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What's the best compromise?


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I’m looking to adding a Windows-based computer-audio source into my home office. A lack of space means that I’m unable to add a dedicated in-room music server. My preference is to position towards 24/96 although I do have an excellent 24/96 DAC (S/PDIF) that I can use as an interim measure. So far, then, I’ve identified a couple of options and am interested in which of represents the best compromise given sound-quality as the deciding factor:


1. Use my work Windows 7 laptop as the digital source. The major issue is that this laptop cannot be fully optimized for audio as it’s used for a range of office functions and previous experience suggests that it’ll be hard to avoid audio process interruptions. One thought is that a re-clocker or high-quality USB DAC be able to mitigate the issues assoicated with a noisy source.


2. Use an existing dedicated server located in another location as the digital source with this provided into the office via a) a 15m long S/PDIF or Firewire cable, b) network streamer (e.g., Squeezebox), or c) Gefen Digital Extender. It seems as though 15m long digital cables aren’t recommended so, right now, a small form factor streamer or digital extender are options.


3. Use a dedicated, small form factor, computer such as a mini-ITX, netbook or FitPC with a USB connected DAC. The music files could be accessible on the local driver or on the dedicated server over the network and “Remote Desktop” used to get into the machine to select music.


So, basically, my question is which of these comprises is the best step forward?






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Yes, the Squeezebox Touch ticks a few boxes. The hesitation is that in a few short sessions with the origianl Squeezebox it seemed great for casual listening but didn't produce the soundstage of d CD player. That said, the set-up was using an unmodified version with analog outputs so perhaps using external DAC and, potentially, re-clocker might make all the difference.




Thanks. I’ve read about WASAPI / Exclusive Mode which, if I understand it, allows for audio data to be sent direct to the sound output and for this to not be interrupted with audio from other programs. Is it correct to assume that the “multi-threading” is different – that is, resources are allocated to audio playback to stop short interruptions? Any idea if I’d need to set-up this feature or is it native to the OS?





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