Jump to content
IGNORED

NAS Drives revisited.


sgbaird

Recommended Posts

Chris recommended a Buffalo Raid storage solution to me in another thread. I took the time to read up about that option, and see that this shows promise for me, albeit spending more than I would like. In yet another thread someone brought up NAS drives, and at first glance, I thought these too might be a bit more than I wanted to spend, but then...

 

At a Mac Mini site (see the second post here: http://www.123macmini.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=109325#109325 ), I learned of the D-Link NAS DNS-323. This is a network storage device that ALSO provides as a RAID 1 solution. It appears to me as if this could actually kill two birds with one stone for me: provide me with the redundancy I want and eliminate the need to consider a wireless/low-noise means of connecting the iTunes library with with my audio system in the living room. Here is the DNS-323:

 

http://www.buy.com/retail/product.asp?sku=202830066&loc=273

 

If anyone can tell me whether a wireless connection to this device on the network would impede the ability to load 1000+ CDs into iTunes, please warn me now. My only other apprehension about a device that has little Mac support would be the means by which one configures the RAID.

 

By placing my Mini in the living room connected by wire only to a USB DAC and everything else via wireless, my concerns on noise in the listening room are relieved. After all of the CDs were loaded, I could dispense with the monitor, keyboard and mouse by adopting the iPod Touch that Chris reviewed so positively.

 

Oh, one other thing. I'm presently using an old Buffalo router that's probably living on borrowed time. I'm reluctant to pay the money for the Airport Extreme, but am wondering if anyone can endorse this or any other wireless/high speed ethernet router.

 

Link to comment

"If anyone can tell me whether a wireless connection to this device on the network would impede the ability to load 1000+ CDs into iTunes, please warn me now."

 

Of course the wireless speed matters, 802.11a, b, g, n. If it is a problem when loading the CDs you could always connect the Mac Mini with an ethernet cable until the discs are loaded, then go back to wireless for playback. Plus I don't think adding music as you purchase it would be a big problem if the network is slow because you won't be buying 1000 CDs at a time, or will you :-O

 

 

"My only other apprehension about a device that has little Mac support would be the means by which one configures the RAID."

 

I am guessing you configure the RAID via the device's web interface and your OS won't matter for configuration.

 

 

"I'm reluctant to pay the money for the Airport Extreme, but am wondering if anyone can endorse this or any other wireless/high speed ethernet router."

 

I have tried every wired and wireless router on the market and I my favorite is the new Airport Extreme. It has all the features I need and it just works! Speed is not an issue as it is very fast. On another not, it does have the USB port and ability to connect an external disk solution to it natively. This may also be an option for you. The Airport Extreme utility that comes with the router has the configuration for the disk built-in and is very Mac-centric as usual. I haven't researched this particular option yet, but I plan to at a later date.

 

It sounds like you are getting closer to a solution, but proceeding at an appropriate speed. Mistakes are expensive in our hobbies!

 

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

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

Link to comment

Here is a great article from TUAW title appropriately How To: Use your iTunes library over AirPort Disk. Highly suggested reading for anyone considering this great option.

 

From the article:

"We'll begin by assuming you have already set up your AEBS (AirPort Extreme Base Station) and that you have the hard drive you're planning to use. We recommend not hooking the drive up to the AEBS just yet, as moving the typical iTunes library filled with a few GB of stuff would go a lot faster via USB than even the zippier new 802.11n wireless."

 

....

 

"You might notice some iTunes operations become at least a little sluggish, such as using Get Info on a file or beginning to play a video. This is natural and, at least from our limited experience so far, nothing to worry about. Just know that some things won't be insta-snappy like they were when your library was non-wireless and on a local hard drive, but music, including skipping tracks, seems to remain pretty quick with this setup."

 

 

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

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

Link to comment

Thanks for the TUAW link, Chris. I think their suggestions are good ones, although my own experience tells me that they have made the whole external transfer process seem a little more difficult and time consuming than it actually is. My Mini's iTunes library has been on an external FW 160 HD since the beginning, and has worked perfectly. The new iMac sitting on my desk has a completely empty iTunes library, but I have access to the Mini's via the sharing option — as does my wife's Flat Panel iMac sitting in her sewing room. Once the new music server is up and running, I expect that nothing will change here except that I'll have the music available to my analog system too.

 

Your comments about the Airport Extreme have sold me on this. There's always a fly in the ointment, though, and that is that it has one fewer ethernet ports than I'll actually need — unless I disconnect the new iMac and turn Airport on in it. With only 3 ports, that means that only my two LaserWriters and an NAS drive can connect wired.

 

Link to comment

Hey SGB - I am not real sure that D-Link DNS-323 is the best option here. I have been researching it a little more and found some annoying issues. I don't believe this disk will mount automatically upon restart on your Mac. This would be pretty annoying in a "headless" Mac Mini setup. Whereas a USB drive(s), RAID or otherwise, connected to the Airport Extreme are supposed to mount automatically.

 

Check out this site for some interesting user experiences with this unit. Some people are having issues writing to the drive and the issue of mounting is ever-present.

 

DNS-323 General Discussions.

 

I also question the ability of this unit since the price is pretty cheap compared to comparable units.

 

 

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

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

Link to comment

Thanks for checking this out, Chris. Who was it that said, _you get what you pay for_?

 

The Thecus line of NAS devices got a little praise from a few folks at AudiogoN, and although their 2100 series is a bit too cheap for any self-respecting audiophool, I won't ever be in a position to spend the kind of money that they are spending on the versions that support four or more HDs; nor could I ever afford the (even more) expensive Infrant NAS stuff that the well-heeled over there consider entry level. Although the N2100 series adds a couple hundred to the cost, the company's website has what appears to be quality support for both PCs and Macs. The big deal seems to be that the company also includes its own downloads/software that enable the user to use alternatives (concurrently) for managing/accessing your music files — even such things as the Squeezebox. Probably not unique, but said to be impeccably done. But maybe this too is overkill.

 

So, is it ANY USB drive connected to the Extreme?

 

http://www.thecus.com/products_over.php?cid=11&pid=1

 

Oh, one more thing. Have I been laboring under some misconception about the size of the drive(s) I'll actually need? I saw a post somewhere that said that about 5000 CDs would fit on a 1TB drive. I was thinking that a TB drive would store about 1950 hours of music. I based this on the fact that a 700 MB CDR is 80 minutes, so 60 minutes = 525MB. Doing the math, 1024000/525 = 1950 plus some decimals in hours. By my calculations, I would need 2.564 TB in order to store 5000 hour-long CDs.

 

 

Link to comment

I just have a feeling the D-Link would be a problem.

 

I was considering the Infrant / Netgear NAS as well but they do charge way too much for them. I really like the diskless model that I could put my own drives in.

 

"So, is it ANY USB drive connected to the Extreme?"

 

It would be a very bold statement to say ANY USB drive, so I won't and I'm sure Apple won't. Do you have something "crazy" in mind that you think might not be supported?

 

As far as disk space goes, you are going to need a lot for 5000 discs (stating the obvious). I was kind of wondering about your 1TB requirement from previous posts. I think your calculations are off by a bit. Remember you'll lose about 75 GB of space after formatting and overhead. I never trust calculations I read on miscellaneous sites. To get the best picture of how much space I need I usually rip a few CDs in the format I want and try to find an average size per song and per album, using common sense of course. Then I do the math and guess how much space I'll need. After that I find the drive solution that will work after losing the 7-10% on the drive for previously mentioned reasons.

 

I've heard some good things about Thecus. I am going to do some research to see for myself.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

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

Link to comment

I looked at the specs and the manual for the Thecus N2100 and it looks like a pretty good unit. There is a minor discrepancy between the manual and the specs for file types supported in "iTunes Mode." Very minor though for now. In the future who knows. However, the iTunes Mode is very limiting and doesn't allow you complete functionality because you access the disk as a shared library. Wouldn't be my choice. Fortunately you can just enable standard file sharing and connect to it that way.

 

Mounting the disk at boot up is going to be another thing to deal with.

 

Overall good product, but I haven't used it personally and I'm sure you'll weigh my opinion accordingly.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

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

Link to comment

I have to throw this option in the mix even if it is more than you want to spend on the current music server. The Drobo is an awesome USB RAID disk that can be connected to the Airport Extreme and turned into a NAS appliance. Drobo is very upgradable / expandable and is very Mac-centric. Here is a link to the Data Robotics site and make sure to checkout this other link that shows how Data Robotics uses this exact configuration (Drobo + Airport Extreme) and how to configure it with the Airport Extreme. Very nice, but pretty spendy. They also have a good disk calcultor on their site to show how much disk is used for over head etc...

 

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

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

Link to comment

Chris, I took my first baby step in this process, although it's really not much of one — I ordered an Airport Extreme Base Station (AEBS) via Amazon this morning. (I chose Amazon because it included free shipping without having to send in a form like MacMall wants you to do; their price was competitive too.)

 

So, the _ANY USB_ question meant to ask if there were any other requirements for the USB hard drive that will be attached to the AEBS. My inclination is that there would be none. I read Apple's description of what the user can do with this, and I assume from their product description that once the hardware is configured and in place, it's a simple matter for any workstation to connect to the AEBS HD. Using the AEBS, it seems to me as if a NAS drive might be redundant(?). What I haven't determined yet is whether this connection is automatic or not.

 

The Drobo looks great, but far beyond my means. If I am ever going to get this project moving, I will need to be a bit more pragmatic about things. It makes sense to me to build the music library on a single disk now, then clone it to another drive manually once all of the CDs are loaded.

 

Link to comment

Re: My dad used to say, _Never send a boy to do a man's job._ by SGBaird

 

Here is a formula that is frequently used - for both storage file size and network bandwidth calculation- in my experience -

(excerpt from: http://www.teamcombooks.com/mp3handbook/11.htm):

------

File Size and Bandwidth

Digital audio can create large files that quickly use up hard disk capacity and require a tremendous amount of bandwidth to transmit over a network. Network bandwidth is like a pipe that carries a stream of bits. The size of the pipe imposes a limit on how many bits can be moved in a given time period. Multiple users competing for the same bandwidth limit the amount of bandwidth available to any one user.

 

File sizes and bandwidth requirements for uncompressed audio can be calculated by multiplying the sampling rate by the resolution, the number of channels and the time in seconds. The bit-rate has a direct relation to the file size—if you do something that changes the bit-rate, the file size will change proportionally. The bandwidth requirement of a digital audio signal is the same as the bit-rate. This is true whether the signal is compressed or not. Table 9 shows the formula for calculating file sizes for uncompressed audio.

 

Table 2 - Calculating File Sizes ( this table did not translate well to this forum, so I boil it down here )

 

10,584,000 bytes (8bit bytes) per stereo minute of 16 bit / 44.1 KHz Audio. That is approximately = 10,336 Kb per minute, or 10.336 Mb per minute of audio. (once again, stereo 16 bit / 44.1 Khz ONLY)

 

You can do several things to control the size of digital audio files, but there will always be a trade-off between file size and sound quality. Lowering the sampling rate will produce a smaller file, but will also lower the maximum frequency response. Lowering the resolution produces a smaller file but reduces the accuracy and allows more noise and distortion to be introduced due to increased quantization errors. A mono signal, used in place of stereo, will cut the size in half (uncompressed audio only).

-------

Using this formula SGBaird, your 5000 hours of CD's would require a little more than 3.1 TB for the audio portion of your storage needs.

 

FLAC and other lossless 'compression' audio formats CAN be somewhat smaller, and don't forget the album art and xml files!

 

--- There is more specific info available at the link at the top, and on the internet in general ... 'man'.

 

Link to comment

-- IMO, Using the AEBS with a USB HD is the equivalent of an NAS HD, albeit in a wireless version.

 

I have not used my AEBS with a HD yet - well, I gave a half hearted attempt with a PC formatted external HD, but didn't really 'close the deal' because that was not the drive that I want to finally connect to it: I am only going to use the AEBS HD for the Mac, not the PC's, that are connected to the network. I am very happy with the performance of the AEBS from a wireless network point-of-view though. Limited though my experience is. The setup is phenomenally easy compared with the wired stuff I have configured for wired networks, and having used my MacBookPro on other wireless networks, the AEBS is VERY quick indeed. I believe it to be the best value for a network base station out there if you consider everything. Another very nice thing about the AEBS is its range - I can take my MBP into the front or back yard (7/8 acre lot) and beyond and still be connected just as if I were in the house. .... so be sure to set up your security and passwords (there can be more than one), else you will have 'leaches' reducing your bandwidth by using YOUR ISP!

 

If the amount of provided 'hard' network connectors on the AEBS is not sufficient for you, just add a VERY inexpensive wired router, and Voila'! instant extra wired-network connections! There won't be any problems (within reason).

 

Link to comment

For both the bits of info on storage size and your endorsement of the AEBS.

 

I'll be loading my CDs into the (new) iTunes Library using Apple Lossless, as is so often recommended. My goal is to be able to produce a sound quality as good as or better than my existing highly-modified CD player. I don't expect this to happen without a good bit of trial and error, and I suspect most of this will be concentrated on my experience with a number of DACs.

 

As for album art, I don't think that I'll do anything with this. Primarily, my CD collection is made up of many early classical and jazz CDs that have been OOP for years; some for 2 decades, I'm sure. The artwork wouldn't be online in many cases so I would have to scan it into the computer myself. (I have my faults, but being picayune about CD artwork isn't one of them ;-)

 

Step 2 on this voyage was undertaken yesterday afternoon. I will replace the internal hard drive on my G4 Mini with an 80GB Seagate Momentus. The price I had to pay for this smallish drive was higher than I would have liked, but I chose this drive over some cheaper alternatives because the user feedback at New Egg was so uniformly positive, and, because it was one of only two available 2.5 ATA drives offering 7200 RPM performance. The present 4200 RPM 40GB Seagate in my 3-year-old Mini would probably be fine, but it is getting long in the tooth. The new drive will contain only the software needed to run the music server.

 

 

 

Link to comment

Here's a real-world example of the space audio files take up.

 

Currently my music library is:

1,512 albums (mix of classical, jazz, pop, rock, electronic, Celtic, movie soundtracks, unclassifiable)

18,259 tracks in Apple Lossless format

55:01:47:07 total playing time

419.31GB

 

I use an offboard 500GB drive, so obviously sometime next year I'll need to buy a bigger drive. It connects with USB and works great. Goes to sleep with the computer, wakes up when I open the laptop.

 

CDs end up reacting differently to lossless compression, but the average seems to be that they end up being about 55% of what an uncompressed disc takes.

 

Link to comment

"So, the _ANY USB_ question meant to ask if there were any other requirements for the USB hard drive that will be attached to the AEBS. My inclination is that there would be none."

 

There might be a drive formatting requirement. That leads to the next thing to think about.

 

"t's a simple matter for any workstation to connect to the AEBS HD."

 

PC connections to Mac formatted drive will of course not work. Just a statement of the obvious.

 

 

"Using the AEBS, it seems to me as if a NAS drive might be redundant(?)."

 

I think of both as Network Attached Storage, except one connects to the network with a USB to ethernet converter (AEBS).

 

"What I haven't determined yet is whether this connection is automatic or not."

 

With the AEBS the connection to a USB drive is supposed to be automatic. If it doesn't work that way a simple automator script can be made to connect to it after ever restart. Although my preferred method would be without the script.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

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

Link to comment

I've just finished reading Chris' latest installment on the distinctions between custom-made and prepacked units like the McIntosh. For me to combination of information contained there and in posts in various threads (especially this one) have led me to a better understanding of the way things gotta work and I'm relieved to say that I think I am on my way. I have the AEBS on the way, along with a new 2.5" HD to replace the 3-year-old drive in my G4 Mini (no point in beginning the voyage on a rickety old and slow drive that could fail any day).

 

I decided against the Drobo from an expense standpoint, although I appreciate the benefits this would offer me. And, based on the storage figures info on in this thread, I think I can install just about every single CD I want to on a 750GB drive. My present thinking is to go with a single drive for the library now; after I've finished loading all the music I can buy another drive and clone the original. In line with this idea I have decided on the Iomega Ultramax. http://tinyurl.com/2bo7po

 

I'm sure to be learning more during the library-building, and I'm just as sure that there will be questions I haven't even thought of yet. I hope to have this segment finished in a few months.

 

 

 

 

Link to comment

I'm glad to help and thanks for letting us follow along through your frequent posts. I think the decisions you've made so far are very good and many people could benefit from reading our whole conversation in this thread. I think when your system is completely setup and you are happy with it I will write up a separate article that condenses it all down for those who haven't been along for the journey.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

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

Link to comment

And thanks for the enlargements! These 63-year-old eyes are getting harder and harder to see with. I have to keep my magnifying glass at the ready — especially when reading emails.

 

For the 2 question marks in the graphic, I am about 99% certain that that your endorsement of the iPod Touch is the way I'll go; I'm still up in the air on the USB-DAC. Of course, we are all waiting for your reports from Vegas, so things could change.

 

If my eyes are failing me, so is my memory. I should have written this stuff down when I read it, but I didn't. I need for you to tell me what software I need for two operations: 1) the software that would let me view my monitor-less Mini from my iMac wirelessly (Years ago there was a product called Timbuktu that would have done this); 2) the name of the software that you recommended that would enable us to use the iPod Touch as the remote.

 

Link to comment

1) the software that would let me view my monitor-less Mini from my iMac wirelessly (Years ago there was a product called Timbuktu that would have done this);

Timbuktu is still available but not the only or best option. There are two ways to go about this. The first way is to use a remote control of just iTunes through the native iTunes interface. this software is called NetTunes. This is the way I would go for "standard" iTunes usage on the headless music server. The other way to do this is through a product like Timbuktu. Now I suggest the real VNC which is available for $50 and you can download a trial first. Or, you can use the highly regarded Chicken of the VNC software. This is free ad works very well.

 

2) the name of the software that you recommended that would enable us to use the iPod Touch as the remote.

The software that will allow the iPod Touch to be the iTunes remote is called Signal from Alloysoft. I was recently informed about another application that does this called Remote buddy. tis software does a bit more than Signal, but I have not had much time to really look into it.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

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

Link to comment

Hey SGB - I have some very interesting products to talk about in this space now. Just a short note for now, I used the iPod Touch and Signal software to run an iTunes library in one of the high end rooms and it was awesome. This is still my highest recommended remote option! More to come later in a complete story.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

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

Link to comment

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


×
×
  • Create New...