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Building a DIY Music Server


Nenon

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Great post Nenon. It helps put things into perspective. I'm wayyyy below $5000 invested into my build so far and I am experiencing a much higher level of sound quality compared to my previous RPi4 + HAT streamer. Sound quality is far beyond what I thought could be achieved with this system and I have yet to invest in endgame cables (I use CableMatters Cat 8, AudioQuest Forrest USB cable).

 

Your build inspired my choice of motherboard. I look forward to improving my build but it will certainly take time and a lot of research. This thread is an excellent wealth of DIY info.

 

@Nenon, have you ever thought of trying GentooPlayer OS? I thought of purchasing a Euphony license and I have a spare Windows 10 Pro license hanging around...but GentooPlayer is free and I truly think it sounds amazing but it is the only OS i've tried on my Music Server (see Sig if interested). Plenty of options are embedded and you get full root access to the OS. I use BubbleUPNP Server with mConnect with great results.

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43 minutes ago, Downtheline said:

So I am writing tonight because I am totally intoxicated. By the music. Image height increased by about 3 feet and the sound stage palpably widened. There is a delicious improvement in dynamics and realism. Notes hang. 

 

Excellent report. Can you provide details of your previous build for comparison?

 

Thanks

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9 hours ago, Downtheline said:

Akasa NUC7i7DNH1E with crucial 8gb DDR4 ram, Gentooplayer, Keces 20v 8amp, matrix X SPDIF-2, Keces P3. Ghent dc cables, USB cable and HDMI cable: wireworld starlight 7

 

Thanks @Downtheline.

 

Curious as to what lead you to go the C621/Xeon Scalable CPU route versus the Z390-Z490/i9 route for a single CPU build.

 

Was it the extra PCI-E lanes?

Is it superior in terms of SQ for those who have no interest in upsampling? (compared to similarly spec'd I7/I9 builds)

 

Asking for a friend who is interested in taking their system to the next level (me).

 

Thanks,

-Rob

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5 hours ago, Downtheline said:

also, I wanted an integrated GPU, the AMD CPUs don't have those.

You have motivated me to try this path with my next build ;)

 

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29 minutes ago, Nenon said:

 

 

Keep in mind that this motherboard uses only one 12V rail. The 12V from the ATX connector, the 2 x 12 Volts on the EPS connector and the 12V on the third connector are all connected in parallel. If you use two 12V power supplies, there might be some strange consequences as you are basically putting the output of two power supplies in parallel. 

 

This was one of the strange consequences in my case :):

 

If it helps, I ended up using a one rail 12.5A LPS that can deliver up to 45A of instantaneous peaks. I feed the 12V on the 24-pin ATX and the two EPS connectors from that LPS. It's similar to the one @elan120 built but with DC4 specs and a few other extras. Normally, it draws around 6-7A while playing music. But that depends on your software too. 

 

 

Interesting. 

 

I have a two rail LPS on the way. One 19v rail will feed an HDPlex DC-ATX power supply and the other rail, 12v, will go directly to CPU.

 

I am now wondering if this will be cause for concern with the ASUS Strix Z390-i you selected for the first project in this thread...

 

I suppose I could repurpose the 12v rail for other devices if I must.

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Just now, genvirt said:

Thank You!

yes Paul Hynes write me that two rail LPS of 19v 10A will be fine.

Do I understand right that On Your scenario second part of HDPlex not needed?   
By the way:) Is here no need some power on/ reset button? Just not really noticed any sign on HDPlex chassis.... 

 

Paul Hynes is a good choice.

That is an interesting question you pose. I don't think i've seen others go this route, with two 19v 10A rails powering the HDPlex 800W DC-ATX device.

 

You are correct, in my case I would use the HDPlex for the 24-Pin ATX connector only. Maybe the 5v out to my network card as well until I get a dedicated audiophile network card which will use external power (like the JCAT you will use).

 

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1 hour ago, Darryl R said:

Was anyone interested in trying a fiber optic ethernet card in their build?

 

My build is nothing to write home about... But I will say that moving to the Fiber network card was worthwhile.

 

In the beginning of Wynton Kelly's "Temperance" there is a drumroll...I did not hear it clearly until switching to the fiber NIC. https://www.startech.com/Networking-IO/Adapter-Cards/pcie-gigabit-ethernet-fiber-card-open-sfp~PEX1000SFP2

 

SFP modules were inserted between this card and my Etherregen. I will probably stick with this card until I can afford the JCAT Femto Network XE and proper LPSU to power it. Very pleased so far.

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11 minutes ago, Darryl R said:

 

Does it support single and multimode?

Based on my research, many have determined single mode SFP transceivers to sound better, and this is what I use. Check my profile for details regarding which models I use.

 

I do believe this card supports multimode transceivers as long as it isn't 100mbps, per the documentation: "Not compatible with 100Mbps SFP transceivers, Gigabit SFP transceiver required"

 

Edit: Also worth noting that this is the same fiber NIC card used in the TAIKO Extreme server if that matters to you.

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54 minutes ago, Darryl R said:

 

Does it support single and multimode?  How about drivers -- Windows and Linux?

 

The Extreme is Windows based so Windows will work. Also I use it with GentooPlayer Linux with good results. It is properly recognized.

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2 hours ago, GUTB said:

passively-cooled 7700k

If I recall correctly, this is one of Emile's (of Taiko Audio) favorite CPUs for SQ.

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1 hour ago, exeric2 said:

That only leaves the question of where do you get Apacer ECC Rdimm. Anyone? I'm mostly thinking out loud here and haven't committed to a build with this motherboard and cpu. For me it's easy to become bogged down in the physical requirements of housing a 2 CPU motherboard in a custom case. I'd rather not go there. There's also the very real question of why not just buy an Extreme if one goes to that length. Also, I have nowhere close to the ability to match Emile's customization of memory cards or, for that matter, his understanding of the interplay of software and hardware optimization. Without that knowledge and expertise I would think it makes much more sense to commit to a lesser chunk of money for a DIY project. 

 

Good question. I now wonder if single CPU Ryzen/ I9 builds with good sounding motherboards can get close enough to a single CPU Xeon 4210 build with equal power supply and tweaks. Per @Nenon, the benefits of the dual CPU build were mostly if entirely apparent only after getting HQ Player to utilize both CPUs for playback. That being said, do high performance consumer class CPUs make more sense for single CPU builds for the advantages in compatibility, improved enclosure/cooling support? This is what crosses my mind as I plan my upgrade path...

 

 

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7 minutes ago, Nenon said:

I can modify a couple of switches but I am afraid to advertise this publicly as I just don't want this to take over my personal life. Best to send me a PM. Shipping from the US to Europe and back is not fun these days. 

 

Thanks @Nenon!

 

I would probably prefer to do it myself so there are no liability issues. Do you think you'll post a more detailed guide at some point for the "thrill seekers" among us?

 

My situation is a bit different because I was only able to source the POE version. Have to do some tests first to determine if the switch will work being fed 5-12V at the typical input after removal of the extra POE board...

 

One question I had was how do you stop the PF OCXO from using onboard power? Same with your motherboard clock upgrade. 

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15 minutes ago, Nenon said:

 

HQPlayer 4 Desktop and Network Audio Daemon are two different applications. You can run them on the same Windows computer by double clicking on each app. It does not matter how many processors you have. Since I have two CPUs, I can set affinities and have one run on the CPU0 cores and the other on the CPU1 cores. 

Is there an equivalent setup for the Linux world? I am just getting handy with HQPLAYER embedded.

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On 9/16/2020 at 4:11 PM, Nenon said:

 

You can download HQPlayer 4 Desktop and Network Audio Daemon for Linux too.

I prefered Stylus/Euphony on Linux, though. 

 

To confirm, when you compared Stylus/Euphony on Linux, were you making this comparison on the dual-CPU Xeon build?

 

Cheers,

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14 minutes ago, Nenon said:

 

No. That was with my previous builds that were tweaked for use with Euphony. 

Good data point nonetheless. Many thanks. I will be demoing Euphony Stylus once my LPSU arrives.

 

GentooPlayer sounds really really good though. Highly recommended for those who want a stable and free OS which allows for ramroot, mapping services to cores (only 1 CPU supported at this time), configuration of IRQs,cpu core isolation and various useful services such as HQPlayer Embedded, MPD, BubbleUPNP, etc. Various kernel types as well.

 

Once my build is up to par and I knock out some projects I will feel comfortable enough to share it here ;)

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Thanks for sharing @bit01

Speaking of DC cable - I am thinking to build a very short unshielded Mundorf Silver/Gold 20(or 24) pin ATX to ATX cable to connect the HDPlex 800W DC-ATX adapter to the motherboard.

 

If the cable were under 6", is there still a benefit to JSSG? I was thinking to do point to point connections for the sake of simplicity.

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17 minutes ago, RickyV said:


Mmm I don’t know, it is a very noisy neighborhood. I would consider it doing but unsure of how. I wouldn’t do a JSSG just one or two shields and connect it to earth. I believe even John said JSSG is only for digital signal cables.

I did the same for my 1 rail inside power cable, star quad, two shields connected to earth.

 

Interesting. So a longer JSSG360 shielded cable of say 8"-12" would be superior to a several inch unshielded variant? 

 

Trying to save on cable when/where possible since it is pricey 😀

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15 minutes ago, RickyV said:


??? This is not at all what I am saying.

I am not saying you said anything. It was a question based on current discussion. Given your response, I will take the answer as a strong no, that it is not better to have a longer but shielded cable in this instance. Thanks.

 

Either way, I have decided to try the shorter Mundorf SG configuration without shielding. It will be compared to the Gotham 18 AWG OFC JSSG360 cable currently in use. Feedback coming soon.

 

Cheers.

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Well, I bit the bullet and built myself the Mundorf Silver/Good ATX cable.

 

With @Nenon's guidance I was able to get this to work with the HDPLEX 800W DC-ATX adapter. To achieve this, I have connected 1 of each voltage, a ground and pin 16. I used individual wires of 15.5 AWG Mundorf silver gold wire.

 

Right away, I noticed a less "digital" sound. This is even with a lowly SMPS powering the server. 

 

I am patiently awaiting the arrival of my LPS. This was definitely a worthwhile change though. This is even with Gotham OFC everywhere else.

 

Cheers

 

 

PXL_20201002_035421851_MP.thumb.jpg.6a0923d4bd732247e84f570bf00748fe.jpg

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Would a non-PF Buffalo add anything to the above setup? 

 

If one PF Buffalo added gains 15%, does the non PF Buffalo take something away or just add way less than a 2nd PF Buffalo would?

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So if someone were to get their hands on a PF Ultra OCXO (with streaming quality being the highest priority) would it make the most sense to place the clock on the Buffalo switch OR the motherboard?

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35 minutes ago, Nenon said:

The idea is to fit the Ubiquiti Edge Router SFP inside - you plug one DC rail to the router and have another DC rail to power up your cable modem or another network device.

I would be interested in this. It would be nice to obtain more space and replace the Keces P3 powering my Edgerouter X SFP and SB 8200 modem. It would be great if the product offered the DIY option of dropping your router in and building the LPS or a complete product. I would probably choose the former for additional savings if possible as I already own the Edgerouter.

 

Speaking of the Edgerouter X SFP, I saw a post some time back, I believe it may have been @seeteeyou who mentioned specific routers which use either the same or similar Broadcom chip to the Buffalo/Melco switches we like. Do you think a SQ boost can be gained by using a "good sounding" router or am I totally out of line in my thinking? :)

 

Edit: I do not intend to insinuate that the Edgerouter X SFP limits sound quality or has any negative impact on what we hear.

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