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Questions about optimizing my computer for sound


Sylvanor
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Hello people,

I'm new to this forum, and please forgive me for my potentially bad English, this isn't my former language (I'm French). I'll do my best.

 

I've been into hi-fi for several years now, using a computer as a source (connected to my DAC with a Weiss firewire INT202 interface), and I've discovered recently that it could be largely optimized for a better sound. Good news, it looks far less expensive than buying a new $$$ amplifier or changing my speakers... :)

Well in France, there are very few informations about this kind of things, it looks like we are a few years in late compared to you, and my questions often stay with no answers in french forums. But it looks like I found the right forum.

 

So, actually my computer isn't at all built for hi-fi. It's a custom built computer essentially oriented for gaming (GTX 970, Core I7, many fans...). My power supply is a Corsair TX750, which is quite good for normal purposes, but I saw that we can do much better. I already have disconnected my CD/DVD drives and disconnected a useless HDD, and I noticed an improvement so I'm now sure that every change will be audible.

 

I'd like to keep it as a computer designed to do everything (gaming, photo and video edition, and sound) so I think I can't change my video card or my CPU for something else.

Plus, I think I can't go for a linear power supply: my computer is plugged into my Gigawatt PC-2 EVO power conditionner which is limited in the amount of current it can provide, and a linear power supply could excess this amount. I already have big Coda CX power amplifiers plugged into it and they consume much power.

 

So my plans are:

- Buyig a new power supply, not a linear one, but the best standard PSU possible. Do you have any advices about it? No problem if it's quite expensive. I saw some good things in the Antec or Corsair high end series (AX---i series). Maybe a very high power like the Corsair AX1200i which has great ripple/stability stats and has a fanless function when it is used at low loads. But you may have some better ideas...?

- Buying a good USB card like Sotm, JCAT or PPA ones. From what I have read, the last PPA version seems to be the best one.

- Since I have a Firewire interface, I gess I'll have to change it. Probably for a Sotm one. Some people said me that it's far better than the Weiss INT204.

- Maybe buying the Sotm filters for all my fans? Is it effective?

- Changing the power cable that connects my power conditionner to my computer. I tried a Gigawatt LC2 MK3 but I noticed only minor changes... I think I'll go for some DIY cables which have always give me some extraordinary results with power amplifiers, preamp and DAC... Do you have some advices about power cables for a computer?

- Changing some of my old HDD drives for a big SSD. I think I'll still wait a little because SSD are quite expensive and I think the price will probably diminish in the next months.

- Maybe buying a small linear power supply dedicated to the audiophile USB card mentionned before...? Would it provide a sensible enhancement? For people who did it, how concretely do you connect it, is the PSU inside the computer box? Is it oudside with a cable that goes inside to connect the card?

 

If you have other advices for my, or some ideas, please let me know.

 

I could go for a completely audio dedicated computer, entirely fanless etc... But it would force me to use my 2 computers at the same time, and I don't find it comfortable. I'll maybe try this option later, but for now I prefer trying to optimise my multipurpose computer.

 

I hope some of you guys will take the time to give me some answers, and thank you by advance. :)

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Have you considered an NAA approach? If so, you could keep your computer as is and connect to a low powered computer like a Sonic Orbiter SE through your router. This surely would significantly exceed what you could do by partially optimizing big powerful computer and probably be cheaper to boot.

Synology NAS -> Quadcore i7, 3.8GHz -> RoonServer -> HQPlayer (all up sampled to DSD128) -> Sonore urendu (Uptone JS2 PS) -> Lampizator Golden Gate DAC -> Valvet A4 Monoblocks -> Zu Audio Definitions Mk4

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Hello people,

I'm new to this forum, and please forgive me for my potentially bad English, this isn't my former language (I'm French). I'll do my best.

 

I've been into hi-fi for several years now, using a computer as a source (connected to my DAC with a Weiss firewire INT202 interface), and I've discovered recently that it could be largely optimized for a better sound. Good news, it looks far less expensive than buying a new $$$ amplifier or changing my speakers... :)

Well in France, there are very few informations about this kind of things, it looks like we are a few years in late compared to you, and my questions often stay with no answers in french forums. But it looks like I found the right forum.

 

So, actually my computer isn't at all built for hi-fi. It's a custom built computer essentially oriented for gaming (GTX 970, Core I7, many fans...). My power supply is a Corsair TX750, which is quite good for normal purposes, but I saw that we can do much better. I already have disconnected my CD/DVD drives and disconnected a useless HDD, and I noticed an improvement so I'm now sure that every change will be audible.

 

I'd like to keep it as a computer designed to do everything (gaming, photo and video edition, and sound) so I think I can't change my video card or my CPU for something else.

Plus, I think I can't go for a linear power supply: my computer is plugged into my Gigawatt PC-2 EVO power conditionner which is limited in the amount of current it can provide, and a linear power supply could excess this amount. I already have big Coda CX power amplifiers plugged into it and they consume much power.

 

So my plans are:

- Buyig a new power supply, not a linear one, but the best standard PSU possible. Do you have any advices about it? No problem if it's quite expensive. I saw some good things in the Antec or Corsair high end series (AX---i series). Maybe a very high power like the Corsair AX1200i which has great ripple/stability stats and has a fanless function when it is used at low loads. But you may have some better ideas...?

- Buying a good USB card like Sotm, JCAT or PPA ones. From what I have read, the last PPA version seems to be the best one.

- Since I have a Firewire interface, I gess I'll have to change it. Probably for a Sotm one. Some people said me that it's far better than the Weiss INT204.

- Maybe buying the Sotm filters for all my fans? Is it effective?

- Changing the power cable that connects my power conditionner to my computer. I tried a Gigawatt LC2 MK3 but I noticed only minor changes... I think I'll go for some DIY cables which have always give me some extraordinary results with power amplifiers, preamp and DAC... Do you have some advices about power cables for a computer?

- Changing some of my old HDD drives for a big SSD. I think I'll still wait a little because SSD are quite expensive and I think the price will probably diminish in the next months.

- Maybe buying a small linear power supply dedicated to the audiophile USB card mentionned before...? Would it provide a sensible enhancement? For people who did it, how concretely do you connect it, is the PSU inside the computer box? Is it oudside with a cable that goes inside to connect the card?

 

If you have other advices for my, or some ideas, please let me know.

 

I could go for a completely audio dedicated computer, entirely fanless etc... But it would force me to use my 2 computers at the same time, and I don't find it comfortable. I'll maybe try this option later, but for now I prefer trying to optimise my multipurpose computer.

 

I hope some of you guys will take the time to give me some answers, and thank you by advance. :)

 

You should rethink LPS, may be possible. Please also try and see if you can change some of your units for one with no fans. The fan filter will help, upgrading the fan for better ones with less noise, etc could be good- perhaps try some of them to some passive ones if possible....

Next the PPA USB card will be the right thing to do. This will reclock your USB and that will be important. Try and get an external LPS or battery supply power for this USB card. The PPA ones can be powered from the outside, rest have a 4 pin molex input that can be supplied power any way you want.

On the power cable front, some say the SATA cables provide very good sonic return, I don't have much view on this.

Changing the HDD will have two fold use, lower power draw, less noise and chance to feed the SSD with clean power. Use PCIe SSD, much better speed .

Others;

Try EMI reducing paper around Rams, etc.

If you don't need wifi, take away the module.

Synology NAS (LPS) >UA ETHER REGEN (BG7TBL Master Clock) > MACMINI (Uptone MMK JS-2) > Auralic Aries 2.1 > (LPS-2) > AUDIO-GD DI20HE (BG7TBL Master Clock) (I2S OUT)LampizatOr GG /Meridian 808.3> Wavac PRT1 / Wavac EC300B >Tannoy Canterbury SE

 

HP Rig ++ >Woo WES/ > Stax SR-009, Audeze LCD2

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1. A linear power supply for the MOBO/CPU.

2. (Best would be a fanless PC) Power your non streaming devices, non OS HDD's, DVD ROM, fans, from a separate power supply other than your MOBO/CPU. It could even be a separate ATX PSU. Would be cheap if you have one laying around the house. This way you isolate these devices from feeding any bad power spikes back into your MOBO, thus audio stream. You should use a clean powered SSD for your OS. Can be a small one only 60GB.

3. Get an USB galvanic isolator like Intona and or a reclocker/impedance matcher like Regen.

4. A USB card like PPA.

5. A clock for your Mobo. Again PPA.

(JRiver) Jetway barebones NUC (mod 3 sCLK-EX, Cybershaft OP 14)  (PH SR7) => mini pcie adapter to PCIe 1X => tXUSBexp PCIe card (mod sCLK-EX) (PH SR7) => (USPCB) Chord DAVE => Omega Super 8XRS/REL t5i  (All powered thru Topaz Isolation Transformer)

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Hello people,

I'm new to this forum, and please forgive me for my potentially bad English, this isn't my former language (I'm French). I'll do my best.

 

I've been into hi-fi for several years now, using a computer as a source (connected to my DAC with a Weiss firewire INT202 interface), and I've discovered recently that it could be largely optimized for a better sound. Good news, it looks far less expensive than buying a new $$$ amplifier or changing my speakers... :)

Well in France, there are very few informations about this kind of things, it looks like we are a few years in late compared to you, and my questions often stay with no answers in french forums. But it looks like I found the right forum.

 

So, actually my computer isn't at all built for hi-fi. It's a custom built computer essentially oriented for gaming (GTX 970, Core I7, many fans...). My power supply is a Corsair TX750, which is quite good for normal purposes, but I saw that we can do much better. I already have disconnected my CD/DVD drives and disconnected a useless HDD, and I noticed an improvement so I'm now sure that every change will be audible.

 

I'd like to keep it as a computer designed to do everything (gaming, photo and video edition, and sound) so I think I can't change my video card or my CPU for something else.

Plus, I think I can't go for a linear power supply: my computer is plugged into my Gigawatt PC-2 EVO power conditionner which is limited in the amount of current it can provide, and a linear power supply could excess this amount. I already have big Coda CX power amplifiers plugged into it and they consume much power.

 

So my plans are:

- Buyig a new power supply, not a linear one, but the best standard PSU possible. Do you have any advices about it? No problem if it's quite expensive. I saw some good things in the Antec or Corsair high end series (AX---i series). Maybe a very high power like the Corsair AX1200i which has great ripple/stability stats and has a fanless function when it is used at low loads. But you may have some better ideas...?

- Buying a good USB card like Sotm, JCAT or PPA ones. From what I have read, the last PPA version seems to be the best one.

- Since I have a Firewire interface, I gess I'll have to change it. Probably for a Sotm one. Some people said me that it's far better than the Weiss INT204.

- Maybe buying the Sotm filters for all my fans? Is it effective?

- Changing the power cable that connects my power conditionner to my computer. I tried a Gigawatt LC2 MK3 but I noticed only minor changes... I think I'll go for some DIY cables which have always give me some extraordinary results with power amplifiers, preamp and DAC... Do you have some advices about power cables for a computer?

- Changing some of my old HDD drives for a big SSD. I think I'll still wait a little because SSD are quite expensive and I think the price will probably diminish in the next months.

- Maybe buying a small linear power supply dedicated to the audiophile USB card mentionned before...? Would it provide a sensible enhancement? For people who did it, how concretely do you connect it, is the PSU inside the computer box? Is it oudside with a cable that goes inside to connect the card?

 

If you have other advices for my, or some ideas, please let me know.

 

I could go for a completely audio dedicated computer, entirely fanless etc... But it would force me to use my 2 computers at the same time, and I don't find it comfortable. I'll maybe try this option later, but for now I prefer trying to optimise my multipurpose computer.

 

I hope some of you guys will take the time to give me some answers, and thank you by advance. :)

Hi Sylvanor,

 

I do not think that it would be possible to listen to music in an optimal fashion while gaming or doing other tasks not music related. It is not mandatory (but recommended) to have a dedicated PC for playing music, but it will always be a trade-off between different kinds of performance.

 

In between, I may have a suggestion. It may not be at your taste, but here it is...

 

If you could remove your internal hard drive from the PC, put it in a dock (see the link below), you could clone your drive. You may still be able to use your actual hard disk drive for your actual usage. On the cloned drive, you could personnalize your Windows OS in optimizing it for audio purposes.

 

The "audio Windows" would have as minimal processes as possible to help "quiet down" the PC. There are tools - Fidelizer would be a good start to try and see if that helps.

 

With the "dock", you can easily swap the drives, depending on what you feel the need to do with your PC, at a minimal cost for a start.

Boîtier USB 3.0/eSATA pour disque dur*

 

As for a power supply, while I haven't checked the ones you mention, I use a Seasonic 1kw Platinum 80 PSU. It has a very good warranty (7 years I think). The funy thing is that mine died récently after only 4 years, but the warranty is here to take care of that. It has an hybrid function, so the fan does not run when the draw is not too much. Here is a link (in French): Seasonic Platinum 1200

 

There is a lot more to do to optimize a PC, but I thought it would be a nice start. As steps will have been taken, we can go further into that journey.

 

If you like, you can PM me and we even can communicate in French ?

 

Regards,

Alain

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The best thing you can do is get it out of the PC.

 

I've myself used an i7 with GTX 970 for a source and I've since moved to a 2 PC setup with a low end/specced SOC for the front end and NAS for the backend.

 

Windows is not really optimized for audio. Also, a PC adds too much noise.

 

Go with a small SOC for the media player with a Linux distro, something like Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone Black, Cubix, etc. The difference will be huge and easily apparent.

 

For starters you can optimize Windows with something like Audiophile Optimizer, or even Fidelizer if you want to continue using Windows PC.

 

SSD really does not benefit for music playback.

Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world - Martin Luther

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Hello people,

I'm very impressed by the number of your answers, and all of your ideas and suggestions. You guys are true heroes. Thank you very much. :)

 

Well I took a little time to think about the idea of building some kind of a musical server connected to the local network and commanded by my multi-purpose computer or by a tablet/smartphone application... And well, why not, if the sound is far better. I'm already happy with my sound on games or films (when I think about people who play with Altec Lansing-like speakers...).

I didn't want to have a second computer to manipulate at the sime time as my principal one, but with a smartphone or a browser application, that's ok.

But I have some important prerequisite essentially in therms of ergonomy:

- I need a player (on my web browser and/or on my tablet) that allows me to browse my library with folder structure. I'm not involved with tags and my collecion is very messy with it. But everything is clean when it comes to folder structure.

- I need to be able to control the files from my main computer (I mean, copy, edit or delete new files in the HDD/SSD of the server).

- I need it to be able to play some kind of exotic file formats, like Musepack (yes, at a time I loved Musepack and I maybe have thousands of .mpc files... And I franckly admit that I'm not able to differenciate high quality mpc files from original flac/wave files by hearing. I... am not sure I'd be ready to re-convert all of them! Well, ok, this criteria is less important than the previous ones.

 

So...

Your suggestions or answers bring me to some new questions:

 

Have you considered an NAA approach? If so, you could keep your computer as is and connect to a low powered computer like a Sonic Orbiter SE through your router

 

With this kind of thing, I suppose that I connect on one side to the local network (RJ45) and the other side to the USB input of my DAC (or of my interface).

But all of my folders/audio files are whether on my main computer, or on a NAS.

 

This is an important question for me: my router is not in the same room (even not in the same floor!) as my hifi system and my computer(s), so I have meters of cable. And if I want to connect my music server to the network and to the DAC at the same time, I'll need other dozens of meters of RJ45 cable, or some kind of an RJ45 coupler which will give me two RJ45 inputs/outputs.

So... Will this affect the sound quality? I mean, when the server plays the music, is it copied into its internal memory and so the quality of the RJ45 doesn't have any importance - since it's not slow - or is it some kind of stream transfert and it will have to be excellent, and needs as much attention as interconnects or power cables for example?

So if it's the case, maybe I'll need to have a musical server with an internal HDD/SSD, am I right?

 

The fan filter will help, upgrading the fan for better ones with less noise

 

This is something I often wonder, because we have a confusing vocabulary: fans produce noise. But is this noise disturbing only because it's boring to listen to music into a noisy environement, or it is distrurbing because of some kind of disturbing electrical noise which will affect the components and so the sound quality?

And, if so, is the amount of (audible) noise produced by the fan related to the amount of electrical noise it produces? In other words, if I buy less noisy fans, will I have less electrical pollucation?

I guess the answer is yes, but I'd like to be sure. I'm quite ignorant about electrical stuff...

 

The PPA ones can be powered from the outside

 

I don't see any special input on its external faceplate... Only two USB connexions. If you talk about the 4-pin connector, it's oriented into the interior of the computer, so how can I connect it to an external power supply?

 

As for a power supply, while I haven't checked the ones you mention, I use a Seasonic 1kw Platinum 80 PSU. It has a very good warranty (7 years I think).

Did you notice any improvement when you first installed it, from what you had before?

 

Go with a small SOC for the media player with a Linux distro, something like Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone Black, Cubix, etc. The difference will be huge and easily apparent

 

Hmm these non-expensive solutions are attractive, but with no box (stability isn't important?), no Sotm/PPA USB card, no high quality PSU... Is it a real long-term step up?

 

I was also wondering, if the computer which acts as a musical server is not connected to any screen, mouse or keyboard, how can I turn it off? Can I just press the power button like we should never do with our main computers?

 

Since I'm not a very good technicien, I'm also looking for already-built solutions... I saw Sotm was doing some servers which appear to be quite good... Endpcnoise proposes also its solutions... Much more expensive, but after all if you consider the price of each element, plus the the cumulated shipping costs, plus the time needed to build the computer... Have you ever tried them and what do you think about them? On a review, it's said that the Sotm server is better than building a computer with all of Sotm peripherals and filters. Would you confirm? If it's better and easier, I'm ready to pay for it.

 

Once again, thank you all for your time and help! So great a forum like this exists.

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The OP's computer would be a very nice HQPlayer machine as noted previously. It may not be clear to the OP the advantages of using that powerful machine (including the GPU) to say convert to high rate DSD to send to a Cubox-i, Sonic Orbiter type device.

The best thing you can do is get it out of the PC.

 

I've myself used an i7 with GTX 970 for a source and I've since moved to a 2 PC setup with a low end/specced SOC for the front end and NAS for the backend.

 

Windows is not really optimized for audio. Also, a PC adds too much noise.

 

Go with a small SOC for the media player with a Linux distro, something like Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone Black, Cubix, etc. The difference will be huge and easily apparent.

 

For starters you can optimize Windows with something like Audiophile Optimizer, or even Fidelizer if you want to continue using Windows PC.

 

SSD really does not benefit for music playback.

Forrest:

Win10 i9 9900KS/GTX1060 HQPlayer4>Win10 NAA

DSD>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>"Naked" Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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SSD really does not benefit for music playback.

 

I would strongly disagree with that statement. Both the OS SSD and the Music SSD markedly improve SQ when powered by much cleaner power, and are then isolated from the main SMPS supply.

This can be achieved by regulating the internal +12V SMPS supply down to much cleaner +5V isolated outputs.

It is best to use 2 separate low noise voltage regulators to achieve this.

I also agree with Forrest's comment about using the faster computer, especially if measures like this are used.

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

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The OP's computer would be a very nice HQPlayer machine as noted previously. It may not be clear to the OP the advantages of using that powerful machine (including the GPU) to say convert to high rate DSD to send to a Cubox-i, Sonic Orbiter type device.

 

I've not tried HQPlayer, but planning to give it a try with NAA. I don't have much DSD or even high res music. 99% is all FLAC so for me the PC was overpowered even in a 2 PC JPlay setup. Now I use a NAS and and a Pi, clearly low end, but good for my requirements.

 

FWIW, while the i7 is a workhorse, it also runs hot... even at idle (comparatively speaking).

 

Hmm these non-expensive solutions are attractive, but with no box (stability isn't important?), no Sotm/PPA USB card, no high quality PSU... Is it a real long-term step up?

 

I was also wondering, if the computer which acts as a musical server is not connected to any screen, mouse or keyboard, how can I turn it off? Can I just press the power button like we should never do with our main computers?

 

No issues with stability. In fact mine runs 24/7, but then again they are real cheap to replace too.

 

Unless you really need a PC and its processing, a NAS is a better recommendation. Mine runs 24/7, but yes depending on the make and model they can be turned off with an app from a smartphone or a physical switch. You can also schedule them to shut down at any time on schedule say 11 pm and then turn on at 6 am... but do note its not recommended powering down HDDs regularly, leads to more wear and tear. With a NAS they are recommended to be left powered on, the HDDs last a longer time this way.

Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world - Martin Luther

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I would strongly disagree with that statement. Both the OS SSD and the Music SSD markedly improve SQ when powered by much cleaner power, and are then isolated from the main SMPS supply.

This can be achieved by regulating the internal +12V SMPS supply down to much cleaner +5V isolated outputs.

It is best to use 2 separate low noise voltage regulators to achieve this.

I also agree with Forrest's comment about using the faster computer, especially if measures like this are used.

 

Have to really try that.

 

I used SSDs for the OS and huge improvements on that front. I've even tried SSD for music in a regular PC but could not hear anything different. But it was a regular PC and with regular PSU/SMPS supply.

Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world - Martin Luther

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Given the OP's existing computer, how is a NAS a better choice or any better than using the i7 box as an NAS and server. I am not sure what the issue might be if it "runs hot" beyond cooling fan noise, and with the Network Audio Adapter, the server may be in anther room or anywhere on the network. The receiving computer can be a very low power device, including a Pi. With the hardware the OP already has, it seems a sensible approach over your suggestion to purchase an NAS as well as a computer for playback. There is also no reason the NAS cannot be a part of that server, that is how I do it.

I've not tried HQPlayer, but planning to give it a try with NAA. I don't have much DSD or even high res music. 99% is all FLAC so for me the PC was overpowered even in a 2 PC JPlay setup. Now I use a NAS and and a Pi, clearly low end, but good for my requirements.

 

FWIW, while the i7 is a workhorse, it also runs hot... even at idle (comparatively speaking).

 

 

 

No issues with stability. In fact mine runs 24/7, but then again they are real cheap to replace too.

 

Unless you really need a PC and its processing, a NAS is a better recommendation. Mine runs 24/7, but yes depending on the make and model they can be turned off with an app from a smartphone or a physical switch. You can also schedule them to shut down at any time on schedule say 11 pm and then turn on at 6 am... but do note its not recommended powering down HDDs regularly, leads to more wear and tear. With a NAS they are recommended to be left powered on, the HDDs last a longer time this way.

Forrest:

Win10 i9 9900KS/GTX1060 HQPlayer4>Win10 NAA

DSD>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>"Naked" Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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Given the OP's existing computer, how is a NAS a better choice or any better than using the i7 box as an NAS and server. I am not sure what the issue might be if it "runs hot" beyond cooling fan noise, and with the Network Audio Adapter, the server may be in anther room or anywhere on the network. The receiving computer can be a very low power device, including a Pi. With the hardware the OP already has, it seems a sensible approach over your suggestion to purchase an NAS as well as a computer for playback. There is also no reason the NAS cannot be a part of that server, that is how I do it.

 

If its an extra system that nobody is using then yes it could work as the streamer/server/NAS.

 

Also, unless its for some heavy processing (like video encoding) or running something like a Bug Head Player, an i7 is an overkill for music playback.

 

The OP did state his i7 is a gaming rig for which the config is understandable, but by that same account its also not going to be relegated to a server/backend room.

 

For playing music something low end like a Raspberry Pi and an external HDD or NAS is perfectly fine and even better.

 

At least personally my SQ improved when I got the music off the PC to a Pi and also introduced wireless streaming.

 

I do use my i7 with Bug Head Player sometimes... just too much work though. It even makes you wait a few minutes before its done processing and starts playing and also its extremely limited if I want to queue up 100 tracks or more... something easily done with BubbleUPnP and the Pi.

Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world - Martin Luther

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Bughead is not HQPlayer at all! HQPlayer would even take advantage of the video card in doing DSD conversions if the OP has interest, and this box is not overkill for that purpose. As to being relegated in a back room, if the OP does not have issue with the fan and HDD noise, there is no need. My primary point is, you are suggesting that the OP buys yet another computer to use as a NAS, when it is not required and can coexist in the server box with or without the use of HQPlayer. One could just as easily use the server as a Squeezebox or something else feeding a low power device- Cubox, SOtM sMS100, Sonore Sonic Orbiter or something akin. I feel this would give the most bang vs trying to make that powerful server electrically quiet. FWIW, the typical NAS has many of the same disadvantages of a server, but both use the network to "isolate" it from the client/endpoint.

If its an extra system that nobody is using then yes it could work as the streamer/server/NAS.

 

Also, unless its for some heavy processing (like video encoding) or running something like a Bug Head Player, an i7 is an overkill for music playback.

 

The OP did state his i7 is a gaming rig for which the config is understandable, but by that same account its also not going to be relegated to a server/backend room.

 

For playing music something low end like a Raspberry Pi and an external HDD or NAS is perfectly fine and even better.

 

At least personally my SQ improved when I got the music off the PC to a Pi and also introduced wireless streaming.

 

I do use my i7 with Bug Head Player sometimes... just too much work though. It even makes you wait a few minutes before its done processing and starts playing and also its extremely limited if I want to queue up 100 tracks or more... something easily done with BubbleUPnP and the Pi.

Forrest:

Win10 i9 9900KS/GTX1060 HQPlayer4>Win10 NAA

DSD>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>"Naked" Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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Sylvanor-

 

Allow me to be a bit rude and say I disagree with your approach. The improvements/changes you are talking about are fairly costly and I don't thing they will result in optimal sound.

 

I think you would be better off buying something like one of the CAPS4 models described here on this site. Something fanless, and dedicated to audio. It doesn't have to be a powerful machine unless you want to upsample music on the fly or do DSP/Room Correction while playing back audio.

 

For simple straight music playback - even high-res - you don't need a powerful computer. In this type of setup it won't be too costly either.

 

I definitely understand the lack of desire for another box in the system, but you can get a small fanless computer connected to your network and put it somewhere where you don't even notice it. It can be run headless and controlled from a tablet, phone, or another computer - even for shutdown, although if it were me, I'd leave it on 24/7. You can also do all the non playback functions over your network from another PC (that's what I do).

 

If the computer is connected through ethernet to your network, I don't think you will have any issues on playback, unless your network itself has issues or the PC with the music storage is being used for other tasks to the point that it can't stream easily. Straight music streaming isn't a difficult task for a good computer and network.

 

Endpcnoise is a good vendor. So are Smallgreencomputer and quietpc.com. They will build the unit for you, you don't have to build it yourself. You could use one of these units just as a playback device, and if your present setup/network can't handle it, add an internal HD and serve the music directly from this unit to the DAC. BTW, if you wanted, you could put a FW card inside the playback PC and continue to use FW to the Weiss, if that's easier or a preference.

 

You don't have to get all the bells and whistles on the playback computer at once. You can add on things like filters and external linear power supplies, or additional cards later. I would definitely go for a dedicated unit with an external PS if it were me, however.

 

As far as software with a folder view, you can setup Foobar 2000 to work this way with a bit of work - but it is a free download.

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 Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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Bughead is not HQPlayer at all! HQPlayer would even take advantage of the video card in doing DSD conversions if the OP has interest, and this box is not overkill for that purpose. As to being relegated in a back room, if the OP does not have issue with the fan and HDD noise, there is no need. My primary point is, you are suggesting that the OP buys yet another computer to use as a NAS, when it is not required and can coexist in the server box with or without the use of HQPlayer. One could just as easily use the server as a Squeezebox or something else feeding a low power device- Cubox, SOtM sMS100, Sonore Sonic Orbiter or something akin. I feel this would give the most bang vs trying to make that powerful server electrically quiet. FWIW, the typical NAS has many of the same disadvantages of a server, but both use the network to "isolate" it from the client/endpoint.

 

Point taken.

 

But isn't HQPlayer more expensive?

 

Personally, I went with a NAS, but you can setup without a NAS and go with an external HDD. $150 to $200 max for an external HDD (2 TB) and the Raspberry Pi for a source and transport combo. moOde Audio Player is free and also works as a DLNA/UPnP Server. Pretty much walks all over my i7 with Foobar, JRiver, etc. for SQ.

 

For USB I suppose folks would want the Regen, but I use wireless myself.

Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world - Martin Luther

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I think we are now suggesting the same thing. Use the i7 as a server, and get a low power client/end point like your Pi. HQPlayer is just one method that happens to take advantage of the power in that machine.

Point taken.

 

But isn't HQPlayer more expensive?

 

Personally, I went with a NAS, but you can setup without a NAS and go with an external HDD. $150 to $200 max for an external HDD (2 TB) and the Raspberry Pi for a source and transport combo. moOde Audio Player is free and also works as a DLNA/UPnP Server. Pretty much walks all over my i7 with Foobar, JRiver, etc. for SQ.

 

For USB I suppose folks would want the Regen, but I use wireless myself.

Forrest:

Win10 i9 9900KS/GTX1060 HQPlayer4>Win10 NAA

DSD>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>"Naked" Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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I've not tried HQPlayer, but planning to give it a try with NAA. I don't have much DSD or even high res music. 99% is all FLAC so for me the PC was overpowered even in a 2 PC JPlay setup. Now I use a NAS and and a Pi, clearly low end, but good for my requirements..

 

HQPlayer shines with CD resolution/Redbook material, converted on the fly to high bitrate DSD. You need to hear it to believe it. Use any old Redbook. FLAC is perfect.

 

I've been using an NAA because my i7 with GPU and 4K monitor is electrically noisy. NAA solves that, and now instead of listening at my workstation, I have a comfortable chair and a laptop that I use to control Roon (and/or HQPlayer directly)

Custom room treatments for headphone users.

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Sylvaner,

 

1: Run HQPlayer on your gaming machine: perfect.

 

2: Get a cheap ASRock Q1900M based machine to use as an NAA. Connect the two by Ethernet. Do all your tweaks to the NAA which will be cheap.

 

3: Start with a 12v LPS and a picoPSU 150.

 

4: If you love the sound consider a fiber optic Ethernet link to the NAA

Custom room treatments for headphone users.

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