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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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At CES we will likely see the launch of Intel Comet Lake desktop CPUs and Z490 motherboards with availability in 2Q2020.  If this happens, I'll start a new topic to focus on it.

 

I'm interested in i7-10700K (8 cores/16 threads) 95W TDP 16MB SmartCache for under $400.  Base clock is 3.6 GHz, single core turbo is 5.1 GHz and all core turbo is 4.8 GHz ... if the early leaked info is accurate.

 

 

 

 


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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On 12/20/2019 at 7:48 AM, iCarus said:

 

Thanks for the suggestion. My preference for these motherboards is relatively low processing power, integrated processor (Celeron, Atom etc.).

Many thanks for the tip. Does anyone know of any mini ITX Atom boards currently available that sound good? 

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1 hour ago, seeteeyou said:

Unless we absolutely must run x86 version of Windows while having access to PCI-Express slot, IMHO it's a much better deal to go for stuff like Allo USBridge Sig that's "proven" to sound pretty awesome without having to pay so much for an expensive PSU. For instance, @bobfa should have ordered two of them from Allo and then he's actually saying goodbye to that $3,745 Product of the Decade on this site.

 

For Mini-ITX motherboards to sound great, we're gonna need decent VRM according to @romaz and then add a powerful i7 / i9 processor so that CPU utilization will remain as low as possible. Stuff like the PCB as well as the amount of copper also make a difference.

 

Besides, it's fairly easy to get Apacer DDR-4 RAM (with wide temperature) that would provide fantastic results while older DDR-3 ones for consumer-class Atom might be somewhat tricky to find. Only motherboards with server-class Atom C3000 series are compatible with DDR-4 RAM.

 

In the end the key to good sound is still having one of those excellent PSUs from the usual suspects, provided that we're also adding nice AC and DC cables. Not saying that quality of the motherboard ain't important, though we might wanna wait until SOtM to announce their own motherboard in 2020 before making a move.

CTU,

  • What components do you have in your system?
  • How does it sound?
  • What are you planning to change next?

nuckleheadaudio.com

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19 hours ago, Chopin75 said:

From the diag are u using one PS to drive the MB and another one to drive the CPU, all via the 800W ATX ?

 

I am not sure I understood the question correctly. The HDPlex 800W DC-ATX converter has two DC inputs, which are fueled with 19V by two Keces P8. The 800W DA-ATX deliver two rails on 8PIN EATX-12V connectors and one rail on 24PIN EATXPWR connector.

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2 hours ago, seeteeyou said:

Unless we absolutely must run x86 version of Windows while having access to PCI-Express slot, IMHO it's a much better deal to go for stuff like Allo USBridge Sig that's "proven" to sound pretty awesome without having to pay so much for an expensive PSU. For instance, @bobfa should have ordered two of them from Allo and then he's actually saying goodbye to that $3,745 Product of the Decade on this site.

 

 

To be fair, bobfa didnt try the "turbo" powered version of the Sonore product.  As we know power can make all the difference.  Though not to say the USBridge sig isn't excellent value - I agree actually that for those who are not willing to goto all this "fiddling" and spending good money on a uber PSU that is by far the better way to go.

 

I do have an OpticalRendu + Farad 7v (both demo items with a few months runtime on them) on their way as a comparison to my own tweaked NUC with Industrial RAM and the same Farad at 19v etc.  The Sig Optical SE is an OpticalRendu with their well matched HQ PSU (of differing grades) along with a few other tweaks such as chassis etc.  I did try to obtain a Sig Opt SE (with uber PSU) in the UK for a home demo but quite frankly it wasnt going to happen.

 

This came out of trying Emile's recommended Startech SFPs with their FMCs (and then inside the Cisco 2960G's SFP).  Really worthwhile improvement for what is little outlay and I had a Pink Faun Ethernet Isolator prior as well.   

 

One downside of the recommended Startech FMCs is they only operate in auto-neg mode, and you cannot set 100mbit/s on the ethernet port as the FMC will not handshake unless its auto-neg.  Have spoken to Startech support about this and there's not much they'll do here.  For those who aren't aware the NUC can sound a bit too "bright" and sibilant when left in 1gigabit ethernet port mode.

 

The good news however is the Cisco 2960G sounds pretty good with SFPs and its stock power supply alone.  I decided to try 2 of these, with the network port set to 100mbit in one case.  This proved to strike the best balance so far.  Just waiting on another good 12v HQ PSU before I mod the 2960G's SMPS (very easy as noted on this thread).

 

Being a HQPlayer user at DSD512 rates (T+A's "sweet spot") the difference between ethernet copper vs fibre is night and day.  Poor Jussi, it seems a lot of his good work is quite literally lost in noisy PCs between HQPlayer and the DACs themselves !!

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Could the Startech SFP recommended by Emile be used between an optical module and an ether regen Aside fiber input ?  To isolate from router ? What about this auto negociation thing ? 

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10 hours ago, Ricardo007 said:

Could the Startech SFP recommended by Emile be used between an optical module and an ether regen Aside fiber input ?  To isolate from router ? What about this auto negociation thing ? 

 

I don't know regarding StarTech SFPs and OpticalModules.  In theory they should.  I'll have an OpticalModule here in a few weeks to test, so will report back.

 

Autonegiotate is the way an ethernet port agrees speeds and duplex between each other.  On the StarTech recommended FMC's you cannot bypass this, it just causes the port to stop responding. 

 

I have however found since placing one StarTech FMC with a good 12v on the "sender" end, yet using the Cisco 2960G on the other end improved performance (again lower noise floor, more palpable etc).  Now when I switch back to 1gig on the NUC ethernet port, so far it's not drifted into overly brightness. 

 

Is setting the NUC's ethernet port to 100mbit masking not ideal network feeds?  Will do a bit more testing to conclude.

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Small update I'd like confirmed without people spending anything.. just if you have this combination at hand.

My mini spending spree i tried the DC ipurifier 2 but no miricles on a Studet900 clone, into the chord Qutest. Can't confirm a change so moved to a source.

 

UTA Lps1> ldovr DXP x2 reg. Placed inbetween the DC IP2 makes a subtle but more tighter cohesive sound out the Qutest. Mini ABing its there imho.

Wow factor is the LPS1, DXP Linear 3045s, simple terms giving the 3045s less work?.

Yes a difference.. colouration or electrical technical excellence? 

 

Another thread has made me more wary of my statements, as a poster many more people read than post. so a touch of 'duty of care' from myself... but always honest... even with this threads basic intentions..

 

Enjoy your non denominational  week off with a big chicken .... 1 more sleeps.

 

Dave😉

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, guiltyboxswapper said:

Is setting the NUC's ethernet port to 100mbit masking not ideal network feeds?  Will do a bit more testing to conclude.

 

Yes is the answer.  1gig infact now steps things up another step.  Bare in mind i'm a HQPlayer + NAA type, so there's approx 50mbit/s traversing the network vs the typical 1.5mbit/s without it.

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For those looking for the ultimate motherboard, here's a new C622 motherboard from EVGA for $1800 (after $200 rebate).  It has a 24 phase power design on a 16 layer PCB with a pre-installed waterblock for the VRM and chipset.

https://www.evga.com/products/product.aspx?pn=160-CX-W999-KR


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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I wonder if this is the supplier The Chord company  source thier wire from?  They are tight lipped but mentioned they got in on a US defence supplier who does Hi spec wire drawing on thier die's?  Even diameter copper wire over length.

Aerospace doesnt necessarily mean good, can be just a lot of quality paperwork and international Standards to comply too.

+ DoD MOD milspec ect... ISO NADCAP audits.

But always better than bulk off Alibaba...

Or like Intona and grade the best off a bulk reel run..

 

Fantastic deal @seeteeyou i hope the Melco works for you.

 

Have a Happy new year

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Would be grateful for any thoughts on how best to implement a build based on using  the recommended ASUS ROG Maximus XI Gene motherboard as a sever for my i7 NUC endpoint.

 

I was thinking of using a HDplex H5 case and powering either an i7 9700(65w) or i7 8700T(35w) directly using my PH SR4 and either my HDplex 200w or S Jacobs 5amp unit for the HDPLEX 400W Hi-Fi DC-ATX . 

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7 hours ago, dctom said:

Would be grateful for any thoughts on how best to implement a build based on using  the recommended ASUS ROG Maximus XI Gene motherboard as a sever for my i7 NUC endpoint.

 

I was thinking of using a HDplex H5 case and powering either an i7 9700(65w) or i7 8700T(35w) directly using my PH SR4 and either my HDplex 200w or S Jacobs 5amp unit for the HDPLEX 400W Hi-Fi DC-ATX . 

 

 

I built something similar last year but with a Xeon.  I did a lot of updates to it through the year.  

 

 

 

 

BUT, I have reversed course and made my NUC my Roon ROCK server and am running the Allo USBridge Sig as my endpoint (two of them)

 

 

 

I am testing another operating system for the Allo right now:

 

 

Nothing is perfect, but this path has been VERY interesting...

 

Bob

 

 

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Once again the signal integrity really saved the day, going industrial seemed to the trick

 

https://www.whatsbestforum.com/threads/an-unexpected-champion-intona-ultimate-usb-cable.26248/#post-597317

https://www.whatsbestforum.com/threads/an-unexpected-champion-intona-ultimate-usb-cable.26248/page-2#post-597574

Quote

The Intona Ultimate USB cable is a helpful data point for me. Aside from a good shield (which is extremely important for any digital cable), its only claim that sets it apart is a 90-ohm differential impedance that measures to an EXTREMELY tight tolerance. To so significantly better my previous USB cable that was already making such a claim (and to so significantly better Intona's own Reference USB cable) suggests to me that this 90-ohm impedance is the most critical aspect of an "accurate" USB cable.

 

https://pro.intona.eu/en/company/about

Quote

Signal integrity is most important when it comes to high speed data transmission. Intona has strong expert knowledge in designing multi-gigabit transceivers at provably ultra-low phase-noise (jitter).


https://www.gore.com/products/protective-braids

Quote

Gore offers protective braids installed over cable bundles that provide durable protection in extreme temperatures, and enhanced EMI suppression for reliable signal integrity.

 

Article: Flex cable adds muscle to signal integrity

https://www.gore.com/resources/article-flex-cable-adds-muscle-to-signal-integrity

Quote

When designers are busy building machine vision systems, cable is often an afterthought. It shouldn’t be this way. If your signals can’t get from here to there in one piece, your application is running blind. To prevent that, think about cabling early in the design process, especially the metallic shields that stand guard against noise-induced signal error.

 

For those of us who could get away with 1.5A, combining this CelAudio PSX with DXP-1A5S / DXP-1A5DSC could give us a double-regulated / triple-regulated rail respectively while staying off the grid

 

http://www.celaudio.com/psx.html

https://item.taobao.com/item.htm?id=599790236545

 

5V / 2A = 1,780 RMB

9V / 2A = 1,980 RMB

12V / 2A = 2,180 RMB

 

Basically it's a complete linear PSU with 18650 batteries, LT3045 regulators, and WIMA caps.

 

Here are some pictures

 

http://www.headphoneclub.com/thread-734234-1-1.html

http://www.headphoneclub.com/thread-734750-1-1.html

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On 12/29/2019 at 6:03 PM, seeteeyou said:

For industrial-grade wide temperature memory, @Marcin_gps and @Nenon showed us what we're able to get from Apacer with fantastic results.

 

Recently I placed an order for Dela / Melco S100 when there's an awesome 15% off discount, it turned out to cost me roughly 900 quids / 1050 Euros (151,800 × 0.85 = 129,030 yen + international shipping) instead of the £1,999 / €1,999 MSRP in Europe

 

https://media.buyee.jp/campaign/rakuten191219/en/

 

Of course I could very well be a fool to pay so much for S100 instead of ER but we'll see how it goes

 

https://devialetchat.com/Thread-Audiophile-Grade-Ethernet-Switches-The-new-generation?pid=89318#pid89318

 

That's why I started doing my homework in order to figure out what kinda aerospace-rated (e.g. EXTREME temperature that's ranging from -65 to 200 °C) Ethernet cables could be found online. Someone in Japan was going for some cables from Gore, an audiophile in Taiwan bought one of his USB cables and that turned out to be a winner

 

http://asoyajiaudio.jp/usb.html

http://asoyaji.blogspot.com/2018/12/usb.html

http://asoyaji.blogspot.com/2019/11/usb_24.html

http://asoyaji.blogspot.com/2019/12/lan.html

http://community.phileweb.com/mypage/entry/2408/20191008/

http://blog.livedoor.jp/bluejay01-review/archives/56144224.html

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=237520#post237520

 

Someone else in Japan made DC cables from Oyaide FTVS-910 and sent that to @austinpop before, most likely he could try both USB and Ethernet cables from Asoyaji Audio

 

http://asoyaji.blogspot.com/2019/08/usb.html

 

Here's a list of cables available from Gore and their distributor in US should be WireMasters

 

https://www.gore.com/hdrsampleflyer

https://www.wiremasters.net/about-us/company-news/wiremasters-now-a-distributor-of-gore-bulk-wire-and-cable-products

 


 

USB 2.0 cable with the largest gauge here (480Mbps)

 

RCN8800-22D-22P-H

https://www.gore.com/resources/usb-cables-aircraft-drawing-rcn8800

https://www.gore.com/sites/g/files/ypyipe116/files/2018-01/rcn8800f.pdf

 

US etc.

 

https://www.aircostcontrol.com/en/?q=RCN8800-22D-22P-H

https://www.netcomponents.com/sitemap/RCN8800-22D-22P-H.html

https://www.wiremasters.net/product/productname/rcn8800-22d-22p-h

 

For Ghent (China)

 

https://www.aiboco.com/News/detail/id/3086.html

 


 

USB 3.1 cable here (5Gbps)

 

GSC-03-84761-24D

https://www.gore.com/resources/drawing-gsc-03-84761-24d-gore-tm-usb-3-1-aerospace-cables

https://www.gore.com/system/files/2019-10/USB 3.1 Cables - Drawing (GSC-03-84761-24D)_Rev C.pdf

 

US etc.

 

https://www.aircostcontrol.com/en/?q=GSC-03-84761-24D

https://www.netcomponents.com/sitemap/GSC-03-84761-24D.html

https://www.wiremasters.net/product/productname/gsc-03-84761-24d

 

For Ghent (China)

 

https://www.aiboco.com/Stock/index/id/447109.html

 


 

For Ethernet cables, I'm assuming that we're supposed to focus on the ones with "4 shielded pairs" and therefore I'm only listing 5 of them that could be found on WireMasters

 

US

 

https://www.wiremasters.net/products/grid?category=w-l-gore-ethernet-cables

https://www.wiremasters.net/product/productname/rcn9047-26-wl-gore-ehternet-data-cable

https://www.wiremasters.net/product/productname/rcn9034-24-wl-gore-ehternet-data-cable

https://www.wiremasters.net/product/productname/rcn8966-26

https://www.wiremasters.net/product/productname/rcn9034-28

https://www.wiremasters.net/product/productname/rcn8966-24

 

For Ghent (China)

 

https://www.aiboco.com/News/detail/id/66.html

https://www.aiboco.com/Stock/index/id/447160.html

https://www.aiboco.com/Stock/index/id/447158.html

https://www.aiboco.com/Stock/index/id/447157.html

https://www.aiboco.com/Stock/index/id/447159.html

https://www.aiboco.com/Stock/index/id/447156.html

 

Other links for Ghent to take a look

 

https://www.1688.com/store/BC1EA79A48F198A6E172D1C762EED987.html

https://detail.1688.com/offer/593135946775.html

https://detail.1688.com/offer/593135550835.html

 


 

I have absolutely no idea how much those bulk wires from Gore would actually cost as well as what the minimum order is supposed to be, therefore I could only show everyone the price tag of similar offerings (-65 to 200 °C) from TE

 

https://www.te.com/global-en/plp/high-speed-digital-and-data-cable-raychem-cat-5e/Y30x6Xr87m9.html

 

1' for $15.49 (Minimum: 500)

https://www.mouser.com/ProductDetail/TE-Connectivity/C5E-24C424-B24-6X?qs=PqoDHHvF649q8lqggj1U4Q%3D%3D

 

1' for $33.63 (No Minimum?)

https://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/EJ2426-000/C5E-24C424-814-9-01-ND/9826301

 

Official site is showing -65 – 200 °C[-85 – 392 °F] despite what's listed above

 

https://www.te.com/global-en/product-EJ2426-000.datasheet.pdf

 


 

The ones from Gore could either cost less or cost more, not exactly the most affordable options for sure while this is what we're paying for Wireworld and Audioquest

 

https://www.soundhelpers.com/CTGY/ETHERNET8.html

https://www.futureshop.co.uk/audioquest-cat7-carbon-rj-e-ethernet-cable-custom

 

Cheaper ones from QED / Supra / ViaBlue

 

https://www.futureshop.co.uk/qed-qxcat6-cat6-ftp-data-cable-custom-length

https://www.futureshop.co.uk/qed-qxcat6-cat6-utp-data-cable-custom-length

https://www.futureshop.co.uk/supra-cat8-flame-retardant-ethernet-cable-custom-length

https://www.audiophonics.fr/en/cables-hautparleur-conducteurs/viablue-ep-7-cable-ethernet-rj45-silver-plated-ofc-copper-o-8mm-p-6698.html

https://www.audiophonics.fr/en/cables-hautparleur-conducteurs/viablue-ep-7s-cable-ethernet-rj45-solid-core-ofc-copper-o-9mm-p-8051.html

 

The minimum order part could be somewhat tricky to deal with, therefore I hope that someone like Ghent could find a way take care of that for all of us.

 

How is the Oyaide FTVS-910 DC cables performs?

My friend made me an FTVS-408, compared with the BlackCat DC cable, the BC sound a lot more neutral and relaxed. 

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4 hours ago, austinpop said:

Minor system updates

 

SR-7 Molex cables: In my last update, I mentioned how I determined that my precious DR SR-7 rails gave the best SQ powering my switch and tX-USBultra rather than the server. Those findings were using Paul's "standard" DC6FSXL DC cables with pigtails from Ghent to adapt 5.5x2.5 barrel connectors to 6-pin and 8-pin Molex. I had explored suitable cables for servers with Paul Hynes some months ago, and I recently received a set he made me. Here are a couple of pictures:

 

IMG_1725.jpg        IMG_1724.jpg

 

These are essentially a bundle of 3 (for 6-pin) or 4 (for 8-pin) of his standard DC3FS cables - Paul designates them as DC3-3FS and DC3-4FS - with Jaeger on one end and Molex on the other. These things look and feel as beautiful as they are substantial. Using these in place of the standard cables + adapters, the SQ of the server has risen substantially. I also have a Ghent JSSG360 OCC Jaeger-to-8pin EPS Molex cable on hand, and the Paul Hynes cable is notably better. Just more refined, with better transparency and bass slam.

 

With this rise in SQ with these cables, my findings have reversed. I have gone back to powering the server with DR SR-7 rails and reverted to SR SR7 rails for my switch and tX-USBultra. I hope to try the DXP-1A5S boxes that @romaz and @seeteeyou have mentioned with these SR rails to see how much closer I can get to DR-level SQ. I am waiting for @[email protected] to get back to me after his holiday travels.

 

These cables are expensive, but man the SQ is impressive.

 

USB cables: Speaking of expensive cables - I've been using - and quite happy with - a pair Lush^2 cables from server -> tX-USBultra -> M-Scaler for some time now. Having read the glowing reports on the Intona cables, I got a chance to evaluate both the Reference ($729/1m) and Ultimate ($2279/1m). Intona's claims regarding what distinguishes their USB cables is here: https://intona.eu/en/stories/cable.

 

I tried these in both the upstream leg (server -> tX-USBultra) and the downstream leg (tX-USBultra -> M-Scaler).

 

The hype is real. These are outstanding cables. With USB cables, as they get better, I find the biggest attribute to improve is dimensionality - i.e. the extent to which instruments appear more "fleshed-out" and real, actually occupying 3-dimensions. The Reference is a big step up from the Lush^2. It is dead neutral, while sounding more open, spacious, and transparent.

 

I was really hoping the difference between the Reference and the Ultimate would be modest, but no such luck. As good as the Reference is, the Ultimate just takes it to another level. It's the same attributes as the Reference, just more - a lot more open, spacious, and transparent, and dimensional. If price is not a concern, the Ultimate is a no-brainer, and I can see why Roy was so impressed with it. For those like me who struggle to justify the lofty expense, the Reference is a great option, and this is likely the one I'll keep.

 

Finally - as regards which position benefited the most - in my system in its current state, the Intona cables improved SQ the most in the downstream position - tX_USBultra -> M-Scaler. This is what usually seems logical, but I (and many others here) have observed situations where upgrading the upstream leg led to a bigger gain. Not this time.

 

 

Did you try using Itona cables from Server to M-scaler directly? Would like to know how it scales against with tX-USBultra sitting in between .

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15 hours ago, bobfa said:

 

 

 

Nothing is perfect, but this path has been VERY interesting...

 

Bob

 

 

Quote

 

 

 

 

Thank you very much Bob, for a very informative response and all the links.

The Allo seems very interesting, I don't know if I can get head around another lot of software - having now got Audiolinux an HQP running pretty well.

 

I guess it is not possible to run run HQP on my NUC and use an Allo as a naa endpoint?

 

 

 

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6 hours ago, jeti said:

Did you try using Itona cables from Server to M-scaler directly? Would like to know how it scales against with tX-USBultra sitting in between .


No I didn’t. In my system at least, the tX-USBultra SE, powered by an SR7, and reference clocked by a REf-10, has always made a huge positive difference.

 

That said, it’s always good to revisit conclusions, so I’ll put that test on my list. I’m traveling the next couple of weeks, so will report after.

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