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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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26 minutes ago, Neal.Audio said:

FYI, I've posted a NUC that Romaz built for sale in the classifieds if anyone is interested! It takes the best of his lessons in this thread and puts them in a nice Akasa case.

 

NUC7i7DNBE NUC Akasa X7D

 

Per romaz

On 5/24/2019 at 2:43 PM, romaz said:

the i7 NUC has now been officially retired

 

How is your NUC  "the best of his lessons in this thread" ?!? Or you just wanted to advertise your sale? 

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On 6/16/2019 at 11:22 PM, Chopin75 said:

You have a web link to these speakers ? 

 

If you're interested in the Sopras you should listen to the Paradigm Personas.  Ideally side by side, which is what I did.  Both use beryllium.  Both sound amazing.


Digital chain: Synology DS1815+ -> Linear Solution OCXO switch-> Custom 2016 Server (sCLK-EX modified motherboard, Mutec REF 10)-> AL NUC NA->  Holo Spring L3 -> Audio Research LS28-> Benchmark AHB2 -> Paradigm Persona 9H, JL Fathom sub

Power: Paul Hynes SR7, Uptone LPS-1.2, sPS-500, Topaz 91001-31 Isolation Transformer

Analog chain: VPI Prime with Ortofon Quintet Black cart -> Simaudio Neo 310LP-> Audio Research LS28-> Benchmark AHB2 -> Paradigm Persona 9H

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4 hours ago, Johnseye said:

 

If you're interested in the Sopras you should listen to the Paradigm Personas.  Ideally side by side, which is what I did.  Both use beryllium.  Both sound amazing.

Hmm Paradigm Personas 3 is similar pricing to Focal Kanta 2. I can't afford the Sopras I can only do Focal Kanta 2 . 

I wonder how the Paradigm Personas compares with Focal Kanta ?

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59 minutes ago, Chopin75 said:

Hmm Paradigm Personas 3 is similar pricing to Focal Kanta 2. I can't afford the Sopras I can only do Focal Kanta 2 . 

I wonder how the Paradigm Personas compares with Focal Kanta ?

 

I only compared the Persona 3's to the Sopras.  I liked the Persona's slightly better but their character is very similar.  Worth a listen at least if you're going to spend that much.


Digital chain: Synology DS1815+ -> Linear Solution OCXO switch-> Custom 2016 Server (sCLK-EX modified motherboard, Mutec REF 10)-> AL NUC NA->  Holo Spring L3 -> Audio Research LS28-> Benchmark AHB2 -> Paradigm Persona 9H, JL Fathom sub

Power: Paul Hynes SR7, Uptone LPS-1.2, sPS-500, Topaz 91001-31 Isolation Transformer

Analog chain: VPI Prime with Ortofon Quintet Black cart -> Simaudio Neo 310LP-> Audio Research LS28-> Benchmark AHB2 -> Paradigm Persona 9H

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On 6/4/2019 at 10:24 AM, lateboomer said:

Thank you for the info, as Iving pointed out I need to read from 500 page onward to find out the info. I also wonder have any audiophile companies thought of producing one i2s pcie AIC card? Or could the JCAT femto usb card be further upgraded to output direct i2s? Would this solve and avoid the need to come out an audiophile mobo?

There is the pink faun card as you know now, I  recently bought a [email protected] XTE PCIe card in the hopes of modding for a cheaper alternative to the Pink faun I2S bridge, and potentially better in some ways as Ill explain now.

 

Something that always bothered me about the Pink Faun card is the use of a single, 48kHz multiple XO. For any 44.1kHz playback the clock signal will have to processed internally by the chip..You will see most recent USB interfaces supporting the highest resolution formats have the dual clocks for each sample rate multiple. Oddly the CMedia CM8888 chip does appear to have inputs for 45.158mHz and 49.152mHz XOs (see last 2 entries on page 12).

 

The [email protected] XTE has seperate crystals for each sample rate multiple, but disappointingly it is really a PCI chip with a PCIe bridge chip unlike CM8888, not sure how much this matters but obviously native PCIe would be preferred.

Because of its PCB connectors the I2S lines can be tapped into easily and the onboard DAC/analogue circuits disconnected.

AFAIK only Cards using CM8888 use I2S natively with PCIe , these cards are all rare and expensive so a poor choice for modding.
Recent and cheap native PCIe soundcards are using intel HDA codecs instead I2s.

There are super cheap vt1721 based PCI cards you can find, combine that with PCI bridge adapter could be a cheaper way to get I2s direct from the PC. modding would be more difficult but less risk if you mess up... and good driver support is another advantage of the [email protected] cards

 

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1 hour ago, austinpop said:

If a PSU vendor like Paul Hynes (unlikely), Sean Jacobs, or Mattijs at Farad were to deliver a truly audiophile DC-ATX converter, then that would be a game changer

Do you mean a DC to DC converter?

 

1 hour ago, austinpop said:

ideally we need dual PCie card slots, without risers, one for Ethernet (JCAT or the upcoming SOtM), and one for USB (JCAT or SOtM). Each of these need PSUs too!

How about the PinkFaun cards (i.e. an I2S card with OCXO clock)?

I have not tried them yet, but it's on my list. I like the idea and simplicity of taking your digital out of the PCIe slot (using good quality external power) and getting low phase noise OCXO clocked I2S out. The alternative is to convert the signal, send it over the USB port, potentially run it through a tX-USBultra, to send it to the DAC where a chip would convert it to whatever the DAC does, but likely I2S. The idea of less conversion stages, less cables, etc. sounds appealing. I would even completely disable all USB ports/controllers from the BIOS in that case to get rid of some unnecessary EMI. And for DACs that work better with SPDIF, they have a card that outputs SPDIF.

Has anyone here tried those cards? 

 

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As mentioned on a Facebook group that's started by @john925 recently, it's truly challenging to provide enough juice for a power-hungry system if we're going for a linear ATX PSU

 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/196686957134431/permalink/1532995673503546/

PoJcmSg.jpg

 

Supposedly that TeraDak ATX beast should be rated at 850W but evidently it just couldn't keep up with the demand of GeForce GTX Titan Black in addition to the rest of the system.

 

Then a secondary linear PSU that's rated at 300W was ordered and it's meant for powering GeForce GTX Titan Black alone. Once again that still wasn't good enough for a GPU that should require 250W to operate.

 

Regarding DC-ATX options, there's also G-Unique from China while Guryhwa should be able to speak English as well as Ghent Xu does

 

https://smallformfactor.net/forum/threads/list-of-dc-atx-power-supplies.1206/

 

(Not sure why but I just kept thinking about words like string and spot etc. whenever I saw the brand G-Unique.)

 

Obviously the "Holy Grail" of ATX PSU should be something that's similar to what we're getting from Innuos ZENith Statement, most likely that's gonna set us back quite a few grand.

 

Finally there's also something about the quality of those DC power cables between the linear PSU itself and each component, some of us were getting quality stuff from Ghent Xu while there are other DIY options like Mundorf as well as Neotech etc.

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3 hours ago, Nenon said:

Do you mean a DC to DC converter?

 

Yes. A converter that takes in a single DC input, typically 19V, and outputs 24-pin ATX, which comprises pins for 3.3V, 5V, and 12V, per the ATX standard: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ATX

 

3 hours ago, Nenon said:

How about the PinkFaun cards (i.e. an I2S card with OCXO clock)?

 

I have not tried this.

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Hi

has anyone made experience with the „new findings - best lpsu is key“ and Roon-HQPlayer? 

I get the Idea for Euphony and the 2powerfull i9-or better-pinkfaunlike solutions, but when it comes to NAA - HQPlayer is this still your finding or is there maybe a lowpower-endpoint like sms200neo or one of the sugested minipcs a better solution..

The listening experience from ausinpop and and romaz are Euphony Roon audiolinux (and other os) based- as far as I read. But what is the experience with the outstanding- in my experience so far-  HQPlayer. any hardware-combinations ...suggestions ...?

thanks for sharing your experience 

 

 

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4 hours ago, lmitche said:

What is the purpose of posting this?

 

I was answering the question @happydance asked. 

 

It saddens me that Larry, who I hold in high esteem, chose to attack me in this way. I can assure you that this post was my own idea and I am no one's messenger or proxy.

 

If you'd read my post carefully, I was reinforcing the point that NUCs deliver outstanding SQ, without requiring unobtainable power supplies. See below:

 

22 hours ago, austinpop said:

Right now, the NUC7i7DNBE is a widely achievable high-water mark in terms of SQ, as its 15W TDP means it can easily be powered with something like an SR-4 and still yield outstandingly clean SQ, with very respectable dynamics. Certainly head and shoulders better than we have experienced with the underpowered Atom/Celeron/Pentium based commercial streamers of past and present.

 

Indeed, just over the last few weeks, I've provide advise and counsel to an AS'er in Europe, who reached out to me by PM, to get his own NUC7i7DNBE/Akasa Plato X7D to run NAA. He's delighted with his system. It's interactions like that that keep me engaged on the forums.

 

Posts like yours make me want to throw up my hands and walk away. Maybe it's time.

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5 hours ago, lmitche said:

tell us our NUC machines, that he first recommended, are now inferior as they can't reproduce the "dynamics" that a single 8 core machine can when powered by the unobtainable SR7s.

 

(a comment from someone who does not know and have never talked to @romaz , @austinpop , etc.)


This is also true when powered by a Sean Jacobs power supply. The i9-9900K with the gaming ASRock motherboard recommended here, running Euphony, is on another level compared to any of the previous NUC / AL solutions I have tried.

 

I am sure you can tweak a NUC-based solution and make it sound pretty good. I have done a lot of these tweaks myself. And with the new improvements AL brings, one can probably dial it in even better than what I've done.

 

But there is something very appealing in this one box solution with Euphony and a powerful CPU, as you can build it, install the OS, and enjoy the music, rather than tweaking it constantly and listening to the same songs to death to catch every subtle difference while making tweaks. 

 

Also, judging by the signature, it seems like @lmitche has some invested interest in NUC-based solutions. That may explain some of these comments. 

 

@lmitche  - why don't you try one of these solutions and comment on what you are hearing compared to your NUC solution? It would be more useful than your last post. Yes, the SR7 is unobtainable, but there are other really good power supplies on the market. And you can walk into a Microcenter center store and get the required components to try for 15 days. Return if you don't like it. 

 

 

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3 hours ago, guiltyboxswapper said:

Gotta admit i'm suprised about lack of dynamics, but I am using the NUC as a HQPlayer NAA endpoint in DSD mode which already has explosive dynamics.

 

This is the dilemma with comparative statements. Just because I find a new configuration more dynamic does not mean the original configuration lacks dynamics! Quite the contrary. :)

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4 minutes ago, Nenon said:

 

(a comment from someone who does not know and have never talked to @romaz , @austinpop , etc.)


This is also true when powered by a Sean Jacobs power supply. The i9-9900K with the gaming ASRock motherboard recommended here, running Euphony, is on another level compared to any of the previous NUC / AL solutions I have tried.

 

I am sure you can tweak a NUC-based solution and make it sound pretty good. I have done a lot of these tweaks myself. And with the new improvements AL brings, one can probably dial it in even better than what I've done.

 

But there is something very appealing in this one box solution with Euphony and a powerful CPU, as you can build it, install the OS, and enjoy the music, rather than tweaking it constantly and listening to the same songs to death to catch every subtle difference while making tweaks. 

 

Also, judging by the signature, it seems like @lmitche has some invested interest in NUC-based solutions. That may explain some of these comments. 

 

@lmitche  - why don't you try one of these solutions and comment on what you are hearing compared to your NUC solution? It would be more useful than your last post. Yes, the SR7 is unobtainable, but there are other really good power supplies on the market. 

 

 

Yes, no reason not to try single box solution (probably majority outside this thread use single box) 

as I think it can work wonders if setup right. Probably need super good clock and LPS, adequate RAM and CPU. 

Someone asked about CPU power. My experience is that low core CPU works fine with low Res < 24/96, DSD64 but with higher Res esp DXD/DSD256 higher CPU helps a lot. This is of course true for upsampling but equally important for native playback of Hi Res files. 

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22 hours ago, Johnseye said:

 

Rajiv is spot on.

 

I'd also like to add that there are other components that can impact your decision of whether to NUC or not.  I use a Hynes SR7 and have played around with the latest one box Euphony solution.  The difference with my components from Roy and Rajiv is that I use HQPlayer with an NOS DAC.  This has a significant impact as I've found no benefit to Euphony Stylus and the one box solution.  Not to mention Stylus is archaic compared to Roon.  I had been using the one box solution previously and benefited from adding the NUC.  To each his own...YMMV.

 

I would not be surprised if the equation is different for HQPlayer. Our finding is that the DAC-attached machine benefits from:

  • extremely powerful CPUs (a surprise, as conventional wisdom up to this point suggested a low-powered CPU)
  • extremely low CPU utilization.

This holds true for players like Roon Bridge, NAA, StylusEP, and Squeezelite.

 

If you look at the load of Roon Core during music playback (without DSP of any kind), it is very light on CPU consumption. I suspect this is why having it coexist with the Roon player on the same machine has no negative effect, and thus allows single server optimization.

 

With HQPlayer, since the typical use case is upsampling, the situation is a bit different. Especially with PCM->DSD512 upsampling, HQPlayer is a fairly CPU-intensive workload. I suspect for that reason, HQPlayer and NAA are better suited to the 2 box solution.

 

As you wisely said: YMMV.

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The quality of power supply is paramount to the SQ, irregardless its a NUC or big powerful 8 core p/c. So far I have tested 4 different LPS with the i7 NUC and they all yield varied results - the results also varies much based on cpu speed settings. I also don't feel the SR4-12 is the ultimate psu even for the i7 NUC which means if I have to move to a powerful 8-core CPU, powering it and the motherboard is very very challenging with whatever is available and obtainable today (and I am not talking about the unobtonium which I think has an unhealthy obsession here at AS 🙂). This is the only reason I am sticking with i7 NUC for now.

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can you list the 4 and a brief description of the changes in sound? just for a given CPU speed setting


"The overwhelming majority [of audiophiles] have very little knowledge, if any, about the most basic principles and operating characteristics of audio equipment. They often base their purchasing decisions on hearsay, and the preaching of media sages. Unfortunately, because of commercial considerations, much information is rooted in increasing revenue, not in assisting the audiophile. It seems as if the only requirements for becoming an "authority" in the world of audio is a keyboard."

-- Bruce Rozenblit of Transcendent Sound

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I'm looking forward to seeing what SOtM can do with a custom motherboard.  Will it make the power supply less critical, or will it make power supply differences even more apparent?


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/HDPLEX 200W/HDPLEX 400W DC-ATX --> ISO REGEN/LPS-1.2 --> iFi iDSD Micro --> Focal CMS50's 

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3 hours ago, rickca said:

I'm looking forward to seeing what SOtM can do with a custom motherboard.  Will it make the power supply less critical, or will it make power supply differences even more apparent?

 

My guess is the better motherboard components you use, the easier it would be to hear the difference between power supplies. It would be like the effects of better cables on a higher-end / more resolving system. The better components you use, the easier you can hear the difference between cables.

So if SOTM does a good job with this motherboard, it would probably sound good with any power supply but it would also scale even better with better power supplies. 

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