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So many options so little answers


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Hi all,

This place is recommended to me by someone on youtube.

First a little background. My system consists of a lyngdorf sda 2175 power amplifier, a nad c542 cd player, an rme adi-2 dac/pre, Dynaudio 52 Se speakers and a  q acoustics 2070s subwoofer.

I am getting less and less room for storing my cd's.

This is what I want : I want to store all my music and play them with a streamer or server or something like that (it is all so confusing). In the future I will also likely want to play Tidal.

I want to replace my cd player so it has to be very very good quality. And my budget is around 1000 €/$.

I have seen so many things that I just don't know it anymore.

I have heard about a nuc, raspberry pi, Innuos Zen mini, Cambridge Audio CXV(V2), etc...

So I have a very good dac with the RME, and I can rip cd's on my computer with dB Poweramp.

Now the question is what do you guys recommend for me?

I have seen many glowing reviews for the Innuos , but I don't think I  really need the feature of ripping because it can be done with the computer.

I also read that the Innuos is very good because it has a very good power supply.

I am looking for something that is some sort of giant killer or that is very very good price/quality.

My audio dealer said to go for the Cambridge Audio, but I rather not because I was not convinced by one of their products and it has a dac which I don't need.

So I would need some help here.

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Just now, Audiophile Neuroscience said:

 

As you say there is a bewildering amount of choices. At the most simple level you are wanting to replace your CD player and because you already have a good DAC, you need something to replace the "transport" mechanism that will play digital files.

 

Whatever you want to call that it is otherwise known as a computer. Specifically, you need a computer that has a media player.

 

All other choices must now flow from some preferences regarding both form and function. The first thing to decide is do you want a ready-made turnkey solution or do you want more of a roll your own? They are distinctly different approaches.

 

Are you heavily into playing your own files stored somewhere locally, or are you moving towards exclusively streaming services over the Internet? We know you want to be have the ability to stream from the Internet but either of the choices above can accommodate this, it's just that some do it better than others.

 

I opted for choosing a computer and media player/server solution. You can make it as simple or as complicated as you want. Simple would be to buy a laptop and place J River on it. You can run a laptop from battery for a cleaner power supply but there are still lots of sources of noise generated internally. You can build your own version of your computer and choose all the bits you want, including power supply but it assumes that you are both willing and have some technical ability.

 

J River is relatively cheap, plays your music, rips music from your CDs, organisers your music (with incredible flexibility),  and has its own inbuilt server or can act as a DLNA server, can be operated from your phone, and has an amazing support forum. J River is not a good solution if you want integrated streaming services and all indications are it probably never will be (due to licensing/copyright issues).

 

 

 

 

I think I tend to more like a ready made turnkey solution. I am sure I can set up a NAS and can connect it and such. So I don't know if this is really ready made or not.

For now I don't even have a streaming service (Tidal and such) and I see myself rather buy things from Boomkat and Bandcamp and also some place for classical music.

So in that way I will listen more to files I think.

I see that the SOtM is highly recommended and then Audioscience says it even can harm the music. So it is basically who you believe.

I rather not have a device with a dac because then I would pay twice for something that I already have. The Innuos has a ripper that my computer also can do altough it is described as very very good by many people that can compete with a Lumin mini.

The problem is that the SOtM is already a few years old and I don't know if it is good enough and you also read some stories about bugs and such.

I could go for the the 200Neo and add maybe a NAS  like the above suggested (Asustor 5202). Allthough I don't know what benefit that has besides more storage when you have external drives that are allready are so big. And thereafter maybe an SBooster although for 300 € for a power supply is pretty hefty in my mind.

The confusion also sets in because you get bombarded with so many players and OS (Daphile, Volumio, J river, etc..) that is much simpler with a cd player, cd in and play.

 

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1 hour ago, Bliman said:

I see that the SOtM is highly recommended and then Audioscience says it even can harm the music. So it is basically who you believe.

I noticed a couple of things in Amir's "review" of the sms-200. 

 

> I plan to do some listening tests

 

Did he? No, he did not. At least he did not report on any listening experience. Maybe he would have had to admit that his simplistic measurements are worthless for predicting sound quality.

 

The added noise is well below threshold of audibility

 

If the noise (with a cheap switch mode power supply) can't be heard, then why is it a concern? The sms-200 is designed to stream music. It should be judged with music, not by simplistic measurements. Music is a dynamic, constantly changing set of complex signals, not a single, simple sine wave.

 

That site is so full of crap. 

“The best sounding audio product is the one that exhibits the least audible flaws.”

 Dr. Floyd Toole

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1 hour ago, Bliman said:

I think I tend to more like a ready made turnkey solution.

 

So that narrows the field considerably and would appear logical if you are trying to achieve something closer to CD player simplicity. You don't have to worry about choosing a media player or whatever, just make sure it has the features you are after. People here can guide you but at the end of the day you need to do your own listening and figure out what suits you. I have gone a different route so cannot really make any suggestions on turnkey solutions

 

1 hour ago, Bliman said:

 

I am sure I can set up a NAS and can connect it and such. So I don't know if this is really ready made or not.

 

It sounds like you want to keep your options open in terms of where and how you play digital files.

A turnkey solution should be able to easily play from your NAS over your network should you decide to go that way. It should be able to play local files if it has internal storage or play from locally connected external drive. It should be able to stream from the Internet

 

1 hour ago, Bliman said:

I see that the SOtM is highly recommended and then Audioscience says it even can harm the music. So it is basically who you believe.

 

I think the last thing you want to do is get involved with audiophile controversies of measurement versus listening versus reviews. I would say consider how you chose your other components including the DAC and your previous CD player for that matter. Use the same method to choose your network player.

 

 

Sound Minds Mind Sound

 

 

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5 hours ago, audiobomber said:

As per my previous post and link, the sms-200 Neo does allow wi-fi with an inexpensive dongle mounted

But then you’re using the same USB bus for both incoming files and outgoing digital audio to the DAC, which can cause audible SQ degradation.  High res or DSP’ed files along with WiFi could even push the limits of USB2.  I’d stick with Ethernet in and USB out.

 

You can try most of the software you’re considering right now. JRiver and many others offer free trials.  Download a few to your computer and compare them to see if you like any. “Turnkey” means you will use exactly and only what you get.  The adjustability of the software systems is a real benefit that can help you love one you might have rejected if its default settings were its only configuration. 

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1 hour ago, bluesman said:

But then you’re using the same USB bus for both incoming files and outgoing digital audio to the DAC, which can cause audible SQ degradation.  High res or DSP’ed files along with WiFi could even push the limits of USB2.  I’d stick with Ethernet in and USB out.

No, the output and input USB ports are not the same:

 

- High-End audio grade USB port x 1
- USB 2.0 port x 2

 

Another solution is to connect the SMS to a wi-fi extender/repeater that has an ethernet port, but I don't think that is necessary.

“The best sounding audio product is the one that exhibits the least audible flaws.”

 Dr. Floyd Toole

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1 hour ago, bluesman said:

“Turnkey” means you will use exactly and only what you get.

 

Which is why it is a bonus for some, just like a CD Player, you get what you get and it works to their satisfaction. I do agree, it is easy enough to download a free trial of JRiver and have a play.As much as I like JRMC it was a steep learning curve for me (many moons ago) and I know people that have given up on it for that reason. Horses for courses.

Sound Minds Mind Sound

 

 

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8 hours ago, audiobomber said:

No, the output and input USB ports are not the same:

 

- High-End audio grade USB port x 1
- USB 2.0 port x 2

 

Another solution is to connect the SMS to a wi-fi extender/repeater that has an ethernet port, but I don't think that is necessary.

Having two USB ports with different names doesn’t mean two busses.  If each is on a separate buss, bandwidth and interference are not problems.  But the SOtM specs for the Neo only give one max current rating (0.5A) for all USB ports, which suggests to me that there’s only one USB bus. And there’s no description of the circuit design to clarify this.

 

The OP’s DAC is self-powered, so that half an ampere is available to any other USB devices connected to the Neo.  But that’s the maximum available to all in combination, and a WiFi dongle dissipates about half a watt.  So no other USB peripheral can be connected to the 3rd port if if dissipates more than about 1.75 watts to leave some headroom. For example, that means no HDD or SSD for music files.

 

I don’t think depending on USB is a good idea.  I’d use a NAS and Ethernet.

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11 minutes ago, bluesman said:

Having two USB ports with different names doesn’t mean two busses.  If each is on a separate buss, bandwidth and interference are not problems.  But the SOtM specs for the Neo only give one max current rating (0.5A) for all USB ports, which suggests to me that there’s only one USB bus. And there’s no description of the circuit design to clarify this.

 

The OP’s DAC is self-powered, so that half an ampere is available to any other USB devices connected to the Neo.  But that’s the maximum available to all in combination, and a WiFi dongle dissipates about half a watt.  So no other USB peripheral can be connected to the 3rd port if if dissipates more than about 1.75 watts to leave some headroom. For example, that means no HDD or SSD for music files.

 

I don’t think depending on USB is a good idea.  I’d use a NAS and Ethernet.

There are three USB ports, one of which is a clean bus for audio. It is pretty clear that there is a separate bus for audio, otherwise why not just say there are three USB ports? 

 

Where do you see there is only 0.5A for all USB ports? The 0.5A rating is the maximum current for each individual port. The two input ports share a bus. From the website: "Recommend using the USB storage device which get powered separately.", which would allow up to 0.5A for the wi-fi dongle and 0.5A for a DAC.

 

 

 

“The best sounding audio product is the one that exhibits the least audible flaws.”

 Dr. Floyd Toole

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4 hours ago, audiobomber said:

There are three USB ports, one of which is a clean bus for audio. It is pretty clear that there is a separate bus for audio, otherwise why not just say there are three USB ports? 

It's not clear to me.  Simply labeling a USB port "audio" does not mean that it's on a separate bus.  Without reference to a separate bus for it in any SOtM descriptions, it's much more likely that it's unpowered but on the same bus.

 

In my experience (which admittedly may not be as extensive as yours), manufacturers and vendors rarely miss an opportunity to dramatize special features.  So if there were two USB busses, I'd expect this fact to be presented in bold type and multiple places because it'd be a strong selling point.  A dedicated USB bus for audio output is a big deal, so why in the world wouldn't they describe it if it were there?

 

4 hours ago, audiobomber said:

Where do you see there is only 0.5A for all USB ports? The 0.5A rating is the maximum current for each individual port. The two input ports share a bus. From the website: "Recommend using the USB storage device which get powered separately.", which would allow up to 0.5A for the wi-fi dongle and 0.5A for a DAC.

Yes, it "...would allow up to 0.5A for the wi-fi dongle and 0.5A for a DAC".  But you added that yourself.  There's absolutely nothing on their site to suggest that there's a separate bus for the audio USB out.  

 

SOtM does not say that the audio port will power a DAC anywhere on their site.  It's described only as a USB "output", a somewhat odd term for a USB port but one that suggests that it's an output like any other (e.g. RCA, BNC, XLR).  And I've now read about a dozen reviews of this device on the web.  Each reviewer used independently powered DACs with internal batteries or external PS. I can't find a single one that uses a USB powered DAC.

 

My bet is that there's only one USB bus in this device and that the audio port is unpowered.  If anyone on AS knows the answer to this question, please educate us.  I don't care if I'm right or wrong - I just want to know.

 

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I've used two DAC's that needed USB power with the SMS-200, the Korg DS-DAC-10R and the Benchmark DAC3.

“The best sounding audio product is the one that exhibits the least audible flaws.”

 Dr. Floyd Toole

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1 hour ago, audiobomber said:

I've used two DAC's that needed USB power with the SMS-200, the Korg DS-DAC-10R and the Benchmark DAC3.

AFAIK, the Benchmark DAC3 is not USB powered - it has an internal PS and a line cord.

image.png.308f2a4f5c4db81ae66f51f30c2903aa.png     image.png.7abc921285b5bf55f6ca22eae5bb5a3d.png

 

That Korg does run on 5 units of USB power.  So if you're driving it with a Neo using the audio USB port, that port obviously has power.  But we still don't know if it's on a separate bus.

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On 8/22/2020 at 5:30 PM, Bliman said:

I am looking for something that is some sort of giant killer or that is very very good price/quality.


Do you have an iPad? And like to use it to control your music ?

(if not use your laptop or phone). 
 

Find an old iPhone (6 is fine. Can have broken glass as well😀), and buy the CCK and connected it to your DAC. (As a Roon endpoint)

Download Roon to any of your PC, and test it. If you like it, buy a used NUC, install ROCK, and you have a cheap and good Roon server. 

You should have ripped your music before trying Roon.


You can later upgrade endpoint, power, storage (NAS).

Also, if you’re sure you will purchase a NAS, buy a Qnap. This is also Roon compatible, and you won’t need a NUC to begin with.

 

Hans Beekhuyzen YouTube videos has a nice explanation of Roon.

 

I would suggest you use EAC for ripping 

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1 hour ago, bluesman said:

AFAIK, the Benchmark DAC3 is not USB powered - it has an internal PS and a line cord.

Yes, it has a line cord but will not run with the 5V pin blocked. I believe the designer stated somewhere that the DAC does use USB power. Just having an AC cord does not determine that. 

“The best sounding audio product is the one that exhibits the least audible flaws.”

 Dr. Floyd Toole

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What I don't understand is that so many people are recommending Roon. It costs 600 € just for software. Don't you guys/girls find that lots of money just for software?

Either all this hardware doesn't do a thing and most of the money must go to the user experience.

Otherwise I don't get it.

It is now a couple of times that it is suggested to take for example a used NUC or Raspberry pi, etc and then buy Roon for 600€.

Many people here have such different setups. Is or isn't there difference in the sound?

Because I am trying to make sense of it all. Why would you pay much more for Roon then for example more expensive hardware and similar little cost or no cost software. What does Roon give you that others don't have?

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I don't use Roon and never will because I don't see that the cost is justified. I have a QNAP NAS that includes a controller called Music Station for windows and the very similar QMusic for Android. I can stream music stored in the NAS to any of my players (exaSound Playpoint, sMS-200, Raspberry Pi,Vizio TV, or Google Chromecast Audio, Chromecast and Nest Minis). I can group the Google streamers for background music. Mostly I listen to my own music but I subscribe to Google Play Music and YouTube Music, and can play them through any of the above streamers. 

 

As far as I can see, Roon doesn't offer any value as a controller over what I am using. I realize Roon has info on artists and the music, but I can get more from Wikipedia and allmusic.com than Roon provides. Previous experiences with Roon and Tidal resulted in less than optimal sound compared to files on my NAS, not sure why.

“The best sounding audio product is the one that exhibits the least audible flaws.”

 Dr. Floyd Toole

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8 hours ago, stefano_mbp said:

@bluesman just connected a Khadas Tone Board dac to my SOtM sms200 Neo and it works fine.

Khadas Tone Board can be powered only by usb ...

Good to know - thanks. Now the remaining questions is whether there’s a separate dedicated USB bus in the Neo for the audio output.

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55 minutes ago, bluesman said:

Good to know - thanks. Now the remaining questions is whether there’s a separate dedicated USB bus in the Neo for the audio output.

I asked SOtM for confirmation, but not sure it matters. The sms-200 sounds better than a Raspberry Pi, microRendu and the Allo digital transports according to my research.

“The best sounding audio product is the one that exhibits the least audible flaws.”

 Dr. Floyd Toole

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2 hours ago, audiobomber said:

I asked SOtM for confirmation, but not sure it matters. The sms-200 sounds better than a Raspberry Pi, microRendu and the Allo digital transports according to my research.

I did too. No response yet.

 

Research is no substitute for experience.  Have you listened to them all in the same system with the same program material? What matters to me is what my ears tell me, not what others describe.

 

To be honest, I don’t think many tech specs matter to SQ, given the large numbers of people who prefer either of any two alternatives.  With few exceptions, most decent products have their supporters and detractors.  But I’d love to know if that “audio output” is on a separate bus because it makes no sense for SOtM to go to that expense and effort but not to use it in marketing.  And the way they lay out the specs, it’s really not clear whether that power spec is per port.  If it is, they should add “per port” after 0.5A - it wouldn’t cost them a cent.  Further, it’s a spec of which they should be proud because other SBCs (eg all Pis) have a single cumulative current limit on all USB ports.  SOtM has a lot of competition, although that particular device offers a few features that simplify its use compared to other streamers.  
 

FWIW, I love Roon for the available art and info it collates and presents.  One of my favorite things to do is to listen to my vinyl while reading the liner notes and admiring the cover art.  Roon recreates this experience better than any other such program I’ve seen. I also use and love JRiver, because it does other things better than Roon. And I still rip with Foobar2000.

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It seems like the SOtM sMS-200 Neo seems like a nice solution (it is also around the price of a NUC). And I can upgrade it with a power supply and reclocker if it is needed.

Now I guess I need a NAS to accompany it, so my computer downstairs must not be on all the time.I guess 2x2TB is enough and also to copy it? I have a fritzbox 7360 V2 router (4x (LAN 1-2 = 10/100/1000 Mbps en LAN 3-4 = 10/100 Mbps)

Now someone already was lyrical of the ASUSTOR AS5202T. Is that overkill for me?

Or are there better options out there for me?

It would cost 514 € with 2x 2TB.

What do you guys think of this solution? To much spending on storage and to little on the hardware that does the work?

Would Tidal also work with this solution. And could I use the bitperfect from RME?

And yeah the price of ROON is 700€/$ for a lifetime. That to me is very expensive if the only benefit is lyrics. I thought that dB poweramp also ripped the album cover from the net.

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On 8/24/2020 at 8:00 PM, bluesman said:

If you'e computer is up to it, I'd put your music server & management system on it, and set up a Raspberry Pi 4B at your listening area to drive your RME DAC. Your choice of player software on the Pi is dictated in part by which server you use on the computer.  I don't think a stock NUC with any processor will sound any better unless you're using heavy DSP, MC, etc.  You're also pushing your budget with anything over a stock i3 NUC with a nice little SSD and maximum RAM.  You can probably find a deal on a new Mac Mini for less than a heavy duty NUC.

 

JRiver Media Center is excellent on Windows and on Linux, while Foobar2000 is easier on Windows but will run fine on a Linux box using Wine.  There are several great options for open source and free proprietary apps too.  But if you don't want to spend any money and you run Windows, I'd do Foobar2000 - I've used it for many years, and it's a wonderful program that demands only basic skills to set up and configure.  If you're willing to spend the very reasonable cost of a JRiver license, it's an easy and wonderful program (as is Roon, but you've ruled that out). 

 

Connect the Pi to your network via ethernet.  Your Wifi router is a bit dated.  It'll do the job for audio, but it's only 2.4 GHz and won't exceed 300 mbps even under ideal conditions (line of sight, no floors / walls / other obstacles in the way).  it's about 4 times slower than even a modest current router (802.11ac).  Drive your DAC with USB3 from the Pi.  You really do need a good storage system for your music files, and NAS is the way most of us do this.  You only need it to store music files, so a basic NAS with 1 or 2 disks would be fine for you up to at least 8 TB.  I've used a WD MyCloud Mirror in the past, and I now have an Asustor 5202 - both of them are great for media files.

 

You could also just run JRiver on a 4 gig Pi 4B networked via ethernet, add a NAS to your network for music file serving, and you'll have a complete system that sounds great.  JRiver on a Pi 4 will do multichannel, more than a little DSP, DSD, and a whole lot more with grace and dignity.  Although it's still a bit slow on a hot rodded 3B+, the JRiver GUI runs very well on a 4.  My stock 4 loaded 10,481 files plus all cover art in 14 minutes and 52 seconds - and it sounds great!

 

Also, remember that you can control JRiver Media Center from any device with a web browser that's on your network or has internet access to it.  And JRiver will stream your files to you anywhere in the world, which I love (and is not yet available from Roon).  I have one Raspberry Pi 3B set up as a dedicated JRiver streamer for my son (who lives elsewhere but is too cheap and lazy to set up his own :) )

I am looking at the Asustor 5202 as Nas and to combine it with the SOtM 200.

And connect it by an ethernet cable. What software must I place on the NAS or what must I do to make everything work?

Must I place an app on my smartphone and what must I choose?

And did you copy your music files?

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21 hours ago, bluesman said:

Good to know - thanks. Now the remaining questions is whether there’s a separate dedicated USB bus in the Neo for the audio output.

I received a reply from May Park of SOtM, confirming what I originally stated, there is a dedicated USB bus for audio:

 

Hi Dan, 

Yes, there are two USB buses in the sMS-200.

 

Thank you.

Best regards, May

“The best sounding audio product is the one that exhibits the least audible flaws.”

 Dr. Floyd Toole

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1 hour ago, audiobomber said:

I received a reply from May Park of SOtM, confirming what I originally stated, there is a dedicated USB bus for audio:

 

Hi Dan, 

Yes, there are two USB buses in the sMS-200.

 

Thank you.

Best regards, May

Fascinating!  Here's the query I sent SOtM USA yesterday morning at 8:30 AM EDT:

________________________________________________________

To: <[email protected]>
Subject: New customer message on August 26, 2020 at 8:30 am

 

Name: David

 

Body: Hi - Is the audio USB port in the Neo on a separate bus from the paired USB ports, or are all 3 on the same bus?  Does the audio output carry 5V power?  Thanks!

________________________________________________________

 

Here's what I got in reply:

_______________________________________________________

image.png.1efce70dca1edb291a3b37c460f7872a.png

Hi David,

 

Thanks for your email. The audio USB and the two USB ports are on the same bus. The USB audio carries +5.0V(+0.5V, -0.25V)

 

Let me know if you have any questions.

 

Thank you,

Kamal

____________________________________________________________

 

So we'll never know unless we can get a schematic or someone's willing to pull apart his unit to see if there are two USB chips.

 

D
 

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2 hours ago, Bliman said:

I am looking at the Asustor 5202 as Nas


You may consider Qnap. 
https://uk.pcmag.com/nas/14710/the-best-nas-network-attached-storage-devices

I’ve been quite happy with my Qnaps. Remote management is excellent. Also support is good. As you see, Qnap is recommended as media server. 

If you choose Qnap, you at least have the option to install Roon. That’s not as easy on the Asustor.

Qnap supports Bubbleupnp server. 

 

Also Qnap has Docker, that means you can almost run anything. Like JRiver. You can’t install JRiver on Asustor. You should carefully understand what SW you can install on that Asustor, unless you only plan to use it as a file server. (Which requires the player SW to be installed somewhere else). 


Plex works on Qnap, and with Tidal as example of sw. 

 

Finallly, you may be better served with a headless Windows NUC, and use Remote Desktop to access it. And you may find USB direct to your DAC OK, and instead use an ISOregen.
A NUC is more easy to test out most SW. By a USB disk as backup for your files. (That disk can also be connected to your router). Audirvana as an example will not run on any NAS. 

 

Many people are happy with the Rendu series from Sonore. Wider user base, and good support if ever needed.

 

You should probably start to test out player SW on your laptop as the first step. 
If you purchase that Asustor without knowing what SW it supports, you may regret. JRiver doesn’t support Tidal nativity. 
 

How do you plan to control your music player ? Phone, laptop, iPad ?

 

If you use iDevices, you may like the iPeng app. It also supports Tidal.

(Install Squeezebox server or just use internet).  

 

 

 

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