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Inside every NAS is a computer, and computers need operating systems and programs to run. The program we as music lovers are interested in is called a server, and it does what its name implies. I'll explain its purpose but first let's step back and look at our music system as a whole (rather than a hole, where everything falls into and nothing works, as often happens in computer audio). There are three main elements in a music server system: controller, server, player. These three elements can be enclosed in one hardware device or broken apart into separates; their function and purpose remain the same. The controller is the human interface, the part you see and work with. The server is like the library, taking in and loaning out musical selections stored there. The player sits alone, spoken to occasionally by the server, rarely the controller, but it's the bit we listen to - its importance cannot be overstated. If you have ever picked up an iPad, or mobile device displaying contents of a music library, you've seen a controller. Controllers are pretty dumb and have little power over the system. They display artwork or lists of music stored on a computer or NAS. They seem to users like the brains of the operation, but in reality, they are simple slaves, the dumbest of all three elements in a music server. When I open Apple's Remote app on my iPad to access music stored on my computer, I am presented with a dazzling list of album covers from which to choose. It looks very powerful indeed. But behind the scenes, little has taken place, it is the server doing the heavy lifting. The server program on your computer or NAS receives a request from the controller. "Send me the contents of your library." A list of tracks or group of images is forwarded from the server to the controller and displayed. When I touch an album cover the controller sends another request to the server. "Send me contents of Steely Dan," and a text list is forwarded, the controller displays it dutifully. If I choose the track "Aja" something entirely different happens, the subject of tomorrow's post.
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Paul McGowan

Founder & CEO

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