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

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6 minutes ago, rickca said:

I'm still somewhat confused by the terms Local/Remote in your nickname.  Does it mean that Roon Core is running on the player/renderer but only in the role of an endpoint (because Roon Core server functionality is running on the XPS 8700)? 

 

Wow - you're really making me work for my lunch here, aren't you!

 

I used the term "Remote Core" in the nickname to represent that the Core was running remote to the SE, i.e. on the Dell XPS 8700. I now realize the "Remote" is itself a component in the Roon architecture, so could you suggest a better nickname? 

 

6 minutes ago, rickca said:

I get further confused by seeing just 'Roon' as the software running on the player/renderer in configs #2 and #7.  Does 'Roon' indicate that the roles of server and renderer are both running on the same machine?

 

I fixed this in the table. Please check again.

 

6 minutes ago, rickca said:

Even though I have an SE, I don't use Roon.  I didn't realize that the SE can be configured to run just Roon Bridge and not Roon Core.  Is this correct or a misconception?

 

Yes, refer to this picture:

Roon Installed

  • UI choice "Use as Roon Core" internally starts the roonserver servce.
  • UI choice "Use as Roon Player only" internally starts the roonbridge servce.

 

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5 minutes ago, austinpop said:

Wow - you're really making me work for my lunch here, aren't you!

OK you can have lunch now.  Thanks for the clarification.  The notes you added after the table helped as well.

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12 minutes ago, rickca said:

OK you can have lunch now.  Thanks for the clarification.  The notes you added after the table helped as well.

 

A lunch, so well earned, never tasted better!

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2 hours ago, austinpop said:

I suspect that with a better server, with the SOtM switch, and with the SR-7 powering things, it may be possible for 5 to comprehensively exceed the SQ of 7.

Or the new statement running with AL :)

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Quote
  • 7 > 5 > 1 > 4 > 2

 

Great write up again, thanks for sharing your findings. 

 

With the SE as a baseline, do you know how improved software (AL) would compare with an improve clock (Ref10 with additions), in other words: 7 vs 2+(tX+Ref10+SR4) ?

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, FredM said:

 

Great write up again, thanks for sharing your findings. 

 

With the SE as a baseline, do you know how improved software (AL) would compare with an improve clock (Ref10 with additions), in other words: 7 vs 2+(tX+Ref10+SR4) ?

 

 

I’m not following your question? I only modified the OS. I made no changes to the  chain. In all cases, the HW was the same, with the tX between the SE and the DAC.

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4 minutes ago, austinpop said:

 

I’m not following your question? I only modified the OS. I made no changes to the  chain. In all cases, the HW was the same, with the tX between the SE and the DAC.

Yes I understand that. I’m wondering if you also have tested or thoughts on:

A) Default SE, including your ‘clock additions’ (tX, REF10, SR10). This would be situation 2 in the table

vs

B) SE with AL only (so without the clock additions in the chain)

 

It would be very interesting to get an impression how Software improvements (B) would stand up against a very well Clock implementation (A).

 

The well established contribution of adding Clock additions could have a serious competitor/alternative (for users without an added clock and without AL), especially given the huge price difference between A and B. It would also create some meaningful insights on the relative contribution of AL.

 

Sorry if my question wasn’t clear, I hope with this explanation the question is better to understand. 

 

 

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33 minutes ago, FredM said:

Sorry if my question wasn’t clear, I hope with this explanation the question is better to understand. 

So you want to how an SE running AudioLinux RAM/RoonServer with the DAC directly attached to the SE compares to an SE running InnuOS/RoonServer with a tX-USBultra/REF10/SR7 ... is that right?

 

I think you're trying to gauge the relative contribution of changing the software (InnuOS -> AudioLinux RAM) vs changing the hardware (adding tX-USBulta/REF10/SR7).  The question is whether running AL RAM on the SE with the DAC directly attached sounds as good as an SE running InnuOS with a tX-USBultra/REF10/SR7.

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1 hour ago, Johnseye said:

Audiolinux NUC Update

 

After a lengthy search I thought I found a NUC7CJYH, placed an order, only to learn weeks later it was on back order for many months.  I suspect it was out of stock, CDW didn't show that, and not likely to be produced by Intel due to next gen releases.  This was probably a good thing because I just ended up buying a BLKNUC7i7DNK1E which contains the NUC7i7DNBE board with 8M i7 processor cache.

 

Background

 

My current system is an i7 mini ITX motherboard with system and ethernet clocks modified by the SoTM sCLK-EX.  This server also has a tX-USBexp with sCLK mod providing USB out to a tX-USBultra which feeds a Holo Spring L3 DAC.  Power is fed by a two rail SR7 with DR, LPS-1 and LPS-1.2.  I've been using this system since about May of this year.  Prior to that, something similar with a Celeron proc that couldn't upsample.  This i7 mini iTX board has been able to upsample DSD512 via Roon and HQPlayer.  I have been very pleased with the sound quality to date and complacent in making any adjustments, thinking it was about the best I could get.

 

Current and Evolving State

 

Based on Larry and Roy's recent discoveries, which are always valuable ideas worth chasing, I implemented Audiolinux with a NUC as endpoint.  Like many here I've owned an mR and I still have an sMS-200.  My single server build sounded better than what I heard with these endpoints.  I did install Audiolinux on my server before getting the NUC and ran it in RAM complete with Roon database.  I upsampled to DSD512 successfully and was pleased with what I was hearing.  It was a minor improvement.  I wasn't blown away, but it was better and absolutely worth the $30.  Since I power my SSD separately I was also able to free up an LPS-1.2.  I've been enjoying Audiolinux in that system for about a month or so.

 

Then I got the NUC.  After a slight road bump where I used the same USB stick to load the NUC as I did the server, Larry straightened me out pointing out that it creates a duplicate host name.  I had installed the headless version on the NUC in the mean time which also resolved the issue, but it was very helpful information to know I need two different USB sticks.  Running Audiolinux as a headless NAA for HQPlayer was simple and running in minutes.

 

I first set things up where I went from the NUC to the tX-USBultra to the DAC.  The Linear Solution switch connects my mini ITX server with NUC and NAS.  It's currently powered by the TLS LPS provided with the switch.  This was a stunning ear opener.  BAM!  It was like turning on a switch.  A big improvement.  The soundstage was not only wider  but it was deeper.  This allows for instruments to have more separation which allows for better distinction.  There is better resolution and vibration of the music.  Then I removed the tX-USBultra.  It's not going back.  I'm still going to have a couple more back and forth sessions with and without it, but based on what I've heard so far it only collapses the soundstage and resolution.

 

Because my SR7 was powering my ITX server I need to figure out how I'm going to power it, or if it even matters.  The SR7 is now powering the NUC.  I'm going to see if the sPS-500 can power the server.  If not I'll probably use the HDPlex supply.  The other SR7 rail is going to start powering the TLS switch and the LPS-1.2 will power the sCLK-EX.  I'm going to pull out the tX-USBexp and shelve it with the tX-USBultra.  The Akasa fanless case is on order.  I'll be pulling the board out of the NUC and putting it in that case.  I expect another improvement then.

 

Folks, this is a big deal.  I'm using the Spring L3 in NOS mode and upsampling with HQPlayer because the ability to define my sound through those filters.  I find this granularity incredibly powerful and like not having the DAC putting its signature filters on, then upsampling with another filter.  Personal preference, we all have them.  So where I would hear subtle but audible differences between filters it's now become significantly audible differences.  I love this.

 

When I removed the tX-USBultra I felt surrounded by the music.  It wasn't just in front of me in different dimensions, it was all around me, blooming.  My skin tingled with goosebumps.  I've got a lot of good music listening to come and will update as I make additional changes.

 

Sorry I can’t quite follow clearly. U mean when u are using SOtm USB-exp + sClk-ex alone, it is better than together with USBultra? Is the sCLK a 10Mhz reference? 

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2 hours ago, rickca said:

I think you're trying to gauge the relative contribution of changing the software (InnuOS -> AudioLinux RAM) vs changing the hardware (adding tX-USBulta/REF10/SR7).

Yes, that’s it ?

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1 hour ago, Johnseye said:

 

I have been using the tX-USBexp out to the tX-USBultra, both clocked by the sCLK-EX.  I am removing the tX-USBexp and tX-USBultra because the NUC alone with Audiolinux loaded into RAM is better sounding.  My sCLK-EX is using the Mutec REF10 as 10MHz master clock.

 

I should also point out that I have 8GB of RAM in both the server and NUC.

Interesting that external ref clock is not always better. It is perhaps introducing additional noise? 

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7 minutes ago, Chopin75 said:

Interesting that external ref clock is not always better. It is perhaps introducing additional noise? 

 

I'm guessing that if I were to change the NUCs clocks with the sCLK-EX and used the REF 10 with it things would improve further. Only a guess though. Using a master clock has always helped, but you need that ability to be available for the device. 

 

My REF10 is still clocking the server's motherboard. 

 

I think Roy's explanation of what's going on with the NUC is the most logical. 

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5 hours ago, Johnseye said:

I have been using the tX-USBexp out to the tX-USBultra, both clocked by the sCLK-EX.  I am removing the tX-USBexp and tX-USBultra because the NUC alone with Audiolinux loaded into RAM is better sounding.  My sCLK-EX is using the Mutec REF10 as 10MHz master clock.

 

3 hours ago, austinpop said:

Fascinating findings!

 

Well, I guess I will try my setup without the tX now and see how that sounds. That should also answer @FredM's question.

 

 

Wow ... I am impressed by these results ...removing both tX-USBexp and  tX-USBultra and get better SQ !

 

Myself i am in a dual PC  set-up ( Super Micro X10 SBA ) all that with tX-USBexp and  tX-USBultra , everything clocked by sCLK ex but no Ref 10 and very good psu ( Sean Jacobs and LPS 1.2 )

I am using Roon server and bridge in linux fedora 27.

I have always found the dual PC set-up to be superior to sms 200 ultra as endpoint and of course to single pc set-up  from a SQ perspective . It seems that dual - pc  is now the direction taken by several on this thread . 

 

What baffles me is that this small NUC wit RAM audiolinux  is so good that tx-USBultra degrades the SQ . It is the first time i read that tx-USBultra sees to degrade the SQ . Usually USB output of PC Mobo is so bad and noisy that it does require tX-USBexp and  tX-USBultra to get good SQ .

Congratulations for this finding .

 

I am curious to heard further experiment from Johnseye and the trial from Rajiv .

 

This hobby is fun and exciting 

 

 

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8 hours ago, Johnseye said:

Audiolinux NUC Update

 

After a lengthy search I thought I found a NUC7CJYH, placed an order, only to learn weeks later it was on back order for many months.  I suspect it was out of stock, CDW didn't show that, and not likely to be produced by Intel due to next gen releases.  This was probably a good thing because I just ended up buying a BLKNUC7i7DNK1E which contains the NUC7i7DNBE board with 8M i7 processor cache.

 

Background

 

My current system is an i7 mini ITX motherboard with system and ethernet clocks modified by the SoTM sCLK-EX.  This server also has a tX-USBexp with sCLK mod providing USB out to a tX-USBultra which feeds a Holo Spring L3 DAC.  Power is fed by a two rail SR7 with DR, LPS-1 and LPS-1.2.  I've been using this system since about May of this year.  Prior to that, something similar with a Celeron proc that couldn't upsample.  This i7 mini iTX board has been able to upsample DSD512 via Roon and HQPlayer.  I have been very pleased with the sound quality to date and complacent in making any adjustments, thinking it was about the best I could get.

 

Current and Evolving State

 

Based on Larry and Roy's recent discoveries, which are always valuable ideas worth chasing, I implemented Audiolinux with a NUC as endpoint.  Like many here I've owned an mR and I still have an sMS-200.  My single server build sounded better than what I heard with these endpoints.  I did install Audiolinux on my server before getting the NUC and ran it in RAM complete with Roon database.  I upsampled to DSD512 successfully and was pleased with what I was hearing.  It was a minor improvement.  I wasn't blown away, but it was better and absolutely worth the $30.  Since I power my SSD separately I was also able to free up an LPS-1.2.  I've been enjoying Audiolinux in that system for about a month or so.

 

Then I got the NUC.  After a slight road bump where I used the same USB stick to load the NUC as I did the server, Larry straightened me out pointing out that it creates a duplicate host name.  I had installed the headless version on the NUC in the mean time which also resolved the issue, but it was very helpful information to know I need two different USB sticks.  Running Audiolinux as a headless NAA for HQPlayer was simple and running in minutes.

 

I first set things up where I went from the NUC to the tX-USBultra to the DAC.  The Linear Solution switch connects my mini ITX server with NUC and NAS.  It's currently powered by the TLS LPS provided with the switch.  This was a stunning ear opener.  BAM!  It was like turning on a switch.  A big improvement.  The soundstage was not only wider  but it was deeper.  This allows for instruments to have more separation which allows for better distinction.  There is better resolution and vibration of the music.  Then I removed the tX-USBultra.  It's not going back.  I'm still going to have a couple more back and forth sessions with and without it, but based on what I've heard so far it only collapses the soundstage and resolution.

 

Because my SR7 was powering my ITX server I need to figure out how I'm going to power it, or if it even matters.  The SR7 is now powering the NUC.  I'm going to see if the sPS-500 can power the server.  If not I'll probably use the HDPlex supply.  The other SR7 rail is going to start powering the TLS switch and the LPS-1.2 will power the sCLK-EX.  I'm going to pull out the tX-USBexp and shelve it with the tX-USBultra.  The Akasa fanless case is on order.  I'll be pulling the board out of the NUC and putting it in that case.  I expect another improvement then.

 

Folks, this is a big deal.  I'm using the Spring L3 in NOS mode and upsampling with HQPlayer because the ability to define my sound through those filters.  I find this granularity incredibly powerful and like not having the DAC putting its signature filters on, then upsampling with another filter.  Personal preference, we all have them.  So where I would hear subtle but audible differences between filters it's now become significantly audible differences.  I love this.

 

When I removed the tX-USBultra I felt surrounded by the music.  It wasn't just in front of me in different dimensions, it was all around me, blooming.  My skin tingled with goosebumps.  I've got a lot of good music listening to come and will update as I make additional changes.

 

What a report!  Many thanks!

 

Will you replace the clocks of the mono s-clk of the txUSBUltra?  It seems no body has reported such mod yet.

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1 hour ago, RickyV said:

I am wondering, how big HQplayer embedded is and can that be played from ram?

Both HQP Desktop (in lxqt) and embeded ( played through Roon or Jriver ) can be played back from RAM and come pre installed.

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9 hours ago, Johnseye said:

Audiolinux NUC Update

 

It was a minor improvement.  I wasn't blown away, but it was better and absolutely worth the $30.

 

I first set things up where I went from the NUC to the tX-USBultra to the DAC.

 

 

Hi John,

 

Interesting report. I echo your findings. I think replacing Vortexbox OS on my Audiostore Prestige 2 led to a nice uptick in performance. The NUC is better than both the SOtM ultra and ultraRendu, and I suspect the DCS NB - although I would like to have the latter box for a decent length of time.

 

WRT to the txUSB, I felt it had a nice effect on tone and detail in combination with the SOtM ultra and ultraRendu. The tone i could replicate with PoE, but not the detail. Well, the AL NUC delivers that in bucket loads. So I am not surprised by your observations.

 

M

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Moving my audio files from my Synology NAS onto StarTech hosted USB sticks into a LPSU powered Rpi 3 made a nice difference, further accentuated by the Audiosence Prestige 2, and further improved by replacing Vortexbox with AudioLinux.

 

I am running two boxes with Headless AudioLinux Extreme, one with LMS and one with Squeezelite. Both are running in memory, and that makes a lot of difference.

 

Two days ago a replacement R-Core 19V 5A PSU arrived and had the expected effect of removing a very small level of high frequency tizzzz that I was getting with the SMPS. I am currently just running it in before reporting back.

 

I have a level of complexity with my system as my Audio Note DAC uses valves, so I have to turn it off between sessions. This can cause the chain to glitch. Sometimes this can be in the software, sometimes in the firmware in the USB chain. This has caused me to do a level of digging to isolate where and what the recovery procedure should be. This was easier with the SOtM & Sonore boxes and there a few applets you could simply restart.

 

In terms of quality I would rate AL > SOtM & Sonore. WRT DCS NB, not sure - I suspect it is better, but I would like to listen for a longer period to the DCS. Either way there is a slight bar with Headless AL in that you have to be comfortable with the Command Line.

 

Next steps: Consider a new case to get rid the fan (a la Tapatrick), although the NUC box isn't any more than slightly warm; play with PoE - although I am enjoying what I am hearing now; and, consider using some paralleled LT3045 between the LPSU and NUC.

 

M

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16 hours ago, austinpop said:

Science Experiment: Audiolinux Extreme on Zenith SE

 

...And so it goes...

 

Hi Rajiv,

 

Thanks for the hard work. I fully understand if you don't want to do this, but, having used LMS and Squeezelite on the base OS is there any chance you could try them on AudioLinux and let us know what you think?

 

When Roon comes online with Qobuz I may be tempted to try. If you think that it is simply better than this will be a big incentive to give it a go.

 

M

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