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NAS results in decreased audio quality?


extracampine

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I was reading the Amarra website, in particular the section on "tips for best performance":

 

http://www.amarraaudio.com/ then "support" then "FAQ"

 

It states that "Use an internal or external drive for media, NAS drives may effect sound quality."

 

Is this true? I thought that getting data to the player via a NAS resulted in the same quality as getting it via a directly attached hard disc.

 

There are 2 types of people in this world - those who understand binary and those who don't.

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This is one of these issues that many people will have an opinion on and most won't agree. Objectively there is no difference between the data from a directly attached disc (i.e. Internal or external via FireWire, USB or eSATA) and data supplied across a network. However in tests (including at CA Symposium) it has been demonstrated there can be a difference. Any differences may be explained by differneces in processor loads, interrupts and power supply loads from various disc storage methods. At what level of kit this difference will be apparent at (if it really exisits and isn't just a placebo - many people prescribe to a bits are bits philosophy) will depend on the individuals perceptions.

 

In this post I'm trying to not judge if there IS a difference just report on what has been observed and reported.

 

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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well said, Eloise.

 

FWIW, I started a post the other day asking if there was any rationale for NAS to sound 'better' than external disk, and I got no responses that claimed an improvement. The only anecdotal evidence we seem to have is from the Symposium. This involved equipment quite a bit more expensive than many of us own, and also was not what I would call a decisive claim, at least based on my recollection of what was reported.

 

For my part, I'm sticking with what I have - a 1Tb Mybook external disk (using Carbon Copy Cloner for backup). I may change the interface (from USB) to Firewire or eSata, although I have to switch to a more recently purchased disk to to that, so I'm not sure the trouble of transferring all the data is worth it. If I do, I'll partition it (per usual) and initialize it as non-journaled. And I'll transfer my favorite songs to the SSD I have on order.

 

clay

 

 

 

 

 

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at the symposium, where a NAS playback was down on the bottom of the list.

A fully revealing system may show up these differences, as imperfections in the installation, such as power quality, induced noise, caches within the hard drives, lots of things like that. It is more likely that at home, close proximity to noisy environments are reduced, so the results to your ears would be fine.

Data is data is a stong argument for a NAS or any digital storage medium, but getting the signals across a copper wire still is vulnerable, but far superior to wireless.

SSDs may be the answer, but most of us have music files that go to several hundred GB, at current prices, SSDs have a long way to go.

Beisdes I wouldn't read too much from Amarra, they aren't on Windows, so have little or no interest.

 

AS Profile Equipment List        Say NO to MQA

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At the symposium, was the playback device (i.e. NAS / SSD / HDD) switches blindly or was it more ... "First we're going to show you playback with an SSD" ... "Now with a NAS"?

 

Of course, all "drive" transfer would be eliminated if the software loaded the file into memory before playing it. I think XXHighEnd does this?

 

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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cfmsp

 

Why not freshly rip some of your favourite songs DIRECTLY to your new SSD, then compare them with those previously stored externally , then transferred to the SSD ?

 

SandyK

 

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

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My NAS is attached via ethernet to my router and the router is directly to the computer. NAS means I think different things to different people. On the Drobo for example, rather than incorporating wireless capabilities into their raid arrays, they have a separate box to enable them to become what they're calling "NAS". I wondered if NAS attached directly to the network via ethernet and the server also connected to the network via ethernet would make a difference so that's the configuration i went with.

 

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now that was the good, now for the not so good, totally mind shaping with no objectivity.

i'm not sure how XXXHigh end works, so can't comment.

 

My question, rather than a NAS, if there was a machine with OS server software, would the data integrity be any better than with a NAS? I would think the checksums, delivery and data integrity would be consistent and accurate, rather than a NAS which is really a "slave" type of device, where the player PC, just receives the data warts and all and has to make perhaps a compromise on data?

 

If the player PC reads the data only from even an external USB drive, how is the data integrity checked to make sure the data is right and not something messed up in a buffer along the way.

 

A server can typically stream a lot better than stand alone boxes that they can. OK, you have the overhead of a server OS to contend with, but with an automated backup system and file protection, I can see real benefits for a server to store and manage music, while having your favourite PC selecting music via DAC as per usual.

 

Just to reinforce, when I talk server, it's a machine with a server OS like Windows2008.

 

AS Profile Equipment List        Say NO to MQA

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A NAS is just a server dedicated to a single task (serving files). Most run Linux or another Unix which is as good a server OS as they get. Using Windows Server will not make any difference. Using a higher powered processor may make a difference (but unlikely).

 

Basically all OS have (close to) 100% data integrety. And where it fails you notice (programmes start to crash, etc.). Differences in audio quality that may exist are down to timing issues and processor loads NOT down to data integrity.

 

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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So, visit the FAQ in question where it does indeed say that NAS can affect sound quality. Then, if you follow the link on How To Setup A Macintosh Audio Server it says this :

 

"Computers with an SS drive installed can sound significantly smoother than their spinning hard disk counterparts. Same goes for a Network Attached Storage (NAS): it can sound grainy as compared to an SS drive.

 

Sonic Studio recommends an SS drive for the OS and some favorite music tracks, then use of a larger spinning drive or NAS for storage/backup of one’s library. Generally SLC drives are considered better, more dependable drives vs the cheaper MLC. " So, a NAS can sound grainy and Sonic Studio recommends NAS storage for your library!

 

I'm relieved to find that I'm not the only one whose mind is boggled by the assertion that moving audio data from A to B makes it grainy.! I'm eternally grateful that the same is not true for video data and image data - my RAW image files get moved about all over the place but, thankfully, seem to emerge at the other end completely grain-free.!!

 

I wonder if it matters whether or not the NAS is in a plastic, or metal, case?

 

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Totally bogus claim, if you ask me.

 

All files are loaded into local machine's internal memory before it gets processed and sent to the device, be that usb, optical, coaxial, and etc.

 

you might have to increase the internal buffer size to accommodate the possible delay in network latency and what not, but even then, I don't think it matters.

 

Most lossless files are from 20mb to 300mb. depending on bit rate, resolution, and etc. Most 100mbps/1gbps devices can stream 30+ MB per second. yes, PER SECODN. None of these are issues. in fact, it would help out the sound since there is no moving HDD which could cause the vibration. Even this vibration is BS, if you ask me.

 

DAC: Audio-gd RE1[br]AMP: Audio-GD Phoenix[br]Headphone: Sennheiser HD800 (Balance re-terminated)[br]Cables: Wire World Super Nova 5+, CAST

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I use a NAS for storage of my music library.

 

The PC music server I use runs a SS disk.

 

On playing a file from the local SS disk vs NAS I can hear no difference in sound quality.

 

I'd like to see a double blind ABX test and see if those that claim a difference can perform better than merely guessing.

 

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Of course, all "drive" transfer would be eliminated if the software loaded the file into memory before playing it. I think XXHighEnd does this?

 

Yes, and it even tranfers first to the SSD per a setting, this latter to let spin down the disks.

 

But, just because it is so that all is played from memory and no HDD access is going on in between, it should be so that an SSD being there or not shouldn't make a difference. But it still does.

For me this went as fas as at one stage removing it again because it made sound so bad I couldn't stand it. Yes, *bad*. However, lateron there appeared to be a problem in the playback software (confirmed by many), and the SSD just enormously emphasized it. When the problem was solved I stuffed in the SSD again, and *now* everything got just much better.

 

This is not a placebo if you are willling to ditch your just bought SSD (which at that time costed EUR 450 IIRC) just for the reason of SQ getting better ... which you next just *want* to be better (as our brain works).

 

Peter

 

Lush^3-e      Lush^2      Blaxius^2      Ethernet^2     HDMI^2     XLR^2

XXHighEnd (developer)

Phasure NOS1 24/768 Async USB DAC (manufacturer)

Phasure Mach III Audio PC with Linear PSU (manufacturer)

Orelino & Orelo MKII Speakers (designer/supplier)

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Hi !

 

Why not freshly rip some of your favourite songs DIRECTLY to your new SSD, then compare them with those previously stored externally , then transferred to the SSD ?

 

Most probably only I understand why you are suggesting this (and maybe it is good to leave it to that), but it is really not about this. I mean, completely besides "your project" (remember, the one I respect fully), this is not the case here for sure, just because without doing that it already works.

 

FYI : When I heard it at first, I was sure I could hear some "feedback" of how those memory cells operate; Btw, I don't say I changed this vision, but I just recall my first idea about it when I heard it for the first time, and although by now I am completely used to it and thus don't perceive exactly that anymore, this is still my idea about it;

 

I didn't explicitly A/B it, but to me it looks like it is sufficient to just have the device in there. Virtually think of it "radiates". Not through air, but through electrons etc. It responds to whatever it's asked, which just as well is nothing all the time, but internally all the memory cells say "hi ! still there !!".

 

For everyone : In my normal operation, the SSD being there and holding the OS vs. the SSD not being in there, and the OS being on a spinning disk, the difference is HUGE. But if anything, I'd call it a "sibilance" doing the job, like saucing everything nicely with noise in such a manner that you may perceive it as better (hey, this happens in photography just the same, and Foobar has a plugin for it).

BUT :

And this is what everybody must think about : I have 9 other disks spinning around in that box (they may not all spin at the same time), and NOBODY is going to tell me that suddenly this "quiet" one small tiny surrogate disk is going to make the difference, with all the other spinners in the neighbourhoud.

It also can't be the OS being on there really, because I personally tweaked all the I/O life out of the OS during playback, so there just *is* no disk I/O to the SSD.

 

Hey, I'm far more easy on writing bit perfect playback software that makes a (or THE) difference anyway. But the SSD thing I don't understand.

 

Peter

(did anyone talk about NAS ?)

 

Lush^3-e      Lush^2      Blaxius^2      Ethernet^2     HDMI^2     XLR^2

XXHighEnd (developer)

Phasure NOS1 24/768 Async USB DAC (manufacturer)

Phasure Mach III Audio PC with Linear PSU (manufacturer)

Orelino & Orelo MKII Speakers (designer/supplier)

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There simply cannot be any difference between external, internal , SSD or hardrive solutions : the files stored are strictly the same and network transfer protocoles make sure that what is received is the same as what is sent, therefore there can't be any loss.

I mean: files coming from a NAS or a hardrive are strictly the same when arriving the RAM of a PC, then they are stored temporarily there (buffered) before being read and played: where could there be any difference?

 

The use of processors for music playback and data transfer handling is so low compared to the capacity of nowadays processors that there can't be any impact on sound quality on the processing and therefore sound quality. And the differences in power used for all these solutions are so little that they are negligible.

Playing Hi Res or Low Res files will affect these 2 things more and I haven't heard that Hi Res files decrease playback quality (yet).

 

The fact that such things are written black on white on the Amarra website worries me and makes wonder what else has been made out of thin air with this software...

 

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Hi Guys - I wish everyone could haver attended the Computer Audiophile Symposium and heard the numerous demonstrations of HDD, SSD, and NAS. There was a clear difference between all of them. SSD was a clear winner in the attendee's minds. Some disagreed on the HDD v. NAS, but nonetheless there was a sonic difference.

 

I think we should look at this a little different. Most people are using the angle that music is likely held in RAM anyway etc... I think music playback is only one small piece of this whole process. Everything the OS is doing would now be done on an SSD and take advantage of all the SSD benefits. We need to consider everything that goes on in a computer when considering sonic differences due to a component change like using an SSD. Also, things are not as linear as they may seam. A change to one component may not directly result in a sonic difference, but when combined with other changes there many be an audible difference. Many people would attribute the sonic difference with the very last change made instead of considering all that has been tweaked.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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I respectfully disagree.

 

The data must be copied to memory (ram) first before it gets processed by CPU. SSD and HDD has nothing to do with it.

 

The modern cpu is so darn fast and etc that these differences make absolutely no difference imo.

 

 

DAC: Audio-gd RE1[br]AMP: Audio-GD Phoenix[br]Headphone: Sennheiser HD800 (Balance re-terminated)[br]Cables: Wire World Super Nova 5+, CAST

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The results at the Computer Audophile Sumposium are not surprising. If what I read is correct, before each was played it was described what was playing and this will provide an inherent bias. Repeat it without this information and results will be very mixed. The human mind is far too a powerful beast to have any results from a group sighted test as valid in my opinion.

 

If you have a group of people experiencing the same ailment, divide them in two and give half a placebo (glucose tablet) and the other half the actual drug that'll solve the problem - almost all generally will report a significant improvement.

 

Does the body actually improve because the mind believes it has consumed the drug? Why then can the body seem to improve as much as when it isn't given the drug? Are you happy because of what you do you enjoy or do you do what you enjoy because it makes you happy? Are you even happy?

 

My tip of the week:

 

GET OFF THE INTERNET AND TRY IT YOURSELF!

 

If you can hear a difference (placebo or not) - live with your decision. Others will agree and others will disagree.

 

There is a path for all.

 

I personally don't think a 0.1% higher CPU utlisation from using NAS vs playing from local disk can make a difference. I can not subjectively tell a difference nor objectively understand how there could be one. For me, there is no difference except the cost of SSD is too high for my music storage. Your milage may vary...

 

Remember that this and other audio sites are funded by advertisers who are selling boutique and exotic products. Apple Mac has more marketing $$$s than 'PC' - therefore Mac will sound better. SSD is more expensive per GB than a typical HDD - therefore SSD will sound better.

 

I am not implying Chris (owner of CA) is misleading music-lovers- but it is easy for us all to be misled by unqualified experts (including me!).

 

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Dear Taniane:

 

It was not by accident the demonstrations at the symposium were selected for dissemination. Differences in playback were:

 

1. First identified by an individual using a specific playback system.

2. A/B comparisons made, not SSD vs. HDD but identified as "A" and "B", "A" and "C", and "B" and "C", "B and "A".

3. Listeners were instructed to leave and re-enter the room.

4. Comparisons were conducted on several different occasions by several individuals on a one on one basis for over a year.

5. At several different locations using several different systems.

6. PCs and Macs.

7. Results referenced to as close to the "original" capture as possible. In some cases, the "original".

8. Listeners from the audiophile and music production community were involved. This means, recording artists. recording engineers, mixing engineers, mastering engineers, and audiophiles.

 

The results were conclusive.

 

On a final note, I have the understanding it is a matter of implementation. There are servers built that defy the results in discussion - custom player software, custom drivers, custom housing.

 

Regards,

 

Tim Marutani

Emeryville, CA

 

 

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"If you have a group of people experiencing the same ailment, divide them in two and give half a placebo (glucose tablet) and the other half the actual drug that'll solve the problem - almost all generally will report a significant improvement."

 

Seems to me all this proves is that putting glucose in your body makes people feel different - which, of course needs no proof to anyone who's ever watched kids bouncing off the proverbial ceiling from too much sugar. And I for one am not surprised that a difference is reported as an improvement, given expectations and all.

 

"Does the body actually improve because the mind believes it has consumed the drug? Why then can the body seem to improve as much as when it isn't given the drug?"

 

It's also pretty well established (in my opinion) that the mind can influence the body's ability to heal itself without drugs. The point being, the body doesn't just 'seem to improve', as you say,...but rather, it actually can improve.

 

I'm just sayin'...

 

clay

 

 

 

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