I would like to share with you my experience with NAS devices and the streaming of mp3s:
Basically I am in the same situation as maybe thousands of other users as well:
a) I have a significant amount of mp3s on my computer, located not in the living room
b) I want to listen to these mp3s in the living room
c) I do not want to run a computer 7x24 hours because of electricity costs
d) I have good knowledge how to use Windows, but do not have a clue about Linux.
So what to do?
I bought a Roku Soundbridge 1001, which is a great DMA - superb sound quality via the optical cable, fast and reliable. It is connected via WLAN with the router at my computer. On the computer I am running iTunes 7, which works great with the Soundbridge.
So far, so good. Everything was fine, until I decided to switch from the computer to an NAS solution.
First I tried QNAP TS-101, because it has Twonky preinstalled. Soundbridge is said to work well with Twonky.
The NAS was not found at all by QNAP Finder in my local network. I run Windows XP and switched off all the firewalls as recommended by QNAP. Even after searching the Web, all kind of forums and spending lots of hours I was not able to find the QNAP NAS.
So I decided to send it back. Another finding: Running with a Seagate 500GB harddisk the QNAP got incredibly hot.
Second try: I ordered a Synology DS-106j, because I found some good comments on its built-in iTunes server and its communication with Soundbridge. I bought it in September 2008, it had the latest firmware installed. My Soundbridge had also the latest firmware installed.
I have a significant amount of mp3s (80GB) after ripping all of my CDs (some hundred).
The Synlogoy was found immediately, the admin software is very easy and intuitive. It took me not more than 15 minutes to set up the Disk Station, connect the cables, install the software and transferring the files. I was able to transfer my mp3 Files to the disk in the 'music' folder. It was not much slower than the transfer to a normal external USB HDD.
I switched on the iTunes server on the Synology DS-106j and went over to the living room:
Soundbridge was able to find the Synology Disk Station immediately. I tried it with 20-30 files on the HDD first and it worked fine. Soundbridge found the music and played it well.
Then I tried it again with all the files (80GB of data). The soundbridge was not able to find the artist names anymore (timeout?). I searched the web again and found out that this is a known problem: The built-in iTunes server is just too slow to handle a larger amount of files. Therefore I switched it off again and tried the built-in UPNP server. Here I had the same problem: The Synology DS-106j is found by the Soundbridge without any problems, but again just too slow to find the artists.
I decided to send it back again.
For sure, I will not try another NAS and just keep my laptop computer running. It may consume some more electrical power, but not much.
In theory, there would still be the option to install Twonky, Firefly or some other streaming software on the NAS. But first I have absolutely no Linux know-how and can see from the forums that this is again difficult and does have some pitfalls. Second, I will not destroy the warranty by installing another firmware, then find out that it still not works and not being able anymore to send it back due to the lost warranty.
If you are in a similiar situation like me, do not take an NAS solution. Look for a cheap PC as a server which does not consume too much electricity. This is still a much better option.
NAS drives are still in the experimental phase when you want to stream music. Using a PC is much easier than the NAS systems and gives you much more flexibility. Especially I can recommend the combination of iTunes on the PC plus Soundbridge as a DMA in the living room!