USB versus Ethernet

I’m using a ND555 connected to a QNAP TS-251A NAS as a server. The NAS is located in another room connected to the ND555 with c20m Ethernet cable.
I’ve recently tried loading a few albums on to a USB thumb drive and using the USB socket on the ND555 to play them.
On balance the files played from the USB drive sound better than over the network. They sound clearer and a bit more detailed.
So I wonder if it would be possible to locate the NAS next to the ND555 connected using a short USB cable to serve the files. I’m assuming this would work as it is possible to transfer files from the QNAP using a USB port.
The NAS would still be on the network.
Any views or experience of using the USB port on NAIM streamers in this way?

Hi, you can’t connect a NAS like this, it needs a network connection. You can use a regular USB drive with SSD, HDD as well as a thumb drive.

That’s what I thought but the QNAP TS-251A allows files to be transferred to a PC from its USB port without a network connection hence my question.
The alternative would be to copy the files to a portable USB hard drive?

Well you could try it, but it is not officially supported, and I would be surprised if it worked.
Yes, you could copy files from your NAS to a USB drive, connect it to the front or rear USB port, and play from there.
Try enabling ‘server mode’ in the app settings menu. The contents of the USB drive are then accessed by the ND555 built in server, and you may find it easier to browse.

That’s not going to work but you can use the ND555 as a server+renderer as you have discovered. What prevents you from connectin a 1-2TB SSD drive to the ND555 and forget about the QNAP?

Simple answer:

Get a secondhand Cisco Catalyst 2960G-8TC connect the long Ethernet cable into that, then connect the ND555 and the NAS into it using shorter Ethernet cables.


Thanks for the suggestions. I could get an SSD drive but apart from the additional cost, I’d need to copy c1500 albums plus downloads.
The switch suggestion may work. But I’d have to “daisy chain “ two switches as the remote NAS is already linked to a Cisco switch together with a Naim Atom in the same room.

@Meni , in the nd555 impressions thread, is using an usb drive into the front of the nd555.
However he is waiting for the Melco n10 to replace his usb drive.
Have you heard a melco or innuos in direct mode in your nd555?

Hi @anon37289833

On all the new streaming products we buffer the track in ram (upto 50MB worth of original stream format) and then play from that. If the network is ok typically the streamer will be playing locally from ram within 8-10secs and will no ;longer be accessing the NAS. To exercise this, while playing, pull the network plug out and the nd555 will keep on playing.

Based on what you describe there maybe an issue with the cabling and the streamer is struggling to get the data in (hence lots of tcp retries and network activity).

Try plugging in a laptop into that network cable and try copying some large files to and from the nas. If its achieving around 12MBytes/sec then all is good. If the copy is very variable on speed, then propose give that long cable a check over.

By the way, usb works the same way but we purposely stop playback on usb device eject.


Steve Harris
Software Director


A regular spinning USB drive will work fine if you don’t want the expense of an SSD.
It’s OK to daisy chain switches if you need to, although I’m not sure I understand why you would do this if you are already connected to one and it’s working. Or perhaps Steve’s suggestion is worth looking at if you have a faulty Ethernet cable or something in your network?

Steve, based on this (buffering the track into ram) I’m assuming the Wifi connection on the new streamers does something like this as well? In short if the connection is good either Wifi or wired the end results will be the same.

Hi @marcusman

Yes, wifi, ethernet and usb work the same buffering wise. With wifi its electrically more noisy as the unit has to be actively on the wifi network, but like most things in hifi, every little improvement helps.

The original design goal for this large ram buffer was to make streaming services more robust on playback, but in practice it has positive benefits of local audio streams as well.



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@Stevesky thanks for the explanation that helps me a bunch! I can’t easily run a long ethernet cable (girlfriend would strangle me) but using the Ethernet port on my Eero WiFi to hardwire my new Steamer that’s 100% doable.

Thank you very much and the entire team at Naim

‘Daisy chaining’ switches isn’t a problem in a domestic network. The percentage of the total network bandwidth you’re using is most likely to be fairly small, and audio streaming needs to use an almost negligible amount of the available network bandwidth.

As Xanthe says. In fact for house layout reasons I have four switches daisy-chained between my UnitiCore and my 272 and it sounds fine to me.



Thanks for the explanation. I think the network cable is OK as I’ve no problems with connections or dropouts. It may be a consequence of the long length or the cable construction (standard 5e) which results in the slight loss of definition compared with the local USB drive. The differences are noticeable but not significant, the music still sounds great from the remote NAS
Situating the NAS closer to the ND555 by adding another switch with a shorter Ethernet cable is something I’m going to try as if the difference is still evident then that would eliminate the existing cable as the problem. (Although the second switch is another variable, so not strictly a direct comparison).

Thanks Xanthe, I’ll give it a try.

Regular Cat5e cable is fine for even the longest lengths required in a domestic situation (up to 100m) and is more than capable of handling the low demands made on it by audio data.
If your cable is defective, it may not be visible: for example, if the terminations are poorly done. There may also be interference from a nearby mains cable or other electrical devices. You might try a replacement cable and/or a different route from switch to streamer.

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