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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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Great find - do you have a NUC to compare against?

 

Asrock iBOX-V1000 doesn’t say ECC compliant on their spec sheet, nor can I see PCIe slot... had ASRock said these things can be done or are you going to mod the chassis?

 

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1 hour ago, Energy said:

I have a NUC7i7DNHE to compare to. Since the Intel NUC doesn't support ECC, I'll use a non-ECC HyperX CL14 when comparing the two endpoints. This way sound quality during A/B test is all endpoint related and not linked to RAM quality.

 

Asrock iBOX-V1000 supports ECC since it's APU (V1605B) processor support it within it's memory controller.

https://en.wikichip.org/wiki/amd/ryzen_embedded/v1605b

 

00000.png.6344a21e0a8b6b9c828f614d2243557d.png

 

UDOO BOLT V8 has the same APU (V1605B) as the Asrock iBOX-V1000.

 

Many of these small form factors Mini PC's won't have a PCI-E slot since the cases are too slim to allow a PCI-E card to be vertically mounted. If a case had a space for horizontal mounting, a PCI-E to PCI-E riser cable is required for the liftoff distance. So there is no difference in using a riser cable or a M.2 KEY M (2242/2260/2280) to PCI-E converter cable, since a cable is still needed. M.2. and PCI-E operate at PCI-E X4 so they are compatible.

 

0_40.png.70c92f8c48cf3875bb76d5f6ad6f7059.png

 

In order to accommodate the JCAT USB Card, I will have to CNC an opening for the USB output and DC input, then drill two holes for a bolt and nut to hold the internal bracket in place. It should be fairly simple yet still a tedious process.

 

The real question is whether using a cable will rid some of the benefits of having the card since the length of the cable now becomes susceptible to EMI/RFI which when added together with length can add jitter. Proper actions should be taken such as reducing the length of the cable by cutting and re-soldering, shielding wires that have voltage running through them so they don't affect the data wires that are running parallel to them, and using a shield that goes around the whole cable to further protect the data wires. Additional methods can be added for so called "better" performance such as using UP-OCC solid core or stranded LITZ wire instead of the ribbon cable that the converter cable comes with, heat-shrinking each wire in neoprene heatshrink for low tribolectric effect, adding space between conductor and shielding to reduce capacitance and electrical absorption (neoprene does this), using copper foil instead of aluminum foil for better shielding properties, and applying Stabilant 22 to all contact points before pushing them into their respected slots.

Excellent - just the sort of experiment I would be interested in!

 

I look forward to the results as I've also got the DNHE NUC (Powered by SR7 in my case) and see your experiment as the next step.  You can always externally mount the JCAT card for testing to see if it's worth modifying the case.  Interested in your indication that JCAT Femto followed by SOtM tX-USBultra is worthwhile - how much improvement over just a single JCAT or SOtM tX-USBultra?  If you had just one which one would you purchase?

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Its still 14nm, i would wait 10nm!


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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5 minutes ago, seeteeyou said:

TDP is 25W

Yes but NUC10i7FN has a very low base frequency of 1.1 GHz and a rather high turbo of 4.7 GHz.  So with some cores in turbo it's going to draw a lot more than 25W. 


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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FWIW even Hades Canyon with 65W TDP (Turbo Boost = disabled) could be passively cooled with a gigantic heatsink

 

https://ark.intel.com/content/www/us/en/ark/products/130411/intel-core-i7-8705g-processor-with-radeon-rx-vega-m-gl-graphics-8m-cache-up-to-4-10-ghz.html

https://ark.intel.com/content/www/us/en/ark/products/126141/intel-nuc-kit-nuc8i7hnk.html

https://www.reddit.com/r/intelnuc/comments/ayyfee/fanless_mod_hades_canyon_nuc8i7hnk/

 

That Turing thing is friggin' huge for the size of an "ordinary" NUC, just wait and see if Akasa were coming up with something even bigger.

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On 10/28/2019 at 2:25 PM, Abtr said:

1) I use this:

https://www.audiophonics.fr/en/various-adapters/usb-b-adapter-cable-for-55-21mm-female-power-supply-p-8332.html

I think it ships to the US. You may also be able to build something similar yourself..

....

I tried this recommendation by @Abtr and its a significant success for me. While powering a NUC8i7BNH with Uptone Audio JS2 works extremely well, there are

still some digital irritants using  direct USB connect from NUC server to Gumby  DAC that are not present with external Eitr to coax input. Using  this with LPS 1.2 @5V eliminated the USB irritants, and for the Gumby fixed some bass "waffling" issues not present with external Eitr. Total cost was $39 for cable

( 2/3's of which was shipping ☹️) + user choice in 5v power supply


Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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@Tommd64 Undervolting the CPU means that you’re running the CPU below it’s nominal/specified voltages and thus reduce the power usage. All CPU’s have some margins at which they run correctly, go too low and the dystem becomes unstable. Overclockers often do the opposite, they raise the voltage and increase cooling capacity when needed so it can run stable on higher clock speeds.

 

(I haven’t tried it yet with the NUC btw)

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15 minutes ago, Dutch said:

@Tommd64 Undervolting the CPU means that you’re running the CPU below it’s nominal/specified voltages and thus reduce the power usage. All CPU’s have some margins at which they run correctly, go too low and the dystem becomes unstable. Overclockers often do the opposite, they raise the voltage and increase cooling capacity when needed so it can run stable on higher clock speeds.

 

(I haven’t tried it yet with the NUC btw)

I know but with a NUC its noproblem at all; it regulates the real power inside of the Nuc..

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5 minutes ago, Tommd64 said:

I know but with a NUC its noproblem at all; it regulates the real power inside of the Nuc..


It’s got nothing to do with the power applied externally which you mentioned so that’s why I explained.

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2 hours ago, Dutch said:


It’s got nothing to do with the power applied externally which you mentioned so that’s why I explained.

There are power controls in the NUC bios with sliders to set amperage limits. They work too.


nuckleheadaudio.com

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On 10/20/2019 at 5:48 AM, bobfa said:

My Musical Summer of Fun

Three system changes that improved my sound quality!

 

 

Over the the summer I have been working to try to improve and simplify my main system.  While the Kii Three System is simple, the digital chain running it was NOT.

 

I have been operating a two box solution with a server in the basement and an endpoint in the cabinet converting to USB for the Kii Control.  I have almost always had an ISORegen in the USB chain with a GHENT JSSG360 USB cable to the endpoint and a USBPC to the Kii Control.

 

I run Euphony OS on my Xeon Server.  Over the summer the team at Audiokernel released a new version of their software that runs the core OS components in RAM.  I participated in the beta and I am now on the production version.   This new version made a very large improvement in sound quality in my server.

 

Euphony can run a couple of different software packages.  The two I am concentrating on are Roon plus Stylus-EP and Stylus.  My son and I  had a long listening session a few days ago swapping back and forth between the two systems they are pretty close.  I think that Stylus does have sound quality edge sometimes but Roon just kills it on the UI/UX.  It is great to have them both a few clicks away!

 

With the new software I decided to try running the server as a single box with USB out.  I ran A/B/C testing with the two endpoints I had been using and the single box.  The single box won out buy quite a bit.  So now the server is in the cabinet with its HDPXEX 400 supply.

 

The other area I wanted to improve is the USB Chain so I purchased a modified txUSBultra from Audio Sensibility in Canada and it has been in the system for just about two weeks.  It is powered by an LPS1.2 from a rail on the HDPLEX 400.   I am using a Ghent JSSG360 USB cable between the server and the txUSBultra and a Lush^2 (TANF settings) on the output to the Kii Control. This change improved the detail added some bass extension and took away some more of that digital harshness.  Listening again today things continue to improve.  Time will tell how much better it will get.

 

 

The third change has been VERY interesting.  I have tested with different kinds of networking between the various boxes in the system.  My main network switch has SFP interfaces on it and I have done a lot of listening using fibre-optic networking vs copper.  I have found that fibre worked for me.  I had been running a fibre from the switch to the server bridged and then another fibre from the server to the endpoint.  That took three FMC devices that I had to power.  The bridged ethernet on the server made a difference but I was not happy with all of the extras needed.

 

When I moved the server to direct connect USB I decided to research FMC devices and the like.  I missed out on the first order for the UpTone EtherRegen.  I thought about SoTM switches, and others.  What I landed on was the Sonore opticalModule that  I put it in the system this week!  It is powered by a 5V rail from the HDPLEX400 and is connected to the server with a GHENT JSSG360 Ethernet cable.  The fibre goes from there to the network switch.  Note that my music is stored on a QNAP NAS in the basement network “area”.

 

The difference that the opticalModule makes is almost stunning.  I can only guess that the generic FMC was throwing a lot of junk into the server.   There is more of everything.  Sound stage, bass extension and control.  Musical detail is improved.

 

 NOTE:  I CHANGED TWO THINGS AT ONCE!  I am not a patient person so the USB and network stuff changed at almost the same time!

 

 

So in summary:  My Summer of Fun With Stereo yielded some great results!

 

  1. Euphony SW upgrade that eliminated the need for a D to D
  2. SoTM txUSBultra
  3. Sonore opticalModule

 

There is more to do. I am  upgrading the AC power cabling to the system next.  After that:

  • I have to see if my Element H USB card makes any difference.
  • I am in on the order for some Apacer ECC DRAM.    
  • I am looking at different Xeon processor that has six or eight cores.
  • I have not tried doing anything with process allocation on the server.
  • I need to upgrade the ATX wiring from the power supply to the server.

 

There is a new version of AudioLinux coming out soon.  Who knows???

 

In summary this is still ugly, there are too many wires, the H5 case is too big.  I have not addressed the turntable side of things well enough yet. More to simplify! 

 

It was a good summer and I am happy, the system sounds quite a bit better and I had fun getting here.  Not bad for one summer project.

 

 

Hi Bob - Any feedback on your findings of the Element H USB card, and comparisions with SoTM txUSBultra?

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5 hours ago, Gavin1977 said:

Hi Bob - Any feedback on your findings of the Element H USB card, and comparisions with SoTM txUSBultra?

I have not tested it further.  I have been working on something else.  I have actually removed it from the machine just to see if I could hear any difference from the machine having the unused card in there.  No change to my ears.

 

Down the road I will look into putting it back in and test.

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10 hours ago, Gavin1977 said:

Hi Bob - Any feedback on your findings of the Element H USB card, and comparisions with SoTM txUSBultra?

 

Not Bob but my two cents or impression.. the Element H works on Windows much better than on Linux (Euphony). Euphony and also Audiolinux give realtime priority to 'USB' by default but this does address the USB ports of the mainboard not the irq which the Element H card is using. Maybe a general thing for such USB PCIe cards. The Element H didn't really convince me on Euphony. Neither when I changed the rt priority from 'USB' to the from the card used irq via the rtirq.conf file. 


Euphony (Roon/HQPlayer, Stylus) --> "magic" NUC7CJYH (Euphony-ramroot/NAA, StylusEP) / pi3B+/HifiBerry Digi + Pro (GentooPlayer-ramroot/RoonBridge) --> Matrix Audio X-Sabre Pro (MQA) --> B & M Prime 6

bedroom: pi3/DigiOne (RoPieee) --> S.M.S.L M500 --> KRK Rokit 5 or AKG 712 Pro

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1 hour ago, Holzohr said:

 

Not Bob but my two cents or impression.. the Element H works on Windows much better than on Linux (Euphony). Euphony and also Audiolinux give realtime priority to 'USB' by default but this does address the USB ports of the mainboard not the irq which the Element H card is using. Maybe a general thing for such USB PCIe cards. The Element H didn't really convince me on Euphony. Neither when I changed the rt priority from 'USB' to the from the card used irq via the rtirq.conf file. 

 

I am a little confused understanding your feedback.

It works much better on Windows than on Linux (Euphony), because by default it's not configured for realtime priority on Linux (Euphony). But then you have configured the realtime priority, but you still did not like it on Euphony. Are you saying that:

a) You tried it on Euphony and on Windows. You liked it on Windows but did not like it on Euphony.

or

b) You only tried it on Linux (Euphony) and did not like it regardless of the realtime priority settings?

Or something else? Thank you, just wanted to make sure I understand your feedback correctly.

 

 

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20 minutes ago, austinpop said:

G’day @Bricki

 

Exciting report! I received my non-ECC Apacer DIMMs from @Nenon’s group buy for my server a few days ago, but have not had the time to do the swap.

 

Now I’m motivated! 

I suppose the level of improvement will depend on what you start out with and maybe the Kingston RAM I had was particularly poor 😅

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7 hours ago, Bricki said:

First of all, a big thank you to @Nenon for organising the RAM group buy. I'm sure he's helped many people get a nice sound quality bump to their systems.

 

IMG_20191119_182646.thumb.jpg.799826cf0b2b9554e57a560a762a15f4.jpg

IMG_20191119_182818.thumb.jpg.90bd58227b8e0949192c1864659f5272.jpg

 

Have you checked who's RAM chips the Apacer is using? Not revealed due to the sticker on that side, but on the other side it should be visible?

 

Your previous Kingston seems to have Micron chips (who also sells memory modules under their own Crucial brand).

 


Signalyst - Developer of HQPlayer

Pulse & Fidelity - Software Defined Amplifiers

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14 minutes ago, Miska said:

 

Have you checked who's RAM chips the Apacer is using? Not revealed due to the sticker on that side, but on the other side it should be visible?

 

Your previous Kingston seems to have Micron chips (who also sells memory modules under their own Crucial brand).

 

IMG_20191118_185318.thumb.jpg.4cf309146a7aac0431e01a1f93005121.jpg

These are the chips on the Apacer RAM... I think they are Samsung but I don't know for sure

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