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

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