Jump to content
IGNORED

Newbie question -- 801.11N gigabit router with NAS?


Recommended Posts

Hi all,

 

I'm new here, just registered. I searched through the archives and found this forum's Computer Audio FAQ, read through it, and figured out that I already knew all that. I have a more specific question, and I hope someone feels moved to reply...

 

I'm looking to put together a way to play digital audio from a hard drive somewhere on my network to various playback systems. I guess I should list them:

 

- I only have one very modest laptop running Win10 (unfortunately--should've stuck with Win8.1, it was faster). The laptop does not have sufficient storage space to act as a music server. It does have Foobar2000 running with a Behringer UCA-202 sound card for analog stereo line out. That's limited to 16bit/48kHz, but it's OK for uncompressed CD playback, at least for now. However, I don't want to use this computer as a music server, since I do a lot of work on it.

 

- My home network consists of an old Netgear 802.11g router with four 10/100 Ethernet ports. It works fine, but I'm told it's due for replacement...

 

- My main stereo system is all analog, vacuum tubes, has a good turntable, SACD player, etc.

 

- I have an audio/video setup using a Panasonic SA-XR57 receiver, with a Sony BD player connected to its one HDMI IN. (The BD player can play SACDs as 24-bit/176.4k PCM, which is why I have this set up this way.) The receiver does have a coax S/PDIF IN available, but cannot accept Ethernet or WiFi. The Bluray disc player is connected by Ethernet, but I don't think its OS can play uncompressed audio data (it only plays WMA or MP3 data, and I'm not very interested in that).

 

So, my question is how to get the music from about 500 CDs into a tiny box so I can free up some space in my living room for adding surround speakers. :) At this point I'm only interested in uncompressed CD quality playback (16-bit/44.1kHz). I'm not about to start purchasing my music collection all over again in 24/96 or 24/192. (Sorry Mr. Chesky.)

 

 

Option 1:

I know I could buy a PC of some kind and use that as a music server. I was once quite the PC home studio musician/recording engineer type, so I can get that running quickly. I would want the PC to be fanless/noiseless. The one thing I don't like about this plan is the cost.

 

I'm hoping to find an unwanted laptop running WinXP or something like that. I could connect a sound card to its USB port, and away I go. I don't really like the idea of having a laptop on top of my hifi, but I could make it work.

 

What about a little Atom-based netbook with a USB port? Is anyone using one of these as a PC music player? Or are they too slow for this?

 

 

Option 2:

I could add a NAS. The only downside I see to that is cost. I'm not sure I want to spend $150 on the NAS, another $150 on two drives, and whatever else is necessary to hook everything up. What about the cheapie 'starter' NASs with one HDD, like the WD My Cloud? Is anyone using one of those? I know I'd have to back up the files somewhere else. Let's say I keep my CDs--that would be my backup, right?

 

 

Option 3:

I need a new router anyway, so what do you all think of a new 802.11n (N600) Gigabit router with a USB port, and add an external HDD or SSD for storing the music files? It would be nice to stream the files over WiFi to a laptop. That option would cost about the same as a single WD My Cloud.

 

 

Later I'd think about getting a better DAC or whatever. But for now all I'm looking to get accomplished is to take the CDs I don't listen to that often, rip them to uncompressed WAV, and play them from a HDD somewhere on my network. I should mention that I want to get this done as cheaply as possible, using stuff I already have, where possible.

 

Thoughts on this?

 

--

 

Also, what about USB thumb drives? Other than speed issues, is there a difference? Since I'll only be playing one CD quality WAV file at a time, and the bitrate for that is only 1411kbps, is there a downside to playing these files from a thumb drive?

 

--

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How much money are you looking to spend? Really depends how your existing setup is utilized, and what you currently have. Do you have an separate DAC? Are you looking for a media player? The link below shows Bryston BDP-1 USB (discontinued, but still a great unit). You can use it as a server, renderer, and it accepts hard drives and USB Sticks. You will need a DAC. You would require a USB DAC with this Bryston model. Do you want to keep the setup contained in the listening area, or do want to play music files over the network to your audio setup. Lots of options, but a listing of what you have now, and your budget would help. Oppo 105 universal player can operate as a DAC as well. Very competent device.

 

Bryston BDP 1 USB Digital Media Player-Audio Advisor

 

http://www.oppodigital.com/blu-ray-bdp-105/

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, budget is an important question.

 

I'm hoping to get started with no more than about $200 outlay.

 

I'm OK with a player that can only be played from the one location (at the stereo system). I don't need network streaming. I'm happy listening to internet radio or Pandora from my phone.

 

I have three DACs available to me, a Behringer SRC2496, a FiiO D03K, and a Behringer UCA-202 USB sound card. I know that none of those are high end, but I don't think they're any worse than the DAC in a typical $200 CD player ca. the year 2000.

 

That Panasonic SA-XR57 A/V receiver actually sounds pretty good if you don't use its analog inputs (its DACs are quite decent). It has a coaxial S/PDIF input available for use, which I'm pretty sure can decode up to 24bit/192kHz PCM. Certainly up to 24/96. The question would be how to feed it music files.

 

I guess the question is what will make a decent 'starter' music server that I can build onto later with a better DAC, etc. Is an Atom CPU netbook enough? Is it enough just to get a cheap NAS (like the WD My Cloud) and a cheap PC? Or does it really cost $1000+ to put together a music file player that will match the quality of playback I'd expect from a $200 CD player from 15 years ago? (Not trolling... I'm actually curious to know if there's something wrong with using a cheap PC as a file player.)

 

I have an Android 4.4.1 tablet (LG). It has only a USB port and headphone jack. I'd gladly use that as a music server, but I can't see how that would work.

--

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Raspberry Pi + Chromecast Audio is all you need for RBCD.

 

Install MinimServer on the Pi, good to go. Will cost less than $100 for the lot... invest in a quality glass miniToslink to Toslink cable from Lifatec... though the standard Monoprice works well too.

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Raspberry Pi + Chromecast Audio is all you need for RBCD.

 

Install MinimServer on the Pi, good to go. Will cost less than $100 for the lot... invest in a quality glass miniToslink to Toslink cable from Lifatec... though the standard Monoprice works well too.

 

This would be a good solution for under $200.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a Chromecast Audio, and it hasn't worked out very well. It seems to lose connection to the network and need to be rebooted on a regular basis. I contacted Google's tech support and it was they who suggested I reboot the thing regularly. So, it doesn't look like a reliable enough solution for me.

 

Raspberry Pi seems like a good idea, but as soon as I started looking I realized that it's a whole new world of computer geekery to get up to speed with. Would you start with NOOBS install? Will MinimServer run on NOOBS? Or does it need a different OS?

 

Which S/PDIF optical output for the Raspberry Pi?

 

https://www.hifiberry.com/hbdigi/ ~$40 + shipping

 

 

 

--

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah, it looks like Raspberry Pi is the way to go if you only have $100 or so to spend. Here's a list of what I think is necessary to get this going:

 

- Raspberry Pi 3 model B ($40 or so after shipping)

- a case for the RPi (approx. $10)

- a 5V 2A power regulated supply (that's 10VA, which is a pretty hefty power supply, so probably $10)

- RuneAudio, Pi MusicBox, MinimServer, or similar UI for audio (Does RuneAudio work with TuneIn, Pandora, or other 'radio' apps?)

- a USB sound card, or better than that, an add-on board from HiFiBerry. The HiFiBerry S/PDIF Out boards cost $30-$40, or the analog out boards are $25-$45.

- Still needs a USB hard drive, either connected to the network (a NAS) or directly to the RPi. Figure that's at least $50.

 

So that whole setup would cost between $85 to $105 before the cost of the HDD. Not bad at all.

 

--

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've 4 CCAs and they are rock solid. The only issue could be a faulty unit... or your network is spotty.

 

Mine are on 24/7 and streaming in the background for hours on end.

 

With the Pi install Raspbian and then install MinimServer on it. Its a UPnP/DLNA server... so its wireless and if you go with it you don't need the HiFiBerry addon or any USB soundcard. Simply install the BubbleUPnP app on any Android device and cast your content from MinimServer to CCA. I'm running MinimServer both on the Pi and a Synology NAS, streaming to CCAs and never had any issues. You can output analog from the CCA and use it as a DAC or you can use a miniToslink to Toslink cable and connect to an external DAC.

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've 4 CCAs and they are rock solid. The only issue could be a faulty unit... or your network is spotty.

 

Mine are on 24/7 and streaming in the background for hours on end.

 

Hmmm... It could be that my router is so old and creaky that it's dropping the connection. Still, my CCA worked flawlessly for several months, and then suddenly started repeatedly dropping connection. It did it again this morning.

 

I have an Android tablet in my bedroom where the CCA is, and that reliably plays TuneIn and Pandora with no dropouts. However, it could be that the tablet has a bigger memory buffer than the CCA, so I don't notice the gaps in data caused by network connection dropots when playing music apps from the tablet.

 

It could be that a router upgrade would cure the problems with my CCA, but I'd have to buy a new router to find out.

 

Or... Maybe it's a DHCP problem. I don't want to do it, but I could assign the CCA a static IP address, and lock that in with the router.

 

As I wrote earlier, I called Google tech support, and they told me the CCA needed to be rebooted once in a while. I took that to mean that my problem isn't unique. Perhaps my CCA has overheated and is now defective.

 

With the Pi install Raspbian and then install MinimServer on it. Its a UPnP/DLNA server... so its wireless and if you go with it you don't need the HiFiBerry addon or any USB soundcard. Simply install the BubbleUPnP app on any Android device and cast your content from MinimServer to CCA.

 

Thanks for the suggestions. Isn't there an Android app that can play WAV files stored on a network drive and then cast that to the CCA? Why is the Raspberry Pi necessary? Is the RPi used so you can run MinimServer?

--

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the suggestions. Isn't there an Android app that can play WAV files stored on a network drive and then cast that to the CCA? Why is the Raspberry Pi necessary? Is the RPi used so you can run MinimServer?

--

 

Most apps would resample data... I believe USB Audio Player PRO is the only one that plays bit perfect.

 

The Pi is to run MinimServer. You can cast content from your phone to CCA or use something like ES File Explorer to cast content from a shared server... but that still means you need to have a PC or NAS running a media server... the Pi is a better device considering its low powered and does not take much to play/stream audio. Playing from mobile and/or tablet works too... but factor in the battery drain and also limited storage of content on such devices.

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Can the CCA play by itself once it's playing from a NAS HDD? Or can it only play by itself when playing 'internet radio' like TuneIn or Pandora?

 

I was thinking that if my old router has to be replaced, then I'd get something like an ASUS RT-56U router with built in NAS, and attach a 30GB IDE drive I already have in a USB case.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Can the CCA play by itself once it's playing from a NAS HDD? Or can it only play by itself when playing 'internet radio' like TuneIn or Pandora?

 

Yes to both. CCA will play direct from source... and the smartphone will only act as a remote. Once you queue up content you can even turn off the phone. CCA does need the internet though... even when playing local network content.

 

I was thinking that if my old router has to be replaced, then I'd get something like an ASUS RT-56U router with built in NAS, and attach a 30GB IDE drive I already have in a USB case.

 

That works too. I've a tri-band Netgear and it works great as a media server too. Just make sure the router is gigabit (most are unless you are going for budget TP-Link) and that it supports USB 3.0.

 

That said a proper NAS s/w offers a lot more. Synology OS is rather special in what it can do with add-ons. A Pi too (while limited to 10/100 Ethernet and USB 2.0) still offers a lot more functionality from various s/w that can be installed. IMHO for the price of $35, both the Pi and the CCA are unbeatable.

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Why is USB 3.0 necessary? Future-proofing? I no longer believe in that. Whatever I buy today will be considered too old to be usable in 5 years. My router's probably 7 years old, at the most.

 

Synology is making a router with built in NAS, but that costs $200. A good two-drive NAS costs ~$150, without drives. (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B014SKVQR8/) That would be great if the CCA was working, but if I also need to get a router, then the budget will be easily blown if I start getting greedy about what features a new router has to have. ASUS RT-N56U router does have Gigabit (RealTek RTL8367M), but only USB 2.0 (x2). The attraction is the cost, at <$60. If it fixes the problem with my CCA, and I can add a hard drive to hold the CD collection, then that's all I actually need.

 

I like the idea of the RPi because it can be a little box with a USB sound card that becomes something like a CD player with a 128GB "disc" (a 128GB thumb drive for <$35). That thumb drive alone should be able to hold 160+ CDs' worth of music.

 

--

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Why is USB 3.0 necessary? Future-proofing? I no longer believe in that. Whatever I buy today will be considered too old to be usable in 5 years. My router's probably 7 years old, at the most.

 

Synology is making a router with built in NAS, but that costs $200. A good two-drive NAS costs ~$150, without drives. (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B014SKVQR8/) That would be great if the CCA was working, but if I also need to get a router, then the budget will be easily blown if I start getting greedy about what features a new router has to have. ASUS RT-N56U router does have Gigabit (RealTek RTL8367M), but only USB 2.0 (x2). The attraction is the cost, at <$60. If it fixes the problem with my CCA, and I can add a hard drive to hold the CD collection, then that's all I actually need.

 

I like the idea of the RPi because it can be a little box with a USB sound card that becomes something like a CD player with a 128GB "disc" (a 128GB thumb drive for <$35). That thumb drive alone should be able to hold 160+ CDs' worth of music.

 

--

 

USB 3.0 and Gigabit because it will speed up transfers. Its ok for a couple of 100 GB data, but when you are talking TBs, then it will take a really long time to copy and transfer. If that's ok for you then the Pi is perfect - costs $35 and has 10/100 Ethernet and USB 2.0.

 

The Pi is good for a source. USB might interject electrical noise, that's one reason why I use wireless, but easily fixed if the DAC isolates electrical noise... or maybe in your setup it won't matter especially if you have clean power. Or you can power the Pi with a powerbank.

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

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been fiddling with my home network, and found that my router did need to be rebooted. I left it powered off for several minutes to get it to fully reset. I streamed internet radio all night last night, and it was still going in the morning. So I think the problem is indeed the router.

 

I guess I could just upgrade my router to one with a USB port for a NAS, and stream to the Chromecast Audio from the network. I was looking at some of the less expensive (but more recent) N routers with USB ports, but all the user reviews show that they overheat and lose connection just like my current G router does. Is that true? Do they all overheat and drop connection like that?

 

I still like the idea of going with a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B with the Behringer UCA-202 USB sound card, and adding an external USB hard drive (with its own power supply) to the RPi. The RPi can act as the music server for the network, since it doesn't draw much power. It can live in my bedroom and play without network access, if desired, just as a standalone player. Later I can add one of those clever I2S DAC boards I'm seeing here and there.

 

--

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share



×
×
  • Create New...