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

The Computer Audiophile

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Most important: please realize this thread is about bleeding edge experimentation and discovery. No one has The Answer™. If you are not into tweaking, just know that you can have a musically satisfying system without doing any of the nutty things we do here.

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6 minutes ago, romaz said:

The following NUC with an i7 that has a TDP of 100w may be better still but it costs more money

That NUC8i7HVK has a discrete AMD graphics card, so I'm limiting NUC8 options to the Bean Canyon models in that Anandtech article I linked.  


NUC7PJYH/AL --> Berkeley Alpha USB --> Jeff Rowland Aeris --> Jeff Rowland 625 S2 --> Focal Utopia 3 Diablos with 2 x Focal Electra SW 1000 BE subs

 

i7-6700K/Windows 10 Version 1903/HDPLEX 200W/HDPLEX 400W DC-ATX --> EVGA Nu Audio Card --> Focal CMS50's 

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@romaz the differences between the NUCi7 vs Celeron as Roon endpoint is subtle or very noticeable ?  There is no fanless case for the NUC8 yet but I am sure its in the works at Akasa lab. I might get the NUC8i5BEK as the Roon endpoint when its available.
 

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25 minutes ago, Dev said:

@romaz the differences between the NUCi7 vs Celeron as Roon endpoint is subtle or very noticeable ?  There is no fanless case for the NUC8 yet but I am sure its in the works at Akasa lab. I might get the NUC8i5BEK as the Roon endpoint when its available.
 

 

The improvement is easily noticeable but I would be happier if this i7 NUC board cost around $250.  That’s what I think it’s worth but that’s largely because the Celeron NUC is already so good.

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I wonder why people only recently jumped on this AudioLinux/NUC solution.  Hasn't AudioLinux been around for quite some time?


NUC7PJYH/AL --> Berkeley Alpha USB --> Jeff Rowland Aeris --> Jeff Rowland 625 S2 --> Focal Utopia 3 Diablos with 2 x Focal Electra SW 1000 BE subs

 

i7-6700K/Windows 10 Version 1903/HDPLEX 200W/HDPLEX 400W DC-ATX --> EVGA Nu Audio Card --> Focal CMS50's 

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2 hours ago, rickca said:

I wonder why people only recently jumped on this AudioLinux/NUC solution.  Hasn't AudioLinux been around for quite some time?

I believe it's because we trust Larry (and I certainly do) and eventually it's not that hard to prepare the USB disk.  Anyway I just jumped and certainly no regret.  The boot using UEFI is simple enough.  The mounting of an internal HDD may be done through GUI.  Lots of sw has been installed.... I'm just beginning to use it and even haven't passed the RAMBoot phase. 

 

Thank you Larry and others who shared their experience.

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8 hours ago, romaz said:

 

Not at the present time, GL.  Properly powered, the HMS makes the much bigger impact making the tX-USBultra almost superfluous.  However, since my free clocks are in the tX-USBultra, it would make sense to use it but only when my new SR7 arrives.

Thanks for the reply.  That means the NUC is directly connected to HMS through USB.  If so, what USB cable are you using?

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3 hours ago, rickca said:

I wonder why people only recently jumped on this AudioLinux/NUC solution.  Hasn't AudioLinux been around for quite some time?

RAMROOT funtion is more recent ( 6 months) that tipped it for me, plus reading about it here.

As for the NUC I haven't gone there yet simply because the Supermicro X10 SBA motherboard sounds so good with Audiolinux, so no rush.

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4 hours ago, rickca said:

I wonder why people only recently jumped on this AudioLinux/NUC solution.  Hasn't AudioLinux been around for quite some time?

Not a clue..... thought Linux was for specialists and devs. NUC or similar was for small company work stations noisy and cheap for windows. The work here is high level too me, with hard work and very clever input. Still trapped, as i hear the difference in an OS but implementation is beyond me yet. 

I will buy a NUC to move from android to win 10 pc for my bedroom. Better seems x2 Pc's server + ram only. Audiolinux. headless.....

 

But i dont want to derail anything here. Ask later for about a 1 NUC budget option.

 

Bleeding edge is great to watch, i just want the a bit on pommel of the broad sword waving about here...

 good luck all

 

Dave

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On 10/29/2018 at 7:01 PM, romaz said:

As good as my Mac Pro sounded as my RoonServer, the HPZ820 workstation running AudioLinux + RoonServer in RAM simply sounded better.  A LOT BETTER and it was one of those OMG moments!  Deeper, richer tone with better dynamics, better bass, better transients, better separation and better articulation.  Bingo!

 

 

On 1/10/2017 at 4:50 PM, romaz said:

HP Z820 workstation with dual 8-core Xeons and Nvidia Quadro K5000. Unfortunately, a very noisy machine.

 

On 10/2/2017 at 8:09 PM, romaz said:

I was further convinced when I directly compared the SQ from a very powerful HP workstation (with dual Xeon CPUs, 64GB of RAM, and PCIe-based SSDs) against a powerful Mac Pro (with a 12-core Xeon, 64GB of RAM and 1TB of PCIe-SSD storage) and found that the SQ I got from a much less powerful stock Mac Mini with the OS running off of a low power SD card to be easily superior.

 

Oh my, that means SMPS on the server side should be fine and dandy. And then dual 8-core Xeons could be an advantage when compared to a single 12-core Xeon.

 

This particular one is more like a single 20-core Xeon with 135W TDP in the Streacom DB4

 

 

These guys took the money and ran away, too bad

 

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1489140137/nsg-s0-worlds-first-fanless-chassis-for-high-perfo

 

For brand new Xeon Scalable with 85W TDP, we could pay less than 500 bucks for two pieces of Bronze 3104

 

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819117735

 

For an ATX motherboard, here's something for less than $450 but I hope that Supermicro didn't put anything "funny" inside the motherboard itself

 

https://www.provantage.com/supermicro-mbd-x11dpl-i~7SUPM5QH.htm

https://www.wiredzone.com/supermicro-components-motherboards-dual-processor-x11dpl-i-41110267

 

Finally it's just a matter of what kinda PSU we're gonna get, do we wanna go nuts with Cooler Master MasterWatt Maker 1200 MIJ? And then we still dunno if feeding independent power to both processors were making any meaningful differences or not.

 

On 8/8/2018 at 7:29 PM, romaz said:

My Innous Zenith SE experience taught me what many others on CA had known for some time, that performance is likely to improve if the CPU and the rest of the motherboard are powered independently.  This means that my DFI motherboard was being crippled by the single 12V DC feed that was powering the entire board.

 

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2 minutes ago, elan120 said:

please wait until Friday this week, as I have some Molex Micro-Latch connectors and terminals ordered and is scheduled to be delivered on Friday, and I can confirm if I got the correct connector.

 

Thanks for all the information and links!  I will wait to hear if the Molex Micro-Latch connectors you ordered are the correct ones.


 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, auricgoldfinger said:

 

Thanks for all the information and links!  I will wait to hear if the Molex Micro-Latch connectors you ordered are the correct ones.

Sure thing...will let you know in couple days.

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3 hours ago, austinpop said:

Don't worry - plenty of us are watching and waiting on the sidelines!

 

I don't know what you could mean! ?


AudioLinux NUCi7DNKE server > EtherRegen > AudioLinux NUCi7DNBE endpoint (both NUCs powered by dual rail Sean Jacobs DC3) > PS Audio Directstream DAC > Hegel P20 Pre > PS Audio M700 monoblocks > Salk Sound Supercharged Songtowers

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Someone compared Celeron / i3 / i7 / Xeon E3 v5 / Xeon E5 v2 before and finally Xeon E3 v5 turned out to take the cake

 

http://www.my-hiend.com/vbb/showthread.php?5404-走向超值而極緻的-HI-FI電腦訊源(連載)&p=233535#post233535

 

Since we're talking about ramboot these days, maybe ECC RAM does make a difference?

 

If that were the case, here's a motherboard from Supermicro for $250

 

https://www.supermicro.com/products/motherboard/atom/A2SDi-2C-HLN4F.cfm

https://www.supermicro.com/manuals/motherboard/Atom_on-chip/MNL-1951.pdf#page=19

https://www.amazon.com/Supermicro-A2SDi-2C-HLN4F-Mini-ITX-Motherboard/dp/B07BX7HL1P

https://www.wiredzone.com/supermicro-components-motherboards-embedded-processor-a2sdi-2c-hln4f-10027379

https://www.dihuni.com/shop/do-it-yourself-embedded-iot-and-server-chassis-and-boards/supermicro-a2sdi-2c-hln4f-intel-atom-c3338-soc-2core-128gb-8xsata3-4xgbe-embedded-iot-gateway-display-kiosk-security-appliance-server-motherboard/

 

CPU is Atom C3338 with 9W TDP

 

https://ark.intel.com/products/97928/Intel-Atom-Processor-C3338-4M-Cache-up-to-2-20-GHz-

 

The power input seemed to be the same deal as what we're getting from ZENith SE, both 4-pin Molex and 24-pin ATX are supported

 

https://www.computeraudiophile.com/forums/topic/30376-a-novel-way-to-massively-improve-the-sq-of-computer-audio-streaming/?page=313&tab=comments#comment-813712

On 4/26/2018 at 4:25 PM, nvitorino said:

1. ATX only (using a Pico-PSU with a clean 12V input)

2. 12V only

3. ATX + 12V

 

1. and 2. sound similar in our tests. 3 sounds significantly better.

 

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On 10/30/2018 at 5:42 AM, romaz said:

 

At that time, I estimated that the NUC endpoint was accounting for at least 80 percent of my SQ while the RoonServer was accounting for at most 20 percent.  In my own words from that post, I suggested that "this bodes well because a good renderer costs a lot less than a good server and so I am hoping this observation stands the test of time."  Unfortunately, this observation has not stood the test of time because what I'm hearing now with my HP workstation running AudioLinux in memory is probably accounting for something like 35-40% of SQ but clearly, the NUC endpoint is still the more impactful device.

 

To confirm this, I removed my NUC endpoint from my pathway and decided to see how my HP workstation fared by itself.  I had my HP workstation boot into Windows 10 which is its normal configuration.  Running Roon in this normal configuration, I compared it to headless AudioLinux running in memory on this same machine and the improvement was dramatically better with AudioLinux.  However, compared to having the low powered NUC endpoint in the chain, the HP workstation by itself sound coarse and edgy.  With the NUC powered by my DR SR7, sound floor was very evidently lower resulting in the ability to discern fine details better.  The presentation was smoother and calmer and yet dynamics were very noticeably better.  One of the things I really value is the proper rendering of the transients created by an acoustical guitar.  In a live setting and in a good acoustical space, the leading edge is sharp and clear and has a snap to it and yet the reverberations are finely layered and nuanced with a very characteristic lingering decay.  The ability to portray this is a chief reason I gave up my Pass Labs amp for a Soulution amp and especially with the DR rail from the SR7, this is what I'm getting with the NUC that I am not hearing to the same extent with just the HP/AudioLinux server by itself.  

 

So what I am saying now is that the RoonServer does matter (and it matters a fair amount) and the RoonServer has to be powerful but this cheap NUC still accounts for the greater difference.  

 

Will your conclusions be different if you still have SOTM switch? SOTM switch maybe able to reduce the importance of server.

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On 10/29/2018 at 4:05 PM, Johnseye said:

A lot of us here use HQPlayer from Roon.  @lmitche have you tried using HQPlayer as a NAA on the NUC?

Hi John,

 

Sorry I missed this question in last night's fracas.

 

No I have not tried Hqplayer and/or the NAA on the NUC. The last time I tried using the NAA with a streamer a zero db pop fest resulted in torn foam on four woofers. I am going to have to find sacrificial speakers or headphones or iems before trying this again. They are not going in or over my ears.

 

Having come from a single PC direct connect hqplayer win 10 setup with a slight tick after play stopped, I am impressed with the lack of ticks and pops with Roon. It is obvious that a lot of work has been done to accomplish this. That and the superior SQ with bit perfect playback, all upsampling options sounds worse, means I am loath to make changes.

 

Nevertheless I dug the upsampling machine out of mothballs yesterday and it is setup in a way that will make this test easy to try. I should have some cheap airliner iems somewhere . . .


nuckleheadaudio.com

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11 hours ago, elan120 said:

I believe these are Molex Micro-Latch.  I didn't like them due to the size and different crimp terminals, so when I did my txUSBUltra cable upgrade, I change the header to SPOX so I can use the same connectors on both ends of cable.  If you check out the pictures I posted last Friday (see below), you can see both headers on txUSBhubIn board and External DC input board were replaced to Molex SPOX header.  First picture show new header on txUSBhubIn board in J403 location, and 3rd or 4th pictures show new header on External DC input board in J452 location. 

 

 

 

If you plan on doing the same thing I did, the replacement right-angle header link is:  https://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/molex-connector-corporation/22-05-7025/WM18900-ND/403341

 

The replacement vertical header link is:  https://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/molex-llc/0022035025/WM18886-ND/403301

 

On the other hand, if you plan on using the same connector without replacing these two headers like I did, please wait until Friday this week, as I have some Molex Micro-Latch connectors and terminals ordered and is scheduled to be delivered on Friday, and I can confirm if I got the correct connector.

 

 

Thank you for this information but may we know the length of both Gotham cables.

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On 10/29/2018 at 10:42 PM, romaz said:

Back when I first got this NUC and as I was comparing my highly optimized Zenith SE against my unoptimized Mac Pro as RoonServers, I assumed the Zenith SE would make a better RoonServer for my NUC but was surprised when that wasn't the case.  I surmised this had a lot to do with the SOtM sNH-10G network switch I was evaluating at the time because with this switch placed between my RoonServer machine and the NUC endpoint, the SE was not better.

 

Hello @romaz. Ok, so let me summarise a bit your two posts. I understand, that its not easy to compare, what you heard a year before and now, but can we add some rating to have it simpler. 

Lets say, that 100 points has Zenith SE -> NUC Celeron endpoint

 

Can you add points to these other options, which you tested. I will try to write them, but looks like, you have so many, so if i missed something, just add it :)

 

Also im not sure, which OS you used here and there, i suppose on Mac Pro you used macOS, on HP workstation AudioLinux and on Zenith their own OS.

 

[100] Zenith SE -> NUC Celeron endpoint

[XXX] HP workstation -> NUC Celeron endpoint

[XXX] Mac Pro -> NUC Celeron endpoint

[XXX] NUC i7 -> NUC Celeron endpoint

 

[XXX] Zenith SE -> NUC i7 endpoint

[XXX] HP workstation -> NUC i7 endpoint

[XXX] Mac Pro  -> NUC i7 endpoint

 

[XXX] Zenith SE -> sotm sms neo

[XXX] HP workstation -> sotm sms neo

[XXX] Mac Pro  -> sotm sms neo

 

[XXX] Zenith SE -> SOtM sNH-10G -> NUC Celeron endpoint

[XXX] HP workstation -> SOtM sNH-10G -> NUC Celeron endpoint

[XXX] Mac Pro -> SOtM sNH-10G -> NUC Celeron endpoint

 

[XXX] Zenith SE -> Linear Solution's switch -> NUC Celeron endpoint

[XXX] HP workstation -> Linear Solution's switch -> NUC Celeron endpoint

[XXX] Mac Pro -> Linear Solution's switch -> NUC Celeron endpoint

 

[XXX] Zenith SE -> Netgear switch -> NUC Celeron endpoint

[XXX] HP workstation -> Netgear switch -> NUC Celeron endpoint

[XXX] Mac Pro -> Netgear switch -> NUC Celeron endpoint

 

....

....

 

 

 

 

 

 


iMac | dCS Network Bridge | dCS Paganini DAC | Raspberry Pi 3B + 502dac hat | Naim nait 5i | Audio Note AN-J/Spe Speakers

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