Best NAS for Music in 2018
It is becoming increasingly popular for audiophiles and music lovers around the world to store their archive of MP3, MP4, WMV and other, more complex media types on a network attached storage drive. Features and support of things such as DLNA and smartphone compatibility mean that storing your media on another device for easy access from your Hi-Fi system, smart media system, Sonos or Bose sound system across your network is remarkably easy. Technically any NAS is suitable for music lovers, as you simply need a NAS drive that supports DLNA and the most basic rudimentary file system in place. But in practice, it is alot more complex than that. Don’t make the mistake of buying sub-par equipment when looking for the best NAS for your in 2018.
Real music lovers take the extent to which they can store and access their media very seriously and functionality of transcoding (modifying files on the fly to be more suitable for a destination device – think of it as ‘handbrake’ but live) and physical ports on a device mean that there are a few NAS drives that are particularly suitable for those that take audio seriously.
Further features, such as audio outputs, support of Mac libraries, HDMI audio support and support of popular 3rd party media organizing tools like Roon, Plex and iTunes is imperative for many users. To be able to set up the NAS, then store their media and then forget the last ever existed, for a frictionless audio experience.
Below are my Top 3 NAS for music lovers in 2018. Any of these three will prove a top-tier music networking system, but each has their own particular appeal, so although they are rated 1st, 2nd and 3rd, it is worth remembering that in reality, these three are catered to three very different kinds of music lover.
1st Place – QNAP TS-453B NAS
0-56TB, Multiple Music Apps, Sonos and Bose Supported, Roon support, Intel Celeron J3455 Quad Core 1.5 GHz (up to 2.3 GHz),4/8GB DDR3L Memory, 2 year warranty, SD Card Reader, 5 USB 3.0, LCD, USB DAS access, PCIe slot, Audio In/Out, Speaker, 2 LAN, 2 HDMI, Remote Control – £480 + ex.VAT
For those looking at purchasing perfect audio NAS, the QNAP NAS range has many options that are desirable to the music buff. The internal hardware of the TS-453B is certainly one that will be able to handle the thousands of albums that most music lovers need access to (thumbnails and all). But what makes this QNAP NAS particularly impressive is that it arrives with audio in and out, as well as multiple HDMI port that supports audio and visual media devices. The plastic external chassis and compact design result in cool temperatures and low noise, depending on the media you choose to install inside full storage. The QNAP TS-453B also arrives with a great selection of multimedia applications, covering both first and third party providers, that let you really take control of your media as well as catalogue it all quickly and effectively, in an efficient way.
On the subject of cataloguing, it is also worth highlighting that this QNAP NAS has a great range of DLNA media enabled software that once combined with home hardware that media lovers want (such as Sonos Play, Bose and IP smart speakers), you will end up with a compact, discrete and impressive music back-end system that all of your DLNA network and Internet-based devices can access. QNAP TS-453B NAS also supports the use of USB external optical media devices (such as CD, DVD and Blu-ray write/readers) which means that you are able to rip the contents of your collection directly to the NAS and make your physical media library network accessible in a digital format. Also, you can use the great range of first-party applications on the NAS over HDMI and then use the smart IR remote control that is included or the QRemote applications for iOS or Android to control the UI of the NAS.
Finally, there are multiple apps for iOS, Android, Windows 10 and OS X that help you create much smarter playlists and control file access in the best possible way. Ultimately, it is these software and hardware advantages (as well as a unique mix of first and third party application support from this brand) that make the TS-453B a great NAS for music lovers everywhere.
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2nd Place – QNAP TVS-682 HDD + SSD NAS
0-56TB, Dual-core Intel® Core™ i3-6100 3.7 GHz, 8-32GB DDR4 Memory, 2 year warranty, 5 USB 3.0, LCD, 4 SSD Bays, 2x PCIe slot, Audio In/Out, Speaker, 4 LAN, 3 HDMI (1x 2.0 2×1.4b), Remote Control, Thunderbolt 3 Option, GPU Card Support, Multiple Music Apps, Sonos and Bose Supported, Roon support – £1000 + ex.VAT
Much like the TS-453B in first place, the QNAP TVS-682 is 4 Bay NAS that really delivers the software and the hardware that a music lover needs. However, the TVS-682 gives you everything that the previous QNAP NAS does and then even more functionality. With the much greater dual-core Intel i3 CPU that supports much better transcoding, the result is that even the most complex and dense audio file format can be handled or transcoded (changed) on the fly to be much more suitable for playback on your audio device. The TVS-682 also supports all of the audio and video programs supported by the TS-453B, however to a much, much greater extent and to a large degree of fluidity.
Finally, the TVS-682 arrives with much better audio ports on the rear, for line in/line out requirements and features 3 HDMI ports for accessing your audio and video files on your local devices. One port support HDMI 2.0 which is able to playback media up to 4K resolution at 60hz, the other two HDMI ports are 1.4b, which is suitable for playing back audio media directly into your smart sound system or video at 1080p 60hz. Ultimately what makes the TVS-682 a great NAS is the hardware you get, both inside and out. Lastly the device features more scope for upgrading years down the line, by increasing memory, later on, a three-tiered storage approach to storage media across hard drives SSD and more compact M2 SSD internally, and a PCIe slot that lets you add upgrade sound cards and performance boosts.
The three-tiered storage approach means that files can be manually or automatically spread across the media type internally, to the one most suitable for the speed of access required. This is especially useful for particularly dense media file handling requirements that may need transcoding and for large-scale thumbnail generation. What keeps the TVS-682 from the top spot is simply that its price tag is noticeably higher than that of the other Audio NAS on this list. It may be twice the price of the TVS-682, if you can budget this amount, then you are getting SERIOUS future proofing for Audio in your home in 2018.
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3rd Place – Synology DS418 Affordable Audio NAS
0-56TB, Firestick and Alexa App, Sonos support, Bose Support, Dedicated music apps, Realtek RTD1296 quad-core 1.4GHz, 2GB DDR4, 2 Year Warranty, 2x USB 3.0, 2 LAN, BTRFS support, Quiet operation (depending on HDD/SSD media used) – £300 + ex.VAT
With many internet audio applications available, as well as music playback hardware for the home featuring network and internet file access, the need for a NAS that does not require you to directly connect to it and the media inside can become highly desirable to some. The QNAP TS-453B and TVS-682 suffer additional costs because of the direct access nature of these devices (HDMI, Audio In/Out, remote). But what if you do not need this kind of access and instead require an internet/network only means of accessing your music libraries? This is where Synology NAS does very well indeed and the DSM software that arrives with all Synology NAS support this kind of file functionality exceptionally well. You do not need to spend a lot to get a good solid and robust audio NAS solution and in fact, the Synology DS418 is an incredibly affordable and capable music network solution.
What makes the DS418 particularly appealing is the fact that the device is quite compact, yet arrived with impressive internal hardware that is more than enough to deal with:
- Large-scale album/track thumbnail generation
- Large-scale device playback to multiple devices at once
- Support for more different file types
- Several First party key apps and features that no other Brand provides.
To date, Synology NAS is the only NAS brand that has a music app available for AmazoFirere TV and the Amazon Alexa home assistant. This means that you can access and playback the audio on your Synology NAS via voice control or simply use DLNA over voice control and stream media to your Bose or Sonos sound systems as needed. With huge support of first-party apps such as Audio station and DLNA media server, and third-party support of iTunes server creation and Plex, this is some serious piece of kit. You just need to remember that Synology does not support direct connection with HDMI or audio socket devices and is restricted to only network and internet level access.
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