Let me confuse you more
Apparently I've been doing a swell job of confusing people on a subject that's already confusing enough. Network audio. Maybe let's take a few steps back. What's the simplest, best sounding streaming audio solution? A NAS connected over the home network to a Bridge inside the DAC. At least that's the best I have heard. The reason this sounds so good is due in part to the isolation between the server and the renderer (the Bridge is a renderer). That isolation happens through the packetized network connection provided by your home's router and CAT5 cabling. The server is in the NAS. Here's what that looks like. What I described in yesterday's post was equally good sounding, but much less simple. In that post we used a computer to house the server. The key to that setup's success was that the server was also isolated from the renderer over the network. Same sound, just simple vs. less simple. And why would we not always use simple? Because the typical server on a NAS is not very good when it comes to speed, flexibility and user interfaces (and DSD and DoP aren't always accepted). When you step up to a desktop computer instead of a NAS for the server duties, you can also step up to a much more robust user experience like that of JRiver and JRemote, or Roon. Several people wrote me and asked why simply using a NAS as a remote music storage, compared to internal storage on your desktop, wasn't better. The answer tends to cause some confusion and I apologize for that. A NAS used only as network storage, feeding a server connected directly to a DAC through USB or S/PDIF, doesn't add much sonic benefit. The isolation afforded by the network helps, but not like the above drawing. So take a look at the next illustration. The music storage in the above illustration is network isolated, but the server is still a computer connected directly up to the DAC, either through USB or S/PDIF. This will not sound as good as the first illustration, or illustration number 2 in yesterday's post. Are there other means of isolation the computer from the DAC? Yes, and we can go over some of those too, but for now, let's try and wrap our minds around this concept.
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