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Is a CAPS style PC still the way to go?

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Years ago I upgraded from a netbook to a CAPS 2 for a night and day difference in sound quality.  Is a traditional PC still required to get this level of sound quality or is something like a Pi just as good?

 

My music is stored on a NAS and I use a USB DAC.

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It really comes down to use case and what works best in your system.  Upsampling to DSD512 with high end server processors or CUDA cores is closer to the next iteration of CAPS.  Pi/NUC has it's place as well but you'll have best results if you spread the lost capabilities thickly over the rest of your chain.  Especially in power and signal integrity.  Do a search here if you are considering the latter option which has been very heavily covered.  

 

A number of people have been reconsidering their CAPS servers end of life.  I'm sure a more detailed description of your needs would help make your best options clearer.  Basically you either go very big or very small.  The latest i7 describes a middle ground  best avoided unless you really need to be there out of something other than habit.  In the last generation performance had already moved clearly into the Extreme chip category.    

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I'd think the CAPS would be better.

But today a lot of us are going the route of using the PC or NAS as a server and a specialized audio renderer like a microRendu for the player. That is definitely superior to a Pi.


Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>CAPS IV Pipeline Server + Sonore 12V PS>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>RPi4 (dietpi)>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: (1) CAPS Pipeline>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)>Schiit Freya>Kii Three .(2) CAPS>ifi iDAC SPDIF>Kii Control.

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup. Living Room/Kitchen: RB Pi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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Thanks Firedog, I believe that's the sort of answer I was looking for in the long run.

 

I have a cheap celeron based PC running the Vortexbox software for a NAS in my basement.  In the 2 channel room I replaced my no longer working CAPS v2 with a MPB running Roon/Tidal a year ago.  I'm basically just looking to see if it makes sense to swap the MBP for another CAPS or something like the microRendu, Aries Mini or a Pi.

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I just built a CAPS Carbon with the SOtM USB card and installed a minimal Linux base with MPD and HQ Player's NAA.  It makes an excellent renderer for Audirvana and HQ Player.  I imagine you could install the Roon server as well.  Much better than my Mac Mini alone and definitely better than a Pi.  I haven't heard a Rendu or Aries Mini so I can't compare it to them, but I like being able to install my own software.

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Thanks for posing the question. My own CAPS-inspired build is > 5 years old and I'm starting to think about what I might do next. The Melco server is appealing but I would still need a way to command it.


Roon ROCK (Roon 1.7; NUC7i3) > Ayre QB-9 Twenty > Ayre AX-5 Twenty > Thiel CS2.4SE (crossovers rebuilt with Clarity CSA and Multicap RTX caps, Mills MRA-12 resistors; ERSE and Jantzen coils; Cardas binding posts and hookup wire); Cardas and OEM power cables, interconnects, and speaker cables

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I recently switched from my CAPSv3 Carbon to the ultraRendu with LPS1 power supply. As great as the CAPS was, I'm still somewhat shocked by how much better ultraRendu with LPS1 is.


ultraRendu > Peachtree X1 (Toslink) > Chord Hugo M-Scaler > Chord DAVE > Chord Etude > Dynaudio Confidence C1 Signature + Sunfire TS-EQ10 subwoofers

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17 hours ago, ecwl said:

I recently switched from my CAPSv3 Carbon to the ultraRendu with LPS1 power supply. As great as the CAPS was, I'm still somewhat shocked by how much better ultraRendu with LPS1 is.

 

Interesting.  What software were you using on the CAPS?  Did you power it with an LPS?  I'd certainly like to hear the ultraRendu.  I see it uses LMS.  I'd like to have the option of MPD as a player.  I wonder if it can be installed.

 

ETA:  Never mind, I see what the options for playback are.

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I used to use Windows 10 + JRiver on CAPSv3 Carbon (headless) and shut down almost all unnecessary programs and services in Windows 10. CAPSv3 Carbon was powered with HDPlex 100W LPS. Unfortunately, I couldn't use Uptone LPS1 to power the SoTM card in CAPSv3 Carbon, unlike the ultraRendu.

 

My take is that upgrading from a CAPSv3 to an ultraRendu + LPS1 is a fairly expensive upgrade even though I guess one can justify the cost. However, if you're starting anew, I probably would not recommend people to go out and build a CAPS unless there are specific reasons for functionality or configurability reasons to build a CAPS.


ultraRendu > Peachtree X1 (Toslink) > Chord Hugo M-Scaler > Chord DAVE > Chord Etude > Dynaudio Confidence C1 Signature + Sunfire TS-EQ10 subwoofers

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USB streaming only without any Ethernet leg is still the best route to go.  Use SOtM's sclk-EX clocking board to modify any mobo or pcie card clocks.  Add a master clock.  Best to use a mobo with 12V input.  Quality power supplies only.


(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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1 hour ago, ecwl said:

I used to use Windows 10 + JRiver on CAPSv3 Carbon (headless) and shut down almost all unnecessary programs and services in Windows 10. CAPSv3 Carbon was powered with HDPlex 100W LPS. Unfortunately, I couldn't use Uptone LPS1 to power the SoTM card in CAPSv3 Carbon, unlike the ultraRendu.

 

My take is that upgrading from a CAPSv3 to an ultraRendu + LPS1 is a fairly expensive upgrade even though I guess one can justify the cost. However, if you're starting anew, I probably would not recommend people to go out and build a CAPS unless there are specific reasons for functionality or configurability reasons to build a CAPS.

 

You may be right.  I'll see if I can audition the ultraRendu somehow.  I would love to compare them.  I'm using the CAPS as a renderer only with a minimal Linux install, MPD and upmpdcli.  The only reason to build it, IMO, was to use the SOtM USB card.  I'm going to try an HDPlex LPS for the mobo and USB card.  You have a good point in that the expense of the CAPS is comparable to the ultraRendu, more when you add the LPS, so it's not a matter of saving money.

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45 minutes ago, ElviaCaprice said:

USB streaming only without any Ethernet leg is still the best route to go.  Use SOtM's sclk-EX clocking board to modify any mobo or pcie card clocks.  Add a master clock.  Best to use a mobo with 12V input.  Quality power supplies only.

 

Interesting.  I'll try that.

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My main quibble with using something like a microrendu is that I also like to play Spotify and other audio sources via the DAC at other times when not using Roon and HQPlayer.

Therefore... I am going to a dedicated CAPS like player directly connected to the T+A DAC DSD via JCAT USB card. Music stored on NAS.

That way I can also feed the DAC from other sources easily.....

Just my 2 cents.


Roon + HQPlayer / JRiver Win -> T + A DAC DSD -> Cyrus Mono x200 Signatures -> Audiovector Si3 Avantgarde Arretes

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25 minutes ago, eternaloptimist said:

My main quibble with using something like a microrendu is that I also like to play Spotify and other audio sources via the DAC at other times when not using Roon and HQPlayer.

Therefore... I am going to a dedicated CAPS like player directly connected to the T+A DAC DSD via JCAT USB card. Music stored on NAS.

That way I can also feed the DAC from other sources easily.....

Just my 2 cents.

you are too optimist

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11 hours ago, Kal Rubinson said:

My main quibble with any proprietary player/server is that one is locked into what the manufacturer supports.   This entire field of endeavor is still in its formative years and I prefer to have a platform that does not constrain me from taking advantage of new ideas, new software and new products as they come along.   

 

CAPS got me started and, conceptually, it continues to be my choice.

I agree. I also like to experiment with different software, strategies etc. 


Roon + HQPlayer / JRiver Win -> T + A DAC DSD -> Cyrus Mono x200 Signatures -> Audiovector Si3 Avantgarde Arretes

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On 9/30/2017 at 5:54 AM, Kal Rubinson said:

My main quibble with any proprietary player/server is that one is locked into what the manufacturer supports.   This entire field of endeavor is still in its formative years and I prefer to have a platform that does not constrain me from taking advantage of new ideas, new software and new products as they come along.   

 

CAPS got me started and, conceptually, it continues to be my choice.

 

Thanks for sharing your perspective. These are useful comments for me because I too do not want to be stuck down a technological or financial dead branch. Given how great the current existing USB and Ethernet signal paths can sound, I'll wait for better consolidation of the digital stream though it may be some time before component, power supply, cables, and isolation can be reasonably optimized (and less compromised). I'd guess it'll still be two more generations of DACs (for example) or powered all-in-one system speakers to pass before we get affordable options of what you have to piece together today (KEF LS50 Wireless, etc. notwithstanding). 


Sys Stuff Schiit Yggdrasil A2+SR UEF Black, W4S Remedy/Uptone LPS-1.2, Linn LP12/Hercules II/Ittok/Denon DL-103R, Naim 250 DR, PSB, Elac, Uptone Audio ISO/EtherREGEN, Silnote Audio/ZenWave/Transparent Audio cables 

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On 21/09/2017 at 4:38 PM, firedog said:

I'd think the CAPS would be better.

But today a lot of us are going the route of using the PC or NAS as a server and a specialized audio renderer like a microRendu for the player. That is definitely superior to a Pi.

 

Any idea as to why it's superior to a Pi with a reasonably well-designed HAT and PSU ?

 

(just to be clear, I'm not questioning whether it's better, I'm curious what the explanation is, if only because, by default, selling expensive power cables is a red flag that makes me question the rationale behind anything else a company does)

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On 1/13/2018 at 6:02 AM, Thuaveta said:

 

Any idea as to why it's superior to a Pi with a reasonably well-designed HAT and PSU ?

 

(just to be clear, I'm not questioning whether it's better, I'm curious what the explanation is, if only because, by default, selling expensive power cables is a red flag that makes me question the rationale behind anything else a company does)

I got a R Pi 3 for xmas and just built it up last week.  Playing FLAC files from my NAS via wifi, Pi 3 USB out to a W4S USB reclocker into a W4S DAC2V2 and the sound was not good.  Purchased a cheapo PiFi SPDIF hihat and after some quick Linux config file mods had it up and running.  I would say equal to, perhaps better than my W10 ripping/playback PC which used USB out to the reclocker and W4S drivers.  Building a o11 LPS for the Pi 3 so we shall see how it all comes together.  Need to learn more about the Alsa drivers, etc. but definitely a workable solution.  Also looking at NUC options.  All of this via JRiver Media, Windows and Linux for the Pi 3.


FLAC and AIF files mainly 192/24 and lower on Synology DS412 4x4Tb WD Red  in SHR2>direct ethernet to NUC>Intel NUC5PPYH w/JR Media 20 Akasa Newton P fanless case and DIY o11 LPS>Straightwire USB cable>W4S Recovery w/LPS>W4S DAC2DSD V2 w/Femto clock>Kimber Silver Streak balanced>Balanced Audio Technology VK3000SE>Kimber Monocle XL>Sonus Faber Cremona floorstanders

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I enjoyed my Caps with Sotm usb card connected directly to various dacs for several years. I recently repurposed the Caps as a Roon server feeding a RPi and Allo Digi. I am getting better sound quality now with this combination than I ever did using the Caps to feed via usb to dacs. 

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I started with a Pie, then upgraded to a hummingboard with a fairly good lps, which was a step up. This was replaced by a sotm sms200 with an uptone regen, which was a step up again, later added a better lps (sotm sps500), which improved things even more. So I moved from a nas to a dedicated server running hqplayer, feeding the sms200 as a renderer. The system improved but also expanded physicly, all these boxes and cables... I don't know

 

I figured if I continue this path I'll end up with a spagetti chain like many of us have, but it's not the route I want, so I'm now preparing for a 1 box solution like @ElviaCaprice is suggesting. To me it's the right way forward, with up to date technology, superior sound and the ease of flexibility in hardware and software, all in 1 box.

 

In the end, it is a matter of preferences, there is no "ultimate truth"

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