Question

Advice on setting up music library on NAS drive to control with iphone sonos app?


I am a brand new sonos user looking for advice on the best way to set up my entire music library on a NAS that I can control with my iphone sonos app even when my computer is turned off. Is this possible/easy to do?
If so, questions include:
1. What is a good choice for a NAS (and for drives to go with it)? I will need to purchase these and don't know much about them yet. From my preliminary online reading, I think I am looking for a 2 bay NAS to use primarily for this purpose and also computer file regular backups and photo storage.
2. Is there a preferred method/software for ripping CDs to the NAS (or my computer too for that matter) to achieve better sound quality? Is it fine to just use itunes set to Apple Lossless or is there a better way/better software assuming I have plenty of memory on the NAS drive?
3. Other questions that I should be asking but didn't think of since I am new to sonos and NAS devices?
Thanks very much for any advice from the sonos community

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25 replies

Passeggiata.

As you are using an iPhone, I assume you store your music in iTunes. Therefore I would buy yourself something like a Netgear 2-bay NAS and simply copy/paste or drag/drop your iTunes music folder onto your NAS to begin with.

The Netgear NAS boxes have a built in backup/copying section too and eventually you can use that to update/sync between your PC's music library and your NAS music library... It works on a timestamp method, so only the new music files are copied over and that means the library sync-time is unusually very short.

The Netgear site recommends the different drives brands/models for use with each NAS box, but there is also a Netgear forum, where more information can be found.

You can often find second-hand Netgear NAS boxes on eBay etc.. (£50-£100 approx). I would look for something like a ReadyNAS ultra v2 or Pro2 ...or newer. Don't go for the older NV+ as its fan is far too noisy ... But anything later is very quiet and will work fine with Sonos.

You can use iTunes to rip your CD's direct to your iTunes library, but go into preferences and select the highest quality setting ...or you can subscribe to iTunes Match (Annual Subscription is £23.99) and use the Apple matched version of the ripped tracks (they are DRM free too)... The NAS sync/backup will copy it to your NAS library under any chosen schedule you set.

Most two bay NAS boxes will hold upto 3tb drives, giving you a total of 6tb but you can prefer to 'mirror' those if you want to, for added redundancy, that's upto you.

Once you have your music on your NAS box simply go into the Sonos controller and goto SETTINGS/MANAGE MUSIC LIBRARY/MUSIC LIBRARY SETUP and add the network path to your NAS music files... The Sonos software will then build an index to your tracks. It doesn't take too long but depends on the size of your library. There sre some Sonos limits to your own library, so try to keep the following in mind when you first create your library on the NAS box:

Sonos limits the amount of characters allotted for each field of the metadata. This is due to memory allocations for the 65,000 track limit.

Field name Max Characters
Artists
76
Album
92
Track
100
Genre
22
File name
100

Some other useful things.....

If you also copy across your 'iTunes Music Library.xml' file to the NAS box, you will also get your iTunes saved playlists via the Sonos controller, but you might find you have to edit the XML file with a couple of 'find/replace' commands in a text editor (Notepad), to alter the paths in the entries so that they point to the NAS location rather than the PC. It's not too difficult to do and if you need help with that then let me know later.

There are also ways to add your audiobooks to the NAS box and get those into Sonos, but that's a little more complicated and perhaps for discussion at a later time.

Note also, with a Netgear NAS box, you can use it to store photographs/Movies/TV Shows and Home Videos, which can be accessed on your apple devices using a variety of methods including uPnP, CIFS(SMB) AFP etc. and there are many apps in the Apple App Store that support these protocols.

Somethings above may sound a little daunting here initially, but the latest Netgear software that comes with each NAS, has various simple wizard screens that really help the novice user, aswell as an advanced area for those that have a more in-depth understanding.

I'm sure many NAS boxes work in a very similar way to the above and I would advise you to do some more research before you make your final purchase decision. There are plenty of YouTube videos too, which give some good overviews how each brand of NAS works and there are plenty of simple walk-through on how to set them up on your home network.
Ken, Thanks very much for your thoughtful and thorough reply. This is very helpful and I will certainly do some more research as you suggest prior to final purchase decision.

A follow up question to your suggestion of copying my current itunes library onto my NAS: You are correct that I currently use itunes (on a mac laptop). I only have a 500 GB HD on my mac laptop, so have my current itunes library mostly in more compressed file formats (about 4MB per song) to save space at the expense of sound quality. Since I travel with my laptop, it would be handy to keep this music library as is so that I always have access no matter where I am to play off my computer. However, I am interested at home in re-ripping my CDs to Lossless format for better sound quality- thus the expanded memory HDs on the NAS. I realize it will be more complicated and certainly much more time consuming, but I'm curious if you (or anyone in the community) have a suggestion for the best way to keep my current itunes library as is on my laptop and have a separate music folder (itunes or other) on the NAS with my CDs ripped lossless since I will have plenty more space (3TB - 6TB). Is this a fools errand? If not, should I still use itunes to re-rip my CDs and have two separate libraries (one on my laptop HD and one on the NAS HD)? Or is there better ripping software that does a better job? Another non-itunes way to store my music on the NAS? I'm not as concerned with losing playlists that I have made if that makes a difference.

Thanks kindly again for the advice
If you want to save space, rip to 320 Mbps, as opposed to FLAC. I have a hard time telling the difference between the two, so recently converted my collection to 320 only. The difference will save you gigs of space. With your music being only on your laptop, you may want to consider backing it all up to an NAS or other removable device to protect it.
Passeggiata,

There are a few options here:

1. Sign up to iTunes Match (or Apple Music) and leave all your music in their cloud and just download the main music tracks and playlists you use most often to your PC and regain some of your 500gb space, but still take your main music away with you on your laptop .. Your NAS could simply hold your entire music collection.

2. You could create two seperate iTunes libraries one on the PC and one on the NAS... Plenty of info on the web as to how to go about doing that... but it can get a bit confusing with playlists etc and which library needs to be connected to play them.

I won't recommend you just put all your existing library just on the NAS (and nothing on the PC) as it means it can be a bit difficult to take things out with you on the road, plus it means you only have one copy... I would always try to keep a backup. Even your laptop could fail right now and you could lose everything (perhaps).

I personally choose to subscribe to iTunes Match at £23.99 per year, as that gives me access to over 25000 of my own DRM free tracks, but I also keep all my tracks anyway, on a mirrored NAS drive, aswell as quite a few tracks (but not all) on my PC.

Here is another, perhaps controversial, opinion that I do personally agree with:

"Apple Music’s 256k AAC playback is a higher quality than the 320k MP3 format that services like Spotify use. Apple’s solution is also a smaller file size than its competitors."

So I tend to use the apple AAC format for ripping my own CD's, but a lot of people use the popular 320k MP3 format... Which means a larger file size. I think anyone would struggle to really notice any significant difference in the real world between these two formats. Flac of course is best, but it also takes up the most space.

But again all these things are a personal decision for you to make for yourself.
Passeggiata,

I should have mentioned Apple iTunes does not RIP CD's to flac, but a popular FREE CD ripper to flac is EAC - Exact Audio Copy, which is available here:
http://www.exactaudiocopy.de

There is a YouTube video link here to show you how the software can rip a CD to the lossless flac format:
https://youtu.be/58RmQsGGbeQ
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Rip everything to lossless. Copy these files to the NAS. Sonos can access these files. Also, if you wish, you can add the NAS drive folder to your iTunes account.
I copied all my CDs to an external hard drive, then copied that to the NAS (dual 3gb mirror drives).
Hardwire the NAS to your router.
Works a dream.

That way you can keep a lower quality rip in your laptop and the lossless on the NAS. I also copied the 320kbs rips onto the NAS, in a different folder, too as a back up strategy.

Not sure where you reside but I am in the UK.
After ripping 600+ CDs I gave then to the local charity shop and freed up yards of wall space as I no longer needed them. I did ensure, IMPORTANT, that the data was covered under my home contents insurance.
Not sure where you reside but I am in the UK.
After ripping 600+ CDs I gave then to the local charity shop and freed up yards of wall space as I no longer needed them.


BoredofBalham,

I just wanted to say what a nice thing to do to help others... Good on you!
Thanks so much for all of this advice
Not sure where you reside but I am in the UK.
After ripping 600+ CDs I gave then to the local charity shop and freed up yards of wall space as I no longer needed them. I did ensure, IMPORTANT, that the data was covered under my home contents insurance.


I thought that was illegal - if you dispose of the CDs then you're supposed to delete the ripped tracks...
Not sure where you reside but I am in the UK.
After ripping 600+ CDs I gave then to the local charity shop and freed up yards of wall space as I no longer needed them.


BoredofBalham,

I just wanted to say what a nice thing to do to help others... Good on you!


Apart from the fact that he's breaking copyright law and now has no legal right to keep the ripped versions.
Not sure where you reside but I am in the UK.
After ripping 600+ CDs I gave then to the local charity shop and freed up yards of wall space as I no longer needed them. I did ensure, IMPORTANT, that the data was covered under my home contents insurance.


I thought that was illegal - if you dispose of the CDs then you're supposed to delete the ripped tracks...


Knew I should have read to the end of the thread!
I guess ignorance of the law is no excuse, but it was a nice charitable thing to do anyway...

I wonder what happens when you have your music discs stolen, or they are simply lost in a fire etc. and they are not insured? Do you have to delete your ripped music then? I always thought you were allowed to make and keep one backup copy... If so, I guess he lost them during his hectic visit to the charity shop perhaps, eh?

I wonder what happens when you have your music discs stolen, or they are simply lost in a fire etc. and they are not insured? Do you have to delete your ripped music then? I always thought you were allowed to make and keep one backup copy... If so, I guess he lost them during his hectic visit to the charity shop perhaps, eh?

From a legal point of view, any loss of the kind referred to above requires a deletion of the ripped copy. But I doubt anyone will come after you if the CDs are destroyed in any way. The theoretical possibility of this happening is a little higher where the CDs are gifted away.

As to ripping, my experience suggests that Apple lossy 256kbps rips and downloads cannot be distinguished from the source CD. I doubt that 320kbps MP3 is inferior to Apple 256 kbps, but I haven't done any testing myself. If the source for the different codecs is the same performance but from a different master, apples to apples is lost, and audible differences can arise, but these are down to mastering choices applied.

If I had a library of music ripped in Apple lossy 256 kbps, I would not waste time/effort to again rip the CDs lossless merely because space was now available. No audible benefit in doing so. But if I was ripping CDs afresh, I would choose lossless because it is easy to do so and since storage space is so cheap now.
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Well, as I understood things (There is a thread on here about this), here in the UK anyway, it is illegal to rip the CD in the first place never mind if you own it.

I'm kind of in the same boat as BoredofBalham in that I've ripped all my CDs (around 400) and don't fancy having to do it again but I am mindful that even with backups I can't be certain the digital versions are secure so I hang on to the four crates of CDs in a cupboard - they'll probably be unpacked by my relatives when I shuffle off this mortal coil!
I have mine in boxes as well, as probably unwelcome burden on my heirs, because those that qualify to that position today aren't interested in them even today.
It was ratty here that once wrote that it isn't safe to assume that the content on them is secure and can be relied on for back up years into the future.
Well, as I understood things (There is a thread on here about this), here in the UK anyway, it is illegal to rip the CD in the first place never mind if you own it.

It was illegal for a long time, then the government introduced a new law allowing people to make a backup, however the music industry appealed to the high court who found in their favour on a technicality and it is now illegal again.
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Well, as I understood things (There is a thread on here about this), here in the UK anyway, it is illegal to rip the CD in the first place never mind if you own it.

It was illegal for a long time, then the government introduced a new law allowing people to make a backup, however the music industry appealed to the high court who found in their favour on a technicality and it is now illegal again.


That's what I thought.

Can't see them prosecuting anybody unless they find somebody with more than 65,000 tracks whose been ripping all his mates CDs!
Seems then, I too have broken the UK law, as I have ripped lots of CD's over the years ...and in the recent years, I have converted all my library, via Apple iTunes Match, to 256k AAC format, which I am really happy with and like Kumar mentions, the AAC format is (there or thereabouts) as good quality as 320k MP3 (IMHO).

Admittedly, I would have liked my library in flac compressed lossless format, but it's such a large file size by comparison and is quite time-consuming to rip a CD to flac.

I'm shocked its against the UK law to rip a track to a digital format (almost everyone does it)... I can't remember the last time I played a track from a CD at home, I tend to still use them in the car player though... I've even had some discs stolen from my car in the past.

I still remember the old vinyl records inner sleeve saying 'home taping is killing the music industry' but I always related that to recording music off the radio when I was a youngster (usually the top twenty at 6pm on a Sunday) ... 'Guilty as charged' :-)

It doesn't seem right that I would have to delete my tracks for those stolen CD's, when I still have the receipts for them. I subscribe to Apple Music each month, so effectively I can play those tracks anyway under that subscription agreement, that makes it even more crazy that I should delete them.

The law needs to change to bring it upto date. I'm not saying deprive the artists of their income etc, but at least let people be entitled to a digital copy of their own music they have purchased legitimately... I personally would include vinyl and cassette tapes format in that, as I have sometimes bought some albums both in vinyl and tape and cd format. (Peter Gabriel & Genesis & charisma/Virgin probably owe me money) ha ha.

The UK law as far as 'ripping' music is concerned, I assume then, is just ignored by the authorities, but it shouldn't really have to be that way. I always honestly thought I was completely 'legit' (apart from my early radio Top-20 recordings), but now I feel that I'm not after all. I'm er... 'A Pirate'

The Music Industry definitely still has the 'monopoly', even 'after' we purchase their music (in any format) ... So I will now go straight to jail and ensure I do not pass 'Go'. 😃
The law will almost certainly never prosecute anyone for having copies of music they own, it's almost unenforceable and undetectable and there has been an unspoken acceptance that it won't happen. There's slightly more likelyhood of someone offloading a tonne of cds to a charity shop being prosecuted if the shop take the donor's details for gift aid purposes, the hmrc may wish to see evidence of tax paid, which could conceivably lead to someone asking why the cds have been given away but it's still vanishingly unlikely, it's not a great idea to publicize what you're doing though. A friend of mine got done for copyright infringement years ago because he would do copies of rare or unavailable horror films for friends at no charge, his name ended up on a mailing list that the copyright rozzers got hold of and that was all the excuse they needed. Even the officer who confiscated his entire collection told him he didn't want to as it was really the guy's with garages full of recording equipment they were after but the law's the law.

The law needs to change to bring it upto date.

Quite.

I am not sure of even a simple matter of what happens to someone that inherits a NAS containing ripped audio/video files. Can music/movies bought by someone be legally played past their death? This is still a grey area, because what is bought is a license to play the content and I am not sure if that license is freely transferable upon death of the licensee..

Although I don't see how this is different from someone that inherits CDs. Or is it illegal to play these as well?

In real life, I don't think people bother about these legal niceties. IMO, rightly so.
Kumar,

Some thought provoking things in your post. To think of the hours (and money) that I have spent (still spend) over the past 50 years, obtaining and looking after my music and more recently in the digital age, all the time I have spent (hours/days/weeks) getting my tags and album covers to a set-standard that suits me ... and it all could easily be wiped out in an instant.

I certainly hope to pass on my collection to the family when my number is called.

This brief discussion about the law is quite frightening to me and possibly for those who always insist on staying on the right side of it.

All I can say is thank goodness for 'common sense'... It occasionally stands above the law.
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There is certainly a debate here in the UK around the whole question of "digital" assets upon death.

In terms of the narrow focus of this forum which would be digital downloaded music or audio books then I think it's pretty clear that the vendor effectively sells a license to use the product that automatically expires upon death of the purchaser.

This is one of the main reasons that I always buy a CD if I can - I can bequeath a CD to my friends or family but NOT a digital download.

This is one of the main reasons that I always buy a CD if I can - I can bequeath a CD to my friends or family but NOT a digital download.

Why are you sure that a CD is on a different footing than a digital download? I can't see the logic for it to be so, which isn't of course to say there isn't any.
Also see:
http://www.cnet.com/news/who-owns-your-downloaded-music-after-you-die/
I haven't seen much more on this subject, so most people seem to following the "silence is convenient" way of thinking about this subject.
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This is an interesting read. http://www.create.ac.uk/publications/what-happens-to-my-facebook-profile-when-i-die-legal-issues-around-transmission-of-digital-assets-on-death/

Obviously it's relevant to the UK. We've already established that, at least in the UK, it is against the law to create a digital copy of a CD (rip it) but there seems zero chance of a normal user being done for that if all they are doing is using the copy for their own (private) use. So technically if I inherit a CD I'm still NOT allowed to rip it as the original purchaser wasn't but, again, it seems very unlikely that an individual would be pursued for so doing and anyway how would anyone know?
Going back to the original poster question, I thought I'd give my NAS setup since it's worked well for many years....

My main goals were to maintain a digitized version of my l music library that I can easily access and enjoy for years.
I wanted it to be robust from changing policies and standards of providers and services while avoiding paying them recurring fees.
I needed some form of redundancy in case of hardware failures.
I wanted to be able to access from any device, anywhere in the world.

A home-based NAS is the solution I chose about 7 years ago. It has survived the test of time using different music players, NAS hardware, routers, it's even been compatible and complimentary to newer online music purchase services and streaming services.

The NAS I chose was low cost Synology single disk NAS with a 1TB Hard disk. Later, I upgraded to a 2-disk mirroring version, the DS212 with 2 each 1TB hard disks. This device is now dated, but still streams music well. It's quite, reliable, and does many other tasks like contains my entire digital photo library and video collection as an added benefit. I store my music files in a /music shared folder, and sub-folders are each Artists with each of their albums in another subfolder. Sometimes if it's just a single album for 1 artist or a compilation of artists on 1 CD,I just put it in a single folder directory under /music. I have it do automatic backups to my vacation home where the older single-disk NAS resides (I have my old Logitech Squeezebox there connected to it). It could easily be uploaded to a Dropbox folder now if desired for added redundancy, but that of course requires a fee.

I did lots of thinking on the music format. Since my goals were to make it robust and easily accessible, I chose MP3 320 KBPS format. The MP3 format is recognized universally by almost every music player, and the compression makes maintaining a large library more affordable; I also think the smaller file sizes makes it easier to stream around the house or over the internet or remote locations. My ears and high-end audio setup cannot tell a different to FLAC and other uncompressed/lossless formats, and I've looked hard for a scientific-based blind study that would argue the added file sizes and incompatibilities are worthwhile.

Originally, I had a Logitech Squeezebox as my music streamer and controller hooked up to my NAS via my router. When they discontinued it, I switched to the Sonos Connect. The Connect hooks right into the NAS music library without any issues (hardwired through my router).

I maintain the library with a Windows 7 PC. I ripped my personal CD's using Windows Media Player - it gets the album art online usually, but sometimes it needs a little help from me to locate the art. I unhide the hidden album art files in the system to make it easier to manage. Once I get the Windows PC music arranged on it's own hard disk - all music tracks titled properly, artist info correct, album art correct - I then copy it over to the NAS /music directory where it can be shared to any of my devices. It's best to immediately re-index the music on the Sonos App/program after updating.

If I buy something digitally online, like through Amazon, I download it and copy it over to the NAS. I designed the system to avoid any dependency on iTunes, but I understand you can have it access the NAS directory as well. I can buy digital music on any of my devices and simply copy the folder to my NAS.

I am able to seamlessly control my music via my iPhone, Android phone. iPad, Nexus, MacBook Pro, PC's, etc. using the Sonos App or program. I have 3 Sonos devices in the house - a Sonos Connect hooked up to a powerful amplifier and speakers in the living room, a Sonos Connect with bookshelf speakers in the office, and a Sonos-5 in the bedroom (wakes me to streaming radio). It's a real pleasure to use the Sonos app to play my library, or use any of the streaming services - it's a great front-end music controller with queue and display.

We use it during parties, entertaining, or just relaxing. I just recently have gotten an Echo Dot to be able to do some tricks to turn on and play my music via voice command via Yonomi app.

I can even be at a friend's house, stream my personal music collection through my iPhone to their Bluetooth or Airplay based sound systems. Since it's a NAS, I never need a PC turned on - the NAS is always available and acts like a cloud system accessible from anywhere on the internet.

The online music service companies can buy and sell each other, change their policies, rates, and service quality - but I'll always have my collection here readily accessible all the time. Even Sonos - if it ever changes to a way I dislike, I can always find another music player for my NAS collection (or just access it directly), but Sonos is the best right now for a NAS in my opinion.

-MirK