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Audiolinux Server configurations, Software, Hardware, and Listening Impressions


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What a long strange trip this will likely be!

I’m about to join you all down this rabbit hole and have a few questions as I get started.

 

First of all, thanks to all of you who have done the hard work getting this all initiated, evolved and documented.

I’ve been following at a distance until things looked ripe.

 

Second, my existing setup for streaming:

 

HQPlayer-embedded running on a NUC, together with my SageTV system, under Ubuntu 18 with no specific optimizations. This is one connection into my netgear 24 port router, which also connects to my Sonore opticalRendu operating as an NAA for HQPlayer. I use the HQPDcontrol app on an android tablet to select my music. The NUC is powered by the default brick SMPS while the oRendu is powered by a Paul Hynes SR-4. Between the router and the oRendu is a Sonore opticalModule powered by a uptone audio lps-1.2 power supply. 50Ft of single mode fiber connects the oRendu (in my living room) and the oModule (in my basement at the other end of the house). This NUC will remain my SageTV machine and basement computer.

 

Some system observations that may be of interest:

1. the oRendu was a (unexpectedly) small step up from the ultraRendu (by itself, fed by SFP in netgear router).

2. the oRendu + oModule together was a big step up from the ultraRendu, suggesting that cleaning up the ethernet signal with the oM was critical in my system.

3. I use HQP without any signal processing, upsampling, filtering or dither. Simply separating the renderer (at NUC) and NAA (at oRendu) has made a big difference in my system.

4. In my system, the difference in playing back WAV versus FLAC is significant. As an engineer, this makes me want to pull out my hair and I’ve always wondered what was going on--maybe eliminating processing at the server/HQP or interupts or who knows what is helping. Certainly, moving processing off the Rendu (i.e. NAA mode) made a big difference. If WAV versus FLAC can make a difference, I’m ready to try optimizing the server further. Q: Has anyone else compared WAV and FLAC? Does any of the AudioLinux stuff eliminate/reduce this sensitivity?

 

My choices seem to be either a NUC with AudioLinux running HQPlayer-embedded or a NUC running Jussi’s HQPlayer image directly. I’m planning on trying both and comparing them. Q: has anyone compared the AudioLinux/HQP combo versus running the NUC off Jussi’s image?

 

So here I am with a lot more questions, even after reading through 2 complete AudioLinux threads and large parts of the mother-thread, taking cut/paste notes of anything that caught my eye and ending up with a 29 page document to jog my memory re: AudioLinux lessons learned.

 

I plan to obtain a new NUC (which one depends on the answers here) for this experiment and I have a HDPLEX 200 ordered and scheduled to be delivered next week.

Here is my first round of questions.

 

1. Bridging—I have been wondering, even after reading, exactly what is going on with this, at least partly because my brain has trouble picturing the connections made up of dots and dashes. Then I ran across a post (for beginners) that said that if you have a ‘star’ configuration (i.e. the server and NAA are in separate boxes and are each connected to the router, not to each other) there is no advantage to bridging. I had thought that somehow the bridging was keeping the traffic separate and that this was advantageous, but I guess I was wrong and that it is ok if the traffic coalesces in the router. Or maybe this was only an issue when the server and endpoint were co-habited in the same NUC? Am I understanding this correctly? If so, my job is much simpler as I was looking at easy ways to get a second ethernet port on my NUC. So, is anything to be gained from bridging if I have a star configuration and my NUC will only host the server/HQPlayer?

 

2. Which version of AudioLinux? I had assumed that I wanted to run headless but I see people moving back and forth between lqxt and headless. Is this for convenience (I’m not an expert at Linux but am not a newbie either—both M$ and Apple are banned from the house and I run Ubuntu 18 on my desktop NUC and basement NUC/HQP/SageTV server, Ubuntu 19 on my Dell laptop) or did this change as Piero’s menus got more sophistocated?

 

3. H/W configuration, part 1: I’m planning on 16G of RAM for ramroot (hqplayer’s library.xml file is currently only about 12MB for 6TB of music in WAV format). Any sound quality differences noted or recommendations on RAM specs?

 

4. H/W configuration, part 2: Any pros/cons for USB stick versus m.2 optane to use for loading ramroot? From what I read, I concluded that m.2 optane and no internal HDD/SSD is quieter and sufficient to run HQPlayer-embedded.

 

5. For the music storage, I read that 3.5” drives are better than 2.5” drives (quieter) and there was a recommendation to put a 3.5” drive in an external usb3.0 case powered with a good PSU. I have some of those around but currently have my music on an 8TB Seagate external usb3.0 drive. Would a good PSU (e.g. HDPLEX) on the Seagate be as good/quiet as putting a drive into an external case? Any recommendations on one path versus the other? Any comparisons of external usb3.0 drive versus NAS storage of music?

 

6. Are there any router configurations/flow control settings known to be important?

 

7. Given that I’m only running HQPlayer-embedded headless on AudioLinux or only using Jussi’s HQPlayer-embedded image, how much processing power do I need and which NUC should I get?

If I’m running headless, I don’t need powerful graphics processing, so is there a NUC which has been found to be quietest in headless mode? And if I’m not doing any upsampling/filtering/dithering in HQP, my processing needs are likely quite modest, so what NUC should I get?

 

Thanks in advance for the great work so far and your help going forward.

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, cat6man said:

What a long strange trip this will likely be!

I’m about to join you all down this rabbit hole and have a few questions as I get started.

 

First of all, thanks to all of you who have done the hard work getting this all initiated, evolved and documented.

I’ve been following at a distance until things looked ripe.

 

Second, my existing setup for streaming:

 

HQPlayer-embedded running on a NUC, together with my SageTV system, under Ubuntu 18 with no specific optimizations. This is one connection into my netgear 24 port router, which also connects to my Sonore opticalRendu operating as an NAA for HQPlayer. I use the HQPDcontrol app on an android tablet to select my music. The NUC is powered by the default brick SMPS while the oRendu is powered by a Paul Hynes SR-4. Between the router and the oRendu is a Sonore opticalModule powered by a uptone audio lps-1.2 power supply. 50Ft of single mode fiber connects the oRendu (in my living room) and the oModule (in my basement at the other end of the house). This NUC will remain my SageTV machine and basement computer.

 

Some system observations that may be of interest:

1. the oRendu was a (unexpectedly) small step up from the ultraRendu (by itself, fed by SFP in netgear router).

2. the oRendu + oModule together was a big step up from the ultraRendu, suggesting that cleaning up the ethernet signal with the oM was critical in my system.

3. I use HQP without any signal processing, upsampling, filtering or dither. Simply separating the renderer (at NUC) and NAA (at oRendu) has made a big difference in my system.

4. In my system, the difference in playing back WAV versus FLAC is significant. As an engineer, this makes me want to pull out my hair and I’ve always wondered what was going on--maybe eliminating processing at the server/HQP or interupts or who knows what is helping. Certainly, moving processing off the Rendu (i.e. NAA mode) made a big difference. If WAV versus FLAC can make a difference, I’m ready to try optimizing the server further. Q: Has anyone else compared WAV and FLAC? Does any of the AudioLinux stuff eliminate/reduce this sensitivity?

 

My choices seem to be either a NUC with AudioLinux running HQPlayer-embedded or a NUC running Jussi’s HQPlayer image directly. I’m planning on trying both and comparing them. Q: has anyone compared the AudioLinux/HQP combo versus running the NUC off Jussi’s image?

 

So here I am with a lot more questions, even after reading through 2 complete AudioLinux threads and large parts of the mother-thread, taking cut/paste notes of anything that caught my eye and ending up with a 29 page document to jog my memory re: AudioLinux lessons learned.

 

I plan to obtain a new NUC (which one depends on the answers here) for this experiment and I have a HDPLEX 200 ordered and scheduled to be delivered next week.

Here is my first round of questions.

 

1. Bridging—I have been wondering, even after reading, exactly what is going on with this, at least partly because my brain has trouble picturing the connections made up of dots and dashes. Then I ran across a post (for beginners) that said that if you have a ‘star’ configuration (i.e. the server and NAA are in separate boxes and are each connected to the router, not to each other) there is no advantage to bridging. I had thought that somehow the bridging was keeping the traffic separate and that this was advantageous, but I guess I was wrong and that it is ok if the traffic coalesces in the router. Or maybe this was only an issue when the server and endpoint were co-habited in the same NUC? Am I understanding this correctly? If so, my job is much simpler as I was looking at easy ways to get a second ethernet port on my NUC. So, is anything to be gained from bridging if I have a star configuration and my NUC will only host the server/HQPlayer?

 

2. Which version of AudioLinux? I had assumed that I wanted to run headless but I see people moving back and forth between lqxt and headless. Is this for convenience (I’m not an expert at Linux but am not a newbie either—both M$ and Apple are banned from the house and I run Ubuntu 18 on my desktop NUC and basement NUC/HQP/SageTV server, Ubuntu 19 on my Dell laptop) or did this change as Piero’s menus got more sophistocated?

 

3. H/W configuration, part 1: I’m planning on 16G of RAM for ramroot (hqplayer’s library.xml file is currently only about 12MB for 6TB of music in WAV format). Any sound quality differences noted or recommendations on RAM specs?

 

4. H/W configuration, part 2: Any pros/cons for USB stick versus m.2 optane to use for loading ramroot? From what I read, I concluded that m.2 optane and no internal HDD/SSD is quieter and sufficient to run HQPlayer-embedded.

 

5. For the music storage, I read that 3.5” drives are better than 2.5” drives (quieter) and there was a recommendation to put a 3.5” drive in an external usb3.0 case powered with a good PSU. I have some of those around but currently have my music on an 8TB Seagate external usb3.0 drive. Would a good PSU (e.g. HDPLEX) on the Seagate be as good/quiet as putting a drive into an external case? Any recommendations on one path versus the other? Any comparisons of external usb3.0 drive versus NAS storage of music?

 

6. Are there any router configurations/flow control settings known to be important?

 

7. Given that I’m only running HQPlayer-embedded headless on AudioLinux or only using Jussi’s HQPlayer-embedded image, how much processing power do I need and which NUC should I get?

If I’m running headless, I don’t need powerful graphics processing, so is there a NUC which has been found to be quietest in headless mode? And if I’m not doing any upsampling/filtering/dithering in HQP, my processing needs are likely quite modest, so what NUC should I get?

 

Thanks in advance for the great work so far and your help going forward.

 

 

 

 

 

I have HQP desktop on mac mini and AL headless on NUC endpoint. Mini and NUC connected through Netgear switch powered with custom LPSU. Netgear switch works as a filter to eliminate mini noise. Nuc is powered by PH LPSU. I also have Euphony endpoint and Jussi's NAA image to boot NUC from usb. Such very simple configuration works well for me, and I have additional fun rolling AL, Euphony and Jussi's NAAs at endpoint.

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Using a similar setup here:

Windows control PC => AL server with HQPlayer embedded => AL endpoint with NAA

with the difference that I do upsample (to DSD) and therefore I need a powerful server. I am actually upgrading now to take advantage of HQP's cpu-demanding EC modulators.

 

2 hours ago, cat6man said:

In my system, the difference in playing back WAV versus FLAC is significant.

I have noticed the same. If the explanation is less processing, and therefore less pollution, on the server (which seems a likely explanation), then that means that the server plays an important role for the SQ. In which case I find it interesting that you are using the stock SMPS for it.

 

Quote

My choices seem to be either a NUC with AudioLinux running HQPlayer-embedded or a NUC running Jussi’s HQPlayer image directly. I’m planning on trying both and comparing them. Q: has anyone compared the AudioLinux/HQP combo versus running the NUC off Jussi’s image?

In the process of trying both myself. I have not noticed big differences in SQ. However, I may need AL to optimize some things if I go the EC route. Also, it is convenient to monitor temperatures and such.

 

Quote

2. Which version of AudioLinux? I had assumed that I wanted to run headless but I see people moving back and forth between lqxt and headless.

I am using the command-line version of AL (which is called headless, I don't know why as I also run the LXQt headless, with remote access to the GUI). It means less processes, so less pollution in theory. The AL menus are all conveniently accessible. I have a spare stick with the LXQt version for occasional gparted use.

 

Quote

4. H/W configuration, part 2: Any pros/cons for USB stick versus m.2 optane to use for loading ramroot? From what I read, I concluded that m.2 optane and no internal HDD/SSD is quieter and sufficient to run HQPlayer-embedded.

I am using a new 16GB optane m.2 stick in my endpoint. It loads AL into RAM in just over a minute. Initial impression (first half hour) is a bit cold/harsh as others have noted, but that seems to improve considerably after some hours of music. I was not expecting that as I play from RAM, but we know so little...

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Audiolinux 2.0 is coming 1st November with an increased price (not too much...)
Until 30 October there is a SPECIAL OFFER:
1) You will have the possibility of buying at the old price of 49 $ for the first subscription
2) All users with a subscription will have to pay 25 $ for downloading Audiolinux 2.0, but before 30 October this payment will add a year to the subscription. For example, if you have already bought it (or added extra year) in March your new subscription will stop in March 2021!
3) It is also possible to change from yearly to unlimited time support paying the difference of only 50 $
-> Note that all passwords will be reset from 1st November to a different system and next menu updates will be also password protected. Please allow up to 24 Hours to set personal password
If in doubt contact support!

 

------

 

New menu version 125  is out with

1) Switch from yaourt to a special version of pamac for install/update, since yaourt is not developed any more

2) Some fixes to kernel installation script

AudioLinux --> https://www.audio-linux.com

developer of AudioLinux realtime OS

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@hifi25nl I bought AudioLinux headless and lxqt 1-year support together for $49 in November 2018.

 

So if I pay $25 to download AL 2.0 before October 30, I get a year added to my subscription.  Does this apply to both headless and lxqt?

 

You say you can change from yearly to unlimited time support for an extra $50.  If I pay another $50 before my current subscription expires, I get unlimited time support, right?  But I would still have to pay $25 to download AL 2.0?

NUC7PJYH/AL --> Berkeley Alpha USB --> Jeff Rowland Aeris --> Jeff Rowland 625 S2 --> Focal Utopia 3 Diablos with 2 x Focal Electra SW 1000 BE subs

 

i7-6700K/Windows 10 Version 2004/HDPLEX 300W/HDPLEX 400W DC-ATX --> EVGA Nu Audio Card --> Focal CMS50's 

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Just now, rickca said:

So if I pay $25 to download AL 2.0 before October 30, I get a year added to my subscription.  Does this apply to both headless and lxqt?

Yes, I forgot to mention that lxqt will haver version 4.0

 

2 minutes ago, rickca said:

You say you can change from yearly to unlimited time support for an extra $50.  If I pay another $50 before my current subscription expires, I get unlimited time support, right?  But I would still have to pay $25 to download AL 2.0?

 

If you pay 50$ you have unlimited without paying the extra 25 $

AudioLinux --> https://www.audio-linux.com

developer of AudioLinux realtime OS

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8 minutes ago, hifi25nl said:

If you pay 50$ you have unlimited without paying the extra 25 $

Thanks for the clarification.  That is obviously an attractive deal.  So I pay $50 for unlimited and that $50 includes download of AL 2.0.  Or I pay $25 for AL 2.0 before October 30 and my subscription is extended for a year.  So unlimited really only costs an extra $25.  Is this right?

 

So now the question is ...

How do I pay you the $50 to upgrade from yearly to unlimited?  There is no such selection in the drop down in the AudioLinux store.

Similarly, there's no entry in the dropdown to pay $25 to download AL 2.0 ... should people just select the $25 AL extra year of support?

NUC7PJYH/AL --> Berkeley Alpha USB --> Jeff Rowland Aeris --> Jeff Rowland 625 S2 --> Focal Utopia 3 Diablos with 2 x Focal Electra SW 1000 BE subs

 

i7-6700K/Windows 10 Version 2004/HDPLEX 300W/HDPLEX 400W DC-ATX --> EVGA Nu Audio Card --> Focal CMS50's 

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5 minutes ago, rickca said:

Thanks for the clarification.  That is obviously an attractive deal.  So I pay $50 for unlimited and that $50 includes download of AL 2.0.  Or I pay $25 for AL 2.0 before October 30 and my subscription is extended for a year.  So unlimited really only costs an extra $25.  Is this right?

 

Yes and you can pay directly with PayPal to [email protected] with "SPECIAL OFFER October 2019 unlimited " or "SPECIAL OFFER October 2019 Audiolinux 2.0" or  "SPECIAL OFFER October 2019 Audiolinux lxqt 4.0"

AudioLinux --> https://www.audio-linux.com

developer of AudioLinux realtime OS

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Since I have just received a payment of 25 $ for unlimited (it should be 50 $ and also 50 is very low...), I fear that I was not clear. I have updated the website:

 

Previous subscribers can pay directly with PayPal to [email protected] with
1) 50 $ for "SPECIAL OFFER October 2019 unlimited  for Audiolinux 2.0 or Audiolinux lxqt 4.0"
2) 25 $ for Audiolinux 2.0 or Audiolinux 4.0 extra year
 
New subscribers can pay directly with PayPal to [email protected] with
49 $ for "SPECIAL OFFER October 2019 Audiolinux 2.0 or Audiolinux lxqt 4.0"

AudioLinux --> https://www.audio-linux.com

developer of AudioLinux realtime OS

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Hi Piero what you are charging is very reasonable, thank you for all your support and hard work to date! 

 

What new improvements can we look forward to? Hopefully some of the AMD compatibility issues are resolved.

Audio System Link

 

PinkFaun 2.16x > Vinnie Rossie DAC 2.0 > Vinnie Rossie LIO DHT > YBA Passion 1000 > Wilson Watt Puppy

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Audiolinux is using now very recent 5.2.17 kernel, so the amd support is the best achievable on linux at the moment.

There is also the new option  11 "Change ucode to AMD/Intel" in Expert menu (audiolinux as default has the Intel ucode)

 

I have a long list of new options, fixes, corrections, from samba server to spotify service...

 

 

AudioLinux --> https://www.audio-linux.com

developer of AudioLinux realtime OS

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Dear Piero,

Is version 2.0 a complete fresh install, or could my machine  be updated from within my existing audiolinux installation?

My computer has a second partition which contains my Roon database. Would that by swiped when I install version 2 ?

 

thanks

Johan

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It will possible to update to new Audiolinux menu if you subscribe to Audiolinux 2.0 (25 $)

As in the previous versions some general system modifications will not be updated.

 

I take this opportunity to suggest to modify for security problems ssh daemon (this is a general problem in Linux systems using ssh socket) , see

https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/OpenSSH#Daemon_management

For further clarifications please contact support.

 

AudioLinux --> https://www.audio-linux.com

developer of AudioLinux realtime OS

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Please help I gave up to suceed on my own...

 

would like to use AL from an SSD but I can't transfer from my flash drive to the SSD.

 

I tried inside AL -> result is boot error

I tried to clone the flash drive to the SSD -> same result

 

Can you give a short description how should I do it?

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On 10/2/2019 at 7:59 AM, hifi25nl said:

Audiolinux 2.0 is coming 1st November with an increased price (not too much...)
Until 30 October there is a SPECIAL OFFER:

 

How does this apply to those of us that obtained our AL license with the hardware purchase, Pink Faun in my case?

 

Thanks

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2 hours ago, cat6man said:

hi

 

a couple of questions:

 

1.  how does AL update HQPlayerEmbedded?  i don't think(?) i saw a menu item for getting the latest version.

2.  anyone using the latest kernel?  any impact/feedback on sound quality?

 

hqplayer is updated under the item that's something like "update other packages" -- it is the third item in the update menu:

 

http://www.audio-linux.com/images/menu4.jpg

sources:  intel nuc8i7 (audiolinux, roon core) (server) | simaudio moon mind 2 (renderer)
headphone rig:  chord dave > senn hd600
main rig:  chord dave > parasound jc5 > kef reference 3
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1 hour ago, George Hincapie said:

Can AL be administered via a GUI or is it CL?

 

if you know linux, you can administer under CL.  AL does have menu options for most things.

sources:  intel nuc8i7 (audiolinux, roon core) (server) | simaudio moon mind 2 (renderer)
headphone rig:  chord dave > senn hd600
main rig:  chord dave > parasound jc5 > kef reference 3
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On 10/2/2019 at 4:59 PM, hifi25nl said:

Audiolinux 2.0 is coming 1st November with an increased price (not too much...)
Until 30 October there is a SPECIAL OFFER:
1) You will have the possibility of buying at the old price of 49 $ for the first subscription
2) All users with a subscription will have to pay 25 $ for downloading Audiolinux 2.0, but before 30 October this payment will add a year to the subscription. For example, if you have already bought it (or added extra year) in March your new subscription will stop in March 2021!
3) It is also possible to change from yearly to unlimited time support paying the difference of only 50 $
-> Note that all passwords will be reset from 1st November to a different system and next menu updates will be also password protected. Please allow up to 24 Hours to set personal password
If in doubt contact support!

 

------

 

New menu version 125  is out with

1) Switch from yaourt to a special version of pamac for install/update, since yaourt is not developed any more

2) Some fixes to kernel installation script

 

Could you give us some more details on what Audiolinux 2.0 actually is?

At the moment my audiolinux is running OK, can I continue to use it as is? I understand that after Oct 30 there will be no more updates. But what will upgrading to 2.0 bring us?

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