A Network Attached Storage system is a jack of all trades, a Swiss Army knife of interconnected computing, based on a bunch of drives that play nice with just about any computing platform.
That is my definition anyways...
But a NAS as a karaoke machine is a bit different. Mind you, it is just another app that will run nicely on this particular QNAP model in addition to the host of other standard NAS applications.
So QNAP has done something different to make this machine really sing and dance.
Let’s have a look and listen.
Before we dig into the karaoke aspects let’s have a quick roundup of the features of the TS-453A as well as some of the highlights of the new operating system QTS 4.2.1.
The ongoing improvements of the heart of this system add a network and virtual switch, proxy server and virtualisation station 2.11 among other things. Home users probably won’t need most of the functionality a modern NAS unit offers but SMB uses certainly will. Qsirch 2.1 is also improved and quite handy to search everything on your NAS. Typically, your NAS will hold many times more data than your computer so a dedicated search function is quite essential.
Installation of the software and some of the basic apps is quite straightforward and typically geared towards the new user. Just make sure that the process doesn’t get interrupted by a power outage as happened in my case, which caused no end of grief to sort the installation out again....
It’s probably better to run the NAS on an uninterruptible power supply anyway to prevent unplanned shutdowns.
Here are a few key features that I find interesting:
The TS-453A supports the open-source Linux platform as a gateway for Internet of Things (IoT) solutions to other smart devices. Professional developers can develop and run IoT applications directly on the TS-453A.
Simply plug in a keyboard, mouse and HDMI monitor to the TS-453A and you can use the Linux Station just as if you were using a PC.
The TS-453A is powered by the latest quad-core Intel Celeron processor which allows users to enjoy 4K (H.264) video playback and 1080p/4K video real-time transcoding directly from this NAS to an HD/4K display. So we can see that this NAS unit is eminently suited for multimedia stuff.
For the technogeeks among us who need to know what to expect when you open up the chassis: this N3150 quad-core 1.6GHz processor can automatically increase the processor's clock speed from up to 2.08GHz when performing CPU-intensive tasks.
On board is also dual-channel 4GB DDR3L-1600 RAM (upgradable to 8GB) and 4 Gigabit LAN ports. The TS-453A delivers up to 414 MB/s read speed and doesn’t run out of oompf very quickly. There are 4 USB 3.0 ports (one on the front panel) and 2 HDMI ones.
I’m missing the locks on the drive bays which are really necessary in a home with kids or a business where unauthorised folk can have access to these drives...
This particular four bay unit from QNAP looks much the same as previous iterations: smart, compact and very functional. The main changes and improvements are on the inside. I would have expected a better display over the years as this one is very basic. I also find the start-up times rather long. Six long minutes to hear the service ready beep is too long...
What makes it a good Karaoke system?
Among other things: the TS-453A has high-quality audio output from an on-board audio card. There are also two full-sized 6.3mm microphone plugs on the back panel plus a line-out jack to your amplifier for even better sound.
With the two HDMI ports we can easily connect to an HD TV or AV receiver and through a media player such as Kodi with 7.1 channel audio pass through we can enjoy 4K videos.
The TS-453A includes a QNAP remote for you to control HD Station, one of the main apps on the NAS, through its built-in IR receiver. With the help of the new smart remote control learning function, you can pair up to three TV or stereo IR remote controls and program your frequently-used buttons and functions. Of course you can also turn your mobile devices into remote controls by installing the Qremote app.
OceanKTV - The App for Karaoke
OceanKTV TVplayer is a karaoke system running on HybridDesk Station that can enable your NAS to be a karaoke player for you to sing along with all your karaoke content. OceanKTV Console is a karaoke system console running on the QTS operating system, enabling you to select songs among other functions.
So you have to install the new OceanKTV app together with making sure that the OceanKTV TVplayer is also downloaded.
Connect a TV with an HDMI cable to the NAS and plug in a dynamic microphone (I bought a $30 Yoga unit from JB HiFi which seems a well-built mike) and theoretically we should be set to go.
I did not find the OceanKTV console all that easy to navigate and the UI looked very “kitschy” to the point of garish. It might appeal to K-pop fans but not so much for me.
There are some simple controls on the panel at the bottom of OceanKTV Console/ OceanKTV TVplayer for basic functions such as Stop, Skip, or Adjust key during singing.
Anyways, we got it installed and working and I can see that if you buy the TS-453A for all the right reasons you’ll get a free karaoke system as a bargain. But I would not recommend to just buy this NAS as karaoke machine. And that is certainly not the way QNAP wants it either! There’s so much real useful stuff you can do with this extremely capable machine that you’ll never utilise all its functionality...
Street price as of July 2016 is just north of the AUD700 mark which is excellent value for such an amazingly capable machine!
Highly recommended, particularly for SMB or advanced home users.