What Is UPnP?
UPnP stands for Universal Plug and Play. UPnP consists of several protocols or rules that enable networked devices to communicate and connect with each other. One of the major advantages of UPnP is that it requires very little end-user configuration. UPnP devices will automatically advertise their services or capabilities enabling auto-discovery of devices on a network, all without the need to download additional drivers. The 3 elements of a UPNP setup are:
- Media Server
- Control Point
- UPnP renderer
A Media Server is a device that stores content, advertises the availability of this content for streaming across the network and enables browsing/searching this content from control points. Media Servers can stream content to multiple devices and be controlled by multiple control points simultaneously. Most operating systems and/or music playback software now feature UPnP server facilities built in.
Your music library can include digital music located anywhere on your home network such as shared folders on your own computer, shared folders on another computer on your network, or music stored on a Network-Attached Storage (NAS) device on your network. A NAS is essentially a Hard Drive which can be accessed remotely via your network and does not require being wired to your computer.
The most popular way of storing your Music Library is in fact on a NAS. This is because a NAS drive is always connected to your network, so having a computer switched on is no longer necessary. Furthermore it is easy to update and add to your music collection without the worry of space being taken up on your computer.
NAS Drive Recommendations
Two NAS brands we have found that work very well with our devices are Synology and QNAP drives. Synology and QNAP drives are found at the upper end of the market, with regularly updated software offering great performance and features, available with single or multiple bays (allowing more drives for storage and/or redundancy). The default software found on both Synology and QNAP NAS drives offer a good level of customisation and works well with our devices.
Synology and QNAP have their own app stores that offer a wide array of software, providing the option to install third party applications; the user can then decide which UPnP server they would like to run.
UPnP Media Server Recommendations
We have found that the UPNP servers that work best alongside our devices are those designed specifically for audio only. This is because they ensure the best sound quality and include features to make it easier to explore and organiser your music collection. Two Media Servers we have found that work very well alongside our devices are Asset and MinimServer.
Both these servers boast an intuitive user interface and are very easy to set up. Furthermore they ensure all album artwork is handled correctly and displayed on our network player display or via our app. When browsing the contents of these servers, via a control point or directly from our network players, they also provide a host of filter options allowing you to quickly and effectively browse your full library.
This is usually a smart device app like our Cambridge Audio Connect app or the Edge Remote app. Essentially a Control Point allows you to select and browse the contents of your server and then select which UPnP renderer you want to play this file back on. Once playback instructions are given to the UPnP renderer the Control Point isn't part of the device to device communication.
Whilst you are able to use third party control point apps such as BubbleUPnP and Mconnect our apps offer far more control over the unit.
An UPnP Renderer is often the final device in the chain, as this is the device that converts and plays the audio that the server is instructing it to play. Essentially this is your Cambridge Audio Network Streamer.
Once you have selected your NAS/UPnP server and uploaded your music library, you will need to ensure that they are connected to the same network as your Cambridge Audio Streamer. If they are not on the same network they will not be able to detect and communicate with each other.
Note: If a computer or NAS on your network is turned off or is in standby mode, the music folders on that computer/NAS will be unavailable until the computer/NAS is switched back on.
When viewing a NAS/UPnP server it is actually the server that tells the UPnP Renderer what content it has and categorises it into folders. Typically UPnP servers support browsing by all tracks, album, artist and genre etc.
When you connect to a NAS/UPnP server, the menus rendered in your control point are actually coming from the server and not from the UPnP Renderer. It is often possible to customise these via the NAS or servers own setup procedure.
In order to serve up to date content to control points, a UPnP server is continually checking its files and folders for changes, refreshing its database when necessary. As a result, a control point cannot assume that files and folders will not have moved between sessions.
The major benefit of this is that you can be confident that what you see in your control point is always up to date. However, this also means that a control point can never make lasting references to UPnP served content i.e. store selected files as a playlist or remember the folder you were previously browsing.
If you would like to make more long-lasting references to items being served via UPnP, it may be possible do so on your UPnP server. In the case of music, collections can be turned in to playlists which may then be served, via UPnP, to your control point.
If you have trouble connecting your Cambridge Audio Streamer to your network, these steps may help to resolve the problem:
- Confirm that a connected PC can access the Internet (i.e. can browse the web) using the same network.
- Connect the Cambridge Audio streamer to your router using a wired connection instead of wireless.
- Check that a DHCP server is available, or that you have configured a static IP address on the Cambridge Audio Streamer. You can configure a static IP address on the Streamer using the menu item ‘Settings -> Network Config -> Edit Config’, and then select ‘No’ for ‘Auto (DHCP)’. DHCP is however, the recommended method.
- Check that your network’s firewall is not blocking any outgoing ports. A firewall is a dedicated appliance, or software running on a computer or router, which inspects network traffic passing through it, and denies or permits passage based on a set of rules. It is a software or hardware that is normally placed between a protected network and a non-protected network and acts like a gate to protect assets to ensure that nothing private goes out and nothing malicious comes in.
- As a minimum, our product needs access to UDP and TCP ports 80, 5 54, 1755, 5000, 6000 and 7070. You will need to enter your router’s setup to check these firewall settings and also the settings in any additional firewall software running on your computer will need to be checked. For troubleshooting purposes temporarily remove any port blocking / open all ports.
- Check that your router or access point does not restrict connections to a particular MAC addresses. You can view the streamers MAC address using the menu item ‘Settings -> Network Config -> View Config -> MAC addresses.
- If you have an encrypted Wi-Fi network, check that you have entered the correct key or passphrase into the streamer. Remember that text-format keys are case sensitive. If, when attempting to connect to an encrypted network, your streamer displays: ‘Wireless error’ followed by a 5-digit number, then please ensure that you enter the correct passphrase for the network. If the problem persists, then you may need to consult your network configuration.
If you have issues surrounding file ordering these steps may help to resolve the problem:
- Make sure songs have correctly been assigned ‘track number’ metadata.
- Try a different UPnP server to see if issues persist.
- Use a Music metadata editor such as MP3tag to ensure all metadata has been tagged correctly.
- Rescan and re-index your NAS/UPnP server.