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Transferring audio files from an HD24 to a computer Recorders, Players & Tape Machines
Old 22nd March 2008
  #1
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Talking Transferring audio files from an HD24 to a computer

So I'm doing this remote recording in Vancouver this weekend, and I'm renting an Alesis HD24 hard disk recorder. I'm buying a disk drive for the session, which I will (obviously) keep when I return the HD24 to the rental company. It appears, however, that the only methods I have of transferring the files off of that hard drive involve my using an HD24 for longer than I will be renting it for.

Looking for some help here, or someone to correct me if I'm wrong. I can either:

-Transfer files off the HD24 to my computer via ethernet local network, immediately after the gig (the manual estimates it takes 16 minutes to transfer a 4-minute, 24 track, 24 bit, 44.1 kHz song; for a 3-hour concert of 19 tracks, it will take about 9 hours, which I do not have while I'm here on this coast.).

OR
-Transfer in real time through a digital interface (which requires me to have access to an HD24 when I get back to new york, as well as 19 digital inputs; I guess I would just have to rent another HD24 just to do the transfer).

Now this HD24 uses its own proprietary, Alesis-developed format for the drives; it's called ADAT FST. I am guessing that this cannot be read by a PC or a Mac, which is why I'm not just planning on taking the drive home, putting it in an enclosure and mounting it up on my computer. If I am wrong, this would make everything infinitely more convenient- I wouldn't have to worry about any sorts of silly transfers, just drag and drop from hard drive to computer.

Any suggestions? I guess what I'm looking for is one of two things. Either:
-"Yes, Eric, you can just mount it up on your Mac and drag-n-drop the files"
Or
-"Oh hey, Eric, I live in New York City and would be happy to loan you an HD24 for half a day just to do a transfer!"

Haha. Anyway, thanks!
Eric
Old 22nd March 2008
  #2
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Aha! I did a search, and found a program called HD24Tools; it seems to be used by quite a few forum members? It appears that that program will allow me to mount up Alesis's proprietary drive on my Mac, and transfer files.

Anybody used HD24Tools with a mac? Thanks!
Old 22nd March 2008
  #3
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it rocks on the pc! don't even need a fireport. how cool is that?
Old 22nd March 2008
  #4
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nine99nine's Avatar
 

Sorry man, you missed the Alesis thread bus! Check out this previous thread to hopefully answer your questions.

Alesis HD24 to Mac Pro via Ethernet?
Old 24th March 2008
  #5
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i like to "post first and search for answers later." haha.
anyway, the device worked like a dream, and after the gig the rental guy helped us transfer the files to dvd backups. (we had to borrow his drive for the recording- the only thing that didn't work like a dream was the two drives that we bought were incompatible!)

anyway, that's a pretty sweet little recorder.
Old 25th March 2008
  #6
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I use HD24Tools and Alesis FSTConnect. Both work great. Fast and never had an issue.

Incidentally, I'm in Vancouver too. You can rent my remote HD24 rig if you want. Clocked up to a Rosendahl Nanosyncs. It's all racked up and on a wheelboard dolly.

You can use my Fireport if you want.

PM if you want to discuss.

Cheers.

Travis
Old 5th May 2012
  #7
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Old 18th September 2013
  #8
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i just picked one of these up. hd24 tools sounds like a great tool and i'm gonna research it but how are you hooking the hard drive from the alesis to the pc? some sort of adapter that goes from a standard hd to usb or something?
Old 18th September 2013
  #9
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travisbrown's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by sadworld View Post
i just picked one of these up. hd24 tools sounds like a great tool and i'm gonna research it but how are you hooking the hard drive from the alesis to the pc? some sort of adapter that goes from a standard hd to usb or something?
You get a caddy chassis that fits the HD24 caddy - either USB or FW. DriveBridge and Vipr made them last I looked.

Or you take the drive out and drop into another chassis.
Old 20th September 2013
  #10
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there are dozens of options at multiple price points here's one

standard disclaimer not connection to New Egg etc.

Ultimately I found something similar to this to be worth additional cost
Old 20th September 2013
  #11
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Plush's Avatar
I like the idea of the raw drive adaptor.

Please tell me--are the files on the drive useable on a workstation? I thought that the Alesis format was proprietary--not .wav, for example.
Old 20th September 2013
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
I like the idea of the raw drive adaptor.

Please tell me--are the files on the drive useable on a workstation? I thought that the Alesis format was proprietary--not .wav, for example.
Hi Plush,

It already many years ago, but I do remember ending up with wave-files which I could use in Pyramix. I am not sure if they are stored on the discs that way or converted when importing to PC, though.

Best,
Dirk
Old 20th September 2013
  #13
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travisbrown's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
I like the idea of the raw drive adaptor.

Please tell me--are the files on the drive useable on a workstation? I thought that the Alesis format was proprietary--not .wav, for example.
The file system is proprietary, but the file format isn't. You can use the files in any app.
Old 20th September 2013
  #14
0VU
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Quote:
Originally Posted by travisbrown View Post
The file system is proprietary, but the file format isn't. You can use the files in any app.
Interesting. Where did you discover this?

My understanding is that the Alesis FST disc format is proprietary and isn't seen as directly readable by either a PC or MAC so needs a piece of software to translate it. The file format is also proprietary and can't be read or used by anything but an HD24 or applications such as HD24tools or the Alesis FirePort/Connect software. Both of these programs can convert the FST format files into other formats such as AIFF or WAV for use in DAWs but I'm unaware of any DAW that can read native FST files. One of the features of FST is that it allows for huge file sizes; even using HD24tools to import files to a computer, the software often has to be split the files into manageable chunks for DAWs to deal with. A 23 hour long recording is perfectly possible on an HD24 but I don't know any DAWs that like to handle a 23 hour long WAV in a single piece.

However, my info could well be out of date and I'd be very happy to be corrected on this.
Old 20th September 2013
  #15
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Richard Crowley's Avatar
 

The file system and the "file format" on the HD24 are "proprietary" in the sense that they are NOT any known PC, Mac, or Linux scheme. Back in the days of small/slow mechanical disk drives, this was necessary to handle up to 24 tracks in real-time. Likely the data from all the active tracks is "interleaved" into a single stream so they don't have to seek back and forth between separate "files".

However, the software (Alesis' software or KleineBre's HD24tools) "converts" the bit-stream into a computer-friendly format. I suspect that consists of mainly de-interleaving the channels and inserting the appropriate file header before the actual audio data.
Old 20th September 2013
  #16
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travisbrown's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by 0VU View Post
Interesting. Where did you discover this?

My understanding is that the Alesis FST disc format is proprietary and isn't seen as directly readable by either a PC or MAC so needs a piece of software to translate it. The file format is also proprietary and can't be read or used by anything but an HD24 or applications such as HD24tools or the Alesis FirePort/Connect software. Both of these programs can convert the FST format files into other formats such as AIFF or WAV for use in DAWs but I'm unaware of any DAW that can read native FST files. One of the features of FST is that it allows for huge file sizes; even using HD24tools to import files to a computer, the software often has to be split the files into manageable chunks for DAWs to deal with. A 23 hour long recording is perfectly possible on an HD24 but I don't know any DAWs that like to handle a 23 hour long WAV in a single piece.

However, my info could well be out of date and I'd be very happy to be corrected on this.
Because I had one for years.

FST is proprietary, but that's the file system, not the files. Like any OS FS - DOS, FAT, FAT32, NTFS, UFS... It's just an organizational structure for the files stored. When you use FSTconnect, it allows you to read the files on the filesystem (think of something like MacDrive for the PC. Does the same thing.) HDTools does this too. Then you can simply copy the files over (both ways: from HD24 to computer and back again.)

Further evidence of file compatibility is that you can FTP the files over (at stupidly slow speed) and use with no conversion.

FST connect offers conversion between WAV and AIFF, but that's merely a matter of header change. The file data between the two files is essentially the same (+ some metadata).
Old 20th September 2013
  #17
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Richard Crowley's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by travisbrown View Post
Further evidence of file compatibility is that you can FTP the files over (at stupidly slow speed) and use with no conversion..
Actualy, the FTP process in the HD24 does the "conversion" on the fly as you are copying. This IS evidence that the Alesis format is not very different than a computer format (WAV, AIF, et. al.) and likely consists only of creating an appropriate header meta-data and de-interleaving the track data.

If only Alesis had kept up with modern technology and provided for a 100MB network port. But then it would have also been nice if they had kept up to date and upgraded to SATA when PATA died.

But Numark apparently has no interest in high-end products like the HD24, so they have exited the market and left it to others. Like JoeCo Black Box and the Cymatic Audio LR-16. If Cymatic are smart, they will add necessary things like individual track arming, etc. and have a killer product that takes advantage of technology that is 20 years newer than that design Alesis contracted.

Further evidence of Numark abandoning the format is that the underlying chips that support the ADAT lightpipe format have been discontinued by Wavefront Semiconductor. But apparently the protocol lives on as implemented by others, including native support on some audio chipsets used on PC motherboards, etc.
Old 22nd September 2013
  #18
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GZsound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Crowley View Post
Actualy, the FTP process in the HD24 does the "conversion" on the fly as you are copying. This IS evidence that the Alesis format is not very different than a computer format (WAV, AIF, et. al.) and likely consists only of creating an appropriate header meta-data and de-interleaving the track data.

If only Alesis had kept up with modern technology and provided for a 100MB network port. But then it would have also been nice if they had kept up to date and upgraded to SATA when PATA died.

But Numark apparently has no interest in high-end products like the HD24, so they have exited the market and left it to others. Like JoeCo Black Box and the Cymatic Audio LR-16. If Cymatic are smart, they will add necessary things like individual track arming, etc. and have a killer product that takes advantage of technology that is 20 years newer than that design Alesis contracted.

Further evidence of Numark abandoning the format is that the underlying chips that support the ADAT lightpipe format have been discontinued by Wavefront Semiconductor. But apparently the protocol lives on as implemented by others, including native support on some audio chipsets used on PC motherboards, etc.
I have a Cymatic LR-16 and it works very nicely. It would be nice to be able to only arm the tracks you need, but it is no big deal to open the drive and delete the empty tracks. It takes me about ten minutes per song to import all 16 tracks into my DAW, but I could transfer all the tracks to my computer quickly and import them into my DAW at a later time.

It's a very nice recorder and great 16 channel USB interface.
Old 22nd September 2013
  #19
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travisbrown's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Crowley View Post
Actualy, the FTP process in the HD24 does the "conversion" on the fly as you are copying. This IS evidence that the Alesis format is not very different than a computer format (WAV, AIF, et. al.) and likely consists only of creating an appropriate header meta-data and de-interleaving the track data.
Hmm. This seems very odd to have an FTP middleware process. When you switch the HD24 to FTP mode, you'd think it was just a dumb FTP server.

In any case, the raw audio is just PCM data easily convertible to any PCM file type - aiff, wav, etc.

I used to groan that they probably found a surplus lot of 10BaseT cards at auction, since by the time of manufacture 100BaseT NICs were standard. I wondered if the NIC was easily swappable with a 100 or 1000 assembly.
Old 22nd September 2013
  #20
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Richard Crowley's Avatar
 

Alas, the network port is hardwired part of the motherboard. I believe it uses hardware chips that are not capable of 100MB speeds, which leaves them no "upgrade path" other than replacing the entire mother board (which is MOST of the unit). Remember that Alesis did not design the unit, they had it designed for them on contract. And apparently the management never figured it would be worth the $$$ to re-design it. (For ANY upgrade, including reliance on a dead disk interface).

All FTP involves software to take the raw disk format and form it into FTP packets. It doesn't seem particularly remarkable that they added a little routine to create the WAV or AIFF header before sending the data stream. Its rather clever, IMHO.

The people who designed the HD24were brilliant, but the Alesis management apparently didn't have any long-term faith in the product.
Old 24th September 2013
  #21
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I have an Alesis HD24 with the XR conversion and believe me when I tell you the XR version is much better. You have to use balanced cables but the sonic improvement is well worth it. I have a bunch of hard drives that are archiving work I captured with the HD24xr over the past 11 years and i much prefer the ADAT outs to my Hammerfall 9652 card as a transfer medium to my computer. ADAT was also an Alesis protocol developed back when Alesis was a cutting edge company. Unlike RME, Alesis has not maintained their leadership position and for that matter at this point there is not a product in their new catalog that could find it's way into my studio. Crapy deals like this happen when the ideas are way ahead of the capitol structure. I also have a fire port but it is not as good as HD tools but neither one is as good IMO as ADAT if you have the time for "Real Time Transfers".
Old 24th September 2013
  #22
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travisbrown's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by hughshouse View Post
I have an Alesis HD24 with the XR conversion and believe me when I tell you the XR version is much better. You have to use balanced cables but the sonic improvement is well worth it. I have a bunch of hard drives that are archiving work I captured with the HD24xr over the past 11 years and i much prefer the ADAT outs to my Hammerfall 9652 card as a transfer medium to my computer. [...] I also have a fire port but it is not as good as HD tools but neither one is as good IMO as ADAT if you have the time for "Real Time Transfers".
If it's slower to do real time transfers, how's it better? Just saving the hassle of shuttling drives around and adding files to a DAW session?

Just imagine if Alesis had spent five more minutes and added firewire connectivity to the HD24 - not as a converter interface, but as a built in Fireport. Was a bit before the proliferation of large USB sticks, but that would have been good too - copy a project to an inserted USB drive.
Old 25th September 2013
  #23
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Richard Crowley's Avatar
 

A one is a one and a zero is a zero. hughshouse must mean something else by "better"??? He certainly doesn't mean "less expensive".
Old 25th September 2013
  #24
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travisbrown's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Crowley View Post
A one is a one and a zero is a zero. hughshouse must mean something else by "better"??? He certainly doesn't mean "less expensive".
This is what I was wondering about. I track a lot of live gigs and real-time transfers will be a pain in the ass. I could transfer it to our concert in 10 minutes or… two hours.

That being said, when I had HD24s and tracking live, I would run the optical outs into my laptop and use it to track simultaneously. Then the HD24 would really be a backup recorder and I would have everything set up in a session ready for editing soon as you hit stop. Not intended really as a redundant set up, just a matter of convenience. If the laptop laptop crashed, it didn't matter but everything was still serial.
Old 25th September 2013
  #25
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I will clarify my clear preference for ADAT transfers to any type of Firewire device:
1. There are many good and varied reasons a wholesale abandonment of Firewire technology is occurring by Apple and most all primary and ancillary audio providers. It has a long and prolific history of failure, Lightpeak is much faster and USB is far more dependable.
2. If the primary reason to transfer our small packets of "1s & 0s" is for post production purposes why not monitor the transfer process and make written notes pursuant to areas of editing need and markers for segments. A high quality post production process will require an A to Z audit at some point--why not from the get-go? ( Since I am not in the back up archival business high speed bulk transfers have never been a priority for me)
I have not recorded a live performance with my HD24XR since I purchased a RME UFX several years ago that does a splendid job of capturing 12 tracks with USB transfer to an external HD. My new A & H Qu16 will do the same for 18 tracks. Either one of these is a much better protocol than the cutting edge technology Alesis deployed 15 years ago. In digital terms those are like dog years.
Old 25th September 2013
  #26
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Richard Crowley's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by hughshouse View Post
I will clarify my clear preference for ADAT transfers to any type of Firewire device:
1. There are many good and varied reasons a wholesale abandonment of Firewire...
Completely agree. But you are the only one here talking about Firewire. I have been using USB2 forever. And now USB3.
Quote:
2. If the primary reason to transfer our small packets of "1s & 0s" is for post production purposes why not monitor the transfer process and make written notes pursuant to areas of editing need and markers for segments.
Because for many of us, that workflow just doesn't compute. The time available for offloading the data is far less than real-time. Many of us take notes (and even cut and re-take) during the session, not after the fact.
Old 27th September 2013
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Crowley View Post
Actualy, the FTP process in the HD24 does the "conversion" on the fly as you are copying. This IS evidence that the Alesis format is not very different than a computer format (WAV, AIF, et. al.) and likely consists only of creating an appropriate header meta-data and de-interleaving the track data.
How do you know this ?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Crowley View Post
If only Alesis had kept up with modern technology and provided for a 100MB network port. But then it would have also been nice if they had kept up to date and upgraded to SATA when PATA died.
They did.. There was a firmware upgrade for HD24 not that long ago to enable support for SATA caddies.
Old 27th September 2013
  #28
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Richard Crowley's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ebulb View Post
How do you know this ?
It seems obvious.
1) The format on the physical drive is unique to the HD24. They likely use a file header, or store meta-information in an extended index area, and then interleave blocks of track data depending on how you set up the recording (number of tracks)
2) It takes considerable code just to read and write data to any mass storage device.
3) FTP is a relatively simple application-layer protocol defined for IP around 25 years ago, but it takes considerable code to implement FTP
You can read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FTP#Protocol_overview
4) Getting a WAV or AIFF file out of the HD24 format consists of creating an appropriate header meta-information, and then de-interleaving and streaming out the track data.
5) The code to create the header and de-interleave the data is considerably less than (2) and (3).
6) This kind of conversion is done "on the fly" all over the place. It is so trivial most end-users (like us) don't even think about it.
I happen to also be an engineer and programmer, so I have a different insight into how these things work.

Quote:
They did.. There was a firmware upgrade for HD24 not that long ago to enable support for SATA caddies.
No. Alesis/Numark never made any changes to support SATA drives. They had already abandoned the HD24 when SATA came along.

3rd party end-users who gave up waiting for Alesis hacked together commercial PATA to SATA adapters into the Vipower drive caddies that the HD24 uses. You can do it yourself by simply hacking together off-the-shelf components from various vendors.
Old 27th September 2013
  #29
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travisbrown's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Crowley View Post
3) FTP is a relatively simple application-layer protocol defined for IP around 25 years ago, but it takes considerable code to implement FTP
You can read about it here: File Transfer Protocol - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Not particularly. We've implemented a few embedded FTP/SSH servers and it's pretty straight forward. Heck, you can write an FTP server on Arduino for nothing.

I suspect that the HD24 developers used an existing Nucleus FTP framework. It already supports all the standard protocols.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Crowley View Post
No. Alesis/Numark never made any changes to support SATA drives. They had already abandoned the HD24 when SATA came along.

3rd party end-users who gave up waiting for Alesis hacked together commercial PATA to SATA adapters into the Vipower drive caddies that the HD24 uses. You can do it yourself by simply hacking together off-the-shelf components from various vendors.
There are apparently some official Alesis SATA <> IDE caddies around. v. The OS supported SATA/PATA starting with v.1.2.1

http://alesis.com/hd24satacaddy
Old 27th September 2013
  #30
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Richard Crowley's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by travisbrown View Post
Not particularly. We've implemented a few embedded FTP/SSH servers and it's pretty straight forward. Heck, you can write an FTP server on Arduino for nothing.

I suspect that the HD24 developers used an existing Nucleus FTP framework. It already supports all the standard protocols.
Yeah, I agree. But building a complex commercial product like the HD24 is rather a step up from hacking your own FTP server on Arduino. But they likely used the library code for FTP. And its always easier if somebody already wrote it for you.

Quote:
There are apparently some official Alesis SATA <> IDE caddies around. v. The OS supported SATA/PATA starting with v.1.2.1
HD24 SATA Caddy
I stand corrected. Most of us had pretty much given up on Alesis by that time and I didn't notice that they were still making occasional feeble attempts at keeping the HD24 alive. But in any case this is all in the past and HD24 is in the zombie stage at this point.
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