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Ultimate NAA/Roon endpoint/AirPlay receiver etc


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Hello everyone,

 

I've spent several months fine tuning an operating system for audio purposes based on Windows embedded 8. Windows embedded 8 is the ultimate operating system for audio. The reason why is because it's completely modular. It starts with a core and can be built specifically to run what you want to run without all of the unnecessary junk that comes along with standard Windows.

 

I've been able to substantially reduce CPU load using this operating system.

 

I've come up with a small fanless system that uses my finely tweaked version of Windows 8 embedded. Up until yesterday, I was using it as a Jriver renderer, AirPlay/miracast with FIFO buffering and ASIO output for Tidal, and Roon speaker. The sound I'm getting out of the unit kills my Macmini, MacBook Pro, and Intel broadwell NUC.

 

Then I decided to turn it into a NAA for HQplayer. Results have been fantastic. Best sound I've heard from it yet. It also allows for ASIO connection to DAC's unlike Linux based renderers. ASIO is the best sounding way to interface most DAC's to a computer. And for some like the Exasounds, the only way.

 

This system uses a very high quality SBC with atom processor. It has a built on anodized aluminum fanless heatsink. I use a 64gb SSD for the operating system, although 32gb would be enough. I installed it in a high quality anodized aluminum case.

 

 

I've also designed the system to be completely headless. Just turn on and everything just works. There's not even a video connection on the unit. If you need to get inside to change settings you can access it remotely via VNC app.

 

 

I'm powering it now with a LPS I built for another application, but it can be used with a Teddy Pardo. In fact I'm building the next version in the exact same matching case as the Teddy Pardo so they would go perfect together.

 

There's room in the enclosure to build a REGEN right into it. It can directly connect to the motherboards USB output then you can use a USB coupler to direct connect the whole unit to any DAC. How can you get better than that, no cables! Adjustable feet on the bottom can allow it to be adjusted to the level of your DAC's USB port.

 

I'm willing to give away free system images for this system as well as a complete parts list for anyone to build it. I'll also include detailed instructions. Should only take an hour or so to build with a drill and a screwdriver.

 

Only catch is Windows Embedded 8 is only available in minimum quantities of 100 licences. So in order for me to offer this someone would have to arrange a group buy.

 

It's available here.

 

https://m.cdw.com/shop/products/Windows-Embedded-8-Standard-license/3062659

 

See attached picture. It's the black box on the right but going to build the next one out of the same size as enclosure on the left. It's also the exact box Teddy Pardo and Exasound uses.

 

BOM is roughly around $350, including licences. Everything can be purchased at Mouser besides the SSD.

 

Exasound E28 owners this can be the ultimate HQplayer NAA 8 channel renderer for you! ImageUploadedByComputer Audiophile1438713591.703759.jpg

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Here's a picture of the back. I'm using high quality Neutrik connectors for Ethernet and USB. There's also dual antennas for an optional Intel 7265 high speed dual band AC wireless card.

 

http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/wireless-products/dual-band-wireless-ac-7265.html

 

I would like to add it can be used with standard windows but it won't be as good. Something like Audiophile Optimizer may also be a good choice.

 

ImageUploadedByComputer Audiophile1438721085.119357.jpg

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Hello everyone,

 

I've spent several months fine tuning an operating system for audio purposes based on Windows embedded 8. Windows embedded 8 is the ultimate operating system for audio. The reason why is because it's completely modular. It starts with a core and can be built specifically to run what you want to run without all of the unnecessary junk that comes along with standard Windows.

 

I've been able to substantially reduce CPU load using this operating system.

 

I've come up with a small fanless system that uses my finely tweaked version of Windows 8 embedded. Up until yesterday, I was using it as a Jriver renderer, AirPlay/miracast with FIFO buffering and ASIO output for Tidal, and Roon speaker. The sound I'm getting out of the unit kills my Macmini, MacBook Pro, and Intel broadwell NUC.

 

Then I decided to turn it into a NAA for HQplayer. Results have been fantastic. Best sound I've heard from it yet. It also allows for ASIO connection to DAC's unlike Linux based renderers. ASIO is the best sounding way to interface most DAC's to a computer. And for some like the Exasounds, the only way.

 

This system uses a very high quality SBC with atom processor. It has a built on anodized aluminum fanless heatsink. I use a 64gb SSD for the operating system, although 32gb would be enough. I installed it in a high quality anodized aluminum case.

 

 

I've also designed the system to be completely headless. Just turn on and everything just works. There's not even a video connection on the unit. If you need to get inside to change settings you can access it remotely via VNC app.

 

 

I'm powering it now with a LPS I built for another application, but it can be used with a Teddy Pardo. In fact I'm building the next version in the exact same matching case as the Teddy Pardo so they would go perfect together.

 

There's room in the enclosure to build a REGEN right into it. It can directly connect to the motherboards USB output then you can use a USB coupler to direct connect the whole unit to any DAC. How can you get better than that, no cables! Adjustable feet on the bottom can allow it to be adjusted to the level of your DAC's USB port.

 

I'm willing to give away free system images for this system as well as a complete parts list for anyone to build it. I'll also include detailed instructions. Should only take an hour or so to build with a drill and a screwdriver.

 

Only catch is Windows Embedded 8 is only available in minimum quantities of 100 licences. So in order for me to offer this someone would have to arrange a group buy.

 

It's available here.

 

https://m.cdw.com/shop/products/Windows-Embedded-8-Standard-license/3062659

 

See attached picture. It's the black box on the right but going to build the next one out of the same size as enclosure on the left. It's also the exact box Teddy Pardo and Exasound uses.

 

BOM is roughly around $350, including licences. Everything can be purchased at Mouser besides the SSD.

 

Exasound E28 owners this can be the ultimate HQplayer NAA 8 channel renderer for you! [ATTACH]20111[/ATTACH]

 

Very interesting. My question would be: does it have to use Windows Embedded? Couldn't it be modified to use Embedded Linux? EL is also modular and it too can be configured with just what is needed to get the job done. Of course, the big upside to using Linux is that aside from it being free, there is a huge community out there consisting of professionals as well as amateurs who have lots of solutions already proscribed for about any application.

 

I'm sure that the Win 8 Embedded OS works just fine for the application, but it's the MS licensing policy that puts me off.

 

Thanks in advance for your response.

George

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Very interesting. My question would be: does it have to use Windows Embedded? Couldn't it be modified to use Embedded Linux? EL is also modular and it too can be configured with just what is needed to get the job done. Of course, the big upside to using Linux is that aside from it being free, there is a huge community out there consisting of professionals as well as amateurs who have lots of solutions already proscribed for about any application.

 

I'm sure that the Win 8 Embedded OS works just fine for the application, but it's the MS licensing policy that puts me off.

 

Thanks in advance for your response.

 

 

Yes it can also use Linux. It has an Intel Atom processor. I used Windows embedded 8 because I wanted to add much more functionality than I could using Linux. I also wanted to be able to take advantage of ASIO drivers.

 

Yes the licensing may be a pain, but along with that licensing fee, comes the endless costs and time software developers and DAC manufacturers spent developing Windows based software/drivers. You get all of this combined with the low overhead of Linux.

 

Also as I have it configured, It's completely headless and controllable via mobile device apps, remote computer etc. It's preconfigured with Roon, Tidal, Airplay/Miracast, Jriver, NAA endpoint capabilities. And you don't need to change settings to switch between each application. It's completely seamless and glitch free. For instance I can play a song with Jremote, press stop, open the Tidal app and press play and it just starts working. Pause Tidal and go back to Jremote and press play, it comes on with no pops crackles or anything. Want to switch to Roon or NAA, same thing. Once setup you just turn the power on, wait 10 seconds and it's ready to go.

 

I'll also add the Tidal, Airplay and miracast uses a FIFO buffer much like the NAA for everything sent wirelessly from mobile devices. Then it sends it out to the DAC via ASIO. Sound is stunning using this method.

 

I would love to see a Linux based renderer offer this level of convenience functionality and sound.

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Yes it can also use Linux. It has an Intel Atom processor. I used Windows embedded 8 because I wanted to add much more functionality than I could using Linux. I also wanted to be able to take advantage of ASIO drivers.

 

Yes the licensing may be a pain, but along with that licensing fee, comes the endless costs and time software developers and DAC manufacturers spent developing Windows based software/drivers. You get all of this combined with the low overhead of Linux.

 

Also as I have it configured, It's completely headless and controllable via mobile device apps, remote computer etc. It's preconfigured with Roon, Tidal, Airplay/Miracast, Jriver, NAA endpoint capabilities. And you don't need to change settings to switch between each application. It's completely seamless and glitch free. For instance I can play a song with Jremote, press stop, open the Tidal app and press play and it just starts working. Pause Tidal and go back to Jremote and press play, it comes on with no pops crackles or anything. Want to switch to Roon or NAA, same thing. Once setup you just turn the power on, wait 10 seconds and it's ready to go.

 

I'll also add the Tidal, Airplay and miracast uses a FIFO buffer much like the NAA for everything sent wirelessly from mobile devices. Then it sends it out to the DAC via ASIO. Sound is stunning using this method.

 

I would love to see a Linux based renderer offer this level of convenience functionality and sound.

 

 

Thank you for your thorough response.

George

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Thank you for your thorough response.

 

No problem. For anyone interested I can provide a 180 day trial of the preconfigured Windows embedded ISO. They can share their thoughts of it and if they don't like it, just format the drive and install Linux or full Windows, audiophile inventory etc.

 

If they do like it we will just have to come up with enough people for a group buy to get 100 licences at $62.38 a piece. I don't want any money whatsoever out of the deal. I just don't want to offer a commercial product in this already over crowded market, and I also don't want to waste my effort by not sharing with others.

 

Theres an unlimited amount of 180 day trials available so won't cost anybody anything to try.

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I find this very interesting. Tell me specific bom I would need and how much it would cost. Also just say a little about how one would revert to say a full Windows 8 .

 

I need to sit down and figure out exact BOM. $350 is a bit on the high side. That was with wireless card, antennas etc. I'll figure out later today and update with a breakdown.

 

If you want to revert to any other operating system, you just format the drive and start fresh. Windows offers a 180 day free trial for embedded 8. Just sign up and you get a licence key.

 

You could just try building your own version, but since I already have a smooth operating setup working I thought I would share it. But I do have a few programs preinstalled on the image. So whatever isn't wanted can just be uninstalled.

 

I have teamviewer on it to log in remotely for configuration. Once configured, everything's good to go. No monitor required, only mobile device apps or HQplayer running on another computer.

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Okay I figured out total BOM with no wireless. Adding high speed dual band AC wireless add's about $40.

 

$285 USD for all hardware parts. That's with 32gb SSD and 4gb sodimm ddr3 1600 RAM

 

Cheaper parts can be used. This is with the very good Neutrik USB and Ethercon connectors. As well as the beautiful Bulgin machined stainless steel push button switch.

 

Everything is available at Mouser, besides SSD and RAM is from Amazon.

 

If a nicer package than this can be built for cheaper, I would love to see it.

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Looks OK for a general-purpose device and for those doing streaming, etc., but for NAA I'd would look for something much simpler and smaller.

Dedicated Line DSD/DXD | Audirvana+ | iFi iDSD Nano | SET Tube Amp | Totem Mites

Surround: VLC | M-Audio FastTrack Pro | Mac Opt | Panasonic SA-HE100 | Logitech Z623

DIY: SET Tube Amp | Low-Noise Linear Regulated Power Supply | USB, Power, Speaker Cables | Speaker Stands | Acoustic Panels

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Looks OK for a general-purpose device and for those doing streaming, etc., but for NAA I'd would look for something much simpler and smaller.

 

 

 

Yes for NAA use only, maybe overkill. But this is a full powered fanless computer. All parts are very good quality. Not disposable junk. It's not just a renderer although it can be used as one. Also if your DAC requires ASIO drivers for best performance, or to work at all, Linux isn't an option.

 

And let's not forget, A REGEN can be built right inside of it.

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Could I please see the bom. I assume you can use other OS on it?

 

 

QwUOTE=Blizzard;452518]Okay I figured out total BOM with no wireless. Adding high speed dual band AC wireless add's about $40.

 

$285 USD for all hardware parts. That's with 32gb SSD and 4gb sodimm ddr3 1600 RAM

 

Cheaper parts can be used. This is with the very good Neutrik USB and Ethercon connectors. As well as the beautiful Bulgin machined stainless steel push button switch.

 

Everything is available at Mouser, besides SSD and RAM is from Amazon.

 

If a nicer package than this can be built for cheaper, I would love to see it.

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Could I please see the bom. I assume you can use other OS on it?

 

 

QwUOTE=Blizzard;452518]Okay I figured out total BOM with no wireless. Adding high speed dual band AC wireless add's about $40.

 

$285 USD for all hardware parts. That's with 32gb SSD and 4gb sodimm ddr3 1600 RAM

 

Cheaper parts can be used. This is with the very good Neutrik USB and Ethercon connectors. As well as the beautiful Bulgin machined stainless steel push button switch.

 

Everything is available at Mouser, besides SSD and RAM is from Amazon.

 

If a nicer package than this can be built for cheaper, I would love to see it.

 

Okay, I'll PM you the BOM. If anyone want's the BOM send me a PM.

 

 

Yes you can use any operating system on it you want. As long as it's compatible with an Intel Atom processor.

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If REGEN is built in, share the supply for it with the SSD.

 

Really? Run I/O and part of the USB output from the same supply?

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 -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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Okay, I'll PM you the BOM. If anyone want's the BOM send me a PM.

Is there a reason you are reluctant to post a parts list here?

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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If anyone is serious about building it, it's not very hard to send a PM.

So there is no reason not to reveal the details publically you just refuse to? I'm really starting to wonder what you are up to here Blizzard?

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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So there is no reason not to reveal the details publically you just refuse to? I'm really starting to wonder what you are up to here Blizzard?

 

 

 

 

There's no conspiracy going on here. It's just nice to know how much actual interest there is in this project.

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For the best performance, power the SSD from a dedicated 5V supply. If REGEN is built in, share the supply for it with the SSD.

 

Our USB REGEN requires input voltage of 6-8VDC. At 5VDC the device will not provide 5VBUS to the USB line. And do you have a PS internal on a completely isolated ground domain?

If your whole box is going to be fed from a single 12-19V external LPS, then it is safe to assume you are picking some sort of picoPSU to provide all the other voltages. Would not really want any of those switching regulators to be feeding a REGEN.

 

On the data side, using it internally implies that one would be feeding it from a USB header off the motherboard. I assume that you would have people hack the 'A' end off a USB cable, crimp a header plug (everybody have their $200 pin crimper handy?), and plug the 'B' end into the REGEN. Or are you proposing that people desolder their REGEN's input jack and solder wires and shield to the surface-mount pads? And what about the REGEN's output side? More USB connector and wire hacking?

 

And the heat inside your sealed(!) box will be some unknown temp. And your concept is to have that big box on adjustable feet so it can be positioned at the behind a DAC's USB input jack so they don't have to use a cable? How is that going to work on shelves? Then nobody will see that pretty front panel switch.

 

People will be MUCH better off keeping their REGEN right at the input of their DAC (where it is designed to be), and not voiding their warranty. I think you need to go back to the drawing board for the whole thing. Sorry, but I personally don't want my products to be part of this.

 

----

 

Separately, I am really not seeing the appeal of a small Atom-based system. It is neither fish-nor-foul. It would not be powerful enough for serious use as a player machine (at least not if you do SRC/SDM with HQ Player or other s/w), and would be overkill and electrically noisy as an NAA.

 

As far as I can tell, the only special value-add you are potentially offering (though you have to get 100 people to jump on for the license) is the sharing of the Embedded Windows 8 image you have spent a lot of time refining. That's cool, but until a bunch of folks try it and compare it to say AudioPhil's solution or others, it will not be known what SQ gains are to be had.

 

So good luck with everything.

 

--Alex C.

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Our USB REGEN requires input voltage of 6-8VDC. At 5VDC the device will not provide 5VBUS to the USB line. And do you have a PS internal on a completely isolated ground domain?

If your whole box is going to be fed from a single 12-19V external LPS, then it is safe to assume you are picking some sort of picoPSU to provide all the other voltages. Would not really want any of those switching regulators to be feeding a REGEN.

 

On the data side, using it internally implies that one would be feeding it from a USB header off the motherboard. I assume that you would have people hack the 'A' end off a USB cable, crimp a header plug (everybody have their $200 pin crimper handy?), and plug the 'B' end into the REGEN. Or are you proposing that people desolder their REGEN's input jack and solder wires and shield to the surface-mount pads? And what about the REGEN's output side? More USB connector and wire hacking?

 

And the heat inside your sealed(!) box will be some unknown temp. And your concept is to have that big box on adjustable feet so it can be positioned at the behind a DAC's USB input jack so they don't have to use a cable? How is that going to work on shelves? Then nobody will see that pretty front panel switch.

 

People will be MUCH better off keeping their REGEN right at the input of their DAC (where it is designed to be), and not voiding their warranty. I think you need to go back to the drawing board for the whole thing. Sorry, but I personally don't want my products to be part of this.

 

----

 

Separately, I am really not seeing the appeal of a small Atom-based system. It is neither fish-nor-foul. It would not be powerful enough for serious use as a player machine (at least not if you do SRC/SDM with HQ Player or other s/w), and would be overkill and electrically noisy as an NAA.

 

As far as I can tell, the only special value-add you are potentially offering (though you have to get 100 people to jump on for the license) is the sharing of the Embedded Windows 8 image you have spent a lot of time refining. That's cool, but until a bunch of folks try it and compare it to say AudioPhil's solution or others, it will not be known what SQ gains are to be had.

 

So good luck with everything.

 

--Alex C.

 

 

Of course you would supply the REGEN with the same 6-8V supply you would use if it was mounted externally. The only difference would be it would be mounted in the box. Not sure why hacking ends off and crimping new ends on would be necessary. All you would need is 2- A to B male USB adapters. It appears that 1 of them is included with the REGEN. The input side would use 1 adapter between the motherboard header, and the output would use another one between it and the Neutrik passthru USB connector. Not sure why you would desolder or solder wires anywhere. Just keep it in the shielded box.

 

Better yet you could also skip the output adaptor and Neutrik USB connector and just cut an oval hole in the back panel to flush mount the rear of the REGEN with the rear panel. That would be the best way.

 

Heat doesn't get more than 40C inside the enclosure.

 

The box isn't that big. Obviously if you wouldn't be able to position it on your shelf behind your DAC, you wouldn't make the choice to build it into the box. If you were to put it in the box, it would be because you had the space to position it behind your DAC. In that configuration, I would probably use a cheaper power button and position it on the rear panel.

 

I don't blame you for not wanting your product to be a part of this project if it meant following the suggestions you made for hacking the device. That would be ridiculous to do such an unnecessary thing. The purpose of building it in would be to avoid USB cables, and to conceal the additional box so it doesn't look like a sloppy mess of boxes and cables behind your DAC.

 

If you can come up with a nicer system with better quality and functionality for the same or less BOM, I would love to hear about it. This system has more than enough power to handle all of the tasks I mentioned it was capable of. And best of all it sounds better than any general purpose computer such as mac mini, Nuc, macbook I've tried. Fanless with no moving parts is a nice feature as well.

 

You are obviously didn't read the description of why I built this system, if you had it would be clear why I want this route.

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Of course you would supply the REGEN with the same 6-8V supply you would use if it was mounted externally.

 

Okay, except that my post was prompted by you saying: "For the best performance, power the SSD from a dedicated 5V supply. If REGEN is built in, share the supply for it with the SSD."

 

The only difference would be it would be mounted in the box. Not sure why hacking ends off and crimping new ends on would be necessary. All you would need is 2- A to B male USB adapters. It appears that 1 of them is included with the REGEN. The input side would use 1 adapter between the motherboard header, and the output would use another one between it and the Neutrik passthru USB connector. Not sure why you would desolder or solder wires anywhere. Just keep it in the shielded box. You can also skip the output adaptor and Neutrik USB connector and just cut an oval hole in the back panel and flush pout the rear of the REGEN. That would be the best way.

 

So then you are talking about putting the motherboard on standoffs cut to the exact height to make one of its USB ports line up with the height of the Neutrik jack so a REGEN can go right in-line between the two? With a solid adaptor on each side of the REGEN you then have to position the motherboard a full 5 inches behind that Neutrik jack.

 

See that's the thing Bliz, you seem to make stuff up as you go along, don't really think it all through, and then make proclamations about what is the best. A week or so ago you still were arguing with everyone that FPGA filtering and SD-card playback was the unbeatable ultimate; Then you finally tried HQ Player and now you are on a whole other path to show us the new way (and now arguing with Miska and others over ASIO and Linux, etc.).

Afraid such angles just don't fly with the experienced folks around here.

Share and learn (without the already-know-better style) is much more the style here at CA. :)

 

Ciao.

 

--Alex C.

 

P.S. Reading again, it looks like you may have been suggesting that the SSD be powered by whatever external PS is powering the REGEN. Mea culpa if that is what you meant, though again an SSD runs on 5V while the REGEN needs more.

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Okay, except that my post was prompted by you saying: "For the best performance, power the SSD from a dedicated 5V supply. If REGEN is built in, share the supply for it with the SSD."

 

 

 

So then you are talking about putting the motherboard on standoffs cut to the exact height to make one of its USB ports line up with the height of the Neutrik jack so a REGEN can go right in-line between the two? With a solid adaptor on each side of the REGEN you then have to position the motherboard a full 5 inches behind that Neutrik jack.

 

See that's the thing Bliz, you seem to make stuff up as you go along, don't really think it all through, and then make proclamations about what is the best. A week or so ago you still were arguing with everyone that FPGA filtering and SD-card playback was the unbeatable ultimate; Then you finally tried HQ Player and now you are on a whole other path to show us the new way. Afraid such angles just don't fly with the experienced folks around here.

Share and learn (without the already-know-better style) is much more the style here at CA. :)

 

Ciao.

 

--Alex C.

 

P.S. Reading again, it looks like you may have been suggesting that the SSD be powered by whatever external PS is powering the REGEN. Mea culpa if that is what you meant, though again an SSD runs on 5V while the REGEN needs more.

 

 

 

What I meant about sharing the supply would be to branch off to a 5v LDO then to the SSD. I didn't think an SSD would dirty up the PS using that way, but perhaps I'm wrong.

 

 

I never explained the procedure of how the REGEN would be mounted into the enclosure in my original posts. I figured the best way to do it would be common sense. Yes the motherboard would go on standoffs, but option #2 in my suggestion of flush mounting the REGEN with the back panel would be the best way. But it will be a bit more of a pain milling the oval out of the back panel than drilling a round hole for the Neutrik connector. So if somebody wants to build this, they can decide.

 

I haven't changed my mind about anything. The SD card reader on the Mirus still kills the quality of this unit and probably any external USB

renderer on the market. But I do like Miska's algorithms. Especially when offline converted and loaded on the SD card. However, I happened to have built this unit already and decided to load the NAA Daemon on it the other day. And yes it sounds really good. I'm definitely not claiming that this is the be all end all for renderers. But it will give any USB based ASIO driver compatible system I know of a run for the money.

 

 

PS: If you know of any other ASIO driver compatible system that offers the level of functionally and quality of this system for anywhere near the same BOM (or 6X the BOM MSRP) please share. I would love to be educated on this.

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