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Air disk as iTunes server


bdiament
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Hi all,

 

I figured I'd post this here in case anyone has already done what I'm thinking about doing. I'm not even sure this is possible or if it is possible, how functional it would be.

 

Here's the idea:

I'm starting to make plans to set up a music server. In a few months, I'll most likely upgrade my current PowerBook G4 (!) to a MBP. At that time, I want to begin the long task of putting my CD collection (as well as high res recordings) into iTunes to use it as the basis for my server. (I'll omit discussion of things like Amarra at this point since I believe it can be easily added later. Right now, just iTunes.)

 

What I'm thinking of is a 1 terrabyte external drive (along with a second one for backup) that will be attached to my Airport. The drive will house only my iTunes library and associated files. My hope is that I'll be able to access iTunes wirelessly so that when my laptop is in the studio, connected to my ULN-8, I can play music through the studio system. When my laptop is in other rooms, I want to access iTunes while the laptop is connected to the systems in those rooms.

 

I tried connecting an external drive to my Airport the other day and when the drive did not show up on my desktop, I came to the conclusion it (an older 802.11g Airport Extreme - the "flying saucer" shaped one) does not support an external drive (aka an "air disk" in Apple lingo). So, I'll likely have to get a newer 802.11n Airport Extreme with the new computer and new drive.

 

That's the idea.

What I don't know is whether a drive connected to an Airport via USB and accessed wirelessly, will deliver the audio the way I expect it (no glitches). I'm also not sure whether, even if it does work, there might be a limitation in terms of word length or sample rate. Will it work but only with 16/44 files? Will it work with my HRx (24/176) files?

 

Has anyone done this?

Any input from those who have been there would be appreciated.

 

Thanks in advance.

 

Best regards,

Barry

www.soundkeeperrecordings.com

www.barrydiamentaudio.com

 

 

 

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There was a thread about the airport extreme a while back. I think the conclusion was that you need to make sure you format your hard drive the right way in order for it to work properly. Aside from that, what you are creating is a regular NAS which will work with varying success depending on the wireless signal in the different rooms. Your computer won't care where it is as long as it can access your network. I've moved my laptop around from room to room and not had any problems connecting to the two systems I had at the time. If you are considering getting an apple router, why not get the one with the hard drive built in? I think you can add more hard drives to it via usb as well.

 

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Barry,

 

What you are describing works fine, so long as you connect Apple formatted disks to the Airdisk. I used exactly this configuration for quite some time, with a Macbook Pro via Firewire to ULN-2.

 

With 802.11n wireless network capabilities of the most recent Airport Extremes, I never experienced dropouts while playing music. I did occasionally experience loss of connection (to the Airdisk), and had to re-connect. After a while, I learned to check that the Airdisk was available to (i.e. connected) the Macbook Pro prior to launching iTunes.

When available, the icon should appear on your desktop.

 

Since I didn't require the portability that you do, I eventually moved to an external disk connected directly to Mac Mini (or Macbook Pro), and used another laptop computer to 'control' the Mac Mini. That won't work in your case, as you have multiple systems that you'd like to use the music files with.

 

ENjoy,

Clay

 

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Hi Mr C,

 

Thanks for your reply.

 

I have considered the one with the built-in hard drive (I believe it is calle the Time Capsule) but have been leaning toward keeping the hard drive and the router as separate entities. The Time Capsule may be a viable option in the long run though.

 

Best regards,

Barry

www.soundkeeperrecordings.com

www.barrydiamentaudio.com

 

 

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Barry,

 

No, I did not. 802.11n has much improved bandwidth over 802.11g - an order of magnitude (or more precisely 600Mb/sec versus the previous 54 Mb/sec) so I'm betting it would work, but I've no actual experience with wireless streaming of file sizes that large for audio playback.

 

Clay

 

PS, you could also load up a 500Gb Passport (portable disc) and carry it with you for high resolution file playback stored separately from your computer.

 

 

 

 

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Yes, that's why I've been thinking a separate drive (i.e. separate from the Airport). I figure a terrabyte would be good as there are about 8 or 9 hundred CDs I'd like to put on it - most likely as uncompressed AIF files.

 

Also, with a separate drive, I could hard wire it to the computer for the load in, then move it so it lives next to my Airport. (I suppose this is just a possible with a Time Capsule as well. Not sure about reliability of the TC yet though.)

 

Best regards,

Barry

www.soundkeeperrecordings.com

www.barrydiamentaudio.com

 

 

 

 

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Barry,

 

Yes, I would recommend separate router and external disk, mostly for flexibility, but also because Apple has premium pricing for their branded hard disks without benefit of any Apple ingenuity (unless you count router & hard disk in a single package as innovative, which for some people would be a plus).

 

clay

 

 

 

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FWIW I am using a 1TB time capsule as a wireless NAS. It functions flawlessly with 16/44 AIFF in iTunes. Have not tried any high rez files beyond 24/96 AIFF. I have no problem playing those files approx 30ft from the Time capsule in another room.

Amarra didn't like it much. Spat the dummy reading the NAS path. But then again it isn't supposed to work with NAS.

I opted for the Time capsule to 2 reasons - it has the built in Airport Extreme and the prices have come down. There was only a small premium to buying a 1TB drive plus the Airport Extreme. They have 2TB Time Capsules out now. The drives are h/w noisy - you don't want one next to your listening chair. I will pop the hood and replace with 2TB WD Green Power drive down the track.

I do like the idea of a separate NAS but will only get one as needs be.

Cheers

Andrew

 

Best Wishes

Andrew

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An advantage of the Time Capsule (over the Airport Extreme and USB connected disc) is that the Time Capsule fully supports Time Machine backup where as (unless it's changed recently) the Airport Extreme with USB disc doesn't (you maybe able to get it to work but that isn't the same). An alternative to buying a new router with would be to look at a 2 drive NAS (2 drive so it supports mirroring for a little peace of mind). This could be connected (via Ethernet cable) to your existing "flying saucer" AirPort.

 

As for supporting 24/96 (and higher resolution) files - is there any possibility of running network cable to the two main locations you plan to use you Laptop for music? Wired network wont improve sound quality per se, but will give you a (closer to) 100% reliable network without any problems with high-res files.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Hi Eloise,

 

I understand the advantage of a Time Capsule to Time Machine users. I have my own (redundant) backup protocol and do not use Time Capsule, so I don't have to worry about this.

 

I also prefer to keep my backup in a separate location, so rather than a two drive NAS, my plan is for individual drives, one of which will be stored in a fireproof box when it isn't being used to back up the first drive.

 

I'm not so sure a drive connected to my flying saucer Airport via Ethernet would show up on my desktop. I am under the impression that particular Airport does not support a WiFi connection to hard disk. Do you know for a fact that it will work?

 

As to running a network cable, I'm investigating the WiFi option first. If that won't be functional, I'll have to run the network cable but at this time, that will limit use of the system to the studio. I suppose I could run Ethernet cables to different rooms but that seems so... 20th century. ;-} I much prefer a WiFi solution -- if it will give me glitch free playback.

 

Best regards,

Barry

www.soundkeeperrecordings.com

www.barrydiamentaudio.com

 

 

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Hi Andrew,

 

If Amarra doesn't work with NAS, I would consider this a flaw in Amarra and would not change my plans.

 

If Time Capsules are noisy, I continue to lean toward a separate drive and router. The Airport disk (i.e. wirelessly attached drive) housing the library would be located in a corner of my studio so I don't want to hear it. I currently have a number of Lacie external drives and they are all silent.

 

Best regards,

Barry

www.soundkeeperrecoridngs.com

www.barrydiamentaudio.com

 

 

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If I read it correctly, Sonic Studio state that using a NAS **MAY** affect sound quality. If I recall correctly, at the Symposium it was reported that the SQ quality was best SSD, then pretty jointly music on NAs and then on HDD.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Barry asked/ said... "I'm not so sure a drive connected to my flying saucer Airport via Ethernet would show up on my desktop. I am under the impression that particular Airport does not support a WiFi connection to hard disk. Do you know for a fact that it will work?"

I was meaning a NAS type drive rather than a USB drive. e.g. NetGear ReadyNAS; QNap; Thecus; Western Digital MyBook World Edition; Lacie d2 Network; etc. A 2-drive (mirrored) NAS doesn't remove the need for backup as (a) failure in the NAS enclosure and (b) accidental erasure/chaning of data by the user will not be protected against using mirroring.

 

I don't recall completely, but I think the "flying saucer" has wired network ports as well as the wireless functionality, if so this should work as a bridge connecting a wired and wireless network. In this case you can add a NAS drive to the wired connection and it will be available to the wireless devices. I'm not sure how applicable this is to your setup but is another way of achieving network storage accessible via wireless connection and is possibly more complicated than just getting a new AirPort Extreme and USB connected drive.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Hi Eloise,

 

Thank you for your reply.

 

That's the thing: there *is* a LAN port on the flying saucer but unless I'm mistaken, this is simply to allow a hard-wired connection to the outside world. With the "older" Airport, I believe it will *not* show up on the Mac desktop via WiFi. This is the "Air disk" that premiered with the newer, 802.11n Airport Extreme.

 

So, it looks like the new computer will also be coming with a new Airport --- assuming this is indeed required to set up the server I'd like to have.

 

Best regards,

Barry

www.soundkeeperrecordings.com

www.barrydiamentaudio.com

 

 

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"but that seems so... 20th century."

 

well, so is your 'flying saucer' airport base station. :0

 

Barry, for wireless audio streaming, and esp. for 24/96, I strongly suggest that you forget about the old Airport, and just get an up-to-date model. All newer Airports have substantially greater bandwidth. I experienced occasional dropouts on my earlier model (802.11G) airport express base station, albeit sometimes due to non-exclusive use of the network.

 

One question, do you plan to use the wireless streaming for 'critical' listening, or more for convenience listening? I tend to use it for the latter.

 

clay

 

 

 

 

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"So, it looks like the new computer will also be coming with a new Airport --- assuming this is indeed required to set up the server I'd like to have."

 

Barry,

 

Yes, your new Macbook Pro will come with 802.11n wireless capability built-in. Technically it would still work with your older airport, but only at speeds which the airport supports.

 

I believe there's a USB 'port' to connect to the printer, but I've not looked at one closely in years.

 

clay

 

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Barry ...

 

I think you're right that your best plan is a new "AirDisk" capable router (i.e. AirPort Extreme). For starters you'll also get 802.11n which will be of benefit with a new laptop. Sorry for confusing things.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Hi Clay,

 

No argument there. The flying saucer is "old" by current standards. (So is my 1.25 GHz G4 PowerBook with 1 G RAM.)

 

The purpose is primarily casual listening but if it is going to be worth the effort of loading a large quantity of CDs, I would expect it to merit critical listening as well, at least when connected in the studio to the ULN-8 and Maggies. If the results won't sound better than a direct connection from the transport to the ULN-8, I don't think I'd bother.

 

Best regards,

Barry

www.soundkeeperrecordings.com

www.barrydiamentaudio.com

 

 

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I recommend against the Time Capsule for 2 reasons:

1. You cannot partition the drive.

2. You cannot repair it using any disk repair utility such as Alsoft Disk Warrior or Apple's own Disk Utility.

 

Mac Mini (2012 i7) > HQPlayer > RME ADI-2 v2 > Benchmark AHB-2 > Thiel 3.7

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Hi Bob,

 

Thank you for your input.

Sounds like a separate Airport and external drive is the way to go.

 

Since I don't use Time Machine (I have my own backup protocol), not having a TC won't be an issue.

 

Best regards,

Barry

www.soundkeeperrecordings.com

www.barrydiamentaudio.com

 

 

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