I’ve been using a Western Digital HD and have found it to have a tough time keeping up with high rez files (notably, but not exclusively, DSD). For lack of a better description it seems to need to occasionally stop and catch its breath. Diagnostics all check out fine. This might be a brand issue, model issue or unit specific issue. Either way, I’d like to find a replacement. At the very least to back things up. All suggestions greatly appreciated.
Also, does anyone have thoughts on whether or not it is better to hang a NAS on the network or attach an HD directly to Roon nucleus?
I can’t say for sure without knowing the model number of the Western Digital unit you have, but I suspect that it is basically an external hard drive designed to back up files from a single computer. A “real” NAS is designed to be connected to a network where multiple computers may access files from it in rapid succession and so is designed to work faster. Such a NAS has to be attached onto a network.
For several years I have used Synology units and been very happy with them. There are other brands such as QNAP that are also good. What I have found with Synology is that the very cheapest ones (Synology’s ‘j’ models) aren’t adequate for a high-res audio. (It’s been four years since I shopped for a NAS and things may have changed.) But you don’t have to get into the expensive top-of-the-line models; just go a step or two up from the cheapest and you’ll be fine.
I’ve had very good results with WD Red drives, which are specifically designed for use in an NAS.
The following expresses my experience and conclusion.
I have tested a SAMSUNG Evo SSD inside Nuclueus+ fed by HDPLEX 300W LPS. I repeated the test on multiple occasions and concluded that placing the SSD inside the Nucleus affected bass accuracy and general playback airiness. My only explanation is that sharing the internal power supply with the motherboard did it.
I placed the SSD into a Naim Core, which sports a decent power supply and processor and tested it both in the main system rack and in a different location on my home LAN. Placing the server in a different room made the overall presentation better. YMMV
Edit: for backup, I use WD MyCloud ULtra (with RAID). However, to minimise network noise, I turn it on only when a backup is needed.
If a friend is not NAS experienced, then I always put them on a Synology. I always know that I can find a solution for any problems they might have with their Synology online quickly. I understand QNAP is just as fine. Don’t go for a baby NAS. Get something with horse power (usually Intel powered).
I use other less-known Taiwanese brands myself, presently Terra-Master F5-422 (cheapest way to get 10Gb Ethernet) with RAM upgraded to 8GB. I have a 4TB SSD in the fifth slot for music as its own NAS volume. The other four slots are 40TB in a separate RAID0 volume for movies.
I do not use a NAS for backup. Backups should be offline.
For DSD playback, I have a very recent discovery. I am streaming DSD using Plex Media Server running DLNA on the NAS and using the BubbleUPnP app with their extra license to send DSD files, either direct to an exaSound streaming DAC (works up to stereo DSD512 and surround DSD64 so far) or to a PS Audio DAC (up to the PSA limit of DSD256) over USB via a Raspberry Pi4 running RoPieeeXL. But one could spend small money to get an iFi Zen Stream or a bit more to get a HoloAudio Red to avoid needing to play with Pi’s. Those units also support Tidal Connect.
The Plex Media Server is free to load on the NAS but you’d need a Plex Pass license for using outside of the house. I play music on the Plexamp app in my car. DSD does playback over the app, but the NAS is transcoding to 24-48 PCM when using the app. It is via the DLNA using BubbleUPnP that I can get actual DSD to the DACs.
Note: The Plex website does not list DSD as being supported. I just wrote them yesterday asking for clarification / update. Other DLNA media servers that support DSD are Twonky and MinimServer. But Plex rules from my point of view.
I had read many times that a proper NAS offers the best possible performance for Audio. So I spent a lot of money building a large capacity Synology NAS for my system. When I announced this here people came at me out of nowhere telling me I had made a huge mistake and in their opinion onboard SSDs where the correct way to do it. I have four servers with built-in Samsung SSDs in them. Bah.
They seemed fine running that way and they seem fine with the NAS. I love working with the NAS. Right now I have 8TB of music on it and it is at 7% capacity. I run it Raid 6 with 1TB SSDs for both incoming and outgoing data. It works slick.