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    Computer Audiophile Pocket Server - C.A.P.S.

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    m10_shot2-s.jpgOver the last several months I've researched different combinations of motherboards, computer cases, audio cards, and accessories that go along with these components. The goal of all this research was to put together a hardware and software music server solution that I would actually use and the Computer Audiophile readers could actually use. I would do the leg work, test & listen to everything, and provide the information for CA readers to put together the exact same music server. This sounds somewhat simple until one considers all the requirements that go into such an audiophile solution. Great sound, great looking, no moving parts, silent, fairly inexpensive, and 100% of the components must be available today. Along the way this server was named the Pocket Server by a colleague who was very surprise at its small size when I pulled it out of my carry-on luggage. The server is a bit larger today than it was at that time but the name hasn't changed. What follows is the story of the Computer Audiophile Pocket Server and all the information required to recreate the $1,500 C.A.P.S solution.

     

     

     

    Jack of All Trades Master of None

     

    Like many audiophiles I am never satisfied with the status quo. The status quo in computer based audio is to purchase a Windows based PC or a Macintosh, plug it in, and let 'er rip. That type of a solution works wonderful for the vast majority of the world's population and it's one I recommend frequently when the situation arises. Moving beyond the status quo many audiophiles including myself customize standard Macs and PCs until they're satisfied with the sound quality. This customization still does not address many of the issues inherent in a machine built for general computing and is often like polishing a turd. The CA Pocket Server Project began with a completely blank whiteboard. This way I had no turds to polish or in audiophile terms I had no jitter to clean up from the start. It's always better to build a fanless system rather than install inches of acoustical foam, fight with noise, and worry about other issues related to fans. That's the general thought process I used to approach this project. Plus, the always pertinent acronym K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Stupid.

     

     

     

    Requirements

     

    The Computer Audiophile Pocket Server requirements were non-negotiable. I had to satisfy these requirements or the project would be a failure. I also elected to use many components that I haven't already discussed. I didn't want to rehash The Zalman or hFX based music servers I wrote about in 2008 and 2009. Those servers are still great, but don't meet all the C.A.P.S. requirements.

     

    • Absolutely silent.
    • Capable of great sound.
    • Great looking.
    • No moving parts.
    • Fairly inexpensive.
    • No legacy components.
    • Easy to operate.
      • Directly or
      • Remotely
    • Easy to assemble / install
    • Assembly / installation by one's self or
    • Assembly / installation by local computer shop, son, daughter, neighbor, or friend.
    • Small size.
    • Low power consumption.
    • Low heat.
    • Accept an add-in card for audio or additional capabilities. Hardware & Software must accept appropriate add-in cards.
    • Play 16/44.1, 24/44.1, 24/88.2, 24/96, 24/176.4, and 24/192 all bit perfect.

     

     

     

     

    Operating System

     

    The first step in the process was to test different operating systems. I rules out previous versions of Windows, including the apparent audiophile standard XP, because they were not current. Copies of Windows XP (OEM) are still floating around some of the online shops, but I was ready to retire XP anyway. That left Windows 7 as the Microsoft based candidate. Building a Mac OS X based machine (Hackintosh) is of no interest to me as it violates the Terms Of Service of OS X and is more of a tweaker's system than most audiophiles are willing to accept. Beyond the mainstream consumer operating systems I used used a variant of Berkeley Unix called FreeBSD in addition to a few distributions of Linux. I ruled out FreeBSD fairly quickly. After using it for a few hours as a music server I concluded FreeBSD was better left to host web servers and other business type applications. I am very fond of FreeBSD and I really wanted to like it as a music server OS but squeezing a square peg in a round hole wasn't a goal of the CA Pocket Server Project. I spent much more time researching and using Linux based operating systems than all the others combined. As I said at RMAF 2009, and I still believe today, Linux is the future for music servers. The only caveat is Linux requires quite a bit of knowledge to setup as a music server. The amount of knowledge required is a show-stopper for 99% of the Earth's population let alone analog loving audiophiles. However, if I could satisfy the C.A.P.S. requirements I was willing to attempt writing an extremely thorough how-to Linux guide for CA readers to build this music server. The Linux based operating systems I used are Debian Linux, Voyage Linux, Puppy Linux, Arch Linux, openSUSE, Ubuntu Studio, and probably a couple more that I can't remember at this time. The final selection of an operating system for the C.A.P.S. server came down to Windows 7 and Voyage Linux.

     

     

    Voyage Linux is an incredibly small operating system. It can fit on a tiny USB memory stick, compact flash drive, or any hard drive currently available. The initial installation requires about 128 Megabytes of disk space, not to be confused with 128 Gigabytes. Voyage installs as a barebones operating system. The user must add or update audio features such as Music Player Daemon (MPD), Advanced Linux Sound Architecture (ALSA), and other tools like NCMPC and Minion. There are countless options when using Linux. This is a great thing for most Linux users but can be overwhelming to those trying it for the first time. I forced myself to use Voyage Linux for many weeks. Without the option to jump over to a Mac or Windows based server one can become very well versed in Linux music servers. On the contrary one can quit using a Linux music server due to frustration if one doesn't have the necessary time and skills to work through problems. The Voyage based system I setup satisfied all but three of the stated C.A.P.S. requirements. Requirements 7,12, and 13 were constant battles. I tried a few different audio cards and had varying levels of success with each of them. I used an ESi MAYA44 and RME 9632 for much of the time. I was unable to pass 24/176.4 digital audio out of the ESi MAYA44. The MAYA44 data sheets proclaim support up to 24/192, but the user manual states clearly on page 34, "Sample rate supports : 32, 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, (192)kHz *Coaxial Output only." Without 24/176.4 the MAYA44 card failed the requirement. The RME 9632 audio card was a different story. About 100 hours into the configuration nightmare I was able to pass bit perfect audio on all required sample rates. Configuring the RME 9632 in Linux was extremely frustrating. There are bits and pieces of outdated user generated documentation all over the Internet. If there is demand I will create my definitive guide to the RME 9632 on Linux. There are software, firmware, and hardware incompatibilities to work through. I'm really happy I put in the time to make it work on the C.A.P.S. server as I learned quite a bit in the process. Once I had the card working on all the required sample rates I still had problems changing sample rates on the fly when I switched audio tracks. I could not get this to work no matter what I tried. I did create scripts to change sample rates but each one had to be called up via command line before playing a track that required a sample rate change. This mix of problems is what lead me to exclude Linux from the list of possible operating systems. Requirements 12 and 13 combined equate to a system that is not easy to use. Audio cards with Linux support that also support the required sample rates are few and far between. The cards that do exist are not user friendly enough for most people to use on a daily basis. Canned servers, that one can purchase off the shelf, based on Linux and cards such as the RME 9632, RME HDSP AES-32, Lynx AES16 (with OSS drivers), or even the ESi [email protected] card have a bright future. Creating this type of solution at home for one's self is not for the average audiophile seeking to listen to music rather than fiddle with a computer. That said, I continue to use Linux in my listening room next to my other servers.

     

     

     

    Note: The ESi [email protected] card supports all the required sample rates but can be very hard to obtain. I was unable to procure one during the several months of this project. Even with a [email protected] card a Linux based solution still does not meet the C.A.P.S. requirements.

     

     

    <b>Windows 7</b> satisfies all of the software based requirements. It is capable of great sound, it's a current OS, easy to operate and install, works with more hardware than any other OS, and is capable of bit perfect playback at all required sample rates when configured properly. I selected the more efficient 32-bit version of Windows 7 Ultimate as the operating system of choice for the C.A.P.S. server. More than anything the 64-bit version ruled itself out because of the minimum hardware requirements for a 64-bit OS. I could not use the hardware I wanted and still use the 64-bit version of Windows 7. Even if the hardware supported 64-bit Windows 7 I still think I would use the 32-bit version. There are no benefits to using a 64-bit operating system on the C.A.P.S. server. I selected J River Media Center 14 as the playback and library management application for the C.A.P.S. server. MC 14 has become my new go-to Windows based music application because of its features, flexibility, and bit perfect playback.

     

     

     

     

    Hardware

     

    The motherboard is the most critical component of the C.A.P.S. server. Without the right motherboard most of the requirements can't met. Readers not schooled in computer hardware should know a motherboard is the main board to which everything in a computer connects. The motherboard dictates what CPU can be used, how much memory can be used, how many and what type of hard drives can be used, and everything else that goes together to build a working computer. The first criterion I used to determine the best motherboard for the C.A.P.S. server was number four, no moving parts. There are many methods to eliminate moving parts from a motherboard such as the addition of passive cooling used in servers based on the Zalman TNN300 or hFX chassis. Adding passive or active cooling only increases complexity. I wanted a motherboard with no moving parts out of the box. Such a motherboard had to include passive cooling as part of the board's design. This requirement reduced the number of qualifying motherboards down to a handful. I had previously built a Linux based music sever using a motherboard from the swiss company PC Engines. These boards are very small, have incredibly low power requirements, but have too many limitations for the C.A.P.S. server. PCI slots, memory slots, hard drive capabilities, and operating system limitations were too much to overcome. One capability I really like using with a current PC Engines board I have is Power over Ethernet (PoE). This board receives all its power via an Ethernet cable. It's a nice bonus in the aesthetics department when one can remove the power cable from a component. After much research and testing I selected the mini-itx Intel D945GSEJT motherboard for the C.A.P.S. server (Photo 1)(Photo 2). This board has a built-in, non-removable, Intel Atom N270 1.6 GHz CPU that is passively cooled with low profile attached heat sinks. No CPU fan required. The Intel D945GSEJT has two SATA hard drive ports. Connecting standard SATA solid state hard drives (SSD) eliminates another source of moving parts from the server. Spinning hard drives are a source for noise, greater power requirements, increased heat, and can limit the computer case options. One feature that elevates the Intel D945GSEJT motherboard above others is the built-in full size PCI slot. This satisfies the requirement for add-in audio cards or additional capabilities. By additional capabilities I am talking about a PCI FireWire card to connect a FireWire DAC or FireWire hard drive for people using USB DACs.

     

    <img src="https://audiophilestyle.com/s3/images/graphics/2010/0208/psu.jpg" style="padding: 5pt 10pt 7pt 5pt;" align="left">Power requirement for the Intel D945GSEJT is very flexible. One can use a traditional computer power supply that connects to the board's 2x2 power port. These traditional power supplies are rarely fanless, rarely silent, and can decrease the number of computer case options due to mounting requirements. The Intel D945GSEJT also accepts an external 12 volt power supply similar to most laptops on the market. A silent fanless external power brick was easily my choice to power the C.A.P.S. server.

     

     

    Other notable features of the Intel D945GSEJT include on-board S/PDIF digital audio output headers. Header is another term for pins on the motherboard to which one can connect devices. This output supports 16/44.1, 24/48, and 24/96 sample rates. A special cable is required <a href="" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S-Cable">(Photo 1)</a> <a href="" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S-Cable">(https://audiophilestyle.com/s3/images/graphics/2010/0208/IMG_0080.JPG)</a> to use this S/PDIF output as there are no built-in S/PDIF ports. A full-mini PCI Express slot is available for wireless cards or other devices like a hardware decoder to increase video playback capabilities. One of the USB headers on the D945GSEJT can be used for an eUSB solid state drive. I purchased an eight GB eUSB drive for this server <a href="https://audiophilestyle.com/s3/images/graphics/2010/0208/atp-8gb.png" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S-eUSB">(Photo 1)</a> <a href="https://audiophilestyle.com/s3/images/graphics/2010/0208/atp-8gb-measurements.gif" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S-eUSB">(Photo 2)</a>, but did not use it with the Windows 7 installation. Windows 7 will not install to a USB drive even if it's placed directly on the motherboard. I have installed Linux to this tiny drive without any issues. An underrated feature of small mini-itx motherboards is the network speed capabilities. Many small boards only contain 10/100 Mbps network cards. The Intel D945GSEJT has an on-board 10/100/1000 Mbps card commonly referred to as a gigabit Ethernet card.

     

     

    <img src="https://audiophilestyle.com/s3/images/graphics/2010/0208/sodimm2gb.jpg" style="padding: 5pt 10pt 7pt 5pt;" align="left">The maximum amount of random access memory <b>(RAM)</b> the Intel D945GSEJT will accept is two GB in its only memory slot. The decision to use two GB of RAM doesn't require any thought or further discussion here. Just add to cart, it's cheap. Selecting a hard drive to meet the no moving parts requirement is easy if one has unlimited funds. Fortunately Solid State Drives <b>(SSD)</b> continue to decrease in price every week. At the time of this writing an OCZ Vertex Turbo 60GB SSD is $219. This is not the exact drive I used in the C.A.P.S. server but it's contains the same amount of disk space as the one I used. If I were putting together the C.A.P.S. server today I would purchase the OCZ drive previously mentioned. There is currently no way store most people's music collections on local solid state hard drives. The available sizes just aren't large enough without spending thousands of dollars on convoluted PCI/e SSD devices. That's why I selected a 60GB SSD. Most music must be stored elsewhere. My music is located on a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device. If an external spinning USB or FireWire drive is necessary then so be it. At least C.A.P.S. server is free from internal moving parts for now. In the future it will be possible to house all one's music locally on solid state storage.

     

    <b>Audio card</b> selection for the C.A.P.S. server was fairly easy for me, a Lynx AES16. I am a strong supporter of the Lynx AES16 PCI card for its sound quality and its advanced capabilities. The Lynx enables one to use an external clocking device and supports dual wire AES. I used both of these features during the <i>d</i>CS component review. Along with the Lynx AES16 card I also recommend a custom cable from a place like Redco. Redco will make a cable with only one or two AES wires and a clock wire if desired for about $60. That said, there are many more audio cards available. I hesitate to say it but I did use the Merging Technologies Mykerinos card and Pyramix software on the C.A.P.S. server for a few weeks. Wonderful sound, but it doesn't meet many of the requirements of this project. An audio card I would really like to use in the C.A.P.S. server is the ASUS Xonar Essence St. I currently have the STX PCIe version that will not work in the C.A.P.S. server as it doesn't have a PCIe slot. A few weeks ago ASUS provided me a prerelease ASIO driver for the STX card. I was very pleased to see the card now outputting bit perfect audio at 16/44.1, 24/96, and 24/192. According to ASUS 24/88.2 and 24/176.4 support will be part of the final ASIO driver version. The reason I mention all of this about a card that won't work in the C.A.P.S. server is because this driver also works for the ST PCI version of the Xonar Essence card. Since I haven't heard the ST version I can't comment on the sound quality. However if the quality is similar to the STX version with the new ASIO driver I will highly recommend the ASUS Xonar Essence ST card and consider it a great option for the C.A.P.S. server. The ST PCI version of the card is available for around $200 at many online stores.

     

     

    During this project I researched a countless number of <b>computer cases</b>. I'm glad I did the research, but I could have saved all that time by selecting the case I originally wanted from day one of the project. The Origen<sup>ae</sup> M10 computer case was clearly the best case for the C.A.P.S. server. Audiophiles not only like great sound, we like excellent build quality and products that look just as good as our audio components. The all aluminum (5mm) Origen<sup>ae</sup> M10 case meets or exceeds all the requirements set out for the C.A.P.S. server. The case ships with a 60mm fan, but it's only required if the internal components need additional air flow. I never took the fan out of the box. The M10 is built for a mini-itx motherboard such as the Intel D945GSEJT. Installation is very simple. Origen<sup>ae</sup> provides the four required screws to attach the board to the bottom of the case. The 2.5" 60GB SSD selected for the C.A.P.S. server screws easily onto the inside panel right next to the SATA power and data cable ports on the motherboard <a href="https://audiophilestyle.com/s3/images/graphics/2010/0208/IMG_0077.JPG" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S-SSD">(Photo)</a>. Also included is a mountable tray to hold a slim slot-loading CD/DVD drive. I didn't install such a drive as I wanted to keep things very simple and I had no need for an internal CD/DVD drive. I used a USB CD/DVD drive to install Windows and I use a different computer to rip my CDs to the easily accessible NAS device. If I did install a DVD drive I would select the Pioneer DVR-TS08 slim slot-loading SATA drive for under $60. The M10 case features a very nice looking front display and hidden infrared sensor. I was unable to utilize these features because the Intel D945GSEJT motherboard has a power incompatibility with the M10. The M10 ships with its own 150 watt external power supply but I was unable to make it work with the Intel D945GSEJT motherboard. The D945GSEJT would not accept power via the 2x2 connector and the internal case electronics required a 20/24 pin motherboard connection, that the D945GSEJT doesn't have, to function properly. This incompatibility may have a silver lining. Audiophiles are always seeking ways to turn off unneeded features or capabilities and frequently use single purpose components such as a DAC with separate power supply or separate external clock. Turning off a component's display is nothing new to audiophiles either. This time there is no option to turn the display on or use the included remote control. I don't know if the lack of these features reduces any electrical noise inside the case but I'm willing to bet an argument could be made in support of such a reduction. Again, this is strictly because I selected a motherboard that was not 100% compatible with the M10 case. I've read other reports of these features working very well. In fact with a compatible motherboard it would be possible to control applications like J River Media Center via the infrared remote control. The Origen<sup>ae</sup> M10 case supports half-hight PCI cards sitting vertically in the motherboard's PCI slot. I placed an ASUS Xonar HDAV 1.3 Slim card into the PCI slot and it lined up perfectly with the hole to screw the card into place stabilizing it with the unique internal metal frame of the case. The M10 can also accommodate full size PCI cards like the Lynx AES16 and ASUS Xonar Essence ST by use of a PCI riser card <a href="https://audiophilestyle.com/s3/images/graphics/2010/0208/IMG_0076.JPG" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S-Riser">(Photo)</a>. A PCI riser card simply enables the PCI card to mount horizontally instead of its native vertical placement. I know of no detrimental effects by using such a riser card. I was initially concerned about heat dissipation as most of the motherboard rests underneath the horizontally mounted Lynx AES16 card. Thus far I've yet to experience any heat related issues. I've even listened to four hours straight of 24/176.4 HRx material outputting dual wire AES to a DAC without a single hiccup and the M10 case is cool to the touch. Inside the case the Lynx AES16 card is no hotter than any other installation I've seen. The bottom of the Origen<sup>ae</sup> M10 case features four metal with rubber bottom feet. The feet are tall enough to allow placement of the case on short carpeting and the rubber bottom of the feet enable one to place the case on any surface without scratching. I currently place the M10 case on carpet in my listening room instead of behind a wall where my other music servers reside. The case looks very nice and I have no reason to hide such a component. This placement also allows me to use short AES cables from my Lynx AES16 card to my DAC. Overall I don't consider the power incompatibility an issue. I would purchase this case without the extra features were it available in such a configuration. Plus, I personally user remote desktop for control of the server and wouldn't use the IR receiver or front panel anyway.

     

    <img src="https://audiophilestyle.com/s3/images/graphics/2010/0208/imo_touch.png" style="padding: 5pt 10pt 7pt 5pt;" align="left">Use of a <b>monitor</b> is not something I normally consider with my music servers. The Intel D945GSEJT does have analog DSUB and digital DVI video outputs. One of these is certainly required for system setup and could continue to be used if necessary. Seeking to add something extra to the C.A.P.S. server I contacted the nice people at Mimo. A few days later an iMo 7" Pivot Touch USB monitor arrived at my door. On paper or computer screen this touchscreen monitor seems too good to be true for only $199. Unfortunately it is too good to be true. I used the iMo 7" Pivot Touch on Windows and Mac system before concluding it wasn't my cup of tea. Connected to the C.A.P.S. server I had nothing but trouble using this little touchscreen. Initial setup wasn't very smooth, but I was eventually able to see my desktop on the iMo. Next I went through all the calibration steps to fine tune the touchscreen. Calibration is pretty simple, but when it came to actual use the iMo was a nonstarter. If I had infant size fingers I would like the monitor about 10% more than I currently like it. I don't have huge fingers but they are too large to click on a single track easily. Forget about navigating a menu. I had to touch the screen about one inch away from my intended target. This was troubling when I had to touch the lower right corner. My finger needed to be an inch off the screen over the non-touchscreen frame of the monitor. The only good thing I can say about the iMo Pivot Touch 7" touchscreen is that it may work as neat display similar to how Jeff Kalt of Resolution Audio used the non-touchscreen version at CES this year. I do not recommend people purchase this monitor before using it themselves. Needless to say the iMo 7" Pivot Touch did not make the cut to be part of the C.A.P.S. server.

     

     

     

    <b>Comparison</b>

     

    Compared to a Zalman TNN300 based silent music server the C.A.P.S. server comes out very well. The two main benefits of the Zalman baed server are disk space and the ability to use PCI Express cards in addition to PCI cards. The Zalman is also capable of handling more memory. Both servers are absolutely silent with no moving parts. The Origen<sup>ae</sup> M10 based C.A.P.S. server is far more visually appealing than a Zalman TNN300. The Zalman case is no longer manufactured although there are plenty left in the supply chain here in the U.S. The C.A.P.S. server case is $320 and the Zalman TNN300 is $690. Not a single component in the Zalman servers is less expensive than coresponding C.A.P.S. serve component. The C.A.P.S. server (9.5" x 4" x 9.8" w feet, 6.6 lbs.) consumes far less space than a TNN300 (13" x 9" x 18.5" 32.5 lbs.). The CA Pocket Server is an excellent way to use a Lynx card in one's system without planting a huge PC tower next to audio components. I think both the C.A.P.S. and Zalman based servers are capable of similar great sound quality.

     

     

     

    <b>Wrap-Up</b>

     

     

    The Computer Audiophile Pocket Server project was frustrating at times but well worth the time, money, and effort. Make no mistake the C.A.P.S. server will never be a commercial product that benefits Computer Audiophile financially. This server was created to be a great solution for myself and CA readers alike. There are an unlimited number of ways to change this configuration or adjust it to one's personal needs. No single configuration is the right configuration for everyone. Despite some technical terms weaved into the article this is a really easy music server to build as a whole or in part. I know many people who like to dig into projects like this and I also know many people who want nothing to do with a computer project. Fortunately the C.A.P.S. server was created with both groups of people in mind. Using off the shelf parts currently available to anyone CA readers can undertake this project themselves or simply call up a local computer shop and have them put it together. Whether one builds it, buys it, or brushes it off is irrelevant. The Computer Audiophile Pocket Server's purpose is to increase one's enjoyment of our wonderful hobby.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    <i>The Computer Audiophile Pocket Server piece by piece</i>

     

    <b>Motherboard</b>

    <ul>

    <li><a href="http://www.logicsupply.com/products/d945gsejt">Intel D945GSEJT Johnstown Mini-ITX Motherboard</a> - $109.00</li>

    </ul>

     

    <b>Power Supply</b>

    <ul>

    <li><a href="http://www.logicsupply.com/products/pw_12v6a7">Power Adapter DC 12 V, 80 W</a> - $29.00</li>

    </ul>

     

    <b>RAM</b>

    <ul>

    <li><a href="http://www.logicsupply.com/products/256msq64v6u">TRANSCEND 256MSQ64V6U SO-DIMM DDR2 667 Memory 2GB</a> - $73.00</li>

    </ul>

     

    <b>Solid State Drive</b>

    <ul>

    <li><a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227469&cm_re=ocz_ssd_turbo-_-20-227-469-_-Product">OCZ Vertex Turbo OCZSSD2-1VTXT60G 2.5" 60GB SSD</a> - $219.00</li>

    </ul>

     

    <b>PCI Riser</b>

    <ul>

    <li><a href="http://www.logicsupply.com/products/bp_pci_jt">PCI Riser Card for D945GSEJT</a> - $10.95</li>

    </ul>

     

    <b>Digital Audio Card</b>

    <ul>

    <li><a href="http://sonore.us/Lynx-AudioCards.html">Lynx AES16 PCI Audio Card</a> - $625</li>

    </ul>

     

    <b>Custom AES Cable</b>

    <ul>

    <li><a href="http://www.Redco.com">Lynx AES16 Cable</a> - ~$60</li>

    </ul>

     

    <b>Computer Case</b>

    <ul>

    <li><a href="http://www.shop.perfecthometheater.com/product.sc?productId=201&categoryId=30">Origen<sup>ae</sup> M10</a> - $320</li>

    </ul>

     

    <b>Music Application</b>

    <ul>

    <li><a href="http://www.jrmediacenter.com/purchase.html">J River Media Center 14</a> - $50</li>

    </ul>

     

     

     

    Other bits and pieces used during the C.A.P.S. Project that did not make the final build.

     

    <b>Hardware Decoder</b>

    <ul>

    <li><a href="http://www.logicsupply.com/products/bcm970012">Broadcom BCM970012 - PCIe Mini Card</a> - $59.00</li>

    </ul>

     

    <b>Solid State Drive</b>

    <ul>

    <li><a href="http://www.logicsupply.com/products/fdm44xdi4g">Emphase 44-pin Industrial Flash Disk Module 4 GB - 4000X</a> - $69.00

    (Windows installation too large for 4GB version)</li>

    </ul>

     

    <b>Solid State Drive</b>

    <ul>

    <li><a href="http://www.memory4less.com/m4l_itemdetail.asp?itemid=1442265462">OCZ 16GB PATA PCIe Mini Solid State Drive</a> - $151.69

    (Will not fit on Intel D945GSEJT motherboard)</li>

    </ul>

     

    <b>Solid State Drive</b>

    <ul>

    <li><a href="http://www.memorysuppliers.com/eusb-ssd-8gb-af8gssgh.html?CAWELAID=325272124">ATP eUSB SSD 8GB Z-U130</a> - $139

    (Windows can't be installed to this drive)</li>

    </ul>

     

    <b>Wireless Card</b>

    <ul>

    <li><a href="http://www.logicsupply.com/products/int_5100">Intel Wifi Link 5100 802.11a/b/g/Draft-N PCIe Mini Card</a> - $29.00</li>

    </ul>

     

    <b>Wireless Antenna</b>

    <ul>

    <li><a href="http://www.logicsupply.com/products/kdbv0a_pc250">Wireless Dual Band Antenna, 108 mm (4") and Pigtail Cable</a> - $17.00</li>

    </ul>

     

     

     

     

     

    <b> Click To Enlarge Photos</b>

     

    C.A.P.S. Server in my listening room.

     

    <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/0208/IMG_0071.JPG" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/0208/IMG_0071-s.jpg" style="padding: 5pt 10pt 7pt 5pt;" align="left" alt="C.A.P.S 01"></a>   <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/0208/IMG_0072.JPG" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/0208/IMG_0072-s.jpg" style="padding: 5pt 10pt 7pt 5pt;" align="left" alt="C.A.P.S 01"></a>   <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/0208/IMG_0074.JPG" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/0208/IMG_0074-s.jpg" style="padding: 5pt 10pt 7pt 5pt;" align="left" alt="C.A.P.S 01"></a>   <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/0208/IMG_0075.JPG" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/0208/IMG_0075-s.jpg" style="padding: 5pt 10pt 7pt 5pt;" alt="C.A.P.S 01"></a>

     

     

     

    <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/0208/IMG_0073.JPG" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/0208/IMG_0073-s.jpg" style="padding: 5pt 10pt 7pt 5pt;" alt="C.A.P.S 01"></a>  

     

     

     

    Stock Photos of Origen<sup>ae</sup> M10

     

    <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/0208/M10_main.jpg" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/0208/M10_main-s.jpg" style="padding: 5pt 10pt 7pt 5pt;" align="left" alt="C.A.P.S 01"></a>   <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/0208/m10_strip.jpg" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/0208/m10_strip-s.jpg" style="padding: 5pt 10pt 7pt 5pt;" alt="C.A.P.S 01"></a>

     

     

     

     

    <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/0208/m10_shot1.jpg" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/0208/m10_shot1-s.jpg" style="padding: 5pt 10pt 7pt 5pt;" align="left" alt="C.A.P.S 01"></a>   <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/0208/m10_shot2.jpg" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/0208/m10_shot2-s.jpg" style="padding: 5pt 10pt 7pt 5pt;" align="left" alt="C.A.P.S 01"></a>   <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/0208/m10_shot3.jpg" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/0208/m10_shot3-s.jpg" style="padding: 5pt 10pt 7pt 5pt;" align="left" alt="C.A.P.S 01"></a>   <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/0208/m10_shot4.jpg" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/0208/m10_shot4-s.jpg" style="padding: 5pt 10pt 7pt 5pt;" align="left" alt="C.A.P.S 01"></a>   <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/0208/m10_shot5.jpg" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/0208/m10_shot5-s.jpg" style="padding: 5pt 10pt 7pt 5pt;" alt="C.A.P.S 01"></a>

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    All 'n all it was pretty straightforward to put this together. If you're thinking of doing this, here are a couple of points to bear in mind, following on from what Chris has already outlined.<br />

    <br />

    1. Like Chris, I've used the 12v DC input on the motherboard. The mobo has a 2.5mm power socket and my PS has a 2.1mm plug - typical! So I had to buy a 2.1mm to 2.5mm adaptor. I've taken the original power pcb and power cables out of the case as I don't need them. As Chris stated, this will render the front display of the case inoperable. But that's OK by me. Be aware though that you will still have to connect the power switch and power LED to the mobo. But the pins are clearly labelled.<br />

    <br />

    2. My biggest issue was installing W7! I had bought a 3-licence pack quite a while ago and have installed it twice on two different PCs with no issue. But on this occasion, the Product Key just wouldn't be accepted. After a couple of unsuccessful tries, I realised that my pack is an 'upgrade' product. Doh! So, I had to install a full version of Vista first, and then W7.<br />

    <br />

    I haven't really had a chance to do much listening yet, but will report back once I have.<br />

    <br />

    Thanks again Chris for making this so easy.<br />

    <br />

    Mani.

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    Chris,<br />

    <br />

    During your research on boards did you compare the effect that dual core vs single core CPU MOBO's have on the sound? <br />

    <br />

    I ask because Gary Koh, from Genesis Advanced Technologies wrote, what is IMHO, a very helpful white paper, "Building an Absolute Fidelity Music Server" which can be found at:<br />

    <br />

    http://www.genesisloudspeakers.com/whitepaper/Absolute_Fidelity_Music_Server.pdf <br />

    <br />

    At the top of page 3, he wrote on the subject of single core versus dual core, "You do not need very much computing power, but dual-core is a distinct sonic advantage". He said in the footnotes that he could not explain it and he did not understand why but there was a definite sonic advantage.<br />

    <br />

    In doing your research did you find any passive cooling, dual core MOBO's and did you compare their sound to your single core selection?<br />

    <br />

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    Hi Mani - This work-around should negate the need to install a previous OS with the Windows 7 upgrade media. I had the problem on day one. Then I called Microsoft and they walked me through this work-around. Also, We should open a thread to discuss the CAPS server in the forum. I've been working on mine a bit more and may have some other interesting thoughts for playback etc... I'm sure you will as well.<br />

    <br />

    Open regedit.exe (start run regedit)<br />

    <br />

    HKLM/Software/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/Setup/OOBE/<br />

    <br />

    Change MediaBootInstall from "1" to "0".<br />

    <br />

    Open cmd (start run cmd) to display a shortcut to the Command Line utility. Right-click this shortcut and choose "Run as administrator." <br />

    <br />

    Type: slmgr /rearm<br />

    <br />

    Hit ENTER and reboot. When Windows 7 reboots, run the Activate Windows utility, type in your product key and activate windows.

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    Hi av_passion - I would love to say that I have compared single to dual core processors without anything else changing but I think it's nearly impossible. To compare these one would need to have both a single and dual core processor or the same speed and identical specs. The test would consist of swapping the processor only. Or, one could have two computers that matched perfectly except for the processor that matched perfectly but one is single and the other dual.<br />

    <br />

    It also depends on how each application uses the processor(s). For example the Merging Technologies Pyramix / Mykerinos music server I have locks the CPU at 100% no matter how powerful it is. This is a special way of guaranteeing the app has the resources it needs and can stop other processes from using CPU time.<br />

    <br />

    Plus, Processors are very complicated. Quoting single v. dual core as the difference is really a misnomer. It's like saying all 16/44.1 is worse than 24/96. There is so much more to it. For example a processor design involves - <br />

    <br />

    datapaths (such as ALUs and pipelines)<br />

    control unit: logic which controls the datapaths<br />

    Memory components such as register files, caches<br />

    Clock circuitry such as clock drivers, PLLs, clock distribution networks<br />

    Pad transceiver circuitry<br />

    Logic gate cell library which is used to implement the logic<br />

    (source <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CPU_design#Overview">Wikipedia</a>)<br />

    <br />

    There are a few dual core passive cooling solutions but they require heat pipes etc... That was beyond the scope of this build. See the two linked articles in the main part of this story for Zalman & hFX builds.<br />

    <br />

    <br />

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    Chris this system is almost perfect.<br />

    Would it be possible for you to post a build list of things you would change for a dedicated USB DAC system with J. River as the player.<br />

    Also with video out to take advantage of the theater view.<br />

    Thanks for the best design I've seen yet!, Russ

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    Chris, is there any reason not to use Winamp for playback software in your design? I really like the iTouch control capability through the iAmpRemote application. Thanks. JCR

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    Hi Russ - The only think I would change for a USB based system is the Lynx card. You can remove the AES16 and save over $600. This system already has analog (dSUB) and digital (DVI) video output so Theater View will work great.<br />

    <br />

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    This motherboard can't handle decoding Hi-Def video by itself. You'd need to add an mpeg decoder mini-pci card to accommodate that (or a dedicated video card), and then make sure you were using a software suite that can actually leverage the card when decoding video. The logic supply website Chris linked in the article does also have a decoder card as an option, not sure what software supports it.

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    This board does have plenty of power to output video for Theater View without the Broadcom hardware decoder. I have the decoder and I've linked to it in the original article.

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    I have serious issues with this article. I'll try to articulate my concerns in the order that the author writes them.<br />

    <br />

    *Computer Audiophile Pocket Server - C.A.P.S.*<br />

    <br />

    The title of the article references a computer server that is pocket sized. The specifications of the original "carry on luggage" server are never mentioned. The PDF for the author's Origen*AE mini-ITX case state measurements at 240x106x250mm. Hardly "pocket sized" in my humble opinion, but what I don't understand is this: Why --when computer music server technologies are still in their infancy-- should the article's title reference the server's pocket-ability, and why do home music servers have to be small? Shouldn't criteria 9 ("Small size.") be eliminated considering the fact that the the server "is a bit larger today"? Why should a pocket server have to accommodate a PCI card? Why should the same be asked to handle 24/192 source material, when that material and the DAC that are capable of decoding said material still considered esoterica? Wouldn't a 24/96 limitation been more realistic at this stage of the game? <br />

    <br />

    *Requirements*<br />

    <br />

    There are 13 highly specific requirements. Again, considering that the infantile nature of this technology, why is the author heaping so many requirements for a specific "pocket server"? With so many demands placed on a "C.A.P.S", it seems as he has fulfilled the thing he was trying to avoid in paragraph 2: Jack of All Trades Master of None.<br />

    <br />

    *Operating System*<br />

    <br />

    Disclaimer: My household has been a Linux only shop for the last 14 year, although I have never been professionally involved in earning a living using computers in any capacity whatsoever. And even though I advocate the use of Linux and other OSS software for moral, practical, and philosophical reasons, I'm still and ardent believer in using the best tool for the job; whether that's a Microsoft or *NIX/OSS based operating system. With that said...<br />

    <br />

    With reference to Windows XP: What does the phrase "Copies of Windows XP (OEM) are still floating around some of the online shops" mean? Are copies of Windows XP available via retail channels to the consumer? What exactly does "floating" around mean? Even as computer savvy individual I can't decipher what exactly is meant by "floating around" because it's not elaborated on by the text. What is Microsoft's official position regarding XP? Do I have to get an illegal copy or can I get it via a legit retail channel? <br />

    <br />

    In regards to FreeBSD, the author quickly dismisses the OS "After using it for a few hours as a music server I concluded FreeBSD was better left to host web servers..." Really? A few hours of experimentation with no further details or elaboration? I really wanted to know more about the BSD's (as I've never used them before) and all I got was "squeezing a square peg in a round hole"? Am I supposed to accept what little you say on OS's seriously? Moving right along...<br />

    <br />

    The author blames the Linux OS for the failings of the various drivers of several of the hardware pieces mentioned, i.e., the MAYA44 and RME sounds cards. I disagree.<br />

    <br />

    There are manufacturers who release the appropriate API's and/or hardware documentation to Linux developers, and there are those who don't. I don't know what the current situation is regarding the drivers for the aforementioned cards, and since music servers will forever be inter-twinned with some type of of operating system (even if that means we have specialized micro-controllers integrated and/or feeding our DAC's), it behooves those who claim to write with authority on this subject to do their best to elaborate on the details. Does the manufacturer officially support Liunx, FreeBSD, etc? Is the author experiencing problems because the drivers are reversed engineered (without help from the hardware maker) by the ALSA team? Do we really blame the OS for the failings of the hardware manufacturer? I think not. Just as the author claims that "There are bits and pieces of outdated user generated documentation all over the Internet...", I feel as I am left to search for the same after reading this article.<br />

    <br />

    *Windows 7*<br />

    <br />

    I must adamantly state that Windows 7 (or XP, 98, ME, 3.1, or DOS) does in fact *NOT* "work with more hardware than any other OS". If there has been *any* operating system that comes with and includes drivers for the majority of new and/or legacy hardware today, then that would unequivocally be Linux. Kernel after kernel, Linux has been the first to support more hardware than any proprietary OS. Just one example: http://broadcast.oreilly.com/2008/10/how-linux-supports-more-device.html Linux is not only capable of easily allowing bit-perfect playback, but is also extremely modular, e.g., we can run a minimal music server OS *without* a GUI, which is something that we can't do with any version of a monolithic version of a Microsoft OS.<br />

    <br />

    *Hardware*<br />

    <br />

    Quite simply, the hardware for the stated purpose of a "pocket server" is overly complicated and expensive. Conspicuously missing from the itemized bill of materials is the cost of Windows 7! A cursory search on Newegg.com reveals that the cost of a full retail copy of Windows 7 will cost the audiophile $268 to $291 (Pro vs Ultimate) USD, inflating the cost of the C.A.P.S. even further.<br />

    <br />

    I've read the article more than a few times before posting this long winded reply, and I can't exactly grasp what the objective is. $1500 for a server (or $1500 for a server plus $~270 for an OS) is not exactly "inexpensive" for a small, pocket server. In the end it's not exactly a pocket server, whatever that term was supposed to encapsulate. I would have much rather read a series of article detailing several different versions of music servers that cater to specific needs, e.g., the pocket server could have been a small PC Engines ALIX, or the Intel mentioned mentioned in the article, that is focused on feeding a high quality USB or Firewire DAC. <br />

    <br />

    Just as specific audiophiles have different needs when it comes to particular pieces of gear (guys with bigs rooms and full range speakers vs. the mini-monitor near field folk vs. the super sensitive horns geeks), so should the music serve crowd be catered to.<br />

    <br />

    Again, my comments are made in the most respectfully and in a manner that hopes to inspire constructive debate.<br />

    <br />

    Sincerely,<br />

    <br />

    Nick L. aka nyc_paramedic<br />

    <br />

    <br />

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    <i>"The title of the article references a computer server that is pocket sized. The specifications of the original "carry on luggage" server are never mentioned. The PDF for the author's Origen*AE mini-ITX case state measurements at 240x106x250mm. Hardly "pocket sized" in my humble opinion"</i><br />

    <br />

    <br />

    The title does not reference the literal size of the music server. The name Pocket Server is no less accurate than the name Compact Car. As I said in the article - "Along the way this server was named the Pocket Server by a colleague who was very surprise at its small size when I pulled it out of my carry-on luggage. The server is a bit larger today than it was at that time but the name hasn't changed. " A colleague named the server because it was so small not because it actually fits into a pocket. I elected to keep the name, going with the spirit of the name not the letter of the name.<br />

    <br />

    <br />

    <i>"why do home music servers have to be small?"</i><br />

    <br />

    The don't. Please see the two articles, I linked to in this article, about larger silent music servers.<br />

    <br />

    <br />

    <i>"Shouldn't criteria 9 ("Small size.") be eliminated considering the fact that the the server "is a bit larger today"?"</i><br />

    <br />

    Hypothetically speaking - Increasing the size of one's music collection from one CD to two CDs doubles the original size. The new size is not only "a bit larger" but it's much larger. I still consider the two CD collection small. This music server went from very small to s bit larger than the original size. I also still consider such as server small.<br />

    <br />

    <i>"Why should a pocket server have to accommodate a PCI card?"</i><br />

    <br />

    It doesn't. I elected to use a PCI card for all the reasons stated in the article.<br />

    <br />

    <i>"Why should the same be asked to handle 24/192 source material, when that material and the DAC that are capable of decoding said material still considered esoterica?"</i><br />

    <br />

    Because I listen to all kinds of music at every sample rate imaginable. This music is available from numerous sources. Countless DACs available today handle 24/192 nicely. I also didn't want to lead people down a path that required a hardware change next month when they want to listen to an HRx album at 24/17.4. Based on the large number of downloads of the free HRx tracks available here I can only assume tens of thousands of people are interested in playing sample rates higher than 24/96. <br />

    <br />

    <i>"Wouldn't a 24/96 limitation been more realistic at this stage of the game?"</i><br />

    <br />

    For the reasons stated above, No. However realistic is very subjective and I cannot argue with anyone's opinion about what they think is or isn't realistic. I have mentioned to readers only interested in USB DACs, that currently max out at 24/96, they can save over $600 without the Lynx card.<br />

    <br />

    <i>"Again, considering that the infantile nature of this technology"</i><br />

    <br />

    I speak with Mastering engineers weekly who have been using computer music sources for nearly twenty years. I don't consider this infantile. <br />

    <br />

    <i>" why is the author heaping so many requirements for a specific "pocket server"?"</i><br />

    <br />

    Like everything in life it was a personal choice. I'm not into mediocrity and I don't rest on what I've done in the past. I constantly strive for the best. I could have relaxed the requirements and wound up with a simple Dell computer similar to the one I wrote about on 11/23/2008 in my Audiophile Reference Music Server For A Song article. Again it's personal choice. <br />

    <br />

    <i>"With so many demands placed on a "C.A.P.S", it seems as he has fulfilled the thing he was trying to avoid in paragraph 2: Jack of All Trades Master of None."</i><br />

    <br />

    I don't consider this music server a jack of all trades although your are certainly free to call it what you like. This server can do little other than play music. It doesn't have other applications on it and it isn't running many services. <br />

    <br />

    <i>"I'm still and ardent believer in using the best tool for the job; whether that's a Microsoft or *NIX/OSS based operating system."</i><br />

    <br />

    Excellent, we are on the exact same wavelength about using the best tool for the job.<br />

    <br />

    <br />

    <i>"With reference to Windows XP: What does the phrase "Copies of Windows XP (OEM) are still floating around some of the online shops" mean? Are copies of Windows XP available via retail channels to the consumer? What exactly does "floating" around mean? Even as computer savvy individual I can't decipher what exactly is meant by "floating around" because it's not elaborated on by the text. What is Microsoft's official position regarding XP? Do I have to get an illegal copy or can I get it via a legit retail channel?"</i><br />

    <br />

    Windows XP is sparsely available at some online shops like NewEgg. Floating around is a term of art meant to describe, in this scenario, an operating system that can possibly be purchased through an online retailer or legally purchase off eBay or from a colleague etc...This is one reason why I elected to not use XP. Floating around really doesn't have anything to do with being computer savvy, so don't worry that you couldn't decipher its meaning. I have no need to elaborate on Windows XP's availability because my article was not about Windows XP's availability. <br />

    <br />

    <i>"In regards to FreeBSD, the author quickly dismisses the OS "After using it for a few hours as a music server I concluded FreeBSD was better left to host web servers..." Really? A few hours of experimentation with no further details or elaboration?"</i><br />

    <br />

    Exactly, a few hours and no elaboration. The percentage of Computer Audiophile readers interested in me elaborating on BSDs suitability as a music server is less than 0.00000000001%. Many more may be interested in its suitability as in Yes or No it is or is not suitable, but not a dissertation about its suitability. <br />

    <br />

    <br />

    <i>"I really wanted to know more about the BSD's (as I've never used them before) and all I got was "squeezing a square peg in a round hole"?"</i><br />

    <br />

    I can happily point you to a number of BSD related sites where there is more information than any human can possibly read. BSD is a wonderfully documented operating system. Because I did not select BSD I saw no purpose in elaborating on its unsuitability as a C.A.P.S. operating system. <br />

    <br />

    <br />

    <i>" Am I supposed to accept what little you say on OS's seriously?"</i><br />

    <br />

    Absolutely not. Accept whatever you are comfortable accepting. This article is my opinion based on my research and experience. Please accept a full refund of your purchase price to read the article.<br />

    <br />

    <br />

    <i>"The author blames the Linux OS for the failings of the various drivers of several of the hardware pieces mentioned, i.e., the MAYA44 and RME sounds cards. I disagree."</i><br />

    <br />

    This is absolutely untrue. Please provide examples. I blamed the MAYA44 card for its lack of 24/176.4 hardware support when I said - "I was unable to pass 24/176.4 digital audio out of the ESi MAYA44. The MAYA44 data sheets proclaim support up to 24/192, but the user manual states clearly on page 34, "Sample rate supports : 32, 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, (192)kHz *Coaxial Output only." Without 24/176.4 the MAYA44 card failed the requirement." This was clearly a hardware problem and stated in the article as such. As for the issues I had with the RME card I have no clue why anyone would think I blamed the OS. Linux is what it is. Most people on the planet could never configure an RME card to work with Linux. It doesn't matter why the card will not work. Whether its the lack of manufacturer support or openness or the lack of an easy to configure Linux driver, it doesn't matter and I have no interest in laying blame.<br />

    <br />

    <i>"I don't know what the current situation is regarding the drivers for the aforementioned cards"</i><br />

    <br />

    I highly suggest you pick up an RME 9632 and look further into the current driver situation. There is no way an average Joe can use this card with Linux. I did not design this server to be used by Linux savvy people.<br />

    <br />

    <br />

    <i>"and since music servers will forever be inter-twinned with some type of of operating system (even if that means we have specialized micro-controllers integrated and/or feeding our DAC's), it behooves those who claim to write with authority on this subject to do their best to elaborate on the details."</i><br />

    <br />

    <br />

    I believe you are referring to me as someone who "claim to write with authority on this subject." Please provide example where I claim anything close to that. Also, this is not a Linux article. I am writing an article solely about Linux and music servers, but based on your thoughts provided above I suggest you don't read it. I don't think I can make you happy or satisfy your requirements. I satisfy my own requirements and look out for the readers of CA. <br />

    <br />

    <br />

    <i>"Do we really blame the OS for the failings of the hardware manufacturer?"</i><br />

    <br />

    Not sure who the "We" is in that sentence. I certainly have never blamed an operating system, Windows, OS X, or any Linux distribution for the failings of a hardware manufacturer. That would be like blaming the iPhone operating system for AT&T's lack of coverage in the U.S. It's nonsensical.<br />

    <br />

    <i>"Just as the author claims that "There are bits and pieces of outdated user generated documentation all over the Internet...", I feel as I am left to search for the same after reading this article."</i><br />

    <br />

    I think this is a very healthy response to the article. A reader like yourself with 14 years of Linux experience should never gain all that is to be known from a basic article about a Windows based music server.<br />

    <br />

    <i>""work with more hardware than any other OS"</i><br />

    <br />

    I can clarify this statement a bit. Since the article is not about hardware such as SCSI cards, Scanners, Printers, etc... and it is about music servers with audio cards my statement was solely about audio card support (even a subset of audio cards such as Lynx, RME, ESi, Merging). I could have been clearer, but I also think that statement when taken out of context is somewhat misleading.<br />

    <br />

    <i>"Quite simply, the hardware for the stated purpose of a "pocket server" is overly complicated and expensive."</i><br />

    <br />

    I can't argue with your opinion, but I do disagree with it. Complication and expense are very subjective and relative terms. I would have loved to include the ASUS card I talked about but the official driver has not been released yet. Sometimes it takes complicated tools to get the best sound. At first a Lynx card may seem complicated but there are numerous CA readers who use these cards without issue and who are not computer savvy people. Some readers can't wait for the Merging Technologies card to become available at a cost of several thousands dollars while other readers want a card that is $29.99. Expense is extremely relative. In addition there are not many cards that satisfy my requirements laid out in the article.<br />

    <br />

    <i>"Conspicuously missing from the itemized bill of materials is the cost of Windows 7! A cursory search on Newegg.com reveals that the cost of a full retail copy of Windows 7 will cost the audiophile $268 to $291 (Pro vs Ultimate) USD, inflating the cost of the C.A.P.S. even further."</i><br />

    <br />

    This was certainly an oversight on my part. I do find it interesting that you elected to use the full retail copy of Windows 7 in your example. Not many people who have a computer already will be required to purchase the full retail copy. I just browsed NewEgg where Windows 7 copies start at $75 depending on what the user requires (based on versions of Windows they already own).<br />

    <br />

    <i>"I would have much rather read a series of article detailing several different versions of music servers that cater to specific needs"</i><br />

    <br />

    OK nobody can argue with what you would rather have read.<br />

    <br />

    <i>"the pocket server could have been a small PC Engines ALIX, or the Intel mentioned mentioned in the article, that is focused on feeding a high quality USB or Firewire DAC."</i><br />

    <br />

    The pocket server could certainly have been a small ALIX based board but it would not have met my requirements at all. In fact people using a USB or FireWire DAC can simply eliminate the Lynx card and be on their way. Not rocket science but I understand the need to ask such a question.<br />

    <br />

    <i>"Just as specific audiophiles have different needs when it comes to particular pieces of gear (guys with bigs rooms and full range speakers vs. the mini-monitor near field folk vs. the super sensitive hors geeks), so should the music serve (sic) crowd be catered to."</i><br />

    <br />

    I think everyone who reads CA agree with you on that statement. I also think nobody who reads CA would ever like to see a single 100 page article that caters to every single need of the music server crowd. If you browse around this site you will see a number of different builds that cater to various needs of audiophiles and music loving readers.

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    Someone takes their Linux love way too serious. While I am no Linux expert I do play with it from time to time. Their driver support for servers and basic desktop configurations is fabulous, but overall better than Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 is debatable.<br />

    <br />

    I think all modern operating systems do a great job with built-in driver support, and after installing Windows 7 on half a dozen different configurations I have had no problems with it finding or using built-in drivers. As for 2008 and 2008 R2...I have installed those hundreds of times and have yet to have a driver issue no matter how old or new the hardware is. I still install the OEM drivers over the built-in drivers, but that is for support reasons (OEMs will often refuse support unless you use their authorized drivers and firmware).<br />

    <br />

    Furthermore, when building a new system you don't have to buy full retail of Win7. The OEM or "System Builder" version is what you want. The only difference between retail and system builder is the level of support included from Microsoft. But then if you are savvy enough to build your own system from scratch chances are you don't need support from Microsoft, so who cares. The Windows 7 upgrade path can be used as well.<br />

    <br />

    And lastly, you absolutely do not need Professional or Ultimate editions for a music server or even and HTPC. Home Premium is all you need, which is $105 from NewEgg is system builder form.<br />

    <br />

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116754&cm_re=windows_7_system_builder-_-32-116-754-_-Product<br />

    <br />

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    "Someone takes their Linux love way too serious."<br />

    <br />

    Please, let's avoid this type of personal comment. We've all seen on other forums how words like these can quickly lower the level of discourse.<br />

    <br />

    thanks<br />

    clay<br />

    <br />

    <br />

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    No offense was meant towards anyone. I prefer Windows but I have no qualms with Linux or those who use it as their preferred operating system. I don't feel a need to be overly passionate about any operating system, nor become offended by those who prefer one over the other. They all have their purposes and places in the computing world.<br />

    <br />

    I apologize if my opening remark was offensive to anyone.

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    OK, Chris, so I am trying to figure out how to put together this network attached storage system. Here's the product list I am thinking of at the moment:<br />

    <br />

    Thecus N7700, as you suggested:<br />

    http://www.eaegis.com/thecusn77007baynasstorage.aspx<br />

    Price is $864.92 delivered<br />

    <br />

    Five 1.5TB drives, 32 MB cache, 7,200 RPM, SATA interface -- I am assuming at RAID5, this would provide 6+TB of storage after configuration, allowing for one drive at a time to fail. Not sure about these other file systems (zfs), but I guess that the "standard" ext3 (whatever that really is) works for under 8TB anyway. I am thinking of two different Seagate drives, but don't know which would be better:<br />

    <br />

    1. Seagate ST31500341AS 1.5TB drive<br />

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00066IJPQ/ref=asc_df_B00066IJPQ1041123?smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER&tag=googlecom09c9-20&linkCode=asn&creative=380341&creativeASIN=B00066IJPQ<br />

    Price is $114.99 delivered<br />

    OR<br />

    <br />

    2. Seagate ST315005N1A1AS-RK 1.5TB drive<br />

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/592354-REG/Seagate_ST315005N1A1AS_RK_1_5TB_Barracuda_SATA_Hard.html<br />

    Price is $134.99 delivered<br />

    <br />

    I would place the unit in a back room in my basement, from where I do have a CAT5 run to the area of my main audio/video system. However, I don't have a hard wired link from there to my router to allow access in the rest of my house, and over the internet through my Logmein/Orb connections, so I need to use either a Powerline or wireless option. It looks like reviewers are still suggesting that wireless is faster than Powerline, so I am thinking of a wireless N network adaptor to match the rest of my network devices:<br />

    <br />

    Linksys WUSB600N 802.11n wireless network adaptor http://www.newegg.com/product/product.aspx?Item=N82E16833124278<br />

    Price is $62.96 delivered<br />

    <br />

    I would like the NAS to be able to serve up not only audio up to 24/192, but also video up to 1080p. Of course, I don't know if that would affect the choice of Powerline vs. wireless n networking for the non-Cat5 usage.<br />

    <br />

    I have my music currently stored across six different hard drives and my Winamp and iTunes playlists therefore point to different physical drives to function. I am wondering if I can set up the Thecus device to act as a virtual server, partitioned virtually so as to replicate the existing physical drives so that my players will continue to see the same drive letter associated with the playlists. I see that VMWare offers its VMware Server product for free http://www.vmware.com/products/server/faqs.html, so I'm wondering if that would actually work for this application.<br />

    <br />

    And how to actually configure this all up is currently beyond my understanding, so some step-by-step advice would be great.<br />

    <br />

    Whew! A lot to take on at once. Thanks in advance. JCR

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    It's a shame so many audiophile sites move away from budget priced items for servers. I suppose the average age is likely higher among people here because the sheer cost of this hobby demands a certain level of income. Almost every server here talks about that lynx card in the computer which is typically double the price of the entire computer itself. The linux part intrigued me, but the glossing over on voyage linux wasn't very informative. I did enjoy seeing a bit more discussion on specific computer components used in the computer. The mobo looks very interesting, as a more functional alternative to that alix board that nyc speaks of all the time. <br />

    <br />

    I'm not sure why you feel the need to cater to the largely Mac/PC and ignore linux. It's not that much harder than some of the stuff people are asked to do in windows/mac with respect to music. It sounds like you enjoy using linux and are knowledgable about computers, so why would you not put up a few more linux articles and maybe bring in different folks to add to the websites base. My only two alternatives for sites are the audio asylum that caters to an extreme level of tweaking, and this site that talks more about the lynx/julia card combined with mac or pc (using a bloated software like jmedia, itunes, etc).

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    Hi IamKirk - I am a big fan of the Lynx card because of its performance and nothing else. I would love to see a two channel version for far less money or to recommend many more audio cards if I thought they were just as capable. Fortunately the ASUS card is looking really good right now. I certainly did gloss over Voyage Linux in this article. It simply wasn't the main subject and I didn't want to get off topic talking about an operating system I did not select for this server. Future Linux articles are certainly planned. I do disagree with your comment, "[Linux is] not that much harder than some of the stuff people are asked to do in windows/mac with respect to music." There are a couple main issues. People are not familiar with Linux so it's like a completely different language to many. In addition it's really hard, if not impossible, for readers to purchase an off-the-shelf Linux solution that will work as a high end music server. Yes there are options but when the rubber hits the road most users will get stuck on something as simple as unzipping a file, installing a different playback application, or getting their existing monitor to work correctly. Personally I don't have a problem doing this and I'm sure a lot of readers don't either. But, this article was really not meant for Linux. Those articles are coming on a later date.<br />

    <br />

    I am a huge fan of Linux and let it be known at RMAF on the computer audio panel. I did take heat for what I said, but I stand behind it 100%. Each operating system has its place. <br />

    <br />

    Thanks for the thoughts.

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    <br />

    "Those articles are coming on a later date.<br />

    <br />

    I am a huge fan of Linux and let it be known at RMAF on the computer audio panel. I did take heat for what I said, but I stand behind it 100%. Each operating system has its place."<br />

    <br />

    Thanks Chris, I"m looking forward to Linux information, as are others apparently.<br />

    <br />

    <br />

    <br />

    Clay

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    Hi Daniel - There are a couple reasons I would not use the motherboard you linked to in your comment. Remember this is just why I wouldn't use it, not anyone else unless they agree with me :~)<br />

    <br />

    1. It required a standard computer power supply connected via 24 pin connector. This means spinning fans 99% of the time and noise.<br />

    <br />

    2. The processor heat sink appears really tall. This would likely hinder mounting a Lynx card in the horizontal PCI riser slot.

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    Daniel,<br />

    <br />

    I am looking to build something with similar requirements. <br />

    <br />

    In addition to the board you mentioned I have been looking at the Zotac ION boards. They have at least two versions that are passively cooled and accept up to 4 GB of RAM. Based on the reviews I read they appear to be built with better quality parts than the Intel boards but they use more power, have a PCIe slot but do not have a PCI slot.<br />

    <br />

    Item Audio has a page on building a music server using a Zotac ION board in which they make some good points. Here is a link to the page: http://www.itemaudio.co.uk/media_server_pc.html <br />

    <br />

    Zotac is rumored to be releasing a board based on the ION2 chipset in March 2010 which will use even less power and provide more features.<br />

    <br />

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    I'm really interested in the new Zotac Synergy boards, too, which come with a single PCIe slot, BluRay capable video, and no SPDIF (only HDMI).<br />

    <br />

    I know Chris feels that a good PCIe card and driver is a better way to go than the onboard coaxial and stock Realtek or Nvidia drivers, and I wonder how much of the advantage conveyed to the Lynx card in his audition had to do with the AES/EBU breakout lead.<br />

    <br />

    Only very recently did I pick upon Genesis' recommendations for a music server (digital audio transport), in which a dual-core processor is reckoned to sound better than a single core, for reasons unexplained. This week, we'll be buying and auditioning single and dual-core versions of the Zotac Synergy board to run with the Asus Xonar STX or Lynx card, running Linux and W7, with a view to determining an optimal setup.

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