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Happy with AO / PL results, now how to fine tune?

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Hello everybody,


in the last few days I have installed on a separate partition of my (single) PC a dedicated configuration of audio playback only.


Now I have a "General Purpose" partition, where I have Windows 10 Pro, Fidelizer Pro, JPLAYStreamer via minimserver, and an "Audiophile" partition with Windows Server 2016 GUI, Audiophile Optimizer, Fidelizer Pro, Process Lasso, JPLAYStreamer / minimserver, a few more tweaks derived from the CAD optimization scripts for bringing the number of processes at a reasonably low level (around 28, with network services active). Also, Audio configuration runs with shell replacement to Fidelizer Pro, again aiming to resemble a core installation.


The downstream components are an Audio GD NOS11 V2 DAC/Amp (connected through USB, with an iFi iPurifier 2) and a Sennheiser HD 800S headphone, via balanced cable.


When comparing the General Purpose set-up sound and the Audiophile set-up sound, the Audio set up is clearly an overall winner. I am not sure how to split the improvement because I installed W2016, AO and PL (i.e. what makes most of difference between the two setups) in a single shot. 


Where the Audiophile set-up easily wins is with resolution, transparency, soundstage layering and focus. Also, a general sense of less noise / more air around the instruments provide the feeling that the sound is coming out of nowhere, as opposed to the slightly veiled feeling I get from the General Purpose set-up.


So overall I am satisfied, ... but ...


Where I still think there are margins of improvement is at both ends of the frequency spectrum. The high frequency with the Audiophile configuration can be ear-piercing, while maintaining a very fine grain, while the bottom and feels much more satisfying, significantly fuller and more extended with the General Purpose setup.


So far I have tried various settings of Audiophile Optimizer sound signature and digital filtering, ending up with the 4-D combination which to my ears is the smoothest one (but yet not smooth enough to my taste, especially for long listening sessions).


Anybody else had a similar experience after upgrading their system? What have you tried / would you try to further improve?


Thank you,


ZENith MkII SE  > USPCB > ISO REGEN (LPS-1) > Lush^2 USB > M Scaler > OPTO DX >  2x Audioquest Diamond BNC > DAVE > Acrolink 7N-2090 Speciale > ??? > JPS Superconductor HP > Abyss AB-126 Phi TC 

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I made some further experiments, and I feel that I have got a significant improvement.


Just in case somebody else is experiencing the same issues I was reporting above, here is what I have done so far:


a- switched to the "no network services" mode of the AO ultimate mode optimization

b- moved all my preferred music to a dedicated local disk space on my PC (previously I was playing through the network, by wirelessly retrieving my music file from a NAS)

c- installed upplay, in order to play music through minimserver / JPLAYStreamer, which I prefer to HQPlayer in my setup due to added transparency and more holographic sound

d- more OS tweaking to reduce the number of Windows 2016 Server GUI processes to 23


Step (c) was the most significant, by the way.


Now my clean yet satisfyingly full bass / sub-bass response from the HD800S is back (and it is also better than the "General Purpose" PC Setup), and the spiky upper treble is more natural sounding, while maintaining all the nice goodies I got from the W2016-AO-PL upgrade over the W10Pro configuration (both with Fidelizer Pro, JPLAY/JPLAYStreamer), which I was reporting in my previous post.


I am tempted to switch to W2016 core mode to see if I can improve further, but I am a bit scared by it ... Hopefully when the official 2.2 version of AO will be released, along with an updated user's manual describing the process step by step (as AudioPhil is promising) I will take the plunge.


In the meanwhile, next step will be on the hardware side, since an Uptone ISORegen / LPS-1 combo is arriving next month.






ZENith MkII SE  > USPCB > ISO REGEN (LPS-1) > Lush^2 USB > M Scaler > OPTO DX >  2x Audioquest Diamond BNC > DAVE > Acrolink 7N-2090 Speciale > ??? > JPS Superconductor HP > Abyss AB-126 Phi TC 

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By exploiting some free time during the summer vacations, I finally decided to try the W2016 Server core environment.


The process has not been very straightforward mainly because I am using a Surface Pro 3 as single PC (a quite special kind of computer with unique or non-typical hardware / software configuration) ... and, of course, due to my limited computer skills as well.


Anyway, I have now replicated the exact setup of the "Audiophile" partition on another "Audiophile_Core" partition (so, Fidelizer Pro, AO, PL, JPLAY, playing via Upplay > MinimServer/MinimStreamer > JPLAYStreamer, with all configuration parameters set the same).


After several hours of comparative listening I can say that, in my system and for my ears, the Core environment provided a significant upgrade over the GUI (even after the GUI tweaking to "near core" mode, i.e. with a reduced number of running processes, the shell replacement, the network services switched off).


The most apparent improvement is the reduction of graininess of the high frequencies (very obvious on some of my reference female vocal tracks with lots of sibilants) and of the digital glare that surrounds acoustics instruments (guitar, strings in general, sax, ...) and especially the vocals.


All the above translates in more naturalness and lower listening fatigue. The reduction of digital artefacts is very important for me since I found it very distracting even during casual listening and particularly annoying with critical listening sessions.


The lower frequencies are slightly better, having better definition while keeping a nice extension and fullness.


I haven't noticed any particular effect on soundstaging, focus, detail retrieval and transparency, which were already much improved in the General Purpose to Audiophile OS configuration upgrade.


ZENith MkII SE  > USPCB > ISO REGEN (LPS-1) > Lush^2 USB > M Scaler > OPTO DX >  2x Audioquest Diamond BNC > DAVE > Acrolink 7N-2090 Speciale > ??? > JPS Superconductor HP > Abyss AB-126 Phi TC 

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