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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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4 hours ago, romaz said:

I thought I'd provide an update.  I apologize for another War and Peace length post but it's been awhile since I last posted and since I don't know when I'll post again, I figured I'd leave it all on the table.  Like always, the following represents my opinions based on personal observations and so YMMV.  Full disclosure, I have no financial motivations.

 

@romaz amazing post as usual.

This should have its own thread - an epic and extreme way to music server!

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Thanks @romaz for another kick ass post! If you have the time, I'd love to get your perspectives on the below questions:

 

  1. Have you tried tweaking the RAM refresh settings per Emile's discussion on the SGM "Creme de la Creme" thread @ whatsbestforum.com? If not, why? I figure that kind of adventure is something you'd like to try! And truthfully, I would have bet that would have been your first question to Emile knowing only what I know about you from this forum (i.e., you are a hyper-sophisticated listener and system builder that has spent significant and precious time and treasure tweaking your system. Plus, modifying refresh cycles is a novel idea!). His comment on that thread of "shaping the EMI / RFI" via RAM refresh settings really struck a chord with me (pun completely intended). I'd love to get any thoughts you have on this.
  2. Did the below quote make sense to you? Because it didn't to me... If you reduce your active processing times, baseline power consumption goes up (makes sense - you feed the CPU and RAM more power to do work faster)... Yet power draw does not vary much? Wouldn't power draw go up and then down? Just wondering if you could unpack this for me! What am I getting wrong / missing?
    16 hours ago, romaz said:

    What you really want to do is reduce your hardware active processing times as much as possible. The net effect is much like a class A amplifier, you have a higher baseline power consumption, but power draw does not vary much, and this is very good for a more “natural/relaxed” sound. I hope this makes sense

     

  3. Have your perspectives on storage changed? In particular, have you tried loading the OS and Music on boards similar to the ASUS Hyper M.2 x16 3.0x4 board(s) Emile uses? I know NVME storage has been discussed at length here, but a solution that allows one to get the bandwidth and low latency of a PCIe x16 lane and the storage capacity of a very large HD seems new (unless I missed something, which given the massive length of this thread is not unlikely). 
  4. Apart from aesthetics, is there any downside in using a regular ATX case with passive heatsinks, as opposed to heatsinks that are built into the chassis? Something like this, for example, could, in theory, cool a higher TDP processor (especially if underclocked / "tuned" to a certain frequency) while allowing you to build in an ATX form factor. It doesn't look as cool as a Streacom case, but it would get the job done. Why limit yourself to a smaller form factor if you don't have to? 

As a comment, I think Emile's explanation for why 2 DIMMs may sound worse than 1 DIMM is extremely elegant and strikes me as intuitively sensible. Very very cool progress in understanding in this thread. Awesome stuff. I really love this thread.

 

 

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17 hours ago, romaz said:

Chassis

This component is more important than some people may realize ... a good chassis is important for aesthetics and can make an audible difference with respect to minimizing unwanted resonances but there is another important practical consideration.  No one wants spinning fans inside their server based on the acoustic and electrical noise that fans create and so a passively cooled server is what most audiophiles strive for.  At the present time, for DIY, this means fanless cases from Streacom, HDPlex, or Akasa.  Soon, JCAT will be introducing their own fanless chassis that will be able to accommodate a full-sized ATX motherboard and so this is very welcome news.  The ability of these chassis to effectively dissipate heat is crucial as it limits what CPU you can use.

 

just a fyi

 

Streacom F12C ticks a good many boxes:

 

- Premium Grade (6063) All Aluminium, 4mm Thick Extruded Panels in black or silver

- all standard ATX hardware inc. extended ATX

- Expansion Slots: 7 x Full Height Cards (310mm Max Length) thus plenty of scope for CPU-direct / no riser PCIe for Optane AICs, ethernet etc depending of course on mobo

- Max CPU Cooler Height: 135mm for e.g. NOFAN CR-80EH Copper IcePipe as well as air, water

 

https://streacom.com/products/f12c-chassis/

https://streacom.com/downloads/ug/f12c_150407.pdf

 

Still just about available.

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25 minutes ago, Iving said:

 

 

 

- Max CPU Cooler Height: 135mm for e.g. NOFAN CR-80EH Copper IcePipe as well as air, water

 

 

https://streacom.com/products/f12c-chassis/

https://streacom.com/downloads/ug/f12c_150407.pdf

 

 

Still just about available.

 

I got excited when I first saw this case. However, this is not meant to be a passive case. Problem with using after market passive cooler like NOFAN is that either you'd need to install an intake and exhaust chassis fan to dissipate the heat off the passive cooler as there's no heat pipe that is touching the chassis surface to dissipate the heat to outside environment or you need to have the chassis open to have free airflow from outside. But I suspect, in either cases you'd not get TDP 80W of cooling with CR-80EH, more like 65W that precludes the best in class CPU that starts with TDP 95W.

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36 minutes ago, shahed99 said:

 

There are primarily two reasons for using passive cooling: i) noise and ii) resonance/vibration induced by moving parts. These days there are silent fans (Magnetic Levitation Cooling Fan) available that are practically inaudible. However, the fact still remains that those are moving parts that causes vibration/resonance on the motherboard, which is not good for sound.

 

Just a point of clarification - I asked Roy why he doesn't use a regular CPU case with a passive heatsink. One can achieve

the same, well-known benefits you describe above, @shahed99, including 120W TDP compatibility, and use a full ATX motherboard. As you know, passive heatsinks do not have any fans / moving parts / noisy motors. 

 

I bring this up because Roy was lamenting using uATX boards simply for case and cooling compatibility. 

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37 minutes ago, shahed99 said:

But I suspect, in either cases you'd not get TDP 80W of cooling with CR-80EH, more like 65W that precludes the best in class CPU that starts with TDP 95W.

 

Looked it up in case of interest: "The CR-95C can continuously and silently cool any processor with a TDP specification of 95 watts and under."

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1 minute ago, taipan254 said:

 

Just a point of clarification - I asked Roy why he doesn't use a regular CPU case with a passive heatsink. One can achieve

the same, well-known benefits you describe above, @shahed99, including 120W TDP compatibility, and use a full ATX motherboard. As you know, passive heatsinks do not have any fans / moving parts / noisy motors. 

 

I bring this up because Roy was lamenting using uATX boards simply for case and cooling compatibility. 

 

There are no proven, ready to purchase passive heatsink available in the market capable of cooling TDP > 100W CPU effectively, at least I'm not aware of any. The Noctual one you've linked, I've been keeping an eye on them for a while. So far, it's just a concept with no indication when or if at all if will be released. I vaguely recall another concept passive heatsink that were suppose to be capable of cooing ~100W CPU but the manufacturer had to abandon the idea for whatever reason.

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14 minutes ago, Iving said:

Looked it up in case of interest: "The CR-95C can continuously and silently cool any processor with a TDP specification of 95 watts and under."

That could be a very effective solution esp for someone who doesn't want/need a streacom/hdplex type passive and make it work with regular chassis. But might need to make sure to not stress the system/CPU and have adequate ventilation and ambient temperature if powering a CPU with TDP of 95W or greater.

 

It's been a while since I watched this youtube video to remember the details where the reviewer tried to power a Ryzen 3900X with CR-95C. As far as I recall, it was useable but the temp was quite a bit on the higher side even when the system wasn't on for that long.  

 

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26 minutes ago, Iving said:

 

Looked it up in case of interest: "The CR-95C can continuously and silently cool any processor with a TDP specification of 95 watts and under."

 

I just play flac 2 ch/stereo. fb2k upsamples x 4. I don't do anything else. With the Nofan CR-80EH things get barely warm.

 

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6 hours ago, Iving said:

Streacom F12C ticks a good many boxes:

 

 

- Premium Grade (6063) All Aluminium, 4mm Thick Extruded Panels in black or silver

 

- all standard ATX hardware inc. extended ATX

 

- Expansion Slots: 7 x Full Height Cards (310mm Max Length) thus plenty of scope for CPU-direct / no riser PCIe for Optane AICs, ethernet etc depending of course on mobo

 

- Max CPU Cooler Height: 135mm for e.g. NOFAN CR-80EH Copper IcePipe as well as air, water

 

 

https://streacom.com/products/f12c-chassis/

https://streacom.com/downloads/ug/f12c_150407.pdf

 

 

Still just about available.

 

This is not a fanless/passive cooling case. I don't consider water cooling as passive cooling either. 

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I have been using Streacom's FC10 but I really want to get away from using adapters for cards such as the jcat network.  I just don't know what to use.

 


Speakers: Vandersteen Model 7s, 4 M&K ST-150Ts, 1 VCC-5; Amplification: 2 Vandersteen M7-HPAs, CI Audio D200 MKII, Ayre V-6xe; Preamp: Doshi Audio Line Stage v3.0; Phono Pre: Doshi Audio Phono Pre; Analog: Wave Kinetics NVS with Durand Telos composite arm; SME 3012R arm, Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement v2; Reel to Reel:  Technics RS-1500; Doshi Tape Pre-Amp; Studer A810, Studer A812, Tascam BR-20; Multi-channel: Bryston SP-3; Digital: Custom PC (WS 2016/AO/HQPlayer/Roon)> Lampizator Big 7 DAC

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