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NAS for dummies

Discussion in 'audio' started by Fretbuzz, Aug 10, 2018.

  1. Fretbuzz

    Fretbuzz pfm Member

    What's the simplest, most hassle-free way to set up a NAS at reasonable cost for music only usage please?

    All I'd want it for is to rip CDs to (big batch at first then more over time) and play in my main system via a phone and/or tablet, presumably through a separate streamer? Trying to decide between this method and a stand-alone CD ripper/steamer unit (such as Bluesound Vault), but the separate NAS options often appear to soon get faffy and expensive, at least to this slight technophobe!

    For info it could sit away from the main system so needn't be totally silent. And 2tb would be plenty.

    Specific suggestions for equipment really welcome.
  2. Darth Vader

    Darth Vader From the Dark Side

    In many cases a NAS in not necessary if its just to play your music library. I just use portable USB drive connected into a Mac Mini music server. I can load several hours of music into the Macs memory and all disks then go to sleep so no noise. Some will advocate an SSD but there is no advantage in the above scenario and the cost is much higher. However do make a backup of that USB drive just n case!

    I control the music playback via an iThingy such as iPhone, iPad etc from my listening position. in addition I rip the CDs in my office whilst I am working on the computer straight to that USB drive connected to the Mini two floors down. I managed to rip several hundred CDs in a week or so just popping them in whilst doing summat else.


  3. Whatsisnaim

    Whatsisnaim pfm Member

    If you have a convenient computer then adding a music library to either internal or USB storage is an option, with the server software running on it. If you don’t, cheaper to get a NAS. For example, Synology running Minimserver or QNAP running Asset, are tried and tested options, well supported, and cost around £250 with a WD Red drive.
    A streamer will find this, and the control app is normally how you browse and play your music, acting as a remote control for the streamer.
    mww likes this.
  4. Peter Stockwell

    Peter Stockwell deep fried and gone

    Anything from Synology at the price you like. Run minimserver on it.

    Find the NAS on your network, from the computer you will use to rip CDs. On Windows you can give it a drive letter (N, maybe for NAS) and you can rip to your nas like it was a local drive).

    You'll need some software for ripping and tagging (dbpoweramp?). Ideally, rip to a local drive then synchronise with a regular back up procedure to the NAS.
  5. suzywong

    suzywong Wot, no electrons?

    (Prices are approximate)

    Get a synology 218J NAS + one (to start with) 2-3 TB Western Digital “Red” HDD. Connect it to your ethernet. £250

    Rip CDs on your PC to the NAS using dBPowerAmp, correct your metadata with MP3Tag. £40

    Get a Raspberry Pi based streamer with Volumio software (see Volumio’s website for a selection of pre-built and configured units). £120-150

    Drive it from your tablet.

    Job done.
  6. Cereal Killer

    Cereal Killer 432 Point5

    QNAP TS-251+ with 8GB and 2 x 1TB SSDs. It's silent (although has a fan), can do USB out to a DAC and stream via uPnP via ethernet, and RoonServer is available via QNAP app store.
  7. Fretbuzz

    Fretbuzz pfm Member

    Thanks all for the suggestions. Just what I needed.

    The Synology stuff looks spot on and good value. Is there a reason the QNAP stuff appears to be more?

    Sorry but if someone could please clarify....So if I get a Synology does the Minimserver software come with it? And when I get a streamer it will pick up on the NAS files through its own app? Is that right?

    I didn't make it explicit as such initially but I wouldn't want to use the laptop for playing music at all - hence the NAS. What I didn't realise was though I can rip straight tot he NAS via the computer, which is ace and will ease things up a bit (and will back up).

    Re the Raspberry Pi - I've seen these coming up as a cheap and popular option, but it seems to need more technical understanding (or time to understand it) than I'll think I'll have.

    Thanks again.
  8. Cereal Killer

    Cereal Killer 432 Point5

    QNAP is simply a better spec and faster, worth reading a few reviews... QNAP always test fester and the OS is more intuitive IMHO.

    You’ll need to install a UPNP client such as minimserver or dbpoweramps asset 6.x.
    I use asset (see my recent thread on the topic) and roonserver, which you can install via the QNAP App Store free of charge. Asset 6.x is available from dbpoweramps store for c20£ IIRC for a lifetime licence.
  9. Strictly Stereo

    Strictly Stereo Trade: Strictly Stereo

    You can buy a 2TB NAS with a built-in UPnP media server for under £150. This will store your music and serve it up to streamers and other UPnP clients around your home. The Synology and QNAP options will likely cost quite a bit more, but offer much more flexibility in terms of drive selection and software options. Synology NAS drives do not come with MinimServer preinstalled. You have to install it yourself, but the process is well documented on Minim's website.

    Your other option is to look at a purpose-built music server like the Bluesound Vault 2 or the Innuos Zen range. These will also rip your CDs for you and save you lots of faffing about in the process. What will you be using as a client device? This is important because the Bluesound Vault 2 does not support UPnP. The Innuos Zen products support UPnP, Logitech Media Server, Sonos and optionally Roon. They both support Windows file sharing for uploading and sharing music. The Vault 2 has coax and optical digital outputs, as well as a built in DAC and analogue outputs. The Zen products have Ethernet and USB outputs.
  10. Cereal Killer

    Cereal Killer 432 Point5

    I have so far found built in uPnP software frustratingly limited. The good thing about Asset 6.x is that you can edit the tree to suit. I also found minimserver to have a very limited/dictated file path. Asset takes a bit of getting used to but its fully configurable.
  11. jologstyme

    jologstyme Member

    While the hardware specs may be a bit behind, I chose Synology because of their DSM OS. It's easy to setup and very user-friendly. It also helps that the Synology provides frequent updates for their products in the long-term, especially security patches. I have a mid-range DS916+ Intel Quad-Core with 8GB RAM and I never found the performance lacking for my needs. The NAS' cooling fans are always set to quiet mode and I can't hear them even up close. Seagate Ironwolf drives are the way to go which are quieter than WD Reds in my experience.

    Anyway, I just use the built-in DS Audio package to stream music to my tablet and smartphone. Works fine for casual listening. On the other hand, for my main audio system and headphone listening I use Jriver Media Center 23 via local network on my Windows 10 desktop and MacBook Pro respectively.
  12. MotelBlues

    MotelBlues pfm Member

    Whilst technically possible, depending on how your NAS and computer are connected (wi-fi for me) you might find it a hindrance. I think the generally accepted advice is to rip directly on a computer, make all the metadata and artwork adjustments and only then copy the rip to the NAS. Certainly making metadata changes to files on my NAS takes a lot longer than when editing the files first on my PC.
  13. wiresandmore

    wiresandmore pfm Member

    That's just for metadata editing, right? Not for any sonic reasons?

    I've ripped 1500+ CD's to my NAS over the last few years, all via WiFi from PC to NAS (the NAS is hard-wired to the network switch)
  14. Fretbuzz

    Fretbuzz pfm Member

    Thanks all for the further input/suggestions.

    I'll look more in to the various NAS and drive options. Quieter ones aren't essential as it would be kept away from the system/room, but will see the prices etc.

    Cereal - when you say QNAP is better and faster spec, does that mean the Synology NAS would prove slow and clunky to use by comparison? Any real-world implications in just music file use (eg no HD films etc)?
    Yes the purpose-built rippers/servers appeal most in their simplicity. Bugger about the Zen range is indeed the lack of coax output which precludes my current DAC that I don't want to change (AN DAC One1x, with single input). That's why I'd mentally settled on the Vault, but it ain't cheap hence considering the NAS option. Shame really they don't do a cut price Vault sans DAC, or Zen with coax.

    I'd only considered the client device (if that's what it's called) insomuch as a lack of UPnP wouldn't box me in at all as this would stand alone, but thanks for flagging it.

    Note: you'll well gather that I'm not in to the technology side of this, not for it's own interest/sake. It would just need to serve a simple purpose; and I'd soon come to resent anything that seemed unnecessarily complex, buggy, or naggy (any update harassment etc). I have enough of that stuff elsewhere and music is the escape!

  15. Strictly Stereo

    Strictly Stereo Trade: Strictly Stereo

    Not if you view the Vault 2 purely as a NAS, but it does a good deal more than that and for your purposes the lack of UPnP probably does not matter. You can connect it directly to your DAC. If you go for the general purpose NAS option and tuck it away somewhere, you will also need a streamer.

    Regarding the Zen option, there are some pretty good USB to S/PDIF converters available which you can use between the server and DAC, if you wish.
  16. suzywong

    suzywong Wot, no electrons?

    The synology 218j will be just fine. Look on the Volumio website for the Allo BOSS player. it is a complete solution - ethernet or wireless in, analogue out to your hifi.

    Drive it from your tablet or mobile.
    Fretbuzz likes this.
  17. Whatsisnaim

    Whatsisnaim pfm Member

    Some QNAP NAS have an SPDIF output. I haven’t tried this myself, but maybe worth investigating. Also, I’m told that Innuos will be adding SPDIF outputs to their servers, albeit with a price increase, although this may just be a rumour.
    Fretbuzz likes this.
  18. suzywong

    suzywong Wot, no electrons?

    And if they had built-in DACs they’d be even more useful :)
  19. foxwelljsly

    foxwelljsly Keep Music Vile

    My music is on a USB hard drive plugged into the USB socket on the back of my asus router. Works a treat.
  20. TheFlash

    TheFlash Superhero of Sound

    I have had my Synology NAS for years and it sits there performing quickly, quietly and reliably day in and day out. Mine will hold 3TB of music - it has 6TB of storage in total but is configured in RAID 1 (disk mirroring). I use Western Digital Red 3TB drives after much reviewing - low energy, fast performance, quiet... basically what's not to like. The NAS sits in my study and is hooked into the adjacent router via CAT6 cable.

    I am a Mac user so rip into ALAC usin iTunes and sort my metadata, artwork etc using that.

    I used to use a Squeezebox Duet and Arcam irDAC but swapped both out for a Bluseound Node 2 with internal DAC. Sound quality is at least as good IMHO and the BluOS app is excellent. Much easier to configure Spotify and listen to Radio Paradise. The Node 2 is hooked up to the router via 6m of CAT6 under the skirting boards... I don't mind using wifi to control music playback via the app but don't want my music being transported using wifi or Bluetooth.

    I don't personally like the one box Bluesound Vault/Innuos Zenith approach. You may one day want to store more music or offload your photos or other stuff to the huge amount of additional storage your NAS gives you; not something you'd do with a one-box. A friend bought a Zenith SE a few months ago and is now being tempted by the upgraded version. I'd rather be able to upgrade my storage and DAC and streamer separately if I wish to do so. If Bluesound introduce the Node 3 (they're bound to one day), I will decide whether to upgrade to it on its merits and I won't have to move my data across like I would if I had a Vault. You can of course choose to use an external DAC with the Bluesound Node 2, I just chose not to.

    Hope this helps.
    Fretbuzz and PhilofCas like this.

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