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bobfa

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

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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. 

 

 

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15 hours ago, jcn3 said:

 

 I'm pretty sure the ST is made from off the shelf parts - It's not purpose built in that sense.  That's why it is priced so reasonably. 

 

The software is custom, but is based on Linux. 

doesn't address the question directly though. he is also using off the shelf parts for his build. and a software package that is commercially available to anyone i.e. audiolinux, not his own code and not his own hardware.

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13 hours ago, bobfa said:

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. 

 

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

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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:  

 

https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/products/processors/xeon/e-processors/e-2124g.html

 

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

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On 3/13/2019 at 2:42 PM, bobfa said:

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

 

https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/products/processors/xeon/e-processors/e-2124g.html

 

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

On other forums I have read that 71 TDP is way too high for audiophile purposes and that TDP should be no higher than 15! This is another one of those mysteries that we don't know the answer to or fully understand yet! I think that you are saying that 71 TDP not only works but can be superior to........?

Over the time I have been on various forums I have discovered in my research that there are many contradictions, e.g. some say you need a 'super switch' not for the extra ports but because of the re-clocking; yet others say that is not so. Another e.g. some say you need a pre-amp and others say not so; and as yet another e.g. some say you need LPSU's and others say not so. Eventually you start to take it all with a pinch of salt.

Thanks.

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Remember that I have said before I do not have all the answers.  I have two servers in house right now When running AL the one with High TDP sounds better.  The hardware is not the same so this is not a fair comparison.   This is just a small illustration of the problem of defining what the problem is.

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I'm going to buy the same hardware as you did, except I'll use another path, since I live under tropical weather, I'll not go fanless, but custom watercooling. Without any moving part on the case, pump, reservoir and radiator outside the computer, just need to find something to power it regardless of the power of the pc to not harm the power inside the computer.

Very detailled posts you did, bobfa, thanks again

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6 hours ago, bobfa said:

Remember that I have said before I do not have all the answers.  I have two servers in house right now When running AL the one with High TDP sounds better.  The hardware is not the same so this is not a fair comparison.   This is just a small illustration of the problem of defining what the problem is.

Yes I agree! Remember I said: " This is another one of those mysteries that we don't know the answer to or fully understand yet!"

I'm not surprised the higher TDP sounds better, I thought that might be the case! Which flies in the face of convention i.e. more power = more noise = poorer reproduction of sound. You are defying the time honoured rules mate! (LOL). Please continue to explore and break the rules, maybe time for some new rules?

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8 hours ago, bobfa said:

Remember that I have said before I do not have all the answers.  I have two servers in house right now When running AL the one with High TDP sounds better.  The hardware is not the same so this is not a fair comparison.   This is just a small illustration of the problem of defining what the problem is.

 

Are folks in the discussion here playing files with resolution higher than 24/192 or using upsampling with processor intensive filters?

 

One problem I see with high TDP processors is finding a fanless solution for them. Regardless of the debate over TDP and processor noise, it is pretty much established that running a fan motor in your case or a water cooling pump even on the same non-isolated AC circuit is asking for electrical noise which may mask fine detail. My NUC endpoint in an Akasa case is barely warm to the touch. My server is in an HDPlex fanless case running Roon Core with an i3 low TDP processor. Again barely warm. My Yggdrasil DAC only goes to 24/192 but I find that even Redbook sounds stunning running the NUC in AL in ramroot extreme mode.

 

Perhaps this is a matter of finding the right tool for the job? For some folks the sound of DSD or advanced upsampling may offset the noise issues? I think that some of these ideas are fun to explore but in reality often are not the deciding factor in SQ or musical enjoyment.

 

This is musing and personal opinion...not meant to be statements of fact 🙂

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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...

 

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Hi @bobfa,

I am experimenting with audiolinux on my Roon server based on some of the posts in this section.  It's fun to get back into Linux - I worked with BSD Unix in the 80's which I barely remember now.  I have audiolinux running on an optane stick in my server and it works great - except for one issue - the Roonserver audio service does not autostart on reboot.  I have to manually start it with the menu or systemctl commands each time.  This happens whether I am in RAMroot mode or not.  Other changes I make from the menu - such as changing boot mode or realtime priority persist across boots (as long as I "save changes" if in ramroot).  Any ideas?  Thanks.

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1 minute ago, bobh3501 said:

Hi @bobfa,

I am experimenting with audiolinux on my Roon server based on some of the posts in this section.  It's fun to get back into Linux - I worked with BSD Unix in the 80's which I barely remember now.  I have audiolinux running on an optane stick in my server and it works great - except for one issue - the Roonserver audio service does not autostart on reboot.  I have to manually start it with the menu or systemctl commands each time.  This happens whether I am in RAMroot mode or not.  Other changes I make from the menu - such as changing boot mode or realtime priority persist across boots (as long as I "save changes" if in ramroot).  Any ideas?  Thanks.

 

That's an easy one! Just run "systemctl enable roonserver" once (as root), make sure to "ramsave" and Roon Server should autostart on subsequent reboots.

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thanks for the reply @austinpop  but I have tried that several times!!  Now the "show running audio services" is blank!!!  It is obviously running (after manually starting, again) since I can connect.  I broke it...

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1 minute ago, bobh3501 said:

thanks for the reply @austinpop  but I have tried that several times!!  Now the "show running audio services" is blank!!!  It is obviously running (after manually starting, again) since I can connect.  I broke it...

 

Time to reconnect with you BSD Unix skills then! OK, if you have successfully enabled Roon, then you should see it listed in the list of enabled services when you run:

  • systemctl list-unit-files | grep enabled

Sometimes you do have to wait a while for Roon server to start up after you boot. If you look at the details of the start script at /usr/lib/systemd/system/roonserver.service you'll see these lines in the file:

   After=network-online.target sound.target
    Wants=network-online.target

 

These are conditions that have to be true before Roon will start. So if you are not seeing Roon start, perhaps your network takes a while to connect? 

 

Anyway, you can use these to do some troubleshooting. I think we may already be OT, so you may want to continue this with Piero over on the AL troubleshooting thread.

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Have you let the system run for more than a few minutes after startup before manually starting Roonserver?  It's possible that it does startup after a few minutes.  Mine did this until I realized the network stack wasn't completing startup for 2-3 mins.

 

Reboot, let it sit for 5 mins and see.  

 

 

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Great.  Check out 'journalctl' for clues.  I've shutoff/removed everything I didn't need like smbd and this reduced a few startup errors.  Ideally there are no errors on startup.

 

Try HQPe if Jussi makes it available for trial.  I prefer it to Roon straight.

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Rebuild the USB stick from a new download.  Update it to the latest everything.  Try again.....  I had that happen to be and just did a clean start.

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