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How much is enough


iamimdoc
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I have a 5 year old laptop (Presario 2100 by HP - Intel Pentium 4-M 2.4 GHz ) that is apparently working (no errors reported). Trying to use it to play music through a USB DAC. Music mainly FLAC. Laptop had 500GB of memory, now 1GB. Network is entirely wired to the laptop; music on NAS drives. Laptop not loading any other programs except MediaMonkey.

 

I borrowed a year old dual core processor - no issues

 

Laptop "spits" every few minutes - brief, unpleasant sound. A totally "non acceptable" noise

 

Manufacturer says the laptop is likely "not up to the task, ie is underpowered - although for what its worth, CPU monitor never much above 30% - not sure how useful this really is

 

Increasing memory from 500->1GB reduced but did not fully solve the problem.

 

Computer Audiophile Pocket Server - C.A.P.S. on this website uses: Intel Atom N270 1.6 GHz CPU. 2 GB memory - single core. Presumably this works well or Chris would not have recommended it

 

I realize we are comparing Apples and oranges to some degree here

 

but

 

Should my laptop not be up to the task?

If it is not, could, someone recommend mimimums.

 

My goal (if I do not build the C.A.P.S. - not sure I am up the task) is to get a laptop that will do the job with out fail. This device would basically have one job - play music and hence all the other "stuff" that can be done is not of much interest.

 

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Have you tried a fresh reinstallation of Windows (I assume XP is being used? When I first started with Computer Audio I used a 2.something GHz P4 with XP and iTunes into a USB DAC and had no issues.

 

You could also try connecting you DAC to other USB ports as it is possible some are being shared internally.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Have not reinstalled but it was installed about 1 year ago with trivial use since then

 

Different USB ports do not help

 

Using battery only/ wall power only - do not help

 

I tried inactivating all of the service per this article - - Building an Absolute Fidelity Music Server" http://www.genesisloudspeakers.com/whitepaper/Absolute_Fidelity_Music_Se... - did not help

 

Doubling memory to max of 1 GB (was at 512) - reduced frequency of issue - did not eliminate

 

Issue occurs at Windows sign on (occasionally) - not with music playing - thus seems to be the machine not the MediaMonkey

 

Accordingly , the laptop may have an "issue" not apparent otherwise.

 

The DAC is asynchronous and capable of 24/ 96 - although I am using only CD quality FLAC's

 

Solution seems to be a new laptop. Thus I just want to be sure I buy "enough" (ie powerful enough) of a laptop to deal with this.

 

 

 

 

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Hi iamimdoc,

 

I’m not sure that your laptop is “underpowered” for your computer-based audio playback needs. While anything is possible, additional feedback may help diagnose the cause of your noise issue. Below are three excerpts from your earlier posts that create mixed impressions for me.

 

***start quotes***

Laptop "spits" every few minutes - brief, unpleasant sound.

 

Manufacturer says the laptop is likely "not up to the task, ie is underpowered - although for what its worth, CPU monitor never much above 30%...

 

Issue occurs at Windows sign on (occasionally) - not with music playing - thus seems to be the machine not the MediaMonkey...

***end quotes***

 

Based on your description of the problem so far, it’s possible that you are hearing noises caused by your computer’s fan and/or hard drive.

 

In some cases, computer fans can get clogged with dust and they will make intermittent noises. Since cooling fans are generally not engaged all the time (in most cases, only when the CPU reaches a certain temperature), your HP Presario’s fan may be the cause of noise that occurs ‘every few minutes.’ If so, spraying compressed air into the vent area around your fan may help resolve the dust issue. I suggest getting a canister of compressed air that comes with a thin elongated nozzle for better accuracy and flexible positioning. If you try this approach and determine that noise is not dust related, the fan could still be the culprit due to a more serious mechanical issue. If so, you may need to replace the fan. If your computer is covered under warranty and/or you’re not skilled at computer repair, I recommend that you enlist the help of an authorized technician before opening the computer’s case to clean and/or repair your computer.

 

Alternatively, your hard drive could also be the cause of mechanical noise. When hard drives start to fail, they can sometimes generate unusual noises that are hard to identify. Since your music is already stored on external drives, I trust that you are protected in the event of a hard drive failure. However, if you have any data stored on your HP Presario 2100 that is not backed-up already, it’s probably a good idea to do that now.

 

In an effort to more accurately narrow-down the source of your noise problem, I would like to present a few follow-up questions:

 

(a) can you hear the noise through your speakers?

(b) if so, have you eliminated the possibility of RFI and EMI? For example, have you recently installed new cable TV, satellite TV, appliances and/or other equipment?

© is the source of noise only emanating from your laptop case?

(d) if so, does the character of the noise change depending upon how the laptop is positioned? For example, will the noise increase if you hold the laptop, especially the fan vent, closer to your ear?

 

If the noise is not audible from your speakers, and it’s only coming from your laptop, I’m inclined to think that your issue is unrelated to playing music. However, I’m not an expert on these matters and hopefully the community here at CA will be able to help you identify the exact cause of your noise problem with more feedback from you.

 

On a side note, I think that you have an impressive system and listening room (really like the Maggies and your custom racks). Thank you for sharing photos in the Show Us Your Equipment/Kit thread. I sincerely hope you are able to resolve your noise issue without too much trouble or expense.

 

Best regards,

Chris

 

p.s. If you decide to get a new computer, you may wish to consider a dedicated music server directly connected to your DAC. Since you are currently streaming via an Airport Express, experimenting with different connections (i.e., USB, S/PDIF and Firewire) from a local and dedicated music-only computer may be a fun exercise. Of course, this is a tangent and probably not related to your question.

 

 

Amarra 3.0.3/iTunes-->AQVOX USB PS-->Acromag USB Isolator-->Ayre QB-9-->Ayre K-5xeMP-->W4S SX-500-->Tyler Acoustics Linbrook Super Towers-->SVS SB12-Plus (L&R). Cables: Nordost, Transparent, LessLoss, Analysis Plus & Pangea. Dedicated line with isolated power conditioning per component: PS Audio & Furman. Late 2012 Mac Mini 2.6GHz Quad-Core i7 (16 GB, 1TB Fusion, 6TB ext via Tbolt). External drives enclosure http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f7-disk-storage-music-library-storage/silent-enclosure-external-hard-drives-7178/

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Hi,

 

It might be due to the playback driver/software. Which software are you using, and which audio output driver is that software using? I had a similar problem with certain drivers, though now using the ASIO it is OK. I also had funny intermittent glitches when I was utilising software upsampling.

 

Dan

 

There are 2 types of people in this world - those who understand binary and those who don't.

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Thanks for help. All help appreciated as I just don't think the laptop is underpowered. Playing music should not be a Herculean effort.

 

Answers are in line>>>>>>>>>>>

 

Christopher

(a) can you hear the noise through your speakers?

>>>>>>>>yes

 

(b) if so, have you eliminated the possibility of RFI and EMI? For example, have you recently installed new cable TV, satellite TV, appliances and/or other equipment?

>>>>>>>No, no new installs and no aberrant sounds except when DAC used. More memory made the problem less frequent (but not gone). Another laptop resolved the problem, ie no noise. The DAC used on a 256MB memory computer (5 years old - not sure what) - MediaMonkey (same as me) had no funny/extraneous noises at all. Thus, I think DAC is working.

 

© is the source of noise only emanating from your laptop case?

>>>>>>>>>I am unclear as to the question - but noise is NOT from laptop case or laptop but is thru speakers

 

(d) if so, does the character of the noise change depending upon how the laptop is positioned? For example, will the noise increase if you hold the laptop, especially the fan vent, closer to your ear?

>>>>>>>>>No

 

If you decide to get a new computer, you may wish to consider a dedicated music server directly connected to your DAC.

>>>>>>>>This laptop PC is a stand alone music server - the Airport Expresses are not associated with this laptop in anyway. This laptop was put into service for use only with the DAC. The purpose of the DAC was to provide superior sound to the AE (that everyone says is somewhere between barely listenable and OK, depending on who you to talk to. Personally, I don't think its that bad [.....as he turned his $tereophile T shirt inside out.)

 

danhackley

It might be due to the playback driver/software. Which software are you using, and which audio output driver is that software using? ...

>>>>>>>>>MediaMonkey 3.2 with either the WAV driver or the MediaMonkey DirectSound Output - neither made a difference (ie problems with both)

 

To my knowledge, all bad things are turned off - no volume adjustment, no digital equalizer, no upsampling (not even sure how to do it)

 

Anyone got any other ideas..

 

I am possibly convinced I have a setting wrong OR the laptop is "broken" in the sense it has spurious noise that I am getting. I am not convinced that it is underpowered.

 

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Hi,

 

I would buy one of those netbooks based on Atom setup.

Make sure you choose a 2GB/Win7 one, this will allow the use of Wasapi (which seems less cpu dependent).

 

Should you want to browse your library in 3D mode (with JRiver for instance), I would definitely go for an Atom with latest Ion chipset (9400M graphic card), that should do the work.

If you don't care at all about 3D capability, still give JRiver a try, and choose a higher priority for playback (configurable in JRiver), and see what happens with your current laptop.

 

I am currently trying to buy an Asus EeePC 1201N (watch the N !). Alas, the little beast is very hard to find (at least here in France). As soon as I can get one, I'll let you know if this is powerful enough.

 

Hth (a bit),

Elp

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I appreciate everyone's help very much.

 

I tried everything mentioned above and a few others without success.

 

I then reinstalled the OS which after a few hours of listening seems to be the solution (ie , no spittin' noises). At least, it never worked without a problem this long before. So hopefully problem is solved although I am frustrated about not knowing the exact problem..

 

I am also using VNC server to remotely control the laptop

 

The laptop is a 5 year old Compaq with 512 MB memory, 2.1 GHZ processor - single core

 

Apparently this is "enough" computer. Probably more than needed for the job of playing music

 

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Glad that fixed the problem, at least for now. I know that kind of issue can drive a person insane.

I was going to offer some suggestions too, but alas.

 

Happy listening.

 

Michael J. Howell[br]Macbook Pro, Airport Extreme Base Station, AppleTV, Majik, Numerik, Katans. Linn Silver and Audioquest 3 Toslink, AQ - Indigo (bi-wire), Mapleshade Bedrocks (yes these actually work).

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Good for you !

 

Just to mention it, I got the hand on the 1201n.

I think this is less powerful than your setup, as far as cpu is concerned, and it works fine with w7 and jrmc14. About 2-5% cpu usage for music playback, whether in main view or theater one.

 

Elp

 

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