Dipping toes into the NAS (world) with no clue and getting rid of the CD player

I agree the LP12 sounds lovely through the Nova (in spite of apparently being converted to digital and then back again!). If I want to listen to something I have on vinyl that will be my choice, but mostly these days I listen to music I don't have on vinyl. Some of it might be available but I won't pay the stupidly inflated prices and storage would be a pain for a larger collection than my 300 or so.

If I am streaming I nearly always listen to whole albums - the only time I tend to cut an album short is if it has a lot of so called bonus tracks which are usually repeats with a slightly different mix or something that wasn't worth releasing on the original album. I rarely set up playlists or skip tracks basically because I can't be arsed - same as when I played CDs.

Stephen Tate posted:
ChrisSU posted:

Stephen, bear in mind that the new streaming platform which the ND5XS 2 will run has some key differences in connectivity and functionality compared to the outgoing range. So once you gave taken HH up on his kind offer, you may want to consider this.

 If you decide that you don’t really need the extra features of the new platform, it could be a good time to get a good deal on an original ND5XS or NDX. On the other hand, if you think you may use web streaming services such as Tidal or Qobuz, you might be better off with a new version. 

Hi Chris,

Do you think that Naim will incorporate Qobuz onto their new platform? I rather like using Qobuz now and have gotten rather used to it. I was dubious at first when I first subscribed but they're slowly improving it. I've been subscribing a couple of years now. If the new Naim units do incorporate Qobuz then this will definitely swing it for me, i will then go for their yearly subscription which will allow me unlimited access to all their Hi-Res streaming and downloading of new albums onto the NAS. How exciting! 

As others have already pointed out, Chromecast and Airplay built into the new streamers is Naim’s solution to the demand for an ever increasing range of web streaming services, such as Qobuz, Deezer, Apple Music, Soundcloud, BBC iPlayer, etc. etc. 

The problem with this approach is that you are dependent on these providers to design a robust Chromecast implementation, and Qobuz is an example of a company who have not done too well on this front. Hopefully this will improve over time, and I believe many of the initial teething problems have been dealt with. 

When you look at these issues, a NAS full of your own CD rips/downloads starts to look more appealing!

Stephen Tate posted:

Hi Drikus,

I won't be using Tidal. I was using their Hi Fi streaming service for a while and they were 'double dipping' my account. I tried e-mailing them lots of times and they were not very helpful at all. Three times in a row they double dipped my account, in the end I had to go to my bank and get it all stopped that way and my bank even tried to claw the money back on my behalf. Without any success. So, me and Tidal are finished forever!!

Never again!!

Unlucky! I had a very similar experience with Qobuz 💩

ChrisSU posted:

As others have already pointed out, Chromecast and Airplay built into the new streamers is Naim’s solution to the demand for an ever increasing range of web streaming services, such as Qobuz, Deezer, Apple Music, Soundcloud, BBC iPlayer, etc. etc. 

The problem with this approach is that you are dependent on these providers to design a robust Chromecast implementation, and Qobuz is an example of a company who have not done too well on this front. Hopefully this will improve over time, and I believe many of the initial teething problems have been dealt with. 

When you look at these issues, a NAS full of your own CD rips/downloads starts to look more appealing!

If using an Android device (or a higher speced Windows PC) to access the service, there's a trick you can use if the app's implementation of Chromecast is suspect (or it doesn't have one, or there's no webpage) and that is to cast the entire screen to the streamer.

If available to you (i.e. not iOS devices or old PCs) this is a very robust way of using Chromecast (and it also does gapless correctly!).

French Rooster posted:

some members are reporting that tidal is sounding very good now  with the 4.6 update.  Perhaps the op will reconcilliate with tidal experience using the ndxs2....

It's a money and not a sound issue between Tidal and the OP. I think the divorce papers were signed a while back...

Drikus posted:
French Rooster posted:

some members are reporting that tidal is sounding very good now  with the 4.6 update.  Perhaps the op will reconcilliate with tidal experience using the ndxs2....

It's a money and not a sound issue between Tidal and the OP. I think the divorce papers were signed a while back...

ah ok, i read too quickly....   

Stephen Tate posted:

Hi folks again,

after reading through certain threads about digital audio, I must admit i'm starting to get quite confused indeed and may opt looking for a vinyl solution instead... 

Stephen, the issue you face is a bewildering range of options, some very simple, others requiring more computer/tech knowledge, and as others have said do not confine yourself to considering Naim.

Perhaps a different slant on things, but you could probably treat certain aspects separately to make life simpler.

Firstly, consider your main music sources before jumping to vinyl unless you have plenty of LPs already - you presumably have many CDs and also I believe a Qobuz subscription (Tidal too?).

Even if you don't get a streamer straight away, ripping CDs is time consuming as is getting the metadata/organisation satisfactory for your needs so you can spend plenty of time ripping CDs in readiness for your final decision - these files will also allow you flexibility for music playback on the computer and any tablets/smartphones you might acquire.  While the computer to DAC to Nait is an option it ties up the computer close to the Nait and unless you use some kind of screen sharing app on a phone/tablet you'd struggle to control music playback easily without going to the computer.

dBpoweramp is ideal for the rips, the key is to ensure you have lossless rips (even if they are compressed lossless) which I believe you have done - don't worry too much about different formats as you can always convert quickly between formats later without touching the CDs (or produce lossy derivatives to save space for mobile phones/players) - personally though I think I'd go for FLAC if I were you.

You do not necessarily need a NAS if money is tight right now - rip the CDs to your internal PC drive or an external and ensure you keep a backup.  When/if you get a NAS you'll be able to transfer albums to that far quicker than you'll be able to play them, you'll have done a lot of the hard work ripping the CDs and sorting out the metadata.

I'll throw a couple of curved balls into the equation:

1 - Consider an all-in-one e.g. Uniti Atom

If you can stretch to 2k this might be worth auditioning though I can't say how it would compare to your Nait 5si overall (others please comment if this would be a retrograde step).  The Nait 5si might be something you could trdae in  just check the Atom has appropriate inputs for you.

It's a recent well rated Naim streamer with a decent sound for the price, internet radio and in-built Tidal support (though no MQA).

Music playback is controlled via the Naim app primarily not the physical remote.

It also has Chromecast built-in which would allow you to for example run the Qobuz mobile app and play directly to it over wi-fi. (Gapless playback does not currently work but this is likely to be the Qobuz app).

You'd need an iOS or Android tablet/phone to control it - I think iOS devices are simpler to use but this may well be my ignorance of Android devices which are certainly better value.

The Atom has USB ports to hook up a hard drive or flash memory and you could just access rips directly from this via the Naim app which removes network issues from the equation - no need for a NAS for a single machine.  The downside would be you'd have to hook the drive up to the computer from time to time to transfer new music.

You could still potentially play to the Atom from a remote computer on the LAN using Airplay (you my need to install iTunes) or UPNP software.  Minim server or similar could work instead of a NAS for audio ripped to the PC and shared over the LAN.

2 - Chromecast Audio device - <£30

Cheap as chips temporary solution just to dabble with rather than using the USB DAC tying up the computer.

You mention you'd like to be able to control things wirelessley - hook it up to your Nait via analogue and you can use a Qobuz mobile app for Chromecasting - might not be best sound quality as cheap but I had one and it wasn't bad, gives you a simple way of using Qobuz direct to the Nait without a computer.  The 3.5mm out socket can also send optical digital via a miniToslink connection if needed.

Could go on with numerous other options/permutations, but I think you should:

- sort out your CD rips

- decide on a phone/tablet for 'remote duties'

- then look at devices to accomplish the streaming controlled by the phone/tablet with your remaining budget

You want simplicity, NAS would be nice, but is not essential.  You may even decide you're not that keen on streaming and would prefer to stick with CDs.

I would say I do what Alley Cat says not to !   (no disrespect).  I have a used Mac mini I use sole for this.....Probably $300 (US) ...to DAC to NAC 202.  I control the mini with remote app on phone or iPad or with screen share to MacBook Pro and it's pretty seamless.   Once or twice a month things get wonky (as you Brits like to say) and I have to re-boot but no big deal.   It works, it's cheap, and you can add an external hard drive to the mini if needed

Thanks for your input.

Just to say that i'm very happy with my Nait 5si and Motive SX2 speakers - they match beautifully so I don't want to go upsetting those as it were. I like the fact it's not upgradable too (boring I know). My listening room is fairly small, I have neighbours in all directions, a higher end amp & speakers will be wasted here and at the moment my Nait 5si is more than good enough for my requirements. It's the source i'm looking to make the most of at this moment in time and a digital one at that.

Although an Atom does sound rather appealing and I can see that it will save space and bring convenience as well as a host of other useful features, but i'm to just going to work with what I already have in the meantime.

Do you think a Mac Mini is better than a Qnap or Synology NAS in terms of performance, user friendly and value?

It certainly looks more compact. Mind you, I've got so used to using Windows 10 now that I don't think I have the motivation to learn another operating system...although i'm told by many that Apple are easier to operate?

Thanks

 

Stephen Tate posted:

Thanks for your input.

Just to say that i'm very happy with my Nait 5si and Motive SX2 speakers - they match beautifully so I don't want to go upsetting those as it were. I like the fact it's not upgradable too (boring I know). My listening room is fairly small, I have neighbours in all directions, a higher end amp & speakers will be wasted here and at the moment my Nait 5si is more than good enough for my requirements. It's the source i'm looking to make the most of at this moment in time and a digital one at that.

Although an Atom does sound rather appealing and I can see that it will save space and bring convenience as well as a host of other useful features, but i'm to just going to work with what I already have in the meantime.

Do you think a Mac Mini is better than a Qnap or Synology NAS in terms of performance, user friendly and value?

It certainly looks more compact. Mind you, I've got so used to using Windows 10 now that I don't think I have the motivation to learn another operating system...although i'm told by many that Apple are easier to operate?

Thanks

 

NAS has to be better vfm than the now very elderly and long overdue for a refresh Mac Mini, if size is an issue consider the Synology DS416slim - it’s tiny! And you could set up a fault tolerant pair for about the same cost......

KR, J

Stephen Tate posted:

Thanks for your input.

Just to say that i'm very happy with my Nait 5si and Motive SX2 speakers - they match beautifully so I don't want to go upsetting those as it were. ...

 

Suspect I'd do the same - I hate getting rid of devices I'm perfectly happy with 

 

GregU posted:

I would say I do what Alley Cat says not to !   (no disrespect).  I have a used Mac mini I use sole for this.....Probably $300 (US) ...to DAC to NAC 202.  I control the mini with remote app on phone or iPad or with screen share to MacBook Pro and it's pretty seamless.   Once or twice a month things get wonky (as you Brits like to say) and I have to re-boot but no big deal.   It works, it's cheap, and you can add an external hard drive to the mini if needed

It's certainly a good potential solution, just not sure it's enough of a 'plug and play' solution for Stephen - quite some time since I've used a Mini 'headless' and controlled it via VNC type apps (iTeleport was one I had for Mini and Mac Pro) - I found it fiddly to control to be honest though fair to say screen resolution of iPhones has come on, though I would have used it with iPad too.

What do you use as a 'Remote' app out of interest.

Hi all,

I have been in touch with and have arranged to visit Halibut towers this mid-week. Hopefully this will be just the solution i'm looking for, albeit at a much more basic level but hopefully a Naim solution it could be nevertheless. If not, then I suppose the REAL hard work will begin!

Thanks all

Stephen Tate posted:

Hi all,

I have been in touch with and have arranged to visit Halibut towers this mid-week. Hopefully this will be just the solution i'm looking for, albeit at a much more basic level but hopefully a Naim solution it could be nevertheless. If not, then I suppose the REAL hard work will begin!

Thanks

Excellent choice - you'll get a lot of very useful knowledge from HH.

Stephen Tate posted:
Huge posted:

You can get a Synology 115j NAS and a 3TB WDRed drive for £180.  There's no need to pay £350 for a NAS to stream music (it can also hold the backup files for your PC).

Ah, that's great Huge!

Thanks 

Put any additional funds into a better streamer rather than a fancy NAS; the streamer will make the music sound better, the NAS won't make a significant difference to the music, and the included Synology Media Server works fine with WAVE files (and FLAC if you really need the space, Synology Media Server's just not so good at transcoding).

Stephen Tate posted:

P.S. sorry for the odd bit of editing folks, i'm too slow at this typing malarkey and my eyes are going.

You still managed to be quicker than me with your last reply!
(And keep your eyes, don't let them leave the house without you.  )

Used as a NAS, Mac Mini works well, but is more expensive than a QNAP, so if a pure NAS function is what you want it probably isn’t the best solution. Used as a store-renderer on the other hand is a different matter, but as previously indicated it is likely to need isolation from a DAC unless the DAC has exeplary RF rejection.

Certainly using Audirvana on it in this mode it works very well provided metadata on stored music is good, with added advantage of being able to access other music sources if wanted outside of Audirvana, at lesser audio quality but very conveniently (e.g. spotify, utube etc for checking out new music). The most economical way with MM is the ‘late 2012’ model because that can be tailored yourself if you buy a lesser one, adding RAM, and twin drives can be fitted (I use 1GB SSDs, which are totally silent). Yes, my machine is over 5 years old so likely will fail sooner than a younger one though I hope and expect at least another 5 years from it - but of course a brand new one should have longer life, but is more expensive and you need to get the spec right when you buy.

Mine is a late 2012 model, and so far has been totally reliable. It just sits there, on all the time. If I do want/need to turn it off and on, it is simply a matter of pressing the button - mine runs ‘headless’, no monitor or keyboard needed after original setup. Control is from iPad or iphone using Audirvana’s own app. And if anything other than Audirvana is wanted, contol from any computer or tablet using VNC remote computer control software. 

Innocent Bystander posted:

Used as a NAS, Mac Mini works well, but is more expensive than a QNAP, so if a pure NAS function is what you want it probably isn’t the best solution. Used as a store-renderer on the other hand is a different matter, but as previously indicated it is likely to need isolation from a DAC unless the DAC has exeplary RF rejection.

Certainly using Audirvana on it in this mode it works very well provided metadata on stored music is good, with added advantage of being able to access other music sources if wanted outside of Audirvana, at lesser audio quality but very conveniently (e.g. spotify, utube etc for checking out new music). The most economical way with MM is the ‘late 2012’ model because that can be tailored yourself if you buy a lesser one, adding RAM, and twin drives can be fitted (I use 1GB SSDs, which are totally silent). Yes, my machine is over 5 years old so likely will fail sooner than a younger one though I hope and expect at least another 5 years from it - but of course a brand new one should have longer life, but is more expensive and you need to get the spec right when you buy.

Mine is a late 2012 model, and so far has been totally reliable. It just sits there, on all the time. If I do want/need to turn it off and on, it is simply a matter of pressing the button - mine runs ‘headless’, no monitor or keyboard needed after original setup. Control is from iPad or iphone using Audirvana’s own app. And if anything other than Audirvana is wanted, contol from any computer or tablet using VNC remote computer control software. 

Brilliant!

Thanks IB 

Huge posted:

Indeed.

If you want a Streaming solution: a streamer and a NAS.

If you want a Computer Audio solution: a Mac Mini and a USB DAC (and quite possibly a USB filter/reclocker).

Excellent stuff, thank you so much huge! 

I now feel i'm able to have a contingency plan in place!

What a fantastic forum this is!!

Huge posted:

Indeed.

If you want a Streaming solution: a streamer and a NAS.

If you want a Computer Audio solution: a Mac Mini and a USB DAC (and quite possibly a USB filter/reclocker).

The divisions are not as black and white as that.

Using a ‘streamer’ taking files from a NAS, or a store/renderer feeding a separate DAC are both streaming solutions, just done differently. And dedicated high end audio examples of the latter exist without anything people recognise as computers, e.g. Melco and Innuos Zenith.

And whether Naim streamer or specialist audio store-renderer such as Melco, they all use computers internally, just that the specialist audio devices have the advantage of built in attention to minimisation of RF getting to the DAC, whereas using the cheaper computer-based approach to a store-renderer such as using a Mac Mini or similar requires attention to that detail (agreed, jitter too if not an asynchronous DAC).

 

Stephen Tate posted:

Hi IB,

i do at the moment use an Arcam irDAC which does have a asynchronous USB socket with which is fed from an Audioquest - JitterBug via my laptop.  Is this what you mean?

I have no idea if it's galvanic though...blocker?

Many thanks.

If the IrDAC is not galvanically isolated (and a quick search has found nothing to suggest that it is), then likely it would benefit from isolating well to prevent RF getting through. My understanding is that ground plane RF modulation is a major potential cause of sound degradation in DACs, so attention to this can make a big difference (though apparently some people like the subjective effect, which I have heard described as making the sound seem ‘brighter - but artificially so). When I had a Hugo DAC, which was particularly susceptible, I found that changing from ND5XS as the renderer source into Hugo to MM/Audirvana the sound quality wasn’t as good - my own description was as if a veil had been drawn over the speakers. When I added an Gustard U12 isolator it improved markedly, then sounding better than it had with ND5XS source. 

Gustard U12 is relatively inexpensive (it was about £110 (new) through a famous online auction site at the time. It is actually an isolator/converter, USB input and SPDIF, optical and AES/EBU outputs. A couple of years ago Richard Dane was testing it as converter into nDAC (IIRC), and reported his imitial impression as good, though I don’t recall him coming back with a final conclusion. There are of course other solutions, some better than others, but this one seemed particularly good value for money. Since changing DAC to Dave, in which a major design feature is exemplary RF rejection, I discontinued use of Gustard.

i hope this helps.

IB, indeed there are many hybrid solutions possible, with varying balances between cost, complexity, engineering compromise and audio performance.

The problem with the audiophile NAS drives such as the Melco and the Inuos is that they are very expensive (at least for the higher performance ones) and they have to use an interface to the DAC that's compromised from the engineering perspective, and the data flow cannot be completely stabilised.  Typically these are either USB which even when asynchronous has complex control messages and uneven flow control both of which are not optimised for audio, or S/Pdif, which is synchronous and has jitter issues; neither of these are as good as a dedicated internal bus communicating from the streamer buffers to the DAC subsystem.

On the other hand you do get a choice of DACs you can use and some of the more expensive ones have very complex engineering to very substantially reduce these drawbacks (but the mathematical limitations still apply).

However this is all getting more complex and outside Stephen's declared budget!

Huge posted:

You can get a Synology 115j NAS and a 3TB WDRed drive for £180.  There's no need to pay £350 for a NAS to stream music (it can also hold the backup files for your PC).

Yup, I use the Synology 216(twin 4TB HDD) for the flac library, the iTunes library, and my photographs. Other NAS’s are available.

 

Suzy Wong posted:
Huge posted:

You can get a Synology 115j NAS and a 3TB WDRed drive for £180.  There's no need to pay £350 for a NAS to stream music (it can also hold the backup files for your PC).

Yup, I use the Synology 216(twin 4TB HDD) for the flac library, the iTunes library, and my photographs. Other NAS’s are available.

 

Indon’t know about Synology, but the benefit of QNAP is silent (no fan), totally so (but expensive) if you use SSDs.

Whilst Mac Mini as a device would be expensive to buy just for use as a NAS, it is virtually silent: it does have a small fan, but so low speed that with mine I can’t hear more than a foot or two away (in quiet room). At the other extreme, my original NSA NAS was as noisy as a typical desktop PC, and worse after a couple of years!

No problem with noise for me. Both NASs live in the old study ...along with two printers, 2300 CDs, 700 LPs and 1300 DVDs....not to mention a telescope and a number of spare boxes with a certain Salisbury address on them.

Even so, the Synology NAS is quite quiet - I’m standing next to it - indeed, quieter than the older LG NAS.

Hi,

Mmm...I don't really understand what a Uniti Core is but i'm starting to think about it. How does this differ to what has already been proposed on this thread so far?

Am I starting to go off the rails here?

I'm rather surprised that no one has mentioned it - the Core that is. And yes, I have been reading other forum members threads and have now managed to become even more confused, which is not hard by the way.

 

Yes, the Core can be used as a store/renderer with spdif output into a DAC, much as can the likes of Melco, and Mac Mini/Audirvana, etc. It can also be used in a similar manner to a NAS,  across a network to a streamer a bit like a NAS (though an expensive one). It can also do the ripping of CDs.

its sound quality in renderer mode seems to be a matter of some debate, some people saying very good, and others suggesting not as good as through network and streamers and I gatger it has some quirks regarding storage formats and integration of downloaded files vs CDs ripped on it. There is much on these aspects in various threads to read and digest. It above your original budget, but certainly worth finding out more about with a bigger budget.

The Core is rather expensive to use as just a ripper/store/NAS, but it does also have a high quality digital output. So yes, using it into a DAC is a valid alternative to using a streamer. The question, then, would be whether your existing DAC is good enough?

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