I’m writing this post mainly for the benefit of anyone considering auditioning a dCS Network Bridge.
Before my recent purchase of a Bridge I wondered how I might go about an audition. I was keen to hear the Bridge at its best. It would have been very easy to put some of my music files on a USB stick, take it along to the dealer and plug it into the back of the Bridge. However, I had read posts on this forum suggesting listening via a NAS was preferred but found no definitive comparisons. Last week I got around to doing just that – comparing playback using three different USB drives with that from my NAS.
USB Drive Details:
- Verbatim 8GB USB stick.
Connected directly to the Bridge USB input.
- Samsung 1TB 850 EVO SSD.
Connected directly to the Bridge via an IOcrest USB-SATA adapter.
In this arrangement the drive takes power from the Bridge.
- Samsung 4TB 850 EVO SSD.
Enclosed in an Oyen Digital MiniPro Raid V2 powered by an UpTone Audio JS-2 linear power supply.
Curious USB cable from enclosure to the Bridge.
Qnap 4 Bay TS-451S fitted with two 2TB Samsung EVO 850 SSD (configured as one volume).
UpTone Audio JS-2 linear power supply.
Audioquest Diamond ethernet cables connecting both NAS and Bridge to ethernet switch itself powered by a linear power supply.
The NAS fan operates most of the time. I cannot hear the fan from the listening position.
Playback via the USB input was very good. In addition, USB example 2 sounded better than 1 and 3 perhaps marginally better than 2. However, playback from the NAS in all cases was more relaxed, natural, life-like, detailed and preferred.
The Network Bridge USB input is convenient but does not realise the full potential of the Network Bridge. In addition files on a USB drive cannot be discovered with the Mosaic app search function and are only listed in a file directory.
If I had an audio buddy come by with music on a USB stick to play through my system I’d want to play the files back from the NAS. To do so:
Connect the USB stick to a computer on the same network.
Log on to the NAS via this computer. On my Mac computer this is simple. I don’t know about Windows machines.
In the NAS multimedia/music folder make up a new folder with the person’s name.
Copy the music files from the USB stick to this folder. Copying files from a USB stick can be slow, but if just copying a few files it will take just a couple of minutes. Copying from a USB drive is generally faster.
Rescan the NAS with MinimServer (which will already be on the NAS if using the Mosaic control app). The rescan can be initiated with MinimWatch application on the computer (a free download from https://minimserver.com). The rescan takes only a minute or so after which the files will be searchable with the Mosaic control app and playable.
The new files can be deleted after the listening session.
This may sound like a lot of work but for anyone with basic computer skills it is really quite easy and straightforward.
I’d recommend anyone auditioning a Network Bridge at an audio dealer to do the same – listen to your music files from a NAS. Ideally the dCS dealer would have their Bridge playing from a NAS and could easily copy a customer’s files to it.
On the subject of NAS and its connections I’d be interested to hear from other Network Bridge owners regarding NAS and ethernet switch setup.