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WOW What an Upgrade - Hard Wired Ethernet and Computer Audio


vortecjr
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Hello Team, not much on this topic, so I thought I would share my upgrade and results.

 

First, I decided not to go with a computer per say and have gone the route of a player, but the results should be interesting to all platforms. My current player is the HDX-1000. It plays my flac and wav up to 24/192 and is a great value. I currently have an upgrade to the unit in the works and that will be a post for another day.

 

I started out with a 1T hdd installed in the HDX. The HDX hard wired to my router and my pc in the back room connected via wi-fi for downloads. Playback of files was flawless with this setup as the unit streamed the files from the internal HDD. However, the unit ran quite hot (its fan less) and uploading new files was very slow via the network. This setup also did not work well for keeping a backup of my files. I found myself spending too much time playing with files and not playing music.

 

Task one was to remove the internal hdd and task two was to set up a nas in the back room. I decided on the drobo for the nas, because it seemed very easy and in fact it is very easy. I have connected it via usb (for right now) and share the drive via the network. This is where the problems started! The signal strength in the back room via wi-fi is poor. The 24/192 would not play correctly and the 24/88.2 and 96 would have frequent drop out. Actually, not even the 16/44.1 was safe to play. I moved the pc and nas closer and no problem, but in the back of my mind it was bugging me.

 

My audio buddy recommends to hard wire the back room and off I go. I ran two home runs of category 6 from the router to the back room. One for the pc and one for the nas:) The nas is still hooked up to the pc via usb though, but the wire is there for future use. FYI it was a pain and I still hurt all over from it....hehehe. So I have cat6 wire, cat6 plugs and cat6 patch cords and the whole thing was under $70 bucks. The main wire runs were free provided by my audio buddy who ran his system recently. I also moved the router that was directly above the equipment rack to the other entertainment tower about 10' away. It was becoming ever crowded and I just seemed like a good idea to keep it away from my gear.

 

So to recap the system: I have nas via usb to laptop, laptop via cat6 to router and router via cat6 to hdx.

 

I fire up the system and all I can really say is WOW what an upgrade! Playback is now fixed for all 16 and 24 bit files. I went straight for Kent’s 24/192 release and was blown away. I have heard these tracks many times before, but something in the upgrade really rocks. I noticed deeper base, better steering, brighter mid range, cleaner all around and even somewhat louder. Go figure...I just wanted it to play. I can’t say what one thing or combination of things or why, but it sounds noticeably better!

 

Now let’s keep things in perspective the hdx is not high end, but I will take any help I can get. These changes will really pay off when the hdx’s upgrades are finally finished.

 

Hope this helps and please send any comments

 

regards

 

JR

 

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Haha, great story ! and yes, how nice it is to rerun your albums as if you never heard them before (not that you said that).

 

But somehow the crowd from this forum is the only one I know - dedicated to computer based playback - that keeps on being persistent that WiFi is a good thing. It-is-not. Besides it is slow and prone to bad connections, it interferes with sound quality, once the computer playing the audio contains a WiFi transmitter/receiver.

Don't ask why ... accept it.

 

Spare yourselves the trouble, and trade so called conveniency for the real stuff.

Just 2c here !

Peter

 

PS: You can have WiFi in the room, but not the audio playing PC. When you have a spare PC, stuff WiFi into that, and connect it via ethernet to the audio playing PC, if you want.

 

 

Lush^3-e      Lush^2      Blaxius^2      Ethernet^2     HDMI^2     XLR^2

XXHighEnd (developer)

Phasure NOS1 24/768 Async USB DAC (manufacturer)

Phasure Mach III Audio PC with Linear PSU (manufacturer)

Orelino & Orelo MKII Speakers (designer/supplier)

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Now there is a method to play iTrax's Audience and Stage files in 5.1 from the PC to a HT system. Was it necessary to go to Cat6, or was the Cat 6 to hand anyway?

 

PC --> Router --> Ethernet --> HDX ----> AV receiver all at 24/96, yum!

 

Well done JR for giving us a report on your findings, and thank you!!

 

AS Profile Equipment List        Say NO to MQA

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how a digital data stream using wifi can be corrupted in giving bad audio quality. The stream is checksum, and apart from drop outs, due to other influences of interference, Wi-fi is as good as Ethernet for audio. I do like Ethernet 715MB/min is not bad for security and speed (100baseT) , but audio quality that streams at 10kb/s???

I mean to say that computers use wi-fi a lot to transfer data from servers and routers to each other, it's not new and it does work.

That's D-A-T-A, lots of it.

 

AS Profile Equipment List        Say NO to MQA

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What did I say ?

 

once the computer playing the audio contains a WiFi transmitter/receiver.

Don't ask why ... accept it.

 

No less, but also no more. The WiFi transmitter/receiver degrades, like so many things do. But this is an extra bad one.

 

 

Lush^3-e      Lush^2      Blaxius^2      Ethernet^2     HDMI^2     XLR^2

XXHighEnd (developer)

Phasure NOS1 24/768 Async USB DAC (manufacturer)

Phasure Mach III Audio PC with Linear PSU (manufacturer)

Orelino & Orelo MKII Speakers (designer/supplier)

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It cannot change the audio. It either works or it doesn't. There is no mechanism in the transmission that changes the data and all that there is is the data. It's not like SPDIF where there is jitter, within a LAN it is packets of data transmitted in sequence and in an accurate manner. The only exception to this is when packets don't arrive, but then you have gross distortion. There are no subtle effects, like "improved bass", it's perfect transmission or big holes.

 

If you believe that WiFi affects the sound, then you can't just say it, you have to prove it because all the evidence is against you. I can prove it doesn't affect the data and the sound, because you can read this posting. The data was transmitted perfectly from my laptop to the router. Your stance also really does audiophiles no service, because it tries to imply that hardware manufacturers don't understand coherent and reliable data transmission, which is clearly not the case or none of our devices would work.

 

Data transmission over LAN, whether wired or unwired, within computers, and over different types of protocols and hardware, is extremely well understood. For example, you are probably reading this on a PC running at several gigahertz, so running electronics at way higher frequencies than audio data, yet it passes information around thousands of millions of times a second with total reliably. Not to mention that we can build massive scientific instruments like the Large Hadron Collider and measure within atoms, all with data transmitting at way higher rates than audio and total accuracy. You wouldn't question any of that would you?

 

All wifi does is pass data between devices. It neither adds nor subtracts or it wouldn't work at all.

 

 

 

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You guys seem to want to read things which aren't written ! I'll try it again :

 

The sole fact that WiFi is present in a machine, used for transmitting audio OR NOT or nothing at all, degrades sound. I am explicitly *not* talking about the data being molested or anything (which of course never will happen, or otherwise dump computing).

 

I hope it is clear now.

 

... And if you can't accept this, don't ask me to explain it, because I can't. That I can't explain doesn't mean it isn't so, and once you get the grasp of that anything happening within a PC matters (like spinning disks or not), it becomes obvious that WiFi sure does (investigate the crazy polling of it, and you'll at least know that it "consumes" to a high degree, even if nothing is transmitted/received.

 

ok ?

 

Lush^3-e      Lush^2      Blaxius^2      Ethernet^2     HDMI^2     XLR^2

XXHighEnd (developer)

Phasure NOS1 24/768 Async USB DAC (manufacturer)

Phasure Mach III Audio PC with Linear PSU (manufacturer)

Orelino & Orelo MKII Speakers (designer/supplier)

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Use ethernet for data transmission. Turn on Wifi, listen, then power it off and listen again.

 

Does it sound better?

 

The problem for me is that you excuse yourself by saying you can't explain it, but state it as if it an absolute truth. Then offer up some hopeless pseudo science as a possible reason why. Polling on the WiFi won't affect the digital output. They are different circuits operating at different frequencies.

 

My Squeezebox has WiFI and ethernet. Both sound exactly the same. My MacBook Pro has ethernet and wifi. Sounds exactly the same through both. SlimDevices have even measured it accurately. It is the same.

 

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One and a half: Yes the hdmi 1.3 is very cool. In fact I have it hooked up to my rotel processor via hdmi and it works great. I can download one of the 5.1 sound tracks from iTrax's and check it out for you. Let me know if you want me to. The pcm should be ok, but you should know the unit does not like recordings with drm. You would need to rip them and remove the encryption.

 

I did connect a usb optical drive and play my audio buddies R.R. hrx disk in 24/176.4 direct...nice huh! I also have an app installed that also adds cover art pre views with links that really makes the unit a viable contender. To bad most people over look the hdx!

 

The cat6 was free and I just decided to kepp it all 6. I can't see why 5e would not be fine.

 

Team, the wireless worked as long as I had lots of bars. If I moved the setup closer to the router no problem. I would only get one bar in the back room and that was making a mess for playback. Make no mistake though it sounds better hard wired! How about radio frequency interference as one source?

 

Look, we spend tons of cash for marginal improvements and this was a WOW on the cheap. I have to take it and report like I see it. My audio buddy said, "I dont care what you due I am going copper" and this was right. The copper runs are better!

 

JR

 

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Chris, they mean well for sure;) I could be crazy though and it sounds the same...not! But on the slight chance that I am crazy....I have to say its nice being crazy about something!

 

jr

 

ps the shop has the unit being upgraded....I have my fingures crossed! Ill keep you posted.

 

 

 

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Sorry, I must side with Paul.

 

I agree this thread should get back on topic Chris - and we should enjoy our wonderful hobby .. but Peter happily accuses others of not knowing anything, instructing us to simply "accept" his views. In this case he is most likely incorrect.

 

 

 

HTPC: AMD Athlon 4850e, 4GB, Vista, BD/HD-DVD into -> ADM9.1

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Think your "worked well when close to the router" sums things up.

 

Great to hear your enjoying your music again!

 

How is the HDX to operate - easy ?

 

HTPC: AMD Athlon 4850e, 4GB, Vista, BD/HD-DVD into -> ADM9.1

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Hi JR! I think you use the same name on networkedmediatank.com also. If so, I have corresponded with you over there about the digital output quality of the NMTs.

 

I use the ioBox 100HD device, and an internal 1TB hard disk (WD10EADS). It is pretty quiet, and when the music is playing, of course I cannot hear the drive. The ioBox is connected to my router using ethernet over the power line. I do not stream any actual music data via ethernet, only control the NMT from my laptop.

 

I used to have a Roku at one time. It was set up to stream data wirelessly from my NSLU2 (with an external drive), but I used to have a lot of drop outs with it. I never tested it to see if things would be different with a wired connection. Did not care much for the interface.

 

I am quite happy with the ioBox arrangement. I take the co-ax S/PDIF output to a Keces DA131.1 DAC, and then to my stereo. I have installed the Music Player Daemon (MPD) in my NMT. I can control MPD with Minion, a client that runs as an add-on for Firefox.

 

I would be most interested to hear about your modifications. One that has been talked about is replacing the switching power supply brick with a linear supply.

 

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Hi guys - My comments weren't aimed at anyone specifically. Rather I just get bored with some of the less productive comments. It's so much more enjoyable that way. But I do think people need to be challenged when posting some comments.

 

No worries, carry on :~)

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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Yeah ethernet is the way to go in my house or to avoid the low bars as vortec said. Here at my place plaster walls = poor wireless strength even with Wireless N. I'm looking into purchasing an antenna that connects to the Apple Extreme router to boost the signal a good bit.

 

david is hear[br]http://www.tuniverse.tv

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BEEMB, thanks for your comments. The hdx-1000 is a cake walk. At the main screen with the remote you select the music app (more on this later). A screen pops up the genres and cover art of your albums. At this point you select the genres you want or browse all the cover art. Selecting Jazz brings up a new screen with jazz cover art only and so on. You browse the jazz page selecting a cover you like and that album’s page pops up with bigger cover art and titles. You select the title and press play or select play all and it does. That is it!

 

I like the music app, but you can also just browse the music directory and press play on something you want to here. No cover art in browse mode. The app basically looks at the music directory and makes a webpage that you later browse with the remote. It makes the links and inserts the cover art and so on. It takes a few minutes and you are done. You only run it when you update your music with new music. So it’s not really an app, but a cleaver utility program.

 

ASHOK, how are you buddy! I didn’t give up on the NMT forum. They are very good for programming and stuff like that, but they have their own agenda. Have you tied the musicjukebox app…its killer! I changed its screen to match the native screen of the NMT and it looks like an OEM function. I tried the Music Player Damien and even the remote pc app via ftp, but I really like the musicjukebox app best!

 

After almost a year of searching for a way to upgrade the hdx, I finally found someone who could and would help. The power supply is a given and we are looking at that for sure. The rest I need some time before I spill the beans, but it should (cross your fingures) be awesome! Ill keep you posted.

 

Re

 

jr

 

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JR,

 

Yes, I do use the Music Jukebox application to classify my music and create the HTML. However, when you click Play All on an album, it passes control to the default playback mechanism of the NMT. Therefore, you cannot browse your library while something else is already playing. Real pain in the you-know-what. Further, the default playback mode of the NMT does not allow gapless playback, which is another problem.

 

So, somebody on the NMT forum developed a skin for the Music Jukebox, so that when you click Play All or play one song or whatever, the playback is effected by the Music Player Daemon, instead of the default NMT playback mechanism. Maybe you are already doing this in your Music Jukebox application.

 

MPD offers gapless playback, ability to shuffle, create play lists, etc.

 

So, what I now have is the nice Music Jukebox interface, combined with all the features MPD offers, thanks to the neat Music Jukebox skin.

 

Plus I can control MPD from my laptop using Minion, or turn on the computer monitor connected to my NMT and use Music Jukebox (with special skin) to control MPD. Works great!

 

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I am lost. I have a few tracks that won't play and yet the rest of the titles on the same album will. Does this sound like it might be the gapless problem? It plays under normal conditions via direct navigation, but not with the music app?

 

Let me know what you think!

 

Sorry CA guys if this is off topic....but its nice to see a another hdx/nmt audiophile in the house.

 

thanks

 

JR

 

ps the upgrades should also work on your machine...Ill keep in the loop!

 

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Some albums, like The Dark Side of the Moon, are recorded without any breaks in between songs. There are separate tracks listed, but no real breaks. In such cases, we want the playback to also sound the same, without any gaps.

 

The NMT's default playback cannot do this. There will be an audible break in between tracks, and it gets irritating to listen this way.

 

If you use MPD as the playback engine, you get gapless playback and the ability to easily shuffle a playlist.

 

Music Jukebox not being able to play a particular track might have to do with there being a special character in the song name that the application chokes on. For example, if you had an apostrophe, or a parenthesis, this might throw the application for a loop.

 

Looking forward to your HDX upgrades. Thanks for sharing.

 

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One and a half, FYI the HDX will not play the iTrax's Audience and Stage files in 5.1! I tested it a few minutes ago. I quess something always has to give, but dont give up.....Ill keep trying different combos and lets see. I only tested the pcm version. Maybe dts version will work.

 

ASHOK, thanks for the additional info...

 

JR

 

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All audio equipment will sound worse in the presence of RFI. When you put a Wi-Fi system in your house, you are putting a radio transmitter in that is broadcasting right from your living room. The RF energy is picked up on every single wire in your house -- the AC wiring in the walls, all of your power cords, your interconnect cables, your speaker cables, and on and on. So switching to wired Ethernet is not only more reliable and can cover longer distances, but it will also make your stereo sound better (assuming that your turn off *all* of your Wi-Fi devices completely).

 

Since Wi-Fi operates at the exact same frequency as a microwave oven, I am personally not all that excited about turning my house into a low-level cooker that is operating 24/7. My guess is that in 15 years there will be lots of evidence that shows long-term health problems from Wi-Fi. I was just talking to a world-class neurosurgeon and he was telling me that he saw some research that showed that using a cell-phone caused the blood-brain barrier (that normally keeps nasty stuff out of your noggin) to open up for a period of time. I bought a real nice old Western Electric telephone (you know the ones that could withstand hurricanes and earthquakes) for $15. Works great. I got a touch-tone model -- too impatient to use the rotary dials!

 

Charles Hansen

Dumb Analog Hardware Engineer
Former Transducer Designer

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There have been FM radio transmissions and local taxi firms squirting out RF mush into the environment for years and hifi manufacturers encase their electronics and suppress it well. I guess if your gear isn't that well constructed then this crap might affect it, but WiFi is up in the gigahertz, doesn't travel far and nowhere near audio frequencies, so easily filtered out.

 

And whilst Wifi does operate at the same frequency as microwave ovens and can get messed up when you are reheating your pot-noodles, the power output from a wifi router is minuscule by comparison (0.1W as opposed to 800W). All other equipment that unintentionally transmits radio interference is limited by law to around 0.1 microwatt, I seem to remember. So whilst you could claim it is a microwave oven, it is like standing in cold water rather than a scalding bath. It ain't ever going to hurt.

 

I happen to work in the mobile industry and there has been tons of research done into power output of phones. Manufacturers are acutely aware of health concerns and handsets subjected to far more testing that you would imagine. Yes, it is true that you can cook popcorn with a few phones on a call at the same time in a low reception area (so the amps are up at full wick), but when they are idle, the RF amps are in a quiescent state and putting out very, very little energy (otherwise your battery would only last a few hours). So, you may have a point if you are making a call near your stereo if it has poor noise suppression, but 99% of the time, the phone isn't doing a hell of a lot.

 

The one inescapable thing about ethernet is that it is pretty much immune to interference and so drop-outs, so if you can, use it.

 

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Paulb,

 

Are you certain that with wifi, the data either makes it, or it doesn't ?

Streaming audio the same as streaming data ? Type an e-mail, it gets to the destination as you intended it, no change ... Send an audio stream over wifi, the same ?

 

 

Matt.

 

HTPC: AMD Athlon 4850e, 4GB, Vista, BD/HD-DVD into -> ADM9.1

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