Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

NAS bash

I do not use a NAS in my setup and there are several reasons why, but before I do a NAS bash, let’s examine some of the upsides of the device.

In yesterday’s post I described a summary of what differentiates NAS from other storage schemes and of those differences, perhaps the two most significant are isolation and isolation.
I guess we’ll start with isolation…

NAS have no direct connection with computers. Instead, they connect through isolated wires or the air. This is different than two other types of storage, internal and USB. Internal and USB connect directly to the computer and unless care is taken in its design – and it rarely is – power supply, ground issues and data routing can reduce sound quality. Using a NAS obviates these issues: there are no common grounds, power supplies are isolated, data routing is less intrusive. +1 for the NAS.

Isolation, two. NAS do not have to be physically close to computers. They can be one foot away or across the world with no difference in sound quality. They can also be shared by many computers. And if physical proximity is important, or sharing is advantageous, then NAS have a place in your system. +2 for the NAS.

Still I don’t use them unless there’s a good reason. Here at PS Audio we have a huge NAS run by engineering. It’s valuable as a research tool, working on the Bridge, providing identical music for multiple devices under test or use. But when I want to just listen to music, or audition a new amplifier, preamplifier, firmware upgrade for a DAC, I rely instead on a USB hard drive or the PerfectWave Memory player.

Why? NAS are slow, NAS connect through circuitous routes, NAS are painful to copy and backup, NAS are expensive, NAS requires a switch or router, NAS provides no advantage to me and I do not share my music.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you what I do and why.

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

Finishing up

Finishing up our chain of events to play music from a NAS based on UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) protocols, we discovered the controller displays the library contents sitting in the NAS, which is a network connected hard drive.

Let’s imagine we picked the track Layla, by Eric Clapton. That track is actually nothing more than a group of recorded bits on a hard drive. What distinguishes those bits from other groups of bits is an address; a memory location.

When you touch play on the controller, the track’s address information (where it lives) is sent to the player and told to connect. Once connected the bits are streamed over the network to the player, converted (in the player) to an acceptable format and reach the DAC for rendering. During this process the controller is no longer involved – you can turn it off or do whatever you wish – the only two elements involved are the NAS and the player.

So, what have we learned from a brief understanding of a NAS? Well, tomorrow we’ll cover the upside and downside of connecting with a NAS, but to close for today, let’s review:

• A NAS is a hard drive with a computer attached to it
• NAS only connects over the home’s network
• NAS do not have players built in
• NAS can connect to desktop computers, or embedded computers, but they require a controller and player to play music stored on them

NAS nearly always use a type of protocol known as UPnP to discover and connect to them