Author Topic: NAS vs HDD, file through renderer chain. Please advise  (Read 1659 times)

Offline sonicxtc

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NAS vs HDD, file through renderer chain. Please advise
« on: November 23, 2016, 10:50:06 AM »
Hi everyone and Happy pre-Thanksgiving.

I'm looking at making some system changes as I consider finally moving beyond a mac mini direct to DAC, e.g. use a server or renderer. So, that's the big picture view.

What's the pro/con of using an external ?
Is it possible to utilize a renderer with just external HDDs?

If I were to use a NAS will it require a separate switch? [Or, is it possible to control a NAS directly via a phone or tablet, etc.].

I'm of the mindset of "less is more," and I see guys running extensive chains with FMC and isolators, etc. and it seems overly complex. And, each of those components can introduce power supply noise. An mRendu or sms 200 might be great, but I'm also considering an upcoming Matrix X-Server which is more akin to an Aurender--files, server in one box.

PS. IF you are recommending a NAS, might you recommend a specific brand/model.

THANK YOU.

Offline richidoo

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Re: NAS vs HDD, file through renderer chain. Please advise
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2016, 02:23:40 PM »
Hi everyone and Happy pre-Thanksgiving.

Thanks, same to you!!

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I'm looking at making some system changes as I consider finally moving beyond a mac mini direct to DAC, e.g. use a server or renderer. So, that's the big picture view.

The Mac was your server/renderer.

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What's the pro/con of using an external ?

NAS serves your whole LAN, not just one host like local attached drive. NAS is a fileserver which can stream content to any clients on the LAN or even to web. HDD can be easily added to any host by USB, whereas a NAS must be configured to run on the network. NAS usually has 2 or more physical drives offering data redundancy like RAID and automated backups, etc.

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Is it possible to utilize a renderer with just external HDDs?

No. Renderer in the strictest sense has no "server" no file storage, like uRendu, Squeezebox, Sonos. But some renderers have server built in, like Auralic Aries Mini, Volumio/RPi/hat. Think of renderer as the "player" controls what is played, and the server as the fileserver which stores the files.

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If I were to use a NAS will it require a separate switch? [Or, is it possible to control a NAS directly via a phone or tablet, etc.].

If you want wifi remote control of music playback then yes, you'll need to have a functioning wifi LAN so all the parts can talk. Most people use their home's router to create a wifi network.

The renderer is what gets controlled, not the NAS. The renderer is the player, it runs the song selection software and transport controls. The NAS/server just serves file requests from the renderer client. 

Some wifi NAS probably have phone apps for remote administration, which would control the NAS, but I think you're talking about music control.

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I'm of the mindset of "less is more," and I see guys running extensive chains with FMC and isolators, etc. and it seems overly complex. And, each of those components can introduce power supply noise. An mRendu or sms 200 might be great, but I'm also considering an upcoming Matrix X-Server which is more akin to an Aurender--files, server in one box.

I don't know what any of that shit is.  :duh  I do know that simple is great until it won't do what you want it to, then you have to buy again. Features are great until it breaks just when you want music. Don't be intimidated by the complexity, as long as their is purpose for it. New technology that's simpler and cheaper is coming so fast now, it is risky to jump into overly complex setups. But the features of complexity can be worth the extra effort, like running Rune, or achieving femto-second jitter, etc. 

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PS. IF you are recommending a NAS, might you recommend a specific brand/model.

Synology, QNAP, WD are popular and good value. For straight up fileserver, just pick a brand with good reputation that fits your budget and desired features. For music, a simple 2 drive NAS for a couple hundred is all you need. Streaming music is very easy job, (10MB/minute for stereo wav) so you don't need any kind of extra speed. You just need silence, reliability and low cost. They all do RAID1 to protect your data against a drive failure.  You can plug it into a port on your router far away from the stereo room to avoid noise from a cooling fan. If you get a silent NAS, research that it is reliable before buying because HDDs need cooling. You might want to use HDDs intended for media use, like WD red. They have better bearings for continuous operation in DVRs, etc.

Offline shadowlight

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Re: NAS vs HDD, file through renderer chain. Please advise
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2016, 02:36:42 PM »
Take a look at Newegg's Black Friday sales.  I believe they have some QNAP both 2 and 4 drive ones on sale.

Offline djdube525

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Re: NAS vs HDD, file through renderer chain. Please advise
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2016, 02:50:20 PM »
Rich gave some excellent advice! A couple things to add...

What's the pro/con of using an external ?

The benefit of an external drive (presumably hanging off a computer or router) is going to be cost - the "enclosure" itself is cheap, and your main cost is going to be the drive.

Rich talked about redundancy as being a big benefit for a NAS. Another benefit is cost of operation - a NAS is not going to consume nearly the same amount of power as a computer - much cheaper to operate with it being on 24/7/365.

While it may be overkill, you may want to consider SSDs instead of a regular mechanical drive. Some benefits: lower power, they also run a heck of a lot cooler than normal disk drives, and there are no motors/platters spinning up - what you give up is raw capacity (much cheaper & larger volumes with mechanical drives). SSDs have been coming down in price quite a bit these days. As Deepak said... check out the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.

SSDs have much faster read & write times, but that shouldn't be a factor for just music. If you want to store movies, you'll likely want the bigger drives.

FWIW, Samsung 850 EVO & Sandisk Extreme seem to have a good balance between price vs performance in the SSD range. Rich was spot on with the mechanical disk recommendation.

Offline sonicxtc

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Re: NAS vs HDD, file through renderer chain. Please advise
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2016, 07:35:11 PM »
Thanks everyone for your replies. And, a big thanks to Rich for the details.

I'm going to buy a Synology.
1) Is there a specific model OR a specific specification I should seek?
2) Is it the least bit valuable to have TWO ethernet ports as I see on some models?

I'm not running ROON, but if one day I were to run ROON, would I be best off using the Synology as just a file server and run ROON CORE on a separate computer? Or, should I find a Synology that has enough horsepower to run ROON CORE?

THANK YOU.

Offline richidoo

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Re: NAS vs HDD, file through renderer chain. Please advise
« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2016, 09:26:00 PM »
Roon server needs strong CPU, so if you run it on a NAS make sure the CPU is strong enough. Roon is expensive, you don't want it to lag. Watch out for fan noise with powerful NAS. Stereo room needs silent gear. Drives and fans are very loud. Think about where it will go. Many are wireless now, so that helps with the location. Basement, laundry room, etc.

You have to compare the value of a shiny high end Roon NAS vs basic cheap NAS plus cheap Roon server in your own circumstance. A used Core i3 from Cregzlisp can do fileserver and Roon server for <$100. But I am cheap, and I know IT, so I have different requirements than you.

Double ethernet port is for serving different networks with different priorities, like in a small office, or for security reasons. It might provide more bandwidth, but even single 10Mbit port would be overkill for single user music streaming. Gbit is probably standard by now, I am so old.

Offline sonicxtc

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Re: NAS vs HDD, file through renderer chain. Please advise
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2016, 05:59:58 AM »
Thank you for those great concise points! :thumb:
I am asking the following for a specific reason.  :roll:
Dumb as this may seem,  :duh is it possible to use a NAS LIKE an external HDD? That is to merely output NAS drive files directly to another computer WITHOUT any connection to a network?
IF yes, then is this possible via the NAS's ethernet port only OR via the usb ports, too? For example, could a NAS output files directly to an Aries Mini or possibly a Sotm sms-200 (which has two usb input ports and an Ethernet port and a usb audio out port)?

Are the NAS usb ports strictly for backing up NAS drives TO an external HDD?

Splitting tasks

I get your points, for noise and cost, it might be best to use a NAS strictly as a fileserver and put resource intensive tasks on a separate computer. So, for example, the NAS could merely serve files to a laptop, the laptop receives the NAS files and runs ROON CORE. Then the laptop outputs TO a network switch and the switch outputs to a renderer (e.g. mRendu)? Is that the correct configuration?

As you indicated, then I could use an old laptop (possibly via battery or external LPS). The laptop could even be in another room and all audio related tasks are controlled via a tablet/phone connected to the network. Is that one possible configuration?

Nervosa VS Simplicity--just a commentary
I get why some guys decry the use of a real computer, he uses an Aries and no PC or mac.
Ultimately, Iím aiming for simplicity and reducing the number of sources of AC/DC power noise. Iím thinking that an Aries Mini (being a direct connection) is possibly simpler than an mRendu or Sotm sms-200, but the mRendu may sound superior to an Aries. So, ultimately, I may have to deal with a Network switch, a NAS/fileserver, a computer/laptop and a renderer to achieve the best sound quality, all using low noise power supplies.

BTW, for AN folks...Matrix will be introducing an X-Server which will be an all in one server/music player with an internal dac option. I'm told by a reviewer acquaintance that it is top notch.

THANK YOU!
« Last Edit: November 25, 2016, 10:17:06 AM by sonicxtc »

Offline richidoo

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Re: NAS vs HDD, file through renderer chain. Please advise
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2016, 01:52:38 PM »
I think your concern about PS noise is unwarranted. Regulators and the noise rejection of amplifier ICs virtually eliminate PS noise from the analog output signal. The PS of the router has no affect whatsoever on the passing data. USB power from NAS/PC isn't quiet.

Roon Core on spare laptop, good idea. Roon says a NAS powerful enough for Core costs $2k+.