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For some time, I have been thinking about going down the computer audio but the set-up complexity for someone unfamiliar with networking has put me off. I was about to give up completely and invest in a new Naim CDP, however, my wife concerned at the ever-growing volume of CDs has "persuaded" me that the sole option is to go down a digital library route.

 

Consequently, I am now considering a Nain ND5 XS player. There is one major constraint: the proposed NAS drive must be part of my musical set-up. Therefore, I need a quiet NAS.

 

i have 3 key questions:

 

(i) how easy/difficult is it to set-up a NAS drive?

(ii) is the NAS managed remotely from my PC once I have established a network?

 

finally, regarding the choice of NAS:

 

should I select a fanless NAS, such as the QNAP HS 251 or would the Synology DS 215+ be sufficiently quiet? I am attracted to the Synology because of the reviews but the requirement for a quiet NAS is the prime consideration.

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The one advantage with a NAS is it can be kept in a separate room. If that's an option for you then "quietness" shouldn't be a concern.

 

Synology has better features and apps and is what I use, but I also use it for everything apart from a music server. Pick depending on your need especially if its only for a music server and you don't need a ton of apps and features.

 

(i) how easy/difficult is it to set-up a NAS drive?

 

Very.

 

(ii) is the NAS managed remotely from my PC once I have established a network?

 

Yes and you have option of smartphone apps too.

Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world - Martin Luther

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For some time, I have been thinking about going down the computer audio but the set-up complexity for someone unfamiliar with networking has put me off. I was about to give up completely and invest in a new Naim CDP, however, my wife concerned at the ever-growing volume of CDs has "persuaded" me that the sole option is to go down a digital library route.

 

Consequently, I am now considering a Nain ND5 XS player. There is one major constraint: the proposed NAS drive must be part of my musical set-up. Therefore, I need a quiet NAS.

 

i have 3 key questions:

 

(i) how easy/difficult is it to set-up a NAS drive?

(ii) is the NAS managed remotely from my PC once I have established a network?

 

finally, regarding the choice of NAS:

 

should I select a fanless NAS, such as the QNAP HS 251 or would the Synology DS 215+ be sufficiently quiet? I am attracted to the Synology because of the reviews but the requirement for a quiet NAS is the prime consideration.

 

If any poster says setting up a NAS is easy, they get a nutkick.

 

Consider a NAS like a computer, with drives, an operating system, RAM, ethernet connectors, but narrowed down so much you can't really install any software other than firmware updates. You can manage a NAS with a browser from any computer on your network by entering the IP address of the NAS, or some NAS have discovery software which is run on any PC to find and connect.

 

NAS are quiet, when you have the music playing. If the NAS has standard 3.5in drives, they can be heard, unless the NAS has taken steps to be be really quiet. There's always solid state drives which are quiet, but cost a bomb for the TB versions. Hard drives get hot, so they need to be effectively cooled and properly and remain on 24/7.

 

What's really messy are the account structure and permissions to files on the NAS, that takes some getting used to and requires a bit of planning.

 

I use a QNAP NAS, and it's a love/hate thing. Can cheerfully do without it, and dread the startup after a few months of being switched off, when it has forgotten everything and we get to start over. The drives make it noisy and unacceptable in the listening room.

 

It's not like an appliance where you can plug and play, it takes planning and some degree of networking skill, especially to close off the internet to the NAS to avoid the backdoors.

 

Your CD collection needs to be ripped by a computer so the files are stored on the NAS. That's also takes some planning, which format, how it's arranged, folder structure, genre categories, cover art. Totally recommend DbPoweramp for ripping CD's. Take your time getting this the way you want it, cause re-ripping is like watching paint dry.

By sounds of it, the CD collection can be quite large, so organisation is paramount.

 

Also consider a backup regime, many of us have a triplicate of the library, see how much we trust data storage :)

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Thanks Master/One and a Half for your responses.

 

Due to wiring constraints, the NAS must physically reside as part of my music rig rather than in another room. That was the reason that I was considering a fanless NAS. A couple of concerns have been touched on here, namely, in an ideal world I'd prefer plug and play. Also, I have zero networking skills!

 

As I had planned to go down the Compuer Audio route, some time ago, my entire library has been ripped to flac using DBPoweramp. I currently play the flac files to mixed effect through my active desktop speakers though an Avid MBox ADC (rather than DAC) in my home study when I'm working. The mixed effect comes from buffering issues when other powerful programmes are running in the background. I can live with that but when it comes to my main hi fi, I'd be aiming for an issue-free environment.

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Thanks Master/One and a Half for your responses.

 

Due to wiring constraints, the NAS must physically reside as part of my music rig rather than in another room. That was the reason that I was considering a fanless NAS. A couple of concerns have been touched on here, namely, in an ideal world I'd prefer plug and play. Also, I have zero networking skills!

 

As I had planned to go down the Compuer Audio route, some time ago, my entire library has been ripped to flac using DBPoweramp. I currently play the flac files to mixed effect through my active desktop speakers though an Avid MBox ADC (rather than DAC) in my home study when I'm working. The mixed effect comes from buffering issues when other powerful programmes are running in the background. I can live with that but when it comes to my main hi fi, I'd be aiming for an issue-free environment.

 

In a case like this, you may be better served with a fanless or very quiet music player, and using USB powered external drives. Pretty much all the NAS units out there for home use are underpowered or if not underpowered, physically very noisy. A CAPs player, Intel NUC, Mac Mini, or similar machine might instead, be just the ticket for you.

 

Putting your music onto a dedicated machine is usually a big bump up in quality, stability, and convenience cor people. You can always upgrade to a NAS in the future, if you feel the need.

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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If any poster says setting up a NAS is easy, they get a nutkick.

 

Consider a NAS like a computer, with drives, an operating system, RAM, ethernet connectors, but narrowed down so much you can't really install any software other than firmware updates. You can manage a NAS with a browser from any computer on your network by entering the IP address of the NAS, or some NAS have discovery software which is run on any PC to find and connect.

 

NAS are quiet, when you have the music playing. If the NAS has standard 3.5in drives, they can be heard, unless the NAS has taken steps to be be really quiet. There's always solid state drives which are quiet, but cost a bomb for the TB versions. Hard drives get hot, so they need to be effectively cooled and properly and remain on 24/7.

 

What's really messy are the account structure and permissions to files on the NAS, that takes some getting used to and requires a bit of planning.

 

I use a QNAP NAS, and it's a love/hate thing. Can cheerfully do without it, and dread the startup after a few months of being switched off, when it has forgotten everything and we get to start over. The drives make it noisy and unacceptable in the listening room.

 

It's not like an appliance where you can plug and play, it takes planning and some degree of networking skill, especially to close off the internet to the NAS to avoid the backdoors.

 

Your CD collection needs to be ripped by a computer so the files are stored on the NAS. That's also takes some planning, which format, how it's arranged, folder structure, genre categories, cover art. Totally recommend DbPoweramp for ripping CD's. Take your time getting this the way you want it, cause re-ripping is like watching paint dry.

By sounds of it, the CD collection can be quite large, so organisation is paramount.

 

Also consider a backup regime, many of us have a triplicate of the library, see how much we trust data storage :)

 

OP - I disagree with this. Setting up a NAS is no more difficult than configuring an iPad, IMO. I recommend Synology -- I have two (one for music, one more files) than run 24/7 and are essentially maintenance free.

 

I do agree that ripping disks is a mind numbing task! Dbpoweramp gets great praise here. I'm very happy with JRiver which does all I need for ripping, tagging, and playing.

sources:  intel nuc8i7 (audiolinux, roon core) (server) | simaudio moon mind 2 (renderer)
headphone rig:  chord qutest > bryston bha-1 > audeze lcd-3
main rig:  chord dave > parasound jc5 > kef reference 1
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Paul, I think you've missed that the OP is considering getting a UPnP/DLNA supporting streamer in the Naim ND5 XS player. So not so straight forward, since a UPnP/DLNA media server may need to be installed and configured.

 

Even the choice of UPnP media server can lead to issues and not all media servers can be installed on all NASs. My advice would be for the OP to choose a NAS that can run a decent UPnP media server, such as the music dedicated MinimServer:

MinimServer features

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Paul, I think you've missed that the OP is considering getting a UPnP/DLNA supporting streamer in the Naim ND5 XS player. So not so straight forward, since a UPnP/DLNA media server may need to be installed and configured.

 

Even the choice of UPnP media server can lead to issues and not all media servers can be installed on all NASs. My advice would be for the OP to choose a NAS that can run a decent UPnP media server, such as the music dedicated MinimServer:

MinimServer features

 

I caught that, but suggest the OP may be able to meet his needs in a simpler way. He could also consider just using his existing computer as a server, but unless it is a heavy hitting monster, it may not work very well. I get the sense the OP is a bit tired of dealing with all this, and does not want to put a noisy device into his music room setup. :)

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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Paul R, you are absolutely right here. I am tired and on the verge of giving up. I value quality of sound coupled with simplicity. Is this the easiest route for me:

 

Mac mini plus external hard drive to give me total capacity of at least 2TB

Mac mini managed by my PC operating Windows 7 (I assume that is possible)

An appropriate DAC (as I assume that streamer isn't necessary)

new amp and new speakers.

 

...or am I back to plug and play, a CDP, and failure to meet with wife approval?!

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Paul R, you are absolutely right here. I am tired and on the verge of giving up. I value quality of sound coupled with simplicity. Is this the easiest route for me:

 

Mac mini plus external hard drive to give me total capacity of at least 2TB

Mac mini managed by my PC operating Windows 7 (I assume that is possible)

An appropriate DAC (as I assume that streamer isn't necessary)

new amp and new speakers.

 

...or am I back to plug and play, a CDP, and failure to meet with wife approval?!

 

Yep, I know the feeling brother...

 

You can certainly do all that with a stock Mac Mini. 2GB drivrs are pretty cheap and very common. Might want to buy two and use one for backups. You do not need a special Mac version of the drive either.

 

Controlling a Mac from a PC is *usually* pretty trivial, as you can use pretty much any modern VNC client on the Windows machine. You do have to setup networking for that to work, which means you initially aNt to setup the Mac with a keyboard,mmous, and monitor. After that it will run headless just fine.

 

You can choose from just about any DAC, ranging from a $150 Dragonfly up to whatever you choose to spend. Very few DACs are not supported these days.

 

I would recommend spending the $50 for a JRMC license, and an additional $10 for a JRemote license to run on an iPhone or iPad. This will avoid having to fire up a laptop and actually take control of the screen to play music. I think the JRemote interface isbetter than the native screen myself, but YMMV!

 

All in all, about a couple hours of work on an afternoon, and then you can stop worrying about it and just enjoy the music. ;)

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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  • 2 weeks later...

Another option worth considering would be a Melco NAS in your listening room with direct USB input to your choice of DAC. A Melco coupled with a Chord Mojo for example would be an interesting combination around £2k. I own neither but it's a combo I'd want to hear if I was starting out again.

 

See the Melco thread in this forum.

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Paul R, you are absolutely right here. I am tired and on the verge of giving up. I value quality of sound coupled with simplicity. Is this the easiest route for me:

 

Mac mini plus external hard drive to give me total capacity of at least 2TB

Mac mini managed by my PC operating Windows 7 (I assume that is possible)

An appropriate DAC (as I assume that streamer isn't necessary)

new amp and new speakers.

 

...or am I back to plug and play, a CDP, and failure to meet with wife approval?!

 

I would go with a separate low power CAPS PC (build yourself) for your server fed directly with an internal SATA HDD (size depends on size of your library). Most expensive part would be the power supply, LPS. Could do it all for $500-$600.

Would need to know the rest of your digital frontend. What DAC are you using? USB? What is your current system? Synergy is important and could change recommendations.

 

Forget the Apple products if your a PC guy. No NAS for same room playback.

(JRiver) Jetway barebones NUC (mod 3 sCLK-EX, Cybershaft OP 14)  (PH SR7) => mini pcie adapter to PCIe 1X => tXUSBexp PCIe card (mod sCLK-EX) (PH SR7) => (USPCB) Chord DAVE => Omega Super 8XRS/REL t5i  (All powered thru Topaz Isolation Transformer)

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  • 1 year later...

@nyron59 Have you considered an Aries Mini with an internal (or external) drive? Attached storage can be manage from Win7 (as a SMB share), playback can be controlled with UPnP/OpenHome control software such as Kinsky, or Kazoo. I think an iPad is still required for the initial setup, though this requirement will soon vanish. In a forthcoming update, everything can be done from a browser interface. There's no need to use a NAS with a Mini and local storage.

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+1 for Auralic.  You seem to be making things overly complicated.  Auralic have several products that range from streamer, Aries which requires a dac;  Altair, that combines streamer with dac and Polaris that combine streamer, dac and amp.  None of these products require a Nas.  They will all have/accept either built in storage or an external USB drive.  I use an Aries and connect a 1TB USB drive.  The various options take little space and are quiet.  Auralic also include a great control app, the constraint being use through ipad or iPhone over wifi.  May be worth considering.

 

Martin.

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Thank you all for reviving this post.  I did eventually take the plunge so I'll tell you what I did:

 

I bought a Synology NAS 216+ with WD Red 2 TB hard drives

installed MinimServer

Bought a BlueSound Node until I am confident in the technology then I'll upgrad

Entire CD collection ripped via DBPoweramp.

 

it has been easier than I thought but hasn't been without the occasional problem particularly when there have been firmware or software updates. I'm glad I did it but a bit of patience and perseverance is definitely the order of the day.

 

There has been occasional head-scratching but forums have been of great help to resolving problems.

 

if anyone is thinking about, I'd recommend jumping it. I listen to more of my music now than I have in years!

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nyron59:

 

Good to hear that the tech didn't scare you too much.  Audio companies do realise some of the difficulties and that simple solutions are required to reach a larger audience.   The benefits of embracing the tech are definitely convenience while things go right but there is still occasional frustration when they don't.

 

Martin.

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