iTunes with Sonos and NAS


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With apologies in advance, because I know this kind of query must be answered about five times a day; I just can’t quite get my head round it.

Can I just clarify how iTunes works with Sonos and NAS?

As I understand it, I can move my iTunes library to the NAS, making sure I don’t kill iTunes on the PC (http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1364), right?

I assume the advantage of that (as opposed to just moving or copying the raw files and letting Sonos index them) is that Sonos can use the iTunes XML file to see my playlists, which are dynamically updated (i.e. when I fiddle about in iTunes, the new playlist structure will be visible next time Sonos checks the folder?)

Am I correct in that assumption? Is that what ‘using Sonos with iTunes’ means?

You don’t have to have the PC switched on with the music actually being served through iTunes in order to gain any advantage, do you? That’s probably a stupid question, as otherwise what would be the point of putting the iTunes library on the NAS!? But as I said, I just haven’t quite got my head around it.

Final question, since I’m here. I’m buying a NAS today. Lots of people seem to have WD My Book Live 1 or 2TB drives. I’ll probably go for one of those, unless that’s a terrible idea?

Thanks again, forum, for your help.

I set up my brand new system last night – a Bridge and two Play 3s as a starting point – and it just blew me away. The ease and simplicity of setup, the sound quality, and the integration of my own files with my Spotify and Last fM subscriptions is just brilliant.

24 replies

davos119 wrote:


Final question, since I’m here. I’m buying a NAS today. Lots of people seem to have WD My Book Live 1 or 2TB drives. I’ll probably go for one of those, unless that’s a terrible idea?



I bought a 2TB recently, just as a repository for my Sonos system. Very cheap and the 2TB is only marginally more than the 1TB. It was easy to set up and works well.

One thing though, it only has an ethernet connection (not USB 2/3) so transfers have to go across the network. As I had getting on for a terabyte of data to move, that took a looooooong time.
davos119 wrote:

As I understand it, I can move my iTunes library to the NAS, making sure I don’t kill iTunes on the PC



Correct. The iTunes software is typically installed on the main HD of the running PC. The iTunes Library (music and DB files) can be located on any storage location that the PC's iTunes program can access. This can also be multiple physical/logical locations, if one wishes.

I assume the advantage of that (as opposed to just moving or copying the raw files and letting Sonos index them) is that Sonos can use the iTunes XML file to see my playlists, which are dynamically updated (i.e. when I fiddle about in iTunes, the new playlist structure will be visible next time Sonos checks the folder?)



That is essentially correct, but it can go deeper than that simple concept.

One may move or copy their iTunes Library to a NAS or ExternalHD.

If the music files are moved, and no longer on the PC, the PC must have access to them for iTunes to 'work'. If one has a Laptop that travels and they want their music in both locations (NAS & Laptop), the music files must be on both drives.

If one makes a copy to the NAS, one can run two iTunes Libraries. This may be more 'housekeeping' than 'practical' for some. This is how I operate my iTunes Library: One copy on my Laptop; Another copy on my NAS (also three backup copies on separate ExHDs - one kept offsite).

If one copies the entire music folder structure as well as the 5 iTunes Library files to each location (PC, NAS, Backups, etc.), you can choose which Library to open when starting iTunes (hold the 'Shift' key in Windows when clicking on the iTunes icon). This will allow one to select which Library to open.

A nice feature of iTunes is its 'Library file intelligence'. It will initially search for music files in the folder structure immediately below where the Library files are stored. Therefore, one can make adjustments and changes to one Library (say on the PC where it's speedier) and just sync the other Libraries (NAS, ExHD, etc.) to the PC's version. When opening iTunes, it will sort out where to find the music files.

The one caveat to this is for your NAS that Sonos accesses, it's critical that you directly open the iTunes Library on the NAS within the iTunes program to (automatically) 'correct' the music file pathnames so that Sonos can index them properly. Once it is opened within iTunes, it will be correct and you can close iTunes. It's a 1-5 minute process depending on the speed of your network and NAS.

Am I correct in that assumption? Is that what ‘using Sonos with iTunes’ means?



Generally, yes.

You don’t have to have the PC switched on with the music actually being served through iTunes in order to gain any advantage, do you? That’s probably a stupid question, as otherwise what would be the point of putting the iTunes library on the NAS!? But as I said, I just haven’t quite got my head around it.



The use of a NAS eliminates the need for the PC to be on, running and awake. Most of the Sonos power-users run their personal Sonos music from a NAS.

Final question, since I’m here. I’m buying a NAS today. Lots of people seem to have WD My Book Live 1 or 2TB drives. I’ll probably go for one of those, unless that’s a terrible idea?



I have a 1.5TB MyBook and it works fine. The big complaint of many entry level NAS' are that they are painfully slow on your wired network and even slower over wireless (as gaz indicated in the earlier post) . I have been spending time recently tweaking my network setting to gain some faster transfer/write speeds when copying large data amounts to the NAS. Still a work in progress...

The recent tweaks I performed over the past two days have me encouraged, but I have not had any time to really test data transfer speeds yet. At least the NAS' browser interface is working much quicker than before.

You'll read here that the majority of Sonos users work on their PC/Laptop for initial music ripping, tagging and artwork editing. After we're satisfied, we will copy the results over to the NAS in a bulk process (a decent file-syncing program will greatly help).

I try very hard not to do CD ripping, major data hygiene processes, or significant iTunes updating directly on the NAS. I'll use either the Laptop Library or the ExHD Library and then sync up the NAS when satisfied.

Generally, write (copying) speed will decrease from fastest to slowest in this order:
- Internal PC/Laptop HDs
- USB connected ExHD to PC
- NAS via direct Ethernet connect to PC
- NAS via Ethernet network connection
- NAS via Wireless network connection

I set up my brand new system last night – a Bridge and two Play 3s as a starting point – and it just blew me away. The ease and simplicity of setup, the sound quality, and the integration of my own files with my Spotify and Last fM subscriptions is just brilliant.



Sonos is generally brilliant in it's wireless music & sync execution. There are always areas for improvements, but the minor amount of 'detractors' seem to miss the larger attributes of Sonos and focus on their pet peeves (at least that's my opinion). It's good to see someone here who Posts about their positive experience.

Best of Luck
Userlevel 1
Thank you so much Buegie and gaz for your considered and detailed replies. This really is an excellent community of dedicated and knowledgeable people. I wish all forums were this good.

I am much clearer on iTunes via NAS now and will begin migrating (or more likely duplicating) my libraries tonight.

Unfortunately, however, the positive things I have to say about Sonos ran out abruptly when I got home from work.

It all started so well. I was still so excited about my new system, that I left work early to go home and play. But when I got there, Sonos rejected me!

"network connection speed insufficient to maintain playback buffer" is what she said. Oh well, that was a short love affair. :(

...

Actually, joking aside, I will try to trouble shoot this tonight, simply because having seen the system in action now, I am determined to make it work. I've looked up all the support articles and threads and I have a list of things I can try.

I must admit, I don't like the idea of having to fart about with support tickets, diagnostics, unplugging everything and re-booting it all etc etc etc - if I wanted to do that before I could listen to my tunes, I would have kept my AirPort express!

But still, we will persist. Because when (if?) this system works, it's spectacular.

But my illusion that the Sonos system works by actual magic has been somewhat shattered. I came down to earth with a bump last night. Probably for the best, I suppose...
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I had some issues with that buffer error myself. Check out the channels that your main (and your neighbours') wifi is on (InSSIDer is a good tool to sniff them out. Then make sure you keep them and the SONOS channels well separated.

What built items separate the bridge from the players? SONOS uses a mesh network system but with only a few components you don't have much to build the mesh, so you may need to play with the bridge position.
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wrt to ripping. I for one do NOT rip to PC hard drive and then transfer. I use winamp to rip directly to my Synology DS411j NAS over powerline networking and have ripped over 300 CDs that way with no issues. And then I use BLISS to sort out cover art etc

WFM
Buegie -

I know how to move my itunes library but what is the easiest/best way to copy it? I'd like to have it on both my NAS and laptop.
flyers10 wrote:

Buegie -

I know how to move my itunes library but what is the easiest/best way to copy it? I'd like to have it on both my NAS and laptop.



I'll assume that you have your iTunes Library on your Laptop and wish to have a copy on your NAS (if not, just reverse the to/from locations).

You'll need to get a data connection between your Laptop and NAS. This could be a network (Cat5e or 6) cable or a USB cable (if your NAS supports a direct USB connection - my NAS does not).

As I posted above: Generally, write (copying) speed will decrease from fastest to slowest in this order:
1 - Between 2 Internal PC/Laptop HDs
2 - USB connected ExHD to PC
3 - NAS via direct Ethernet connect to PC
4 - NAS via Ethernet network connection
5 - NAS via Wireless network connection

If your NAS supports option 2 or 3, the use it. If not, then use option 4. Option 5 is slowest and should be avoided if at all possible.

Once you have a data connection between the two units, then any program that facilitates copying data will work. Even Windows Explorer will do.

Copy the entire 'iTunes' or 'iTunes Music' Folder over to the NAS. It may depend on your local iTunes setup. I do not use the default iTunes music location in any of my PCs (i.e. - 'My Music' in 'My Documents'). My Laptops/PCs, Backup ExHDs and NAS all have the following iTunes folder structure:

- iTunes
- - iTunes Library.itl (file)
- - iTunes Library.xmll (file)
- - iTunes Library Extras.itdb (file)
- - iTunes Library Genius.itdb (file)
- - sentinel (file)
- - iTunes Music
- - - Artist Folders
- - - - Album Folders
- - Album Artwork
- - - Cache
- - - Download
- - Mobile Applications
- - Previous iTunes Libraries

I sync everything within the 'iTunes' folder and below, between all my iTunes Library locations (2 Laptops, Several Work Desktops, NAS, & 5 Backup ExHDs).

Once you have copied the full iTunes Library to your destination, you can now open the Library your want when you open iTunes. This is done by holding the 'Shift' key down when selecting the iTunes icon. A dialog box will pop up asking you to select a Library or create a new one. Just navigate to the Library file location (Laptop or NAS) and choose it.

iTunes will remember the last Library location the next time you open the program, so be careful. If you had used the NAS Library last and now open iTunes while the NAS is not available to the Laptop, you may get a default Library, rather then the Laptop Library. Close iTunes and reopen using the 'Shift' key option.

Having the iTunes Library files on the NAS (specifically the .XML file) will allow Sonos to see your iTunes Playlists.

Realize you are now operating two distinct iTunes Libraries that do not cross-communicate. If the two Libraries are meant to be identical, then a simple sync'ing program to copy the music file changes/additions and the Library File(s) changes is all you need to run to keep everything consistent.

This is how I generally run my Library. It can get more detailed when keeping Lossy Music on one location (Laptops/Work PCs) and Lossless Music on another (NAS and Backup ExHDs) as I have, but it's still not too difficult. YMMV

Above is a basic outline. Post back with specific questions if you need more info.

Best of Luck
Very interesting posts.
I had my itunes library on my laptop, but moved to a NAS in order to run with Sonos. I now load new songs immeditately to the NAS library. How to sync now with the library on my laptop ?
You referred to a sync program ? which one ?? is that manual or automatic ?

Also, I don't find the xml file on my NAS. Do i need to copy it manually ?
Well you really have a couple of options....

If you entire library is stored on the nas, you can repoint itunes on your laptop to it.... You can have the unc path to the share for the location of the music files out there. You can also point it to reference the xml out there. Personally that's the way I do it... And I also then leverage an application called itunes folder watch which will "scan" for files on the share, but not in the xml. It updates the xml, and is actually much faster than the normal itunes import. The important thing is to replicate your itunes folder on the nas. As buegie is referencing above.

The other method would be to "mirror" the changes in the nas folder locally to the laptop, and then deal with itunes local. Playlists, and everything else become a pain.... You would need to find a folder sync application ... I've used things like robocopy before to copy the data from the nas back to the laptop....

It depends on how much you want to really leave the itunes behind when you are away from the nas.
Userlevel 1
Hi all,
sorry for my english,
I don't really like to have more than one itunes library, especially the one on nas, for syncronization normally takes more time then I can stand...

Do you know where sonos read compilation from ?
I mean, if I copy music folders and library.xml on the nas (using a script that sync from my local library) will it be enough fro sonos to work properly ?
In that case I will run the script let's say once a week or whenever I need, and match both needs, speed and indipendency from PC.
Thanks
Userlevel 1
Hi All,
Need some help please !
About to invest in a sonos connect +Arcam DAC, Q Acoustic Concept 20 speakers, already have audiolab 8000A amp.
My entire music collection is in my itunes library in lossy format and upto now has only been used for use with an iPod.
I will be ripping all my CD collection again in lossless format and am planning to rip them straight to a NAS drive.
Is it possible to keep the new NAS drive separate from the itunes library. i.e.: NAS for sonos (lossless files) iTunes for the ipod (lossy files) ??

Would greatly appreciate any help on how i can manage the 2 file formats for the different components my ipod & sonos system

Thanks
Alice07,

Edits, additions, and deletions in the SONOS library are not visible to the user until the SONOS Music Library update has been run.

In the Music Library, Advanced section you can set the update to run at a fixed time each day.
Don't forget that iTunes has the capability to transcode lossless files to lossy on device sync. You'd only need one iTunes library -- there's threads here somewhere explaining how to keep it on the NAS -- and you'd still get iDevice sync.
Userlevel 1
hi,
thanks both.
I know that sonos has to be scheduled to update library and that's fine.
But, what about playlist ?
Is that enough to copy xml file together with songs, or anything else is needed for sonos to work properly ?
Alice07,

Here are a few iTunes considerations. And some limits. Some users get into trouble because they drop all of their tracks into multiple playlists and bust the limits.
Userlevel 1
buzz wrote:

Alice07,
Some users get into trouble because they drop all of their tracks into multiple playlists and bust the limits.



Hi there.

What do you mean by this? I exclusively use playlists in my itunes and often have songs existing in multiple playlists.

Would that pose a problem?
Userlevel 1
Buegie wrote:

The one caveat to this is for your NAS that Sonos accesses, it's critical that you directly open the iTunes Library on the NAS within the iTunes program to (automatically) 'correct' the music file pathnames so that Sonos can index them properly. Once it is opened within iTunes, it will be correct and you can close iTunes. It's a 1-5 minute process depending on the speed of your network and NAS.



How often do you need to do this? Presumably not every time you wish to access the library via the Sonos app?

Buegie wrote:

You'll read here that the majority of Sonos users work on their PC/Laptop for initial music ripping, tagging and artwork editing. After we're satisfied, we will copy the results over to the NAS in a bulk process (a decent file-syncing program will greatly help).



Are there any suggestions for a good program?
Userlevel 1
Buegie wrote:


You'll read here that the majority of Sonos users work on their PC/Laptop for initial music ripping, tagging and artwork editing. After we're satisfied, we will copy the results over to the NAS in a bulk process (a decent file-syncing program will greatly help).



Are there any suggestions for any programs?
Sun-Tzu wrote:

Hi there.

What do you mean by this? I exclusively use playlists in my itunes and often have songs existing in multiple playlists.

Would that pose a problem?



See this: https://sonos.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/1047/kw/playlists%20limits/session/L3RpbWUvMTQwMTg5MDEwOS9zaWQvSkduZ0NaVmw%3D

Sonos limits iTunes playlists to 40,000 total tracks and to 1,000 individual Playlists.

Best of Luck
Sun-Tzu wrote:

How often do you need to do this? Presumably not every time you wish to access the library via the Sonos app?



No. This is only performed when you have copied the iTunes Library files from the Non-NAS Library location to the NAS Library location.

Are there any suggestions for a good program?



There are many. Do a search and read the comments - good and bad.

I use a Windows-based program that is 10-15 years old. It still does what I need, and I am very familiar with it - warts and all. It's a freeware program called FileSync, and may or may not be available anymore. I'd find something a bit more current for your needs.

Best of Luck
Userlevel 2
Badge +2
SecondCopy is very good but not free. http://www.secondcopy.com/

CobianBackup has been around for years and is good. http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/tutorials/backup-and-restore-data-with-cobian-backup/

Microsoft's SyncToy is supposed to be good, but I have not tried it.
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=c26efa36-98e0-4ee9-a7c5-98d0592d8c52&displaylang=en
Userlevel 1
Hell all I'm new here and just planning how I will setup my sonos system. iTunes is my primary music source and I have a large library that physically resides on the iMac that has iTunes.

My goal is to use this music and playlists but not rely on the iMac being on or at all. Another goal is to keep my primary iTunes library, which also is used heavily for movie storage and viewing among other things, in tact on the iMac without changing that routine. One other goal is that when I update iTunes or create a new playlist, it is accessible on sonos.

I will continue to use iTunes for all music additions/subtractions and playlist editing and plan on sonos as a passive music playing device only (will not use it to edit or create playlists, add or remove music).

All this being said, I think my solution is to connect a NAS to my router, and run a synch program on the iMac that will periodically synch the music folder and necessary library files from the primary iTunes iMac library to the NAS. Sonos will be set up only to see the NAS. Note that I would not synch movie folders, but the library file probably addresses them...that a problem?

Does this sound legit? Any obviously flaws or problematic issues?
I Just added a Seagate 4tb Personal Cloud and integrated to SONOS. After you add it you need to go to the personal cloud and add to favorites. Then go to Sonos favorites to play your music. It works great.
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Meegwell wrote:



All this being said, I think my solution is to connect a NAS to my router, and run a synch program on the iMac that will periodically synch the music folder and necessary library files from the primary iTunes iMac library to the NAS. Sonos will be set up only to see the NAS. Note that I would not synch movie folders, but the library file probably addresses them...that a problem?

Does this sound legit? Any obviously flaws or problematic issues?



Yes I do a similar thing. I have iTunes on a PC, with all my music and I use a sync program called 'secondcopy' to sync just my iTunes Music Files to my NAS box. I then point Sonos to the NAS music folder.

The only issue is that if you want to sync your iTunes Playlists aswell, you also have to copy the iTunes 'library.itl' file over to the music folder on the NAS box and if the files are stored in a different 'directory path' you have to go through the iTunes library file with a text editor from time to time and change the path to show where the music files are now located on the NAS (I just do a 'find and replace' and go through the text file and change the path where necessary)... it’s a bit of a nuisance, but if you are not too bothered about your playlists, or don’t have many ... you can always recreate them again in the Sonos App itself.

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