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Building a DIY Music Server


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Are you able to share where you placed your EMI absorbing material? I have SOTM sheet ready to go in my case, but unsure where to place it? 

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Can I ask what is the gstp for? Something new for me, all I’ve been doing is 0-1, stylus 2-3, 4-7 hqplayer? 

thanks in advance

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On 2/12/2020 at 7:31 PM, Nenon said:

Just a small OCXO teaser.



Also, please note the paper sticker on the motherboard that says 1201. This is the BIOS version. And this is the fourth AMD motherboard I get that is running an old BIOS, which does not work with the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X CPU. With such BIOS the server would not post. 

With the previous mini-ITX AMD motherboards, I had to go back to the store, buy an old CPU like the AMD Ryzen 3 2200G and install it just so the server can start and I can update the BIOS. This motherboard has BIOS flashback function. You can update the BIOS from a USB drive without CPU or memory installed. So much easier!

Ultra clock?

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1 hour ago, Nenon said:


Yes, PinkFaun ultraOCXO. That's the best clock I could find on the market. If anyone knows anything better I can use, please let me know. 

Even if someone told their was a better clock, not sure I would want it! Why? Pinkfaun clock usb bridge with ultra clock sounds so good, I don’t see the point! Simple as! 

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5 minutes ago, elan120 said:

Thank you, I have seen that, but wonder if there are more information available.  I did read one review where they use AMD EPYC 7551 processor and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 graphics card, and that is more than 355W of TDP that show a CPU temp of 76C and GPU at 88C, so with their 2.5kg of radiator weight, I think my i9900KS will survive fine.


Btw...as another data point, when running EC7/DSD256 on HQPlayer, i9900KS pulls about 85W and 25W to ATX, where CPU will have an inrush of about 140W during bootup.

That’s very useful info...any idea or are you able to test running DSD128? I presume I could under clock the i9900k? I don’t need much to run DSD128, I had it running with highly optimized windows at one point. It only skips after 40-60 seconds (buffer set to max). 

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20 minutes ago, elan120 said:

Running Redbook upsample to EC7/DSD128 pulls between 70 to 75W.  Not too bad at all.

Thanks really appreciate that. One last question, what HQ player filter are you using? I'm using XTR Filter, so suspect will be higher?

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1 hour ago, dctom said:


Good to see other builds, thanks ASRMichael, my i9700T runs DSD 128 with EC7 in HQP.


I have posted some photos of my ongoing build.

Z390 ASRock Z390 itx  MB

i79700T CPU

HDplex 2nd Gen H5 case  

HDplex 400w hifi DC-ATX - most recent version.

Have made up a Mundorf atx lead for MB, thanks Nenon

Uptone etherRegn

using audiolinux on server

HQP naa on NUC


I am powering the HDp with a Sean Jacobs DC3 5amp PS and using the 12v output from a HDplex linear 200w PS direct to the CPU.


This is a 2 box set up so I have the etherRegan between this server and a 7 i7DNBE NUC with a PH SR4  PS to the NUC


I am awaiting a PH SR7 dual rail + silver cables,  12v + 19v, (12 and 10 amp) to take over the PS duties and some apacer ram for the server and NUC.


Initially I had the  PH SR4 running the cpu direct and DC3 the atx 400w with the SJ to the NUC . The SR4 ran the cpu but struggled with powerful HQP filters. The configuration above deals fine with DSD 128 and suitable filters and sounds better.


I know there is debate over using high power CPU v low power ones. I just felt happier with low power in a passive case and my experience with an earlier build going from an i5 95w to i3 54w improved the sound. The core temps are around the mid 30 deg see screen shots below - the CPU load running HQP EC7 and DSD128



















Hi, thanks for the useful info. One question what clock speed to you have set to? also what Filters are you using in HQ Player?. All this gives me reassurance. 

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10 hours ago, Gavin1977 said:

@Nenon amazing post - can you show us more about how you undertook the motherboard clock mod?  I would also be interested your thoughts on the impact of the motherboard clock mod, vs say, adding JCAT USB  & NET cards only...


11 hours ago, Nenon said:


My new build is:

- ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Hero full size ATX motherboard 

- AMD Ryzen 7 3700X CPU

- Apacer ECC RAM

- Upgraded motherboard clock with PinkFaun ultraOCXO clock

- The new JCAT XE USB card

- JCAT NET Femto card

- PinkFaun I2S Bridge with ultraOCXO clock

- Optane card for the OS

- HDPlex H5 Case

- HDPlex 800W DC to DC ATX Convertor

- Gaia feet

- Mundorf Silver Gold DC wire all around

- Euphony OS




I made that carbon fiber plate with two connectors that I quite like. One connector goes to the CPU / EPS and the other to the HDPlex.



On the other side I just drilled a hole on the plate and installed a connector to power the OCXO clock. I will be adding a grounding post this weekend as well. 



And of course vibration isolation with Gaia feet:




There were three big questions I wanted to answer with this build.


I will be honest with you and tell you upfront that I did not spend enough time to apply the typical systematic approach of testing. Here is why - I am doing this as a hobby and when I hear that something I did convincingly sounds better, I am not interested to go back and forth and study how much better it sounds. I wish I spent a little more time with each small change, but I had too many thing going on. 


Let's start with the motherboard. Does it sound better than the mini-ITX motherboard? Yes, it does. But I don't think we should make the conclusion that every full size ATX motherboard sounds better than its mini-ITX sibling. That's not true, and I have seen the opposite. But this particular ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Hero sounds a little better than the ASUS ROG Strix X470-I Gaming mini-ITX motherboard. Not much better, just a little. 


After adding the PinkFaun ultraOCXO clock, this motherboard sounded much better than the mini-ITX model. Not all OCXO clock upgrades are up to my taste. They all seem to help with details, but some of them make the sound too sterile, too clinical, even lean in some cases. That's kind of what I expected by replacing this motherboard clock. But my expectations were wrong, and I was pleasantly surprised. The effect was quite different than what I thought. The first thing I noticed was a lot of air between the instruments. There was also more layers, more depth, and the bass became tighter and more real. It was immediately noticeable, but after a week I decided to go back to the stock motherboard clock just to double check. I did not listen for long with the stock clock. It was all confirmed immediately and I switched back to the ultraOCXO clock. Another thing I noticed was that the PinkFaun ultraOCXO clock improved a lot the USB output of the motherboard. Especially the USB ports that are connected to the chipset sounded a lot better with the clock. I think for the first time I actually preferred the USB ports that go through the chipset than the ones that don't. But ultimately I preferred the new JCAT USB XE card. More on that later. One little detail - this clock requires really good and clean power. The cleaner, the better. And good DC wires. My Mundorf silver/gold DC cables came to rescue again. 


Having said all that, it's hard for me to answer the second question. 

I don't know. It's a different motherboard with ultraOCXO clock. It definitely sounds better, but how much of that has to do with the fact that I did not have to use a PCIe extension cable, and how much was due to the different hardware? I have no idea. 


I was also wondering how the passive cooling on the HDPlex H5 chassis compares with the Streacom. I was thinking to install two identical motherboards and run some tests to see how efficient in heat dissipation each case was. Well, I will leave that test to someone else. A lot of IT youtubers out there do those experiments. I just don't have the time. 

But I think it's obvious that the HDPlex H5 passive cooling is much better. Streacom on the left, HDPlex on the right:



Streacom has 4 copper pipes. HDPlex has 8 copper pipes. Streacom has a tiny aluminum mounting plate. HDPlex has a massive copper piece with a big aluminum heatsink going on top. Streacom's pipes are flattened and they lose performance this way. HDPlex are not and go inside groves in the heatsink. And the HDPlex heatsinks on the chassis are bigger, at least compared to the Streacom FC9. Plus the HDPlex supports full size ATX motherboard with vertical PCIe cards and no risers.

The only things I hate about the HDPlex is that you need to remove the entire backplate to install PCIe cards. Maybe it's convenient for one card, but try doing 4 PCIe cards at the same time when you also have 3 DC connectors with soldered wires on the plate... not fun! But some people think that's the best thing about this case. I won't repeat the conversation that happened previously in this thread regarding that. Between the two cases, my preference is the HDPlex case now, but that's mainly because of the full size ATX support. The HDPlex has thinner bottom and top covers - that's not good for vibration treatment. 


Okay, what's next? JCAT USB XE Card. It's really good and keeps getting better and better over time. I really like it, and it's an easy recommendation. I can't tell how it compares with the PinkFaun USB bridge with ultraOCXO clock, but (besides the PF) I can tell you that it's better than any other USB card I have tried. It would be interesting to do an A/B comparison between the PinkFaun with ultraOCXO and the JCAT card.  


Let me touch on CPU choices a little bit. Emile from Taiko has done an extensive research on CPUs and shared some of his results on another forum. My understanding is that he has tried pretty much every CPU he thought might have a chance no matter the price. And interestingly enough he did not like the sound coming out of the AMD CPUs he tried. Romaz also built a computer with an AMD Ryzen 9 that has 105W TDP in a Streacom FC9 chassis. I don't think the Streacom chassis is up to the task to cool down a 105W TDP CPU. At that point you need to start reducing the voltage / speed on the CPU just to keep it cool enough. That in my opinion diminishes the sound quality. And even when my chassis get somewhat hot, I can hear degraded sound. The HDPlex is a better choice, but as far as AMD CPUs go I don't think we can go higher that the 65W TDP of the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X CPU I am using. 


Emile is a genius. We all know that. And it seems like he has resources we can only dream about. But I feel like it's difficult to compare CPUs and have a definitive conclusion about the sound of each CPU. Is it possible that the same CPU sounds very different in his system with his power supply and his choice of motherboard with his tweaked operating system than it sounds in my system with my power supply and my choice of motherboard and completely different operating system? I think the answer to that question is yes. Not only it is very possible, but it's also very likely. I really like the way this new server turned out. It's better than my previous AMD build, which I quite liked. It might be better them my previous Intel builds. It certainly sounds different and probably different people would have different preferences. 

But regardless of that, Emile's test sharing is very useful. Ultimately, there is only one way to find out, so here it is:



This is the ASUS WS C621E Sage Extreme motherboard with two Intel XEON SILVER 4210 CPUs that the Taiko Extreme uses inside an HDPlex case. It would be interesting to complete this build and compare with my other builds. Granted, I won't have the million small tweaks Emile has put in the Extreme, but I will apply all the stuff I have learned during my builds. Not trying to reach the Extreme but just to explore another route. I have a custom order Apacer RDIMM RAM coming in several weeks. Between now and then there is a lot of challenges I need to overcome. Don't ask me how I am going to passively cool down those CPUs for example. I don't know. There is no adaptor for the fclga3647 socket in the HDPlex or Streacom kits. I will have to build my own. I have several different Dynatron coolers coming my way as well as various cooling pipes and a pipe bending tool. Ideally, the CPU that is closer to the front of the chassis would be cooled by the left heatsink and the second CPU would be cooled by the right heatsink. That would be a heck of a project. 

Why the HDPlex 800W DC to DC ATX Convertor? Did you test it against SJ LPS? 

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7 minutes ago, Nenon said:


The clock I replaced was under this heatsink:



Here it is:



I used my HAKKO FR301-03/P Desoldering Tool to remove the clock:



Clock is out:



Silver wires in organic unbleached cotton sleeve soldered - WBT silver solder used:



Heatsink put back in place:



You can mount the clock on the side and use longer wires. But I wanted to use the shortest possible wires. So I made a carbon fiber plate and used 4 standoffs on the four motherboard mounting holes to attach my plate to. I also added the 4 white standoffs to mount the clock:



Here it is with the clock attached before soldering the wires:



Solder the wires and add two more wire for the DC power of the clock (on the right side). The clock takes 5V DC. Installation completed:



I may redo the carbon fiber plate and add various holes to increase the airflow to the heatsink that this plate is blocking. But so far heat there has not been a problem. 



I wanted to have a more universal platform, so I can test various power supplies, motherboards, etc. I did not do an A/B comparison, but I know from experience that more rails is better. For the ultimate set up, I would have done 8 rails (3 x ATX, 1 x EPS, 1 x clock, 3 x PCIe cards). But using 6 rails (1 x Hdplex/ATX, 1 x EPS, 1 x clock, 1 x PCIe) sounds pretty good as well. The EPX rails requires a lot of current - 6A+. The HDPlex needs about 30-35 Watts in this configuration, and it can take 16V - 63V. A 22V-1.5A LPS works just fine. I am using 22V-5A LPS, which is an overkill. 


Sorry I had in my head you had a SJ 7 rail LPS. My bad! 

Anyway nice build, lots of usual great stuff from you Nenon! I’m sure your builds help so many people out there. 

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25 minutes ago, Nenon said:

Yes. It works fine with those CPUs.


You have more cores (a lot more) but lower clock speed. I would actually go with AMD for HQP. No need for HQP in my system, so this build would be tweaked for high CPU/process isolation. 


Speaking of high CPU/process isolation, I am also planning to try Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2019 instead of Euphony. I actually just happened to have access to the IOT version as well, which is what the Extreme uses. Since I don't have root access to Euphony, it is hard to optimise everything properly with the limited Expert Settings in Euphony. Windows would give me a much finer level of control. It would be interesting to try Windows again after I have been a Euphony fan for a long time. Tweaking this server properly takes a lot of time. But I think it's worth it. I also needed a really good power supply for this build. But I will share more info on that some other time. 

My custom industrial RAM is due at the end of the month. Quite excited about that. 

Moving to the Dark Side of the force!!!!! 😂


Presume using Windows you will be able to set tasks to run on dedicated sticks of RAM? 


What tweaking are you planning on doing? maybe Euphony can give me tweaking options?


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Re Dual Setup. Who is lucky enough to have 2 servers? Which are the exact same spec, so we can compare one box versus two. Not many. 

I imagine most people who originally had two box (like me) then moved to one concluded the one box was far better than two, why? In my case because my new one box is now far superior in spec than box 2.

Would be interesting to hear two extremes or statements as two box setups.

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7 hours ago, Aberrant-Decoder said:

Hi, I’ve put my music server and end point and remote control into a subset of their own, using a vigor 2920 router, but is there something more I can do to improve the Ethernet traffic / environment via configuration (without spending on cables or etherregen).

When you say you put onto different subnet, did you do via VLANS?, if going down the VLAN route, Roon needs Intervlan routing, IGMP snooping for Multicast/broadcast support. I'm no techie by profession but learnt how to do VLANs on my Edge Router via google search. 


Will this bring sq benefits? who knows, but certainly keeps my mind occupied.    

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1 minute ago, adamaley said:

Can you clarify whether you have implemented vlans yet for your setup? It's a little ambiguous in your post. I just received my SFP Edgerouter yesterday and only have it set up as a layer 2 switch currently. I'll love to try implementing vlans to see if there are sonic benefits.

Yes, all setup. I'm actually using 4 VLANS, 1 for audio and 3 other for various IOT, I'm not using Roon, just Euphony. 


I'm working on Intervlan routing the now, I think I know what I need to do, but need to wait and see. 

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50 minutes ago, Aberrant-Decoder said:

My router has 4 output ports, each one of those is initially configured to a different subnet.  I chain that port to a netgear swtich and so all devices on that switch will be on the same subnet.  My server, endpoint and remote control are on the netgear switch and so they can only communicate with one another, or be interupted by each others traffic.

I know the router has an menu item for vlans, but im unclear as too whether this is a vlan, or just a subnet (or even what the difference between those two things is).

I think that will work, however have a look at my profile and you will see my VLANs. For example;


I have 3 VLANS


VLAN 1  for audio

VLAN 10 for IOT (various items)

VLAN 12 for Normal PC and phone


So VLAN 1 is isolated from multi-cast/broadcasts, I use VLAN 12 for my phone, which can access VLAN 1, e.g can control Euphony Stylus, play and album then close the app. This result in less devices on my Audio VLAN, actually just my NAS & Server on VLAN. 


Can you post how your think your system


I'm no expert but this is what I've learnt in the last 3 months. 

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53 minutes ago, Peter Avgeris said:


Designing and manufacturing such heat sinks made out from pure copper is nothing that difficult, if you have the right staff to cooperate with. I have this staff here in Athens, so they can make miracles. I have been designing parts like this for decades. Have been designing exotic HiFi amplifiers with much more 'extreme' chassis work than the ones from Taiko Audio. The chassis I now manufacture take years to collect the know how of how to do them properly, it is a combination of extreme machine work and even more extreme man work with one's own hands. But all this is still toyz for little boyz, compared to the craftsmanship, knowledge, design, manufacture and testing required to make parts for Rafale jets and particle accelerator machines (cyclotrons). I have been through these later projects, so guys, please trust me, all this metalwork presented here is nothing. Absolutely nothing. I have no intention to underestimate the work presented here, on the contrary if somebody wants to have the most extreme copper accessories for cooling 3647 sockets, I can surely assist him.

It's really nothing that difficult to accomplish.

Peter, sounds like you'd be happy to make custom passive server cases for us? that caters for high heat CPU's? :) 

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@Nenon I see you are using HDPlex 800w card again in your build. What benefits are you hearing versus direct connection from SJ LPS? 

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FYI, I have two Sean Jacobs custom DC3 LPS now


5a - 7 Rail (no boost module)

10a - 4 rail boost module)


I appreciate Sean website does not show this information on the DC3, if you call him and discuss your requirement I think he'll build something for your needs. 



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22 minutes ago, Nenon said:

I share mostly success stories, but there is a lot going on behind the scenes with my experiments. Here is a behind the scenes failure story... Tried to replace the clock on one of my Buffalo switches, and the switch board is fried.




The problem is I don't know why. I had someone else remove the clock, so that might be part of the problem. Also USPS was quite brutal with this package as it can be seen by the bended port. 

Well, one less precious Buffalo in this world. That specific buffalo breed is nearly extinct!

I will sacrifice another one, and hopefully it would work out next time. 

Sure it has a 12 month warranty! 😂

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How are you getting on with your dual CPU build? Anything more you can tell us? Is it being powered by DC4’s? Modified clocks?


Interesting to who where you are at with it? & what’s your further plans?

Last thing I recall was you saying it keeps getting better & better?

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