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    Reevaluating My Music Storage

     

     

    Audio: Listen to this article.

     

     

    As I wrote in the forum yesterday, my ten year old Synology DS1812+ died on Sunday. I accidentally flipped off the circuit breaker in my storage room, where much of my IT related equipment is housed. This usually isn't an issue for 99.9% of my gear. Power outages happen. However, the DS1812+ didn't come back to life and I wasn't able to resuscitate it. 

     

    A power outage taking out a NAS isn't new to me. Like the DS1812+, my QNAP TVS-872XT also died a couple years ago in a similar way. I have friends in the industry who've experienced the same issue, multiple times. On the plus side, QNAP support was great to me and repaired my TVS-872XT, which has been my main NAS for years. 

     

    The DS1812+ was my backup NAS. It's death isn't the end of the world, doesn't really change my daily listening habits, and I haven't lost any data because it all exists on the QNAP TVS-872XT. I could easily just replace the Synology with a cheap backup NAS and call it a day. I could also reevaluate my music storage needs, research the current music storage landscape, and plot my path forward. As someone who always looks for improvements and educational opportunities, it's a no brainer for me. It's time to reevaluate how I store my music. 

     


    Current Overview

     

    I have 16 terabytes of music on a QNAP TVS-872XT running the QuTS hero h5.01.2248 operating system and ZFS pools for storage. I'm using about 75% of the storage capacity, which could be expanded with more disks. I don't depend on many of the QNAP apps, but I like the ease of remote access and the fact that I can install MinimServer directly on the NAS and it runs very well. QNAP's Helpdesk app was handy last year when troubleshooting and fixing a memory leak, but I usually leave it disabled.

     

    My Windows and Mac computers connect to the QNAP TVS-872XT, as does my Roon ROCK. My Aurender N20 and ACS10 have local storage, and don't connect to the NAS at all (although they could). Roon isn't really a concern because I've listened to Roon for exactly 0 minutes over the last four weeks according to Roon's stats, and running Roon directly on the QNAP lead to much frustration, resulting in me removing it.  

     

    Lately I've been playing really large 12 channel DXD files and have been forced to move them to local storage on my Mac (1TB internal NVMe) and Windows (2TB internal NVMe) computers. When I click play on a 6GB file, I want it to start immediately. Pulling these files over the network each time I wanted to play them, resulted in a less than desirable experience. In addition, my collection of 12 channel files is growing much faster than my two channel collection, resulting in my library growing nearly two terabytes las year. 

     

    That's the current lay of the land.

     


    Moving Forward

     

    I have many thoughts about my music storage and how best to improve upon my current situation. Thanks to members of this community, I have some additional ideas that are great. I spent several hours yesterday researching paths forward and ended the day with more questions than answers. Not questions about the technology, but questions for myself about which path I want to pursue and which path is the best. Those two may be the same, but also can be very different. For example, a QNAP NAS is easy and used by tons of people in this community. An esoteric solution may work better, but also may be a bit over the top and uninteresting to everyone but me. Finding the balance is key.

     

    A drop-in replacement for the DS1812+ backup NAS is simple, but not the path I want to go down. I think rotating my QNAP TVS-872XT into the position of backup, and replacing it, is a better route, but to be honest I really don't know. It's also hard to say if QNAP, or even Synology, hardware is as reliable as other potential solutions. The internet is riddled with horror stories about hardware failures, but I don't think they are based on a longitudinal study. It's more likely angry people with loud voices. That said, I've experienced failures that I consider premature. 

    If I rotate the TVS-872XT to backup and replace it with a new NAS as my main music storage location, I'd like to improve upon speed and reliability. Playing two channel high resolution files is a piece of cake. The 12 channel DXD albums are another story. Reliability will be nearly impossible to judge objectively. 

     

    ts-h1290fx.jpgOne option is a NAS such as the QNAP TS-h1290FX. It has all U.2 NVMe storage and up through 25Gbe connectivity. A fast AMD EPYC processor and tons of RAM, could also enable me to run Roon on it, if I want to in the future. One item I'd love to see on this unit is dual power supplies because I know people who've had QNAP PSUs fail. It would be nice to have a backup and units with dual PSUs usually enable hot swapping of those PSUs. I don't need it to be hot swappable, but the capability means replacement is as simple as it gets, without opening the unit and fighting with the case and tiny internal space. 

     

    I hesitate going this route mainly because of cost. The cost of a TS-h1290FX base unit with 64GB of RAM is $4,899. Not the end of the world, but also not inexpensive. Drives for this unit can be either U.2 NVMe or M.2 NVMe in the QNAP QDA-UMP4 converter. If I loaded the unit up with 12 4TB NVMe drives and converters, the price would be north of $7,000 for the drives alone and give me around 40TB of usable storage.

     

    Another hesitation I have is the 25Gbe speed. I'd absolutely love to take advantage of this incredibly fast Ethernet, but I could only do it on my CAPS Twenty Windows PC. I could easily add a 25Gbe card in CAPS and it would fly, I have no doubt. However, my MacBook Pro is limited to either 1 Gbe or 10 Gbe, with the 1 Gbe being the only Ravenna certified speed. I've used 10 Gbe on CAPS Twenty for Ravenna, but I haven't done so on macOS. 

     

    I'd be well north of $10k for a great NAS, but I'm unsure if the cost is worth it, given my reliance on a MacBook Pro. I suppose I could add a Thunderbolt PCIe card to the MacBook Pro and a 25Gbe card etc..., but now I'm closer to a kludge than I want to be, and I've added more cost to the already very expensive solution.


    TrueNAS MiniXL Plus.jpgAnother NAS I've looked at for many years is TrueNAS. I built my own based on FreeNAS back in the day, and I really liked it. I switched to QNAP as more people in HiFi started using QNAP and I wanted to be able to test, talk, and educate about all the QNAP possibilities. The TrueNAS Mini series is fairly affordable and is rock solid. I like the TrueNAS Mini XL+ because it has eight drives and 10GB SFP+ slots. The SFP+ slots would enable me to place the unit in my basement because I have fiber running in my house from top to bottom. That said, I could save $600 by using copper 10Gbe and placing the unit behind the wall in my listening room. 

     

    The Mini XL+ uses spinning drives, just like my QNAP and dead Synology. 6Tb drives are a sweet spot right now price-wise, enabling me to fill up the Mini XL+, with SFP+, and 64GB of RAM for roughly $3,800. That's a pretty attractive price for around 40TB of usable space. In addition, this would get me into the TrueNAS ecosystem running the new Scale (Linux) operating system and open some different possibilities. The TrueNAS community is very active and support direct from the company appears to be good. 

     

    I could spend $3,800 and use the TrueNAS Mini XL+ as my main music storage device, but I wouldn't gain any speed over my QNAP TVS-872XT, in my estimation. It would be a nice project and serve a purpose, but I'm hesitant. If I was starting over from NAS ground zero, this is likely the route I'd take.


    After studying "canned" NAS options and building my own NAS using a custom operating system, I started looking at a solution that seems like a step or two backward, local storage. I could use local storage on my music servers, and use the QNAP as a backup, or I could use a hybrid approach with an additional backup drive attached to my QNAP. Let me explain. 

     

    I'm getting a new MacBook Pro in the next couple of months. Given that Apple released the new models today, things are looking good. I currently can't play 12 channel DXD files with 65,000 tap convolution filters on my 2017 MacBoo Pro. I just don't have the horsepower. I could purchase a new MacBook Pro and max out the internal storage at 8TB. Apple charges a ridiculous $2,200 for the 8TB internal drive upgrade, but there are no other internal options because the hardware is locked down. 8Tb of space would enable me to store my 6TB music library, and keep the 10TB "archive" on the NAS. The archive is music that I almost never listen to, but I just can't delete. The 6TB collection would be on the MacBoo Pro and backed up on the existing QNAP TVS-872XT. The remaining 10Tb is all stereo, so I could play it directly from the NAS using Audirvana, and back it up to a USB drive attached to the TVS-872XT. 

     

    Screenshot 2023-01-17 at 12.34.21 PM.pngI also thought about getting a 4Tb drive in a new MacBook Pro, and storing only the 12 channel albums locally. Apple's price for a 4Tb upgrade is $1,000, which is easier to swallow. Still, everyone talking about how cheap storage is today, hasn't looked at NVMe drives. The prices are crazy. The cost of a new 14" MacBook Pro is $1,999, but the cost of 8Tb of storage is $2,200. Have high end audio manufacturers started producing NVMe storage in small batches!

     

    The most attractive parts about local storage are speed and simplicity. While I complain about the cost, it would also be less expensive than getting a new NAS.

     

    If I go this route, my MacBook Pro would be OK, but my CAPS Twenty Windows PC would be in the same position as it is today. I could technically place the huge 12 channel DXD content on the local CAPS NVMe drive, and use the 10Gbe Ethernet card to pull music from the NAS, or stick with the JCAT 1Gbe card because the huge files would be local. 

     


    Wrap Up

     

    That's where I'm at, as of Noon Central US time today. The more I research, the more paralysis takes hold. I really don't know which option I want to go with, or if another will pop up this afternoon. As I think through the options I. Come up with reasons why a specific solution will/won't work, or why one is better or worse than another. There is no clearcut solution that checks all the boxes. This sounds very similar to DACs and high end audio :~)

     

    All of this research makes solutions like Aurender seem so dang easy. 


    N20_1_2048x.jpg

     

     




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    2 hours ago, botrytis said:

    I have lost documents (like my Ph.D. thesis) to HD errors, and dead HD's. So, I am very anal about backups, etc.

     

    Ouch! Wow, the Ph.D thesis being lost is the stuff of nightmares. Were you able to recover/reconstruct it in some way? (Sorry for the OT, but I'm just hoping this has a reasonably happy ending.)

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    Have you considered cloud storage at all? I don't mean as the "gold" source of data (i realise you'll want to play from within your network), but for things like external streaming, sync etc?

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    1 minute ago, Jud said:

     

    Ouch! Wow, the Ph.D thesis being lost is the stuff of nightmares. Were you able to recover/reconstruct it in some way? (Sorry for the OT, but I'm just hoping this has a reasonably happy ending.)

     

    I just printed it out. I had all my data backed up, but we had to retype it in. All 275 pages of it. My wife can type 200 characters a minute, so there is that. Then I had to go back through and correct some corrections she did. That is another story.... 🤣

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    1 minute ago, Dan Gravell said:

    Have you considered cloud storage at all? I don't mean as the "gold" source of data (i realise you'll want to play from within your network), but for things like external streaming, sync etc?

     

    Do you know of inexpensive cloud storage for large volumes of data in motion rather than data at rest? The cloud storage I'm familiar with (my knowledge is by no means comprehensive) is much less expensive as backup where it can be at rest.  So sync, yeah, external streaming, not that I know of, but maybe you know of something?

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    There are small screens that could be used and are touch screens. That could be an option also. 

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    @The Computer Audiophile - Poking around the interwebs the last day or two I've seen some *very* inexpensive DIY TrueNAS builds (around $1000 exclusive of large storage drives), though with your need for speed in moving data, something up to your specs might be a bit more. The majority of these have been TrueNAS Core, as that's a much more mature OS at this point than TrueNAS Scale.

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    1 hour ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

    I hear ya :~)

     

    I'm happy you have a solution that works for you. What do you do if a 2TB drive fails?

    I have duplicate 2T drives.  If one fails I use the duplicate to replace a new one.   All manual file transfers through a Mac.   Cheers!

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    Just now, Rcanoe said:

    I have duplicate 2T drives.  If one fails I use the duplicate to replace a new one.   All manual file transfers through a Mac.   Cheers!

    Excellent!

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    Due to the failures I've read about, I've been replacing perfectly functioning Synology NAS's every two years which is a pain and actually doesn't alleviate all worrying. Luckily, I've been able to sell the swapped out units for something but there's some guilt involved.

     

    My Roon usage (NUC Core) has decreased to almost nothing in the last year so the NAS is more archival.

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    4 hours ago, Rcanoe said:

    I have duplicate 2T drives.  If one fails I use the duplicate to replace a new one.   All manual file transfers through a Mac.   Cheers!

     

    I have 6 copies of my music - 6 - 8 TB drives - OK I am anal.....

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    I've been using direct connect storage since the beginning.  I have two 8T drives connected to my iMac, one has DSD files and the other PCM.  We can't let them touch because matter-anti-matter explosion, duh.  Anyhoo, these drives are ~$149 at Costco and I just buy another when my drives are full.  I have older smaller drives full of most of the backups.  At some point, I will probably buy two more and just CCC each and put them in the storage closet.  As I see it, these drives get very little use and go to sleep when not invoked by Roon, so I am not worried about wear.  I probably should put them on a battery backup supply.  Costco also sells those pretty cheap.  Plugged into a power strip with a varistor surge protector a backup supply is unlikely to fry anything unless directly hit by lightening.  Good luck with the use-case with anything tho...

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    17 hours ago, Jud said:

     

    As you know, RAID is not a backup plan. (Neither is ZFS, but it is more robust than RAID at avoiding errors.) I would not wait to implement an actual backup.  Have a look at Backblaze's drive reliability data, which is thorough and nicely presented, and get some reliable drives on which to back up your NAS. 

    Jud, thank you for the reference to Backblaze. I was not familiar with it. Very helpful. I ordered up three 16Tb drives — WUH721816ALE6L4 — which seem to be highly rated. New for $888 from ServerSupply.com.  I will use them to do a full backup of my NAS for offsite storage. Cheers. JCR 

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    10 hours ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

     

    10 hours ago, bobfa said:

    I am getting pretty comfortable with Luna Display on my iPad Pro.  The Keyboard folio and Apple Pencil are pretty ideal.

    I'd love to know more. 

     

    If I can put a M2 Mini behind the wall and use an iPad for display, it would be ideal. I don't want a MacBook, but so far it's what I have and thought I needed. 

     

    What would be awesome, is if I could use my iPad Pro as a connected display via Thunderbolt / USB C, and it worked just like a monitor. I'd put the Mini under my side table and call it a day. I just don't think the current solutions are that good, but I could be very wrong.

     

     

     

    I am sitting here with the iPad as the keyboard and display for my Mac mini.  Look Ma No-Wires!

     

    IMG_0623.thumb.jpeg.1958983ff4ef75c9a1c562455c768558.jpeg

     

     

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    Hi Chris:

     

    I read your post but none of the comments (yet)

     

    Having TrueNAS at home and being a dealer of Synology, QNAP, HP, and with knowledge of even Enterprise NAS I would say leave NAS as a NAS, you can rotate your existing NAS and repurpose this one as a backup and get a new NAS, TrueNAS for home use gives you a few perks, the best one is you can keep an HBA controller as a spare and you can care less if the main unit dies, new PC with the HBA and the drives or existing PC with replacement HBA and you are in business.

     

    Yes the Computer NAS solution gives you other flexibility but you are a MAC owner and I don't think you will like to deal with Linux, Proxmox or virtualization that's why I would recommend you to keep a NAS just like you do today.

     

    My NAS holds family photos, movies, important files, audio and run with 10G interfaces fast enough to sustain 290 Mbps of transfers, I run it virtualized but that's just me.

     

    I was about to comment on your wireless experiences before but I decided not too

     

    PM me or post publicly here if you have any comments. I have no commercial interest in selling anything here.

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    25 minutes ago, luisma said:

    Hi Chris:

     

    I read your post but none of the comments (yet)

     

    Having TrueNAS at home and being a dealer of Synology, QNAP, HP, and with knowledge of even Enterprise NAS I would say leave NAS as a NAS, you can rotate your existing NAS and repurpose this one as a backup and get a new NAS, TrueNAS for home use gives you a few perks, the best one is you can keep an HBA controller as a spare and you can care less if the main unit dies, new PC with the HBA and the drives or existing PC with replacement HBA and you are in business.

     

    Yes the Computer NAS solution gives you other flexibility but you are a MAC owner and I don't think you will like to deal with Linux, Proxmox or virtualization that's why I would recommend you to keep a NAS just like you do today.

     

    My NAS holds family photos, movies, important files, audio and run with 10G interfaces fast enough to sustain 290 Mbps of transfers, I run it virtualized but that's just me.

     

    I was about to comment on your wireless experiences before but I decided not too

     

    PM me or post publicly here if you have any comments. I have no commercial interest in selling anything here.

    Thanks for the recommendation and relaying your experience. 
     

    I’m actually a Mac, Windows, Linux, and off/on BSD owner :~) 

     

    I like whatever OS works best for the job. I don’t feel like building a PC right now though. So, buying a NAS is probably the best route. 
     

    Do the TrueNAS Mini XL+ units have HBAs? They seem kind of small. I figured everything was just onboard chip. 
     

    Recovering from a hardware failure is important to me. 

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    16 hours ago, Jud said:

     

    Do you know of inexpensive cloud storage for large volumes of data in motion rather than data at rest? The cloud storage I'm familiar with (my knowledge is by no means comprehensive) is much less expensive as backup where it can be at rest.  So sync, yeah, external streaming, not that I know of, but maybe you know of something?

     

    Egress cost is something you need to check for, I agree. But it depends what you mean by inexpensive!

     

    Wasabi, pCloud and Hetzner all offer what I'd say is reasonably inexpensive - about $60/year or in that ballpark. Is that inexpensive?

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    I would go in a totally different route. I would pass on anothe NAS or upgrading the MAC.  I would sell the Aurender.

     

    Then buy an audio server from the likes of Wolf Audio or Antipodes. Load it with 8 to 10 GB of local storage and call it a day.  It would be fast, simple, elegant, very powerful, flexible, would give excellent sound and check most if not all of your wants.

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    Big fan of QNAP. Also great support. 

     

    I would warn against using to many disks. 6 disks ought to be enough. To many disk in a RAID may be an issue. You will increase the probability of an error. 

     

    Using RAID 6 should keep you very safe. Maybe add Jottacloud as extra backup. Very cheap for unlimited storage. (You will need a PC in addition).

     

    I like these extra boards that is available with m2 for RAID 1 or 0 for the OS. Or even a virtual PC, if the QNAP is powerful enough. These boards also comes with optional extra ethernet speed interface if needed. Should be great for Roon as well.

     

    And don't purchase all disks same time. (Or purchase from different shops). So you avoid same production batch. And always have one or two disks in spare available.

     

    Even with an hardware fail on the QNAP itself, you can just switch all disks from one unit to another, and your up in no time. I've tried. Works great. And it works even if from old HW to new HW.

    (Cause it's SW RAID). 

     

    Better have two reasonable priced QNAP backing each other up, than one huge expensive one. (Or one 6 bay high end, and a cheaper 6 bay middle/low end where you mirror the high end one).

     

    QNAP TS-h1290FX is a total overkill in my opinion.

    Do you really need it ?

     

    https://www.qnap.com/en/selector/raid-selector?bay=6&hdd=16,16,16,16,16,16&raid=6&filter={"other"%3A["ssd_cache_acceleration_support"]}

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    7 hours ago, luisma said:

    Hi Chris, I can't find out at the moment with a quick search but I know the HBA adapters allows TrueNAS and the software to build the ZFS vdevs (these are ZFS's logical RAID units) and system, making it transparent to migrate to another RAID / vdev upon failure of the controller. Which is something other technologies don't do. Synology will rebuild a NAS for you but you need to call support and pray they figure it out.

     

    ZFS in general:

    It has a huge disadvantage which is the writes, if you write continuously without deleting much you are good, if you constantly write and erase, write and erase it will degrade with time, that's the ZFS Achilles heel. I don't write/delete much o it is fine.

    The other disadvantage of ZFS is capacity, once you cross 70% of used capacity it degrades performance.

     

    Aside of that is a wonderful system, the XL comes with WD REDS, these in the past where SMR (you don't want SMR), I believe now are CMR which are good but I would not go with WD RED's 

    https://www.servethehome.com/wd-red-smr-vs-cmr-tested-avoid-red-smr/

     

    I usually build my NAS and select Enterprise drives for it (I'm a huge fan of former HGST part of WD today) enterprise drives IMO is the best way to go and they are not much more expensive if you know where to buy.

     

    With 8 bays you could do with 14 TB drives (you could use higher capacities 18TB if needed)

     

    1x vdev with RAIDZ2 (RAID6) = 14x 6 = 84 TB

     

    I personally would do:

     

    2x vdevs with RAIDZ2 = 28TB + 28TB = 56 TB (a tad faster and even more resilient) assuming 56 TB is enough for you

     

    If you ever need to expand storage you must replace all drives in a vdev one by one and it takes time, that's why I like to split vdevs in maximums of 4 drives and not 8 drives.

     

    Synology is much much much more simplified but the overhead of the system, the limitations and the abilities of TrueNAS to do maintenance and check drives etc. are just better IMO.

     

    EDIT: 1st paragraph I meant to say "making it transparent to move the drives to a new ZFS system and read the RAID and operate it there independently from the actual hardware controller"

     

     

     

    Great info. Thanks!

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    1 hour ago, Billy_SP said:

    I would go in a totally different route. I would pass on anothe NAS or upgrading the MAC.  I would sell the Aurender.

     

    Then buy an audio server from the likes of Wolf Audio or Antipodes. Load it with 8 to 10 GB of local storage and call it a day.  It would be fast, simple, elegant, very powerful, flexible, would give excellent sound and check most if not all of your wants.

    Can either of those play 12 channel DXD files with 65,000 tap convolution filters?

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    4 hours ago, Dan Gravell said:

     

    Egress cost is something you need to check for, I agree. But it depends what you mean by inexpensive!

     

    Wasabi, pCloud and Hetzner all offer what I'd say is reasonably inexpensive - about $60/year or in that ballpark. Is that inexpensive?


    Just checked out the 3 you mentioned, and for the scale of what @The Computer Audiophile would be using, pricing is nowhere near that. Maybe I’m not researching the right thing.

     

    Backblaze personal unlimited storage is near that price point for pure backup (data at rest), but not suitable for external streaming and lacks the tools of something like Backblaze’s B2 product, which is suitable for external streaming but where cost escalates with size of storage (and with data egress).

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    4 minutes ago, Jud said:


    Just checked out the 3 you mentioned, and for the scale of what @The Computer Audiophile would be using, pricing is nowhere near that. Maybe I’m not researching the right thing.


    Sorry - you're correct, that's the 1TB cost I quoted, I must've been rushing and forgot to apply it to this case. So basically quite a lot of money!

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    1 hour ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

    Can either of those play 12 channel DXD files with 65,000 tap convolution filters?

     

    I don't know for sure, but according to this review, the Wolf can do multi channel, upsampling and DXD:  https://houseofstereo.com/blogs/news/review-by-posi-ive-feedback-impressions-the-wolf-audio-alpha-3sx-music-server-revisited

     

    I have no commercial ties with any audio company, just thought it was a route worth of consideration given that a server can give you plenty processing power and flexibility.  I am considering this route myself by the way.

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