Beginners Guide to NAS Storage and Home Networking: Firstly, let’s get to grips with the terms. NAS stands for ‘Network Attached Storage’. This is the term for the drive device that allows you to externally store high-resolution music at a quality that exceeds CDs. You can rip your CD collection onto a NAS drive too so it also a brilliant space-saving solution.
What does a NAS drive offer the audiophile? Standard NAS drives are quite cheaply available but are not specifically targeted at the audiophile market. Buy a cheap model and you will invariably be disappointed.
Instead, opt for brands such as Naim or Zone Ripper that aim their NAS drives squarely at the discerning audiophile. NAS drives designed for the hi-fi enthusiast will usually combine a NAS drive with a CD ripper.
What do I need?
To set up your NAS storage system you will definitely need a NAS drive and a network renderer (also known as a streamer). The streamer acts as a bridge between traditional hi-fi equipment, modern streaming services and NAS drive access.
One such example of a streamer is the Naim ND5XS, which is currently available at Audio Affair. When connected to a network it allows you to access streaming services such as Spotify and Tidal, as well as a NAS drive. This is achieved by a feature called Universal Plug and Play (UPnP, also sometimes known as DNLA). This is simply the means by how different pieces in the system communicate with each other.
Both the NAS drive and streamer, although not directly coupled, are connected together by your network as they communicate with each other over your IP (internet protocol). It is important that you have adequate space for networking to really get the most out of its potential.
For example, you could put a streamer in your main hi-fi room and situate a NAS drive in your study and then control the streamer with Naim’s dedicated app. Your music then travels over your Ethernet connection; we do not recommend using Wi-Fi. If you find that your router is too far away from your streamer, we would recommend using Ethernet over mains.
Different Types of NAS Drives
Audio Affair specialises in audiophile NAS drives that are suited for the discerning listener who requires optimum performance. Let’s take a look at our picks of the best NAS drives currently available at Audio Affair.
The Naim Unit Core is one of the best performing NAS drives currently available at Audio Affair. It is not cheap but quite simply, it offers the best performance. This model is a solid state drive (SSD), which means that it does not include moving parts. This is beneficial as it means that the model is more reliable as it is less likely to wear and it is not noisy like other hard drives. After all, the whole aim of hi-fi is to create a sound that is as close as possible to its original source.
Cloud storage is increasingly becoming a popular option for home networking. This allows you create your own private ‘cloud’, full of your favourite music that can be accessed from anywhere.
If you are looking for a NAS drive on a budget but require hi-fi levels of performance, please give the expert team at Audio Affair a call. With an array of budget NAS drives out there, you do not want to make an informed purchase. Call us or drop by our store and the team can provide the best possible advice so that you can make an informed choice.
If you are looking to set up home networking system, here are a few simple tips to ensure your home is ready to accept a NAS streaming system.
Firstly, ensure that you have adequate scope to be able to hard wire a streamer and NAS drive. Things to consider could range from investing in larger, better quality cables so that you can hard wire your devices properly, to ensuring that you can get an adequate internet signal. For example, you may want to invest in a good router that offers a stable Wi-Fi connection.
You may want to look into your internet service provider to see whether it is up to the task of supporting your home networking system. After all, your internet connection is the lifeblood of your home network, so you want to ensure that it works to its optimum performance.
If you have invested in a decent router, it is irrelevant if you have a poor internet service plan. We speak from experience, as in our store we were suffering from Wi-Fi problems due to being situated in a built-up area. We invested in a WAP router with high gain antenna, and the results for our internet signal were impressive, so don’t get let down by your internet service provider.
Undertake some research into internet service plan that will work best for you and your home network will be greatly enhanced.
A final question to ask yourself is whether you have got enough Ethernet ports. The more Ethernet ports you have, the better. If you find that you haven’t got enough Ethernet ports, you may need a network switch.
Different Types of Systems
Your home networking system will be dependent on your current hi-fi set-up and what level of networking you require. Let’s look at the most common types of home networks we encounter at Audio Affair.
If you have a traditional existing hi-fi system, let’s say an amp, speakers and CD player, it can be difficult to know where to begin with home networking. Perhaps you have heard about streaming and want to dip your toe in it to see if it works for you.
In this case, we recommend investing in a network streamer, such as the Arcam R Play. You control this via its dedicated app, and can stream music from your NAS drive to your existing speakers. The R Play easily integrates into your existing set-up and is a simple introduction to streaming and networking.
If you are looking to refresh your system or you are looking for something completely new, an all-in-one solution may be for you. The Linn Majik DSM and the Linn Majik 109 loudspeaker is a great all-in-one package.
Controlled by a dedicated app, you can access all of your music in your NAS. Think of the app as a remote control, but with added benefits such as the ability to see all of your album artwork. The DSM also enjoys space optimisation which means that its sound performance is personalised to the specifics of your room. It has built-in amplification, which makes it a space saving solution.
If you want to reach the cutting-edge of streaming and networking, then we recommend the Devialet Phantom. This is a standalone system, so you don’t need to buy a separate streamer, as the speaker connects to your music source via Bluetooth.
You can also buy a Dialogue Box which allows you to connect the Phantom with another Phantom, so you can create your own hi-fi system. As well as being a space-saving solution, the Phantom is aesthetically sharp and modern.
Whether you are a newcomer to home networking or you are looking to upgrade your system, there is no doubt that streaming and home networking are the future. One of its biggest draws has to be its space-saving potential. Rip your CD collection to your NAS drive and enjoy your new found space.
Its ergonomic brilliance and ease of use make NAS storage and home networking a truly revolutionary way to listen to your music at an audiophile level.
The team at Audio Affair are on hand to assist you as you embark upon your home networking journey, so give us a call or drop by our store. Happy streaming!