funkyfresh computers and accessories

Synology DS1511+ NAS Review

The Synology DS1511+ NAS is perfect for the small business or advanced home user. It’s packed with features that can all be accessed using an attractive web based GUI. It’s perhaps overkill for the average home user but if you want to really explore and configure all the capabilities of this NAS it can become a full time hobby and very useful once configured to your liking.

Synology has a list of hard drives that it recommends for use with its NAS lineup. All the big players have drives that will work with the DS1511+ and you can mix and match sizes if you choose. It all depends on how mission critical the data on the NAS will be. Since we were reviewing the Hitachi Ultrastar 7K3000 drives when we received the DS1511+ the timing was perfect. These are ideal enterprise level 3TB drives and a good test for a state of the art NAS installation.

The drives easily screw to removable rails that slide and lock into place. Synology includes two sets of screws for different hard drives. Once attached to the rails just a little force is required to make full contact with the power and SATA connectors and to lock the drives in place.

The DS1511+ is solidly built with two fans for cooling. It’s very quiet in sleep mode and depending on the hard drives installed fairly quiet during operation. The Hitachi Ultrastars make quite a bit of chatter when reading and writing so a strategic location where noise is not an issue may be important depending on your setup. Good airflow is a requirement as well to keep the drives running cool.

Preparing all five drives to run the Synology Hybrid RAID takes the better part of a day with full disc scan to ensure no bad sectors are encountered later. That may sound like a long time but that’s actually pretty good for preparing five 3TB drives.

We used a single volume with multiple shared folders and 3 computers synched to the DS1511+. The initial synchronization can take some time depending on the amount of data. Once synched the NAS will monitor any changes in the “watch” folders and stay current with any new files or new revisions of existing files. It’s very seamless.

We really enjoyed using the DS1511+ as a media server for music, pictures and video. Having fast hard drives helps when multiple clients are accessing the NAS at the same time. For example, a couple of PCs can be backing up data and the NAS media server is able to easily stream audio and video to a TV. Our Blu-ray player instantly recognized the NAS and quickly streamed files from all the shared folders

Synology also has smart phone apps to remotely access files on the DS1511+ if you choose to expose the NAS externally to the net. This was much more compelling before Google unveiled its ‘Music’ service. We suspect even more cloud apps of this type to proliferate for access to myriad media files. Still, having the ability to access the NAS remotely and have complete control over the experience can be very useful.

So, the DS1511+ offers way more capabilities than the average user will ever tackle and plenty more that any user will appreciate such as the "download station" and direct USB connectivity. However, if you’re looking for a full featured NAS will all the bells and whistles and are willing to put on your IT hat for a weekend your reward will be a very powerful data management and backup solution.

Visit Synology for more information.

iRig Mic Review













































If only we had this as kids. The iRig Mic from IK Multimedia is a drop dead easy way to punch up an app and start recording with your iPod, iPhone or iPad. It has three preamp levels for low, medium and loud sounds and can be used to capture vocals or instrument sounds.

The sound quality is what you would expect from a $60 microphone and preamp combo, decent. It’s not a Neumann but the versatility, ease of use and small portable ‘studio’ footprint it enables is what makes it fun.

We plugged the iRig Mic into an iPad 2 and fired up Garage Band and the free app demos VocalLive, Amplitube and iRig Recorder. The free demos are kinda lame because they only have 1 track enabled. It’d be more interesting to showcase fully functioning apps and have them timeout but we get it, pay to play.

The iRig Mic allows real time monitoring of the audio signal as it’s recorded. So singers can crank up the reverb as they lay down those awesome vocal tracks. Of course, if you’re in the room next door listening to the dry signal through the wall you may not be so happy.

Our first 4-track was a Fostex 160, a great machine that still works today but didn’t include any effects, required a fresh high bias tape for each mix and certainly didn’t provide random access to anything. Now a $20 app does it all on a portable device.

There are some downsides to using music apps without real knobs, mainly the lack of real knobs. I mean would you sit around the house running your fingers up and down a regular sheet of glass? After a while we get what we call friction fatigue.

However, as a way to quickly capture song ideas, interview guests for a podcast or simply get kids involved in music making, the iRig Mic comes in super handy.

Visit IK Multimedia for more information.

Hitachi Ultrastar 7K3000 3TB Drive Review

The Hitachi Ultrastar 7K3000 is a robust 7200 RPM, 3TB drive with 64MB of cache that comes with a five-year warranty. It’s pricey, hovering currently around $375, but if you’re looking for a drive that’s designed to take 24x7 punishment it may be worth it. The 7K300 ha s 2M hour MTBF rating which is a first for a 7200 RPM drive.

We put five of these suckers in a Synology DS1511+ NAS. The drives spin up quietly but are fairly noisy when reading and writing data. The sound is similar to a WD VelociRaptor. So these drives are best used in an environment where noise will not be an issue.

Preparing all five drives to run the Synology Hybrid RAID takes the better part of a day with full disc scan to ensure no bad sectors are encountered later. That may sound like a long time but that’s actually pretty good for preparing five 3TB drives.

Where these drives really shine is when multiple clients are accessing the NAS at the same time. For example, a couple of PCs can be backing up data and the NAS media server is able to easily stream audio and video to a TV.

If you run Windows 7 or a Mac you should have no problem using a 3TB drive. If you’re still running XP than stick with the 2TB drives.

We’re beating up these drives as best we can and so far they’re holding up nicely. Video editors will appreciate the robust performance and the 5 year warranty should give anyone piece of mind for myriad backup solutions.

The Ultrastar 7K3000 comes in both SATA and SAS versions to accommodate any workstation or NAS. The HP Z800 filled with several of these drives would be a force to reckon with.

Visit Hitachi for more information.

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