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My First Audio PC based on HDPlex 2nd Generation H5


andru26
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Just finished the build of my first Audio PC and I wanted to share it here. It consists of:

 

- HDPlex 2nd Generation H5 fanless case

- Supermicro X11SAE-M motherboard

- Intel XEON E3-1245V5 CPU

- 2x8Gb Apacer Industrial DDR4

- 32GB Apacer Industrial SSD

- JCAT USB Card FEMTO

 

The system is powered by Uptone JS-2 LPS and runs on Win Server 2012 R2 + AO in Core Mode. Players I use are Infinity Blade, HQ Player and JRiver, with the first one being my favorite.

 

So far, after about ~150 hours of playback I can say that it's a big step up in SQ from the regular PC I used before. The sound is much tighter, more articulate and faster. The imaging has greatly improved, the background is very dark with much better instrument separation and overall a less digital and more natural presentation.

 

I'm posting here a few photos, I hope you enjoy them:

 

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Thanks!

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Very good job that one, the heatsink pipes would have taken the tongue into many spots to get right :)

 

Was the JCAT USB card part of the previous build? It looks new, no dust.

 

Suggest to keep the wires short to the drives with these, or something like it.

 

Is the 2TB to store the music files?

AS Profile Equipment List        Say NO to MQA

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Very good job that one, the heatsink pipes would have taken the tongue into many spots to get right :)

 

Was the JCAT USB card part of the previous build? It looks new, no dust.

 

Suggest to keep the wires short to the drives with these, or something like it.

 

Is the 2TB to store the music files?

 

 

Thank you.

Everything is new in this build, JCAT also new, it's the FEMTO version. Regarding the SATA wires, I already ordered 2 x Pachanko Reference, which should arrive in a few days. I hope they will be as good as everybody keeps saying.

And yes, the 2TB is the music storage.

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Great build. Question...why did you choose to put a spinning hard drive in it? Why not either buy a larger SSD or perhaps external?

12TB NAS >> i7-6700 Server/Control PC >> i3-5015u NAA >> Singxer SU-1 DDC (modded) >> Holo Spring L3 DAC >> Accustic Arts Power 1 int amp >> Sonus Faber Guaneri Evolution speakers + REL T/5i sub (x2)

 

Other components:

UpTone Audio LPS1.2/IsoRegen, Fiber Switch and FMC, Windows Server 2016 OS, Audiophile Optimizer 3.0, Fidelizer Pro 6, HQ Player, Roonserver, PS Audio P3 AC regenerator, HDPlex 400W ATX & 200W Linear PSU, Light Harmonic Lightspeed Split USB cable, Synergistic Research Tungsten AC power cords, Tara Labs The One speaker cables, Tara Labs The Two Extended with HFX Station IC, Oyaide R1 outlets, Stillpoints Ultra Mini footers, Hi-Fi Tuning fuses, Vicoustic/RealTraps/GIK room treatments

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Great build. Question...why did you choose to put a spinning hard drive in it? Why not either buy a larger SSD or perhaps external?

Hi tboooe,

 

Thanks for your interest in my build.

 

Regarding your question, this is still a "work on progress" and I am considering other ways to improve the build. One way is the usage of a SSD instead of the HDD, which would be the easiest for me.

 

However I don't have any experience with external storage, I assuming you are suggestion a NAS, right? How are you going from your NAS to the PC?

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Yes I use a NAS which is connected to my wireless router upstairs. I use a wireless bridge in my music room and connect it to my server PC via Ethernet cable (actually I use fiber but that's a different topic). Using AC wireless I have zero issues streaming DSD or high res.

12TB NAS >> i7-6700 Server/Control PC >> i3-5015u NAA >> Singxer SU-1 DDC (modded) >> Holo Spring L3 DAC >> Accustic Arts Power 1 int amp >> Sonus Faber Guaneri Evolution speakers + REL T/5i sub (x2)

 

Other components:

UpTone Audio LPS1.2/IsoRegen, Fiber Switch and FMC, Windows Server 2016 OS, Audiophile Optimizer 3.0, Fidelizer Pro 6, HQ Player, Roonserver, PS Audio P3 AC regenerator, HDPlex 400W ATX & 200W Linear PSU, Light Harmonic Lightspeed Split USB cable, Synergistic Research Tungsten AC power cords, Tara Labs The One speaker cables, Tara Labs The Two Extended with HFX Station IC, Oyaide R1 outlets, Stillpoints Ultra Mini footers, Hi-Fi Tuning fuses, Vicoustic/RealTraps/GIK room treatments

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Yes I use a NAS which is connected to my wireless router upstairs. I use a wireless bridge in my music room and connect it to my server PC via Ethernet cable (actually I use fiber but that's a different topic). Using AC wireless I have zero issues streaming DSD or high res.

This sounds great. What NAS are you using? Also, can the NAS be connected via fiber directly to the PC? Do you need a special card for that?

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This sounds great. What NAS are you using? Also, can the NAS be connected via fiber directly to the PC? Do you need a special card for that?

 

I use an old piece of junk Thecus NAS. There are plenty of options but my favorite is Qnap. Others use Synology.

 

In my server PC I have a dual port fiber NIC. As far as I know there are no consumer grade NAS with fiber. You can however use an FMC (fiber media converter) to go from copper Ethernet cable to fiber.

 

You can definitely connect the NAS to the PC. Setup will depend on what you what to achieve with your network. For example, do you want the NAS accessible from other PCs on your network? If you could get a dual port NIC and then bridge those ports. Or you can get a NAS with dual ports and so do the same bridging. Lots of options. You just need to first figure out what you want to accomplish.

12TB NAS >> i7-6700 Server/Control PC >> i3-5015u NAA >> Singxer SU-1 DDC (modded) >> Holo Spring L3 DAC >> Accustic Arts Power 1 int amp >> Sonus Faber Guaneri Evolution speakers + REL T/5i sub (x2)

 

Other components:

UpTone Audio LPS1.2/IsoRegen, Fiber Switch and FMC, Windows Server 2016 OS, Audiophile Optimizer 3.0, Fidelizer Pro 6, HQ Player, Roonserver, PS Audio P3 AC regenerator, HDPlex 400W ATX & 200W Linear PSU, Light Harmonic Lightspeed Split USB cable, Synergistic Research Tungsten AC power cords, Tara Labs The One speaker cables, Tara Labs The Two Extended with HFX Station IC, Oyaide R1 outlets, Stillpoints Ultra Mini footers, Hi-Fi Tuning fuses, Vicoustic/RealTraps/GIK room treatments

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I use an old piece of junk Thecus NAS. There are plenty of options but my favorite is Qnap. Others use Synology.

 

In my server PC I have a dual port fiber NIC. As far as I know there are no consumer grade NAS with fiber. You can however use an FMC (fiber media converter) to go from copper Ethernet cable to fiber.

 

You can definitely connect the NAS to the PC. Setup will depend on what you what to achieve with your network. For example, do you want the NAS accessible from other PCs on your network? If you could get a dual port NIC and then bridge those ports. Or you can get a NAS with dual ports and so do the same bridging. Lots of options. You just need to first figure out what you want to accomplish.

 

I don't have any intention of accessing the NAS from other computers. It's only purpose should be to deliver the music to the Audio PC. What would you recommend for such setup?

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I don't have any intention of accessing the NAS from other computers. It's only purpose should be to deliver the music to the Audio PC. What would you recommend for such setup?

 

How big is music collection? Maybe use a USB stick or an external drive? Personally, if I was to go to the trouble and expense of getting a NAS, I would locate it remotely from my music room and server to both isolate it electrically and noise wise. Then either use wifi in the server or an external wireless bridge to get the music. If that is too much trouble then I would in just get an ssd to replace the WD you currently have.

12TB NAS >> i7-6700 Server/Control PC >> i3-5015u NAA >> Singxer SU-1 DDC (modded) >> Holo Spring L3 DAC >> Accustic Arts Power 1 int amp >> Sonus Faber Guaneri Evolution speakers + REL T/5i sub (x2)

 

Other components:

UpTone Audio LPS1.2/IsoRegen, Fiber Switch and FMC, Windows Server 2016 OS, Audiophile Optimizer 3.0, Fidelizer Pro 6, HQ Player, Roonserver, PS Audio P3 AC regenerator, HDPlex 400W ATX & 200W Linear PSU, Light Harmonic Lightspeed Split USB cable, Synergistic Research Tungsten AC power cords, Tara Labs The One speaker cables, Tara Labs The Two Extended with HFX Station IC, Oyaide R1 outlets, Stillpoints Ultra Mini footers, Hi-Fi Tuning fuses, Vicoustic/RealTraps/GIK room treatments

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How big is music collection? Maybe use a USB stick or an external drive? Personally, if I was to go to the trouble and expense of getting a NAS, I would locate it remotely from my music room and server to both isolate it electrically and noise wise. Then either use wifi in the server or an external wireless bridge to get the music. If that is too much trouble then I would in just get an ssd to replace the WD you currently have.

 

I have 1TB of music, but it's constantly growing. So, I will take into consideration locating the NAS externally to the listening room, as you suggest.

Thanks for the useful information.

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I have 1TB of music, but it's constantly growing. So, I will take into consideration locating the NAS externally to the listening room, as you suggest.

Thanks for the useful information.

 

You don't need a NAS. Internal sata HDD is just fine for data drives, but I would use a 2.5" drive, 5V only to be powered separately from the MOBO. You can get 2 or 3 TB drives for much cheaper than SSD. I have 3 of them in my H5 case, 2TB each, powered by my HDPlex LPS.

(JRiver) Jetway barebones NUC (mod 3 sCLK-EX, Cybershaft OP 14)  (PH SR7) => mini pcie adapter to PCIe 1X => tXUSBexp PCIe card (mod sCLK-EX) (PH SR7) => (USPCB) Chord DAVE => Omega Super 8XRS/REL t5i  (All powered thru Topaz Isolation Transformer)

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Great built.

 

It sounds like you've done other builds before. Wondering if you could comment on the difference between this Xeon build vs your previous. I'm personally debating going down similar build on more supported i5/win10 vs something like this.

 

Also, are you able to comment on the difference and how big of a difference between using a PC ATX power supply vs a LPSU? Again, I'm wondering how critical is the LPSU.

 

Finally, if you had to choose, would you go i5/win10 & linear psu or Xeon build with ATX psu?

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You don't need a NAS. Internal sata HDD is just fine for data drives, but I would use a 2.5" drive, 5V only to be powered separately from the MOBO. You can get 2 or 3 TB drives for much cheaper than SSD. I have 3 of them in my H5 case, 2TB each, powered by my HDPlex LPS.

 

Agree with most of this post. 2.5in drives are quieter and draw less current and less backplane noise. You can have two drives in the same space as a 3.5in. As for capacity, there's a 2.5in 5TB Seagate drive that's available, but can't vouch for its reliability just yet and it is 15mm thick as opposed to the usual 7mm that maxes out at 2TB.

 

In any case, it will be worthwhile to get a NAS for backups only. I found that playing files from a NAS reduces listening engagement somewhat, and the slower access times ruin spontaneity. Internal drives are straight on the PCI(e) bus with no long wires and more power supplies adding to leakage current problems.

 

For separately powering HDDs, I don't have much of judgement either way, in one case there's already a power supply, why add another that can cause a ground loop with something else. Just goes on. In one case you're isolating one of 30 or so PSU on the motherboard will it make a difference? Oh, there's a thread or more on that here.

AS Profile Equipment List        Say NO to MQA

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Nice build Andru. HDplex H5 is a good looking case, I have one myself too.

 

Thanks Robert. Not sure if you noticed, but my power button is missing the H logo. The reason is that at the time of my order they only had caes with black frontplates in stock for Europe. So I ordered a black one and Larry from HD Plex was kind enough to send me another siver frontplate all the way from US. The only thing with this one was that it didn't have the button logo engraved on it, which I didn't mind. In a way I can say that my case is "custom made" :).

 

By the way, I just want to say that Larry is the most responsive and helpful sales person I EVER encountered. And his after sales support is equally excellent.

So, Larry I'd like to say a big thanks for all your help!!!

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Great built.

It sounds like you've done other builds before. Wondering if you could comment on the difference between this Xeon build vs your previous. I'm personally debating going down similar build on more supported i5/win10 vs something like this.

 

 

yes, I have done other builds previosuly, however this is my first dedicated Audio PC build.

Regarding the usage of Xeon CPU, I don't have any way of measuring the difference between it and my other CPUs I used. However, the main reason for choosing this solution was the fact that it supports ECC RAM, which is a better option than regular non-ECC RAM.

Nonetheless, this CPU is also very fast.

 

 

Also, are you able to comment on the difference and how big of a difference between using a PC ATX power supply vs a LPSU? Again, I'm wondering how critical is the LPSU.

 

 

 

In my experience using high quality power cables and a LPSU has a very positive impact on the sound quality.

JS-2 lpsu has 2 separate rails with voltage adjustments. I am using one of them to power the mobo and the second one to power the JCAT USB card.

The results I am getting is considerably reduced noise floor resulting in a very dark background, much better instrument separation, better speed, attack, articulation.

The current configuration in cobination with Win Server 2012 R2 / AO is producing a more lifelike 3D musical presentation and the soundstage being more holographic.

 

 

Finally, if you had to choose, would you go i5/win10 & linear psu or Xeon build with ATX psu?

 

I believe having a linear psu is much more important than the CPU choice.

Another very important componet in my build is the JCAT card. The is a BIG difference in sound between using it and using a regular USB port from the mobo.

There is also a significant difference between using the JCAT card with the provided Renesas Driver vs. using JCAT with the default USB driver provided by the mobo manufacturer.

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Agree with most of this post. 2.5in drives are quieter and draw less current and less backplane noise. You can have two drives in the same space as a 3.5in. As for capacity, there's a 2.5in 5TB Seagate drive that's available, but can't vouch for its reliability just yet and it is 15mm thick as opposed to the usual 7mm that maxes out at 2TB.

 

In any case, it will be worthwhile to get a NAS for backups only. I found that playing files from a NAS reduces listening engagement somewhat, and the slower access times ruin spontaneity. Internal drives are straight on the PCI(e) bus with no long wires and more power supplies adding to leakage current problems.

 

For separately powering HDDs, I don't have much of judgement either way, in one case there's already a power supply, why add another that can cause a ground loop with something else. Just goes on. In one case you're isolating one of 30 or so PSU on the motherboard will it make a difference? Oh, there's a thread or more on that here.

 

Thanks for the info!

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Agree with most of this post. 2.5in drives are quieter and draw less current and less backplane noise. You can have two drives in the same space as a 3.5in. As for capacity, there's a 2.5in 5TB Seagate drive that's available, but can't vouch for its reliability just yet and it is 15mm thick as opposed to the usual 7mm that maxes out at 2TB.

 

In any case, it will be worthwhile to get a NAS for backups only. I found that playing files from a NAS reduces listening engagement somewhat, and the slower access times ruin spontaneity. Internal drives are straight on the PCI(e) bus with no long wires and more power supplies adding to leakage current problems.

 

For separately powering HDDs, I don't have much of judgement either way, in one case there's already a power supply, why add another that can cause a ground loop with something else. Just goes on. In one case you're isolating one of 30 or so PSU on the motherboard will it make a difference? Oh, there's a thread or more on that here.

 

Yes, obviously one wants to take care of any power source being introduced into the system flow. Isolator transformer, separate galvanic isolated supplies.

I wouldn't even use a NAS for backup, just do your backups randomly the old way, copy and paste. No need to be demanding resources from your playback mobo.

Really if we are going to go all the way, go with a Mobo like a pico-itx to try and limit the amount of functions on the motherboard and to enable a lighter power source that could use one of the new galvanic isolated supplies. Make your playback PC much like the renderers and eliminate the need/benefit of a NAA or renderer. This would be the goal.

 

Will be my next task after I have seen the results of the isolation transformer and eliminated the power grid as a source of leaking stray AC.

(JRiver) Jetway barebones NUC (mod 3 sCLK-EX, Cybershaft OP 14)  (PH SR7) => mini pcie adapter to PCIe 1X => tXUSBexp PCIe card (mod sCLK-EX) (PH SR7) => (USPCB) Chord DAVE => Omega Super 8XRS/REL t5i  (All powered thru Topaz Isolation Transformer)

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Thanks for the info!

Yesterday I pulled my SSD and installed the 5tb Seagate 2.5 inch HDD powered by an LPS-1 into my HQplayer upsampling machine. In preliminary testing SQ is stunning as the need for the NAS connection is removed and substituted for the quieter HDD. Also, SSDs generate a lot of high frequency noise that is eliminated with the HDD.

 

I have the long disk copy of the many 10,000 music files from the NAS to the new drive running now.

 

Stay tuned. Write speeds on this drive aren't exactly knocking me over.

Pareto Audio aka nuckleheadaudio

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Yesterday I pulled my SSD and installed the 5tb Seagate 2.5 inch HDD powered by an LPS-1 into my HQplayer upsampling machine. In preliminary testing SQ is stunning as the need for the NAS connection is removed and substituted for the quieter HDD. Also, SSDs generate a lot of high frequency noise that is eliminated with the HDD.

 

I have the long disk copy of the many 10,000 music files from the NAS to the new drive running now.

 

Stay tuned. Write speeds on this drive aren't exactly knocking me over.

 

Hi lmitche,

 

So removing the NAS and powering the HDD externally has improved your SQ? Also, are you using one drive for both OS and music storage?

I'm also thinking about powering my OS SSD externally via JS-2 and this is great feedback.

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the main reason for choosing this solution was the fact that it supports ECC RAM, which is a better option than regular non-ECC RAM.

 

I believe having a linear psu is much more important than the CPU choice.

 

Another very important componet in my build is the JCAT card. The is a BIG difference in sound between using it and using a regular USB port from the mobo.

 

Andru - many thanks for your detailed replies! And wow. Even memory type matters?

 

I guess I am actually trying to work out given a limited budget and i'm starting from scratch (I only have a DAC + NAS), where should i invest initially and where i should defer to later. For example:

 

Do i choose between streamers (SOTM 200/microRendu/Aurelic) from NAS or Build my own

My current conclusion here is i probably build my own...mostly since my NAS/router is 30-40 ft of cable away and i don't want to go under my house. And if i can remove the router or another device (NAS+router) then I'm sure my sound quality would improve. I also think I would probably end up buying many L-PSU for my NAS/router etc which then adds to total find costs.

 

For a build, where should i focus?

- Xeon/winserver vs i5/win10 - I get the feeling xeon/winserver is better sound quality but not sure if that's because of the hardware or even some software is only available to winserver not win10 e.g AO? My friend is suggesting i go i5/win10 since driver and popular software compatibility is easier. i5/win10 is also a bit cheaper.

 

- Next up seems to be SSD vs HDD. If i can afford go to full SSD even for storage, that seems to be better. But 1TB SSD is not cheap. And 1TB probably won't be enough space for me over time.

 

- Then there is linear PSU - which i agree is a must. Question then is:

1kva platnium atx/pc/smps suffice? a 100w lpsu +dc to atx board (eg hdplex 300w hifi dc to atx)? or 400w lpsu which is $$$. Your Uptone LPSU is pretty pricy.

 

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817151105

HDPLEX Fanless Linear Power Supply for PC Audio and CE device

HDPLEX-300W-Hi-Fi-DC-ATX-Power-Supply (16V-24V Wide Range Voltage Input)

HDPLEX Fanless 400W ATX Linear Power Supply with Modular ATX Output

 

 

- you mentioned different ecc vs non ecc ram - i didn't even realise that makes a diff! but that maybe part of the choose xeon/winserver route.

 

- finally, JCAT usb card - is that just because you're not using a cheap USB on the motherboard? At $470, when should one try this before other things? e.g. LPSU?

 

 

There is also a significant difference between using the JCAT card with the provided Renesas Driver vs. using JCAT with the default USB driver provided by the mobo manufacturer.

 

But I assume having the JCAT was the biggest difference? Feeding it LPSU + using better drivers are icing on the cake?

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