Apple Time Capsule or NAS?

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Apple Time Capsule or NAS?

Postby Mamimili » Wed Oct 08, 2014 1:50 am

I have just about finished building a digital collection and now need to improve playback, but i am very unsure what to do and the choices seem endless and frankly confusing as i have little interest in the details of the digital world.

I tried Spotify and it's not for me, i prefer my own files.
I do not need multi-room playback (not yet anyway!). This is just for lazy personal playback.
I do want / prefer a wireless connection from my laptop.
I want to get rid of the external hard drive connected to my laptop. So all i know about today is the Time Capsule or NAS plugged into my router.
I would like to use something more portable than my laptop, but want to continue using iTunes. Can I run iTunes on any brand of tablet etc?
I would like to connect to both music and internet for email at the same time.

My current setup is a laptop (running Windows) with external hard drive / wireless to Airport Express / Audioquest Forest optical cable / Cambridge Audio DacMagic.

The Airport Express has audio dropout, with Windows 7 the dropout is less than with Windows 8.
Getting rid of this annoying dropout is priority one. I blame the Airport Express for the simple reason i read of many people with the same problem. It’s a fraction of a second only, sometimes its once a day, sometimes several times a track.

The Time Capsule sounds easy to set up, but i wonder if it has the same dropout problem as the Airport Express.
I like the idea of a 2 drive NAS setup as i can then keep my KL and Manila digital collection in sync. Preferably with solid state drives.
I have no idea what a Sonos or a Squeezebox do or if i even need something like this.

I need something easy to set up. A few nights ago i plugged the external hard drive into my existing D-Link router to see if i could make it work and lost my internet connection for almost an hour....i have no idea what went wrong or how I got my connection back. I do not need further panic or the evil eye from those whose internet was also lost.

Is an optical cable the best connection to my dac?
My router is at least 2 years old so i can change that if it helps.

All suggestions are welcome
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Apple Time Capsule or NAS?

Postby SD-6 » Wed Oct 08, 2014 2:59 am

Did you try Spotify Premium? They offer a free 30 day trial. Audio quality is improved and you are allowed to arrange the playlist as you want it to be.

Similar boat and settled on WD My Cloud.

http://www.wdc.com/en/products/products ... =1140#Tab3

6TB - below P16,000
4TB - below P11,000 (out of stock where I asked)
3TB - below P9,000 (what I got yesterday)

You did not mention what file format you will play your music is on. Now, if you want to use a lossless format like FLAC then you'll be out of luck with iTunes. Only lossless format it plays is Apple Lossless (ALAC). I have yet to find any artist who will sell ALAC files. There are many artists who sell FLAC though. You could convert it though from FLAC to ALAC. I personally find it troublesome to do so even if I am a big Apple fan.

You can download the iTunes remote for iPad and iPhone. I am unsure on Android, Windows & Blackberry.

Because of FLAC I had to get a Sonos Connect (P20,500 but P900 cheaper online) as I couldnt find FLAC player with Airplay. Airplay allows for the transmission of AV through an Airport Express and other devices.

Now, the problem with the Airport Express is that it is limited 16-bit & 44.1kHz, Even if your files are say 24-bit and/or 192kHz. Sonos Connect does not have this issue as far as I know.

If your collection is largely lossy formats like AAC, Ogg Vorbigs or MP3 then Apple Express is more than sufficient.

As for Solid State Drives as much as they are nice to have they become uneconomical when it comes to large music collections.

You may want to take a look see on my setup over at viewtopic.php?f=49&t=28184

Yes, the NAS is a QNAP. I am still waiting for it to arrive. Bought the my Cloud as a stop gap.

Now, for a time I regretted buying the stereo receiver and Sonos Connect as I later found out that AV receivers have become to advanced with their USB, LAN, WiFi, Bluetooth, apps, and other features that used to be found only on dedicated Internet appliances or computers. But then I dug deeper and read about how much slower these AV receiver makers are in updating the firmware, apps and other related software of their hardware. Perhaps Apple could get into the receiver business?
Last edited by SD-6 on Wed Oct 08, 2014 4:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Apple Time Capsule or NAS?

Postby troporobo » Wed Oct 08, 2014 8:09 am

I have given up on Apple Time Capsules after three failures of successive generations of those devices. None lasted more than a year. I suspect it is due to heat - they ran very hot and I don't use AC much. I also always had problems with dropouts when streaming to another room via Airport Express. And finally I just can't justify the Apple price premium when WD drives and Linksys / Cisco routers are so cheap, and equally easy to set up. So I come down on the side of a good NAS attached to the router and mirrored for backup
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Re: Apple Time Capsule or NAS?

Postby keith » Wed Oct 08, 2014 4:03 pm

I still have my Time Capsule, 7 years old and it still works fine. As a hard drive though, I wouldn't recommend it. It's useless in my opinion. WiFi speeds opening and saving files are just too darn slow. I'd recommend to just use an external drive for storage etc.

Funny, I was thinking of actually retiring my TC and getting the latest generation Airport Extreme.
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Re: Apple Time Capsule or NAS?

Postby Mamimili » Wed Oct 08, 2014 6:29 pm

Thanks to all for the replies.
I see many reasons to take the Time Capsule off my list! Dropouts are really turning me off a digital system so the next step could be my last if things do not improve.
I will try the WD MyCloud first while i decide how deep i want to get into digital and which NAS system to get. 3TB is more than i need now and the price is right to experiment.

I play ALAC in the house but will also store the 320 MP3 files i use on the road.
After a night of research (If i continue) my long term plan is a set up that can be shared on a NAS system with solid state drives. I really need solid state, every laptop i have ever owned has given me shocks through my wrists that do make me jump (which most people find very funny to watch) before i changed to solid state i was changing regular hard drives every 4 to 6 months. With solid state i am up to 18 months without a drive failure....touch wood :D
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Re: Apple Time Capsule or NAS?

Postby Mamimili » Thu Oct 09, 2014 1:33 am

Last questions, i hope. (There are no dumb questions, right?)

How do i get the music from the WD My Cloud to my dac? I assume for now i would still use my existing Airport Express? But how can i connect to my network and the Airport Express at the same time when both are wireless?

As the original idea was to get rid of the AE and its dropout problem, is this where i need to add the Sonus Connect or a Squeezebox or similar device?
It looks like i need to spend around $700 to improve the digital system i have today, to have increased storage and no audio dropout.
That money would buy a lot of LP's!
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Re: Apple Time Capsule or NAS?

Postby mykel18 » Thu Oct 09, 2014 9:15 am

^ You have a DAC and not a streamer? If so then you would need a device to stream the music to your DAC.


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Re: Apple Time Capsule or NAS?

Postby rtsyrtsy » Thu Oct 09, 2014 11:29 am

Welcome to the wonderful world of streaming digital audio. :rock:

IMHO, the weak link that causes the dropouts in the chain that you describe as "laptop (running Windows) with external hard drive / wireless to Airport Express / Audioquest Forest optical cable / Cambridge Audio DacMagic" is the wireless link between your laptop and the Airport Express.

Wireless works great for bursty file transfers like when you request a website and you just read some text. While you are reading, the wireless, your storage, and your computer have some time to assemble the next sentence/paragraph. But music (and videos) do not work reliably over a bursty transmission mechanism.

A cheap experiment you can perform is to connect your external hard drive to your Apple Express via USB. You will need to tell your software (iTunes, Foobar, etc.) that the files are on a hard drive on your network. You may need to configure your network to "share" the external hard drive attached to the Apple Express on your network. This can solve your problem without extra expense but with some playing around your network configurations. Disclaimer: in case what happens is the files are sent from your hard drive to your Apple Express to your computer then back to your Apple Express to your DAC, this may in fact exacerbate the problem. Hopefully, your hardware and software were designed well enough that the files are not streamed via this roundabout route.

I have tried multiple combinations of getting computer and networking equipment to act as music servers. My current chain is:
-FLAC/ALAC in a Network-Attached Storage
-connected to an Airport Extreme network (2 of them actually, in an extended network).
-MacMini running (a trial) Amarra sending out a music stream
-via an asynchronous USB-SPDIF converter
-to a DAC.
-Control is via an iPad

I do get dropouts once in a while especially when playing the sample high res files I download from places like HDTracks.

When I find time, I will move my music (and video) files from the Network-Attached Storage to an external drive with USB 3 or Lightning connectivity which connects directly to the MacMini. This route makes sense to me because I already have the various bits and bobs to set things up like this. If I were doing this from scratch, I'd get something like a Naim ND5 XS and an external hard drive.

It is certainly doable but you will need to get into all sorts of configuration and troubleshooting not just upon initial set-up but also when there are firmware updates, software updates, etc. This is great if you enjoy this sort of thing but I can certainly understand how blood pressures can rise quickly for those who do not enjoy tinkering with their computer hardware and software.

So an alternative is to use devices designed specifically for music. I believe Sonos was already mentioned. Most of the "audiophile" brands have some sort of alternative / competitor to something like the Naim ND5XS / NDX / NDS. If you go this route, you will still need to somehow have a hard-wired connection between your hard drive and your streamer. Net, the only thing that can go wireless is how you control your rig (using apps like Apple Remote, Plex, JRiver, etc.).

I hope this helps!
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Re: Apple Time Capsule or NAS?

Postby Mamimili » Thu Oct 09, 2014 12:01 pm

i tried the cheap experiment, but the usb port does not even power up an external drive :(
I think the Airport Express usb port is for a printer only
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Re: Apple Time Capsule or NAS?

Postby SD-6 » Thu Oct 09, 2014 12:17 pm

I think the Airport Express can accept a powered USB external drive.

My apologies to sounding like a nag but again Airport Express is limited CD audio-spec. Sayang yung extra bits and hertz. :rofl:

For reference here are the prices of WD Red & Green internal drives cost when I called yesterday.

6tb green TBA
4tb green 7400
6tb red 14000
4tb red 8100

Sonos app <-> WiFi <-> Linksys <-> Ethernet <-> Sonos <-> Ethernet <-> WD My Cloud

Sonos app <-> WiFi <-> Linksys <-> Wifi <-> Sonos <-> Spotify

Both setup has Sonos connect to the built-in DAC of my NAD via TOSLINK optical audio cable.
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Re: Apple Time Capsule or NAS?

Postby Mamimili » Thu Oct 09, 2014 12:28 pm

Thanks again!
I will get the My Cloud for the extra storage and varied uses.

I need to think about going with the Sonus or similar streamer. Maybe i will just stay with what i have as I am a very analogue person (watches tick, cameras use film, cars have carbs, pens have nibs, razors have one double edged blade, music comes from vinyl or tape etc).

One thought at the back of my mind is that at some point in the future my hands might shake too much to handle a tonearm, and i will need a digital system
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Re: Apple Time Capsule or NAS?

Postby SD-6 » Thu Oct 09, 2014 1:56 pm

Just want to do a short rant on the Apple ecosystem for audio. Not directed at anyone but more as a reference. Accurate as of this writing.

To preface further I am a big Apple fan and like most of their products.

1) Apple does not support FLAC (more popular lossless audio format than ALAC) on iTunes, Macs, Airport Extreme, Apple TV, iPad, iPod nor iPhone.

2) To use FLAC on a Mac or other Apple device you either have to transcode to ALAC or get a 3rd party FLAC player on Mac, iPhone, iPod or iPad.

3) Airport Express will down sample any higher audio quality to 16-bit, 44.1kHz (CD audio-quality).

4) Apple TV has a fixed optical audio sample rate of 48 kHz and will sample any audio source to that standard.

5) Some recent Macs are reported to have no more optical audio out.

My wish: Apple to support FLAC and release an Apple TV or Airport Express in the future that has does better than CD audio-quality (like 24-bit/192kHz). Also for these devices to be robust enough not to drop out randomly. I really like the very tight integration between Apple's software/hardware ecosystem.

On a side note if you want to use FLAC or ALAC in your car check out Pioneer's NEX & AppRadio 4 car head units. These headunits incidentally have Apple Carplay.
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Re: Apple Time Capsule or NAS?

Postby Mamimili » Thu Oct 09, 2014 3:20 pm

Looks like a reference to me! Not a rant.
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Re: Apple Time Capsule or NAS?

Postby rtsyrtsy » Thu Oct 09, 2014 4:24 pm

Sorry to hear about the cheap experiment not working out.

A quick search yielded what Airport Express USB supports:
AirPort Time Capsule 802.11ac & AirPort Time Capsule 802.11n (1st - 4th Generation)

A self-powered USB hard drive
A USB printer
A USB hub, which may be used to connect several USB hard drives and/or printers

AirPort Extreme 802.11ac & AirPort Extreme 802.11n (1st - 5th Generation)

A self-powered USB hard drive
A USB printer
A USB hub, which may be used to connect several USB hard drives and/or printers


AirPort Express 802.11n (2nd Generation) & AirPort Express 802.11n (1st Generation)

A USB printer


This set-up below is most likely to avoid dropouts.

Sonos app <-> WiFi <-> Linksys <-> Ethernet <-> Sonos <-> Ethernet <-> WD My Cloud

I thought you did not like Spotify? I find it more than acceptable for background listening. Sometimes even for some "audiophile" mode but discovering music listening.

Happy streaming!
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Re: Apple Time Capsule or NAS?

Postby SD-6 » Thu Oct 09, 2014 5:09 pm

I love Spotify. :lol: One motivation for me to get an Apple Carplay stereo headunit is because of Spotify and Waze. I dont want to get into an accident and want a rear camera.
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Re: Apple Time Capsule or NAS?

Postby Mamimili » Thu Oct 09, 2014 6:48 pm

Hey Russ, it's me that did not like Spotify. I uninstalled today.
Now i think about it, i have never been into any form of "radio". From my first car with a tape deck to the ipod i use today, no radio in the car or tuner in the house.
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Re: Apple Time Capsule or NAS?

Postby rtsyrtsy » Thu Oct 09, 2014 6:57 pm

Oops, my bad...

Browsing Wiredstate while building financial models...not a good mix!
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Re: Apple Time Capsule or NAS?

Postby mykel18 » Thu Oct 09, 2014 7:12 pm

I previously have AEBS on my network but I replaced it with Linksys because if someone is heavily downloading stuff on my network, streaming music on my NDX keeps on buffering. I am streaming from a My Book Live connected to my network with the Airport Express acting as a client for the NDX. Now with Linksys, never experienced any buffering at all.


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Re: Apple Time Capsule or NAS?

Postby Mamimili » Thu Oct 09, 2014 7:17 pm

Which Linksys model?
Would it be safe to say any new model would give less problems?
I suppose my 2 year plus D-link is obsolete by now.
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Apple Time Capsule or NAS?

Postby mykel18 » Thu Oct 09, 2014 7:24 pm

Linksys WRT 1900AC and I also have a range extender, Amped Wireless SR20000G to which my WD MyBook Live 1TB and 3TB is connected to. Before it is AEBS + Amped Wireless. For peace of mind, get one of the best routers out there.

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