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The Computer Audiophile

Article: C.A.P.S. v2.0

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Hi Chris,<br />

<br />

Thanks for the great article, yep that's another opportunity for an upgrade! <br />

I am trying to quantify the speed improvement between the CAPS versions. One possible tool in the JRiver JRMark benchmark utility (help menu).<br />

<br />

For example my notebook JRMark (version 16.0.116) is 1508 <br />

While the caps ver 1 JRMark is about 260<br />

Can you pls share with us the JRMark of the CAPS 2 ?<br />

<br />

Thx<br />

Eli<br />

<br />

<br />


Ayre CD + CAPS Server > Weiss DAC202 > CJ CT5 > CJ Prem140 > AudioPhysics Virgo

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Can you comment on the sound quality of the CAPS 2.0 versus<br />

<br />

1)MacBook Air, iTunes, battery power<br />

2)MacBook Air, iTunes, Amarra or Pure Music, battery power<br />

3)MacBook Air, iTunes, AC power<br />

4)MacBook Air, iTunes, Amarra or Pure Music, AC power<br />

<br />

<br />

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Chris,<br />

<br />

Thanks for all the hard work... but I think everyone will agree on the CAPS systems you should let us determine if it warrants a CASH Suggested Hardware award :)<br />

<br />

I think you should also have someone look at Linux for it... you lost me at Win7.<br />

<br />

Thanks<br />

Gordon

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Thank you so much! Wow.. When it costs thousands of dollars to buy a music server and you can make profit from this kind of system, you simply share this knowledge with everyone else. I cannot appreciate your generosity and effort enough!<br />

<br />

One question. If I want to watch a movie out of this pc, do I need to add some kind of graphic card or HDMI port ? I have a htpc to serve as a music server which has a fan. I want to replace the htpc with this pc, but I wonder if I should be able to watch a movie from this pc (Streaming or from NAS not from an internal DVD, I have an external blue-ray DVD player). It doesn't seem to have a HDMI, either. I hope to have one PC to serve as a movie and music server.


PC -> Peachtree Nova -> Sennheiser HD 650[br]PC -> Peachtree Nova -> Proac Response 1s

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If I were still a PC guy (long since), this would be an appealing little server. <br />

It's too bad that you're limited to 4 GB with the Jetway, even if you are just running J. River.

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Chris, you have obviously done a great job of putting together a new CAPs 2. But, for us non-techie types, the big question is whether we could get sound as good spending $1200 or so on a MAC. I have a Berkeley Audio Alpha DAC and soon will get the BAD USB converter. With those units and my AES/EBU Stealth Varidig Sextet digital link, I think I am well positioned to use USB for top notch sound. Do you think the violins would sound clearer and more liquid and appealing (as in real life) on the CAPs 2 or a MAC?

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Hi Chris,<br />

<br />

Great article, thanks. I have three questions about this setup just now;<br />

<br />

1. Is there a GPU built into the motherboard? Will this be powerful enough to render covers etc in JRiver? The reason I ask is that when I browse covers in JRiver (Sony Vaio laptop) in the "cover wall" mode it's a bit slow and jerky when rendering all of the covers.<br />

<br />

2. What are the video-out options? I have a 24" TFT monitor at a resolution of 1920 x 1200 ; would the CAPS be fine with this? The Vaio's output to the monitor is slightly blurred for some reason.<br />

<br />

3. Is this wifi-enabled? I use an iPad as a remote control, and JRiver would have to be able to utilise its DLNA server & renderer abilities to allow this.<br />

<br />

BW<br />

<br />

Dan


There are 2 types of people in this world - those who understand binary and those who don't.

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The next two pieces of the C.A.P.S. v2.0 puzzle will never be found in an off-the-shelf Dell, HP, Apple, etc. The SOtM tX-USB and SOtM In-Line SATA Power Noise Filter are as far removed from standard commodity computer hardware as it gets.<br />

<br />

While working on C.A.P.S. v2.0 a CA reader posted the following link to a discussion on Audio Asylum . The discussion details some of the problems associated with USB audio and the difficulties in addressing the issues.<br />

<br />

FireWire DAC users are also in luck with C.A.P.S. v2.0. The PCI USB card can be excluded from the design by substituting an $8 SYBA SD-VIA-FW1E1H PCI FireWire card. This card works perfect with the Weiss Engineering DAC202. The total savings is $331. [End Quote]<br />

<br />

Chris, great work and write-up, however the above had me wondering:<br />

<br />

1. Mitigating the sonic problems with USB in the computer require a $331 solution whereas firewire has no similar sonic problems and an $8 card is all that is necessary. <br />

<br />

2. The USB ports built-in any and all computers are sonically compromised and require something like the SOtM tX-USB and SOtM In-Line SATA Power Noise Filter in order to achieve the ultimate in sonics.<br />

<br />

3. While USB to SPDIF solutions may do an excellent job in mitigating the sonic problems inherent in SPDIF and allow legacy DACs to be used, the best solution will generally be using something like the SOtM tX-USB and SOtM In-Line SATA Power Noise Filter in any computer with an excellent USB DAC.<br />

<br />

4. How any of the above fits in with the upcoming Auralitti L1000 File Player which claims AES/EBU output for best low noise interface to DAC or would the L1000 be sonically superior with USB or firewire?<br />

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Chris, this is most interesting and CAPS off to you for the hard work. :)<br />

<br />

Since I use the Bel Canto DAC3.3, I need the RCA output. In CAPS1, I've been successfully using the ASUS Xonar Essence ST audio card. Is this incompatible with CAPS2? I also have the Broadcom BCM970012 hardware decoder installed to enhance video ouput in my CAPS1. Is this, too, also incompatible with CAPS2? (I probably can answer my own question on this latter point, as I see no HDMI or DVI output on the motherboard). Finally, is it possible to use the M350 case (http://www.logicsupply.com/products/m350), which I use for CAPS1 and although not anywhere near as pretty, is incredibly inexpensive.<br />

<br />

Thanks in advance for your answers. Cheers. JCR

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I would suggest there are some people who are constitutionally unable to bring themselves to buy or use Macs, and Chris' CAPS server nicely fills a need for them. Besides, another generation or so, and it will probably be possible to load MacOS on it anyway... :) <br />

<br />

-Paul<br />


Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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Hi, JCR,<br />

<br />

You may have an aswer to my question. Is the Broadcom card you put is to enhance the graphics? Can I use this PC with the card to connect a HD TV (55") and use the pc as my movie server as well? (I keep movie files in a NAS as well as music files). <br />

<br />

I also wondered about the case. Did you build CAPS1.0 with this inexpenseive case?


PC -> Peachtree Nova -> Sennheiser HD 650[br]PC -> Peachtree Nova -> Proac Response 1s

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Hi, JCR,<br />

<br />

I checked the logicsupply site to see if your card and case are compatible with the new motherboard. <br />

<br />

1. The case is compatible.<br />

2. The Broadcom card - the site lists BCM970015 as tested AND compatible with the new motherboard. <br />

<br />

With this Broadcam card, can I watch a movie out of this PC?


PC -> Peachtree Nova -> Sennheiser HD 650[br]PC -> Peachtree Nova -> Proac Response 1s

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Hellen, I did successfully build, and have been happily using, CAPS1 in the cheap M350 case. Video is still a problem even with the Broadcom card.<br />

<br />

Subject to correction by Chris, it seems that you couldn't attach HDMI or DVI to CAPS2. The Broadcom card is just a little board that plugs into the PCI-e slot. It has no HDMI or DVI socket to plug into. Seems to me that the new motherboard supports only Legacy VGA out, if your monitor can take that in.<br />

<br />

CAPS2, it would seem, is a more audio purist version, which is great for those with USB DACs.<br />

<br />

Chris, I thought that USB only supported up to 96/24. Is my understanding incorrect, such that I could use a USB to SPDIF bridge to my Bel Canto DAC and still get 192/24, as I am getting out of CAPS1 with the Xonar Essence ST? JCR

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Put simply: USB is NOT limited to 24/96 but some<br />

USB devices are limited.


Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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One thing that got my attention was the SOTM usb card which I may buy to try.. but wondering with all the number of products available, how far do we have to go to isolate the PC?<br />

<br />

IIRC the Wavelength Wavelink is already an isolator and clock and yet placing another device infront of it still helps..<br />

<br />

I wonder what happens if you get the USB card AND buy something like the Acoustic Revive RUI-1 which gives 1 more layer of filtering BEFORE the Wavelink.<br />

<br />

http://www.acoustic-revive.com/japanese/rui1/rui1_01.html

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Let me provide some light on the SoTM USB interface. What is does is provide a separate USB interface back to the PCI bus. It runs independently of the other USB interfaces in the system. If you check most modern computer systems you will find a number of devices connected to the USB root hub. Some systems may have two root hubs but many will have a number of USB devices connected to that hub. This causes contention among the devices that use that USB interface. <br />

<br />

The SoTM provides a separate USB interface that only has the device(s) on it that you attach. The PCI connection provides direct access to the CPU and Memory of the system with throughput of at least 133 MBytes per second, much more than any audio device could ever need. In the process they made the whole interface to audio standards. The low jitter 20 MHz clock is an essential feature if you have a (shudder) adaptive USB audio interface like many still do. It can't hurt with an asynchronous USB audio interface even if it doesn't help. <br />

<br />

Also the USB power issue is addressed in several ways. First the power for the card is derived from the 12V supply, not from the PCI buss. its well filtered and regulated so its pretty clean. Its also possible to switch the USB power off if your interface doesn't need it which will remove another noise source. Its not fully isolated in the "galvanic" sense, the data and ground connections are still connected to the host computer's ground system. <br />

<br />

A USB isolator that can handle USB2 high speed is still a rarity. As best I can figure out the Acoustic Revive device doesn't handle USB High Speed yet, limiting it to 96K and below at best. A quick check at the Analog Devices web site http://www.analog.com/en/interface/digital-isolators/products/index.html#USB_2.0_Compatible confirms they don't have devices that go above 12 Mbps (Full Speed) yet. <br />

<br />

Here is some results from my testing of the SoTM SATA filter : http://auraliti.com/uploads/SATA_and_Fan_Filter_info.pdf The SoTM fan filter is similar if you need a fan in your system. Sorry, it won't reduce the acoustic noise of the fan.


Demian Martin

auraliti http://www.auraliti.com

Constellation Audio http://www.constellationaudio.com

NuForce http://www.nuforce.com

Monster Cable http://www.monstercable.com

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You could put the Xonar Essense ST card in a similar computer IF you used a different case (either allowing full height cards vertically or wider with card horizonal to side of motherboard.<br />

<br />

However, I would argue that if you did this then your machine would not be a CAPSv2 machine...<br />

<br />

CAPS v2 is a complete recipie set down by Chris that he has found makes a great machine (for USB or FireWire DACs). Anything else is just an Atom based computer custom built to your own specifications. Nothing wrong with that, just it's something else!<br />

<br />

Eloise


Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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I understand the argument for the lower power supply, but I have a few comments and suggestions. I looked for Jetway's power specifications for the CAPS v2 motherboard in there manual and in there site and I didn't find it. Anyway, most manufacturers perform a load test with a bunch of components attached to the motherboard and all running at full load at the same time. Even at full load the maximum watts used is not that much on comparable motherboards. I suspect that the power supply Chris utilized is within the recommended wattage range. However, I would recommend that you also try the larger of the three power supplies mentioned or the 105 watt unit. My tests here have shown that larger power supplies generally improve the sound especially with USB output units. Also, the specification on the tX-USB is for a max of 2 amps at 12 volts. The tX-USB may not use the full 2 amps in a typical application, but just the same that is 24 watts and a big chunk of the power supply ratting. <br />

<br />

Some have asked if the power supply makes a difference. I say it does! We have done tests here and some for the better and some for the worse. We also have a unit working the audio shows and it's hooked up to some very very expensive gear. I asked all kinds of questions during the build and was assured that no way the computer power altered the sound of the USB DAC. This may be true, but one thing is that the power of the computer alters the the sound of the DAC and another thing is that the power of the computer affects the quality of the signal in the first place. The manufacturers representative decided to run the server on a battery and sound improved. You could run the CAPS v2 and v1 on a 12V battery and try the on-board usb output to conduct your own tests. The issue is that a battery running the computer is not practical. The tX-USB alleviates most of the pain by cleaning the power it uses, but it can also be run on a small battery for further improvements. A smaller manageable battery is practical. Here are the parts needed to convert the tX-USB to run on an external linear power supply or a battery.<br />

<br />

Cables<br />

http://www.mini-box.com/4-Pin-P4-Power-Cable_2<br />

http://www.logicsupply.com/products/cbl_pwrpd73<br />

<br />

Battery<br />

http://cgi.ebay.com/DC-12V-6800mAh-Super-Rechargeable-Lithium-ion-Battery-/220712847351?_trksid=p5197.m7&_trkparms=algo%3DLVI%26itu%3DUCI%26otn%3D3%26po%3DLVI%26ps%3D63%26clkid%3D674671822858939609<br />

or search for 12V DC 6800mAh Lithium-ion battery if the link is broken<br />

<br />

Adapter<br />

http://www.mpja.com/prodinfo.asp?number=17573+PL <br />

<br />

Linear power supplies for the computer I have to agree with Chris....<br />

<br />

Jesus R<br />

www.sonore.us

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Hi Demian,<br />

<br />

Looks very promising and I might start with the SATA filters instead.<br />

<br />

I just realised the SoTM tx-USB is PCI only, and this should be a real disclaimer as some motherboards (like mine) only have PCIe. Guess I'll have to wait for a PCIe version!<br />

<br />

Just thinking out loud here then - is getting a PCIe usb card (non-audiophile type) still beneficial then - esp with an async dac? Since it also directly interfaces with the PCIe bus. Such usb cards also allow usage of external power supplies so that resolves the other half of the issue.

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