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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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23 hours ago, romaz said:

 

With AudioLinux, I was forced to cap an 8700K at 3.8GHz because any speeds beyond this sounded harsh and so this supports Jord's comment.  But with Euphony and Stylus, I let the 8700K run with no cap whatsoever and notice that CPU frequency will typically reach 4.4-4.5GHz consistently, however, I get no harshness at all.  In fact, the higher the frequency a CPU is capable of, the better, and so I imagine the ultimate CPU at this time would be something like an i9-9900K that provides 8-cores and a max frequency of 5GHz and a TDP of only 95w.  I hope to be able to test this soon but what I will say is that with Euphony + Stylus on a single box 8700K machine, my reclocked i7 NUC driven by a 19V SR7 sounds absolutely puny.  Even with the 8700K server powered by an HDPlex 400W ATX LPSU and with no special clocking outside of my tX-USBultra, I prefer the big server to the i7 NUC but as I have figured out a way to independently power both the 8700K CPU and ATX motherboard (using a DC-ATX converter) with SR7 rails, the i7 NUC has now been officially retired.

 

@romaz Thanks for your insights here.

 

FYI, if you have not read, there's been quite the debacle about the i9-9900K and it's "TDP" of 95W. There are numerous articles on the web about how this is quite disingenuous on Intel's part. The real TDP is more like 140W which precludes us running this processor in any of the HDPLEX chassis. If you really limit the 9900K to 95W the speed is more in the range of 4.1- 4.3GHz (excuse my poor recollection) and is about the same speed as a much cheaper 2700X Ryzen. 

 

Yeang

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23 minutes ago, Bruce Orr said:

@austinpop  So Rajiv, what is the server you have embedded Euphony + Stylus into?  Is it the one you had built for yourself?

 

Hi Bruce,

 

I described it in the index. The first link is my server. The second is Roy's magnum opus, where he describes his server journey. 

I did not build this server, although I like to think I could do it. My server is the first one Roy built for himself, and then sold to me after he decided to go with the gaming Z390 mobo and 8700K CPU.

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5 hours ago, bobfa said:

Seems like we need a "current summary of findings". 

Yes please! :)

 


Tidal Streaming only: ATL DC Blocker > Topaz 2.5Kva Isolation Transformer > Sine SA5 Cryo 5 power strip > Aqvox 8 port network switch > Antipodes Dxe roon core> PS Audio Directstream Junior Dac 'Windom' > Decware SE84UFO3 Mono Amps > Omega Super Alnico Monitors.

PH SR4 power supplies

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22 hours ago, Dev said:

I just need to decide on the motherboard and power supply (which seems the most critical and complex part).  

 

Agreed.

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On 5/23/2019 at 2:50 PM, Nenon said:

When you buy Euphony, it only has one license. That's the license you need to get.

There are different ways how you can configure Euphony after you get a license. You would have to try for yourself what works best, but so far Roon + StylusEP seems to be the winner for Roon users.

 But you can get a 30 day trial on a USB stick before you buy it.

 

FYI - this is no longer true. There is a EuphonyEP license now as reported earlier. 

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1 hour ago, seatrope said:

@romaz Thanks for your insights here.

 

FYI, if you have not read, there's been quite the debacle about the i9-9900K and it's "TDP" of 95W. There are numerous articles on the web about how this is quite disingenuous on Intel's part. The real TDP is more like 140W which precludes us running this processor in any of the HDPLEX chassis. If you really limit the 9900K to 95W the speed is more in the range of 4.1- 4.3GHz (excuse my poor recollection) and is about the same speed as a much cheaper 2700X Ryzen. 

 

Yeang

 

I fully get what you're saying.  Both the 8700K and 9900K are based on a 14nm die and yet a 9900K with 2 more cores and 300MHz of greater headroom is supposed to generate the same heat?

 

However, issues you are reading about don't have to apply for audio.  I realize that with the Pink Faun 2.16, based on how this machine can be configured as an upsampling machine using HQP and AL and based on what others have posted, I have read claims that this machine consumes 100 watts at a minimum and functions as a space heater.  

 

In my case, I do no upsampling since I have a separate Chord M Scaler that does this for me.  With Euphony + Stylus and with the 8700K CPU unrestrained, as I look at my Euphony meter, CPU load across 6-cores and 12-threads is consistently <1-2% during music playback and CPU frequency peaks as high as 4.63GHz for a given core.  The CPU cores run between 38-47 degrees C even though I have been playing music continuously for the past 3 hours.  During boot up, my Kill-A-Watt meter climbs as high as 92 watts of consumption for about a split second but once in a steady state, while playing music, this machine consumes no more than about 50 watts and as little as 38 watts.  The HDPlex chassis handles all of this well (it barely feels warm to the touch even with the machine kept on 24/7 for most of the past week) in my enclosed but ventilated cabinet.  I would be shocked if my setup can't handle the 9900K.

 

The AMD 1800X also has a rated TDP of 95 watts and while it has 8-cores, it has a max frequency of only 4GHz and so this is not the best case scenario for Stylus.  If rumors prove true, the upcoming AMD 3000 series CPUs with a die of only 7nm may be the ultimate CPU.  The rumored 3800X is purported to have 12-cores and a max CPU frequency of 5GHz while sporting a TDP of only 105 watts.  This TDP may be a big deal for a Pink Faun machine running AL and HQP but I suspect it won't be a big deal for Euphony + Stylus.

 

As for motherboards, this matters and I'm hoping the new crop of mini-ITX AMD X570-based motherboards will be better than what's available.  Because of the unnecessarily large fan mounting posts that AMD CPUs use, they use up precious space on the small mini-ITX motherboards making it challenging for the motherboard manufacturers to incorporate high level VRMs.  In this sense, if one is looking for a mini-ITX board, Intel boards are far superior than any of the AMD boards that are presently available and the best board I have so far found is the Asrock Z390 Phantom Gaming ITX-ac.  For a solid AMD board, it seems you really have to go full ATX.

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23 minutes ago, austinpop said:

Mindful of @bobfa's point that these general topics are OT in the Shootout thread, I'm posting this here.

 

 

If there is one "new" finding in all of this recent progress, it is that combined with all the previously known optimizations of clean power, separate CPU power, linear supplies, better clocks, etc., running with a very powerful CPU like the i7-8700K provides a level of dynamism and clarity we have not heard from the low-powered CPU approach of the likes of the ZENith SE, the sMS-200ultra, and even the NUCs.

 

However the key thing here is that we operate these massively powerful CPUs at very low utilization - as we see with the non-upsampling use cases of Roon or Stylus.

 

Once you add upsampling into the mix, all bets are off, as it remains to be seen what the effect of that energy consumption due to high CPU utilization will be on:

  1. the ability of fanless cases to cope with the added heat
  2. the effect CPUs running at very high temps on SQ.

I had a chat with Nuno @nvitorino about this at Munich. I asked him if he would consider incorporating our findings in his server line - i.e. something like a ZENith or Statement containing powerful i7 and i9 cores. He said it was OK for us hobbyists to go this route, as we have the skill and knowledge to control our workloads and ensure we ran at very low utilizations. As a commercial vendor, he cannot control what people do with the box, and his concern is that people who try to do heavy DSP and upsampling may not get the SQ benefit - indeed, they may get the opposite effect. Also, this would put a strain on the PSUs, since they would have to design the PSUs for the heaviest case, which would require far more powerful and expensive PSUs than are currently in those boxes.

 

So this is a valid concern.

 

 

Hi Rajiv

 I agree 100% with the importance of all these things, and note that several years ago in Hi Fi Critic magazine they also reported that the faster processors resulted in improved performance.

 Perhaps their noise profiles are pushed further up the Spectrum ?

As you say, heat becomes the main problem with smaller and affordable cases.

Kind Regards

Alex

 

 


How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

 

PROFILE UPDATED 18-06-2019

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8 hours ago, Dev said:

 

This is what I have been looking for as well - one slot for USB and another for Ethernet. Though I am using Wifi at the moment, but I would not like to loose the flexibility going forward. Mobo with 2 PCIe slot would require to step up to the m-ATX motherboard. I am also waiting for the release of i9-9900 in couple of months.

I wonder for the Asrock H370M-ITX/ac mobo, is it doable to find a splitter to split up the pcie slot to 2 pcie slots to use with jcat femto net card and also jcat USB femto card? Or is it such thing to convert the M.2 key E wifi connector to additional pcie slot to use with USB card? 

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There's yet another alternative to HDD/SSD/USB sticks, IIRC Roy was quite happy about eMMC when he's testing his very first NUC back then

 

64GB for $35 + $5

https://store.pine64.org/?product=64gb-emmc

https://store.pine64.org/?product=usb-adapter-for-emmc-module

 

64GB for $22 + adapter

https://www.futureelectronics.com/p/7113132

https://www.kingston.com/en/embedded/emmc

https://www.eciaauthorized.com/en/search/kingston/EMMC

 

128GB for $59 + $10

https://forum.odroid.com/viewtopic.php?f=53&t=2725

https://www.hardkernel.com/shop/usb3-0-emmc-module-writer/

https://www.ebay.com/itm/eMMC-Module-C2-Android-Green-Box/223284605230

https://www.ebay.com/itm/eMMC-5-1-Module-XU3-XU4-Android-White-Dot/223284614850

 

gayUO7X.jpg

 

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cjmnYzn.jpg

 

BTW, 2nd gen of Xeon Silver (4215 with 85W TDP) looked fairly interesting for those of us who are willing to pay the premium and go for an ATX fanless case

 

https://en.wikichip.org/wiki/intel/xeon_silver/4215

https://ark.intel.com/content/www/us/en/ark/products/193389/intel-xeon-silver-4215-processor-11m-cache-2-50-ghz.html

 

About $800 at the moment

 

https://www.provantage.com/hpe-p02598-b21~7CMPTCAJ.htm

https://www.provantage.com/hpe-p02494-b21~7CMPTCCW.htm

https://www.provantage.com/intel-cd8069504212701~7ITEP6HP.htm

 

An ATX motherboard for $330

 

https://www.provantage.com/supermicro-mbd-x11spl-f-b~7SUPM5QQ.htm

https://www.wiredzone.com/supermicro-components-motherboards-single-processor-x11spl-f-41110336

 

128GB Optane DC for $680 versus 128GB DDR4 for $1390

 

https://www.avadirect.com/128GB-Optane-DC-Persistent-Memory-Module/Product/12697853

https://www.amazon.com/Supermicro-MEM-DR412L-HL01-LR26-1x128GB-Reduced-LRDIMM/dp/B07FTWJBKJ

 

Obviously the frequency could only reach 3.5GHz in order to keep the TDP below 90W, it would be interesting to compare that with an i9-9900K IMHO.

 

OTOH, €20,000 SGM Extreme Server actually incorporated dual Xeon processors and it would be fun to give that a try with a relatively affordable ATX motherboard

 

http://www.acmemicro.com/Product/15819/Supermicro-X11DPL-i-Motherboard-Intel-Xeon-Scalable-Dual-Socket-P-

https://www.newegg.com/supermicro-mbd-x11dpl-i-o-2nd-generation-intel-xeon-scalable-processors-intel-xeon-scalable-proces/p/1B4-005W-00149

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While passive Thunderbolt 3 cables must be short enough (e.g. half a meter) in order to keep up with the 40Gbps bi-directional data transmission, we could consider adding a dock to ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac

 

https://www.amazon.com/Sonnet-Express-Thunderbolt-Expansion-ECHO-EXP-SE1-T3/dp/B01MTP2XMZ

https://www.amazon.com/Sonnet-Echo-Express-III-D-Thunderbolt/dp/B0713SX7VV

 

 

 

 

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I've gotta clarify that H370M-ITX/ac didn't come with Thunderbolt 3 in the first place and therefore it won't work with those products from Sonnet. In order words, it's necessary to replace the motherboard with Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac with built-in Thunderbolt 3.

 

However, we have to be aware that most likely all 16 processor-connected PCIe lanes are occupied by the single PCIe x16 slot and therefore Thunderbolt 3 (as well as M.2 slot?) should be going through PCH.

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Another thing is for single PC setup running Euphony Stylus, if os should be run in Optane card then where should music files be stored in optimized way?  Is it ssd or hdd? What is the type. I tried to skim through the index but cannot find the info. 

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Can anyone,please, point me to the right size/type of Optane drive for the Euphony NUC7I7DNBE setup? I would hate to buy something that will not work, a shop in the EU would be wonderful. TIA

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5 hours ago, austinpop said:

Mindful of @bobfa's point that these general topics are OT in the Shootout thread, I'm posting this here.

 

 

If there is one "new" finding in all of this recent progress, it is that combined with all the previously known optimizations of clean power, separate CPU power, linear supplies, better clocks, etc., running with a very powerful CPU like the i7-8700K provides a level of dynamism and clarity we have not heard from the low-powered CPU approach of the likes of the ZENith SE, the sMS-200ultra, and even the NUCs.

 

However the key thing here is that we operate these massively powerful CPUs at very low utilization - as we see with the non-upsampling use cases of Roon or Stylus.

 

Once you add upsampling into the mix, all bets are off, as it remains to be seen what the effect of that energy consumption due to high CPU utilization will be on:

  1. the ability of fanless cases to cope with the added heat
  2. the effect CPUs running at very high temps on SQ.

I had a chat with Nuno @nvitorino about this at Munich. I asked him if he would consider incorporating our findings in his server line - i.e. something like a ZENith or Statement containing powerful i7 and i9 cores. He said it was OK for us hobbyists to go this route, as we have the skill and knowledge to control our workloads and ensure we ran at very low utilizations. As a commercial vendor, he cannot control what people do with the box, and his concern is that people who try to do heavy DSP and upsampling may not get the SQ benefit - indeed, they may get the opposite effect. Also, this would put a strain on the PSUs, since they would have to design the PSUs for the heaviest case, which would require far more powerful and expensive PSUs than are currently in those boxes.

 

So this is a valid concern.

 

I think folks in the upsampling HQPlayer space need to run their own experiments and see where the sweet spot is. I would not be surprised if the answer is not standalone, but a distributed configuration: a separate powerful server for upsampling, and an endpoint, perhaps still using a powerful i7 or i9 core, but running NAA at very low CPU utilization. Please note - this is pure conjecture on my part, but it's an educated guess on what I and Roy have experienced thus far with non-upsampled Roon and Stylus.

I have been running upsampling/PCM —> DSD as well with high power CPU  Ryzen with fanless HDPlex, no issue  with overheat. Is SQ beneficial? Definitely much better than using my 2011 macbook with intel duel core chip. Though currently I don’t feel a need to upsample

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8 minutes ago, kravi4ka said:

Can anyone,please, point me to the right size/type of Optane drive for the Euphony NUC7I7DNBE setup? I would hate to buy something that will not work, a shop in the EU would be wonderful. TIA

Look for this in your country:

 

Intel Optane Memory M.2 2280 32GB PCIe NVMe 3.0 x 2 (MEMPEK1W032GAXT)

USA Amazon link:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06XSXX3NS/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o04_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

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1 hour ago, lateboomer said:

Another thing is for single PC setup running Euphony Stylus, if os should be run in Optane card then where should music files be stored in optimized way?  Is it ssd or hdd? What is the type. I tried to skim through the index but cannot find the info. 

I have been playing with an external HDD (spinning) USB 3.0 drive with an LPS.  I have also been using a NAS. 

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1 hour ago, lateboomer said:

Another thing is for single PC setup running Euphony Stylus, if os should be run in Optane card then where should music files be stored in optimized way?  Is it ssd or hdd? What is the type. I tried to skim through the index but cannot find the info. 

Not sure if Optane drive would be more beneficial, it runs fine with regular SATA drive I use a Samsung Evo. Any external drive may introduce moe noise so best is to keep music in the actual drive that has the euphony OS, or u load music from netwORK.  Euphony recommends keeping the music on euphony drive itself. And u can load music to ecache then detach the external drive afterwards. I realize that taking out the external drive helps improve the sound quite a bit. The sound still is affected even if u do not mount the drive onto euphony .

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1 hour ago, seeteeyou said:

Assuming that RAM drives should be the very best for music storage in terms of latency, Optane (occupying processor-connected PCIe lanes) seemed to come pretty close according to Rajiv

 

https://audiophilestyle.com/forums/topic/30376-a-novel-way-to-massively-improve-the-sq-of-computer-audio-streaming/page/462/?tab=comments#comment-900522

 

Some folks actually managed to edit the BIOS and PCIe bifurcation was working afterwards, then Optane could be connected to the processor of an ITX motherboard directly

 

https://hardforum.com/threads/pcie-bifurcation.1870298/page-16

 

A few links to some risers, in theory we could have up to 4 processor-connected PCIe slots if there were a (fanless) case that's gonna fit

 

https://peine-braun.net/shop/

http://www.ameri-rack.com/ARC2-PELY423-C7_m.html

https://hardforum.com/threads/pcie-bifurcation.1870298/page-19

Thank you to all of you for the music storage info. I think the index should have separate section for music file storage. My case is I use this USB to sata adapter to connect to Samsung evo 850 ssd:

https://www.newegg.com/startech-usb312sat3-usb-to-sata/p/N82E16812400832

 

The ssd is partitioned to one partition for Daphile player and another one partition for music files.  I have created an USB cheater plug to supply 5v power to the adapter for the ssd and finally the USB adapter with the cheater plug is connected to the input of Startech 4-port usb 3.1 to pcie card. Generally I am OK with the sound that I get. I am still in a stage of making sense about these AL and Euphony approach and I am glad to learn from you guys. 

 

In side note,  the USB music also output from another independent port of this Startech 4-port USB to pcie card to USB dac. I supply external good smps to this pcie card. 

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