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netbook with vista basic


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Hello,

Would a netbook running Windows Vista Basic work well as a music server, or does one need Vista Premium?

I currently use an older laptop running Windows XP with an external hard drive. The laptop outputs via usb into a Blue Circle Thingee for conversion into s/pdif optical or coax before input into my DAC. Lately I've been using JRiver as the player and I don't yet listen to any format but standard redbook. I am basically happy with this setup, but need to free up the old laptop and would like the new music server/laptop to be small and portable, usable for other things in a pinch, and cheap.

I have looked quickly at a netbook running Windows Vista Basic for under $400. This would require an external disc drive for ripping, but otherwise seems like it could be set up in the same way as my current laptop.

I will appreciate any feedback regarding pros and cons (or impossibility) of using the netbook.

Thanks,

Charlie

 

 

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Hi Charlie,

 

Nothing against it; All features for audio are there. Just take care there's 2GB in there, or otherwise Vista may be too sluggish.

 

But ...

 

There will be no RDC (Remote Desktop Connection) on it, or IOW you will not be able to connect to it remotely and e.g. have *another* laptop on your lap and control the audio laptop from your arm chair (take over the screen and keyboard). IIRC you will need the Business versions for that.

But if you don't need this, it's okay.

 

Regards,

Peter

 

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

XXHighEnd (developer)

Phasure NOS1 24/768 Async USB DAC (manufacturer)

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Hi Charlie - This is a tough call for someone other than yourself to make. As Peter said everything is there for audio. On one hand this could be a really nice low power server. On the other hand it could be a mess with audio drop-outs and USB port issues etc..

 

I'd love to know myself :~)

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

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Peter and Chris,

Thanks for the input. I'll probably pick one up within a few days unless I hear a good argument against it. I don't mind trying it and finding out for myself what the pros and cons are.

Cheers,

Charlie

 

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Can you get the Netbook with Windows XP still - this might be more appropriate for the power of the Netbook, or wait a couple of months and see what Windows 7 brings you.

 

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 my experience that Vista (even with memory) doesn't run very well on Atom processors in NetBooks.

 

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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Oh, but *that* is true !

 

But when we're at the discussion "to notebook or not" which has passed here before, my opinion is known : never use a notebook. Yes, I said notebook, which is better than netbook.

 

But this wasn't the question, and responding like this would have you all over me for sure.

Well, now you can, hahaha.

 

So, that subject summarized (where is that older thread) : If you want some guarantee that you can solve problems which *may* exist, and which chances ara failry high anyway, have a desktop or anyway a machine with the possibility to exchange things. If it works ? no problem. Keep on using the net/note/ppdabook. But if it doesn't work, chances are 99% is will never get solved.

And no, I don't care about all who state they can solve everything, because this is about random people who may not be able to.

 

So there you have it. Again. My personal opinion.

And Eloise, you are right. I have a netbook myself (Atom based /w Vista) and I HATE it.

So on that matter ... don't !!

But exchange it for XP is another matter (which btw needs a special OS, unlike Vista -> not everybody may know this).

 

In the end my real advise would be to get a small desktop with RDC, and use a whateverbook to control it. If that control is needed, that is.

 

Best,

Peter

 

 

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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Hello again,

For those still interested in this thread, the specific netbook in question is a Gateway LT3103u. Unlike machines with Atom processors running XP, this model has AMD Athlon 64L110 processor and runs Vista. It has 2GB RAM and 250GB Hard Drive. Many reviews say that it is closer to a regular laptop in speed and functionality than other netbooks.

It is a 64 bit processor. Any caveats? Feedback welcomed.

Regards,

Charlie

 

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I've been running a Samsung NC10 (WinXP) for the best part of 9 months without a single issue. It's run Foobar, MediaMonkey, 1BY1, iTunes and Wavelab5 (all via USB) and is currently running the SlimServer software for my Squeezebox over an 802.11g wireless network. All files, in all instances are wav, mostly 16/44, but I have used MM and Foobar to play 24/96 files with no problems. File storage is all external usb over a powered hub.

 

No dropouts, no heat, no noise, no hassle! Nothing. It works.

 

The usual XP caveats apply in terms of system settings, I uninstalled everything I didn't want and cut back the Services to only those I actually needed. Other than that - which you would do on a normal machine dedicated to audio anyway - it's as per spec.

 

I'd be inclined to agree with Eloise in that there is normally a reason Netbook re-sellers don't install Vista and that's because it's too slow. Having said that I'm typing this on a Gateway laptop which has run without issue for 3 years. If they see fit to install Vista I can think of no good reason to doubt that it will be fine - but I think I'd still wait for Win7! Every single review I've read so far has commented on the real world speed increase we can expect when we move over to it. (If you're buying now then you should get a promise of a free upgrade to '7' when its released - if you're happy to install it yourself when Gateway make it available then you may end up with the best of both worlds, although be aware that the upgrade will probably not allow you to dual boot it with your existing OS, it'll be a clean install.)

 

My only caveat would be noise levels. Reviews tend to gloss over such things but you don't want to be able to hear it from wherever you're sitting. As a general rule the higher the power, in terms of cpu hz, the higher the heat, the noisier the fan. Check the TDP for the Athlon processor against that of a normal Atom, if it's a lot higher then proceed with caution until you've heard one that's been running for an hour or so.

 

Otherwise, I'd say go for it. I've never regretted getting my Samsung, that's for sure.

 

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Bob and all,

Thanks for the info. I picked up the netbook today. I won't be at home to drop it into the main rig for a few days, but I've got it set up for audio. I downloaded Jriver, dumped in a couple of audio files (flac), and plugged the Thingee into a usb port. (At home I use the Thingee to convert digital signals from usb to spdif and on the road I use it as a DAC outputting analogue left and right coax or headphones.) Everything ran smoothly and sounded fine with headphones.

My initial impression is that this machine runs Vista quite well for my limited needs. For internet, it is less snappy than a more powerful laptop but not slow and the screen and graphics are nice. But, the point of this thread is that I would just like this to be a good music server at home and on the road.

You make a good point about fan noise. As far as I can tell, this little fan runs essentially all the time. It is certainly very quiet, but we'll have to see how it works sitting on my DAC.

I didn't try very hard to get the TDP but I can compare the speed of the Atom and the AMD:

Atom N270: 1.6 GHz, 533 MHz FSB

AMD Athlon 64L110: 1.2GHz, 800MHz FSB

Lastly, the OS is upgradable when Windows 7 comes out, although I haven't read the details yet about the free offer.

I'll report back when it is hooked up to a hard drive and a real DAC at home.

Cheers,

Charlie

 

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hello again,

Just a quick update to say things worked out great with the netbook as a music server. I use an external disc drive to rip, and an external hard drive (along with the internal hard drive) to store music as flac files.

The setup:

Netbook --> usb out --> Blue Circle Thingee --> optical or coax out --> Quad CDP2 --> coax analog out to active speakers.

I am using Jriver as the music player and the CDP2 has variable output and remote control. Again, this netbook has an Athlon 64 bit processor running Windows Basic.

Pros:

Sounds great, simple to use, snappy user interface, cheap media server, 250GB hard drive on netbook means I don't have to take portable hard drive on the road.

Cons:

Real mini laptop would have optical disc drive built in, fan on netbook does run a lot (not noticable in my setup unless you are at the netbook itself), currently no remote music selection (I am used to working with CDs, so this doesn't bother me.

Cheers,

Charlie

 

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I thought the same thing but here's the situation I am in. I bought a netbook for the same purpose; I have a desktop in a different location in the house. I have posted on here before with this problem, but the sound I get is just OK, it is actually gauzy or hazy. Someone suggested to switch the USB ports and I did that and thought it fixed it but after much listening it made it better but it is still really hazy, not clean at all.

 

It is really wierd because on certain songs it is really noticeable but then on some songs - nothing, no haze or at least very minimal. So that leads me to believe it is my recordings. Not true b/c when I play the same songs through my Desktop soundcard/speakers it is as clean as can be and blows my $10,000 home stereo away as far as sound quality goes.

 

Could it be that the netbook is cheap & does not support good audio through it's USB ports. Someone else recommended that I should go in and look at the system to see which USB ports are assigned to audio and I tried but I didn't really know how to do it or what to look for. I am so frustrated that it seams like it should be an easy fix but I have tried tests after tests for the past 2 months. HELP!!!

 

Well that's enough rant for awhile!

 

Thanks,

 

Jeff

 

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Jeff,

I assume your netbook is running Windows XP. You might check some of the threads that discuss getting good sound from XP by by-passing the operating system's audio kernel (K-mixer). I don't think Vista requires much fiddling to get clean digital output. My Vista netbook sounds as good as the CD player which is serving as the DAC.

On the other hand, I have read about poor quality usb outputs being a problem for digital audio.

Regards,

Charlie

 

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I'll tackle the USB thing first. USB ports are just data ports, nothing gets assigned to them as such. You plug something in and it says hello to the OS, the OS has a chat back, goes off and gets what it needs to run the thing you plugged in, if all goes well that's job done. You may have noticed that this happens on a per port basis - by which I mean that if you then unplug the thing you just plugged in and plug it into a different port, Windows will go through exactly the same procedure again - it remembers what items have been plugged into a particular port, not what items you've plugged in somewhere. So, any 'assigning' that's going on is only on the basis that Windows will remember that it was in that port before and what it had to do. Windows will not assign audio, or any other data type, to a particular port because all it's interested in is transferring data, the data could be anything.

 

Now on the to the sound! It's likely that you prefer the sound of the analogue outs on your desktop to whatever is on DAC duties connected to your netbook. My best guess would be that there is something your netbook setup doesn't like about certain recordings - like high levels of 'loudness' for instance. For a while I ran a Tacsam u122 soundcard on dac duties - any recordings with very little or no headroom left sounded dreadful. Well recorded material sounded great. In other words, the dac couldn't cope with heavily compressed and 'loudnessed' material. Whatever 'the problem' is, your soundcard is making a better fist of it.

 

Your post is light on details about exactly what it is you are using - OS/software/DAC etc. But rest assured that, properly set up, the netbook will be just fine. I have to say I'm not much of a one for believing computers 'sound' like anything at all, really. By which I mean that a usb port on a desktop will be no different to a usb port on a netbook or a usb port on a Mac. Ditto Firewire. I'm sure that a Lynx 16 will sound just the same sat in a PC as a Mac. But I can detect differences between the different ways of getting audio data out of a computer. It sounds very much like so can you! :)

 

My first port of call, assuming that the netbook is properly setup, would be to try and get my hands on a different usb dac. It doesn't need to be expensive, just something you can compare whilst playing a 'hazy' track.

 

Hope this helps...

 

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Thanks for the suggestions. Oops I forgot to mention everything I am using - The netbook is the cheapest HP - I think I paid $350 for it. I can't remember the model but it has an Atom 270, XP, 1 GB RAM, 160 GB hard drive/using external Simpetch 500GB hd. I am using Media Monkey with everything ripped 16/48. I am also using a PS Audio DL III DAC.

 

I haven't really changed any settings in Media Monkey or XP, not really sure what to change. BTW, how do you get the EQ back in Media Monkey - I set it to transparent b/c I hate that when you turn it on it is always on the screen?

 

I listened extensively again last night and it just is not that great. I have Paradigm Signature S8v2 speakers with 500W monoblock amps and although not that expensive compared to most speakers but expensive to me none-the-less. The sound just is not that impressive, in which I think it should be, considering that my desktop is a 10 year old dell with a SB Audigy with tiny media 2.1 Harman Kardon speakers and that sound is soo much better. Clean with no haze, fuzziness no matter how loud you turn it. Ugh!!!

 

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First off - the transparency thing. I couldn't find a way of doing this through the interface so I'm afraid it means mucking about in the registry. CAUTION : THE REGISTRY EDITOR CAN TRASH YOUR MACHNE IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING! PROCEDE WITH CAUTION. IF IN DOUBT, DON'T DO IT!!

 

Right, shouting over :) Here's what you need to do :

 

Start Menu/Run - type REGEDIT

Navigate to : HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/MediaMonkey/Transparency/Equaliser

Right click on the NAME entry for TRANSPARENT - change the VALUE DATA to 0 (that's the number zero) - click Ok and close down Regedit.

Restart MediaMonkey and all should be well. If you can't see it then make sure it's selected - VIEW/EQUALISER

 

Good Luck!

 

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The first thing that jumps straight off the page is everything ripped 16/48. If you meant to say 16/44.1 then ignore the rest of this paragraph! If you really did mean 16/48 then you need to make sure that everything is set to replay at that sample rate, otherwise conversions will be a-happenin' - a bad thing in XP! You will also have had a conversion take place during the rip because cd's are 16/44.1 I won't rabbit on any more on this, just in case it was a typo. If you need to, then we can revisit it.

 

This is from the PS Audio website : Connect any computer to it through USB as well. Now, you can read that in many ways, but as it is actually tagged on to the end of the paragraph I would interpret that to mean that they do not consider it to be the 'best of breed' connection for their DAC. They've stuck one on there, so you can use it if you wish, but I would imagine that the spdif/AES inputs is where the real effort was made. You also appear to not be comparing like with like but comparing two different setups. Try hooking your netbook up to the Harman Kardons and see what you think. It's a question of playing around a bit until you can identify what it is that's bothering you.

 

What pre-amp are you using, BTW?

 

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Peter,

your words from your site

 

"First of all you should really use Vista because it is for that OS where XXHighEnd development is on going and really sounds superb (for XP it would only be the best), but above all, the installation on XP requires a lot more to do, and above all, a lot of in advance unknown things to do and to arrange for."

 

A change of mind?

 

AS Profile Equipment List        Say NO to MQA

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Thank you so much for the transparency help Bob, I am a little scared to try the registery thing but I will give it a shot. I don't really have anything on this netbook b/c I only use it for audio and all of that is on an external anyway. It is really annoying I can't believe they don't fix that, has that ever happened to you or how did you know how to fix it.

 

For the other part - I did actually rip everything in 16/48 (thinking it would be upsampled a little bit - higher quality). Was that bad? Could this be what's causing my bad sound? I guess that kinda makes sense to me that if there is a conversion taking place and the OS doesn't like that very much. How do I fix it, do I have to re-rip everything in 16/44.1 cause that would suck. If so I guess I will have to get a 12 pack and settle in for the long haul this weekend. Why wouldn't my desktop suffer the same result?

 

BTW, I am using a Yamaha RX-V1600 receiver as my preamp. Nothing special but I am waiting to get a JL sub and the next piece will be the receiver to replace. I know that USB is not the best connection but my buddy has pretty much the exact setup that I have except he uses a Cambridge DacMagic (USB) with a desktop with vista. I do know that he uses winamp and he has everything in 16/44.1 and his sound is very impressive! I know that the dacmagic got a lot of great reviews and is an excellent piece of equipment especially for the price but I would like to think the ps audio is just as good if not a pinch better (not saying that it is) since it costs twice the price.

 

Could this be my problem? At least it would be cheap fix (won't need to buy a desktop!) I am going to borrow my buddies dacmagic to see if there is any difference next week.

 

Thanks again Bob for all your help, you don't know how much I appreciate it. If this fixes it I will owe you big time!

 

Jeff

 

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How did I know how to fix it? I've never used the EQ but I fired it up and changed it to transparent and got exactly your problem - bloody irritating it was too! - then set about trying to get it back. No chance! User adjustable settings of this sort are usually either stored in DOCUMENTS & SETTINGS/USER/APPDATA or in the Registry. There was nothing in AppData so I went Registry hunting. I happen to have spent far too many hours fixing Windows Registries so I pretty much knew where to start looking. If you don't then the way to get to stuff is to search for it from EDIT/FIND in Regedit. In this instance you could try MEDIAMONKEY and see what turns up.

 

Ripping at 16/48 is a bad thing. It is very bad. It is so bad...... you get the idea, Jeff! There could be many reasons why it does not appear to be a problem on the desktop but the most obvious is that it is not resolving things anywhere near as well as your main rig. The problem is still there, you just don't get to it! Unfortunately the only answer is to re-rip everything!

 

Before you do that, though, it may well be worth checking what the Yamaha is doing, if you can. I wondered whether or not you may have the possibility of another conversion, or electrical mismatch, taking place somewhere - which is why I asked you about the pre-amp - and the Yammy may be the culprit. (I wouldn't worry about the PS Audio - it should be fine and it should most definitely be an improvement over a Dac Magic - with all due respect to Cambridge Audio!) You need to be using the analogue rca (audio) inputs on the back of the receiver and you need to make sure that you match up the PS Audio to the correct set of inputs - I would imagine that it should be connected to the inputs marked CD, but you should check in the manuals both for the PS Audio and the Yamaha to make sure you get the right connection. That bit is about voltage matching and such like wizardy - each connection will be designed to expect a certain type of input. If it's in the wrong one - rubbish sound!

 

Once you're sure the PS Audio and the Yammy are set up properly then try ripping a favourite 'hazy' cd at normal rates - 16/44.1 - and see if it's better. Something to play with whilst you wait for next week to meander its way around!

 

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Bob,

 

You are a flippin' genius with the transparency and registry thing. I was a little leery b/c I have heard horror stories about people f'in up their computer in there but it was pretty straight forward and cudos to you for figuring that out. I can not believe a program that good has it set up that way, all the other programs I've used has it as part of the screen not a separate screen that pops up.

 

BTW, I did check the Yammy inputs as one of the various tests that I had done previously. I am going to try re-ripping a cd in 16/44.1 for tickles and giggles to see if there are any changes while I wait to swap DAC's with my buddy next week.

 

Are there any other settings/plug-ins in windows or MM that I could also check or change (never done it before so not sure what to look for) in the meantime?

 

You should send me your email at [email protected] so we can chat instead of posting here all the time b/c I'm sure there are a lot of people sick of us two all the time.

 

Thanks again for all of your help! I owe you one!

 

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Hey Bob,

 

Alright are you ready for this?! I solved it. So, I did re-rip a bunch of discs and that did help a little and I have a long way to go b4 I'm done. But it was still there. So I had my buddy bring his Dac Magic over so we could test that. We did some lengthy (3hrs.) testing last night. The sound was still there.

 

The best way to describe the haze I'm referring to is it is like listening to pandora or the radio - that background air! Just a frickin headache. So we tried numerous tests and the PS Audio is definitely a better DAC after doing A/B tests. We tried just about every setting we could think of. The closest we came to was putting the Yammy in Pure Direct mode which made a tremendous difference! Still there, now a tiny hint of it so we narrowed it down to it being the Yammy.

 

Here it goes ---- all of a sudden at the very end b4 we're ready to give in for the night my buddy walks to the end of the room which is pretty long (about 25-30ft back). GONE!!!! The background air/haze/whateveryoucallit - GONE!!! Pristine, clean, precise the sound I should have. So we go up change the speaker distance setting from the default 10ft. to 4ft. and Voila!!! GONE!!! That was it! I could not believe my ears - now the sound was impressive!

 

I can't believe something so simple but yet so hidden was the problem, and I don't know how or why that was the problem but I do not care - it was gone!

 

So to sum it all up after 3 months of testing and headaches:

DAC - Good

Computer - Good

External HDD - Good

Yammy - Bad but now Good

 

Rejoice! Thanks for all of your help with everything!

 

 

 

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Sorry, BTW, I missed your previous post - but, to answer the e-mail bit, out here on the forum is exactly the place these conversations should take place. Others are free to join in if they wish to and, with a bit of luck and a lot of patience, the answer will be here ready and waiting for others to take advantage of. Job done!

 

Anyway, glad you're sorted now! It's certainly a point well made that if someone plans on using an AV Receiver then the speaker distance setting is something worth checking!

 

Nice one :)

 

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