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I can't seem to find a NAS solution, aside from a custom built one, that is able to stream FLAC audio via UPnP. Streaming seems to be limited to MP3 or other popular formats. Do any exist that will stream FLAC, or maybe transcode to MP3 and stream?

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There are many supplied answers. Please check which is your accepted answer. –  Johan Karlsson Feb 6 '12 at 15:36

3 Answers 3

The QNAP NMP-1000 looks like an awesome NAS/multimedia player.

alt text

One of its many features is:

Experience high-quality music

The FLAC lossless audio files can be natively handled by the NMP-1000 without converting job. You can rip to archive your favorite music CD and enjoy the original high-quality music on your Hi-Fi system conveniently. The NMP-1000 plays lots of digital music format, including FLAC, PCM, WMA, AC3, DTS, and WAV.

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nice device. more of a frontend than a backend. in particular, flac playback is definitely a frontend feature -- providing flac streams via upnp to other frontends would be a backend feature, but it's hard to tell from the specs whether the device does this or not. –  quack quixote Jan 29 '10 at 17:27

From your question, it sounds like you are looking for a UPnP-capable backend for streaming FLAC to some unspecified frontend(s) for playback. It also sounds like you're seeking a Network Audio Server "NAS", not a Network Accessible Storage "NAS". This is an important distinction to recognize, because the latter NAS is the traditional usage, and most NAS products are mainly file-servers, not media servers.

The difference, really, is hardware vs. software. Network storage "NAS" is a hardware problem with hardware solutions. Network audio server "NAS" is a software problem with software solutions. I think what you're asking for is a product that provides both.

Frankly, I don't know the product space well enough to suggest anything in particular. There are lots of frontends that claim to support streaming FLAC, either from servers in the same product line or from general network storage "NAS" devices, but not many network audio server products specify streaming FLAC and supporting UPnP. Note that most claims of "streaming FLAC" are just marketing-speak for "plays FLAC files from network share".

Any network storage "NAS" devices will support FLAC -- all they're doing is sharing files. UPnP+FLAC is another matter; since the DLNA standards don't require FLAC, it is up to the hardware manufacturer to provide or the end user to add on support. Any hardware NAS product that runs Windows Home Server (or even FreeNAS, as Molly suggests) can run network audio "NAS" software as an add-on.

  • Escient's frontend products claim to stream FLAC from their backend products, but I've no idea whether their backends work with non-Escient products, or whether they support UPnP.

  • Acer's easyStore H340 is a network storage "NAS" that runs Windows Home Server on an Atom230 processor. It includes DLNA compatible digital media server software, and the documentation claims FLAC support, but I don't know if this is a WHS built-in feature, or an Acer add-on. I've considered purchasing this box and generally like the design and features, but frankly I'm a DIY-er and would rather build my own Atom330-and-Linux-powered version.

  • Asset UPnP is a software network audio "NAS" that runs on Windows (including Windows Home Server). It's DLNA compatible and serves FLAC and many other formats. The server functionality is free, but Internet Radio and other features are only available in the registered version.

  • Logitech's Squeezebox and Transporter devices are frontends, and you install their Squeezebox Server software on a PC or network storage "NAS" as a backend. These products support FLAC and transcoding but don't do UPnP (to my knowledge).

FLAC's homepage and Hardware links page is a good source of information on FLAC-capable products. See also the Hardware support section of Wikipedia's FLAC article. Most of these will be frontend products capable of decoding FLAC formats, but some manufacturers may include backends in their product lines.

Realistically, I don't think anything will be fully plug-n-play in the way that you want. But a Windows Home Server product, possibly with add-on media server software like Asset UPnP (or even XBMC/TVersity/Boxee or similar), may fit your bill for a NAS+NAS backend. I hope some of this info helps.

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+1 good guide, nice run down! –  William Hilsum Jan 27 '10 at 17:13
    
Bloody fantastic. Let me soak that all in. :) As far as NAS vs NAS goes, yeah, I guess I'm looking for a backend that stores as well as streams FLAC audio. For instance the D-Link DNS-323 can do the storing and streaming, it just can't stream FLAC. By the looks of it I'll probably have to settle for storing FLAC on a NAS, expose it as a file share on the network and let something like XBMC be the streaming backend. Anyway, thanks for the answer, I still have some reading to do. –  Jonathon Watney Jan 27 '10 at 23:37
    
yeah, i thought of the Buffalo Linkstation, similar to the D-Link. both would be good platforms for a FreeNAS project, but are underpowered for WHS and don't stream FLAC natively. that's why i think the Acer box or similar might be a better fit; WHS+Asset/XBMC seems closer to an out-of-the-box solution. –  quack quixote Jan 28 '10 at 0:30

FreeNAS is using FUPPES which supports FLAC

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i expect this is included in the OP's "custom built" category... –  quack quixote Jan 26 '10 at 16:09
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@~quack Correct. I'm looking for something that's off the shelf. –  Jonathon Watney Jan 26 '10 at 16:28
    
pretty much any 'off the shelf' computer is able to run FreeNAS but even an old PIII clunker without HDD will do, FreeNAS runs happily from a USB stick. :) –  Molly7244 Jan 26 '10 at 16:45
    
@Molly I understand but I'm looking for an off the shelf NAS "appliance" and not a DIY project. :) Ideally, I'd like to just plug the thing in and have it work. –  Jonathon Watney Jan 26 '10 at 18:09
    
@Jonathon Watney - let's face it, FLAC is a rather 'exotic' format and does nothing for your average 'iPod clientele' (doesn't play on the iPod, can't be good :) and the market for such appliances is rather non-existent. so folks like me, who happen to have a massive FLAC collection, have to resort to a bit of DIY, but believe me, there's nothing complicated about FreeNAS, plenty of 'Getting Started' guides. as i said you can even install it on a USB stick, i'm using an eee 701 (got it for tenner because the display was broken), works like a charm and the power consumption is around 10w. –  Molly7244 Jan 26 '10 at 21:52

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