Recording audio to a network Drive?

gdgross

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 8, 2011
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Hi all. I'm relatively new to setting up networks, although i do have a wired home network now.

I also have a home recording studio (music) and all my computers are macs running various versions of osx.

I'd like to purchase a NAS drive for a couple purposes: backup yes, but I'd also like to try and record audio to a network drive in realtime. Then I can work on sessions remotely when I'm not in the studio room itself, or from another computer also. Typically I record to a USB3 SSD attached to my mac, which is of course a fast interface compared to a network. I've read of people recording successfully to networked drives, but I confess to not knowing enough about networking to know what I need. I assume the bottleneck in the data transfer will be the network itself, not the drives or anything like that. (I can always get SSDs I suppose if drives do end up being the problem.)

So I'm looking for a NAS drive (maybe like a Synology DS220+ or similar). I'm thinking two or more drive slots, so I can just by a single SSD (if needed) to use to record to, and a traditional spinning drive for the mirror or additional storage.

Any thoughts on a home/small office type model that will keep up with fast data transfer while recording audio are welcome.

The current network is 1G coming from an apple airport extreme.

Thanks for any thoughts or advice!

Geoff
 

hobowankenobi

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Aug 27, 2015
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It really depends on how much throughput you need. I'm not an audio guy, but I would expect it would depend on bit rate, and other specifics. If you can test and identify the required though put and any other requirements, like latency, then you can know if you can record to a NAS, or more specifically, how much network you need to be successful.

Network performance is a long chain of potential bottlenecks, including wiring type, length, termination, NIC quantities and qualities, switching and routing performance...and other potential issues like network traffic.

Traffic issues can be managed via QOS on higher-end routers and switches.

If you have a second computer, you could set up a share on it, and test recording to that share.

You can also use a variety of tools to test network throughput, to see if it is adequate (assuming you have a target goal for audio).

For video NAS recording is possible, but one has to verify the bottom/minimum throughput...not high or even average. One "dropout" of drives, controllers, switches, due to traffic...etc. below the minimum, and the recording can be interrupted or damaged. I would expect the same for audio.

Let's see if some audio gurus can speak to the throughput requirements.
 

gdgross

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 8, 2011
8
0
It really depends on how much throughput you need. I'm not an audio guy, but I would expect it would depend on bit rate, and other specifics. If you can test and identify the required though put and any other requirements, like latency, then you can know if you can record to a NAS, or more specifically, how much network you need to be successful.

Network performance is a long chain of potential bottlenecks, including wiring type, length, termination, NIC quantities and qualities, switching and routing performance...and other potential issues like network traffic.

Traffic issues can be managed via QOS on higher-end routers and switches.

If you have a second computer, you could set up a share on it, and test recording to that share.

You can also use a variety of tools to test network throughput, to see if it is adequate (assuming you have a target goal for audio).

For video NAS recording is possible, but one has to verify the bottom/minimum throughput...not high or even average. One "dropout" of drives, controllers, switches, due to traffic...etc. below the minimum, and the recording can be interrupted or damaged. I would expect the same for audio.

Let's see if some audio gurus can speak to the throughput requirements.
Thanks for your thoughts, not a bad idea to try with a second computer! just set it up as a hard drive and see if it works.

As far data throughput, the raw numbers look like this, 24-bit audio x 48kHz x 16 channels = about 18Mbps, not counting counting any overhead. I rarely record all 16 channels at once, but with a drum kit or full band, can quickly get up into the 12/14 channels.

Seems like a Gig Ethernet network ought to be able to keep up with that no sweat, maybe even a 100M could? As long as there aren't other bottlenecks as you say.
 

hobowankenobi

macrumors 65816
Aug 27, 2015
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on the land line mr. smith.
Yeah, you should be good. Gig Ethernet should give plenty of overhead, even with a less-than-ideal network.

You could try a tool like Helios LAN Test to verify sharing throughput.

Also be aware that low-end NAS suffer from slow speeds, due to low power (low cost) CPU and possibly too little RAM. Fine for backups and other basic or network needs. If you go Synology, don't be tempted by their low end. J Series is underpowered, Value Series is only slightly better, but Plus Series would be wise for good performance and a longer life.
 
Last edited:

gdgross

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 8, 2011
8
0
Yeah, you should be good. Gig Ethernet should give plenty of overhead, even with a less-than-ideal network.

You could try a tool like Helios LAN Test to verify sharing throughput.

Also be aware that low-end NAS suffer from slow speeds, due to low power (low cost) CPU and possibly too little RAM. Fine for backups and other basic or network needs. If you go Synology, don't be tempted by their low end. J Series is underpowered, Value Series is only slightly better, but Plus Series would be wise for good performance and a longer life.
Thanks for the recommendations, that's exactly the kind of info i need!

Not exactly sure which models belong to the plus series, though. Would the DS720+ for example be a part of that?
 
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gdgross

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 8, 2011
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a related question. I do have a USB-3 external hard drive I could test with before springing for an NAS.

Is it possible, to connect this drive directly to the network via a USB to Ethernet adapter? all the ones I've seen have usb A type connectors, but as this is a slave device not a host, i'd need a b-type connector...
 

hobowankenobi

macrumors 65816
Aug 27, 2015
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Yeah, either the DS220+ or the DS720+ should be good performance. Comparison here. 2 Core vs. 4 Core mainly.

As for USB over ethernet...you need something that will let you control access and configure. There are ways, but you end up hacking together NAS. Or, some routers have sharing via a plugged-in USB drive built-in, but likely won't be very fast due to lack of resources (CPU and RAM). A good example is the Synology routers, though there are others that support file sharing too. Might make sense if you are shopping for a router, and if you verify that the throughput is adequate.
 

gdgross

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 8, 2011
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Thanks again, hobowan - practically I assume the 4 core just means faster transfers, better buffering, etc? I don't particularly care about mirror or backup speeds, but I do of course want a fast recording pipeline.

Figured it wasn't as simple as a USB to Ethernet adapters, that's why they have managed NAS haha. Still worth trying with an extra computer though!
 

gdgross

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 8, 2011
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edit - nevermind, i realized this was a test of my internal drive. cant run this for real until I have a network drive to select!

FWIW, Helios test results here (on my work PC, recording will be done on a mac):

Screenshot (23).png
 
Last edited:

hobowankenobi

macrumors 65816
Aug 27, 2015
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Glad to see you are making progress. Once you get your network drive mounted and selected, you can compare your network performance to local drive.

And yes, at the risk of over-simplifying, one can see that as NAS boxes go up in CPU performance, so does transfer speeds (until the network max is achieved, and thus becomes the ceiling or bottleneck). It can be tricky figuring out where the bottleneck is with slow network performance: server, server disk, cabling, switching, routing, termination, or destination NIC or storage.

If you dig through Synology (or other brands) specs, one can see the max transfer speeds go up with CPU performance until saturation is reached. Pretty clear CPU matters, at least at the lower end of the product line. The harder part is to know how much is "enough" for a single, high-performance connection. Often the bottleneck is a bunch of connections, like in a multi-user space.

LAN test will at least show the overall performance of your network to a share vs. local. Might be worth comparing USB to internal to see if there are any obvious limitations too.
 
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gdgross

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Original poster
Jul 8, 2011
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yeah good points, thanks again -

I ordered an ethernet/thunderbolt adapter to get my second laptop on the LAN, so i'll be able to test with a second computer soon. i presume there will be some bottlenecks in that adapter too, so if I can get decent transfer speeds and even recording many channel audio onto the second laptop over the network, then I presume with a well-managed NAS, it would be at least as good.

For anyone else following along at home, here's synology's comparison page: https://www.synology.com/en-us/products/performance#1_2bay

I was looking at the DS720+ if this test works out well. I think that PCIe SSD caching sold me, haha. But now that I see their own data, I think I might be able to get away with the 220+. It looks like the only area that the 720+ really beats the 220+ is as a web server. I do have websites hosted that I'm paying for, that I'd consider hosting myself if I had the capability, but I doubt i'm savvy or have enough time to learn how to transfer them to my own server. Not to mention that I don't have a super fast internet connection anyway, so I'm probably better off not bothering.
 

satcomer

macrumors 604
Feb 19, 2008
6,851
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The Finger Lakes Region
yeah good points, thanks again -

I ordered an ethernet/thunderbolt adapter to get my second laptop on the LAN, so i'll be able to test with a second computer soon. i presume there will be some bottlenecks in that adapter too, so if I can get decent transfer speeds and even recording many channel audio onto the second laptop over the network, then I presume with a well-managed NAS, it would be at least as good.

For anyone else following along at home, here's synology's comparison page: https://www.synology.com/en-us/products/performance#1_2bay

I was looking at the DS720+ if this test works out well. I think that PCIe SSD caching sold me, haha. But now that I see their own data, I think I might be able to get away with the 220+. It looks like the only area that the 720+ really beats the 220+ is as a web server. I do have websites hosted that I'm paying for, that I'd consider hosting myself if I had the capability, but I doubt i'm savvy or have enough time to learn how to transfer them to my own server. Not to mention that I don't have a super fast internet connection anyway, so I'm probably better off not bothering.
If you faster speeds consider c updating your Network to 10G and you’ll increase network speeds!
 

gdgross

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jul 8, 2011
8
0
If you faster speeds consider c updating your Network to 10G and you’ll increase network speeds!
Hah! that would be great. My main recording computer only supports 1Ge though, so no real point until I upgrade machines in the future. Don't know if my cabling will support it anyway, i just looked it up and I think it's only Cat6, not 6a... (Gigatrue 550MHz cable)
 

hobowankenobi

macrumors 65816
Aug 27, 2015
1,315
397
on the land line mr. smith.
yeah good points, thanks again -

I ordered an ethernet/thunderbolt adapter to get my second laptop on the LAN, so i'll be able to test with a second computer soon. i presume there will be some bottlenecks in that adapter too, so if I can get decent transfer speeds and even recording many channel audio onto the second laptop over the network, then I presume with a well-managed NAS, it would be at least as good.

For anyone else following along at home, here's synology's comparison page: https://www.synology.com/en-us/products/performance#1_2bay

I was looking at the DS720+ if this test works out well. I think that PCIe SSD caching sold me, haha. But now that I see their own data, I think I might be able to get away with the 220+. It looks like the only area that the 720+ really beats the 220+ is as a web server. I do have websites hosted that I'm paying for, that I'd consider hosting myself if I had the capability, but I doubt i'm savvy or have enough time to learn how to transfer them to my own server. Not to mention that I don't have a super fast internet connection anyway, so I'm probably better off not bothering.

I think the SSD cache would really show improvement on smaller, repeated reads. Shared files between many users would be a good example. I would think audio/video (continuous, long writes), would not see any benefit.

Yeah, hosted websites from home can be all sorts of tricky. I would not really consider it...maybe others have a differing view.
 

satcomer

macrumors 604
Feb 19, 2008
6,851
1,153
The Finger Lakes Region
Hah! that would be great. My main recording computer only supports 1Ge though, so no real point until I upgrade machines in the future. Don't know if my cabling will support it anyway, i just looked it up and I think it's only Cat6, not 6a... (Gigatrue 550MHz cable)
You can under now do it for $200!

Here is video on it:
 

pldelisle

macrumors 6502a
May 4, 2020
502
465
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
I have a Synology DS1513+ since 2013. Really, really nice NAS and runs flawlessly since then. This is one of my best technological purchase of all time ahah ! You won't regret a DS720+. But it doesn't have 10 gigabit support.
 
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