I am considering getting a 2-bay NAS to use as a music server in order to stream my ripped CD collection to my AV system. At the moment it is store in iTunes on my iMac but I’ve been experimenting with Plex media server streaming to my Apple TV (4th gen) which seems to work very well.
The file format is mainly ALAC with some AAC and the odd FLAC which the ATV now supports so everything is streaming via Direct Play. Therefore, I’m assuming I don’t nee anything with a high-end CPU as its not having to do any transcoding?On the other hand, i don’t know what my requirements might be in the future so I don’t want to under-spec the NAS.
I really, I’d like to spend no more than around £350 but I’m aware that that will probably limit me to a non-intel NAS. Having said that I’ve seen a Qnap TS-251 with a Celeron cpu for around £180 on Amazon which seems like a bargain although I gather its quite an old machine now. Synology is the other option but then I definitely won’t get one with an intel cpu in my price range. I’ve also been looking at used Mac Minis on eBay which come in around the same price.
All you need is just DS218j () but for future proofing, I would recommend DS218+ from Synology or TS-251+ from Qnap. They both will fit in your budget and last for quite a few years. These NAS will let you install Plex media server or native multimedia apps.
Also, you should not be worried about getting some older NAS model. Sometimes it is just better value for money getting older model.
As you mention Plex, you should try to stick with Intel (even Celeron) processors as they are compatible with Plex and will last longer in the future.
What can I connect to a NAS?
Wireless Speaker SonosThe great thing about Sonos is that you don't need to pay for music subscription service. With the cheapest NAS at home like DS115j or any other, you can have your backups done for all of your devices and still use your network drive as a Sonos music library. Sonos will connect to your NAS via your network and let access your provided music library. If you have little more of IT knowledge, you can even set up your Alexa or Sonos with Alexa built in to play music on your voice commands ("Alexa! Ask DS Audio to Play Music!").
Casting devicesNowadays it is so cheap to upgrade your old TV and make it smart. All you need is Google Chrome or EZcast alternative plugged into your HDMI port at the back of your TV. Now you have great functionality added to your TV to send a video file directly from your NAS to a TV. No need for wires and chargers and other mess. You can use your phone as a remote to go to your movies or family videos and cast that content on your TV during family or friend gatherings.
Amazon Fire TVYou may not have a smartphone, or you just simply prefer to control your content with a remote in that case Amazon Fire TV will be a great addon to get to your TV. It also plugs into your HDMI port and will play content from your NAS to a TV. No wires no mess.
nVidia Shield TVIt gets even better! If you want some more entertainment and all previously mentioned functions - nVidia TV is a great thing to get. You can use it for playing games and watching movies from your NAS. The greatest thing is - shield TV does video transcoding. So even if you have a cheap NAS with a weak CPU, in a combination of shield TV you can now automatically on the fly change video file size and format for a destination device. It is a great way to reduce network load and let older devices to play video content which normally was not supported on the device.
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