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PC Music Server advice - What Not to Do


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Hi, I am putting together a PC server with plans to use a later version of JRiver to start it with.  I have several other computers which have been turned into music servers but this is the first time that I am going to be serving to an Oppo via HDMI rather than TosLink to a receiver's DAC.  I want the multi-channel decoding of the Oppo's DAC.  This is also the first time using Windows 10 and a more modern computer.

 

I bought 2 HDDs = 10Tbs for this computer, and have several 2Tbs USB drives I was previously using.  The data will be moved to the new drives once I get an external enclosure.

 

My question is, is there anything I should not do before downloading JRiver and beginning setting up the software to output through HDMI?  Like installing Google Chrome, is that a bad idea to begin with?

 

Do I need an ASIO driver or does Win 10 take care of all the issues with that now?

 

Any advise to help me avoid common mistakes would be appreciated.

 

This is the used computer I just got for this project.

 

Dell Optiplex SFF 7010

Intel (R) core (TM) i5-3740 CPU @ 3.20 GHz 3.00 GHz ,( 3.70 Ghz Turbo Boost) 
6 GB ram (max 16 GB)
250 GB hard drive

Installed Intel (R) HD Graphics video card with vga and hdmi out

genuine Win 10 PRO 

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1. There is no problem with the order of downloading your software. Sometimes, issues can arise in the order that you launch the software, e.g. if you are using an ASIO bridge you need to launch the programs in a certain order. But ... which order you install stuff? That doesn't matter. 

 

2. There is no problem installing Google Chrome. 

 

3. You most definitely need an ASIO driver if you are planning to use JRiver to push music to your Oppo via HDMI. I do not know which Oppo you have (since you did not state this), but I just checked the webpage and looked at the manual for the Oppo BDP-203 on their website. Read p.42, "Playback from a home network". It looks as if you are out of luck. I also looked at Oppo's website for an ASIO driver. No such thing. It also appears that the USB inputs on the BDP-203 are only there for media playback via an external HDD or USB stick. So you are out of luck again. 

 

I would suggest that you forego the Oppo entirely. Use JRiver to send HDMI video directly to your TV via your graphics card, and send the sound signal to an outboard DAC. 

 

4. All those spinning HDD's are not a good idea. Not only do they generate a lot of noise (which is a problem if your PC is in your media room), but some people believe that spinning HDD's also generate electric noise that will affect the sound. If a large amount of storage is required, the suggested solution is to use a NAS and have SSD's in your PC only. 

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Thank you Keith for reply.  The Oppo is the 103 model.  And I have friends who are pumping several formats of digital through HDMI and having the Oppo decode it flawlessly.  DSD or dsf, flac, stereo and multi-channel decodes wonderfully.  This is an area I am not in doubt about.

 

The outboard DAC is going to cost a fortune if it must decode multi-channel streams (which is the point of the Oppo 103).

 

My concern was using any other software known to be in conflic with JRiver or servers in general.

 

And while SS drives are going to be quieter, what would the cost of 10Tbs be in SS drive models?  No don't answer that one.  I know I cannot afford it.

 

I don't think you understand my goals so far as FLAC and DSD MC, and cost considerations for using the 10Tbs of HDD space.

 

This thread and post was more about what software I should not put on this system (if any) due to known conflicts.  Rather than why an Oppo is not a good multi-chan DAC option or why standard disc drives are unacceptable for 10Tbs of data.

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20 hours ago, Keith_W said:

If a large amount of storage is required, the suggested solution is to use a NAS and have SSD's in your PC only. 

 

For a few years now I have had a policy of putting disks inside PCs (faster than USB) and running the audio server on that PC. I run Linux on the server so it's easy to manage, backup and it's virus free and efficient (fast).

 

It also helps that the noise from the PC is no longer an issue because it's in the garage or shed: i.e. you can use cheap parts because you'll never hear them. You can put 4 big disks in there - decent full fat server rated ones - and everything is just fine.

 

Then the client PC/Tablet/Phone/Mac/Chromebook/Pi only needs to have Wifi and a small SSD. In fact computers always used to be server-client, it's only with the advent of the PC we started stuffing all the function and storage into one box, but the world is now moving away from that to the more sensible server-client model and that suits audio perfectly too because the size, noise and interference can be located far far away, and only the 'thin', silent client needs space in the audio rack.

 

So my 2c of what not to do: Don't have the PC in the room, music servers should be big, cheap, noisy, fast and somewhere else, your client doesn't even need SSD - my Raspberry Pi client runs just fine on an £11 MicroSD card :)

Battling the Loudness War with the SeeDeClip4 multi-user, decompressing, declipping streaming Music Server.

 

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Fidelizer pro to optimize the pc, move the os to a ssd and put your 10 tbs of storage outside the pc, usb box or nas and up the ram to 16gb. At least that's what I'd do.I think Jriver uses it's own asio driver. At the very least, wasapi will be available

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On 6/4/2017 at 0:54 PM, hipstone said:

Thank you Keith for reply.  The Oppo is the 103 model.  And I have friends who are pumping several formats of digital through HDMI and having the Oppo decode it flawlessly.  DSD or dsf, flac, stereo and multi-channel decodes wonderfully.  This is an area I am not in doubt about.

 

I was under the impression that HDMI could only transmit audio if it was embedded in a video signal. Perhaps my understanding is either mistaken or obsolete. Given that Jim Hillegass (JRiver founder) is on this thread, I would appreciate if you or anyone else could clarify? 

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On 6/4/2017 at 7:51 AM, bilboda said:

Fidelizer pro to optimize the pc, move the os to a ssd and put your 10 tbs of storage outside the pc, usb box or nas and up the ram to 16gb. At least that's what I'd do.I think Jriver uses it's own asio driver. At the very least, wasapi will be available

Yes, these are the exact things I have in mind, 16Gs of ram first, 10Tbs in external case, and SSD coming much later.

 

Is Fidelizer pro the new optimizer on the scene?  The hip new kid on the block, as I recall there was another one that got lots of great ink in this forum.

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On 6/4/2017 at 10:56 AM, jriver said:

ASIO drivers always come from the manufacturer, but WASAPI usually works as well and doesn't require a driver.

I have several years of experience with an old "free" version of the JRiver sw.  So I should be able to get it up and running fairly quickly.  I recall many hours spent originally in an effort to get bit-perfect output from toslink optical.

 

This time I am going HDMI with a card added just for that mode, as computer does not have it on board.  I am praying it's not hours again trying to get it to play.  I am waiting for it to arrive in the mail, sent from same city.

 

Thank you for the reply.  I am reading the JR forums as well gathering up tips on each step.

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6 hours ago, Keith_W said:

 

I was under the impression that HDMI could only transmit audio if it was embedded in a video signal. Perhaps my understanding is either mistaken or obsolete. Given that Jim Hillegass (JRiver founder) is on this thread, I would appreciate if you or anyone else could clarify? 

Well, if you have JRiver outputting through HDMI, then likely there is a black or blank video signal paired with the audio to make it work.  It is being done and is common.  One of the more comon reasons is to utlize the multi-chan DAC in an Oppo player.

 

Oppos, later models anyway, do accept input from computer servers, they will decode every format just about including DSD or dsf files, and send out analog signals to receivers that do not have HDMI, nor USB for that matter.

 

I have researched this arrangement for several years now.  It works.

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55 minutes ago, hipstone said:

Is Fidelizer pro the new optimizer on the scene?  The hip new kid on the block, as I recall there was another one that got lots of great ink in this forum.

 

Interesting, I've not come across optimisers like this before. I tend to feed my digital via Toslink into a Behringer Ultramatch that re-clocks the audio, and has a nice feature of being able to double the rate into the DAC which sounds sweeter to my ears. As long as it gets there it sounds just fine to me.

 

I haven't done much testing with Windows TBH, I tend to use Linux and OS X, although I have a Windows 10 laptop with an i7, multiple cores coasting 2.9GHz so I'd be puzzled if the (mainly 44.1kHz) audio didn't make it to the DAC/USB in time :). It plays 1920x1080 videos without blinking so I'd have thought audio was a walk in the park.

 

Usually in computers there are buffers, FIFOs, hardware clocks etc that all work to preserve the sound stream and it comes out well synced up - as far as I can tell - if the buffer or fifo runs dry the sound stops. This can happen if streaming in Chrome and then a big javascript/ajax function runs on the same page as the player, but this is a simple break rather than any distortion.

 

Even in a simple Linux SSD system there's lots going on in the background, tasks switch on a regular basis and even in real-time Linux builds the aim is purely to prevent dry buffers (crucial for ECUs), but in normal use even streaming into Chrome on a MotoG or E Android phone I've not heard any problems (unless I stray to far from the wifi!).  

 

Some measurements on the subject I found here seem to backup my ears:

http://archimago.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/measurements-audiophile-sound-and.html

 

Occasionally I just plug my QC15's into the side of the Apple Airbook which sounds pretty good to me, and doesn't seem to vary in quality even with intensive compilations and debugging in the background.

 

So my question is I think: has anyone observed any sonic differences with a DAC when the PC/device feeding that DAC has been changed - but all other things remained equal?

 

I feel I'm missing something here as I've not noticed any problems, yet I can immediately tell if the song version, mastering or venue is different, or if the DAC, amp or speakers change. Digital routing: not so much.

 

Battling the Loudness War with the SeeDeClip4 multi-user, decompressing, declipping streaming Music Server.

 

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10 hours ago, hipstone said:

 

 

Is Fidelizer pro the new optimizer on the scene?  The hip new kid on the block, as I recall there was another one that got lots of great ink in this forum.

 

You may wish to consider using Audiophile Optimizer; there is a sponsored forum on this site devoted to it.  I use it with wonderful results on Windows Server 2016 in Core mode; it can be used on Windows 10 and Windows Server 2012 R2, as well.

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21 hours ago, CuteStudio said:

So my question is I think: has anyone observed any sonic differences with a DAC when the PC/device feeding that DAC has been changed - but all other things remained equal?

 

I feel I'm missing something here as I've not noticed any problems, yet I can immediately tell if the song version, mastering or venue is different, or if the DAC, amp or speakers change. Digital routing: not so much.

 

Lot's of people will say "yes". I've been searching for measurements on here, but yet to find any. I have the same experiences as you. I still want a dedicated music server though, as I sometimes get glitches/drop-puts when playing music from my laptop to my DAC and up-sampling to DSD256.

TT VPI Prime Signature/Benz Micro LP-S DACs Lampizator Golden Atlantic, Lampizator Euforia DSD Preamps Mac C500T, Mac MX121 Amps Mac MC75 60th Ann. (*2), Mac MC205, Glenn 300B Speakers Dynaudio C1 Platinum, B&W 804S Headphones LCD-3, LCD-4
Mobile: AK240, Shure 846
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  • 2 weeks later...
On 6/4/2017 at 10:56 AM, jriver said:

ASIO drivers always come from the manufacturer, but WASAPI usually works as well and doesn't require a driver.

My JRiver install went smoothly and seems perfect thus far.  It was nice to see the player setting WASAPI/HDMI from the output menu, I selected it and bingo bit-transparent sound flowed out to my Oppo 103, and to receiver.  I am using the DAC in the Oppo to decode 5.1 and output it to my AVR in analog.

 

I am going over all my tags and doing touch-ups, as some things look different with a modern ver. of the software.  I'll be paying within 17 days.

 

Thanks for responding, appreciated.

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