Synology DS412+ NAS
Device Type: Four Bay Network Attached Storage
CPU Model: Intel Atom
CPU Frequency: Dual Core 2.13 GHz
System Memory: 1 GB DDR3
Input: 2x Gigabit RJ 45 Etherenet
Output: 1x - USB 3.0, USB 2.0, eSATA
Dimensions (H x W x D): 165 mm X 203 mm X 233.2 mm
Weight: 2.03 kg
Availability: Online and through Authorized Dealers
Price: $734.99 (diskless $599.99 on Amazon)
Up to 20TB of Storage
What are the most important features for any NAS to embody? Quiet, reliable, enough storage for your present and future music needs, processing power, features, functions, and ease of use? I'd say those are the top most qualities we want from any NAS whose sole purpose is music serving and I'd also say the Synology DS412+ delivers on all counts.
Synology was founded in 2000 and is 100% focused on Network Attached Storage (NAS). They make everything from single bay home NAS to multi-bay scalable enterprise-class models scalable up to 530TB! I've owned and used their two-bay DS212 NAS device for a few years now without incident. It it quiet, reliable, and has all of the features and functions I need. If you're wondering what a NAS is and what you could possibly use one for, check out our five part series on NAS starting with Introduction to NAS.
The Synology DS412+ is a 4-bay NAS capable of housing up to 20TB of storage (accepts 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch hard drives). The exact storage limit will vary depending on which RAID level you choose. The review sample came pre-configured with four 2TB drives configured using Synology Hybrid Raid with 1 disc fault-tolerance for about 5.4TB of total usable storage. You can also implement standard RAID levels if you prefer, or none at all.
You can see some performance comparisons on the Synology website between their various 4-bay NAS devices here. The DS412+ has extra processing power compared to some less costly models and one possible use for this extra processing prowess is if you decide to use Synology's Audio Station app which comes wrapped up in the very user friendly Linux-based DSM (DiskStation Manager) software which is up to v.5.0. The Audio Station is essentially a music player app, like iTunes, that comes in a desktop version with associated free mobile apps. One interesting feature of the DSM Audio Station is you can have your Synology NAS automatically transcode your music files to lossy quality on-the-fly for playing over crappy wi-fi networks or on your mobile device. The extra processing power of the DS412+ allows transcoding to occur seamlessly regardless of what else you ask the DS412+ to do at the same time.
Since the review sample came preloaded with drives, I cannot speak to the process of loading them up but looking through the manual this is a matter of plug in and play. You access the drive bays through the unit's front face and all you need is a screwdriver to mount them into place. I connected an external USB 3.0 drive that contains my entire music library in AIFF format to the DS412+ and copied all of my music files to DS412+'s shared Music folder, a process that took a few hours for about 12,000 albums. I also loaded MinimumServer which now comes with the Synology DSM "Package Center" so all you to do is click "Install" (you also have to install Java by clicking "Install"). There are many other apps in the Synology Package Center including Cloud Station, DNS Server, and more. You can check out the list here. One nice feature is you can set up the DSM to send you email alerts if there are any system status changes or errors.
Since RAID is not a backup, you'll want to connect a drive to the DS412+ for that purpose either via USB or eSATA. The DSM comes with a very easy to use backup app that requires no explanation or previous knowledge. Just connect a formatted drive (you can also backup to another NAS) and the app will step you through the process.
Running With The DS412+
I just ran MinimServer/Java apps and mainly used the DS412+ to serve music over my network via iTunes/Pure Music 2 and Audirvana Plus the latter in both iTunes integration mode and playlist mode. I do not currently have a DSD-capable network player on hand, like the Lumin Network Music Player (see review) so I could not take MinumServer for a ride which you need in order stream DSD over DLNA.
Even though the DS412+ has two rear-mounted fans, I never heard them. I had the DS412+ sitting on my equipment rack which is about 10' from the listening chair. I also went right up to the 412+ and put my ear next to the fans, close enough so they blew my hair, and still could only hear a very, very, very slight whoosh. I'd call that silent. In terms of serving music, the Synology DS412+ works flawlessly, as does my older DS212, and I found the newer version of DSM a pleasure to use.
I also played around with the Synology DS Audio app for the iPhone, and set the DS412+ to transcode my library to lossy files on-the-fly just to torture myself. Kidding. For those instances where bandwidth will not allow higher quality streaming, this is a nice solution and requires nothing more than the click of one option button in the Synology DSM. Nice.
To test the DS412+'s network player mettle, I connected the loaner Moon MiND network player to the Auralic Vega via AES/EBU and had the MiND access the 412+'s music library. I played through all manner of PCM resolutions up to 24/192 and it was an uneventful experience outside of the lovely music being played. As it should be.
If up to 20TB will suit your music storage needs, I would certainly recommend taking a very close look at the Synology DS412+. It runs for all intents and purposes silently, the DSM software is a breeze to use, and offers MinimServer for streaming DSD files over DLNA as well as a host of additional features making for one nice NAS package.
Also on hand and in use during the Synology DS412+ NAS review: Synology DS212, QNAP HS-210