Uniti Star - Can it do this?

Hi folks

I'm building a system in the next 3-6 months and looking closely at the Uniti Star. Will it support this scenario?

  • We want to play CD's in the lounge (check!)
  • We want to burn CD's also (check!)
  • We burn to FLAC or WAV for hi-def audio in the lounge (check!)
  • Potentially save all music to a NAS?
  • In other rooms, we want our Sonos to be able to read the music library. Does it expose it's library nicely to Sonos?
  • If Star was a line-in to a Sonos Connect, could we play it in sync with other Sonos zones?
  • Think Roon looks appealing for controlling music browsing and playback around the house. Will the Star expose its music collection to Roon? 

I'm still getting my head into all this, so this might be a bit random. Was also looking at the Innuos for CD ripping.

T

 

 

Original Post

Hi Tobin,

No hands-on experience here with either Star or Sonos.. so caveats all around, but..

1. My Atom, with server setting 'on', is browsable on my TV as a DLNA server, and on my VLC clients (on iPhone and MAC OSX)  as a uPnP server. It shows folders for Album,Artist,Genres,Composers,Conductors.  (I'll load some music on a USB key and verify It works, tomorrow.) Also, the Atom  shows up even when in standby.   Would need to confirm Sonos browses similarly. Sonos support site implies uPnP should be ok.

1.b. I think you'd want to use the Sonos app as the control point for multiroom control, if you're already vested in Sonos.  I chatted with Sonos support and they said Sonos connect line out to Naim line in would work, syncing your rooms.  But you'll still need to flip the Naim to line-in, so two apps. My Atom gives ability to set line-in with "slave" volume control, so presumably you could control volume from Sonos app.

 

If you're stuck on the Star CD player..

2. Not sure if you can rip from Star to NAS directly.  Need someone with experience to comment.  I know that I don't see a way to mount a network drive from my Atom, I can only browse as in (1.), or mount a drive via USB.

3. If you can't rip to NAS, then you'll need a USB drive. If that is the case, then you'll likely just serve directly from the Naim and forego the NAS.

4. You'll still need a NAS if you intend to backup.  If the backup isn't encrypted, then it 'might' be possible to serve it with a NAS media server app/add-on.. but that would be redundant if (3. using Naim as server). Need confirmation on the readability.

5. There are some newfangled simultaneous USB access NASs now out (browse for "Quick Access Port" on the QNAP site), which may allow the best of both worlds. Theoretically, you could rip to NAS via it's usb, then network serve from either Naim or the NAS, and have RAID drive redundancy.  Lots there to verify though.. like what if the media server app doesn't serve the USB mount point due to a restriction?..  bleeding edge.

If you're not stuck on the Star CD player..

6. Just rip everything with a laptop and loaded it to a NAS.  I think that allows more flexibility (formats, tools, control).

My enlightenment..I use Tidal to stay current, and my rarer stuff is ripped and sold.  I personally don't see the need for a CD player anymore, after spending the summer moving to NAS.

I'll also bet my semi-distant-future will be NAS-less and service-full. I believe I've hit an inflection point where the content services are better than what I can build and maintain. So in the end I'll just have a streamer, an amp and speakers.

Sorry it took a while to type this, you may already have your answers by the time I refresh my browser LOL.

simon.

Many thanks for the reply, Simon.

Using Sonos as the driver might be ok for when we want synced multiroom. For other times, we could work use the Star in it's default mode. 

I'm quite tempted to play with Roon once we've got the house rebuilt and see what it brings to the table. Apparently they have < 1ms synced playback across disperate sources.

Feels like there's a lot of duplication of functionality between Sonos, Name and Roon. So it's about finding that simple flow for listening to CD's or playing music. 

In the old days, a Mac Mini + iTunes + Genius playlist was nearly perfect. Just not hi-res, no multi-room and no simple way of discovering new music.

Great food for thought though. Your NAS + Laptop approach might be the one, or a Vortexbox or something that hanced the CD angle well.

Thanks for sharing your experiences.

Tobin

 

 

Your welcome.  I was, as usual, long-winded. LOL.  I'm looking at Roon too. It's interesting a company has developed as a metadata service.  

It also must be very challenging for these hifi component companies to turn on a dime and start thinking of music as an IT data delivery service.

The relentless march of progress..

 

The Atom will serve music to other Naim and non-Naim devices, as long as they have UPnP/DLNA inputs, so the Star should do the same. My Atom is visible as a server to my NDX, my TV, and my Sony ZX2, and they will play music from a USB stick in the rear input. If you want to use a Star to serve music, I'm pretty sure you will need to store it all on a locally attached USB drive, so you might want to check with Naim that large enough drives will be supported. This was not the case with the older streamers. If you put your music on a NAS, this might seem like a better long term solution, but it will then be the NAS that needs to act as a server, not the Star.  

If your goal is full multiroom play of Naim and non-Naim players, I don't think the above will achieve that. Roon should be able to do it, as the Star and Sonos are Roon endpoints. You will need a computer to run a Roon Core in addition to the Star and Sonos devices.

Thanks, @ChrisSU

Yup, that all sounds about right. Think you're right about NAS, the support docs say Star will rip to USB or SD, not NAS. 

Also good to know the Star will nicely expose the goods via UPnP.

I can't see a route to buy from tracks from hdtracks.co.uk and then get them on the Star's USB drive because it's formatted in a proprietary way by the Star. That could be a concern.

I think my next steps will be to play with Roon and Sonos, then re-evaluate the Naim products along with Vortebo, Mac Mini and Innuos options. If the Star could rip to NAS I think it would solve everything. 

T

 

Naim say the Star can store up to 20,000 tracks on a USB connected storage device and serve them to a streamer. So that's a lot of albums, maybe 2000 or so. The Core can certainly see a 2TB USB hard disc, and I expect the Star will be the same because much of the code and hardware is identical.

Incidentally HDDs aren't  specially formatted by Naim to a proprietary standard, so you should be able to copy downloads to it with a PC, just like you can with the Core.

best

David

Tobin Harris posted:

Thanks, @ChrisSU

Yup, that all sounds about right. Think you're right about NAS, the support docs say Star will rip to USB or SD, not NAS. 

Also good to know the Star will nicely expose the goods via UPnP.

I can't see a route to buy from tracks from hdtracks.co.uk and then get them on the Star's USB drive because it's formatted in a proprietary way by the Star. That could be a concern.

I think my next steps will be to play with Roon and Sonos, then re-evaluate the Naim products along with Vortebo, Mac Mini and Innuos options. If the Star could rip to NAS I think it would solve everything. 

If you want to download music (from the likes of HDTracks) you can just transfer it to a USB drive from your computer, then plug it back into the Star, or possibly use a separate USB stick, as the Star has 2 ports, front and back. Either way, you should almost certainly keep CD rips and downloads in separate folders, as is the required with other Naim servers. 

I've been running Roon on an Atom for a couple of weeks now, and it does work very well. I'm not convinced that I actually need it, but it could be a good multiroom option for you. You'll get a free trial, so give it a try if you buy a star.

Raid? Not sure why you'd want that, I would just get a second USB drive and copy everything to that for backup.

Tobin Harris posted:

Thanks @Chrissu. 

Thinking behind RAID was for auto backup (lazy!).

Tobin

Raid is definitely not a backup strategy! Even if it was, there is little advantage if the two drives are in the same place: you would have zero protection from fire, flood or theft, for starters. 

ChrisSU posted:
Tobin Harris posted:

Thanks, @ChrisSU

Yup, that all sounds about right. Think you're right about NAS, the support docs say Star will rip to USB or SD, not NAS. 

Also good to know the Star will nicely expose the goods via UPnP.

I can't see a route to buy from tracks from hdtracks.co.uk and then get them on the Star's USB drive because it's formatted in a proprietary way by the Star. That could be a concern.

I think my next steps will be to play with Roon and Sonos, then re-evaluate the Naim products along with Vortebo, Mac Mini and Innuos options. If the Star could rip to NAS I think it would solve everything. 

If you want to download music (from the likes of HDTracks) you can just transfer it to a USB drive from your computer, then plug it back into the Star, or possibly use a separate USB stick, as the Star has 2 ports, front and back. Either way, you should almost certainly keep CD rips and downloads in separate folders, as is the required with other Naim servers. 

I've been running Roon on an Atom for a couple of weeks now, and it does work very well. I'm not convinced that I actually need it, but it could be a good multiroom option for you. You'll get a free trial, so give it a try if you buy a star.

Raid? Not sure why you'd want that, I would just get a second USB drive and copy everything to that for backup.

I have a friend who has just bought a Star. I brought him a USB key with several downloads which I had purchased, and I put it in the rear USB slot of the Star. Most of the downloads were FLAC 24 bit. However, while we could play them, there was no album art etc. appearing on either the Star, or in the Naim app. Also, there were frequent dropouts. Am I missing a trick here? There doesn’t seem to be any comprehensive manual available. 

David O'Higgins posted:
 

 

 

I have a friend who has just bought a Star. I brought him a USB key with several downloads which I had purchased, and I put it in the rear USB slot of the Star. Most of the downloads were FLAC 24 bit. However, while we could play them, there was no album art etc. appearing on either the Star, or in the Naim app. Also, there were frequent dropouts. Am I missing a trick here? There doesn’t seem to be any comprehensive manual available. 

There’s definitely something odd going on if you’re getting dropouts from a USB stick! Presumably you have tried it in your own streamer, and it plays OK there? One for the dealer or Naim support, I think. 

Metadata not being visible sounds like the old problem with Unitiserve WAVs, not sure why it would be an issue with FLAC downloads. 

As for a manual, have you discovered the Support section of the product web page? I don’t think it’s as comprehensive as the old manuals, and navigating it is very clumsy, but you might learn something!?

On the black box products you don't get album art from a USB stick plugged into the front panel USB, whether it's WAV or FLAC, so this may just be design philosophy decisions intentionally carried over to the new range (like not allowing editing of metadata in the Downloads folder, to give another example of what I mean).

best

David

SB955i posted:

Hi Tobin,

<snip>

My enlightenment..I use Tidal to stay current, and my rarer stuff is ripped and sold.  I personally don't see the need for a CD player anymore, after spending the summer moving to NAS.

<snip>

DO NOT do this.  It's illegal.

If you sell the original disk you are selling your license to play the music.
When you sell the disk you are legally required to delete ALL your copies of it.

Hi Huge, yes, that was stupid of me to say that,  and I agree completely.  Luckily, they never sold and I've since removed the ad and thrown the boxes into storage.  My apologies.  I have always bought my music and ensured artists are paid for their work.  That was an oversight.  My mistake.

David O'Higgins posted:

I have a friend who has just bought a Star. I brought him a USB key with several downloads which I had purchased, and I put it in the rear USB slot of the Star. Most of the downloads were FLAC 24 bit. However, while we could play them, there was no album art etc. appearing on either the Star, or in the Naim app. Also, there were frequent dropouts. Am I missing a trick here? There doesn’t seem to be any comprehensive manual available. 

Hi David, in terms of album art from downloads not appearing, I have had experience with poor metadata tagging from Download services (eg. Qobuz, HD Tracks etc), sometimes even different standards of tagging on different albums from the same service.

Before I save any downloads to my Unitiserve Downloads folder I always check the metadata is in accordance with my own tagging, and that the album art is also included in the tag. I do this to ensure consistency of what I see in the App / front screen of my NDX. You can check the metadata tagging by using a tagging editor like DB Poweramp for example. Might be worth having a look at the metadata of the downloads that aren't presenting cover art for display and see if you can see any issue.

As is often said on this forum, the streamer can only present the information that it is sent by the Server (ie. by the NAS / Unitiserve / Core), or in your case David, what it is picking up from the USB stick.

I don't have any idea regarding the dropouts though. Could the USB stick not be able to deliver the speed of transfer that the Star needs to be able to play it without drop outs maybe? Im just speculating, have a try with a different USB stick? 

Huge posted:
SB955i posted:

Hi Tobin,

<snip>

My enlightenment..I use Tidal to stay current, and my rarer stuff is ripped and sold.  I personally don't see the need for a CD player anymore, after spending the summer moving to NAS.

<snip>

DO NOT do this.  It's illegal.

If you sell the original disk you are selling your license to play the music.
When you sell the disk you are legally required to delete ALL your copies of it.

What if you have the same music on two different formats, let’s say CD and Vinyl? It is already just plain greedy to pay royalties  on both formats, isn’t it?

 

Tony2011 posted:
Huge posted:
SB955i posted:

Hi Tobin,

<snip>

My enlightenment..I use Tidal to stay current, and my rarer stuff is ripped and sold.  I personally don't see the need for a CD player anymore, after spending the summer moving to NAS.

<snip>

DO NOT do this.  It's illegal.

If you sell the original disk you are selling your license to play the music.
When you sell the disk you are legally required to delete ALL your copies of it.

What if you have the same music on two different formats, let’s say CD and Vinyl? It is already just plain greedy to pay royalties  on both formats, isn’t it?

 

And who is going to know? I very much doubt that we will ever see enforcement against domestic CD ripping (even after Brexit!).

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