The miniDSP SHD Series support a range of network streaming services, including Spotify, Tidal, and Qobuz. Even so, many of us still have a collection of music files that we want to play through an SHD Series processor. In a networked computer music system, a network attached storage (NAS) may be used for music file storage.

While there are many manufacturers of NAS units, in this app note we will use a Synology as an example, as they are a popular and widely-available brand. If you use a different brand of NAS, the general techniques in this app note should still work. However, you will need to figure out the specific settings for your brand of NAS.

To NAS or not to NAS? [Top]

What is a NAS? Essentially, it's a computer that is optimized for storage rather than running desktop apps. Compared to a typical desktop computer, it has a less powerful processor, no graphics capability, and much more storage. The software running on the NAS is typically a customized version of Linux that is optimized for managing hard drives and delivering files over the network.

NAS units often have multiple hard drives, 4 being a popular number for home and small office situations, and larger arrays of 8 up to 30 hard drives being used in enterprises. The drives are usually set up in a configuration called "RAID" (redundant array of inexpensive disks) to increase reliability. However, single and dual drive NAS units are also available.

Why use a NAS? Reasons vary. Perhaps you need a NAS for other reasons — video, surveillance, or backups, say — so storing your music files there is an obvious thing to do. Or, your music library has outgrown the storage that is in your computer. Or, you want to share the music files with everyone in the house. Or maybe you just want the files to always be available without having to have a computer switched on.

Do I have to use a NAS? No, not at all. It's an extra cost and complication, so if you're happy storing your music files on your computer, then that's fine. If you decide to add a NAS at a later time, you can come back to this app note then.

Preliminaries[Top]

We'll assume that you have already set up your NAS and figured out how to load music files onto it. When you set up a Synology, it creates a shared folder named "music" by default, so put some music files in there first. We'll also assume that you're able to log into the web-based user interface, DiskStation Manager (DSM).

In the rest of this app note, we'll present three methods of using a NAS with the miniDSP SHD. Pick the one that best fits your situation. In some cases, the size of the library determines which method works best, but this will be system dependent so you may need to experiment for yourself. We recommend picking one of the three methods and not mixing them up together.

Note: In our examples, the name of the NAS is "minidsp-NAS" and the username used to access it is "minidsp-user". You will need to substitute the NAS name and username that you used to set up your own NAS.

Method A: Mount the NAS from Volumio[Top]

In this method, Volumio is given the location of the NAS and fetches files directly from the NAS. You control playback using the Volumio web interface.

Use this method if you like to use the Volumio web interface and just want a simple way to access music files on the NAS.

Don't use this method if you have a large library.

Procedure:

  1. The recommended protocol for accessing files directly from Volumio is NFS. So turn on NFS sharing on your NAS and enable it for the music folder. For Synology, follow this tutorial: How to access files on Synology NAS within the local network (NFS). Here is how we configured the permissions page:

    Synology NFS settings to mount from miniDSP SHD
  2. In the Volumio web interface, go to the My Music page and click on "Add New Drive." The settings we used are shown here:

    Volumio settings to mount NAS

    Note that initially the group of settings at the bottom are not shown. You need to click on a button labeled "Show Advanced Settings" so that you can select nfs as the file share type. Leave the Username and Password fields blank.

  3. Click on Next and then OK. You will see the count of albums and tracks increase as Volumio scans the music files on the NAS:

    Files scanned on miniDSP SHD mounted NAS
  4. When scanning completes, go to the Browse pane. Clicking on the Music Library icon will enable you to browse by folder. However, clicking on Artists, Albums, or Genres will immediately show you the NAS contents in a friendlier style.

    Browse files on NAS from miniDSP SHD

Method B: Mount the NAS from your computer[Top]

In this method, you run a music player program on your computer. The music player program fetches audio files from the NAS and sends them to the SHD. You control playback using the user interface of the player program.

Use this method if you want to use a computer-based player like JRiver Media Center or Audirvana Plus.

Don't use this method if you don't want to have a computer turned on every time you play music.

Procedure:

  1. Install a suitable player app on your computer that can stream audio to the SHD Series. We have app notes here on our site for:

  2. If you haven't already, mount the NAS on your computer. In the case of Synology, there are tutorials on their website for:

    Note: While the tutorials linked above use the IP address of the NAS, we found that using the name of the NAS worked fine e.g. "minidsp-nas" or "minidsp-nas.local".

    On the Mac, the recommended file sharing protocol is AFP. If you are not using Synology, check that AFP is enabled on your NAS. If it cannot be enabled, try SMB, but we found in our tests that AFP was faster. Here is the screen to connect to the server:

    Mount Synology NAS on Mac

    (Enter "smb://minidsp-nas" if you cannot enable AFP on your NAS.)

    On Windows, you will need to first mount the NAS as a drive letter. We used "M", like this:

    Mount Synology NAS on Windows
  3. In the music player program, set the folder of the music library to the mounted NAS folder. For example, in Audirvana Plus on Mac it looks like this:

    Mount Synology NAS with Audirvana PLus

    In JRiver Media Center on Windows, it looks like this:

    Mount Synology NAS with JRiver
  4. Note: If you want to index local files as well as files on the NAS, both of these programs allow you to add additional folders to the library.

  5. The music player program will start indexing the music files on the NAS. This may take a while if the library is large.

Method C: Install a UPnP music server on the NAS[Top]

In this method, you install a music server directly onto your NAS. You control playback using a control app running on your computer, phone or tablet. For large libraries, this is generally more efficient than the above two methods, as the music server is running on the same processor that is attached to the hard drives.

Use this method if you have a large or very large library or if you have multiple people that will need to play music.

Don't use this method if you don't want to deal with installing and learning more bits of software.

Synology provides a UPnP server named Media Server for its NAS units, which serves music, photos and videos. However, we recommend that you install the third-party MinimServer instead, which is just as easy to install. MinimServer serves music only and is more optimized for that purpose. In our testing, we found that MinimServer scans a large music library much more quickly.

Note: if you have a different brand of NAS, you may still be able to install MinimServer. Check the list of supported NAS units on the MinimServer installation page.

Procedure:

  1. Open the web-based user interface of your Synology NAS. Open the Package Manager and search for "MinimServer". Click Install.

    Locate MinimServer package on Synology NAS
  2. Once installed, click on Open. You will need to agree to the terms of use and will then see a basic control page. Enter "/volume1/music" for the content directory (*) and click Update. Then click Rescan.

    MinimServer status page on Synology NAS

    (*) "/volume1/music" is the default folder set up by the Synology NAS for shared music storage. If you have configured your NAS differently, use the path to the folder that you have set up.

  3. Install a control app on your computer, phone or tablet. The specifics of each app are different, but generally speaking you will want to use the settings in the app to select "minimserver[minidsp-NAS]" as the music server and "minidsp-shd" as the player (also known as "renderer" or "room"). Here are some control apps you can try:

  4. To monitor the status of MinimServer, install the utility program MinimWatch. MinimWatch also allows you set multiple music directories and to configure more advanced features of MinimServer if you wish to do so. The instructions are at these links:

Note: you will find that you can browse MinimServer from within the Volumio web interface by clicking Browser and then Media Servers. However, this does not work as well as using a control app running on a computer, phone or tablet. To avoid confusion, we suggest that you go to the My Music page in the Volumio web interface and disable the option "DLNA Browser."

Disable DLNA browser in Volumio web interface

A note on JRiver Media Center[Top]

JRiver Media Center was used in Method B as a computer-based player for the library on your NAS. However, it can also be used as a control app for Method C by following these steps:

    1. Enable Media Network.

    2. Click on "Now Playing" in the left sidebar.

    3. Click on the library MinimServer[miniDSP-NAS].

    4. Click on the "Load Library" button on the right.

      Load MinimServer when using JRiver as controller

 

  • Click on Minidsp shd in the sidebar and select an album to play. The library and audio destination will be highlighted in green while playing:

 

Playing from MinimServer to miniDSP SHD with JRiver  as controller

There are a number of well-regarded music players that can stream audio to the miniDSP SHD Series over your local area network (LAN). In this app note, we will show you how to use JRiver Media Center (JRMC). JRiver Media Center is available for Mac, Windows and Linux. It is a commercial program with a 30-day free trial.

We'll assume that you've already downloaded JRiver Media Center, installed it, and set it up with a library of music files on your hard drive. And, of course, that your SHD is connected to your network via its Ethernet port. Before proceeding, set the SHD to LAN input:

Select LAN input on miniDSP SHD

In order to stream audio to the miniDSP SHD, you will need to enable JRMC's Media Network functionality. In the sidebar on the left, click on Services & Plug-ins and then on Media Network. On the right, click on Options.

Enable media network for JRiver to miniDSP SHD

In the next dialog, check "Use Media Network to share this library and enable DLNA."

Enable DLNA for JRiver to miniDSP SHD

A new dialog box will open. Click Next twice and then OK. Choose "Audiophile 24-bit DAC (PS Audio etc.)" and then click Finish.

Configure media network for JRiver to miniDSP SHD

Now quit Media Center and start it again. The miniDSP SHD will appear in the left menu:

Default player for JRiver

Click on the miniDSP SHD to select it:

miniDSP SHD selected as player for JRiver

Then click on Audio, select an album, and play it. You should hear audio from the SHD! For extra bonus points, download JRemote onto your iOS or Android phone or tablet and set it up to remotely control audio playback from your computer:

JRemote screenshot from jremote.jriver.com

(Image from jremote.jriver.com)


JRiver Media Center is a popular playback program for Windows and Mac. JRiver recently made a version of Media Center available for the Raspberry Pi, a small embedded computing platform. Combined with a U-DAC8, it makes a very compact and effective networked multichannel (and stereo) audio playback solution!

miniDSP U-DAC8 with Raspberry Pi 3 running JRiver Media Center

1. Getting Started [Top]

You will need a Raspberry Pi 3 and a miniDSP U-DAC8. Simply connect the USB cable from one of the Raspberry Pi's USB outputs to the U-DAC8 and connect the outputs of the U-DAC8 to your amplification and subwoofers, as shown in this diagram:

System configuration for miniDSP U-DAC8 with Raspberry Pi 3

Install the full distribution of the Raspbian operating system on an SD card. You can find downloads and instructions here:

Connect a monitor or TV via HDMI and a keyboard and mouse to the USB ports, then insert the SD card into the Raspberry Pi's SD card slot and power it on. You can then install JRiver Media Center by following these instructions:

2. Setting up the U-DAC8[Top]

Start up JRiver Media Center (JRMC) on the Raspberry Pi - drop down the Raspberry menu, go to "Sound and Media," and select "JRiver Media Center."

Start up JRiver on Raspberry Pi 3

In JRMC, drop down the Player menu and select Playback Options. Click on the Audio Device, scroll down and select "surround71:CARD=UDAC8,DEV=0 [ALSA]".

Select for miniDSP U-DAC8 - JRiver on Raspberry Pi 3

To use bass management or to have JRiver "upmix" stereo content to 5.1 outputs:

  1. Drop down the Player menu and select DSP Studio.
  2. Click on the Output Format item in the list on the left. (Make sure you turn on the checkbox to enable it.)
  3. For Channels over on the right, drop down the menu and select "5.1 Channels."
Select 5.1 channels for miniDSP U-DAC8 - JRiver on Raspberry Pi 3

To set up bass management, click on the Room Correction item in the left (turn on the checkbox), and proceed through each speaker to set up the crossover to the subwoofer. Here is a typical example:

Bass Management for miniDSP U-DAC8 - JRiver on Raspberry Pi 3

(If necessary, you can adjust levels and delays on this screen as well.) And that's it! Now set up an audio library.

3. Setting up an audio library[Top]

You can attach a hard drive containing music files directly to the Raspberry Pi. (It's best if it's a powered drive, as the Raspberry Pi won't supply a lot of power over USB.) You can even just plug in a USB stick containing music files. Use the JRiver documentation for setting up a library:

Once you've done that, browse to the album view, select an album, and click "Play"! Here's how it looks when we set up a small library of multichannel test tracks (from 2L of Norway):

JRiver on Raspberry Pi 3 with miniDSP U-DAC8: library view

Alternatively, if you have your library on a network drive, you can simply mount that drive on the Raspberry Pi. Follow these instructions to mount a network drive (assuming that your NAS supports SMB):

Then you can simply do the same as above for an attached drive, but browse to the location that you mounted the network drive. (Note: if you have difficulty with the network drive not mounting on boot, add the following to the options in fstab (right after "iocharset=utf8"): ,_netdev,x-systemd.automount).

4. Going headless[Top]

If you don't want to leave a screen, keyboard and mouse attached to the Raspberry Pi, you can make it "headless." Follow these instructions:

With that done, you can connect to the Raspberry Pi 3 with a remote desktop. However, you will most likely also want to install JRemote on your iPad or your Android tablet. Here's how it looks with our multichannel test library:

JRemote on iPad - miniDSP U-DAC8

5. Limitations[Top]

Here are some limitations to be aware of:

  • This app note is relevant to audio source files (e.g. FLAC format) only. The Raspberry Pi may not have the CPU power to decode video in JRiver Media Center.
  • The Raspberry Pi does not have enough CPU power to transcode multichannel DSD into PCM. So: this setup is only for multichannel PCM audio files (e.g. FLAC).

Please note also that miniDSP cannot provide support for third-party hardware or software. While this app note showed you how to set up the miniDSP U-DAC8 with JRiver Media Center running on a Raspberry Pi 3, the features and functions of this hardware and software are beyond the scope of miniDSP support.

Wrapping up[Top]

That's it for this app note! If you want to try some multichannel audio files, you can download samples from 2L of Norway.

Have fun, and please let us know about your Raspberry Pi experience in our forum.

 


 

There are a number of well-regarded music players that can stream audio to the miniDSP SHD Series over your local area network (LAN). In this app note, we will show you how to use Audirvana Plus. Audirvana Plus is available for Mac and Windows. It is a commercial program with a 15-day free trial.

We'll assume that you've already downloaded Audirvana Plus, installed it, and set it up with a library of music files on your hard drive. And, of course, that your SHD is connected to your network via its Ethernet port. Before proceeding, set the SHD to LAN input:

Select LAN input on miniDSP SHD

Open Preferences in Audirvana Plus and go to the Audio System tab. Click on the Change button next to the Preferred Audio Device option to drop down a selection menu:

Preferred Audio Device for Audirvana Plus to miniDSP SHD

Select UPnP: Minidsp shd and click the Select button. Set the other options as shown in this screenshot:

Preference pane for Audirvana Plus to miniDSP SHD

If the SHD isn't showing up as a choice in the Audirvana Plus Preferences, go to the Volumio web interface for the SHD and in the My Music settings, double-check that UPNP Renderer is enabled:

Enable UPnP for Audirvana Plus to miniDSP SHD

Now go to the Audirvana Plus Library pane, select an album from your library and play it. You should hear audio from the SHD! For extra bonus points, download the A+ Remote onto your iPhone or iPad and set it up to remotely control audio playback from your computer:

A+ Remote from Audirvana.com

(Image from audirvana.com)


The miniDSP U-DAC8 is a compact high-resolution eight-channel DAC with a myriad of uses, from PC-based home theater, multichannel audio, to computer-based active loudspeakers. In this application note we will show you how to use the U-DAC8 with JRiver Media Center to play back multichannel audio on your Mac.

Please note: miniDSP cannot provide support for third-party software. This app note shows you how to set up the miniDSP U-DAC8 with JRiver Media Center for multichannel audio playback but any functions of JRiver Media Center are beyond the scope of miniDSP support.

JRiver Media Center with U-DAC8

1. Get connected [Top]

Nothing could be simpler than connecting the U-DAC8 into your system:

  • Analog outputs to your multichannel amplifier/s and subwoofer (or to another device with multichannel analog inputs such as an A/V preamp or receiver)
  • Power connector for 5 VDC
  • USB connector to your Mac

2. Configure [Top]

We will assume that you already have an JRiver Media Center library set up, which includes multi-channel audio files. These files can be in multichannel (typically 5.1) PCM format up to 192 kHz, or in multichannel DSD format (again typically 5.1).

From the Player menu, select Playback Options.... Under Audio Device, drop down the selector and choose U-DAC8 Output:

JRiver Media Center Audio System configuration for U-DAC8

Then click OK.

If you want JRiver to perform bass management, from the Player menu, select DSP Studio:

JRiver Media Center bass management for U-DAC8

Configure as follows:

  1. Click on Room Correction to enable it and display the control panel.
  2. Select each speaker in turn to configure it (as in steps 3 and 4).
  3. For each speaker, set the highpass crossover.
  4. For each speaker, set the lowpass routing and slope.

You will need to set the items in steps 3 and 4 for your speakers and room. You can also adjust the other parameters on this screen like speaker distance and level.

3. Play! [Top]

Now you can browse to an album or file in the JRiver Media Center library (screenshot at top of page) and play by clicking on the Play button. You will hear multichannel audio playing through your system.

You can check the sample rate of the file and the DAC by going to the Player menu and viewing the Audio Path entry. Here is an example for 5.1 channel FLAC:

JRiver Media Center multichannel playing PCM through miniDSP U-DAC8 - file sample rate

When playing multichannel DSD files, JRiver Media Center will automatically convert them to PCM format at 176.4 kHz. Here is an example:

JRiver Media Center multichannel playing DSD through miniDSP U-DAC8 - file sample rate

That's it, have fun listening to multichannel audio with your miniDSP U-DAC8 and JRiver Media Center! Let us know how you go on our forum.