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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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jean-michel6 What Kind of box are you using? From the web page it seems that they are just selling the logical plate + circuits. Thank you


AMP: Electrocompaniet ECI-6D; DAC: Oppo 205 (modded); ECI-6D

Streamer/endpoint: Zen MKIII/ultraRendu; Speakers: Proac Tablette Reference 8 Signature; Cables: Speakers (Acoustic Revive) + RCA (au24sx) + RJ45 (Vodka Audioquest) + USB (Diamond Audioquest) + Power (Pangea's + Actinote's) + iR&oM (Neotech 16AWG OCC Silver + DC 4); Filters/reclockers: Jensen VRD- iFF + Pink Faun Isolator + Acoustic Revive RGC-24 + HMS “The Perfect Match” + isoRegen; Switch: etherRegen + opticalModule; Cisco 2960; LPS: Sboosters MKI & MKII (+ ultra) + HDplex 200 + LPS 1.2

 

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Some interesting developments here. And full circle again from lightweight endpoints to heavy servers/endpoints back to the lightweight endpoints again. :)

 

So there’s the Intel i9/Ryzen7 or 9 servers, Allo USBridge, Optical Rendu and Engineered eRED-Dock options that should all outperform the NUC based endpoints. I had been thinking about replacing my dual server/NUC i7 endpoint for a single i9 machine build but now not to sure. The lightweight solutions make HQ powering stuff so much easier! 
 

Thanks all for sharing! 

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2 hours ago, soares said:

jean-michel6 What Kind of box are you using? From the web page it seems that they are just selling the logical plate + circuits. Thank you

Engineered is just selling the boards . I did bought the aluminium box from this web site https://www.audiophonics.fr/fr/ they have a lot of good products for Audio DIY ( in Europe ) .

However there are many options on eBay .


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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6 hours ago, Gavin1977 said:

@jean-michel6 What is the percieved benefit split between etheregen / eRED-DOCK in your system?  Which one would you buy first?

Very difficult question to answer . Both the etherregen and the engineered are excellent products which raise significantly the SQ of digital audio . 

To answer your question it depends on what is your system today . you can PM me if you wish 


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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30 minutes ago, jean-michel6 said:

Follow up on the engineered board , etherregen small miracle .

 

I was yesterday at a friend's home who has a very nice audio system . His digital front end is an APL CD player and the APL DAC that are linked together by a proprietary I2S style connection . This top APL combo sells for 60 000 Euros in Europe 😓.

 

We did compare my front end ( Supermicro server under Daphile , Etherregen , Engineered renderer  PSU  Sean Jacobs DC3 and Uptone 1.2) , this front end was connected to the APL DAC in AES using a kubala sosna emotion digital cable .

We compared that to his system using the APL drive .

 

The overall SQ in his system( speakers are Martin Logan CL 15 A , by the way a wonderful speaker ) is already extremely good .

Both front end were very enjoyable and in the same ball park  level however  on several criteria the engineered/etherregen was better ( timber, transparency on top end , lack of sibilance ...) and overall the six audiophile present did preferred  the engineered/etheregen combo .

 

That is truly an excellent results to have this roughly 2500$ set up challenge successfully a 20 000 Euros drive !

 

This is the DAC used https://www.hifilink.fr/boutique/sources-hifi/convertisseurs-dac/apl-dsd-mr-dac/

This the CD player used https://www.hifilink.fr/boutique/sources-hifi/lecteurs-et-drives-cd-sacd/apl-dtr-mr-transport-cd-sacd/

 

 

 

Merci Jean-Michel,

 

Not surprised at all. :-)

 

I often visit hifi expositions and despite the room deficiencies one can notice, my "humble" system defeats many other sets costing thousands dollars more.

 

Bien à toi,

 

Jorge  

 


AMP: Electrocompaniet ECI-6D; DAC: Oppo 205 (modded); ECI-6D

Streamer/endpoint: Zen MKIII/ultraRendu; Speakers: Proac Tablette Reference 8 Signature; Cables: Speakers (Acoustic Revive) + RCA (au24sx) + RJ45 (Vodka Audioquest) + USB (Diamond Audioquest) + Power (Pangea's + Actinote's) + iR&oM (Neotech 16AWG OCC Silver + DC 4); Filters/reclockers: Jensen VRD- iFF + Pink Faun Isolator + Acoustic Revive RGC-24 + HMS “The Perfect Match” + isoRegen; Switch: etherRegen + opticalModule; Cisco 2960; LPS: Sboosters MKI & MKII (+ ultra) + HDplex 200 + LPS 1.2

 

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11 hours ago, jean-michel6 said:

Can Roon see it at all as a UPnP/DLNA renderer? I need to test that .


No need to test. Roon does not support UPnP (they actually ‘hate’ it and I don’t blame them). :)

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14 minutes ago, davide256 said:

You will be disappointed with the Allo route. I've used RPI 3, Allo USBridge/Digione, they could approach a microRendu in SQ with good PS but the cheaper hardware limited how clean the sound was. Discovering NUC/Audiolinux was transformative, just left the microRendu in the dust for depth of detail.  On the NUC route I've

evolved from Pentium to I3 to I7 using Uptone Audio PS's and each step up in processor for endpoint improved resolution even with the low CPU utilization of PCM playback. My only regret on the NUC side is lack of a PCIE slot for a dedicated USB card .I've replaced USB out power from the NUC with 5v from an LPS 1.2

which was a significant SQ gain but suspect that the HW quality of the "comes with" USB ports have some penalties for audio


Thank you Dave for sharing this. Reading bobfa’s recent review made me believe the USBridge would be better.

 

Regarding the NUC, I agree and really “had to“ use a sotm TX-USBUltra to ‘clean’ things up, without it was way too noisy with it I retained the NUC positives.

 

 I’m sure you know about the M.2 to PCIe converters but in case you don’t here’s one: https://www.ebay.com/itm/25cm-M-2-Key-M-to-PCIe-x1-Riser-Card-Cable-for-Bitcoin-mining-R41SR-WK-/253454407364

 

Of course using such an adapter rules out the option of using any M.2 storage options (Optane or conventional SSD’s) and one has to fabricate something to house the USB card.

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2 hours ago, jean-michel6 said:

.... That is truly an excellent results to have this roughly 2500$ set up challenge successfully a 20 000 Euros drive !

Very impressive jean-michel

So you were comparing FLAC or DSD files played on your supermicro server, eR and eRED-DOCK chain against the APL CD/SACD Transport?

What did the APL play - files or discs?

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On 1/20/2020 at 10:51 AM, guiltyboxswapper said:

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

 

Turns out this is an opticalModule that's hosted within the server/PC chassis, still has to connect back to ethernet port somehow.  

 

Anyone seen an PCI-express SFP card that accepts external power?

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(deleted)


Digital:  Innuos Zenith Std Mk2 > Shunyata Sigma USB > Chord Hugo M-Scaler > Wireworld Gold Startlight > OPTO DX > Shunyata Alpha S/PDIF > Chord Hugo TT2 

Amp & Speakers:  Spectral DMA-150mk2 > Aerial 10T

Foundation: Stillpoints Ultra, Shunyata Denali power conditioner, Shunyata Alpha power cords, Shunyata Alpha interconnect, Shunyata Sigma Ethernet, MIT Matrix HD60 speaker cables, ASC isothermal tube traps

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43 minutes ago, Nenon said:

 

This looks good. Thanks for sharing. I am planning to buy one and try it in my system.

 

One thing to note here is that @jean-michel6 is using SPDIF. There was a time when I used SPDIF output. What I found interesting at the time was that I was getting better results from devices that output directly SPDIF rather than outputting USB and then converting to SPDIF. There were some really good USB to SPDIF DDCs that did an excellent job when you power them with clean power, use good cables, etc. But I could always hear some digital artifacts of doing that. This is when I discovered the PinkFain SPDIF bridge and their ultaOCXO clock. 

 

Well, I remember the time when my goal was to make digital source sound better than my friends highly tweaked CD player. It was very difficult. But these days, many of our digital sources are much better than pretty much any CD transport out there. But again, that's a really good sign for the engineered modules. I like what I see and read about them. 

 

I had good results with the Allo DigiOne Signature player. With very good power, ethernet noise filtering techniques, and a Stillpoints Ultra 6 under it, it was sounding pretty good for the price but was never my best source. I guess a DigiOne Signature in the new USBridge SIG board would sound even better. It would be an interesting comparison to the engineered modules. I still don't think any of the Allo products has the potential to sound better than a properly designed and tweaked DIY server. But those engineered modules might have even better potential. I will try them and report back at some point.

 

 

 

I've had several Allo, Sonore, and SOTM products in my system, and I did not like any of them enough to keep them. I mentioned my experience with Allo above. The Sonore products were never my cup of tea - I've had a microRendu and ultraRendu, but never had the opticalRendu. The SOTM products also had their limitations. 

 

So far, a highly tweaked music computer sounds best to me. But that is because we don't have the right, properly engineered products from the ground up. My bet would be on FPGA technology rather than RaspberryPis or small mobile chips / CPUs that consume little power. The problem is that the FPGA programming for audio is not mature enough. The top world-class FPGA developers are working in sectors with much more profit (Financial industry, Military, Space agencies, etc.). There is one company that originally wrote most of the FPGA code for the first FPGA DACs, and as far as I am aware it might be somehow related to Rockna / Audiobyte. 

Take a look at the PS Audio DAC - they manage to improve the sound quality by releasing new FPGA firmware every six months. That probably confirms that the FPGA code is not mature enough yet. It will get there one day, and I will be the first to jump on FPGA.

And speaking of Audiobyte, their Hydra Hub looks interesting - https://audiobyte.net/products/hydra-hub. I friend of mine has one on order, so I will get a chance to listen to it in my system. 

 

But back to the engineered boards - I like them and looking forward to test them. Too bad they are not in stock until March. 

 

You are a busy bee, are you. I really like you are going to test the engineered board. Still a pity it doesn’t output usb. A while back I made a choice to go for usb and invested in that. But we have to see what the outcome will be. 


🇳🇱
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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13 hours ago, bodiebill said:

 

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 🙂

 

followup question for superdad and/or swenson

 

if we're looking for micro-bursts of current that are instantaneously pulling much more than the average current draw, would we be able to see this on a high speed oscilloscope in the time domain as a bursty dip in the voltage?  if the peak current was within the capacity of the power supply and the impedance was low (a fuzzy term, i know), i would expect the voltage to stay constant.

however, if the instantaneous draw is limited somewhere, wouldn't we see an instantaneous voltage change?  (assuming we had a fully buffered way of accessing the voltage)

 

just wondering..............or maybe its already in the white paper?

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4 hours ago, dtossan said:

Very impressive jean-michel

So you were comparing FLAC or DSD files played on your supermicro server, eR and eRED-DOCK chain against the APL CD/SACD Transport?

What did the APL play - files or discs?

We did use the same piece of music either from a cd on the APL CD player  or the same file ripped from this cd and written on   the usb hdd of the server.


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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7 hours ago, davide256 said:

You will be disappointed with the Allo route. I've used RPI 3, Allo USBridge/Digione, they could approach a microRendu in SQ with good PS but the cheaper hardware limited how clean the sound was. Discovering NUC/Audiolinux was transformative, just left the microRendu in the dust for depth of detail.  On the NUC route I've

evolved from Pentium to I3 to I7 using Uptone Audio PS's and each step up in processor for endpoint improved resolution even with the low CPU utilization of PCM playback. My only regret on the NUC side is lack of a PCIE slot for a dedicated USB card .I've replaced USB out power from the NUC with 5v from an LPS 1.2

which was a significant SQ gain but suspect that the HW quality of the "comes with" USB ports have some penalties for audio

 

Is it your opinion that a purpose built PC used as an endpoint will outperform the Sonore endpoints?  If so, is this software dependent as well?  I was thing of using my prior music server (Supermicro/Xeon CPU/Apacer ram/jcat USB) to run roon bridge.  Currently the PC is configured to run Win server 2019 and audiophile optimizer.

 

 


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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4 hours ago, dminches said:

 

Is it your opinion that a purpose built PC used as an endpoint will outperform the Sonore endpoints?  If so, is this software dependent as well?  I was thing of using my prior music server (Supermicro/Xeon CPU/Apacer ram/jcat USB) to run roon bridge.  Currently the PC is configured to run Win server 2019 and audiophile optimizer.

 

There are many happy people running AL and/or Euphony on NUC endpoints that used to swear by Sonore rendus. I'm just one of them. It's been about a year since this

thread made me a convert.


Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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20 hours ago, Chopin75 said:

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.

Technically they can’t be deaf because they always hear each other’s opinions (but no one else’s!)


ATL DC Blocker > Topaz 2.5Kva Isolation Transformer > Sine SA5 Cryo 5 power strip > EtherRegen switch powered with Ciunas Supercaps 7.5v LPS > Antipodes DXe roon core> PS Audio Directstream Junior Dac 'Windom'> Decware SE84UFO3 Mono Amps > Omega Super Alnico Monitors. PH SR4 power supplies. In addition my reference SQ is a modified SD card Player powered by Ian Canada LifePo4/Ultracaps mod outputting 2x 3.3v > I2S module > PS Audio DAC.

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4 hours ago, davide256 said:

There are many happy people running AL and/or Euphony on NUC endpoints that used to swear by Sonore rendus. I'm just one of them. It's been about a year since this

thread made me a convert.

 

The person who recommended trying a NUC was infact an ex-ultraRendu owner.  These designs were previous generation and so yes the NUC is an improvement over those, compared to what's now available in the last 12m.

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