The words Music Vault conjure up the image of a stainless-steel safe full of CDs. That’s what the Music Vault is—almost. Except that the CDs are virtual and the vault is made of silicon. The Music Vault II is a custom-configured NAS (network-attached storage) hard drive/network server that has been designed to work seamlessly with any Logitech Squeezebox, Sonos, Denon, or other networked music server. But wait, as they say on all those late-night infomercials, there’s more. The Music Vault II also allows you to connect a Squeezebox to your music library without having to keep your computer constantly on.
While this may not sound like a big deal, being able to turn your computer off while still maintaining access to all your music files is difficult to do with a Logitech Squeezebox system. Setting up a NAS drive so you can access your music library while your computer is off requires at least a network administrator’s level of computer skill. Even if you do have “the skills,” only a few NAS drives have the right interior topology to support all the software and hardware needed to host Logitech’s SqueezeCenter software and ancillary programs.
What the Music Vault promises is a pain-free way to liberate your Logitech Squeezebox music system from the tyranny of an always-running computer. Does it deliver the goods? Yes, it does.
Sound Science’s Neal Van Berg lives about 40 miles away from me in Castle Rock, Colorado. So instead of shipping a unit he delivered it in person. But to demonstrate how easy it is to set up a Music Vault he unboxed the unit and said, “Now you install it.”
Installation proved to be almost glitch-free. All I had to do was hook up the Music Vault to my home network via an Ethernet cable, attach its AC cable, turn it on, and wait for the Music Vault to appear on my main computer desktop as a network hard drive. Everything went almost as planned.
This is a good time to explain that the Music Vault is really nothing more than a dedicated PC/server with a big honking hard drive. It runs a version of Windows called “Windows Home Server” that hosts Logitech’s SqueezeCenter software. If you have a PC-based home network, the Music Vault will appear in your networked workgroup as another PC.
But if you are an Apple guy like I am, setting up the Music Vault will be a bit more involved. While it appears on a home network as a hard drive once you click on your Mac’s network globe, you will not have access to any of the Windows-based .exe programs (including SqueezeCenter). This makes configuring Squeeze Center from your Mac difficult. You can load a special Microsoft program that’s supposed to let you run a PC remotely, but many Mac users will balk at adding it to their system. A better solution is to access the Music Vault via Safari’s Web browser, since the Music Vault has its own HTTP address. But the address information in the Music Vault’s instruction book didn’t work on my review sample, so I had to play detective to find its address. Eventually I was able to access it from my Mac. For immediate gratification I resorted to another way to configure SqueezeCenter. I simply hooked up a monitor, keyboard, and mouse to the Music Vault. As long as you have an extra monitor with an RGB input, a USB mouse, and a USB keyboard, this solution works fine.
The next step when setting up the Music Vault, regardless of whether you’re a PC or Mac person, is to transfer all your music files onto it. My library, which is approximately 80GB, took almost four hours to move via an Ethernet hardwired connection. A wireless connection would have taken even longer, though a USB 2.0 connection would have been slightly quicker. Regardless of what kind of connection you use to do the file transfer, the bigger your music library is, the longer it will take to transfer it to the Music Vault.
Once your library has been placed into the Music Vault you must run SqueezeCenter’s music scan to update its database. This initial scan can take several minutes, but subsequent scans are very rapid—usually under a minute. After the library is scanned you can turn off the monitor and disconnect the keyboard and mouse, because you shouldn’t need them any more except when you want to make some changes to your SqueezeCenter settings.