Networking & Streaming Optimization for Noobs

Hello fellow hifi enthusiasts. Through some searching I learned the old site is no longer with us. I did find the archive site but haven’t figured out how to search its content so here I am. I joined the original forum in 2001, novelty is my previous username, and I’ve owned various olive and black integrateds and separates over the years.

I purchased a low hour SuperUniti last year and have enjoyed hours of streaming bliss since but I’d like to make some observations and get some feedback on some streaming and networking issues I’ve encountered.

My set up:

Room 1
Airport Extreme Base Station
SuperUniti (AQ Cinnamon to Airport) (current firmware)
QNAP TS-251/Asset (4TB x 2) (AQ Cinnamon to Airport)

Room 2
Airport Express
Mu So (Blue Jeans Cat 6 to Airport Express) (current firmware)

Naim App on Ipad Pro and iPhone XR

Firstly, I’d like to make sure my set up is appropriate, my flat is only 1,000 sq ft so the listening rooms are not very far apart.

With regard to the UPnP, I have approx. 6K CDs ripped at lossless (ALAC & FLAC) on my QNAP. I’ve been using Bliss HQ for organization of artwork and files and have been very happy with this service.

I listen to my non-hifi rips through iTunes on my iPhone and my favorite aspect of iTunes is organizing my entire library in one playlist that is a sequential ordering of ALL the CDs in the library in the order they were ripped. This allows me to toggle off the shuffle feature and the next song in the queue is the next song of the CD the current playing song appeared on as it was ripped in my library. Make sense? I’ve been searching on this topic for a long time and it appears there is currently no way to do this through the Naim App or Asset. Also, I’m using the free version of Asset. Is there any benefit to subscribing to the Asset service? Is there a better option to Asset?

The aforementioned is a big reason I spend most of my listening time tuned in to radio paradise 320K stream. They long ago went to FLAC for the RP app and browser players but I don’t see that functionality yet for the iRadio on stand alone players. Does anyone have updates here? Is the difference b/w 320K and FLAC significant enough to worry about?

I recently purchased a Mu So and have been pleasantly surprised by this little machine. I initially was using the wifi functionality since the unit is not very far from the Airport base station but I was running into lots of buffering and Naim App wonkiness so I recently hooked up the Airport Express and now have the Mu So connected by ethernet. I haven’t had any issues since doing this so I hope that solved the problem. I wonder if the 2.4ghz wifi of the Mu So is the limiting factor here?

I updated both the SuperUniti and Mu So with the latest firmware and I’m absolutely loving the multiroom functionality. What a treat!

Anyway, my knowledge of networking and streaming is limited so I appreciate the knowledge base that participates here and look forward to your responses.

I follow with interest too

Your network seems to be working - your Mu-so seems happy with this wireless connection - so by definition you’re in pretty good shape!

The Airport products DO create a decent wifi network, and your setup seems reasonable.

Is your Airport Extreme also connected to your home router? I assume so…or else you could not be using internet radio and other streaming. If so . . . is wifi turned off on your home router? Probably a good idea.

Ii do not know if my intervention is not useful, my airport extreme is connected to the modem with cable but on the modem the WiFi is turned off. Airport generates its WiFi … But I’m always fought if the modem ethernet is better (but currently it comes to the streamer with Devolo powerline!)

Your network seems to be pretty well sorted for audio purposes. There is newer network equipment around that can give better performance than the Apple Airport stuff these days, but if it works for you, I would not bother to change it.

I don’t use Asset, so I’m not sure if the paid version will do what you want it to do. You could try asking on the dBpoweramp forum, where the developer should be able to give you an answer. An alternative would be to use iTunes on your Naim streamers, but you would require a workaround to do this on the Superuniti - the easiest would probably be to get another Airport Express.

There are also some workarounds to get Radio Paradise FLAC on a Naim streamer. The simplest is to connect an iPhone to the USB port.

The free version of Asset UPnP is very limited as it just provides the basic server software. You can read whats in the full licence version inclusions on the Illustrate www. The cost of it is minimal & not forgetting its a one off lifetime payment & includes free updates as & when they are released - this last month all the various platforms went from 6.1 to 6.2.
I find some features in the full version essential e.g.browse by File & Folder & DSD.
And no, there is nothing better than Asset, Minimserver is similar & its debatable over the pro/con of which is best. But its not as easy to both install & configure as is Asset.
As to your “Make Sense?” question, no as in I’m not sure I do understand.
The Naim app is basically a dumb reader & doesn’t have much (none) processing abilities. Asset might well be able to configure what you are trying to do & I agree with ChrisSU, post your question on the Illustrate (dBpoweramp & Asset) forum.

Thank you for the comments.

Let me clarify that the Airport base station I’m using for the SU and QNAP is also used for my Apple TV and wifi for my macbook pro. After some reading here it appears that this is adding noise and is not ideal.

Is this why people are using switches? I’m willing to make some changes to my network if these changes result in audible improvements. Is the conventional wisdom to put a switch in between my Airport and streamer/QNAP??

I will contact Asset and see if it makes sense to upgrade to a paid subscription, it sounds like it does.

Yes. I first did this when my old router (hub) overheated (distorted the plastic) & I realised the switch-set was not up to muster. I installed a basic Netgear switch & sonic improvement was easily noticeable. I’ve since moved on twice to better hubs & I’m reliably informed they all have far better switch-sets. And I fully expect the Airports to also have good quality switch-sets.
I have no intention of not using a switch as I want to keep the single ethernet cable from the router.
A tweak on the forum is to change whatever switches to a Cisco ‘Catalyst’ which most agree is a sonic improvement over a standard consumer item.

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Okay, thanks, that’s what I was expecting.

It seems this switch is popular here.

Cisco WS-C2960-8TC-L

My knowledge of switches, networking in general really, is not firm so I want to make sure I understand what I’m doing.

Cisco indicates this switch is at end of life/support. Is this problematic??

Also, the prices seem really high, some are almost $1000US yet some refurbished can be had for less than $100US. That seems odd to me.

The Catalyst switches are solid, reliable workhorses designed for commercial use, just get an old one from ebay for £50, no need to spend a lot on a new one.

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Ok, thanks, I just wanted to be sure.

Do these switches need to be configured?

Ask the seller to reset it to factory default settings, as it’s not straightforward to do this yourself. Then you will be able to use it as a simple unmanaged switch - just turn it on, plug everything in, and it works.

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Thanks, using managed or unmanaged was going to be my next question.

Okay, does this look like a suitable model? Price is good.

Yes, that’s the one you need.

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Order is placed. The current set up sounds great so I’m anxious to see if I get an audible improvement from decoupling the nas from the airport.

I have a 2M unused Blue Jeans Cat6 I can use to connect the switch to the Airport.

As an update, I’ve had the Cisco 2960-8TC-L in my system for over a month and very much enjoying the improvement in sonics. The switch is a 2013 blue/green model and I’m currently looking for a recent generation model now that I know it’s a worthwhile purchase.

As an aside, I touched on this in another conversation but want to explore more thoroughly now.

I’ve noted the music from my QNAP doesn’t sound as good as Radio Paradise 320K stream or Tidal for that matter, and it was mentioned that shouldn’t be the case. I plan to do more testing to be sure but want to solicit feedback for possible reasons why this is the case.

Super Uniti, QNAP, connected to switch with Cinnamon cables.

QNAP library is a mix of FLAC and AIFF files.

The AIFF files were ripped by me using iTunes on a MB Air SSD USB connected external CD/DVD drive to a USB connected Seagate 4TB storage. I recall looking up my CD/DVD ripper on a list that was posted here for error rates. I think my drive was around the 98.9%. I’m not sure what that means and I wondered if using iTunes to rip could be problematic for sound quality.

I can’t speak to how the FLAC files were ripped but I will to do some A/B testing b/w these two formats in my library out of curiosity.

Thanks in advance for the feedback, I’ve come a long way and my current set up sounds better than it has in years.

A simple way of testing is find an album you are particularly dissatisfied with and re-rip with dBPoweramp (or EAC), rename the album so it doesn’t overwrite the existing one, and edit the Album name tag so you can identify which one you are playing. And see how you go. :smiley:

I have a Cisco and QNAP/Asset - no boutique cables for me though. :grin:

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As you used iTunes, are you sure that the files have never been converted to AAC in the past? I ask because there are some circumstances in which iTunes would do this automatically, and once done, converting them back to a lossless format cannot recover the lost data.
If you still have the CDs, try ripping them again and compare.
Another test is to copy some music to a USB stick and put put this in the SU USB port. If that sounds better, you can investigate possible causes in your NAS or network.