Jump to content

From 0 to Xeon/AL/Roon Server in 2 days


Recommended Posts

Status report


 I have not had time to finish my music transfer.  The external drive is now hooked up to the server, and I am SFTPed into the system from my iMac using Transmit5.  Transmit5 is sending 4Tb of data over.  


I was looking for other ways to do this and found that I like this method.  It is simple to do, and the performance over the gigabit wired LAN is reasonable.  I drug over several folders in the application, and I thought it did one at a time.  NOPE, it was busy with one, and after that finished, it is now doing several.  When the smaller folders finish, it will be faster per file...  


I have Roon watching the folder and importing the music. The transfer will take some time but I can stream from the internet.



Link to comment

I would never suggest that this is a project that anyone should start without the support and knowledge you need.  There are bumps along the road.  


I am having fun.  A commercial product might have some additional features.  From watching the John Darko video I linked in the first post the new software on the Innous ZEN MK3 looks nice.  The Sonic Transporter I have has support in a different way but good.  AudioLinux headless menu system also provides a clean way to do most management.


I am working with several different ways to manage the music on the drive attached to the server.  I use a terminal program or a web browser to log into the server.  I have used an SFTP program to transfer data to the storage drive.  I am looking at remote sync.

Link to comment

My math (it is not perfect) and thus the systems design says that I can use a CPU with a 95W TDP.  That would mean that it should be able to run any of the CPUs in the E-21xxG series:




The top E-2186G is a 95W DTP with six cores and twelve threads.  



My "MAIN" concern here is to see if it sounds better than what I have.   My listening so far has been limited.  I am still fussing with overall systems design.  I did get a listen to Emerson Lake and Palmer Pictures and an Exhibition today.  I did not want to leave the listening room, but a broken dishwasher is interrupting my music time.  Along with some snow!



Link to comment

Some notes observing the thermal behavior of the server during Roon fingerprinting.


I have all of my music loaded into the server. Roon does background audio analysis of all new tracks loaded.  I had left it to throttled the default.  The CPUs were not any warmer than on idle around 35C.  CPU load was up a little bit from idle.  So I "turned it up a bit"!   I set it to run in Fast (4 cores). The Xeon is flying through this faster than what I have used before.  I have been watching it and the HDPLEX200 power supply.  I have not opened the case to see how the DC - ATX converter is doing, but the bottom of the case where it is attached is slightly warm.!


 After about 3 hours running. Here are a couple of screen grabs from the Audiolinux status menus.  The temps are around 57 to 60C. and the CPU is around 50%




For a little fun, I fired up my Flir One camera on the iPhone and took a couple of shots with it.  Note I do not know the actual temperatures here.  The heat-pipes from the CPU connect to the right side of the H5 case.  The hard drive on top of the server is just "warm."  The left side of the HDPLEX 200 is pretty warm.  Not hot you can hold your hand on it no problem.  It is winter here, and the basement where all this gear is running is about 65F ambient.




These numbers and pictures indicate normal behavior.  After all of the analysis is done I will grab some more numbers.







Link to comment
My DIY Xeon Roon Core server up and running, and along with the fun, there are challenges. 
One of those challenges is the local music file management.  My server is a stand alone music-appliance; the music is a copy of the master library stored on my iMac.  To that end, I have attached an 8TB drive in a USB enclosure and connected that to the server via USB 3.0 and powered directly by the HDPLEX200. 
Audiolinux does not appear to have file sharing services on by default, and I did not want to set up those services when SSH and SFTP work just fine.  Over the past couple of days, I have been testing different methods of managing the music data on the server.  I tried standard file copy methods by attaching the drive to my iMac, two SFTP programs and a few other crazy methods.
I settled on using the Linux ext4 disk format as it is native.  The Mac (or PC) needs to have individual drivers to access that format.  I tried using the Paragon driver, and it caused my iMac to crash (black screen reboot) during data transfer.  It is not viable in the long run.
 I have a couple of programs for SFTP, but I like Yummy FTP Pro for this project.  It has the controls I need to manage the transfers and maintains the best speed over time in my testing.  I can enable automation to automatically update the server.  If you have a Setapp subscription, Yummy FTP Pro is free.
Transmit 5 works very well, but I observed more slowdowns during significant transfers.  Transfer speed is not a problem during regular updates.  The total transfer time for 3.5TB of music using SFTP over gigabit Ethernet was 20 hours.  There were a bunch of weird slowdowns, some of which matched up with Time Machine backups.  Moreover, I got to do it twice because I changed my mind on which disk format I was going to use.
NOTE:  I currently do NOT make metadata changes using Roon as there as I do not have a feedback method to update the master.  I hope to be able to address this in the future.
Link to comment



Welcome to the Forums!  I hope that you enjoy what you find here.


I am sorry I do not have time to generate that work it is a big job to do that. There are a LOT of PC build videos on YouTube that can help you.  There are very few steps past what is shown. There is quite a bit of assumed knowledge here.  You will need experience with basic Linux commands, some mechanical skills and basic tools.  




Link to comment


Up and Running!


I have had the system up for a few days.  The OS is running in RAM and Audiolinix is set for Extreme.  The CPU is running around 30C. The server will be on the workbench for a while yet.  I want to start testing the Fiber network card in the server.  The HDPLEX200 is running the external FMC, disk drive, and the server.  I have loaded the music in and Roon has finished fingerprinting!  The power supply is fed with Transparent Audio power cord and filter.




Completed system on the workbench.



I have been busy with work, tax returns and customers!  I have very limited listening time.  Everywhere I play back from Roon from this server has a renewed/expanded depth.  There is more detail.  In some cases there is a different edge to the music that I cannot define.  In others the sound just floors me.  I listened to BT "Untitled" album twice.  There were multiple times where something comes thru that I have not heard before.  Sitting in my office right now listening to the desktop system and the music is painted on the wall behind the computer.  


This weekend I will have a couple folks over and we will get some serious time on the system.


Link to comment
6 minutes ago, bibo01 said:

@bobfa I noticed that you have a Startech fc card. When you install it, could you please report on your experience with it. Is it detected automatically, etc...? Thanks

That is on the planned list for the next few days.  I want to do some listening to the server first.  Just sitting in my office working now I hear things I am very happy with. 


I hope that AL will find it.  


Off to do some work to help pay for all of this!

Link to comment
52 minutes ago, lpost said:

Excellent work.  Where are you viewing CPU temp? 


AL menu doesn't report CPU temp properly on my system, it read high.  However, the command line 'sensors' does report the correct temp.  Best to run 'sensors-detect' first and accept the defaults.  It can be tweaked/name adjusted but it's usually not necessary.  See https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Lm_sensors


On another note, I too had some strange crashes.  I completely disabled and removed smb and nmb as I don't use them, preferring sftp.  This cleaned up the core dumps caused by smb, see journalctl for log data.


I also found that by slightly under clocking my RAM I no longer experience crashes.  My ram modules are 'tested' for much higher refresh rate but I don't think this is necessary for audio use.  And clearly, something between controller and ram modules was going wrong and crashing.  Might be an area to explore in bios to reduce the speed.


I too run a gigabit fiber network PCIe board instead of in-built Ethernet.  My card has a Broadcom chip that AL already had a functioning driver compiled in the kernel.  I can look up the precise model if it's helpful.

I just set up the sensors stuff and the menu reads a couple degrees higher than sensors command does.


I have not seen any crashes in a while and I have not looked at the logs.  Just now I got a few of these:

Mar 05 12:57:07 FairXeon kernel: bridge0: received packet on eno1 with own address as source address (addr:4a:89:1b:91:53:82, vlan:0)



i am very interested in a FMC card that Just works.  Please let me know.  I did not have time to debug the one I have  Startec.com. PEX1000SFP2.  IF you have one that work I will use it.


My motherboard has two ethernet interfaces and I wonder if I have to disable one to do the bridge right.  I do need some help in this area.  I am weak and learning



Link to comment
2 hours ago, LTG2010 said:

If you are running a bridge then you would need to add your network card to the bridge.

If for example your network card is at: eno1

you will need a file named : eno1.network in   /etc/systemd/network

its content should read:






If you type the command :networkctl

you should get all the recognised interfaces.

I can do that when I get the card.  


I would like it if the AL Menu works for this and I will test that.  The idea is to avoid command line if you can!!  Makes it simpler for everyone.

Link to comment



I have found several commercial music servers of interest.  I have used several different kinds.


1. Mac Mini with and without the uptone audio power supply mod.

2. 27in iMac

3.Two different Small Green Computers Sonic Transporters

4. I am testing two custom built servers and two Operating Systems



I have played with a couple of NAS devices as servers when I was using different server software.  When I started using Roon as my playback system the NAS hardware did not make sense to me as they are mostly not as powerful as I would like. The rest of the system has improved so taking about server audio quality over time is a bit harder as I have not heard say the Mac Mini on the current DAC/AMP/Speakers cables.


My Sonic Transporter i7 is a great sounding server.  I improved the sound quality from the it by powering it with a linear power supply. My DIY server sounds better, but if you do not want to play with BIOS and OS settings this might not want to go this route.   


There are several other commercial servers that I personally find interesting. Innous and Wired4Sound are interesting.  Aurender and Pink Faun are also very interesting.


I am thinking about creating another thread about building servers in general.  This thread is mostly about the specific server I built.


There are several new threads on commercial servers in this section of the forum




Link to comment

This is  the million dollar question.  


The Sonic Transporter line of computers are some of the best value in music servers out there.  How they are built and what they are built from is not something I have any insight into.  I have purchased two of them and they are a great value.  I think there are several BIG reasons to look at them.  First is the team there provides great service and support.  Next the Operating System that they use is one of the most stable Linux variants I have used.  Finally they provide a good set of applications that are supported by the system.  


I have conducted some testing with my Sonic Transporter that over time has kindled a “want” in my mind to improve sound quality.  The very first tests I did were with two different power supplies.  Using a compent linear power supply with the proper rating improved the sound quality in my system.  Note that my ST have been Roon Servers and that is another variable in this mix of hardware and software.  The second set of testing I did on the Sonic Transporter was to boot it up using AudioLinux.  This again made an improvement in audio quality.  


I have been testing and following along with some of the research being done by others on the forum and I started following along with the NUC discussion. I built my i7 NUC a few weeks ago and set it up with AudioLinux.  I have been using the NUC as a Roon bridge/endpoint.  I have compared the NUC to my UltraRendu and the NUC sounds better.


So you say “Alice how far down the rabbit hole do you want to go?”


I  researched a lot of hardware that folks have used over time and some hardware that have been talked about over time as working better.  I built the server I built is a culmination of this research and some assumptions I have made.  I “assume” that ECC RAM will be better.  I have not tested that theory.


There are a lot of other possible improvemtents I can make.  That is a ways down the road for me.


Now why does this sound better.  I have two probable answers.  First is the Operating System that is designed to improve sound.  The second appears to be latency of the “system” as a whole.  The higher power processor gets stuff done faster and improves sound quality.  If you go read the “massive” thread there is a lot more reporting over there.


We are on the edge of some discoveries here.  None  of this is absoute.  


I am now experimenting with two Linux OS variants for my hardware.  I have a thread I started talking about them; AudioLinux and Euphony. 



Link to comment
10 minutes ago, valveboy said:


very good points! whatis the TDP/VA of your server build please?

If you read the first post you will see I am using a E2124 Xeon.  Here is a link to that info:  




Hope that Intel has the info you are asking for.  The TDP is 71W. 

Link to comment

I am using the HDPLEX H5 case that can support up to a 95W TDP CPU.  I did some temperature measurements when Roon was processing the library with all cores turned up to full.  The power supply got hotter than the computer!  In normal operation the system .  I have just move software systems under Roon to Euphony and reloaded the library again.  CPU is about 38C running in Throttled mode.


Let me clarify what I do.  There are 5502 albums in my library and 4549 of them are 44K.  I have only dabbled in room correction I am going to work on that in HW not SW.  I do not upsample to my Yggdrasil.  I have dabbled in DSD when my primary DAC did DSD.  Now dabbling in getting the streaming chain working better I really doubt I will go back to that.


While all of this is a lot of fun. I really want a way to compare what I have built with one of the higher end players like the Innous stuff.


I do a lot of musing also.  I will state one fact.  I could never go back to a laptop USB out driving my system😎


I went into a store to listen to some uses speakers I was interested in.  We setup the speakers on the high end system that was directly fed over USB with a Roon Nucleus.  I can tell how the speakers sounded different but they were strangled by the streaming setup.  I want to take my system over there..... Of course they cannot sell this support/sell gear like this.  If they would get a Signature Rendu or something it would be a lot better.


Waxing poetic...


Link to comment
1 minute ago, austinpop said:


Sending sleep inducing thoughts here, so they go to bed and you can get back to the serious work of comparing the HDPlex 400 with the 200+DC-ATX converter!

Send warm weather with it so it will not snow tomorrow, please!


There are some huge advantages to having a headphone system.

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...