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using NAS for iTunes without a computer

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Hello all. I have rarely posted but always enjoy reading the latest info from Chris.


Having had a variety of Macs over the past 12 years I feel I really ought to know the answer already but I figured it is best to ask the real experts here...


I am currently piping my music collection into two rooms.


Setup: iTunes on the home office iMac, music library on an external Iomega USB2 HDD, fed into the lounge and bedroom via Airport Express (AE) and HomePlug ethernet. When I want music in the lounge I can wirelessly access and control iTunes via my Macbook or more often than not, I simply select a playlist on the iMac, select remote speakers and let the music play with no control. Similarly when we play music at bedtime I don't want to be sat with a laptop so again it is a playlist piped via AE into the digital input of an Onkyo receiver. The Onkyo has a sleep timer so we can have it switch off after 10 - 90 minutes. The iMac switches off but the HDD keeps spinning all night.


I was planning on purchasing the new LaCie Network Space 1TB NAS and ideally I wanted to put iTunes on it and control it on an iPod Touch wirelessly. In other words, can I get away with having no computer switched on??? or do I have to buy maybe a headless Mac Mini ? I only ever play the music in one room at a time.




Thanks for any input.




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Hi Ian - Thanks for the post. I'm sure you're not the only person with this question.


Your goal of playing music from the hard drive without a computer on is a great one. But, you'll need some type of software player to control what is played. The iPod Touch Remote app controls iTunes, thus iTunes is the needed software. The iTouch can't connect and control a shared library, which is what a NAS iTunes server looks like on the network. If your other device such as a receiver can connect via UPnP then that will be your player and it will pull music from the NAS. No computer needed.


I guess you can say this:

1. If you want to push music to an external device you need a software player like iTunes running.

2. If you want to pull music from the external device you'll need a UPnP capable device like a receiver, TV, PS3 etc...



Does this help or only add to the confusion?


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Thanks Chris, I thought it would be asking too much to be able to do without some device between an iPod Touch and the NAS.


Anyone had a look at the spec for the LaCie NAS and any thoughts? I have had a couple of LaCie Firewire HDDs in the past and I liked the fact they spun down to sleep when the computer switched off.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Take a look at QNap TS 409 Pro or 509 Pro (for 5 disks). This is a dedicated NAS storage running blackboxed linux which has a Twonky Vision Upnp built in and would not need a computer to stream. This is what Linn recommends for their DS line servers. Works like a charm.


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  • 5 months later...

Hi Chris,


I'm faced with the exact issue you're addressing above. Having a QNAP-TS109II with iTunes Server running on the NAS and an iPod Touch controlling the music.


My questions would be if it wouldn't be possible (in theory) to execute an iTunes (or similar) application on the NAS server (without the GUI) and then have it send the music via Airport Express directly to the reciever? Or is the problem really, that in order to do that you would need a soundcard on the NAS?





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forget about the iTunes server thing as there is no iTunes server (only a monolithic app for Windows and Mac OS X), everything else is kind of UPnP linux service *for* iTunes.


The best thing you can do is: you install SlimCenter directly on your Qnap (http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?t=44325), then you install as many Squeezebox Duet, Receiver, Box, Boom or Transport clients from SlimDevices (http://www.slimdevices.com/) throughout your home as audio-only clients. They all can play directrly from your Qnap (running the SlimCenter server software, remember) either different tracks or peferctly synced together (in a so-called party mode). You control each client through the server, i.e. you use either your iPhone (iPeng App, same look and feel as Apple Remote for iTunes), Squeezbox Controller, any Web browser or web enabled device or AMX TouchPanels (both cheaper G3 and/or more expensive G4 panels and there is a readymade Netlinx module for them which I am using too). This is the most advanced and flexible solution! I am using the Transporter in my B+W 801 stereo-only setup and Squeezebox Receiver for each room. I am controlling 2-way with full feedback and *at the same time* with iPhone iPeng, AMX TPs and Web browser, depending on where I am and what I am doing (from all this interfaces you may control any client). In case you don't need the Squeezebox Controller for control, you don't to buy the Duet (SB Receiver including the Controller), just get the SB Receivers standalone and use Net-UDAP (http://projects.robinbowes.com/Net-UDAP/trac/wiki/GettingStarted) to configure/setup them without the SB Controller).


Then, you may want to use iTunes too. Set it up in a way that it loads its files from the Qnap, manage all your playlists from iTunes, etc. Then, setup the SlimCenter server software on the Qnap to (1) rescan the iTunes lib (files on the Qnap) for changes (and make it available to all SB clients) as often as you wish and if you wish (2) to import all playlist from iTunes!


This is a killer solution and there is nothing better available, as you have (1) total control of everthing from everywhere, (2) plays all file formats (iTunes don't do flac), (3) cheap but very high quality clients available, (4) all of them are able to play sync'ed, (5) a high-end client with 24/96 kHz is available too (SB Transporter), etc, etc. The Transporter is also used in this, probably most expensive $6 Mio install: http://blog.audiovideointeriors.com/208great/ more details here http://www.kipnis-studios.com/The_Kipnis_Studio_Standard/Equipment.html


To answer your questions directly, you can't execte anything else but iTunes in order to have an Airport Express to sync to it. The piece of software called "iTunes server" on any NAS box is a linux package which is not from Apple, but an UPnP server and it do not work with Airport Express clients (connections is proprietary to Apple). Then, Airport Express only syncs to the master iTunes, there is no way it can play something different, and I am also not sure if you can use more than one Airport Express with iTunes, I believe you can't. You don't need any soundcard on the Qnap NAS, it is a server only thing! You need sound capability in your clients (for playing the data they ger from your NAS/server).


Have fun!



SlimCenter doesn't run on any NAS, so don't buy boxes with limited software support (Lacie, Thecus, Drobo with Ethershare comes to mind). The best you can do is get a Qnap, ReadyNAS or any linux, Mac or Windows box and set it up as a server. In my eyes there best are the Qnap's. SlimCenter is opensource and there is excellent support for it.




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