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Windows stick mini-PC as an audio server


vdgraaf
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Hi everyone,

I've read tons of info from many people on this site and others and I have to say that I am very much on the skeptic side with all the claims about various esoteric components that can make the sound "better": special SATA cables, USB filters..etc.

 

IMHO a modern PC combined with a recent DAC that does async USB and a decent USB cable (less than $50) works just perfect without the need for any extra equipment. Yes, I know there are many people out there that would say I am wrong: I have tried quite a few configurations that proved to MY ears that barely anything matters if the conditions above are met.

I've tried various OS tweaks and audiophile players and again: if your PC is able to do bit-perfect streaming using Wasapi,Kernel Streaming or other similar technologies, all those extra steps and programs would not matter.

 

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, I was looking to replace my main Windows PC for music with something smaller, quieter and that uses less electricity.

Enters Meegopad T03 PRO stick mini-PC: MeeGoPad T03 Fan Cooled Cherry Trail Stick

 

The specs can be seen above, but with a minimum Windows 10 install and disabling tons of features/services I was able to get the memory usage to around 900mb.

I am using Jriver as my media player mainly due to its amazingly powerful library management.

The mini-pc is connected to my NAS via Wifi and to my DAC via a regular USB port. No monitor attached to it as I can control it remotely from my phone/laptop.

 

To my "surprise" (sarcasm implied) the sound coming out of my speakers was pretty much identical as when I using my old big PC....lol

 

Remember that nothing else runs on this small PC but Jplayer, as the resources (2GB of RAM and 1.4GHZ processor) are not that great for multitasking.

 

For under $100 this little device(or some other newer models) might work for a lot people that maybe do not have a "golden" ear which requires $1000 USB cable:)

 

If you have any questions about this setup please let me know: I am interested as well to do some blind testing in Vancouver, BC area with other people that have systems that want to test it against it.

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The mini-pc is connected to my NAS via Wifi and to my DAC via a regular USB port. No monitor attached to it as I can control it remotely from my phone/laptop.

 

So these "sticks" work without the HDMI connection? That is good to know. I recently acquired one of the Z37 based boxes to see if I am able to port my music server to it, but have not made much progress yet.

 

P2110001-2.jpg

 

How do you power yours? With the usual USB charger?

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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So these "sticks" work without the HDMI connection? That is good to know. I recently acquired one of the Z37 based boxes to see if I am able to port my music server to it, but have not made much progress yet.

 

[ATTACH=CONFIG]24458[/ATTACH]

 

How do you power yours? With the usual USB charger?

 

Yep, with the USB charger that came with the stick.

Mine starts without a problem without any monitor/TV attached...

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You might try a supply with linear regulation, if you have the chance. I usually find it clears up the stage representation a little.

 

Before acquiring aforementioned box I was also looking at these stick type devices (hardware is comparable), but was not sure if they work without being "stuck" somewhere. Thank you for confirming that they work solo.

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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A $35 Raspberry Pi with a free fork of MPD actually performs better than a full on Windows PC.

 

Its not about the h/w, its more of a Windows thing.

 

For a PC, Daphile or MPD is a better option than Windows 10 + JRiver.

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 believe vdgraaf's system is already optimized, and not running standard Windows.

 

I prefer Linux myself, and run a custom embedded image on my music server (including mpd). I found x86 based systems easier to integrate than ARM based ones [1]; also I'm mainly looking for 64-bit systems, and these are the reasons why I got interested in these Z3735 based devices.

 

[1] usually with ARM based hardware you are forced to use out-of-tree kernels, which makes integrating the RT patch quite painful

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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