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rrstesiak

My Custom Designed Music Server for under $500 that matches $3,000 Servers

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All:

 

I have finally found the right community to share my latest project: Designing and Building an Audiophile grade Music Server. This is my first post on Computer Audiophile so I will give a brief introduction of myself and my audio equipment:

 

I was in Information Technology/Computer Science for most of my working career, and about 4 years ago switched over to Research Science. I have since been published as a co-author on a paper in the field of Neuroscience, but my main specialty is Computational Finance. I also have a strong background in Electrical Engineering I learned at the University of Pittsburgh. It is with my Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, and appreciation of music that I hope to add value here to this forum as well as learn a lot from other people sharing this interest in computer audio.

 

My audio system consists of:

 

Integrated Amplifier: Creek Evolution 50A

Digital Front End: Custom Designed Linux Music Server

Digital Front End: NAD 516 CD Player

SPDIF Converter: USB to COAX M2TECH HiFACE TWO

DAC: Bryston BDA-1

Speakers: Epos Epic 2 with Epos stands

Cabling & Interconnects: AudioQuest mid-range for speaker cables and XLR from DAC to Integrated, OEM or "generic" power cables and other interconnects.

 

I very recently sold off my analogue front end as I found my new Linux server to exceed it sonically. It consisted of a Rega P1 turntable with Ortofon Red 2M cartridge, and a Vincent PHO-8 Phono Stage.

 

As for the main reason I joined this forum........ I originally posted this thread on Stereophile, but now will re-post here as I think this is a much better forum for this topic.... please reference the thread below...

 

I hope my experiences will help a few and I also hope to learn a lot here as well!

 

Respectfully,

 

Ron

Edited by rrstesiak

Custom Linux Server -> M2TECH HiFACE TWO BNC -> Bryston BDA-1 DAC -> Creek Evolution 50A -> Epos Epic 2 & Bowers & Wilkins ASW10CM Sub

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All:

 

I have included here an introduction originally written for the Stereophile community to provide background on my music server project. (rest of thread after this post)

*********************************************

All:

 

If anyone finds themselves surrounded by $3-$5,000 separates but in need of a "streamer", also known as a music server, I have designed and built my own for under $500.

 

My design is based on the Bryston BDP series ($3,000, and no DAC).. As such, it uses the exact same iPad/iPhone/android freely available application to control it. (App shows album artwork and organizes collection)

 

My main design philosophy behind this approach is isolation.. The components from the streamer/server are separate from the DAC and amp/integrated/preamp...allowing for the best possible sonics.

 

Of significant merit, rather than Windows, I have chosen a hand-compiled version of LINUX which permits bit-perfect audio and can run on totally fan-less, silent hardware consuming a mere quiet 7 watts. Other high end manufacturers including Bryston also use Linux.

 

It consists of a totally silent component with no moving parts, an LCD screen to show artist and track information, and I am in the process of upgrading from the laptop switching power supply to a linear power supply I intend on building from scratch using a proven design in the audiophile diy community.

 

My design can also be customized with endless possibilities... Including the option to use a SoTm galvanically isolated, extremely low jitter USB port, or the option of AES/XLR balanced outouts, coax or optical SPDIF, and pretty much any spec you can think. The design is limited only by imagination and skill set.

 

The huge strengths in going high end DIY are complete customization, and zero unnecessary added, noisy circuitry. Also, severe cost savings.

 

I have progressed to the point in my design that it now far surpasses my entry level NAD 516 CD player, and I am very optimistic with the upgrade to a linear power supply it will match the sonics of the Bryston units. This in turn means that it is right up there with any commercial streamer, but for $500; depending on configuration.

 

The huge and only drawback: you have to possess very technical skill sets. But I've noticed a lot of audiophile types do.

 

If anyone is interested to learn more, or just talk about it and my design philosophies, please reply or go to my post under Digital Sources called:

"$250 Digital Music Server Equaling $1,800 - $3,000 Commercial Servers!"

 

Of important note, I also value aesthetics and have sourced a very understated and elegant case.. Here is a picture before LCD is mounted:

 

 

music_10.jpg

 

 

As with everything else, the case can be totally customized too... Merely pick a different manufacturer! I have found about a half dozen cases I consider to look good enough in any audio rack; also some are available in silver if that is one's preference. My case chosen is actually the least professional looking in my opinion, but to me, I want that more industrial, custom look.

 

While I have already purchased and programmed an LCD (only paid $30)!! the case manufacturer offers a customized faceplate including a larger LCD with control buttons I may use instead.

 

 

Regards,

 

 

Ron

 

ps. My DAC of choice after many months of research and 30 day trials is the Bryston BDA-1.

pps. I believe my strong background in computer science, Electrical Engineering, and scientific method allow me to build a seriously worthy component here. To be very realistic, I do not possess the knowledge and experience to attempt other audiophile grade components such as preamps and amplifiers. I am also being absolutely truthful in my facts and hope at least one person is compelled by this approach.


Custom Linux Server -> M2TECH HiFACE TWO BNC -> Bryston BDA-1 DAC -> Creek Evolution 50A -> Epos Epic 2 & Bowers & Wilkins ASW10CM Sub

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All:

 

 

I've been busy for the past month or so taking my listening in an entirely new and exciting direction; while leveraging strongly my existing Information Technology background.

 

 

My goal is to build on the cheap an Audiophile grade Music Server....while my MacBook Air running Audirvana has served me well, I have learned there are even better solutions for getting digital music files to your speakers.

 

 

If anyone here is interested at all in Digital Media; such as FLAC, ALAC, etc, you may find my project of interest. Without further delay, here it is:

 

 

$250 Digital Music Server Equaling $1,800 - $3,000 Commercial Servers!

 

 

All:

 

 

For about $250, one can have a nearly silent, thin, rack mount server with USB output of the highest calibre. The secret is the Operating System. It will drive a modern USB DAC from 44.1-192/24, as well as stream AIRPLAY for iOS and Apple OS X running iTunes, and serve last.fm and Spotify streaming radio.

 

 

For $450 total cost, add a $200 USB/SPDIF BNC or COAX card if USB isn't your bag or if you have an older high end DAC. This is exactly what I did in my case.

 

 

So the secret: LINUX! High end hifi companies like Bryston use Linux in their media servers...and a program called mdp...so I did the same with off-the-shelf hardware and the savings are astronomical..for just a little effort. Here are the specifics:

 

 

I actually just finished converting my existing intel workstation into a music server as a proof-of-concept, and it sounds amazing so far! My only complaints are rack space, power, and noise. I too use liquid cooling, but my radiator has a fan on it and an i7 needs a lot of cooling!

 

 

When running my entire operating system and playing a 192/24 file, my CPU usage is 1%. So, spec'ing out a much more modest, quiet, and power efficient system certainly is possible.

 

 

Here is my current choice of components for a hifi music server from Newegg with prices:

 

 

$59.99 iStarUSA D Value D-214-MATX Black Steel 2U Rackmount Compact Server Case

$59.99 SeaSonic S12II 430B 430W ATX12V V2.3/EPS12V 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply

$21.99 Kingston 4GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 Desktop Memory SR x8 STD Height 30mm Model KVR13N9S8H/4

$69.99 ASRock Q1900M Intel Quad-Core Celeron Processor J1900 Micro ATX Motherboard/CPU/VGA Combo

$45.99 Kingston SSDNow V300 Series SV300S37A/60G 2.5" 60GB SATA III Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

 

 

Total: $257.95

 

 

here is what the case looks like:

istar_10.jpg

Bear in mind I've chosen good to very good components so this machine is *quality*.

 

 

I have successfully configured my prototype and it is driving my Bryston DAC at 44.1-192/24 via SPDIF(see next sentence). If you want to try further USB isolation, an M2TECH HiFACE TWO USB/SPDIF converter can be had for under $200. This is actually the way I ended up going because my older Bryston BDA-1 only supported up to 48/16 via USB, but 192/24 via SPDIF...however, ANY new DAC will support USB without the M2TECH interface..thus saving potentially that extra $200.

 

 

My total system cost, including the M2TECH USB/SPDIF converter comes to $450.

Without the SPDIF converter, again $250!!!!

 

 

It is easily on league with the Brsyton BDP-1 USB for 15% the cost.

 

 

Let me know if you have any questions.

 

 

Kind Regards,

 

 

Ron

 

 

 

 

ps. in addition to AIRPLAY, free clients for mdp FLAC servers are available on iOS for iPAD and iPHONE. They are good quality and automagically grab album art and track info.

 

 

pps. For the same $450 total cost, one could instead of the M2TECH USB/SPDIF converter, choose the $200 [email protected] XTe sound card offering more choices of SPDIF, balanced AES, and other outputs.


Custom Linux Server -> M2TECH HiFACE TWO BNC -> Bryston BDA-1 DAC -> Creek Evolution 50A -> Epos Epic 2 & Bowers & Wilkins ASW10CM Sub

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For $30, I am getting a blue on black background LCD 2 line display that will integrate with Linux and output currently playing artist on top line and song on second line. Just like the Bryston BDP series! The blue letters will match the rest of my equipment. Here it is for reference:

lcd_di10.jpg

I already have the code working that grabs the artist and song playing and parses it into two lines... just waiting on the LCD kit which is driven by USB.

 

 

I plan on dremeling a rectangular hole into the front of the chassis and mounting the LCD panel there for easy viewing. Here is a picture of the Bryston BDP showing the LCD to give everyone an idea of what I am doing:

brysto10.jpg

 

 

Best Regards,

 

 

Ron


Custom Linux Server -> M2TECH HiFACE TWO BNC -> Bryston BDA-1 DAC -> Creek Evolution 50A -> Epos Epic 2 & Bowers & Wilkins ASW10CM Sub

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UPDATE 2

Power Supply...

 

 

I have read that "linear" power supplies for high-end audio servers are the rage... and this can be accomplished by purchasing a slightly more expensive logic board or purchasing an adapter that allows DC.

 

 

So, for about an extra $75 - $400; depending on how far up the power supply food chain I want to explore, I can have a dead quiet power supply... I may change my build to allow for this.

 

 

I am also considering the possibility of marketing this product as so far I am achieving success. Granted, I spent my first career as a programmer..so I can do stuff like this very quickly and efficiently, and I have an Electrical Engineering degree.

 

 

UPDATE 3

After comparing the sound quality to my NAD 516 acting as a transport using the same bryston dac, it turns out the CD player yields an easily perceivable larger soundstage.

 

 

So, in addition to a quieter linear power supply, I am also going to move to Debian realtime kernel Linux. This will reduce system latency into audiophile territory.

 

 

This challenge is actually fun for me and a great way to quality control my music server design .

 

 

A final trick up my sleeve if necessary will be to move to an audiophile quality USB adapter.

 

 

UPDATE 4

I've since switched to a real time Linux kernel, and now the sound very eerily matches the NAD 516!

I attribute this significant improvement to the reduced latency afforded by moving to a real time Linux kernel.

 

 

I would say a good milestone. It makes sense they now match as I am using the NAD purely as a transport and leveraging the Bryston DAC for both it and my music server.

 

 

Next steps: move to external, linear power supply. Possibly purchase SoTm USB card or high end USB to SPDIF external converter from the likes of Bel Canto, Audiophillea, and OFFRAMP 5...there seems to be a lot of choice and a new market segment in hifi with these adapters. Apparently even relatively high end DACS up to $3,000 can significantly benefit from a re-clocked and improved power USB interface. It is the consensus that in this price range of DACS, with SPDIF being a much more mature technology for audio, it is superior to USB. Such interfaces as digital coax, AES, and BNC being the best.

 

 

With those final steps, this digital server should outperform the CD transport and it will be interesting to hear how far I can push the performance with little money spent as possible. Even with a linear power supply and SoTm card, total cost should be under roughly $700. That's still way cheaper than the commercial audio servers out there and I believe to be superior to the CAPS servers: eventhough they have very good hardware design, their limitation is the choice of Windows for operating system. Linux is simply the way to go as high end manufacturers also favor it and for many other valid technical reasons.

 

 

Respectfully,

 

 

Ron

 

 

Ps. Further reading has revealed that in fact many DAC manufacturers utilize the circuitry in the m2tech hiface two usb/spdif converter inside their units...it uses the now ubiquitous xmos chip. I therefore conclude I've in essence upgraded my older Bryston to the rest of the newer higher end DACS.


Custom Linux Server -> M2TECH HiFACE TWO BNC -> Bryston BDA-1 DAC -> Creek Evolution 50A -> Epos Epic 2 & Bowers & Wilkins ASW10CM Sub

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Back to the server.. I am again deciding on a case, but for now my final system is up and running! I just received an AC Adapter powered ultra low voltage mini-atx motherboard which came with an Intel N3150 Braswell processor. (it only consumes 7 watts!!)

 

 

With the shift from my prototype standard but way overpowered Linux server with a 750 Watt conventional power supply and i7, this new server is completely quiet. I also have a single low voltage (1.35 volt) 8GB ram chip installed as well as an SSD for perfect silence.

 

 

Definitely the most compelling thing is I actually notice a significant difference in sound moving to this tiny and efficient and quiet motherboard. I notice quieter backgrounds and more Bass of all things. So much so I've bypassed my tone controls in my Creek Integrated Amplifier, resulting in even further improved clarity and stereo separation as well as a significant increase in soundstage width!? To be absolutely truthful and detailed, I also recently upgraded my Epos Epic 2 book shelf speakers by adding a Bowers & Wilkins subwoofer...enabling the tone control bypass as it supplies the needed Bass. At this point in my music server project, I can easily state the sonics have now surpassed the NAD CD transport. I'm honestly unsure what spending thousands on an audiophile CD transport would yield; as I have an excellent DAC and bit perfect audio.

 

 

I am rambling on... but hopefully most of this makes sense to yourself and other curious readers. Of note for the Linux folks, I am running Debian "Wheezy" in real time kernel mode. I am also using ALSA and mpd music server daemon. Combining the design of my new motherboard with the Linux OS and tuning, the results are "bit perfect" audio which can be confirmed with commandline built in utilities. Of critical importance to convey to readers is that the pro's...like Bryston, also use Linux and the exact same software..ALSA and mpd..that is where I got the idea to go this route.

 

 

Once I get the case and install the LCD, this little server will be mostly complete..save for the potential sound card or audiophile quality USB port.

 

 

I have been an Apple fan for the past decade...my previous setup was a Macbook Air 2014 with SSD running Audirvana. It was also very good...this highly customizeable Linux server approach is just taking things to the next level and is not for everyone. I hope to end up with a product that equals the Bryston music servers for pennies on the dollar.

 

 

Here is the logic board with RAM and CPU:

 

 

asrock10.jpg

 

 

Also shown is the M2TECH HIFACE TWO SPDIF converter hanging off the back of the logic board.

 

 

Best Regards,

 

 

Ron


Custom Linux Server -> M2TECH HiFACE TWO BNC -> Bryston BDA-1 DAC -> Creek Evolution 50A -> Epos Epic 2 & Bowers & Wilkins ASW10CM Sub

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I am very well educated in VLSI and digital, but hardly any analogue education or experience ... I'm in need of anyone's advice on the following diy linear power supply:

 

 

The σ11 regulated power supply

 

 

It's what they call the sigma11. A low powered (I only need 8 watts at 19v and 2 amps).... But allegedly very clean and pure power signal. Also of note, it was released very recently..so it's not an outdated old design.

 

 

My only concern is it doesn't seem to have much in the way of smoothing capacitors. I think it's Max spec is 4,700 ufarad. Maybe that's totally ok for low power needed. I also only need the one rail. The two rail design is significantly more difficult and costly anyway.

 

 

Any opinion is welcomed and I'm in dire need of some validation before I start this project.

 

 

Most importantly, it should all cost well below $100, including a fancy aluminum case, which is a lot better than commercial offerings.

 

 

Respectfully,

 

 

Ronald R. Stesiak, PhD

National Science Foundation

Computational Neurosceince

Computational Finance


Custom Linux Server -> M2TECH HiFACE TWO BNC -> Bryston BDA-1 DAC -> Creek Evolution 50A -> Epos Epic 2 & Bowers & Wilkins ASW10CM Sub

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All:

 

 

I've decided on the case and now have everything installed and running in my rack:

 

 

music_10.jpg

 

 

The vendor is Logic Supply, and it was $100.00. The main reason I purchased it over the other rack mount case is simply the aesthetic. It also has room for up to two ful-length PCIe cards should I need them in the future. Internally, there is a decent metal shield running the length of the case which separates the mother board from any PCIe cards I may purchase. It allows for a cable PCIe riser to slip underneath.I can think of possibly a SoTm Audiophile grade USB card or a sound card like the [email protected] For now, I am more than satisfied with the music. It has now been awhile since I've listened to a CD... I find my current player; as well as any CD player, now obsolete. I intend on keeping my CD player to use as a reference when getting new music.

 

 

 

 

Best Regards,

 

 

Ron


Custom Linux Server -> M2TECH HiFACE TWO BNC -> Bryston BDA-1 DAC -> Creek Evolution 50A -> Epos Epic 2 & Bowers & Wilkins ASW10CM Sub

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All:

 

 

As previously mentioned, my next project for my Audiophile grade music server is to upgrade from the laptop switched power supply to a linear one.

 

I may go the DYI route which will save me hundreds. I can probably hand-assemble one based on existing and proven schematics again for pennies on the dollar as compared to Retail.

 

If any listeners are knowledgeable, any recommendations on schematics or even a commercial Retail unit that is $300 or under are all welcome.

 

In building this server, I have learned many many things in the audiophile world and have become a better listener as a result. It is becoming increasingly harder to detect differences now in any changes I make; with the linear power supply probably resulting in possibly my pinnacle of sound output from this device for very little investment. I am looking forward to listening to the differences and documenting and sharing them here and elsewhere.

 

 

Listen On!

 

 

Ron


Custom Linux Server -> M2TECH HiFACE TWO BNC -> Bryston BDA-1 DAC -> Creek Evolution 50A -> Epos Epic 2 & Bowers & Wilkins ASW10CM Sub

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All:

 

Today, October 21st, is now real-time in this project and whomever has taken the interest to read this thread is now caught up.

 

If anyone has taken an interest to my posts, I am very open-minded and welcome any feedback, constructive criticism, or just discussion.

 

 

I am going to try next to load each song entirely into memory before playback; as I have read in many different places this could also increase the quality of sonics from this system.

 

I currently have mpd streaming all of my songs from my NAS set at default settings. I may also explore if there are any perceivable sonic gains from hosting my music library on a local SSD instead of the NAS.

 

Best Regards,

 

Ron


Custom Linux Server -> M2TECH HiFACE TWO BNC -> Bryston BDA-1 DAC -> Creek Evolution 50A -> Epos Epic 2 & Bowers & Wilkins ASW10CM Sub

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Cool thread.

 

There are a couple of existing threads you may find interesting, particularly on the notion of isolation (lot of people have been experimenting with fiber ethernet for that, for example).

 

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f22-networking-networked-audio-and-streaming/hqplayers-network-audio-adapter-13892/

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f22-networking-networked-audio-and-streaming/network-isolation-4265/

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All:

 

The server in its current form is capable of the following:

 

-Streams 44.1 to 192/24 FLAC, .WAV and others supported by LINUX Daemon

-Interface is MPoD app which plays flacs and displays album art on iPhone/iPAD/Android

-Apple AirPlay

-SPDIF COAX BNC Interface to DAC

-Consumes max 7 Watts leveraging Embedded Intel Braswell 3150 architecture

-Switch Mode External 60 Watt Laptop Power Supply connected via 19volt DC connector at rear of logic board

-Display current Artist and Track playing via 2 line LCD

-Housed in industrial PC chassis with two PCIe expansion slots

-Supports USB Memory Sticks via front panel

-Supports Internal SSD

-Currently streaming from NetGear NAS

 

Planned or possible upgrades:

 

-SoTm USB PCIe card

-ESI [email protected] or Asus Xonar STX PCIe soundcard/DAC/interface

-Hand-built Linear power supply

-Spotify or Tidal Integration

 

 

Any comments, advice or feedback is strongly encouraged and welcome!

 

Kind Regards,

 

Ron


Custom Linux Server -> M2TECH HiFACE TWO BNC -> Bryston BDA-1 DAC -> Creek Evolution 50A -> Epos Epic 2 & Bowers & Wilkins ASW10CM Sub

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sm31:

 

Thanks for the links -

 

I can already tell this forum is definitely the right home to share my Music Server project.

 

What are you currently using as a music server / DAC?

 

(no answer is "wrong")

 

Kind Regards,

 

Ron


Custom Linux Server -> M2TECH HiFACE TWO BNC -> Bryston BDA-1 DAC -> Creek Evolution 50A -> Epos Epic 2 & Bowers & Wilkins ASW10CM Sub

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If I didn't have such a large collection of DSD files this project would be of great interest to me. Sadly, my requirements for a music streamer requires that I install an ASIO driver to talk to my DAC, and currently that doesn't seems possible for Linux-based OS's. Great thread though, and welcome to the wonderful world of Computer Audio!


CAPS Pipeline with HDPlex Linear PSU running Win10 64 bit, AO 2.0, RoonServer, HQPlayer -> T+A DAC8 DSD -> Linear Tube Audio's MicroZOTL2 Headphone Amp with Mojo Audio's Illuminati Linear PSU -> Focal Utopia/Hifiman HE-1000/Audeze LCD-3

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I've used mpd, but think players offering their own sample rate/format conversion and filtering (rather than leaving it to the DAC chip) sound a great deal better.

 

For Linux, you may want to try HQPlayer. Many folks feel playing tracks from memory (RAMdisk) avoids HDD/SSD I/O and sounds better. Therefore you might want to consider a board that will permit the use of a lot of RAM. With regard to isolation, particularly with your server/streamer you will want to have a look at the possibilities for setting up a Network Audio Appliance (NAA) with HQPlayer. There are lots of posts/threads about this around the site.

 

Finally, if you decide you like HQPlayer, the developer has an Open Hardware design for an extremely interesting high performance DAC called the DSC1 that can be built with ~$400 worth of parts, which you may be interested in.


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 -> router -> 2 Cisco switches connected by optical Ethernet -> microRendu -> USPCB -> ISO Regen (powered by LPS-1) -> Ghent JSSG360 USB cable -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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Hi Ron,

 

nice setup you came up with! For power supplies you could also look at the TPS7A4700 reference design, it might just be enough to power your server. I'm still using a lab bench supply, because I find them quite flexible, actually.

 

Did you use a Debian based distribution, or did you build your own? I'm running a similar setup of custom GNU/Linux built with Ingo Molnar's RT patch on a J1800 main board including ESI [email protected] Switching from normal to preemptive kernel improved the sound stage in my case.

 

Regards,

iago


Primary ::= Nabla music server | Mutec MC-3+USB w/ Temex LPFRS-01 RB clock | WLM Gamma Reference DAC; Secondary ::= Nabla music server | WaveIO | PrismSound Lyra

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Jud:

 

I've actually just today implemented playback from memory. I currently have 1 8GB module, with room for another, so that should be plenty.

 

As for HQPlayer, I have heard good reviews; especially in the DSD domain.

 

Currently, I do not own DSD files but I would like to explore that format.

 

However, I am a little confused by the logic of claiming software performs better than a hardware DAC. Please elaborate...

 

My design principles are that the LESS processing of the music file on the music server the better... in fact, my goal of my server is to not perform any processing, including volume, filtering, conversion, etc. on the FLAC files. A specific point to support this view is even changing the volume via software reduces the resolution! I have read many different places confirming this approach as "Best Practices" when implementing an audio server WITHOUT dac. The linux OS then feeds this signal to the USB/SPDIF converter hardware, which in turn feeds it to the DAC, where HARDWARE specifically designed for the processing of digital files performs any filtering, re-sampling, etc. In my case it is a Bryston BDA-1, at one point a $3,000 DAC.

 

The open-source hardware DAC looks interesting.. I need to first come up to speed on it before I can comment further.

 

Best Regards,

 

Ron

 

ps. I just noticed the Vandersteen speakers in your signature... those are my "dream speakers". Excellent choice!

Edited by rrstesiak

Custom Linux Server -> M2TECH HiFACE TWO BNC -> Bryston BDA-1 DAC -> Creek Evolution 50A -> Epos Epic 2 & Bowers & Wilkins ASW10CM Sub

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Reply to EdmontonCanuck -

 

After just briefly doing a google search of DSD on Linux, there is a software product called HQPLayer (ironically referenced in a different post within this thread) that supports DSD on Linux. I also have read a couple of articles where folks are compiling different (probably newer) versions of ALSA and what not to enable DSD processing.

 

With a little bit of research and possibly re-compiling, I am almost certain Linux supports DSD outside of the commercial software HQPlayer.

 

I currently do not own DSD files so I do not have a definitive solution, but again am highly optimistic it can be done without writing custom code.

 

Best Regards,

 

Ron


Custom Linux Server -> M2TECH HiFACE TWO BNC -> Bryston BDA-1 DAC -> Creek Evolution 50A -> Epos Epic 2 & Bowers & Wilkins ASW10CM Sub

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iago:

 

Thanks for the compliment!

 

lab bench supplies are awesome if you have one -

 

As for the power supply chip, I think my diy design is better; it uses discrete analogue components instead of IC's..here is the link again for reference:

 

The σ11 regulated power supply

 

As for the Linux, I used the base version of Debian "Wheezy", specifically 64-bit realtime kernel. I pass all audio out with ALSA through an M2TECH HiFace TWO usb/spdif converter via BNC. As I do not do any processing, not even volume, the result is bit-perfect audio out.

 

I applaud your choice of the [email protected] - that has long been on my recommended list of components for music servers. What are you outputting to with the [email protected]?

 

Best Regards,

 

Ron


Custom Linux Server -> M2TECH HiFACE TWO BNC -> Bryston BDA-1 DAC -> Creek Evolution 50A -> Epos Epic 2 & Bowers & Wilkins ASW10CM Sub

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ignore this post. just testing "signature" and I don't know how to delete a post!


Custom Linux Server -> M2TECH HiFACE TWO BNC -> Bryston BDA-1 DAC -> Creek Evolution 50A -> Epos Epic 2 & Bowers & Wilkins ASW10CM Sub

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Reply to EdmontonCanuck -

 

After just briefly doing a google search of DSD on Linux, there is a software product called HQPLayer (ironically referenced in a different post within this thread) that supports DSD on Linux. I also have read a couple of articles where folks are compiling different (probably newer) versions of ALSA and what not to enable DSD processing.

 

With a little bit of research and possibly re-compiling, I am almost certain Linux supports DSD outside of the commercial software HQPlayer.

 

I currently do not own DSD files so I do not have a definitive solution, but again am highly optimistic it can be done without writing custom code.

 

Best Regards,

 

Ron

 

ASIO drivers are typically DAC-specific, provided by the DAC vendor. The vendor of my DAC (exaSound) has indicated that there is an issue porting their ASIO driver to Linux, so Linux is not supported with their DAC. HQPlayer supports DSD on Linux, but I believe it is only via DOP currently. I prefer to use ASIO rather than DOP, as I do have some quad-rate DSD that I don't think is supported via DOP (too much overhead, I believe). Besides, my DAC works optimally via ASIO, so that is what I choose to use. HQPlayer has a Linux-based network appliance that I'm quite certain won't work with my exaSound DAC specifically because no ASIO driver support is included.

 

Not meaning to derail this thread's intent, just answering your statement about Linux support of ASIO.

 

Keep up the good work!


CAPS Pipeline with HDPlex Linear PSU running Win10 64 bit, AO 2.0, RoonServer, HQPlayer -> T+A DAC8 DSD -> Linear Tube Audio's MicroZOTL2 Headphone Amp with Mojo Audio's Illuminati Linear PSU -> Focal Utopia/Hifiman HE-1000/Audeze LCD-3

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ASIO drivers are typically DAC-specific, provided by the DAC vendor. The vendor of my DAC (exaSound) has indicated that there is an issue porting their ASIO driver to Linux, so Linux is not supported with their DAC. HQPlayer supports DSD on Linux, but I believe it is only via DOP currently. I prefer to use ASIO rather than DOP, as I do have some quad-rate DSD that I don't think is supported via DOP (too much overhead, I believe). Besides, my DAC works optimally via ASIO, so that is what I choose to use. HQPlayer has a Linux-based network appliance that I'm quite certain won't work with my exaSound DAC specifically because no ASIO driver support is included.

 

Not meaning to derail this thread's intent, just answering your statement about Linux support of ASIO.

 

Keep up the good work!

 

HQPlayer supports native (non-DoP) DSD on Linux on the following at least, possibly more (quote from Miska early this year):

 

Non-DoP support on Linux is currently limited to:

Playback Designs

iFi

Marantz

DIYINHK

Matrix

 

I believe at least iFi does quad rate, but I could be wrong.


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 -> router -> 2 Cisco switches connected by optical Ethernet -> microRendu -> USPCB -> ISO Regen (powered by LPS-1) -> Ghent JSSG360 USB cable -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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However, I am a little confused by the logic of claiming software performs better than a hardware DAC. Please elaborate...

 

My design principles are that the LESS processing of the music file on the music server the better... in fact, my goal of my server is to not perform any processing, including volume, filtering, conversion, etc. on the FLAC files. A specific point to support this view is even changing the volume via software reduces the resolution! I have read many different places confirming this approach as "Best Practices" when implementing an audio server WITHOUT dac. The linux OS then feeds this signal to the USB/SPDIF converter hardware, which in turn feeds it to the DAC, where HARDWARE specifically designed for the processing of digital files performs any filtering, re-sampling, etc. In my case it is a Bryston BDA-1, at one point a $3,000 DAC.

 

 

I agree that the less processing of the file the better. Let's also add the principle that where processing is required it should be done as well as possible.

 

Let's look at what happens when a music file from a CD arrives at your DAC:

 

- First the sample rate is converted to 176.4kHz by the Burr-Brown SRC4392 chip. Here's the datasheet: http://www.farnell.com/datasheets/1831366.pdf

 

- Then the bitstream goes to two CS4398 DAC chips. Here's the datasheet for those: https://www.cirrus.com/en/pubs/proDatasheet/CS4398_F2.pdf

 

The CS4398 chips put the upsampled bitstream through further sample rate conversion and a delta-sigma modulator, resulting in a DSD-like format with a sample rate of DSD128 (5.6+ MHz).

 

Now let's suppose the sample rate converter chip does a very nice job for its vintage (your DAC was designed in 2009). But I think you would agree that your i7 outstrips it in computing capability. Of course that wouldn't matter if sample rate conversion was a solved problem as of 2009 that couldn't possibly be done differently or better by different algorithms and filters, but in fact there are all sorts of different algorithms and filters out there, and some perform better than others. (Poke around the web site SRC Comparisons.) The nice thing about software versus hardware is that updating the former is a lot easier. Software upsampling on modern CPUs can take advantage of both far greater computing resources and accumulated knowledge in the field over the years since the innards of your DAC were designed and built. So it is possible - perhaps we can even say likely - that the algorithms and filters in HQPlayer may do a better job than the SRC4392 chip, and thus the necessary upsampling step from 44.1 to 176.4kHz would be better accomplished by performing it in HQPlayer and bypassing the internal SRC4392.

 

The way your DAC is configured, you cannot bypass the CS4398 chips, so your options are HQPlayer upsampling to 176.4 (or 192) KHz versus allowing the SRC4392 to do it. For my DAC and others, we can bypass both the interpolation filters (upsampling/oversampling) and delta-sigma modulation steps inside our DACs and just feed DSD128 straight to the DAC's digital-to-analog conversion filter.

 

I've given you a description of how software sample rate conversion and delta-sigma modulation can work, and possibly improve on the job done by the DAC's internal hardware. But of course the real test is what you hear. HQPlayer offers a free trial, so if you are curious, try it out and see whether the result sounds better to you, not as good as letting your DAC do the job, or makes no appreciable difference.


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 -> router -> 2 Cisco switches connected by optical Ethernet -> microRendu -> USPCB -> ISO Regen (powered by LPS-1) -> Ghent JSSG360 USB cable -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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What are you currently using as a music server / DAC?

 

I have a DIY NAS running MPD into a cheap USB DAC.

 

My intention over the next couple of months is to upgrade DAC (to the LH Labs Vi DAC), and swap out MPD for a Roon-based solution, with server running (hopefully) on the NAS, and endpoints running on some mix of the forthcoming sonore micro rendu, a DIY raspberry pi solution, and/or (depending on how this all plays out) chromecast audio (for less demanding contexts).

 

Will then use a tablet as UI to Roon.

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Ron, by chance, did you take any FFT's of the change result(s) each step of the way? Would be interesting to see how the measurements compare with what you ended up hearing.


A listening test comparing components is valid only when you are able to instantaneously switch between components which have been properly level matched and whose identities are unknown to you.

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