that wanted cuts from the festival shows. As opposed to renting several expensive 8-track tape machines that require syncing and archiving large amounts of tape, Gillies can run 48 tracks directly into the A/V SAN, where he can quickly recall a given song and prepare it for radio airplay.
“This had to be 100% reliable,” Gillies continues. “You simply can’t have a hard drive drop in a live recording situation. You can’t have the band play anything again live, so your system has to be able to handle long, 48-track programs, which I knew the A/V SAN could.”
The A/V SAN can deliver 128 tracks of 24-bit/48k audio from a single drive from applications like Pro Tools. Featuring up to 400 MB/s (200MB/s per port) of throughput and concurrent access for multi-users, the unit also allows simultaneous data back-up while using the drives.
The A/V SAN™ package includes a 1U enclosure, up to 4 Fibre Channel drives, a Studio Network Solutions PCI card, SNS SANmp Management Software and optical cables.
Studio Network Solutions (SNS) specializes in the development of shared storage hardware and software solutions for the Media and Entertainment industry. Since day one we’ve applied unmatched ingenuity and experience to create outstanding products that exceed industry expectations while providing outstanding support to our customers.
Our customers range in size from individual freelance engineers to multinational media powerhouses. Our solutions are used to produce everything from books on tape to full track scoring for major Hollywood films. Our products have been at the technical core of the music you listen to, the games you play, the shows you watch and the movies you see.
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