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NAS to DAC Connection preferred


brgman

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Hello All,

Been reading and learning quite a bit and thanks for that.

My question is if you have a preferred method of connecting the NAS to your DAC or other server?

I have a Synology NAS and use either a Benchmark DAC or Oppo 105.I have all on a network but wonder if sound quality is improved by going USB straight from NAS to DAC or something else.

All these are ethernet wired also.No WiFi being used.

Thanks for any input.

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Any computer. You can run e.g. iTunes with Audirvana/Amarra, or JRiver depending on what OS you want on your client computer which drives your USB DAC. I happen to use Mac OS 10.9 running on generic hardware. My "NAS" runs OpenIndiana/ZFS and has enough storage space for music, video, movies and our family's photos. My desktop accesses the media files using SMB over either wireless or wired 1Gb ethernet. Alternatively I've seen SOtM Ultimate High Performance Audio which is like Airplay but outputs USB. I assume that internally its running some variant of Linux.

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I use JRiver from the PC and teh Squeezebox from the NAS cuz i don't know if i can load JRiver right on it.

I use the hardwired ethernet but was wondering if a USB from NAS to DAC is better or basically the same for performance.

Thanks jabbr.

 

The worst, most electrically noisy, method to connect to your DAC is USB. USB is shite for audio.

 

LAN is better as it has no ground and inbuilt transformers. SPDIF through an USB-SPDIF converter is better as well.

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The worst, most electrically noisy, method to connect to your DAC is USB. USB is shite for audio.

 

LAN is better as it has no ground and inbuilt transformers. SPDIF through an USB-SPDIF converter is better as well.

This isn't accurate information. Any type of interface can have problems. Most don't.

Jim Hillegass / JRiver Media Center / jriver.com

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This isn't accurate information. Any type of interface can have problems. Most don't.

Hi Jriver,

 

On another thread I had asked you what setup you use that is immune to electrical noise. Not asking to start an argument, but I am genuinely intrigued, and we are all here to learn and share.

 

I put a scope on the 5V going into my USB-SPDIF converter before and after clean up through an IFI device...remarkable difference, with very noisy patterns before.

 

If you use USB, there are all kinds of hoops to go through to make it bearable: PPA/SoTM/JCat cards, USB-SPDIF converters (Berkeley being my fav), blocking 5V pin if not needed, dual headed USB cables, IFI USB, D-/D+ filters. That is why I posted my previous post, and that is why if you have a choice...avoid.

 

Cheers

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Problems with USB often originate with accessory devices such as external power supplies for portable USB HDDs, suggesting USB is not the greatest of interfaces. In attempting to find out where clicks and pops came from a new DAC, I poked about and measured voltages between the frame of the DAC which is earthed, and the shell of the USB connector at the HDD.

 

My eyes lit up at reading 98Vac,so poked a bit more, the ifiUSB power read 25Vac, the MacBookPro about the same. If you combine all of these into the one system, it depends on where the lowest impedance is, to sink it all to and that's the DAC if it's earthed :( . If you have a DAC that's driven by a wall wart, there's lots of crud just sitting there floating in the breeze, just waiting for you to connect that shielded RCA cable to the amplifier.

As an aside, the readings were measured on a 230V TN system. The same measurements on a balanced 120-0-120 AC system, saw the voltage on the USB hard drive plunge from the 98V to 400mV at the USB shell to earth, -47.7db drop.

 

On its own the USB connector can generate much in the way of garbage, Ethernet is driven by dual differential circuits, but noise is easily introduced into the system as soon as the signal leaves the safety of the Isolation transformer and enters the processing section. Just depends on how good the DAC is to remove crud.

 

To the OP, Jriver is designed to sit on an OS, so anything other than a NAS will suit. Many NAS have USB connectors but they are not designed for audio devices, mice, keyboards and so on. Usually just limited to printers and external hard disks for backups/restores.

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Some will say different, but it can't normally affect audio playback on another device. The NAS is just delivering files to the other device. Either the file gets there or it doesn't, but "noise" on the NAS couldn't cause a failure or affect the file being delivered, unless there was something drastically wrong with the electronics on the NAS. It wouldn't be a subtle difference.

Jim Hillegass / JRiver Media Center / jriver.com

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Some will say different, but it can't normally affect audio playback on another device. The NAS is just delivering files to the other device. Either the file gets there or it doesn't, but "noise" on the NAS couldn't cause a failure or affect the file being delivered, unless there was something drastically wrong with the electronics on the NAS. It wouldn't be a subtle difference.

 

No bits will be lost, but...

 

If you have wall warts, led lights, dimmers, ceiling fan motors, neon light ballasts, fridges, and yes NAS switching power supplies (essentially just a computer) etc. on the same AC circuit as your audio equipment the noise floor can be raised. It is all connected through copper lines to your speakers in the end. Nasty harmonics of switching power supplies are not pleasant to the ear.

 

Now if your NAS is connected wirelessly and/or your audio AC circuit contains filtering/power conditioning you are already helping lower the noise. Ethernet in addition has an inbuilt benefit of no ground connection and transformers to help lower electrical noise.

 

@JRiver - there is a great no nonsense electrical engineering site with lots of educational videos that really helps with understanding impact of switching power supplies, ripple, noise, etc.

 

EEVblog

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A few more follow up thoughts to keep in mind. There is a difference in moving files where obviously the file either copies or not ( or ends up corrupt) and real time streaming where there may not be that file checking in place. A good example would be streaming internet radio where you might actually loose a few packets due to a sudden electrical spike when e.g. turning on a ceiling fan. If signal to noise gets bad, if cross talk gets bad, it impacts sound. A badly constructed LAN cable can do this. Or bad placement of LAN cables, near big EMI fields, running along side power cables or next to a ballast for example.

 

So you do have to be careful with any audio related connection, even if some are inherently more robust.

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