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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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On 1/17/2020 at 5:10 PM, austinpop said:

Yes, please publish your findings here when you get them, along with build details and the exact workload (OS, music player, if HQP - what settings) you used. One useful piece of info that will be useful to others will be the relative consumption between ATX and EPS (CPU). 

 

Yes, again - this is not meant to be an exact science. Typically, your PSU should have a capacity several multiples of your observed consumption. But it will tell you, for example the relative weight of ATX and EPS, so you can decide how/where to allocate your resources into the capacity of each rail.

 

Also be sure to observe other infrequent, but intensive workloads, like: library scanning, OS and software updates, for example.

 

And finally, of course, a reminder to look at both peak and steady state.

 

A Brennenstuhl power meter arrived today and I did some measurements.

I may need some help here as I am somewhat baffled by the first results. Please note that I only measured my minimal audio endpoint PC with AudioLinux headless (meaning GUI-less) + NAA. (I am not in a hurry to measure my heavy-lifting server as I am happy with its current power supply.)

 

First the audio PC specs:

mobo:    Supermicro X11SAE-M
cpu:    Intel Core i3-6100T (35W TDP)
memory:    2x Apacer D31.23185S.001 4GB ECC DDR4 2666MHz (wide temperature)
PSU internal:    HDPlex 800W DC-ATX converter

NIC:    Intel X520-D1

HD/SDD:    none

 

CPU / EPS

I used a simple 12V SMPS:

- steady state (nothing running): 0.04A

- playing any kind of audio file (redbook, hi-res PCM or DSD) streamed from the HQPlayer server): 0.14A

 

ATX

I used a 19v Chinese linear PS, wattage unknown as I did not have an SMPS that fitted:

- steady state: 0.17A / 30W

- playing music: does not change, always at 0.17A / 30W (does not change)

 

So maximum total current drawn approx. 0.3A. Such low amperage? It does not make much sense to me. But it is consistent with the fact that I used to power the whole PC (ATX+EPS) with a 36W / 1.75A / 19V SBooster without problem.

 

Probably someone here can tell me what I am doing wrong?


 

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1 hour ago, bodiebill said:

 

A Brennenstuhl power meter arrived today and I did some measurements.

I may need some help here as I am somewhat baffled by the first results. Please note that I only measured my minimal audio endpoint PC with AudioLinux headless (meaning GUI-less) + NAA. (I am not in a hurry to measure my heavy-lifting server as I am happy with its current power supply.)

 

First the audio PC specs:

mobo:    Supermicro X11SAE-M
cpu:    Intel Core i3-6100T (35W TDP)
memory:    2x Apacer D31.23185S.001 4GB ECC DDR4 2666MHz (wide temperature)
PSU internal:    HDPlex 800W DC-ATX converter

NIC:    Intel X520-D1

HD/SDD:    none

 

CPU / EPS

I used a simple 12V SMPS:

- steady state (nothing running): 0.04A

- playing any kind of audio file (redbook, hi-res PCM or DSD) streamed from the HQPlayer server): 0.14A

 

ATX

I used a 19v Chinese linear PS, wattage unknown as I did not have an SMPS that fitted:

- steady state: 0.17A / 30W

- playing music: does not change, always at 0.17A / 30W (does not change)

 

So maximum total current drawn approx. 0.3A. Such low amperage? It does not make much sense to me. But it is consistent with the fact that I used to power the whole PC (ATX+EPS) with a 36W / 1.75A / 19V SBooster without problem.

 

Probably someone here can tell me what I am doing wrong?

 

Your equipment is not capable to catch microbursts. If it was able to update let's say every nanosecond, you would see bursts that might be even hundreds of times higher. 

 

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10 hours ago, Nenon said:

Your equipment is not capable to catch microbursts. If it was able to update let's say every nanosecond, you would see bursts that might be even hundreds of times higher. 

 

OK, it was worth a try.

 

The 100 multiple that you mention for bursts may be correct for gaming servers or servers running HQPlayer with EC modulators, but will be much lower for my audio endpoint which ONLY receives an audio stream and passes it true. Actually the audio endpoint's burst multiple should be lower than approx. 6 as a 1.75V power supply could handle everything (ATX + EPS together) without a problem for more than a year.


 

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20 hours ago, bodiebill said:

 

A Brennenstuhl power meter arrived today and I did some measurements.

I may need some help here as I am somewhat baffled by the first results. Please note that I only measured my minimal audio endpoint PC with AudioLinux headless (meaning GUI-less) + NAA. (I am not in a hurry to measure my heavy-lifting server as I am happy with its current power supply.)

 

First the audio PC specs:

mobo:    Supermicro X11SAE-M
cpu:    Intel Core i3-6100T (35W TDP)
memory:    2x Apacer D31.23185S.001 4GB ECC DDR4 2666MHz (wide temperature)
PSU internal:    HDPlex 800W DC-ATX converter

NIC:    Intel X520-D1

HD/SDD:    none

 

CPU / EPS

I used a simple 12V SMPS:

- steady state (nothing running): 0.04A

- playing any kind of audio file (redbook, hi-res PCM or DSD) streamed from the HQPlayer server): 0.14A

 

ATX

I used a 19v Chinese linear PS, wattage unknown as I did not have an SMPS that fitted:

- steady state: 0.17A / 30W

- playing music: does not change, always at 0.17A / 30W (does not change)

 

So maximum total current drawn approx. 0.3A. Such low amperage? It does not make much sense to me. But it is consistent with the fact that I used to power the whole PC (ATX+EPS) with a 36W / 1.75A / 19V SBooster without problem.

 

Probably someone here can tell me what I am doing wrong?


While your meter cannot give you microbursts as @Nenon says, you can still get useful info.

 

Since I don’t know what AC voltage your location has, these current values are hard to interpret. Try setting the meter to display watts, rather than current. Look at watts during

- power on

- system idle

- music playback


Assuming you’re in a 220v country, your data already shows something interesting:

- EPS and ATX draw about equal amounts of power: 220x0.14 = 31W approx, and 220x0.17 = 37W approx. Validate this by remeasuring watts on your meter.

 

Assuming these power measures are correct, I bet you would benefit from a much heftier PSU - of equal or better quality - to power both ATX and EPS: 6a, 10a or even higher.

 

Remember - amps on your meter are AC amps at 220v, while the PSU current we’re talking about are DC at 19v or 12v.

 

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8 hours ago, bodiebill said:

Actually the audio endpoint's burst multiple should be lower than approx. 6 as a 1.75V power supply could handle everything (ATX + EPS together) without a problem for more than a year.


As I’ve reported before, a lower-capacity PSU may “work,” but a higher-capacity PSU can sound much better.

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2 hours ago, austinpop said:

While your meter cannot give you microbursts as @Nenon says, you can still get useful info.

 

Since I don’t know what AC voltage your location has, these current values are hard to interpret. Try setting the meter to display watts, rather than current. Look at watts during

- power on

- system idle

- music playback


Assuming you’re in a 220v country, your data already shows something interesting:

- EPS and ATX draw about equal amounts of power: 220x0.14 = 31W approx, and 220x0.17 = 37W approx. Validate this by remeasuring watts on your meter.

 

Assuming these power measures are correct, I bet you would benefit from a much heftier PSU - of equal or better quality - to power both ATX and EPS: 6a, 10a or even higher.

 

Remember - amps on your meter are AC amps at 220v, while the PSU current we’re talking about are DC at 19v or 12v.

 

Thanks @austinpop !

 

I measured the ATX and EPS/CPU wattage drawn and the results are as follows. The AC here delivers 230V, so based on the wattage I calculated the current: amperage = wattage divided by 230.
 

  ATX EPS/CPU
max values: W A W A
start cycle 21.8 0.09 15 0,07
system idle 19.1 0.08 4.5 0.02
playing music 19.4 0.08 7.4 0.03
stop cycle 18.7 0.08 7.8 0.03

 

Pretty low maximum values overall, as measured per cycle/use. The HDPlex I am now using delivers 10A which seems overkill, so I would not hesitate to use my soon-to-come 38W/2A SR4 for either ATX or EPS, or even both. Just to find out which sounds best: the 'best' or the most powerful PS...

 

Apparently, for this system, it is true that any PS that can successfully post and boot the PC will be more than enough to handle all running processes.

 

Interestingly enough the EPS draws less than the ATX, so Nenon's rule "put the most powerful power supply on the CPU" may apply to a powerful server with high-TDP CPU, but not to such a minimal endpoint PC.

 

 


 

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39 minutes ago, bodiebill said:

The HDPlex I am now using delivers 10A which seems overkill

 

You might be surprised.

 

39 minutes ago, bodiebill said:

so I would not hesitate to use my soon-to-come 38W/2A SR4 for either ATX or EPS, or even both. Just to find out which sounds best: the 'best' or the most powerful PS...

 

Exactly. Listen for yourself, and see which you prefer. 

 

39 minutes ago, bodiebill said:

Apparently, for this system, it is true that any PS that can successfully post and boot the PC will be more than enough to handle all running processes.

 

Interestingly enough the EPS draws less than the ATX, so Nenon's rule "put the most powerful power supply on the CPU" may apply to a powerful server with high-TDP CPU, but not to such a minimal endpoint PC.

 

This is why measuring the power of your particular use case is so useful.

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1 hour ago, austinpop said:

Exactly. Listen for yourself, and see which you prefer. 

 

I already compared:

 

(1) HDPlex 200W 10A 12V rail => EPS/CPU

with

(2) HDPlex 200W 2A LT3045 15V (variable) rail => MPAudio DLS-HPULN 5A 12V out => EPS/CPU

 

In theory the MPAudio can supply 5A but this must be limited to the 2A of the HDPlex. 

15V to 12V is a big drop. This has the advantage of lower ripple but could generate a lot of heat. Not in this case: while playing music the MPAudio hardly becomes lukewarm as the current is so low.

 

And (2) is the clear winner: better bass, more presence and less strident highs. So in this case the 'higher quality' PS that is the result of several LT3045's wins from the powerful PS.


 

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3 hours ago, jean-michel6 said:

...all replaced by an upnp/dlna renderer from engineered . A small company in Switzerland who is selling it’s network renderer to Dartzeel , Soulution , CH ,Audiomat ....

https://www.engineered.ch/products/ered-dock/

 

Hi Jean-Michel:

 

Glad to hear that you are so happy with your new combination of EtherREGEN plus eRED-DOCK. The company engineered SA has always been an interesting one to me as they started out with people from Anagram Technologies, then formed abcPCB, and also CH-Precision.

We studied some of the abcPCB modules earlier (NMR and USB), and I have been watching with interest the new eRED series. Funny thing is, their web site still shows the eRED-DOCK as not being available until March of this year. So you managed to get one early? :)

 

As with most all Ethernet endpoints, the audio streaming protocols it works with can be a limiting factor when it comes to choice of player software. Clearly Roon RAAT and HQ Player NAA are out for eRED endpoints. Can Roon see it at all as a UPnP/DLNA renderer?

 

If you built the box with jacks in your photos, you might consider using a piece of 75-Ohm coaxial cable for the internal link from the board to the jack (though I see you use an RCA jack instead of a BNC so for that it might not make much difference).

 

Cheers!

--Alex C.

 

 

 

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21 minutes ago, guiltyboxswapper said:

Have to admit, I ended up dropping my i7 nuc (the chosen one) with Apacer RAM, BIOS tuned, Farad 19v, Audio-Linux etc ... for an OpticalRendu.  Managed to obtain a broken in 7v Farad to do a comparison.    HQPlayer + NAA setup @ DSD512.

 

Was quite suprised if I'm honest, wasnt expecting the ARM based system to do so well, but it seems getting clean data to the SoC of choice is vitally important.  Chassis could be bigger IMHO, gets a little toasty.

 

Also switched from Startech FMCs to the OpticalModule units from Sonore.  Tried OpticalRendu with Startech FMC alone (powered by good DC power) before switching and after, again clear marked improvement. 

 

Main difference is a big uptick in dynamics, and transient resolution.

 

Next steps will be to try and obtain a OpticalModule OEM DIY card to feed it directly from the host server, cutting out any Ethernet to Fibre conversion stages + associated clocks, as well as awaiting Ghent GAC4-1 DC cable for the Farad (currently using level 1 30cm).

Interesting - anyone else experienced this compared to NUC? 

 

I would be interested on thoughts about locally bridging a NUC (operating as HQPlayer Server) to the OpticalRendu.

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1 hour ago, Gavin1977 said:

Interesting - anyone else experienced this compared to NUC? 

 

I would be interested on thoughts about locally bridging a NUC (operating as HQPlayer Server) to the OpticalRendu.

I will try soon, only issue is I know my DAC (T+A DAC 8 DSD with a copper mod) certainly has a sweet spot at DSD 512 where I know it best.  It is in a proper fanless case though so I suspect it wont last all that long before throttling kicks in.

 

Bridge mode will require an additional USB ethernet adapter though.

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17 hours ago, jean-michel6 said:

A small miracle ! 
 

I have been for several years in this game of building a very good server-player pc system . 
I went through the 626 pages of this thread and exchanged with several of you . 

You can have the detail of my system on my profile .  I have achieved very good musical results with this system.

 

However , I felt it was too complex and I wanted to make it simpler . I made two changes to my system :

 

1- I replaced the quite complex optical switch and optical network by an UpTone etherregen.

 

2- The pc player with its clocks driven by SOTM clock board , SOTM usb pcie card ,SOTM tx usb , SOTM hd usb (usb to spdif ) were all replaced by an upnp/dlna renderer from engineered . A small company in Switzerland who is selling it’s network renderer to Dartzeel , Soulution , CH ,Audiomat ....

https://www.engineered.ch/products/ered-dock/

 

My system now is

- server: Super micro x10 sba under daphile with an upnp dlna plug in 

- etherregen switch 

- player : engineered network card 

- 2 very good 12v psu and 2 at 5 volt.

 

Results : It is much simpler than my previous system but the small miracle is that the sound quality is much , much better than what I did get before . It is so much closer to the real performance. It is truly amazing. 
I could write many many things about the sq....
It cost much less than what I had before therefore an amazing move. 
 

Both the etherregen and the engineered card were key in achieving those results. 
I really encourage you to explore this road , the reward is exceptional .

 

BBB26EF0-2444-4472-9462-25B73A359DA2.jpeg

9BDFAEC8-2E82-448C-B4F0-937A271A450C.jpeg

526F7A9B-F359-4D5A-A6A5-AD7AEDA8B872.jpeg

 

Wow, so everything SoTM is obsolete and replaced with the reed-dock, yields better SQ for 420 euro. That is not only a miracle it's a bargain too. It's pity it doesn't have USB and or i2s out.


🇳🇱
Meitner ma1 v2 dac,  Sovereign preamp and power amp,

DIY speakers with scan speak illuminator drivers.

Under development:

NUC7i7dnbe, Euphony Stylus

EtherRegen, Clock modded Isoregen, Lush^2

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4 minutes ago, RickyV said:

 

Wow, so everything SoTM is obsolete and replaced with the reed-dock, yields better SQ for 420 euro. That is not only a miracle it's a bargain too. It's pity it doesn't have USB and or i2s out.

Actually it does support I2S as stated on the product page with connection details specified in the datasheet download.

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15 hours ago, RickyV said:

 

Wow, so everything SoTM is obsolete and replaced with the reed-dock, yields better SQ for 420 euro. That is not only a miracle it's a bargain too. It's pity it doesn't have USB and or i2s out.

 

15 hours ago, audio.bill said:

Actually it does support I2S as stated on the product page with connection details specified in the datasheet download.

Yes you are right , it does support i2s . But then it need to be integrated in the DAC and I do not have the technical knowledge to do that .

It will probably sound a little bit better this way and allows DSD  files playback.

 

Anyhow the sq using AES or spdif is truly already outstanding , read my previous post .

 

 


PCserver Supermicro X11SAA under Daphile  ,Jcat pcie net card ,Etherregen,e-red dock endpoint,powered by LPS 1.2 , SPS 500 , Sean Jacobs level 3 psu,  DAC Audiomat Maestro 3, Nagra Classic Amp , Hattor passive preamplifier , Martin Logan montis

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50 minutes ago, Superdad said:

I’m guessing not too many of you here would agree. So you’d best stop fussing over power supplies and DC cables, etc.—because you are all delusional! 

 

The sad thing is that several of our prominent members from the Objective side appear to  believe the same rubbish .

 Not only can the PSU area affect what we hear, it can also affect what we see with Video, not just with Analogue, but Digital Audio and Video as well, even BOTH at the same time with Digital Video.


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 26-12-2019

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On 1/19/2020 at 9:10 PM, bodiebill said:

Thanks @austinpop !

 

I measured the ATX and EPS/CPU wattage drawn and the results are as follows. The AC here delivers 230V, so based on the wattage I calculated the current: amperage = wattage divided by 230.
 

  ATX EPS/CPU
max values: W A W A
start cycle 21.8 0.09 15 0,07
system idle 19.1 0.08 4.5 0.02
playing music 19.4 0.08 7.4 0.03
stop cycle 18.7 0.08 7.8 0.03

 

Pretty low maximum values overall, as measured per cycle/use. The HDPlex I am now using delivers 10A which seems overkill, so I would not hesitate to use my soon-to-come 38W/2A SR4 for either ATX or EPS, or even both. Just to find out which sounds best: the 'best' or the most powerful PS...

 

Apparently, for this system, it is true that any PS that can successfully post and boot the PC will be more than enough to handle all running processes.

 

Interestingly enough the EPS draws less than the ATX, so Nenon's rule "put the most powerful power supply on the CPU" may apply to a powerful server with high-TDP CPU, but not to such a minimal endpoint PC.

 

For my audio endpoint I made new measurements on the ATX part as I found a 19V SMPS for it. Now the comparison is more fair as I used SMPS'es for both ATX and EPS/CPU. The result is:
 

  ATX EPS/CPU
maximum W A W A
startup cycle 19.1 0.08 15 0.07
idle 16.7 0.07 4.5 0.02
playing music 16.9 0.07 7.4 0.03
stop cycle 17 0.07 7.8 0.03

 

Power draw at the ATX side (via HDPLEx 800W DC-ATX rail 1) is even lower than before when measured with the LPSU, but still higher than at the EPS side.

 

Note that the W & A values when playing music are independent of the audio format (redbook, hi-res PCM or DSD256). On the server there is a huge difference (as I can see from the temperatures) but for the endpoint, which just streams and does not process, there seems to be no difference.

 

These figures will save me some money 🙂


 

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7 hours ago, Superdad said:

Something for a chuckle.

Was browsing over at Audio Science Rewiew and came across this definitive statement by its founder and chief Audio Precision worshiper Amir:

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/topping-p50-power-supply-for-my-rme-dac.11005/#post-309737

Someone is asking about replacing the SMPS wall-wart that came with their RME ADI-2 DAC and Amir proclaims simply “No power supply has made any difference that is remotely audible.”

 

I’m guessing not too many of you here would agree. So you’d best stop fussing over power supplies and DC cables, etc.—because you are all delusional! x-D

I suppose theoretically if the power from AC mains is so clean and steady, then I guess the effect of PS would be less. That is not possible in real life at domestic homes.  The other explanation is that those people are deaf or their systems are so noisy that it won’t matter what PS rhey use.

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