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Article: Computer Audiophile Pocket Server C.A.P.S. v3 Lagoon

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Chris,

Great design, as always. And i will second the feedback on Vinnie and Red Wine. I've known him for years and owned a few of his pieces (still own a custom ps he built for me for a Squezebox 3 I use in another system in the house). There is no nicer person in audio; I am glad you are supporting his great and high value efforts.

 

Question: as you know I am using a very similar setup except for the 830 SSD (instead of the 840) and 2 2GB modules instead of one 4GB. Do you think that extra consumption pushes my CAPS V2+ past the Red Wine ps specs?

thx

Ted

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Thanks for the great design tips! I was wondering if I get a JKDAC32 which is battery powered with own power supply... If I switch off the SoTM card USB power, will I negate the need of having a second rail psu to the card directly? Right now I'm only planning on having one upgraded Paul Hynes PSU rail to the Intel DN2800mt... Appreciate any insight from the forum.


Equipment:

Auralic Vega DAC, Auralic Taurus Preamp, KEF LS50 Speakers, Hypex Ncore400 monoblock amps, CAPs V3, Paul Hynes SR5 (12v and 9v rails), Audioquest King Cobra XLRs, Signal Cable speaker cable, Furutech power and USB cable

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Chris... Can I ask if you would go into (perhaps in another article later) some of your testing processes in designing the CAPS v3. I think this would help other people also.

 

For example in deciding on the Red Wine battery supply: Did you also test other people's battery systems? Did you try any Linear PSU? With the motherboard did you test for audio differences between Intel's DN2800 vs Zotac and Asus equivalents or was it purely chosen based on reading the spec sheet?

 

If I was being harsh, (for an example) the recommendation of Red Wine could read like an advert for a particular manufacturer without any comparison to other solutions. (I don't think that but it could be said...)

 

Not expecting a detailed answer now but some of your testing methods may be of interest to some of us mortals and make an interesting read as a finale after the 4 CAPS versions are revealed.

 

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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Let no good deed go unpunished


Main: sonicTransporter I5>ultraRendu/ghent/UltraCap 1.2> WireWorld Platinum>Wyred4Sound 2 DSD> Atma-sphere MP-1 3.1> Atma-sphere MA-1 3.1> Maggie 1.7, Quad (sub),Speaker cable: Zero Autoformers, Interconnects , Analysis Plus Silver Oval-In, Nordost Heimdall, Power Cables: Synergistic./Shunyata>Chang Litespeed 

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Chris... Can I ask if you would go into (perhaps in another article later) some of your testing processes in designing the CAPS v3. I think this would help other people also.

 

For example in deciding on the Red Wine battery supply: Did you also test other people's battery systems? Did you try any Linear PSU? With the motherboard did you test for audio differences between Intel's DN2800 vs Zotac and Asus equivalents or was it purely chosen based on reading the spec sheet?

 

If I was being harsh, (for an example) the recommendation of Red Wine could read like an advert for a particular manufacturer without any comparison to other solutions. (I don't think that but it could be said...)

 

Not expecting a detailed answer now but some of your testing methods may be of interest to some of us mortals and make an interesting read as a finale after the 4 CAPS versions are revealed.

 

Eloise

 

Just to add to the questions Chris - I don't understand why the benefit of a battery supply for the motherboard. Internally there still exists the DC:DC converters which produce a whole heap of noise on the supply rails. Now if the new power supply bypassed all of these with multiple voltage feeds then yes, a big advantage in theory...

 

For the PCIe card I can understand the benefits entirely. I would also have thought that the mSata drive would have offered a superior performance too, although open minded to contrary findings. Thanks for all your work...

 

BTW - will there be a new discussion for the development of the CAPS Linux one touch install iso?


Various >i2s> NAD M2 > Quad 2905s

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Let no good deed go unpunished

If that comment is aimed at my post then I take offence. I think some feedback on how and why Chris chose the parts may be of interest to many. Take a read of the later comments in the Topanga thread - people saying "why not just buy a Nettop as they are the same and save yourself money". Now if all Chris did was read the spec sheets then yes, that sounds like a good suggestion.

 

Now there's nothing wrong with Chris' "recipie" for the CAPS, but if he is trying to help people design their own system as well as offering a specific recipe then some more details of the thought process would be helpful (IMO).

 

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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Just to add to the questions Chris - I don't understand why the benefit of a battery supply for the motherboard. Internally there still exists the DC:DC converters which produce a whole heap of noise on the supply rails. Now if the new power supply bypassed all of these with multiple voltage feeds then yes, a big advantage in theory...

 

For the PCIe card I can understand the benefits entirely. I would also have thought that the mSata drive would have offered a superior performance too, although open minded to contrary findings. Thanks for all your work...

I guess this is the kind of thing I'm meaning...

 

Now I would guess that the benefit is removing the noisy SMPSU - now the question is, does the noisy SMPSU affect the computer directly, or is the problem that it affects the sound quality from the DAC, amplifier, etc connected to the same circuit?

 

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'm a little surprised this build and the forthcoming Carbon build doesn't use the mSata configuration like Ted's V2+. Too much power apparently but thought it did have some great advantages. Carbon will also use the same Sotm card? Thoughts?

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Chris... Can I ask if you would go into (perhaps in another article later) some of your testing processes in designing the CAPS v3. I think this would help other people also.

 

For example in deciding on the Red Wine battery supply: Did you also test other people's battery systems? Did you try any Linear PSU? With the motherboard did you test for audio differences between Intel's DN2800 vs Zotac and Asus equivalents or was it purely chosen based on reading the spec sheet?

 

If I was being harsh, (for an example) the recommendation of Red Wine could read like an advert for a particular manufacturer without any comparison to other solutions. (I don't think that but it could be said...)

 

Not expecting a detailed answer now but some of your testing methods may be of interest to some of us mortals and make an interesting read as a finale after the 4 CAPS versions are revealed.

 

Eloise

 

Hi Eloise - Thanks for the questions. I'm sure if you have these questions others do as well.

 

The CAPS requirements guide much of my process when selecting components. It's somewhat surprising how many components can be ruled out because they don't meet the requirements. For example comparing Zotac boards to the Intel DN2800MT you'll find a large fan on one of Zotac's two Atom processor offerings and the other doesn't have features like mSATA and the surrounding accessories to get creative like the Logic Supply backplate allowing the SOtM card and in the Carbon design a very cool expansion capability. It's really a challenge to find a set of components that can do everything. A ton of research goes into these designs. I want the servers to be the best possible so I look at every board available. I even considered importing a board sold only in the EU.

 

Once all the designs are released it may make more sense as to why components have been selected. Upgradability, expansion, and other items were all considered. I don't know of other components that could have fit the bill.

 

Once I find the combination(s) that meets all the requirements and has acceptable specs I get the components in house for testing.

 

For the Zuma design I went through three power supplies and three completely different combinations of RAM before I was happy with the server.

 

With respect to Red Wine Audio, yes my comments could be read as an advertisement. In one way all the products mentioned in the v3 designs are being advertised and recommended by me. I guess it's one of those things, people either trust me or they don't. I'm fine either way. I consider all solutions I know about. The RWA Black Lightning is readily available from a respected manufacturer and there are many details about the product online etc... There may be better one-off products or DIY solutions but I am more satisfied with selecting something like the Black Lightning.


Founder of Audiophile Style and Superphonica

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Noise is also creeping backwards

 

Only a batterie supply prevents, that a disturbing noise is going backward from the server to the mains and then again forward via the DAC power supply into the DAC. Sure, a linear power supply can deliver also a clean 12 Volt power to the server, but to prevent, that the still internal noise on the motherboard does not exit backward, is a heavy task and can only best made, with a batterie power supply. And in both cases, with the batterie power supply or with the linear power supply, on the motherboard, there are a lot of switching regulators and so a lot of RF noise, that need to be blocked.

 

Juergen

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Just to add to the questions Chris - I don't understand why the benefit of a battery supply for the motherboard. Internally there still exists the DC:DC converters which produce a whole heap of noise on the supply rails. Now if the new power supply bypassed all of these with multiple voltage feeds then yes, a big advantage in theory...

 

For the PCIe card I can understand the benefits entirely. I would also have thought that the mSata drive would have offered a superior performance too, although open minded to contrary findings. Thanks for all your work...

 

BTW - will there be a new discussion for the development of the CAPS Linux one touch install iso?

 

Hi dpaws - I understand what you're saying and I expected things to work like you suggest. However, I can't discount my personal experience powering both the board and the card via battery. What is audible in my system is objective evidence that this works. When describing the effects of this power method I largely stayed away from describing subjective audio qualities because they are really unneeded. The Black Lightning is just that effective in my system.

 

Yes all motherboards have DC to DC converters and I can't completely make sense of why the battery has such a positive effect. I have a couple thoughts though. 1. Maybe the weakest link in the chain is traditionally the external SMPS not the DC to DC converters. 1. Lack of noise sent back into the circuit by the battery supply may play a role.

 

I wish I had very expensive testing equipment and the knowledge to use such equipment in order to provide better answers. I am as intrigued as everyone else.

 

 

The mSATA drive is a power consumption monster compared to the Samsung 840 Pro Series. I originally thought the mSATA would be far better but I had no reasoning for this thought.

 

I'd love some of the CA readers to start CAPS v3 Linux discussions on the forum. Let's get moving :~)


Founder of Audiophile Style and Superphonica

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people saying "why not just buy a Nettop as they are the same and save yourself money".

Eloise

 

Hi Eloise - I tried to address some of these items in the articles but must have been a little unclear. A nettop could work just fine for some people. I selected the Topanga design because it has a future of possible upgrades and longevity if the user desires, among many other items a nettop just doesn't provide. Again, I go back to the CAPS requirements.


Founder of Audiophile Style and Superphonica

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Hi Chris,

 

Is it possible to order the CAPS V3 to an european dealer?

 

Best regards,

 

Didier

 

Hi Didier - Many of the components should be available through Logic Supply's EU site -> Logic Supply - Industrial & Embedded Technology

 

Otherwise I recommend contacting Andrew at Small Green Computer to discuss options.


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Thanks Chris, especially for considering and testing the battery power option. I am not surprised at your results when using battery power. One poster above, I think, has the right idea: besides low noise to the server itslef, battery power offers a, perhaps, even bigger advantage, it stops computer borne power supply noise from going backwards through your AC delivery and getting into the rest of your analog components. I have made some rudimentary measurements, and was quite surprised by the results. Even when powering my server via a very low noise linear supply, and my SOtM card by a separate super low noise shunt regulated supply, I was able to detect lots (of a magnitude more than that produced by any other component) of noise going out the "backdoor" of the power supplies. What is really annoying, was that this noise was entirley present on the power cable going into both my DAC and my power amp; as soon as I power down the server, the noise is gone at the inputs of both the DAC and power amp. In testing, I tried power conditioners to "isolate" the noise from getting into the other components, no go... Even powering the server dual power supply from a true AC regenerator did not stop the server caused power line noise from going out the "backdoor" and being present on the power cables going into the amp and DAC.

I concluded that a battery supply was the only option which could keep this noise from being a problem. I have not yet built a good battery supply to try, but, combining my observations, and Chris' findings, I am sure it is time to commit to building a good battery supply for my server.


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What happens when the battery dies ? Is there an auto charge option, that would allow uninterrupted operation from mains supply ?


Adam

 

PC: Hot rodded CAPS v4 Pipeline: Teradak ATX linear PSU, Jcat Femto USB card, UpTone Audio JS-2 + 2x LPS-1.2 combo, Jcat SSD battery PSU, Jcat SATA cable, TotalDAC D1 USB cable, SOtM sMS-200, W4S Recovery USB, Jcat USB Isolator, Win 2012, AO v2.10

Digital: Lampizator Pacific DAC

Amp: Dan D'Agostino Momentum Stereo

Speakers: Magcio M3

Cables: AudioQuest WEL Signature IC / Shunyata Anaconda Z-Tron SC

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Noise is also creeping backwards

 

Only a batterie supply prevents, that a disturbing noise is going backward from the server to the mains and then again forward via the DAC power supply into the DAC. Sure, a linear power supply can deliver also a clean 12 Volt power to the server, but to prevent, that the still internal noise on the motherboard does not exit backward, is a heavy task and can only best made, with a batterie power supply. And in both cases, with the batterie power supply or with the linear power supply, on the motherboard, there are a lot of switching regulators and so a lot of RF noise, that need to be blocked.

 

Juergen

 

That makes a lot of sense, thank you -and thanks Barrows for sharing your findings about the AC regenerator which I also have in my system. It does, however, seem to suggest that a separate server / zone player 2 piece system may have an advantage in this respect. That said, such a system would then reintroduce networking with either noise over Cat5 (see Meridian Anniversary ferrites) or noise from going wireless... ho hum! Suddenly playing a CD doesn't seem such a bad idea!


Various >i2s> NAD M2 > Quad 2905s

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To set this up, I suppose one needs a "spare" display and keyboard, and afterwards one can run it by screen sharing?

 

I use Microsoft's Remote Desktop from both my Mac and Windows computers to control the CAPS servers.

 

Connect to another computer using Remote Desktop Connection


Founder of Audiophile Style and Superphonica

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What happens when the battery dies ? Is there an auto charge option, that would allow uninterrupted operation from mains supply ?

 

The Black Lightning is really a cool product. It can be setup to run on battery until a certain level of battery depletion then the charger can kick in. I get 8 hours on one battery so I just flip the AC/Batt switch when I'm listening and switch it back when I'm done. Vinnie from RWA is the guy to ask as he can probably configure this any way one can imagine.


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Closing the back doors

 

Barrows, you got it right. No power supply filter or similar devices, can truly stop nasty signals going out through the “back door” and entering your other devices in your HiFi chain through their back doors. And this is more important for digital boards, than for pure analog boards.

 

Juergen

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Since the CAPS puts everyone in home brew frame of mind, how about extending that to the battery supply. The “Black Lightning” is nothing but $300 worth of batteries, and a few dollars of charging circuits with a $1,200 price tag. Buy a battery, a charger and a case and spend the $800 savings on nice meal at Masa or Per Sa.

 

12.8V LiFePO4 Battery Packs from 9.9Ah to 18Ah

 

Wow Diogenes - Did someone tick you off this morning? The BL is more than you describe. I wouldn't build a battery power supply and expect better results than the BL just as I wouldn't build other audio components and expect better results. That's just me however. I like the look of the BL and the ease with which is operates. If I wanted a bunch of wires that look like a home made bomb I may go for some DIY battery solution.


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