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Recommended music storage for a Mac mini


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Hello everybody,

 

I'm in the market for new external music storage hardware for my late 2012 Mac mini. I currently use a LaCie Rugged 1TB HDD with a standard Fireware 800 cable and I wonder if there are any improvements I could make in this area. My music library is currently at around 600GB and growing largely due to downloading 96/24 files.

 

Firstly I thought of the LaCie Rugged Thunderbolt with HDD as a reasonably priced upgrade but then I started looking around at the more expensive alternatives.

 

I have been looking online at the Promise Pegasus J4 with SSD storage. This looks like a very good, but expensive, option. I just wanted to check whether anybody had experience with this equipment.

 

Alternatively I was thinking of a Synology NAS because this type of storage seems to be the most popular solution. But then I'm not sure why I would want a NAS given that I am a single user with all my hardware in one dedicated room. Beyond the possibility of wireless are there any advantages over directly attached storage that make it such a popular choice?

 

Thanks for your help.

 

Andrew

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Alternatively I was thinking of a Synology NAS because this type of storage seems to be the most popular solution. But then I'm not sure why I would want a NAS given that I am a single user with all my hardware in one dedicated room. Beyond the possibility of wireless are there any advantages over directly attached storage that make it such a popular choice?

 

The best approach is to go with a solution that provides for data redundancy via RAID. This can either be direct attached storage (DAS) or network attached storage (NAS). One of the four drives in my Synology DS413 failed last week. I was able to continue accessing my music library while awaiting for the replacement drive to arrive.

 

Multilple spinning drives can be a source of noise. One advantage of a NAS is that it allows you to locate that source of noise in another room.

 

The other advantage of a NAS is that tasks can be offloaded to it. Scheduled backup tasks are set to run on my NAS each night, so it takes care of backing itself up. Also, I have the NAS powered by a UPS, which will properly shut the NAS down should the power go down for longer than 5 minutes. Both these help to provide greater peace of mind against loss of any music from my library.

 

A NAS can also allow for easy storage expansion. I started with two 2TB drives. Then I added two more 3 TB drives. Then recently I swapped the two 2 TB drives for two 4 TB drives. This was really easy to do.

Digital:  Sonore opticalModule > Uptone EtherRegen > Shunyata Sigma Ethernet > Antipodes K30 > Shunyata Omega USB > Gustard X26pro DAC 

Amp & Speakers:  Spectral DMA-150mk2 > Aerial 10T

Foundation: Stillpoints Ultra, Shunyata Denali power conditioner, Shunyata Alpha and Delta power cords, Shunyata Alpha interconnect, Shunyata Sigma Ethernet, MIT Matrix HD60 speaker cables, ASC isothermal tube traps, Stillpoints Aperture panels

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For large libraries, I agree with just about everything Kenny has said here, particularly as in your case and others that have $$$ invested in downloaded files.

 

The only other areas of concern that I can come up with are speed of data access and sound quality with speed really being of relevance with music files and SQ being a highly debated topic who's differences are only supported by individual subjective reports. In this case, best to review threads that deal with storage device SQ and derive a conclusion accordingly.

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The best approach is to go with a solution that provides for data redundancy via RAID. This can either be direct attached storage (DAS) or network attached storage (NAS). One of the four drives in my Synology DS413 failed last week. I was able to continue accessing my music library while awaiting for the replacement drive to arrive.

 

Multilple spinning drives can be a source of noise. One advantage of a NAS is that it allows you to locate that source of noise in another room.

 

The other advantage of a NAS is that tasks can be offloaded to it. Scheduled backup tasks are set to run on my NAS each night, so it takes care of backing itself up. Also, I have the NAS powered by a UPS, which will properly shut the NAS down should the power go down for longer than 5 minutes. Both these help to provide greater peace of mind against loss of any music from my library.

 

A NAS can also allow for easy storage expansion. I started with two 2TB drives. Then I added two more 3 TB drives. Then recently I swapped the two 2 TB drives for two 4 TB drives. This was really easy to do.

 

Yes, I can see that data redundancy via RAID is necessary whichever choice I make. What I didn't realize though was that the noise level of the spinning drives was an issue. Right now I have one drive spinning and I can't hear anything but I can imagine that several drives working together stopping and starting doing various housekeeping tasks could be annoying. Do you connect your NAS via ethernet or would wireless work OK? I suppose ethernet is necessary for the SQ.

 

The automated back up I do on the "mother" library kept on a mains powered LaCie HDD using Superduper but NAS units do seem to be more convenient in this area in that these tasks are already set up to work automatically within the one unit. And the expandability is another plus. But I imagine a DAS device could do the same.

 

So it seems to boil down to having the ability to locate the unit outside the listening room which I can see is a big plus until the price of SSD comes down.

 

Many thanks for your advice. It helps a lot.

 

Andrew

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For large libraries, I agree with just about everything Kenny has said here, particularly as in your case and others that have $$$ invested in downloaded files.

 

The only other areas of concern that I can come up with are speed of data access and sound quality with speed really being of relevance with music files and SQ being a highly debated topic who's differences are only supported by individual subjective reports. In this case, best to review threads that deal with storage device SQ and derive a conclusion accordingly.

 

Yes I wondered about speed and SQ. Obviously for backing up speed is paramount but for SQ it wasn't clear to me and it appears that the jury is still out. So I think I'll not worry about it until Thunderbolt and SSD become more mainstream (and cheaper).

Thanks for your help.

Andrew

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Yes, I can see that data redundancy via RAID is necessary whichever choice I make. What I didn't realize though was that the noise level of the spinning drives was an issue. Right now I have one drive spinning and I can't hear anything but I can imagine that several drives working together stopping and starting doing various housekeeping tasks could be annoying.

 

To be fair, there are external drives that are sufficently quiet. I have a 2 TB WB My Book Studio II that features two drives that can be configured as RAID 0 or 1. This runs quiet and wouldn't be a bad way to go initially. It can later be repurposed as drive to backup a NAS.

 

I could once in a while hear the drives spin up in the My Book, which wasn't too annoying. There wasn't any fan noise. I think that once you go past two drives in an enclosure that a fan is needed to remove the heat. Also faster drives would require a fan. The My Books contain WD Green drives that spin at 5400 RPM.

 

Do you connect your NAS via ethernet or would wireless work OK? I suppose ethernet is necessary for the SQ.

 

There is currently a wired connection between my Mac Mini and my NAS. I compared this to wireless in the past and it worked fine and I didn't think I heard a difference in SQ. There's a wireless router in my listening room to ensure that my iPad and iPhone are given a strong question. My guess is that I would have to eliminate this to hear a SQ improvement from wired over wireless. Not gonna happen.

 

The automated back up I do on the "mother" library kept on a mains powered LaCie HDD using Superduper but NAS units do seem to be more convenient in this area in that these tasks are already set up to work automatically within the one unit. And the expandability is another plus. But I imagine a DAS device could do the same.

 

Yes exactly. The OS that runs on Synology is called DSM. This is mature, easy to use, and full of features. I'm barely making use of all that's offered. But I really do often make use of the web interface to move files around.

 

So it seems to boil down to having the ability to locate the unit outside the listening room which I can see is a big plus until the price of SSD comes down.

 

Many thanks for your advice. It helps a lot.

 

Given the size of your library, a DAS (with RAID) is a fine way to go for now. Maybe consider moving to a NAS when you pass 1.5 TB of music. Jump right to a 4 bay NAS though - even if you only install two drives in it. I very quickly outgrew my 2 bay NAS. I'm now up to over 6 TB of music. (Yes I have a sickness)

 

You can start using RAID 5 once you get to three drives. This makes far more efficient use of space. With 3 drives only a third of the available space is used for protection. With 2 drives, half of the available space is used. You can see this yourself by using this helpful tool.

Digital:  Sonore opticalModule > Uptone EtherRegen > Shunyata Sigma Ethernet > Antipodes K30 > Shunyata Omega USB > Gustard X26pro DAC 

Amp & Speakers:  Spectral DMA-150mk2 > Aerial 10T

Foundation: Stillpoints Ultra, Shunyata Denali power conditioner, Shunyata Alpha and Delta power cords, Shunyata Alpha interconnect, Shunyata Sigma Ethernet, MIT Matrix HD60 speaker cables, ASC isothermal tube traps, Stillpoints Aperture panels

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But then I'm not sure why I would want a NAS given that I am a single user with all my hardware in one dedicated room.

 

Andrew,

 

NAS and RAID can be problematic, and expensive. Fine for geeks, not so much for regular folk. I use a MacAlly ext. HD enclosure (looks like a small Mac G-5). It has no fan, so is silent, sleeps with the attached system, looks good with my Mini and DAC, easy to install/change drives. I'm very happy with it.

 

Your current HD has no fan, but loses heat through the case, so noise is not really an issue. I'm not sure why you want to go with the Rugged series, as there are lots of alternatives, but not a problem (except I read some bad issues with their connectors).

 

You can have a fine backup strategy with a couple of extra external drives, and a consistent backup procedure, so NAS/RAID is not necessary for safe data. Sometimes the KISS principle is best :)

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To be fair, there are external drives that are sufficently quiet. I have a 2 TB WB My Book Studio II that features two drives that can be configured as RAID 0 or 1. This runs quiet and wouldn't be a bad way to go initially. It can later be repurposed as drive to backup a NAS.

 

I could once in a while hear the drives spin up in the My Book, which wasn't too annoying. There wasn't any fan noise. I think that once you go past two drives in an enclosure that a fan is needed to remove the heat. Also faster drives would require a fan. The My Books contain WD Green drives that spin at 5400 RPM.

 

 

 

There is currently a wired connection between my Mac Mini and my NAS. I compared this to wireless in the past and it worked fine and I didn't think I heard a difference in SQ. There's a wireless router in my listening room to ensure that my iPad and iPhone are given a strong question. My guess is that I would have to eliminate this to hear a SQ improvement from wired over wireless. Not gonna happen.

 

 

 

Yes exactly. The OS that runs on Synology is called DSM. This is mature, easy to use, and full of features. I'm barely making use of all that's offered. But I really do often make use of the web interface to move files around.

 

 

 

Given the size of your library, a DAS (with RAID) is a fine way to go for now. Maybe consider moving to a NAS when you pass 1.5 TB of music. Jump right to a 4 bay NAS though - even if you only install two drives in it. I very quickly outgrew my 2 bay NAS. I'm now up to over 6 TB of music. (Yes I have a sickness)

 

You can start using RAID 5 once you get to three drives. This makes far more efficient use of space. With 3 drives only a third of the available space is used for protection. With 2 drives, half of the available space is used. You can see this yourself by using this helpful tool.

 

OK. It looks like I'm more in the market for a DAS than for a NAS. I did have a sneaking feeling that a NAS was a step too far for an essentially non technical person like myself. But I saw the recent survey where NAS came out as most popular so I thought that must be the way to go. It's taken me a while to get to 600GB so I can't imagine 6TB. Is that just music? Thanks again for the friendly advice.

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Andrew,

 

NAS and RAID can be problematic, and expensive. Fine for geeks, not so much for regular folk. I use a MacAlly ext. HD enclosure (looks like a small Mac G-5). It has no fan, so is silent, sleeps with the attached system, looks good with my Mini and DAC, easy to install/change drives. I'm very happy with it.

 

Your current HD has no fan, but loses heat through the case, so noise is not really an issue. I'm not sure why you want to go with the Rugged series, as there are lots of alternatives, but not a problem (except I read some bad issues with their connectors).

 

You can have a fine backup strategy with a couple of extra external drives, and a consistent backup procedure, so NAS/RAID is not necessary for safe data. Sometimes the KISS principle is best :)

 

I have a Rugged for no good reason other than I had heard somewhere that LaCie made good quality drives. I have never had a problem with it. I am now definitely thinking in terms of directly attached storage rather than a NAS. Interesting that you don't even recommmend a RAID configuration. For me the advantage of RAID is that it (in theory) it takes the thinking out of backing up. But I do like simplicity and I'm going to give a lot of thought to your KISS approach. Which is basically what I'm doing now but without the "consistent back up procedure". Thanks for the help. I was on the point of buying a NAS!

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I use the OWC Enclosures (OWC External Drive Enclosures) connected to my Macs via Firewire 800. I create an offsite mirror using Carbon Copy whenever I add more than a couple of albums to my library.

 

BTW, I think having a backup offsite is absolutely critical in case the house burns down or you are robbed. Multiple drives in a RAID configuration is fine but doesn't protect you against such calamities.

Sometimes it's like someone took a knife, baby
Edgy and dull and cut a six inch valley
Through the middle of my skull

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BTW, I think having a backup offsite is absolutely critical in case the house burns down or you are robbed. Multiple drives in a RAID configuration is fine but doesn't protect you against such calamities.

 

I couldn't agree more. I have both local and offsite backup. Offsite backup is done automatically via CrashPlan - a service I highly recommend.

Digital:  Sonore opticalModule > Uptone EtherRegen > Shunyata Sigma Ethernet > Antipodes K30 > Shunyata Omega USB > Gustard X26pro DAC 

Amp & Speakers:  Spectral DMA-150mk2 > Aerial 10T

Foundation: Stillpoints Ultra, Shunyata Denali power conditioner, Shunyata Alpha and Delta power cords, Shunyata Alpha interconnect, Shunyata Sigma Ethernet, MIT Matrix HD60 speaker cables, ASC isothermal tube traps, Stillpoints Aperture panels

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I did have a sneaking feeling that a NAS was a step too far for an essentially non technical person like myself.

 

Synology's DSM is as nearly easy to use and configure as your Mac. And Synology offers great online tutorials. Also many users on this forum use Synology products, so you can get help here. So don't let being non-technical dissuade you.

 

But I saw the recent survey where NAS came out as most popular so I thought that must be the way to go. It's taken me a while to get to 600GB so I can't imagine 6TB. Is that just music? Thanks again for the friendly advice.

 

Yes, just music. About 1 TB is DSD ripped from SACDs and about 4 TB is high res PCM ripped from vinyl. Very large files that take up lots of space.

Digital:  Sonore opticalModule > Uptone EtherRegen > Shunyata Sigma Ethernet > Antipodes K30 > Shunyata Omega USB > Gustard X26pro DAC 

Amp & Speakers:  Spectral DMA-150mk2 > Aerial 10T

Foundation: Stillpoints Ultra, Shunyata Denali power conditioner, Shunyata Alpha and Delta power cords, Shunyata Alpha interconnect, Shunyata Sigma Ethernet, MIT Matrix HD60 speaker cables, ASC isothermal tube traps, Stillpoints Aperture panels

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I couldn't agree more. I have both local and offsite backup. Offsite backup is done automatically via CrashPlan - a service I highly recommend.

 

I signed up for CrashPlan a couple of days ago after seeing it recommended here. My menu bar icon is telling me I have another 30 days to go at 1 mbps! But once done I suppose that is the ultimate peace of mind. The final backstop if all else fails. If I ever need to use the back up I guess I'll just have to fly to the US to get a copy :)

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Synology's DSM is as nearly easy to use and configure as your Mac. And Synology offers great online tutorials. Also many users on this forum use Synology products, so you can get help here. So don't let being non-technical dissuade you.

 

Originally, I had in mind a DAS in RAID configuration which was the question behind my original post but such a solution doesn't seem to be as popular as either a NAS or directly attached storage used together with cloning software. There doesn't seem to be much enthusiasm for a Promise Pegasus say. I don't know why that would be but I think I'll probably go with a NAS after all and then I can get back to you with all my questions. :)

 

Thanks again everybody.

 

Andrew

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Well if you are going to buy a NAS, and it doesn't have hard drives included, your first question may well be which hard drive to buy...;)

 

Personally I recommend the Western Digital RED drives. The 4 Terabyte models are ~$179, the 3 Terabyte (which I have) are ~$129, and the 2 Terabyte ~$99.

 

Also in case it wasn't mentioned, while a NAS does provide redundancy in the events of a failure (depending on the RAID level you choose), one should still backup a NAS.

Silver Circle Audio | Roon | Devialet | Synology | Vivid Audio | Stillpoint Aperture | Auralic | DH Labs

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Andrew,

 

I have a Mac Mini as you and just this morning I installed a second SSD with a OWC second drive kit. I put in a Samsung 1 TB 840 EVO drive. I put my most loved albums on this, and have the rest on a now powered down 6TB RAID 0. I have replaced my two spinning 3.5 HDD's and the power supplies for the SATA drives as well as the LaCie ESATA to thunderbolt converter. There are many ways to get what you are after. Look around and see what works for you. It is only you whom needs to be pleased.

 

I've had a NAS and other types of connections FW/USB/SATA/Thunderbolt and such, and I find that for the moment using just the Mac Mini with essential AIFF files is as good as I have found. Getting rid of all of the power supplies and cables and such is as you noted, part and parcel of the KISS system. So you could have a second disc, perhaps a SSD put in your Mini and have no cables running to the outside and be rid of all other power supplies. SSD's don't draw much power, so I feel that this is a workable method. I'll move my Apple 256 SSD out of the Mini should I need another 1 TB to add to the first. I'll have to see how it goes first, but so far so good and I pretested the theory with a smaller Intel 520 series drive.

 

Backup to be sure, however you choose, there are many methods listed here on CA and in this thread. I use a rMPB to rip with and from there move the new files to the Mini to play from, and to a LaCie 4 TB Thunderbolt drive I keep near my laptop for current rips. Anyway I have thought of a Pegasus with all SSD's via Thunderbolt as well. And it might be that is where I'll end up at some point in time. But for now by just switching from one library to another I can have what I really like, or it all. Just something to consider among the many choices you have.

 

Like I noted, pick what works for you, and if you don't like it, well change.

Some people are still afraid of the dark… Purveyor of Remorseless Audio

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I use the OWC Enclosures (OWC External Drive Enclosures) connected to my Macs via Firewire 800. I create an offsite mirror using Carbon Copy whenever I add more than a couple of albums to my library.

 

BTW, I think having a backup offsite is absolutely critical in case the house burns down or you are robbed. Multiple drives in a RAID configuration is fine but doesn't protect you against such calamities.

 

I have a similar setup, Mac mini connected to OWC 2TB external HD, with another OWC 2TB HD for backup. I store the backup at my office and bring it home roughly once a month, or whenever I add a bunch of music files to the main drive. I also use Carbon Copy Cloner for the backup.

 

A couple of weeks ago I brought the backup drive home and couldn't get it to spin. It's about 2.5 years old and OWC has a three year warranty, so I called and they told me to send it in. They ended up replacing the drive. They offered data recovery options (for a price, of course) but I declined since it was my backup. I was nervous about anything happening to my main drive until I got the second drive back and redid the backup, but it all worked out. I can see the logic behind multiple backups though. This was my first experience with HD failure, and it wasn't fun.

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