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DanRubin   

We have need of centralized storage in the home for my wife's business and for sharing some files, photos, etc. One or 2TB should be plenty to last us for years. I'm wondering if I should also keep my iTunes music files on it? (If so, I'd get a bigger NAS.)

 

I've been running a Mac Mini-based system with directly-connected hard drives for many years. Is there any reason I should not also use the NAS for all of my music files and drop the USB and Firewire drives I have been using? (I'd use the USD drives for backup of the NAS.) I remember seeing someone's comment that NAS solutions don't sound as good, but do others agree? If the NAS is set up with multiple volumes for different household purposes and is getting used concurrently for more than just serving music files, will there be any performance hit? Any other downsides to NAS for my iTunes music files? (Which might someday be something other than iTunes.)

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wgscott   

I have a "poor man's NAS", that is, a 1.5 TB USB drive plugged into my airport extreme. I occasionally use it as a NAS for music via my laptop for bedroom playback. It works well enough to suggest to me getting a real NAS would work. I went so far as to get a fireproof, destruction-proof ioSafe shipped from Costco a few days ago, but it arrived damaged -- UPS threw the box over the gate.

 

In conjunction with a memory-player like Audirvana, it should be reasonably immune to network glitches.

 

Having said that, I use a firewire external drive to my mac mini, and I back up to the network disk. I have two copies of that disk, and I rotate them home and work, in case the house burns.

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For my first foray into computer audio, I went with a Synology 213+ NAS connected to my DACs via USB. I use the Audio Station music server software that comes with the Synology NAS. I ripped all of my CDs to FLACs via DBPoweramp. The NAS is configured with 3TB Western Digital Caviar Red drives. They're very quiet when running, as is the NAS fan. Sound quality with this set up is excellent as far as I'm concerned. Better than my (old) CD player. It's a simple, cost effective and relatively "green" solution. My NAS gets very little use other than for listening to music and occasional file access for my photos and documents, so I can't comment on how it would perform under load.

 

The only downside (and it's a frustrating one) is that the current version of the Linux kernel used on my Synology doesn't support USB Audio 2.0, so I have some issues when I first start playing music on my USB Audio 2.0 Dac (an Emotiva XDA-2) and when switching between tracks that have different sampling rates. This isn't an issue for my USB Audio 1.0 Dac (an Audioquest Dragonfly). Of course, I could also get around the problem if I was just using the NAS for storage.

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I have used several Netgear ReadyNas units over the past 4 years, increasing the sizes of the Readynas and hard drives as required. My hard drives are Hitachi 3T Ultrastars which are server grade drives that have a service life of 2 million hours and a five year warranty. This system has been very easy to use and very reliable.

 

I use the Readynas for documents, movies and audio and using a NAS with Ethernet connections (vs USB) means that it can be located anywhere on the network and any other computer can connect easily. Systems like this are designed with the assumption that multiple computers will be using the files at the same time and I have never been aware of any “performance hits” with multiple concurrent users.

 

The Readynas permits various RAID configurations as well which can provide an extra level of protection against data loss (although, of course, RAID is not considered to be an adequate means of backup). For backup, I backup my audio files to a computer hard drive using Chronosync. Using RAID 5 on the Readynas and additionally backing up to a separate computer it is unlikely that I will suffer a catastrophic data loss.

 

The larger the NAS the more noise it will produce but with and Ethernet based device you can locate it anywhere you want and the noise will not be an issue and, of course, they are fully configurable from any computer on the network so once you install the NAS you really never have to see it again.

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DanRubin   

Thanks for the replies, guys. I had meant to start this thread in the Storage forum -- don't know what happened. Maybe one of the admins will move it.

 

So Kickerhawk, you are streaming directly from the NAS and not putting a computer in the mix? That's interesting. Yet another variable to consider.

 

I have no noise issues with the current USB and Firewire drives I have connected to the Mini in my rack. But any NAS I get will be located somewhere else for sure. I've got CAT 6 into all the main rooms in the house.

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Toddc2   

I tried using my Synology NAS as the data server for my setup. I was using WiFi to transfer the files and ran into buffering issues during playback. I now use a dedicated PC (also Macbook Pro) with external HDD's for my two-channel system.

 

I still use the NAS as my iTunes database and have a Sonos system pointed to it, nice solution for wireless playback.

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So Kickerhawk, you are streaming directly from the NAS and not putting a computer in the mix? That's interesting. Yet another variable to consider.

 

Yep. I was looking for a simple, headless solution. The Synology AudioStation app is actually pretty functional for managing your music files and playback. When they added bit-perfect playback a year or so ago, I started considering it as a DIY music server solution. I placed it in a (mostly) enclosed cabinet below my stereo equipment, so I just run a one meter USB cable from the NAS to the DAC and control everything from my iPad or iPhone.

 

It sounds great. I never hear pops, clicks, etc. between tracks. Never get any audible noise through the system when the NAS is plugged in. However, one thing I've done is added an iFi iUSB power conditioner between the NAS and the DAC. Even though I was perfectly satisfied with the SQ, I had read a lot of good things about the iUSB and decided to give it a test run. Not surprisingly, it provides the same kinds of benefits for my setup that others have noted when using it between a computer and a DAC. A little less digital glare, fuller, firmer bass, more definition of space around instruments and voices, etc. Although noise wasn't an issue for me, others have reported improvements there as well. Because of the USB Audio 2 limitations, I have to reboot the NAS whenever I've turned off and turned back on my USB Audio 2 DAC. I also have to restart a track if it's at a different sampling rate than the last track played (this is also associated with the older Linux kernel used by Synology). Neither of those issues are a problem with my Dragonfly DAC though, and I'm hoping that they go away with the next OS upgrade since it appears that Synology will no longer be using the old Linux kernel in the future.

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Why pay for an NAS given your limited storage requirements? I purchased a new Cisco router with a USB port. Its connected directly to my computer (music server) upstairs through Ethernet. I have a 3TB Hard Drive connected to it. Then occasionally I will back it up on to another identical one. Works great, no loss of sound.

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Rimbaud   
Why pay for an NAS given your limited storage requirements? I purchased a new Cisco router with a USB port. Its connected directly to my computer (music server) upstairs through Ethernet. I have a 3TB Hard Drive connected to it. Then occasionally I will back it up on to another identical one. Works great, no loss of sound.

 

I'm attracted to this idea, as it would bypass any server software issues associated with the NAS (I think - I'm a network newbie). Could you attach a USB hub to the router, then plug in two drives and set one to back up the other one automatically (using Carbon Copy Cloner or Chrono Sync)?

 

What model router do you have?

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pooger   
I'm attracted to this idea, as it would bypass any server software issues associated with the NAS (I think - I'm a network newbie).

 

I'm also using a Synology (413). There really aren't any software issues—the Synology "shell" makes the running very easy, even for a network server virgin.

 

My current set up is two 3 G red drives, set as a single mirrored volume. This is connected via airport extreme to a MacMini, and I haven't been able to hear differences between this set up and using either the internal drive (which wouldn't have enough room anyway) and two different firewire drives that I tested. Using Audirvana, almost all redbook derived FLACs. The NAS is upstairs, about 3 feet from my desktop. I typically can only hear it running if I get right next to it—the fans are a very low volume hum. I do have occasional network issues—the NAS has been running uninterrupted, but every few days the NAS dismounts from the various computers around the house. This has never happened when it has been in active use.

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tranz   

Not if Amarra is important to you...

 

I have a Synology 412 collecting dust since Amarra does not play nice. Cache and gapless issues went away after going Thunderbolt directly hanging out the back of the Mac. The speed of loading songs is drastically slower on the NAS. In my system it also introduced listening fatigue, but that could be due to all the other network setup and traffic.

 

For all other purposes, the NAS is a very good option. Amarra without gapless and cache will work too.

 

Cheers.

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baddog   

Interesting points about Amarra and using a NAS. I have a Synology 1812 NAS. It is wired via ethernet to my Apple Extreme, but my Mac Mini on another floor connects to it via wireless (second Extreme on second floor to extend network). It works great with JRiver and Audirvana with nary a hiccup, I don't have Amarra so I have not run into the issue you note. No issues with the music players I mentioned above, either with hi res files nor for gapless playback. I found out recently JRiver recommends not using memory play if you have a NAS ( to paraphrase why, I believe they considered it "redundant" as files being served from a NAS are read into memory anyway), so I have disabled that option in JRiver.

 

Barr

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I've been trying to figure this out for myself. I have an iMac on all the time with my music stored externally on a Firewire drive. I duplicate the external to another drive using SuperDuper. With the iMac and Home Sharing enabled, my library is available all the time. I would expect the combination of the iMac/Firewire drive to be more powerful and faster than a NAS. Would there be any need or benefit from moving to a NAS?

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Paul R   

Well, JRiver might not, but Windows certainly does. It can get worse with Macs and Linux, as network mounted file systems are, when you get down to the basics, very different animals. Everything from different latency expectations to different return codes from standard file management library calls, file sharing, and so forth and so on. Some things a NAS does better, some things worse.

 

Amarra and other Unix based (Mac based) programs can easily balk at reading from an SMB, NFS, or Appletalk share, unfortunately. Windows is usually better about it, but not always.

 

 

How is that? Does JRiver see the NAS as something different other than an HD?

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baddog   
How is that? Does JRiver see the NAS as something different other than an HD?

 

Well, truth be told, I don't know the logic behind the guidance, merely this was the recommendation by Matt at JRiver,

 

Issue with the "Playing files from memory" option

 

I also could not speak to what the difference is between "lumpy I/O versus smooth I/O" as described in that thread.

 

I think I will post a follow up with him on this.

 

Barr

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jtwrace   
Well, truth be told, I don't know the logic behind the guidance, merely this was the recommendation by Matt at JRiver,

 

Issue with the "Playing files from memory" option

 

I also could not speak to what the difference is between "lumpy I/O versus smooth I/O" as described in that thread.

 

I think I will post a follow up with him on this.

 

Barr

 

Interesting. Do you happen to notice any difference in subjective sound quality?

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Well, JRiver might not, but Windows certainly does. It can get worse with Macs and Linux, as network mounted file systems are, when you get down to the basics, very different animals. Everything from different latency expectations to different return codes from standard file management library calls, file sharing, and so forth and so on. Some things a NAS does better, some things worse.

 

Amarra and other Unix based (Mac based) programs can easily balk at reading from an SMB, NFS, or Appletalk share, unfortunately. Windows is usually better about it, but not always.

Hmmm. I actually thought that once mounted Unix type OSes didn't worry if it was a network share or local device as everything is treated the same. It's often commented that on UNIX "everything is a file". Perhaps that actually why Amarra (and other) software has problems because it CAN'T tell that there is a network involved so panics cause of the additional latency?

 

Eloise

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baddog   
Interesting. Do you happen to notice any difference in subjective sound quality?

 

No difference in sound quality to my ears with JRMC. I think the only impact may have been on load time for a file, I need to double check that in my copious spare time.

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Paul R   

(grin) Well, it is true that almost all Unix I/O is based upon files, but network comms are based upon socket IO most often, and socketed IO is based upon packeted "send" and "recv" paradigms. NFS and other network based filesystems layer a file-based interface over socketed I/O, but often cannot manage to totally eliminate it.

 

For example, on an NFS filesystem, you look up a file/path one component of the pathname at a time. This seems illogical, but it makes perfect sense, when you realize that NFS filesystems may be mounted across different types of computers, operating systems, and even networks. Simple things like directory separators cannot be taken for granted.

 

At the higher levels of course, this just winds up looking like a normal file system, but it isn't. :)

 

-Paul

 

 

Hmmm. I actually thought that once mounted Unix type OSes didn't worry if it was a network share or local device as everything is treated the same. It's often commented that on UNIX "everything is a file". Perhaps that actually why Amarra (and other) software has problems because it CAN'T tell that there is a network involved so panics cause of the additional latency?

 

Eloise

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baddog   

Well as long as we are going deep, I have a question. Mac user, using a Synology NAS, is it better to present a volume/folder to the Mac via AFP or SMB? Is there any performance advantage with SMB?

 

Won't ask about SCSI LUNS as that is far too much for me to understand at the moment.

 

Currently my folders are presented out via AFP.

 

Thanks.

 

Barr

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Well as long as we are going deep, I have a question. Mac user, using a Synology NAS, is it better to present a volume/folder to the Mac via AFP or SMB? Is there any performance advantage with SMB?

 

Won't ask about SCSI LUNS as that is far too much for me to understand at the moment.

 

Currently my folders are presented out via AFP.

 

Thanks.

 

Barr

I believe the general preference is AFP over SMB. Though it depends are in Mac OS X AFP is better, but it could be that on the NAS SMB is implemented better with could make SMB preferable.

 

from ... https://discussions.apple.com/thread/1819141?threadID=1819141

 

iSCSI 134.267530 (seconds)

AFP 140.285572

SMB 159.061026

NFSv3 (w/o tuning) 477.432503

NFSv3 (w/tuning) 293.994605

 

Eloise

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baddog   

Thanks Eloise, mine is currently configured as AFP as that seemed the logical thing to do given it is only being accessed by Macs at the moment. Appreciate the link will read up, I began reading up on using ISCSI LUNS a while back, but it was a bit much to try and absorb.

 

Barr

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