NAS, the music system

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Two reasons Audiophiles all over the world, and especially in Asia, use a NAS (Network Attached Storage) is their strong desire to build a high end music system without engaging the services of a desktop computer, and taking advantage of the isolation provided by the network. As I had written in yesterday's post, networks provide a type of insulation between machines that's hard to attain anywhere else. As an example, take my own traveling music system, which I purposefully built to be small and simple enough to put into my suitcase along with two nights of clothing. It consists of a Mac Mini, an iPad, a WIFI router, ethernet cable, USB cable, USB Disrupter, USB Regn, Jitterbug. What used to be simple has begun growing and gotten me thinking about its redesign. The basic system I built had few components: Mini, iPad, router, ethernet cable, USB cable. The router is there only to communicate over WIFI with the iPad, the ethernet cable connects the router to the Mini. The USB cable connects the Mini to the DAC. But, over time, the shortcomings and lack of isolation of the USB connection has caused me to add more stuff to compensate. Regens, Jitterbugs, disrupters–and all to help a compromised connection. This problem is exactly why people move towards network audio solutions instead. Now, let's imagine a different scenario for my traveling audio system. A NAS, two ethernet cables, WIFI router, iPad. This is actually less stuff than my old system and would sound better. Why have I hesitated? Because it requires one more item I did not mention. A DAC that can accept the ethernet cable. Most don't have them. In our own PerfectWave DACs, we have an optional slot where you can insert what we call the Network Bridge. It's essentially another input to the DAC, one that can accept the ethernet cable. A few British and Japanese DACs also have this feature already built in. But, most DACs haven't one - and when I travel to give talks and demonstrate stuff, I can't rely on having one. So I am stuck with the Mini system previously described. How does the network based system work, and what are the elements inside? It's called a UPnP system and you'll note in my list, there's no Mac Mini, or any other desktop PC mentioned. The four elements required to build this setup are:
  • NAS with a DLNA server installed (most have them already)
  • iPad or Android mobile device
  • WIFI router
  • DAC that can accept an ethernet cable
I'll go through each starting tomorrow.
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Paul McGowan

Founder & CEO

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