Knowledgebase: Qu Series
SD card adaptors for Qu-Drive and SQ-Drive
Posted by Keith Johnson, Last modified by Keith Johnson on 26 January 2021 09:55 AM

SD and microSD cards are a common choice for media storage - they're inexpensive, small enough to carry a few around and usually feature high data transfer speeds and can be a great option for audio recording and playback with Qu-Drive or SQ-Drive.

Both Qu-Drive and SQ-Drive use hardware solutions to connect to USB storage devices, so there are no 'drivers' as you would find in a computer or laptop.
Not all USB storage devices are created equal and the hardware used to bridge between the device and actual storage (especially in USB sticks/keys) is often changed by manufacturers without notice, making it almost impossible to know exactly what you're getting and whether there will be any compatibility issues with your console, even if you purchase the same make and model every time.

SD and microSD cards on the other hand are far more consistent in the technology they use, and also include markings to let you know class and read/write speeds.
This makes it much easier to find and purchase reliable storage meaning hardware compatibility will be mostly dependent your adapter setup (which can be reused!).

So to use SD card storage with your Qu or SQ, you just need to use the same, compatible SD card adaptor each time.
It is then much easier to source and purchase compatible SD cards as and when required.

SD and microSD cards

The read/write speed required to record or playback high quality audio using Qu-Drive or SQ-Drive are relatively small at only around 5MB/s, but this bandwidth must be consistently available and not just the top speed that the card can achieve with short bursts of data.

As a minimum, we recommend sourcing Class 10 SD storage, with at least UHS speed class 1, to guarantee minimum write speeds of 10MB/s.

These should be easy to source from retailers and include the following markings:

SD Class 10.svg SD UHS Speed Class 1.svg

(higher speed cards are available and will also work, though the benefit of this extra speed will be when transferring data from the device to a computer)

The maximum record time is based on the FAT32 file system used, which allows for multitrack recordings of around 8hrs (48kHz Qu/SQ) or 4hrs (96kHz SQ). This will take up approximately 72GB of storage space.

Adaptors

You may only need a straightforward full size SD card to USB-A adaptor:

LUPO SDHC SD USB 2.0 Memory Card Stick Reader Adapter Writer (Supports  Windows & Mac)

Depending on which side the SD card slot is, the SD card itself may extend over (and block) the headphone port, a simple solution to which is a short USB-A male-to-female extension cable.
Full sized SD card to USB adaptors can also be used with micro SD to SD card adaptors, though these are not recommended as during testing (below) we found they can reduce read/write speeds.

Another option is to use a direct micro SD to USB adaptor, some of which are very small, barely protruding from the socket when inserted:

Micro SD card reader, USB-A 2.0 GB 41733 | GM electronic COM

Whichever adaptor is used, just like the SD storage itself, it must be able to provide a consistent read/write speed of above 5MB/s, with 10MB/s or higher recommended.

Checking performance and preparing before use

Before use, the SD storage may need to be formatted to a FAT file system using a computer. This should allow the mixer to 'see' the storage.

Then format the storage again using the mixer to ensure the FAT32 file system is being used and that the correct folder structure is created.

Then to test for use as Qu-Drive:

  1. Use the SigGen to send a sine signal at 0dB to the main LR mix
  2. Patch 'LR L' to at least the first 18 USB Audio channels
  3. Run a multitrack Qu-Drive recording for as long as you wish to test for (max is approx 8hrs/72GB)
  4. Periodically check for errors on the Qu-Drive multitrack screen, these will occur if the data was not able to be written successfully

Or for SQ-Drive:

  1. Set USB Sample Rate to 96kHz
  2. Use the SigGen to send a sine signal at 0dB to any mix or input channel
  3. Patch this channel to the first 16 USB outputs
  4. Run a SQ-Drive multitrack recording for as long as you wish to test for (max is approx 4hrs/72GB)
  5. The USB Record Load meter on the SQ-Drive Multitrack screen will show the performance of your SD card/adaptor setup, if the meter peaks, an error will occur and be counted due to lost data

A suitable SD card/adaptor setup should not show any errors after recording for the maximum amount of time.

Our testing

USB SD Card Reader   SD Card micro SD to SD adaptor used USB extension required Initial detection and recording check 4hr multitrack recording check Notes
Integral + MicroSD Sandisk Ultra 64GB YES YES FAIL    
Integral + MicroSD Sandisk Extreme 64GB YES YES FAIL    
               
Beikell + MicroSD Sandisk Ultra 64GB NO NO PASS PASS  
Beikell + MicroSD Sandisk Ultra 64GB YES YES FAIL    
Beikell + MicroSD Sandisk Extreme 64GB NO NO PASS PASS  
Beikell + MicroSD Pioneer 32GB NO NO PASS    
Beikell + SD Prograde 64GB N/A YES PASS   Requires reconnection after formatting
Beikell + SD Adata V90 64GB N/A YES PASS   Requires reconnection after formatting
               
Not Branded + MicroSD Sandisk Ultra 64GB YES YES FAIL   Issues with SD Card Adaptor
Not Branded + MicroSD Sandisk Ultra 64GB NO NO PASS PASS  
Not Branded + MicroSD Sandisk Extreme 64GB YES YES PASS    
Not Branded + MicroSD Pioneer 32GB YES YES PASS PASS  
Not Branded + SD Prograde 64GB N/A YES PASS    
Not Branded + SD Adata V90 64GB N/A YES PASS PASS  
               
Vanja + MicroSD Sandisk Ultra 64GB NO NO PASS PASS  
Vanja + MicroSD Sandisk Extreme 64GB NO NO PASS PASS  
Vanja + MicroSD Pioneer 32GB NO NO PASS PASS  
               
Uni + MicroSD Sandisk Ultra 64GB NO NO FAIL    
Uni + MicroSD Sandisk Extreme 64GB NO NO FAIL    
Uni + MicroSD Pioneer 32GB NO NO FAIL