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Check out this crazy Computer Setup from my Fellow NZer!

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Check This Out- His Explanation Below with Permission.


"I've got my CDs ripped to my hard drive and play them from the computer, so starting from there..."

1. Computer, outputs USB to

2. USB HUB, outputs USB to

3. Optical USB cable, provides isolation from the PC and a 10m fiber run to

4. Empirical Audio Offramp Turbo 2, converts USB to AES/EBU, outputs to

5. Genesis digital lens, ram buffer jitter reducer, outputs AES to

6. DSC 974 upsampler, upsamples to 88.2khz, outputs AES to

7. Assemblage D2D-1, jitter reducer, outputs AES to

8. Cal SC-20 DAC, outputs the analogue signal to

9. Ortho Spectrum AR-2000 analogue reconstructor, and from there to

10. Preamp


"OK, here are some more details, hopefully they'll also answer some of the other questions on the thread"


"1. I've found computer audio a revelation. At first I thought that I'd rather listen to CDs but after some years the convenience of a computer for digital playback has won me over. A while back I brought a EA Off-ramp Turbo (the first model) to try out computer playback, this unit take its input via USB, hence USB output from the computer. The system listed is the result of many years of tweaking.


2. I got the optics USB cable to allow me to have the computer away from the stereo. As explained it also has other benefits (ie isolates the computers 'dirty' power supplies etc from the stereo). I found that the quality of power to the upstream end of this optical usb cable makes a difference. I guess the optical encoding of the signal and strength of light is effected by the quality of the 5v coming from the computer. I found that running the optical cable from a self powered USB hub made a big difference in the sound (hence it being another step in the playback chain). I've even gone so far as to open up the USB hub and replace some power supply capacitors with rubycon KZG and a black gate.


3. Rationale explained before. The other point of note is that I got a 5v rechargable battery (used for recharging cell-phones) and use this to power the downstream end, rather than the plug in adapter.


4. This is the external soundcard required to get bits to the DAC. As I already had a separate DAC before embaking on computer audio I got this one which allows me to use my existing DAC (which I like!). It is possible to plug this directly into the computer with a USB cable, the steps above are just extra tweaks!


5. Most people would know about this, its purpose is to reduce jitter. The empirical audio guy now makes his own version called the 'pace car'. I used to have 2 of these and daisychained them one into the other...


6. A while back I got a DCS 972 for upsampling, and later moved to a 974. This is the studio version of the purcell. Upsampling can be done by the computer, which I tried early on, but having the upsampling here allows me to use my digital lens (which can only accept 44.1khz), and the algorithm used sounds good. I also wanted to, at one stage, move to a more modern DAC and so can still use this unit to upsample to 384khz or DSD. This is a real can of worms, but one of the theorys with upsampling is that the DAC filters are less likely to effect a higher sample rate signal, because its happening higher in the frequency range. I'm upsampling to 88.2 because it sounds better to me than 96 (which is the highest my DAC will accept).


7. I found the the output of the 974 benefited from jitter reduction. This unit was to have been replace but the digital lens/974 combo, but because it can de-jitter 88.2 and because that seems to be an improvement, it stays here.


8. Just my DAC. I've done various modifications to it over the years (some kind fellow sent me the schematics), its a tube one which allows me to 'tube roll' to find a sound/tone I like.


9. A really esoteric piece of equipment that I found out about just by chance. IIRC it is a kind of low pass filter that encodes the analogue signal optically and then decodes it again, which is meant to make it sound better!!! (Look it up on the Web, suffice to say thoses explanations will be better than mine.) I though I'd give it a try--its one of those things that you only really know about by trying, and it made an improvement to my ears, so there you go.






A> I started with just the offramp and the DAC.

B> I got the Assemblage D2D-1 to offer some dejittering and upsampling to 24.96. (So now offrame > D2D-1 > DAC)

C> Because B shoed me improvements wrought both by upsampling and dejittering, I looked for a good upsampler (DCS make some of the best stuff), and a good de-jitterer (the digital lens is well regarded, though tere are many options here.

D> C was to replace B (and it did in the playback chain), but I found that because the D2D-1 can de-jitter the output of the upsampler, and because it made a positive difference, I kept it.

E> All the USB stuff is just tweaking, also there are many options on the computer that effect the sound (ie bios tweaks such as turning of spread spectrum control--which induces timing errors (jitter) on purpose). I upgraded my offramp to the next version.

F> The ortho spectrum came last and was just a punt on some strange (but well regarded) technology that paid off for me.


"So, there you go.


Obviously if one already has components then a natural path for upgrade is augmenting them, especially over a long time period. If starting now from scratch I doubt I'd have anything quite so complicated, and yes, this can all be done with one box."


Crazy huh! A few neat ideas in there like the USB hub and 5v Battery man I'm glad for my simple setup though!



PS3 60bg (160GB installed + Native music Browser)-AVI ADM9.1-Klipsch SW12 Subwoofer-Belkin Power Board- Custom power cables-Supra Sub Cable- No Name Toslink Cable - PROUD NZer

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Gonna keep this active as you have to see this setup!

Its nuts!


PS3 60bg (160GB installed + Native music Browser)-AVI ADM9.1-Klipsch SW12 Subwoofer-Belkin Power Board- Custom power cables-Supra Sub Cable- No Name Toslink Cable - PROUD NZer

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I'll point the thread to owner so he can answer any of you Qs directly- he has some low res photos aswell but I didn't post them as they weren't mine. They are from a thread of mine entitled 'Mad Scientist Setups!" from another forum - I'm all for injecting a bit of humour and flavour into this hobby of ours :)


PS3 60bg (160GB installed + Native music Browser)-AVI ADM9.1-Klipsch SW12 Subwoofer-Belkin Power Board- Custom power cables-Supra Sub Cable- No Name Toslink Cable - PROUD NZer

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A bit over the top certainly, but makes sense. Even though the reclockers are doing a good job for you on jitter, the Off-Ramp Turbo is still beneficial because it uses Windows drivers and converts 16/44.1 into 24/44.1. Fairly easy to bypass kmixer. If you are using XP, then you should try unmapping, Foobar or Jriver and Directsound.


Another thing is that the Turbo2 does benefit more than the newer converters when using a 12VDC SLA battery to supply it.


Steve N.

Empirical Audio


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  • 1 year later...

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