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New hardware to buy, advice please


M_stephen

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Thanks to you guys and Computer AudiophileI have started to really explore the boundaries of computer audio. My search started due to my recieving computer bighting the dust. Right now my system consists of an upstairs computer streaming flac to a down stairscomputer wirelessly. The down stairs system consists of an Ayre QB-9 24/96 dac playing into an Audio Research SP-11MK2 to a McCormack DNA 500 to a pair ofAerial 20Ts. Over the last several weeks I have been using my personal HP laptop in the system. I use JRiver MC 19 and have used Asioforall for a few years. I have been auditioning several new settings including wasapi, Jplay and fidelizer 4. All of these have made differences, now only if I can figure outwhich is the best combination. All in all my sound has changed drastically andI have enjoyed the results. This where I really need some advice, I have to putsome sort of new hardware in the system to replace my personal laptop. I havecome up with the following options:

1. New PC vs. Mac vs.C.A.P.S.

· A new WindowsPC will put me exactly where I am now.

· I have seen that many of you are using a Mac Mini for your system using MC with some otherMac compatible items like Audirvana, etc. I am not a big fan of Apple productshowever.

· A new C.A.P.S.Zuma, I have read a lot about the builds, etc. I have never heard one though.

Question Number One; what is the general consensus to which would be the best source?

 

Question Number two; all of the above can be modified. How much modification is necessary? Whereis the line of diminishing returns? How many of you are taking apart yourcomputer and adding different components, new usb cards, new filters, newstorage drives, new power supplies, etc. I realize that that this is a hobby, Ihave made a significant investment in the system that I have? How far do you go?I have read about the Zuma and Paul Pang components including custom handmadecabling, linear power supplies, etc. A linear power supply costs approximately$1,000.00, without hearing it first puts me at a disadvantage of making adecision. Of course this is true about everything above, except for yourstandard PC.

 

I have always believed in trying to buy once. Nothing distresses me worse thanbuying something that I don’t like. The other problem is I realize that moreexpensive does not necessarily mean better and I guess that is where I needhelp. If any of you have any advice, please chime in and thanks beforehand.

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I doubt there's a "consensus" to be had on the question of computer hardware, especially on the question of Mac vs. PC.

 

My general advice is, since you are familiar with Windows and like it in general, then that's the way to go. Really. And since you aren't a fan of Apple products, I just don't see this being a good recommendation.

 

Notwithstanding, I think you're saying that you're still willing to go with Mac if it is the hands-down winner for quality of sound. But having read many postings here, and also based on my own experience, I don't think that can be said.

 

It is nice however if you can set up your music computer exclusively for audio and turn off background processes you don't need. You don't want your general purpose operating system to decide that it's time to index the hard disk during your listening session, for example.

 

Do you feel comfortable building a CAPS system?

2013 MacBook Pro Retina -> {Pure Music | Audirvana} -> {Dragonfly Red v.1} -> AKG K-702 or Sennheiser HD650 headphones.

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Thanks Flatmap. Concerning the Zuma, I have come up with three solutions and this adds to my delema. I have a nephew that is capable. Then the other option is to buy it from Small Green Computer or Paul Pang. Paul Pang has a slew of options. I am drawn to the Paul Pang option, however I have never seen or heard any of the C.A.P.S. system. Is the dressed out Paul Pang unit overkill or do I take a leap of faith and order one?

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Question Number One; what is the general consensus to which would be the best source?

I think there is not much of a consensus. My own experience is that I use a Macbook with iTunes, Audirvana Plus and JRiver Media Center as a source and am very pleased with it.

 

Question Number two; all of the above can be modified. How much modification is necessary? Whereis the line of diminishing returns?

 

My modifications were to:

  1. boost the RAM from 2 to 16Gb
  2. replace the 250GB hard drive successively with 750GB, 1TB, and finally 1.5TB models.
  3. insert a iUSB+Gemini combo between the Macbook and my DAC

 

(1) was necessary for good stability

(2) was necessary to host my PCM files

(3) may or may not be useful as I did not test, but I have the impression that the sound is better than when I went directly from the Macbook to the DAC (but that may be pure expectation bias linked to the money I spent on the combo).

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