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A novel way to massively improve the SQ of computer audio streaming

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To take a trip down the memory (pun intended) lane, someone in China got this started way back in October 2008 so it's kinda like the 10th anniversary already

 

http://dhsuyong.blog.163.com/blog/static/780492272008929104615281/

http://bbs.wuyou.net/forum.php?mod=viewthread&tid=131757

a20kB89.gif

 

They're running XP SP3 / Server 2003 SP2 after stripping things down with nLite while the file NTLDR was modified accordingly, 2GB of RAM should be a minimum while the OS image ramxp.img could only go up to 1.7GB.

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19 hours ago, Monge said:

Guys,

Can someone please recommend a good USB memory stick for the headless Audiolinux boot? And how many GB?

 

@tapatrick Which version of the headless Audiolinux are you using for the diskless NUC? 

It would be very nice if you could make a guide for us.?

 

I find the audiolinux webside very frustrating.

But I am really trying hard to read and understand while waiting for the hardware to arrive.

Cheers

Piero recommended a minimum of 32gb, these..

The possible USB sticks are (in order of performance):
1) SanDisk Ultra Flair™ USB 3.0 Flash Drive (cheap and good, from 16 GB)
2) SanDisk Extreme Go USB 3.1 Flash Drive  (from 64 GB)
3) SanDisk Extreme PRO® USB 3.1 Solid State Flash Drive (the best, from 128 GB)

 

But many are happy using a $7 USB flash drive..

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2 hours ago, Narcissus said:

Piero recommended a minimum of 32gb, these..

The possible USB sticks are (in order of performance):
1) SanDisk Ultra Flair™ USB 3.0 Flash Drive (cheap and good, from 16 GB)
2) SanDisk Extreme Go USB 3.1 Flash Drive  (from 64 GB)
3) SanDisk Extreme PRO® USB 3.1 Solid State Flash Drive (the best, from 128 GB)

 

But many are happy using a $7 USB flash drive..

As a matter of fact, a 16GB is enough for the default image.  Also, for the RAMBoot mode, the USB is no longer needed (you may unplug it).  Hence there is no need to buy an expensive USB.

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On 11/2/2018 at 7:09 PM, greenleo said:

I try to help for the GUI version.

 

My setup is a PC with local drives and UEFI boot possible.

 

1. Buy the GUI version(not the headless) image download it.

2. Download the RUFUS 2.x version.

3. Run it in Win7 (I tried) with your USB disk(at least 16GB) attached already.

4. Your USB disk will be found automatically.  Select the dd (not ISO) option from the dropdown menu.  Select your image.  Most options cannot be selected now.

5. Click start and burn the USB disk.  Warning: everything in the USB disk will be erased!

6. Once burning finished, restart your PC.

7. Hit the key to enter the UEFI (this is mobo dependent, mine is F2)

8. Choose boot menu and the UEFI USB disk as the boot device.

9. Be patient and don't worry about some of the warnings.  After sometime, say 1 to 2 mins, AudioLinux will be up and now you are in an GUI environment.

9. Click the folder Start Here (top left)

10. You should see your local disk listed.  Click the one that contains your music files and mount it.  The password is audiolinux0

11. Make sure you may see the contents of the drive.

12. Now you may use the HQPlayer (as an example) to play music.

 

Hope this helps.

 

Question. Can AudioLinux accommodate a somewhat wide variety of hardware or is it mainly for NUCs?

 

I have a small fan-less ASROCK H87M-ITX based PC that I would like to try it on.

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21 minutes ago, mourip said:

 

Question. Can AudioLinux accommodate a somewhat wide variety of hardware or is it mainly for NUCs?

 

I have a small fan-less ASROCK H87M-ITX based PC that I would like to try it on.

My current PC is a full size mobo with an I7.  My NUC hasn't come yet.  My output is USB and I haven't check if the other output (eg optical) works.

 

If your output from the PC is USB, it would be fine.  Hope this helps.

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On 11/3/2018 at 2:43 AM, One and a half said:

Isn't the concept of the lower power the better concept already existing with the renderers? I mean, the smaller power footprint equates to less noise. If you need more cores, then a regular mobo with all its noise is back again.

If the object is to have a lowest possible overhead on the OS, wouldn't Fidelizer or Audio Optimizer do that job already? If a modular Intel based single board computer like an Odroid H2 could be interfaced to a Jplay USB or Ethernet Card, there could be some interest.

 

 

Interesting point. I am thinking of using i5 7th gen intel shi h perhaps is overkill but I would be running M-ch and likelu M-ch DSD in future, and perhaps upsampling/down sampling. There is thought that higher CPU makes it more efficient to run and actually sounds better. I will use euphony audio which will be s very quiet OS anyway. 

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Hi Everyone - Are there any other line-command tweaks I should be applying to fully optimize Audiolinux headless? Or is stock "extreme" mode good enough?

 

I got AudioLinux headless up and running after using the GUI version for the last few weeks. As I don't have a LPSU powering my Brix (yet). There is definitely an improvement over the GUI version. I'm booting into "extreme" mode. 

 

Thanks!

 

 

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18 hours ago, mozes said:

I made this comparison twice and Jriver always sounded better than Roon. This is on a single PC configured as a player.

 

15 hours ago, bit01 said:

@beautiful music, @mozes

My sentiments too - running off a Win7 PC and using the uRendu into a DAC, I find J River MC 23 SQ to be better than my ROON trial. .

Thank you both for this feedback.

 

And this is good to know as well.

 

This is raised a question that AFAIK we need only one NUC running Audiolinux GUI Ramroot with diskless as we can't use Headless version with jRiver upon to Piero information and this NUC will connect to NAS eventually.

 

Is there any missing information or am i wrong with something else?

 

Also i'm thinking that maybe Roonserver+Roonbridge running in a separate NUC's will be better than the single NUC running jRiver, is this right or not?

 

 

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39 minutes ago, taipan254 said:

Hi Everyone - Are there any other line-command tweaks I should be applying to fully optimize Audiolinux headless? Or is stock "extreme" mode good enough?

 

I got AudioLinux headless up and running after using the GUI version for the last few weeks. As I don't have a LPSU powering my Brix (yet). There is definitely an improvement over the GUI version. I'm booting into "extreme" mode. 

 

Thanks!

 

 

 

Apologies on this question - I just loaded the filesystem into ram, and there's another big improvement. 

 

So AudiolinuxEXTREME loading into RAM via ramroot command. 

 

Any other line-command tweaks? 

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Hmm... what if we're connecting two 12V LPS-1.2 in series (i.e. 24V) to the 2x2 pin Molex connector of Dawson Canyon? 26.4W should be fine if we're running AudioLinux in headless ramboot mode

 

https://www.computeraudiophile.com/forums/topic/30376-a-novel-way-to-massively-improve-the-sq-of-computer-audio-streaming/?page=409&tab=comments#comment-892128

On 11/3/2018 at 1:44 AM, romaz said:

Most Intel NUCs accept 12-19V with some of the commercial Intel NUCs accepting 12-24V.  In every instance where I have tested it, feeding a NUC a higher voltage results in better dynamics.

 

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7 hours ago, seeteeyou said:

The other "novel way" thread was heating up

 

Imitation is the best form of flattery. That is not even the only "shadow" thread out there. 

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7 hours ago, seeteeyou said:

The other "novel way" thread was heating up

Yes @vortecjr calls this thread the 'fairy tale' thread and previously referred to the original SOtM trifecta as a 'science experiment'.

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1 hour ago, rickca said:

Yes @vortecjr calls this thread the 'fairy tale' thread and previously referred to the original SOtM trifecta as a 'science experiment'.

 

And he could not be more accurate.....

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10 hours ago, flkin said:

The main difference is one uses an external reference clock and the other has the clock on board. It's from the idea of the advantage of having the clock at the needed frequency at the point it's needed rather than a reference signal far away that requires a regeneration to the required frequency from the reference one. On the other hand a reference clock may be able to reclock many points and is thus more flexible in use.

 

I have the tX-USBultra that contains the sCLK-EX card which by itself sounds good but turns great when adding an external 10Mhz reference clock. Reference clocks can be pretty expensive depending on which one you choose and the sound reflects the quality of the clock added. In addition you'll be needing a few power supplies and cables to connect the lot, the cost of which may even exceed the hardware for top grade ones.

 

I also have the Pink Faun USB card with OCXO on board in my Pink Faun 2.16x streamer. I'm not using an external power supply. It sounds best by itself and doesn't benefit further from passing through a reclocked tX-USBultra.

 

As for comparing the two directly it's difficult to do for me but prior to using the PF streamer, the tX-USBultra w/clock had always improved the sound of whatever I attached. But not anymore.

 

I havent tried the TCXO version but I know that Pink Faun will be offerng a higher grade OCXO module for their usb card in a month or so. Probably as an option and not a replacement.

 

 

Thanks for this info. Very helpful. I guess the  OCXO from pink faun acts like reference clock? I think it makes sense to get pinkfaun bridge first and then upgrade with the OcXO clock later. TheSOtM seems a bit less cost effective, though cheaper initially. Pinkfaun also seems to have great service and more upgrades available lae on. I presume their newer OCXO woudl be evem more costly ?

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22 hours ago, beautiful music said:

Since there are many folks here are using Roon with NUC running Audiolinux, so what about the jRiver?

 

How did you find jRiver with NUC mentioned here?

 

Also curious to know is there a superior benefit in SQ from Roon over jRiver, because if so I will switch to Roon eventually.

 

When I moved from Windows 2012 server to 2016 I also moved to Roon and found the SQ to be better.

FWIW. I also use Audiophile Optimizer.

 

Even if they were tied for SQ I would stay with Roon because it will allow Qobuz integration once Qobuz is finally released in the US.

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4 hours ago, lmitche said:

NUC update:

Well thanks to Alex Crespi, @Superdad I have been able to test the SQ of the NUC7CJYH powered with an LPS1.2 set at 12 volts. Many thanks to Alex for the LPS1.2 loaner.

 

My setup 

Three LPS1.2s are in use, the first powering the ISO Regen at 7 volts, the second powering Vbus injection to the DAC at 5 volts, and now a third powering the NUC with one stick of ddr4 2400 ram at 12 volts. Ramboot is from a Sandisk Extreme USB flash drive which is removed after boot completion. Roonbridge/Audiolinux headless streams the music to the DAC. Roonserver/Audiolinux headless runs on a quad core 8gb i7-6700k machine with boot from Optane and serves music over a 5ghz wireless connection to the NUC.

 

Normally the NUC is powered with a 15 volt Sigma 11 supply. To this point, this was the best SQ I have ever heard.

 

Adding the LPS1.2

 

The loaner LPS1.2 is energized by the Uptone supplied SMPS included in the kit. The LPS1.2 is set at 12 volts. The NUC has been running for over 10 days with LPS1.2 power and exhibits no apparent stability issues. A custom Gotham DC cable carries DC power to the NUC.

 

Sound Quality

 

What can I say? This is the cleanest most detailed and beautiful musical presentation I have ever heard here. I can definitely say it would be easy to pick out in a blind test. Besides a lower noise floor, the sound has lost a level of graininess that I didn't realize was there before.  While image size has not really changed, separation is best yet, both laterally (left to right) and in depth. The increase in clarity with the grain gone reveals another level of detail and presence cues adding to the "you are there" experience.  I am finding myself spending more time listening to music, as more of the qualities of the performance are revealed on well known tracks. Just amazing!

 

Conclusion

 

My suspicion that the LPS1.2 would be an ideal power source for the low current Celeron NUC is confirmed. I don't own any high end LPSes like a JS-2 or PH SR7 so finding a lower cost and obtainable power source for the NUC is great. Using the three LPS1.2s is like having 3 batteries powering the system, batteries that are always fully charged. With the inherent galvanic isolation, AC ground loops between power supplies are eliminated and the music can just shine through.

 

Highly recommended! Just be sure your power budget is at or below the 1.1 amps supplied by the LPS1.2.

 

Thanks so much @lmitche Larry! I was hoping that you'd find exactly what you reported as most of us can't afford the $$ or the wait for a SR7.

 

However, I've been searching for a similar solution powered by LPS1.2, that has one more little addition - a M.2 slot to allow for use of a audiophile quality USB card like the tx-USBexp that I have gathering dust. 

 

 

The problem is finding a J4005 class motherboard that has both DC barrel jack input AND a M.2 slot... my Google-fu isn't great but I've found a couple of options:

https://www.cnx-software.com/2018/02/12/gigabyte-mzglkai-is-an-industrial-mini-itx-motherboard-powered-by-an-intel-gemini-lake-processor/

https://www.cnx-software.com/2018/06/12/dc-powered-gemini-lake-motherboard/

I have not found where either of these can actually be purchased.

 

and also the Gigabyte NUC clones:

https://www.gigabyte.com/Mini-PcBarebone/GB-BLCE-4105-rev-10#ov

 

Though I wonder if the power consumption on any of these will push the LPS1.2 over the edge. I suspect we are right on the edge of the 1.1A capacity of the LPS1.2, no?

 

@seeteeyou do you have any other thoughts? An actual PCI-E slot would be even better...

 

Thank you again @lmitche!

 

Yeang

 

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1 hour ago, seatrope said:

 

Thanks so much @lmitche Larry! I was hoping that you'd find exactly what you reported as most of us can't afford the $$ or the wait for a SR7.

 

However, I've been searching for a similar solution powered by LPS1.2, that has one more little addition - a M.2 slot to allow for use of a audiophile quality USB card like the tx-USBexp that I have gathering dust. 

 

 

The problem is finding a J4005 class motherboard that has both DC barrel jack input AND a M.2 slot... my Google-fu isn't great but I've found a couple of options:

https://www.cnx-software.com/2018/02/12/gigabyte-mzglkai-is-an-industrial-mini-itx-motherboard-powered-by-an-intel-gemini-lake-processor/

https://www.cnx-software.com/2018/06/12/dc-powered-gemini-lake-motherboard/

I have not found where either of these can actually be purchased.

 

and also the Gigabyte NUC clones:

https://www.gigabyte.com/Mini-PcBarebone/GB-BLCE-4105-rev-10#ov

 

Though I wonder if the power consumption on any of these will push the LPS1.2 over the edge. I suspect we are right on the edge of the 1.1A capacity of the LPS1.2, no?

 

@seeteeyou do you have any other thoughts? An actual PCI-E slot would be even better...

 

Thank you again @lmitche!

 

Yeang

 

 

Maybe this one @seeteeyou found. 

https://www.pine64.org/?page_id=61454

Looks interesting.

 

?

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2 hours ago, seatrope said:

 

Thanks so much @lmitche Larry! I was hoping that you'd find exactly what you reported as most of us can't afford the $$ or the wait for a SR7.

 

However, I've been searching for a similar solution powered by LPS1.2, that has one more little addition - a M.2 slot to allow for use of a audiophile quality USB card like the tx-USBexp that I have gathering dust. 

 

 

The problem is finding a J4005 class motherboard that has both DC barrel jack input AND a M.2 slot... my Google-fu isn't great but I've found a couple of options:

https://www.cnx-software.com/2018/02/12/gigabyte-mzglkai-is-an-industrial-mini-itx-motherboard-powered-by-an-intel-gemini-lake-processor/

https://www.cnx-software.com/2018/06/12/dc-powered-gemini-lake-motherboard/

I have not found where either of these can actually be purchased.

 

and also the Gigabyte NUC clones:

https://www.gigabyte.com/Mini-PcBarebone/GB-BLCE-4105-rev-10#ov

 

Though I wonder if the power consumption on any of these will push the LPS1.2 over the edge. I suspect we are right on the edge of the 1.1A capacity of the LPS1.2, no?

 

@seeteeyou do you have any other thoughts? An actual PCI-E slot would be even better...

 

Thank you again @lmitche!

 

Yeang

 

Yes, that ssd card is likely to push things over the edge for the lps1.2. I tried something similar here. It didn't work.

 

Why do you need an SSD card for a streamer anyway? Boot from a stick or iscsi.

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33 minutes ago, lmitche said:

Yes, that ssd card is likely to push things over the edge for the lps1.2. I tried something similar here. It didn't work.

 

Why do you need an SSD card for a streamer anyway? Boot from a stick or iscsi.

@lmitche Larry, perhaps you misread? Didn’t say SSD anywhere in my post. 

 

What i want is an audiophile USB output card, not an SSD...

 

to clarify, the M.2 is basically a Pcie slot which you can use a cable converter, to run a PCIe usb card like the ones from SOTM or JPLAY, with external power for them of course. 

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2 hours ago, seatrope said:

The problem is finding a J4005 class motherboard that has both DC barrel jack input AND a M.2 slot...

 

If you're going for an Intel NUC with one of the best SQ available, Dawson Canyon with i7-8650U should be the way to go since @romaz reported that's even better than another NUC with Gemini Lake J4005. I also mentioned how to add an adapter for tX-USBexp before

 

https://www.computeraudiophile.com/forums/topic/30376-a-novel-way-to-massively-improve-the-sq-of-computer-audio-streaming/?page=398&tab=comments#comment-887306

 

You could even drop the TDP of i7-8650U from 15W to 10W so that's gonna help the 1.1A current draw of LPS-1.2, then we could also find some DDR4 options with highest current draw that's quite a bit below 1A (1.2V × 0.8A = 0.96W)

 

https://www.computeraudiophile.com/forums/topic/30376-a-novel-way-to-massively-improve-the-sq-of-computer-audio-streaming/?page=401&tab=comments#comment-890301

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