Portable External Hard Drive - Pausing During Playback
Jan 26, 2013 at 2:13 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 18

Erieg

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I am using a WD USB 3 "My Passport" attached to my mac as a music source. During play back using Audirvarna & iTunes I am experiencing 5 second pauses. It sorta seems like a buffer got hosed. It doesn't happen to any particular track nor time span and if I transfer music to the internal SSD it never happens. This also happens regardless of me listening using headphones directly off of the MBA or when I have my DAC & amp attached.The tests I have run all say the drive is fine. 
 
My question is this, is this a normal problem with external drives? If not can someone recommend a portable drive I can replace this with? The problem doesn't occur ever minute but enough that it is very annoying. I carry around about 1.5 TB of audio so just using my SSD is out of the question.
 
Jan 26, 2013 at 2:44 PM Post #2 of 18

jake120

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firstly, i dont know much about macs but usb problems would generally be universal.
how big is each particular files and have you tried another usb hard disk or do you have another port/power management feature enabled?
 
also have you tried smaller even if they are lower quality files, do they suffer the same thing?
 
Jan 26, 2013 at 2:56 PM Post #3 of 18

Erieg

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The files are in ALAC format and run anywhere from 20 to 50MB (or more) each. The Macbook has two USB ports and I have tried them both, Macs dont have the same power management options that Windows has.. actually there are probably a lot things that are accessible via the command line but I am not going there.
 
I hadn't considered smaller files since that isn't a fix but I can certainly try it. What will that tell me though? That its a port issue? That would make me very sad.
 
Jan 26, 2013 at 3:04 PM Post #4 of 18

jake120

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the smaller file sizes wont be the solution but if these files are fine what it tells me is the usb disk isnt up to spec for the file sizes you are trying to listen to or theres major slow downs between the time it takes to get music to itunes so it can play the music.
 
otherwise only other thing i can think of is testing other media players and see if they have a buffer and can test it but the thing with buffers is the larger the size the longer it might delay to play but there will be less jitter and latency in getting sound to you since it looks like itunes might not offer a buffer solution.
 
im trying hard here to not suggest a new usb drive bc that doesnt necessarily mean it will solve your issues!
 
Jan 26, 2013 at 3:06 PM Post #5 of 18

cel4145

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Which model/year mac do you have? Some of the newest ones have the Thunderbolt port that allows for even much faster file transfer. Although the external drives are very expensive.
 
Jan 26, 2013 at 3:18 PM Post #6 of 18

Erieg

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My Mac is a mid 2012 so its the newest generation. 
 
Jake120, thanks for the input. I am creating some mp3 files to test with and I think the buffer is the issue and thanks for trying to save me money which leads to:
 
As to thunderbolt drives.. Oh man.. if I could afford one I would do it in an instant. Cheapest I found was $279 for a TB. I did find my dream which is a SSD thunderbolt portable drive but by the time I get it to the size I need.. well.. It would hurt too much to type the price. I do have to say that USB 3 is quite speedy.
 
Jan 26, 2013 at 3:43 PM Post #7 of 18

cel4145

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I would find the biggest, most popular, most active iTunes forum that you can and research and post there. More likely to find someone who has been through the same problem, or somebody with enough expertise to help you figure out exactly what is going on.
 
Jan 27, 2013 at 12:39 AM Post #8 of 18

Szadzik

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Quote:
Which model/year mac do you have? Some of the newest ones have the Thunderbolt port that allows for even much faster file transfer. Although the external drives are very expensive.

Are those still HDDs? Yes, that means the interface does not matter as USB 3.0 is already much faster than the drive and Thunderbolt will not change anything.
 
Jan 27, 2013 at 1:56 AM Post #9 of 18

Erieg

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Before I get too carried away I thought I would try a new USB cable. I am using the one the drive came with and I twist the thing up everyday. Its coming 2 day from Amazon (I love Amazon Prime.. free two day shipping is the greatest thing) so I will update after it gets here.
 
Jan 27, 2013 at 10:00 AM Post #10 of 18

cel4145

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Are those still HDDs? Yes, that means the interface does not matter as USB 3.0 is already much faster than the drive and Thunderbolt will not change anything.


Good point. Although the different interface might matter if it's USB that is causing the problem, not the drive, because of some kind of caching problem, interrupts, etc.
 
Jan 27, 2013 at 12:16 PM Post #11 of 18

Szadzik

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Quote:
Good point. Although the different interface might matter if it's USB that is causing the problem, not the drive, because of some kind of caching problem, interrupts, etc.

 
USB is not exactly a perfect interface. It all depends on whether there are other devices connected to the same USB hub on the laptop. A lot of things to take into account in such case.  
 
Jan 27, 2013 at 4:43 PM Post #12 of 18

bixby

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Good thought to start with the cable.  USB is fine for transferring files using A+ for playback.  I have been using external USB and Firewire 400 for years with my Macs and even lowly USB 2 is plenty fast to fill the memory buffer in A+.
 
No need to go looking for another interface.  A well made USB external drive with the Oxford chipset for USB 2 is fine.  If the new cable does not fix the problem go to OWC and get an external drive housing (USB and Firewire combo) , put a decent bare drive in it (Samsung, Hitachi, etc.)  then fire it up.  It will work flawlessly unless you have some other programs going at the same time ( you may want to check that out prior to changing drives)
 
And be sure to use Firewire if you are using a usb dac with the mac since you will get better sound by keeping drives and such off the usb hub internal to the mac when using a USB drive.
 
Good luck!
 
 
Jan 28, 2013 at 3:09 AM Post #13 of 18

65535

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Have you tried NOT using Audirvana? I have played HD video content straight off a USB drive on my Mac and on an Xbox 360 without any trouble at all. Those were 2-4GB files.
 
I'd suggest not using Audirvana and see if the trouble persists. If you had a cable issue you'd lose connection to your disk it wouldn't just be a transfer issue.
 
Jan 30, 2013 at 11:55 AM Post #14 of 18

Erieg

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Yes, I stopped using audirvana for couple of days. I also replaced the cable all to no improvement. I guess a new drive is next.
 
Jan 30, 2013 at 12:52 PM Post #15 of 18

flatmap

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I use the same brand hard drive with my 2010/2011 MacBook Pro.  I've
never experienced this problem, so perhaps it is the drive.
 
However have you checked your settings in System Preferences
->EnergySaver?  Do you have "Put hard disks to sleep when possible"
checked or unchecked?
 
 
 
 
 
 

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