Why use NAS as a music server?

I am currently using PC + Asset as a music server for my NDX. I know many people are using NAS which as far as I know is sort of a mini computer that is turned on all the time. Apart from the convenience (i.e. you don't have to turn on the PC before you can play music) what sonic or other benefits does a NAS bring? I have an 1.5TB HDD in my PC which is sufficient for storing my music files. I back up the music files manually to an external HDD from time to time.

Sorry if this is a dumb question...I am no computer expert. I just don't want to mis-spent my hard earned cash.

Original Post

It won't bring any sonic benefits as its over the network, anyone telling you otherwise is silly.

 

The NAS is a great product and the advantage for me is the centralisation of everything not just music, meaning its available to everyone in the house with minimum of fuss, and is all backed up. Removing content from the client computers to my mind is a good move, as its these the inevitably go wrong.

 

Coupled with the fact that my NAS is available to me from work as well, it a bit of a no brainer as far as I am concerned.

Hi Peter, a NAS is a Network Attached Storage: more or less a external HDD wich is permananetly connected to your network. It has a numbor of advantages over the HD in your laptop: first of all, the better quality Nas (ie. Synology, QNAP, Netgear) have dedicated processors and dual harddisk with RAID (permanent back-up). Most of them come with UpnP and/or DLNA software on it, making it easy for a streamer to access your music.When using a streamer, it also prevents from your pc being on all the time you want to listen to music. It is also my experience that if your using your pc for havy duty work,and meanwhile it streams music, the SQ performance drops quite significantly.

 

Being embedded in the network, the NAS can be accesses by any pc/streamer or network device, in parrallel !

The potential storage capacity of a NAS is a big benefit. For example I currently have a 4 bay NAS with 4 off 1TB discs in it ( and larger 2TB discs are becoming quite affordable now). It holds not just music but also all my photos and downloaded videos plus document files and software zip files in their own separate folders.

 

You can configure a NAS to use it's multiple discs to store duplicate copies of precious media files using RAID which offers strategies to do this which vary dependent on how many discrete discs you have in the NAS.

 

Quite a lot of NAS have USB ports which allow you to attach external HDDs. These can then be used either for backup or as a way to expand the storage capacity. Personally I use this as a way to do external backups of media files which provides a second layer of safety from disc failure.

 

It is a fact of life that HDDs will fail eventually ( you will be very lucky if this doesn't happen sometime to you) so having multiple backups is wise and more feasible with NAS.

 

As has been mentioned having the media server on the NAS makes music and video streaming an anytime option without having to turn your computer on and wait for it to all start working again.

 

Of course if you end up having a lot of media files a NAS becomes much more essential because of its large storage capacity. I maybe a bit OTT but I currently have 1.5TB of music alone let alone everything else. Havng that sitting on a working computer while running memory hungry programs like photoshop etc would be a tragically slow way to operate.

 

regards

Geoff

Thanks for your feedback guys.

 

Perhaps I should explain my situation a bit more. I am the only one who uses the PC (my wife prefers her iPad), so when I am sitting in front of the speakers the only job that the computer does is stream music for me. My PC has a 2 HDDs, one for the operation system and programmes, another one just for storing data such as photos, music, etc. Backing up files is not much of a problem because I do it manually to an external HDD on a weekly basis.

 

In my case do you think a NAS will improve anything, if so, what?

 

Thanks

Originally Posted by Peter W:

Thanks for your feedback guys.

 

Perhaps I should explain my situation a bit more. I am the only one who uses the PC (my wife prefers her iPad), so when I am sitting in front of the speakers the only job that the computer does is stream music for me. My PC has a 2 HDDs, one for the operation system and programmes, another one just for storing data such as photos, music, etc. Backing up files is not much of a problem because I do it manually to an external HDD on a weekly basis.

 

In my case do you think a NAS will improve anything, if so, what?

 

Thanks

Peter

 

Having a PC running local to your sensitive HiFi kit is not ideal regards RF noise. A NAS can be removed to a non-music room or even the garage.

 

If your PC is using wifi to connect to your router that is not the ideal method for best reliability of audio file streaming. Having wired connections will always be the best but other than that as long as you are happy to always have the PC active when you want to listen there is no real reason to buy a NAS unless you need a lot more storage capacity I guess.

 

regards

geoff

Originally Posted by Peter W:

Thanks for your feedback guys.

 

In my case do you think a NAS will improve anything, if so, what?

 

My NAS only uses ~7w of power so you may save there compared to running a PC. You do lose the flexibility of being able to choose your own software though so you'll have to be prepared to live with the limitations of the built in uPnP server. For example Twonky on a QNAP NAS is unable to transcode to WAV which is something Asset can do for you IIRC. My QNAP Ts-119P II with a 2.0GHz processor is pretty quick at serving up metadata and music so I'm quite happy with it. What format is your music in?

I don't think there is any great advantage of using a NAS for playing music, but it is not a bad solution either. Just use the method you prefer. There is no compelling reason to use a NAS in my view unless you want to have dedicated centralised storage and want features such as RAID to protect against disc failure. 

 

I have both a Vortexbox (free download), which is a specialised NAS for music (upstairs to stream to UQ) and a new Mac Mini with optical connection to a Naim DAC/555PS (downstairs where there is no wired network). 

 

Both solutions work very well and I honestly couldn't say one is better than the other. The Mac Mini has a slight advantage over ease of expansion (Thunderbolt) and use (iTunes), but that is because of the way I built my VB (I could have used a chassis with more disks). 


As long as you back-up your PC and are happy with Asset (I'm not familiar with PC products) then that would seem fine to me. 

Originally Posted by roo:

Twonky on a QNAP NAS is unable to transcode to WAV which is something Asset can do for you IIRC. What format is your music in?

 

Hi roo

 

My files are wav and flac. I don't understand what is meant by "transcode to WAV" and "IIRC", would you be kind enough to eloborate?

 

If I buy a NAS I will most probable go for QNAP which has Twonky pre-installed. Can it stream wav files to my NDX? I have also read posts about song/ ablum order problems regarding Twonky. So confusing......

 

Hi Geoff

 

My PC and hi-fi system are in the same room, ~20ft away from each other, connected by CAT5e cables. Between them is a switch (~6ft from the system) to which the modem, NDX, wi-fi router, PC, TV and AV Amp are connected (TV and AV Amp are in another room). Wi-fi is for n-Stream, iPad and mobile phones only. Do you see any sonic problems for such a set-up?

 

If I add a NAS, it will be installed in the cabinet where the switch, modem and router are, just 6ft away from the system. Will the NAS' RF affect the system?

 

Many thanks.

Originally Posted by Peter W:
Hi Geoff

 

My PC and hi-fi system are in the same room, ~20ft away from each other, connected by CAT5e cables. Between them is a switch (~6ft from the system) to which the modem, NDX, wi-fi router, PC, TV and AV Amp are connected (TV and AV Amp are in another room). Wi-fi is for n-Stream, iPad and mobile phones only. Do you see any sonic problems for such a set-up?

 

If I add a NAS, it will be installed in the cabinet where the switch, modem and router are, just 6ft away from the system. Will the NAS' RF affect the system?

 

Many thanks.

That sounds like an excellent network arrangement for your audio. I don't think RF is more of an issue with the NAS compared with the PC. It is really only a nit picking comment about running PCs close to HiFi but not a big deal at all in truth. lf you bought a NAS putting it in a cupboard is ideal especially if it has a cooling fan which might make a bit of noise.

 

Geoff

Originally Posted by Peter W:
Originally Posted by roo:
Twonky on a QNAP NAS is unable to transcode to WAV which is something Asset can do for you IIRC. What format is your music in?

Hi roo

My files are wav and flac. I don't understand what is meant by "transcode to WAV" and "IIRC", would you be kind enough to eloborate?

If I buy a NAS I will most probable go for QNAP which has Twonky pre-installed. Can it stream wav files to my NDX? I have also read posts about song/ ablum order problems regarding Twonky. So confusing......



If a uPnP server can trancode it can convert music stored in one format to another. Often this can be done on the fly in real time. When I first got my NDX I used the demo version of Asset and noticed that it could send a WAV stream of a FLAC music file to the NDX so it must have been doing a real time transcode. The acronym "IIRC" means "if i recall correctly".

 

The latest QNAP software release has Twonky 6.0.34 built in which is the version I'm using. I've heard it doesn't cope that well with WAV audio files as the tagging is not well supported but I've not tried it or confirmed it myself as all of my music is in FLAC format. I used dBpoweramp to convert my CD collection to FLAC and it works round the track ordering problem by naming the files with a 01, 02, 03... prefix. Albums are shown in alphabetical order which some people may like but I'd rather have them shown chronologically. I was going to try naming album folders with a 01, 02 style prefix to see if that would fix that issue but I've been too busy listening to music and getting on with life to try it out.

 

As other posters suggest you need to also think about backup of the data on the NAS. I bought a single drive NAS as I didn't think the disk redundancy you get from having a second drive was worth the expense. I bought a eSATA caddy and put a drive in it as my backup solution. You can plug it in to the back of the NAS and backup to the external drive quite quickly. Since I'm only using my NAS for music and media storage this works quite well.

One other dozy thing my NAS does is it replies to the uPnP discovery from n-Stream so I see my NAS and the Twonky service running on the NAS in the list of uPnP servers. I've not yet spent the time to figure out if n-Stream is not restricting the types of uPnP servers it wants a response from (assuming you can) or if it is the NAS being silly and responding when it shouldn't. I'd really like to be able to configure the uPnP source on the NDX to always use a single uPnP server as it would simplify operation for the rest of the family. I've already remapped the cd source to uPnP to help with this but they still have to occasionally choose a uPnP server when they are just trying to listen to music. Roll on AirPlay support...

Thanks for your replies guys.

 

My back up external HDD died last Thursday, so I eventually took the plunge and bought a QNAP 219P-II and two 2TB HDD, RAID 1 configuration.

 

I soon notice that Twonky does not display album art for my WAV files. dbpoweramp's uncompressed FLAC option appears to good to be true because it provides metadata for Twonky without compressing the files. Unfortunately I could here a marked difference between uncompressed FLAC and WAV, WAV being the better format in terms of SQ. Well I guess I will have to live with the primitive n-Stream displays offered by Twonky, or turn on my PC to use Asset server.

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