USB file sound quality v NAS wired or wireless

Hi everyone,

I'm new to this forum and have just purchased a ND5 XS, currently using it in wireless mode and a NAS via my Netgear router, also Tidal. I've been doing some reading and from what I have read wireless is the least best option followed by wired and then USB. Is that correct, what do you think? Then I got thinking if this is true and you give some quality away for the convince of having a NAS music store (accessibility to all devices in house / possibly anywhere with internet access), why not have 2 music libraries, one on a NAS for all other devices and one attached to the USB input of the streamer? USB hard drives are cheap and quick so can be updated with new music fast. We all love Hi-Fi and spend lots of money in the quest of a better more enjoyable experience listening to our music, whatever genre...am I missing something here, should we just copy our music and feed the streamer direct via a USB hard drive and NAS for everything else?

 

Thoughts and comments most welcomed.

 

Harvey

Original Post
Hi Harvey,  welcome to Naim & the forum,  you are about to have fun & some super SQ experiences.
I would avoid wireless especially if you have 24-bit & DSD files, as depending on environment,  it can struggle. 
 USB is direct to the players buffer & as such it is not affected by the LAN,  but its not so nice to use & it does not have most of the features of the Naim app & your chosen UPnP media server brings to the experience.  A USB stick is a good benchmark to gauge SQ against your wired LAN;   use it as a tool to gauge how your LAN is performing & if it can be improved  ............  which leads on the the best  ..........  
An all ethernet LAN from a NAS via a switch (not router) to your ND5 is the ideal & most convenient. It brings a fully featured control point with the Naim app & your UPnP media server.   And finaly  fully optimised ethernet LAN does sound as good as USB.

Hi Mike, thanks you for the warm welcome and your experience with this new area of Hi-Fi is most appreciated. I am looking to get a wired connection to my ND5 XS it's just that it's not simple, or maybe it is if you are competent enough to drill holes though floor and ceiling or can route 30m of cable tidily around the house! I must say I am delighted with the sound of the Naim and importantly the connivance, I've listened to more music in the last 2 weeks than the last 6 months and for the first time in my system without listener fatigue. I'm really pleased that you say that you can get top results with a wired LAN as this is really what I want, best quality with all the features. I'm certain that my journey has just begun and I'm enjoying it so much!

Hi again, routing cable is a bit daunting,  however you could consider some possible options to maybe make it easier.

If the long cable is from ND5 to NAS  it might be more difficult,  but if the NAS can be placed in the same area as the ND5 - with maybe just one wall hole between - & a switch between NAS & ND5;  then a wireless extender such as an AE from switch to router will work well.   I said wireless was 3rd best option,  but the router to switch link will only be downloading light traffic with Tidal & will not affect SQ,  the wireless comms traffic for the control point is inconsequential.

To be honest I will have to get a handyman in and drill a hole through the floor / ceiling then it's only 5m or so. One thing I have picked up though it to have a switch between router and streamer. I'm energised to ensure I get the best sound I can with the equipment I have, but I must say I'm so enjoying it now even though it's not optimised. (Big smile).

 

Hi Harvey

Once you start putting all your streaming gear together, there are few points you should observe. Examples include:

  • Routing Ethernet cable away from mains cables
  • Keeping power supplies for your network gear away from your NAIMs
  • Correct settings of your wireless router and internal IP assignment

Mike is exceptionally experienced when it comes to streaming set ups. I may be able to chip in a few things as well.

So just ask - will be glad to help.

Have fun,

Adam

If you are going to run a lead through the ceiling, it means that all the computer gubbins - router, switch, NAS, backup can live upstairs, with just a single wire to the living room. When we first started streaming, the router and everything was in the living room with the stereo; wires all over the place, clonking drives and flashing lights. Last year we had the router and other bits moved to the dining room out of the way, and it's made the living room a much nicer place to listen to music.

Hungryhalibut posted:

.................  When we first started streaming, the router and everything was in the living room with the stereo; wires all over the place, clonking drives and flashing lights. Last year we had the router and other bits moved to the dining room out of the way, and it's made the living room a much nicer place to listen to music.

I agree with HH, but it needn't be as bad as that ............
My NAS, UPS & switch live in a cabinet near the Naim rack,  I moved the phone line entry to a position on the wall just behind the cabinet & the wireless hub sits on the cabinet.
My Synology drive is pretty quiet,  but in the cabinet its silent in the room & it can flash its lights with no bother.
That said,   given another house or (no no please) a Mrs Mike lead major room change around,  then I would try to locate it in another room, but would not be so fussed if it did not work out.

 

Not all home wireless hubs (routers) are good at switching duties & it can get to be more of a problem with HD 24-bit high sample rates.  I have yet to be convinced by any router spec's that they do contain a fully functioning switch.   It may well be some/most do,  but how do we know ??    
If what you have is OK, great,  but I have concerns  ......  & I prefer to do the job right & use a switch.  
Also worth noting that Linn advocate a switch in all but the most basic LAN,  the Linn focused forum Lejonklou who get involved in all sorts of fine tuning & testing recommend switch even when using a better grade router.  Cyrus recommend & show a switch in their one simple get you going paper & ComputorAudiophile ......  http://www.computeraudiophile....ork-audio-refresher/ 
Finally Naim's Phil Harris advises ....  The best network configuration is a single ethernet feed from the router to a network switch & feed the rest of the network from there. 
I question if a router able to work OK with continuous high density data traffic & over a long period of time such as with streamed high resolution music.  Can the router identify the source or intended destinations of the information received - or does it send data to all the devices connected to the network, including the one that sent it.  If so it invariably means that it can’t send & receive at the same time &  all this together makes them slow & overload is a potential problem,  & by overload I mean overheat - & that was my experience.
Switches are significantly faster & able to handle far more traffic. They send & receive simultaneously & communicate only with the devices they are programmed for.   Bottom line is they do a better job.

Although I sympathise with Mike's view - and if the home broadband router is very old then it might not have switch ports at all - but indeed use hub ports (the functionality that Mike mentions) - in my experience such devices are largely obsolete now.

Many  modern ISP and third party broadband routers including from Apple use Broadcom or equivalent switch chipsets now - and these are often the same as dedicated consumer and even some commercial switch devices. Therefore the switching capability of many modern broadband routers is absolutely fine and has a back plane throughput not much different from little consumer switches and is more than capable of the realtively low bandwidth demands of hidef streamed audio. In fact there are some advantages with some of the newer switching chipsets in broadband routers to use the router where close bridging with the wifi is required.

One thing you do find however is sometimes home broadband routers are more capable than simple un managed consumer switches, and so are often provided in a semi managed state where configuration is required. You can find the default configurations might not support the multicast group requirements of UPnP device discovery - and therefore require some config. A simple consumer switch blindly broadcasts multicast group info with no intelligence applied. It means no config is required for it to work - but consequently it works inefficiently. However for a small home network this usually is not an issue and why is often recommended for the consumer with no or little home network skills in small home setups.

Simon

One more time Simon & I'ii get back in my box. My BT HH4 gets warm to hot after about 2 to 3 hours when its connected directly between NAS & NDX & streaming from NAS.  That's good enough for me to never run without a switch.   

(HH4 is the current BT issue when not using Infinity)

Mike

Well the only HH4s I know run hot - irrespective of what is running on them other than the ADSL link being up. But I agree a device shouldn't run excessively hot - for what ever reason.

The switching function on the HH4 is undertaken using dedicated ethernet switching hardware - I understand the Lantiq PSB 50368 switching chipset - without trawling google don't know what consumer switches might also use this Ethernet switching chipset.

But the HH4 does manage multicast - and so participating devices need to be well behaved

Simon

 

Thanks for the comprehensive reply Mike. I was just curious and I'm not even streaming myself currently. Still happy user of PC -> USB to S/PDIF converter -> Naim DAC. It's easy for me since I live in a single room apartment and my PC is only few meters from my hifi setup. 

I recently updated my router to D-Link DIR-868L which has been working perfectly ever since. It would seriously amaze me if this router couldn't handle HD audio stream. Of course if people really find audible differences between switch and router then it's a whole another matter. I'm little skeptic about audible differences between ethernet cables also but people (at least on this forum) seem to find differences there also. Anything's possible I guess, I just recently found audible differences between two different USB cables. 

Simon-in-Suffolk posted:

Well the only HH4s I know run hot - irrespective of what is running on them other than the ADSL link being up. But I agree a device shouldn't run excessively hot - for what ever reason.

The switching function on the HH4 is undertaken using dedicated ethernet switching hardware - I understand the Lantiq PSB 50368 switching chipset - without trawling google don't know what consumer switches might also use this Ethernet switching chipset.

My BT HH4 was connected for a gaming device until recently - rarely used & now inherited by the g.kids 

-  I measured its case temp at a steady 26 to 26.4'C when doing nothing in a 20'C ambient,  this went up to 28.5'C when gaming,  I'd call that warm.  When I had it temporally hooked up for streaming it got numbers of degrees warmer,  I did not measure it, enough for me to say it was too hot for plastic. 

The only other listed device using the Lantiq PSB 50368 chipset is Netgear with the D6200v2 wireless router

No need for drilling walls or floors guys, just use powerline adaptors if the distance between the streamer and the NAS needs long cables. I've used some TPLink 100Mbit cheap adaptors (on power sockets 20m apart) and I've tested a steady +3MBytes/sec connection, thats 25Mbit.

On the LAN over USB quality my dealer swears streaming from a NAS sounds better than playing the same file from the front USB port. As I'm still waiting for my SU to get delivered I'm yet to test this myself.

Powerlines are the devil's work. 

Regarding switches, if the system works fine without then no problem! I found occasionally my the iPad or app lost the streamer and other weirdness, but when I put in a switch it was all resolved - rock solid. 

Finally, if you get the NAS physically near to the streamer then you can wire them to a switch, and the switch to a WiFi extender. All the UPNP traffic will then be wired, although of course Tidal and iRadio will still be wireless. 

×
×
×
×