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PC for HQP etc


Norton
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I've mainly used a BDP-2 as my digital source, but have played on and off with a simple Zotac fanless PC running HQP and Jriver under Linux (Mint) with a HDPlex LPSU.

 

The Zotac is currently back in my system and sounding rather good. Even though it's only a Celeron (quad core), with the right options ticked it's now coping reasonably well for the first time with RBCD>DSDx2 (maybe latest release of HQP has assisted this?). Discarding my scepticism, I think I now "get" what others have suggested about 2x DSD or higher being where the real benefits start to kick in.

 

However, the Zotac does struggle and I get occasional stutter and dropouts (all cores are normally at around 80% with 2xDSD). So I'd like to upgrade to something with a bit more computational power and I would be grateful for advice on 2 counts:

 

Is there any real reason why an off the shelf fanless i7 mini PC would give appreciably inferior SQ to a custom build CAPS type server? Does precise processor, motherboard, memory, case, SSD spec etc really make a big difference? Again I'd be running Linux and powering via HDPlex LPSU.

 

Is it worth paying attention to USB output on my new PC with something like a SoTM card or external USB hub even?

 

Thanks

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About a year & half ago, I had Andrew Gillis at Small Green Computers build me a CAPS-like, Linux-based computer, specifically in use with HQP. My parameters were:

 

- Fanless

- Quad core to take advantage of HQP Pipeline

- Small SSD for Ubuntu Studio plus HQP and any other programs (now Roon Core)

- 4 GB RAM (HQP does not require much RAM)

- i5 processor to keep costs reasonable

- Budget was $1000

 

This is exactly what Andrew delivered.

 

As for the USB card, I use a Cubox-i as a HQP NAA so no need for a high-end USB card. I have since installed an Intel X520-DA1 NIC (fiber optic) card for which the drivers are included with Ubuntu so just plug & play.

 

My DAC supports native DSD so I have been able to convert all my music (PCM & DSD) to DSD256 with no issues. The four processors are usually running around 45 - 50% each. The 4 GB RAM is more than enough.

 

Just starting runnning Roon Core on this computer along with HQP and no problems so far.

 

Hope this helps.

Eric


Ubuntu Studio Linux box (i7-9700, 8 cores, 16GB RAM, Intel X520-DA1 NIC, HQP Desktop) > fiber optic > MikroTik CRS305-1G-4S+ > fiber optic > fitlet2 (Linux Mint - HQP NAA) > T+A DAC8 DSD > Rogue Audio DragoN > Klipsch La Scala — digital volume control with HQP via Roon client, DSP with HQP convolution engine, Intel NUC (Roon server)

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I think it really depends on what you want to do with HQPlayer. There are some indications (see the T+A DAC 8 DSD thread) that upsampling everything to DSD512 can produce stunning results on certain DACs. Some are seeing this even with the highly affordable iFi Micro iDSD. Depending on your choice of filters, that level of upsampling can tax even fairly powerful PC's. It also depends on whether you will add a CUDA graphics card to offload some of that processing. Also look carefully at Miska's posts in the following thread: http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f11-software/design-pc-server-roon-and-hq-player-25796/ as he clearly knows best in terms of what build should suffice.

Synology NAS>i7-6700/32GB/NVIDIA QUADRO P4000 Win10>Qobuz+Tidal>Roon>HQPlayer>DSD512> Fiber Switch>Ultrarendu (NAA)>SMSL M500 DAC> Bryston SP3 pre>Levinson No. 432 amps>Magnepan (MG20.1x2, CCR and MMC2x6)

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Also look carefully at Miska's posts in the following thread: http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f11-software/design-pc-server-roon-and-hq-player-25796/ as he clearly knows best in terms of what build should suffice.

 

+1 on this. And don't forget about the CUDA option.

 

--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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Give serious consideration to using NAA particularly if you are going with a high powered CUDA GPU as these tend to give off noise. In that case you don't need to worry about tricking out the HQP machine so much, aside from using a fast CPU/GPU ... think as high end a gaming machine as you want to go ... and pair with a low powered and consequently much less expensive NAA. The NAA machine can be diskless and if you are going to use an "audiophile" USB card e.g SoTM, then put in the NAA ... in fact you can use your current machine as NAA if you don't already have another purpose for it.

Custom room treatments for headphone users.

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