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PC specs for hi-res music


WalkingBoss

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Hi there,

 

Looking to get some feedback from members relating to the specs needed when building a PC that will be used specifically to play hi-res (up to 24/192) tracks and standard FLAC.

 

From what I know most modern PC's will play hi-res and if I want to bypass the soundcard I use a USB connection to DAC. If I have a decent soundcard I have the option to use the toslink connection as well, is this correct?

 

What I am hoping to learn from you is what the minimum processor, RAM, motherboard, soundcard etc. is needed when building a PC that will be used for this activity.

 

Appreciate your input!

 

Thank you.

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What I am hoping to learn from you is what the minimum processor, RAM, motherboard, soundcard etc. is needed when building a PC that will be used for this activity.

 

I think you'll find a lot of pertinent info here:

 

Computer Audiophile - C.A.P.S.

 

--David

Listening Room: Mac mini (Roon Core) > iMac (HQP) > exaSound PlayPoint (as NAA) > exaSound e32 > W4S STP-SE > Benchmark AHB2 > Wilson Sophia Series 2 (Details)

Office: Mac Pro >  AudioQuest DragonFly Red > JBL LSR305

Mobile: iPhone 6S > AudioQuest DragonFly Black > JH Audio JH5

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Well, I find it takes very little computer power to play even 192khz material. My old Atom based Asus netbook sporting 2 gig of RAM running Win 8.1 died last year. It was however capable of being a fine source for music. I used a USB to SPDIF converter as my DAC didn't have USB inputs. I tried to measure differences between rather powerful computers and that netbook without uncovering anything.

 

I will say if you follow the CAPS guidelines you will have a fine machine. Don't be mislead into thinking you need a souped up hot rodded PC to play good music.

 

I am not a Mac user myself, but know those who are. A Mac Mini is certainly a good foundation for music listening with lots of good advantages, a small footprint and not too much expense. My current sources are either a recent i5 Win 8.1 laptop or more often a Lenovo server machine running linux and plenty of horsepower.

 

As for Toslink from a soundcard, yes you can do that, also some USB to SPDIF converters output Toslink. Do you already have a computer to spare and what DAC are you using?

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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Well, I find it takes very little computer power to play even 192khz material. My old Atom based Asus netbook sporting 2 gig of RAM running Win 8.1 died last year. It was however capable of being a fine source for music. I used a USB to SPDIF converter as my DAC didn't have USB inputs. I tried to measure differences between rather powerful computers and that netbook without uncovering anything.

 

I will say if you follow the CAPS guidelines you will have a fine machine. Don't be mislead into thinking you need a souped up hot rodded PC to play good music.

 

I am not a Mac user myself, but know those who are. A Mac Mini is certainly a good foundation for music listening with lots of good advantages, a small footprint and not too much expense. My current sources are either a recent i5 Win 8.1 laptop or more often a Lenovo server machine running linux and plenty of horsepower.

 

As for Toslink from a soundcard, yes you can do that, also some USB to SPDIF converters output Toslink. Do you already have a computer to spare and what DAC are you using?

 

Do you have a direct link to the CAPS guidelines?

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C.A.P.S is an evolving computer developed over time here at CA. Computer Audiophile Pocket Server. I think they are up to CAPS v 4 so far.

 

Computer Audiophile - C.A.P.S.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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Also do you guys use a soundcard or onboard sound via motherboard?

 

Or do you bypass it with USB to DAC?

 

Also can I bypass soundcard (or not include one in PC ) if I use toslink?

 

You can buy a USB to SPDIF converter to feed computer audio to an outboard DAC. It has become so common many, or most current DACs have USB as one of the available input methods. Some audio video receivers do now as well. So all you need is such a DAC and a computer with USB. Connect them and away you go. Certainly a simple way to get quality audio.

 

It doesn't take much computing power to do a basically good job for playback. So I don't know what you are starting with in terms of audio equipment or your aims. If you have a spare laptop, or a desktop made within the last 5 years either will do a fine job playing over USB to a DAC, or AVR or headphone amp with digital inputs. Once you get some experience with this you likely will know how you wish to proceed with gilding the lily. You might want a centralized NAS music server sending music over ethernet or any other number of things.

 

As I mentioned earlier until recently I used an old Atom netbook. It played 192/24 files with nary a hickup just fine.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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You can buy a USB to SPDIF converter to feed computer audio to an outboard DAC. It has become so common many, or most current DACs have USB as one of the available input methods. Some audio video receivers do now as well. So all you need is such a DAC and a computer with USB. Connect them and away you go. Certainly a simple way to get quality audio.

 

It doesn't take much computing power to do a basically good job for playback. So I don't know what you are starting with in terms of audio equipment or your aims. If you have a spare laptop, or a desktop made within the last 5 years either will do a fine job playing over USB to a DAC, or AVR or headphone amp with digital inputs. Once you get some experience with this you likely will know how you wish to proceed with gilding the lily. You might want a centralized NAS music server sending music over ethernet or any other number of things.

 

As I mentioned earlier until recently I used an old Atom netbook. It played 192/24 files with nary a hickup just fine.

 

Gotcha, makes sense I will give the posts a read. Question is there any benefit to the usb to toslink rather than just going USB to DAC thinking that is that just in cases where the DAC only has toslink input otherwise just go straight USB? What is a good model for a usb/toslink converter?

 

Thanks everyone for your answers here!

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