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Do music servers improve SQ over spinning discs?


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Hi all,

I will most likely make the transition from CD's into a server based music library in the near future. And there seem to be several options that fit my profile. The main reason for doing this would be improved SQ. If not, I'll save the 5 000 - 10 000 USD and buy some more music :).

 

So I'd be interested to hear from those of you who have left the spinning discs and moved into the NAS/server world. Does it sound better? Or has ease of finding what you are looking for in the library been the biggest improvement?

 

Today I spinn my CDs on a Oppo 105 > spdif > MSB analog dac.

Sonus Faber Amati Futura, Oppo 105 (transport), Gryphon Diablo 300 with DAC, Brinkmann Bardo, 10.0 tone arm, Lyra Etna, Isotek Sigmas Evo 3, Nordost Valhalla cables, Stillpoints Ultra and Mini.

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Hi all,

I will most likely make the transition from CD's into a server based music library in the near future. And there seem to be several options that fit my profile. The main reason for doing this would be improved SQ. If not, I'll save the 5 000 - 10 000 USD and buy some more music :).

 

So I'd be interested to hear from those of you who have left the spinning discs and moved into the NAS/server world. Does it sound better? Or has ease of finding what you are looking for in the library been the biggest improvement?

 

Today I spinn my CDs on a Oppo 105 > spdif > MSB analog dac.

I'd save the $5-10,000 and start with small steps...

 

Buy and off the shelf PC, install MinimServer (plus BubbleUPnP) or JRiver on it, use your Oppo as a UPnP renderer and control it all with a UPnP or JRemote on and iPad (equivalent software also available on Android).

 

Later could look at replacing the Oppo with a Aries or another renderer.

 

Eloise

 

PS. I personally find a computer improves the music playing experience but not 100% sure if the sound quality is improved (though definitely not a reduction in sound quality).

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 agree with audio_elf. I went the server route for convenience because I have way too many CDs. A server setup allows me to enjoy my music even more because its so easy to navigate and explore my music collection. I dont think a server setup automatically means better sound. In fact, you could get worse sound! I personally think what I have now sounds just as good as when I owned a 2 box Esoteric cdp + dac setup that cost me much more than my current pc setup. If you put some work into it you can get awesome sound out of fairly inexpensive PCs feeding your Oppo as a dac.

12TB NAS >> i7-6700 Server/Control PC >> i3-5015u NAA >> Singxer SU-1 DDC (modded) >> Holo Spring L3 DAC >> Accustic Arts Power 1 int amp >> Sonus Faber Guaneri Evolution speakers + REL T/5i sub (x2)

 

Other components:

UpTone Audio LPS1.2/IsoRegen, Fiber Switch and FMC, Windows Server 2016 OS, Audiophile Optimizer 3.0, Fidelizer Pro 6, HQ Player, Roonserver, PS Audio P3 AC regenerator, HDPlex 400W ATX & 200W Linear PSU, Light Harmonic Lightspeed Split USB cable, Synergistic Research Tungsten AC power cords, Tara Labs The One speaker cables, Tara Labs The Two Extended with HFX Station IC, Oyaide R1 outlets, Stillpoints Ultra Mini footers, Hi-Fi Tuning fuses, Vicoustic/RealTraps/GIK room treatments

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Because you have an Analog I would also try to get a hold of the MSB streamer module. On paper that seems ideal. Not sure if they are out in the wild yet as I have not heard anyone with feedback yet though.

 

Agree with the comments above. I am a big fan of Minimserver with Bubble UPnP Server to provide access to the OHMedia controllers and playlist use.

 

Cheers

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Hi all,

I will most likely make the transition from CD's into a server based music library in the near future. And there seem to be several options that fit my profile. The main reason for doing this would be improved SQ. If not, I'll save the 5 000 - 10 000 USD and buy some more music :).

 

So I'd be interested to hear from those of you who have left the spinning discs and moved into the NAS/server world. Does it sound better? Or has ease of finding what you are looking for in the library been the biggest improvement?

 

Today I spinn my CDs on a Oppo 105 > spdif > MSB analog dac.

 

Hi Bigblue,

 

For possible improving sound quality with the server you can try:

1. Upgrade DAC,

2. Adjust audio resolution (sample rate+bit depth) to DAC's non-oversampled sample rate.

 

Adjusting resolution don't guarantee quality improving, of course.

It depend on several factors, as example:

a) Can the server playback bit perfect (without changing binary data) or not.

b) Can work DAC in non-oversampled mode or not.

c) How released non-oversampled sample rate mode in DAC.

d) Have server in its range DAC's non-oversampled sample rate or not.

...

Need check available apparatus.

 

Best regards,

Yuri

AuI ConverteR 48x44 - HD audio converter/optimizer for DAC of high resolution files

ISO, DSF, DFF (1-bit/D64/128/256/512/1024), wav, flac, aiff, alac,  safe CD ripper to PCM/DSF,

Seamless Album Conversion, AIFF, WAV, FLAC, DSF metadata editor, Mac & Windows
Offline conversion save energy and nature

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Hi all,

I will most likely make the transition from CD's into a server based music library in the near future. And there seem to be several options that fit my profile. The main reason for doing this would be improved SQ. If not, I'll save the 5 000 - 10 000 USD and buy some more music :).

 

So I'd be interested to hear from those of you who have left the spinning discs and moved into the NAS/server world. Does it sound better? Or has ease of finding what you are looking for in the library been the biggest improvement?

 

Today I spinn my CDs on a Oppo 105 > spdif > MSB analog dac.

 

A music server per se is not a means to improving SQ but is a means to organizing and distributing music throughout your home. Having said that, there are several ways you can create a computer audio system that will both organize and distribute your music as well as improve SQ. If your system is revealing enough then you can significantly improve SQ with a computer system. Chris' CAPS system is a great place to start if you want to go the Windows route. If you are more of a Mac person then the Mac Mini may be preferable. Many of us have turned computer audio into a hobby and if you are of that mindset then you may enjoy doing the extensive research that is required to maximize SQ. If you have no interest in learning about what is necessary here then there are companies such as Small Green Computing that can build something for you. Regardless of whether you go Windows or Mac, IMO the two best places you can spend your money is on a decent USB asynchronous DAC and linear power supply. From there the number of hardware and software choices are endless. You can choose from single vs. dual computer systems, optimization of various operating systems, selection of various hardware accessories such as power filters and fanless cases and so on. Good luck and welcome to the world of computer audio.

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Thanks everyone for great input.

I really don't mind going through my modest cd library (appx 500 discs) and putting it into the player. So maybe I will hold on to that a bit longer.

 

Audio_ELF, could a lap top PC be an option or does it have to be stationary? I have a brand new laptop that I bought mainly to run specific Windows based room calibration programs such as ARC from Anthem (home cinema) and XTZ Room Analyzer Pro II. This could be a start if it is possible to run it in "clam mode" (with lap top folded together)?

 

tranz, I have been in email contact with MSB and they have just released the Renderer. My MSB dealer will set up a system with a NAS to give it a listen. Today they do all the hard drive based demos from a modified Aurender X100S. Could be an interesting comparison. According to MSB the possible SQ benefits of the Network Renderer comes from the fact that there is less things to "mess up" compared to using a computer with all settings that have to be set right.

 

Knuck, since I am a Mac guy by heart I would go with the Mac Mini. I'd say I have turned audio into an important hobby. But I am not sure I will have the same patience with computer audio :). When coming home from work I want to listen to music rather than installing new software upgrades just to realize that the upgrade was not yet compatible with.... Thats the reason I have been looking at products such as Aurender and Aria from Digibit. But then you have a prize tag that is fairly steep compared to the solutions you have put forward.

Sonus Faber Amati Futura, Oppo 105 (transport), Gryphon Diablo 300 with DAC, Brinkmann Bardo, 10.0 tone arm, Lyra Etna, Isotek Sigmas Evo 3, Nordost Valhalla cables, Stillpoints Ultra and Mini.

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I feel that a music server can indeed be a great way to improve sound quality. I went with the mac mini rout for a few years and to me it was nothing but a exercise in complete frustration. I bought a Aurender X100 about a year ago and it has been a fantastic investment, it is so much easier to use and it sounds better.

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I have ventured from a mediocre CD playing system several years ago, to computer audio system with/without NAS, DACs a plenty, now gone back the full circle to a very good CD player system.

 

I frequently travel and the audio system is shut off during that time. When returning home, I switch on the power to the audio system, select a CD and it plays. Nice. Total time spent is 3mins and the majority of that is to find the music in the first place.

 

In the past, what got to me was the messy complex chain to listen to music and what it took to get something going to listen to anything. A computer system needed to boot, the DAC had to be on first, the NAS spun up, the invariable update to the player software to go through, or something else from the OS that needed updating. After all that, still no sound, more debugging required, I just want to listen to music, not fart about with computers, now 15-30mins spent in debugging and not a note played. Leaving equipment on 24/7 is a waste of energy, I do have a life other than computer audio.

 

SQ. Hmm. The right equipment will play music the way you want it to. With computer audio, there's far too many combinations of software, cabling, power supplies, computer configurations, OS variants before we get to the DAC to create at least some framework to build on. There's no certainty of how it will sound, today or tomorrow. Just far too many inconsistent variables.

 

For my own experience, the optical disc is far easier and enjoyable, but in all things, implementation is the key.

AS Profile Equipment List        Say NO to MQA

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@1.5 - I absolutely get it. Sometimes to put things in perspective I will take a few spinners, vinyl and CDs, take them to a fancy store and listen to what is possible. It is an eye-opener how far CA still has to go, convenience ( and in case of vinyl the hiss and pops) being a double-edged sword. Convenience of immediate fuss-free playback vs convenience of having your whole library at your fingertips.

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Music servers may not improve SQ per se, but it's clear to me (from my own OPPO) that ripped CDs sound significantly better than on a CD player. It also opens the door to a whole range of HD audio formats.

 

Why not try and it and see if agree. Your Oppo can already play ripped CDs from a USB stick, or from network shared folders or via a DLNA server like JRiver. To get started you just need an existing PC or MAC to rip and store the music.

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I have ventured from a mediocre CD playing system several years ago, to computer audio system with/without NAS, DACs a plenty, now gone back the full circle to a very good CD player system.

 

I frequently travel and the audio system is shut off during that time. When returning home, I switch on the power to the audio system, select a CD and it plays. Nice. Total time spent is 3mins and the majority of that is to find the music in the first place.

 

In the past, what got to me was the messy complex chain to listen to music and what it took to get something going to listen to anything. A computer system needed to boot, the DAC had to be on first, the NAS spun up, the invariable update to the player software to go through, or something else from the OS that needed updating. After all that, still no sound, more debugging required, I just want to listen to music, not fart about with computers, now 15-30mins spent in debugging and not a note played. Leaving equipment on 24/7 is a waste of energy, I do have a life other than computer audio.

 

SQ. Hmm. The right equipment will play music the way you want it to. With computer audio, there's far too many combinations of software, cabling, power supplies, computer configurations, OS variants before we get to the DAC to create at least some framework to build on. There's no certainty of how it will sound, today or tomorrow. Just far too many inconsistent variables.

 

For my own experience, the optical disc is far easier and enjoyable, but in all things, implementation is the key.

 

Funny, I recently reconfigured my system to include my old CDP (Ah! Njoe Tjoeb 4000 purchased in 2001) because there are times I just want to listen to a CD. Open tray press PLAY. Surprise .. it doesn't suck. In fact, that aging TDA1545-based mid-fi bastardized-with-tubes Marantz CD player sounds very very good. Could I live with it and retire the rest? Probably, but I don't have to. It's nice to have both but, the simplicity of a CDP still has some appeal.

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I feel that a music server can indeed be a great way to improve sound quality. I went with the mac mini rout for a few years and to me it was nothing but a exercise in complete frustration. I bought a Aurender X100 about a year ago and it has been a fantastic investment, it is so much easier to use and it sounds better.

 

I stream FLAC from a PC to a Squeezebox Touch with good quality power supply that outputs to a DAC. If I were to replace the Touch by an Aurender I would hear an improvement? If so what would be responsible for that improvement - the better clocking ability of the Aurender?

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Thanks everyone for great input.

I really don't mind going through my modest cd library (appx 500 discs) and putting it into the player. So maybe I will hold on to that a bit longer.

 

Audio_ELF, could a lap top PC be an option or does it have to be stationary? I have a brand new laptop that I bought mainly to run specific Windows based room calibration programs such as ARC from Anthem (home cinema) and XTZ Room Analyzer Pro II. This could be a start if it is possible to run it in "clam mode" (with lap top folded together)?

 

tranz, I have been in email contact with MSB and they have just released the Renderer. My MSB dealer will set up a system with a NAS to give it a listen. Today they do all the hard drive based demos from a modified Aurender X100S. Could be an interesting comparison. According to MSB the possible SQ benefits of the Network Renderer comes from the fact that there is less things to "mess up" compared to using a computer with all settings that have to be set right.

 

Knuck, since I am a Mac guy by heart I would go with the Mac Mini. I'd say I have turned audio into an important hobby. But I am not sure I will have the same patience with computer audio :). When coming home from work I want to listen to music rather than installing new software upgrades just to realize that the upgrade was not yet compatible with.... Thats the reason I have been looking at products such as Aurender and Aria from Digibit. But then you have a prize tag that is fairly steep compared to the solutions you have put forward.

 

Great. Would love to hear your findings on the MSB streamer module sound quality. It should use the DACs femto clocks as a master and you get to bypass all that USB and SPDIF kludge.

 

A fan of the Analog and have heavily customized a Mac Mini (see Mac CAPS thread). A pain in the arse to get acceptable sound out of it and I essentially only use the stripped MoBo from the Mini.

 

The Aries streamer was much easier and came close in sound.

 

A Synology NAS with MinimServer and Bubble UPnP server with an OHMedia controller on an iPad is relatively easy with a good streamer. Set it up once and forget.

 

Aurender is also a nice option. The flagship with the Berkeley DAC sounded great. The newer ones also intrigue me for ease of use but have not heard any yet.

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I'm using marantz cd6005 and mac mini (without lps) into chord hugo and both connected via optical.

To my surprise, the marantz sounds better as a transport compare to mac mini.

I'm planning to install a lps to mac mini and hoping that it will beat the marantz.

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I stream FLAC from a PC to a Squeezebox Touch with good quality power supply that outputs to a DAC. If I were to replace the Touch by an Aurender I would hear an improvement? If so what would be responsible for that improvement - the better clocking ability of the Aurender?

 

I think most would say you'd hear noticeable improvement. Pretty much everything on the Aurender is more highly optimized for audio and lower noise than the Touch, not just the clock.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Path: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Cayin iDAC6 MKII (tube mode) (XLR)>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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Knuck, since I am a Mac guy by heart I would go with the Mac Mini. I'd say I have turned audio into an important hobby. But I am not sure I will have the same patience with computer audio :). When coming home from work I want to listen to music rather than installing new software upgrades just to realize that the upgrade was not yet compatible with.... Thats the reason I have been looking at products such as Aurender and Aria from Digibit. But then you have a prize tag that is fairly steep compared to the solutions you have put forward.

 

Bigblue, I too was once a Mac guy but after experimenting with a late 2009, late 2012 quad and the new 2014 Mini and not achieving the SQ I was looking for I opted to experiment with a Windows Server 2012 R2 dual PC setup. I obviously have too much time on my hands and am a little over the top with respect to this hobby, but I did find using Windows Server relatively simple. There aren't a lot of software upgrades to deal with. Once setup properly it works. In fact I haven't updated Windows Server since installation. Software is straight forward. I use Jplay and HQPlayer. I have also used Foobar successfully. I run both the audio and control pcs headdlessly through Remote Desktop. I convert all Redbook to DSD and run Acourate room correction filters. I am blown away by the result. I have tried the Auralic Aries and Sony HAP-Z1ES and although excellent products and very simple to use, IMO I found no comparison in SQ. I have not tried the Aurender.

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Do Music Server Improve SQ Over Spinning Disks?

 

You bet, or rather, even a rather modest Music Server will sound better than most CD Players that cost less than a small car. ;)

 

The key here is to also make it convenient to use. That usually means, dedicate a machine as your music server, and leave it on 24/7, so that it is always available. Then decide if you want to listen in more than one place, or if you want any extra's like video from the system.

 

Listening in more than one place is fairly easy most of the time. Trivial to listen over a set of headphones connected to your iPhone, or to an Airplay or DNLA capable receiver, or anything along those lines. The "where" makes a difference. Easy to bluetooth to the system in your vehicle from almost anywhere, but it can get expensive. Not so easy to get perfect sound and playback from that DNLA device in the bedroom - you might suffer gaps in your playback where you don't want them, or a poorer sound quality than you expected.

 

Not so trivial is if you decide to add video to the mix, at least for me. ;) More than one person has done it very well, but I have not had 100% success in duplicating their efforts. ;)

 

Yours,

-Paul

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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Do Music Server Improve SQ Over Spinning Disks?

 

You bet, or rather, even a rather modest Music Server will sound better than most CD Players that cost less than a small car. ;)

 

The key here is to also make it convenient to use. That usually means, dedicate a machine as your music server, and leave it on 24/7, so that it is always available. Then decide if you want to listen in more than one place, or if you want any extra's like video from the system.

 

Listening in more than one place is fairly easy most of the time. Trivial to listen over a set of headphones connected to your iPhone, or to an Airplay or DNLA capable receiver, or anything along those lines. The "where" makes a difference. Easy to bluetooth to the system in your vehicle from almost anywhere, but it can get expensive. Not so easy to get perfect sound and playback from that DNLA device in the bedroom - you might suffer gaps in your playback where you don't want them, or a poorer sound quality than you expected.

 

Not so trivial is if you decide to add video to the mix, at least for me. ;) More than one person has done it very well, but I have not had 100% success in duplicating their efforts. ;)

 

Yours,

-Paul

 

Paul,

 

I have a mac mini tweaked to death but still can't compete with my CDP which cost more than a small car:)

 


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Hi all,

I will most likely make the transition from CD's into a server based music library in the near future. And there seem to be several options that fit my profile. The main reason for doing this would be improved SQ. If not, I'll save the 5 000 - 10 000 USD and buy some more music :).

 

So I'd be interested to hear from those of you who have left the spinning discs and moved into the NAS/server world. Does it sound better? Or has ease of finding what you are looking for in the library been the biggest improvement?

 

Today I spinn my CDs on a Oppo 105 > spdif > MSB analog dac.

 

 

Hi bigblue,

 

I would put it in a slightly different cast:

Music servers do *not* improve SQ over spinning discs.

What they do is not *degrade* the SQ as much.

Or, perhaps more clearly, a properly set up music server does a better job of getting out of the way.

 

I wrote about this last year in a blog entry called Listening to Tomorrow.

The journal HiFi Critic reprinted an edited version of it.

 

Best regards,

Barry

Soundkeeper Recordings

http://www.soundkeeperrecordings.wordpress.com

Barry Diament Audio

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I would put it in a slightly different cast:

Music servers do *not* improve SQ over spinning discs.

What they do is not *degrade* the SQ as much.

Or, perhaps more clearly, a properly set up music server does a better job of getting out of the way.

I like your way of putting that Barry...

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 like your way of putting that Barry...

 

Shades of Ivor Tiefenbrun and LOI (loss of information).

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> iFi NEO iDSD DAC -> Apollon Audio 1ET400A Mini (Purifi based) -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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