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Nenon

Building a DIY Music Server

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23 hours ago, Nenon said:

- 1 rail (high voltage) for the HDplex 800W DC-ATX --> feeds the 24-pin ATX connector only

- 1 rail (high current) for the CPU/EPS

 

Do you think that PH SR4(T)-19 (2A) for the HDplex 800W DC-ATX and PH SR5(T)-12 (6A) for CPU/EPS (Xeon E-2136) would suffice?
Or should (I have to) think of PH SR7? :(

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1 hour ago, novaca said:

 

Do you think that PH SR4(T)-19 (2A) for the HDplex 800W DC-ATX and PH SR5(T)-12 (6A) for CPU/EPS (Xeon E-2136) would suffice?
Or should (I have to) think of PH SR7? :(

 

38 Watts for the ATX and 72 Watts for the EPS would probably work.

 

Around 30W is what most of my motherboards needed to power up (that is 30W feeding the Hdplex 800W DC-ATX). 38W would not give you much headroom for things to power up through the motherboard (i.e. PCIe cards without external power supply, NVME storage, SATA devices, etc.). But it would work with most barebone motherboards from my experience. 

 

72W for the EPS would also probably work if you are not using a lot of processing power. But CPUs are very fast in current demand. Your average current may be something like 30-40W but CPUs tend to create those microburst of power demand that may be higher than double what this LPS can provide. While it would still work, you might be restricting the dynamics. I tend to go with heavily oversized power supplies, especially for the EPS, and that has always sounded better in my system. 

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Thanks, I get it. It will probably be better to stay with a well-powered NUC for now.

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If you only need ethernet for your audio needs, and use a JCat NET Femto card with external power, will you still get better sound from all the other tweaks?

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1 hour ago, MagnusH said:

If you only need ethernet for your audio needs, and use a JCat NET Femto card with external power, will you still get better sound from all the other tweaks?

Yes, most of the tweaks suggested here are additive.


nuckleheadaudio.com

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On 1/16/2020 at 11:46 AM, Nenon said:

The server powered up just fine. I had some issues with a defective AsRock motherboard, which I replaced, but I ended up switching to the ASUS as mentioned in one of my previous posts. The ASUS is rock solid. I like it a lot. 

I did some quick BIOS tweaks for now but will go back there later to dive a little deeper. Basically I disabled everything that is not necessary - Wifi, Bluetooth, audio card, onboard NIC, LED lighting, etc. etc. I made sure the memory is running at 2666, made some tweaks of the CPU performance, disabled fan monitoring and so on.

 

The 32 GB Optane card is mounted on the M.2 slot on the bottom of the motherboard. The BIOS saw it without a problem. I will be using it for the OS later. I booted Euphony from a USB drive. All good! It started playing right away. The CPU temperatures are not bad after playing for several hours:

temp2.thumb.jpg.314e91a0921e21f5dbde0c3ebb9a17bc.jpg

 

I did not want to transfer the Euphony license yet as it is used somewhere else currently. Plus I needed to contact Euphony support for that. Euphony does not let you install the OS on a hard drive (or Optane card in my case) if you don't have a license. But there is a trick I used. I have described it here:

 

I booted to Audio Linux since I had this USB handy and needed root access. Downloaded the Euphony image and installed it on the Optane card per the instructions from the quoted post above. Removed the USB, rebooted, and all good - Euphony booted from the Optane card.

 

The things I configure in Euphony that make an audible sound quality difference are:

  • Disable the software volume control on the DAC
  • Buffer before play = 100%
  • Use cache
  • Enable ramroot

I will go back later and configure CPU isolation, but not now…

 

I configured Qobuz and access to my NAS-based music library and let it play. This computer would have a long burn-in process and will continue to improve in the next 3 months. But I am not done with it. Some finishing touches  and more pictures next. Stay tuned.

I just booted up my Euphony Optane stick in my newly build AMD Box.    IT is up and running and I need to get it license moved.  I have only turned off the WifFi and Bluetooth so far.    The Apacer RAM seems to be fine.    I have an old graphics card I am using that causes a post error and it gets hot.  I new cheap one coming to put in for debug and setup.  I am sure there is a lot of BIOS tuning and updates to do.  I like the LED's. (for now)

 

Asus ROG Chrossair VIII Formula with a Ryzen 3700i.  Here is my test bed box.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Nenon said:

I completed my tube SET monoblocks a couple of weeks ago. They sound amazing! Even better than they look. The Duelund Cast tinned copper caps are still breaking-in as well as all the Mundorf MTube and MLytic AG capacitors I used but they are 99% there. Add to that, the custom silver wires used throughout, Mundorf silver/gold wire for the power supply, custom transformers, custom chokes, Z-foil resistors, WBT silver connectors, NCF IEC inlets, Grade A Sophia Electric tubes, Grade A Shuguang WE6SN7 PLUS tubes, SR Orange fuses, etc. I used to love my Lundahl output transformers but those beat the shit out of the Lundahls! These monoblocks are something special. They really are a piece of art, and I am very proud of the end result.

 

Definitely something to be very proud of.  Happy listening!


 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Nenon said:

I completed my tube SET monoblocks a couple of weeks ago. They sound amazing! Even better than they look. The Duelund Cast tinned copper caps are still breaking-in as well as all the Mundorf MTube and MLytic AG capacitors I used but they are 99% there. Add to that, the custom silver wires used throughout, Mundorf silver/gold wire for the power supply, custom transformers, custom chokes, Z-foil resistors, WBT silver connectors, NCF IEC inlets, Grade A Sophia Electric tubes, Grade A Shuguang WE6SN7 PLUS tubes, SR Orange fuses, etc. I used to love my Lundahl output transformers but those beat the shit out of the Lundahls! These monoblocks are something special. They really are a piece of art, and I am very proud of the end result. Sorry for the ugly photo, but that's the best I have at the moment.

Beautiful work indeed and outstanding selection of components.

 

What would you recommend for power switch and fuse holder?

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1 hour ago, Nenon said:

Some updates from me below.

 

1. I completed my tube SET monoblocks a couple of weeks ago. They sound amazing! Even better than they look. The Duelund Cast tinned copper caps are still breaking-in as well as all the Mundorf MTube and MLytic AG capacitors I used but they are 99% there. Add to that, the custom silver wires used throughout, Mundorf silver/gold wire for the power supply, custom transformers, custom chokes, Z-foil resistors, WBT silver connectors, NCF IEC inlets, Grade A Sophia Electric tubes, Grade A Shuguang WE6SN7 PLUS tubes, SR Orange fuses, etc. I used to love my Lundahl output transformers but those beat the shit out of the Lundahls! These monoblocks are something special. They really are a piece of art, and I am very proud of the end result. Sorry for the ugly photo, but that's the best I have at the moment.

IMG_3293.thumb.jpg.a50ce92d8ef5feec9252639539db1a31.jpg

 

2. I am still playing with the Asus Sage build, trying different Optane cards and NVME storage (in RAID0 VROC configuration). It seems like no NAS will be used for this build. It's interesting because the NAS sounded best in my previous builds but not here. 

 

3. The custom Apacer RDIMM memory should be ready next week. Looking forward to try it on the Asus Sage motherboard. Speaking of Apacer, they discontinued the new RAM models that used the 2666MHz Samsung chips as Samsung stopped manufacturing some parts. That's quite unfortunate, as that was the best sounding memory. Here is a list of the older Apacer models (still using the top grade Samsung RAM and still wide range temperature but 2400MHz):

ECC DDR4 DIMM 4GB: 75.B93GZ.G000B (recommended for most server builds)

ECC DDR4 DIMM 8GB: 75.CA4GZ.G000B

NUC DDR4 SODIMM: 75.B93GJ.G010B

Hope that helps to those who have not upgraded to Apacer RAM yet. 

If you can still find it somewhere the ECC DDR4 DIMM 4GB model # D31.23185S.001 is in my opinion the best sounding RAM. Mouser still shows some on backorder, but I highly doubt those backorders would be fulfilled at all.  

Last note: I did not list non-ECC models, because ECC works (as non-ECC) on most motherboards and sounds better to my ears.

 

4. I managed to obtain a number of Buffalo BS-GS2016 switches before they disappeared from the market. Some will be used in my system. Some are promised to friends. And I might have some left that I would not need when I finish testing. 

After the excellent post by @auricgoldfinger about his modified Melco switch with PinkFaun ultraOCXO clock, I am determined to try that on the Buffalo as well. With some luck, my next switch would have the following features:

- Modded Buffalo BS-GS2016

- Replaced clock with PinkFaun ultraOCXO powered by a separate 5V rail.

- Two-rail Sean Jacobs DC4 LPS powering the switch and clock.

- Chassis vibration damping.

- Gaia isolation feet.

- Possibly a bank of capacitors on the input similar to what Melco does (to be determine if that's an improvement). 

 

5. Not really an update, but I thought the following post might be more useful here:

 

Finally, the life is getting back to normal in Chicago, and I am planning to enjoy the summer. There will be less frequent updates from me in the next couple of months. But there will be some!

 


wow Nenon really nice work those amps look amazing and judging from the components used they must sound amazing too. Those Duelund caps alone cost at least 220 euro apiece for the smallest one, hope you didn’t need to many of them. I may have mist it before or it slipped my mind but what speakers do they drive?

 

Enjoy the summer sun but hopefully you do not pull a romaz on us. 😃


🇳🇱
Meitner ma1 v2 dac,  Sovereign preamp and power amp,

DIY speakers with scan speak illuminator drivers.

Under development:

NUC7i7dnbe, Euphony Stylus

EtherRegen, LPS1- Isoregen, Lush^2

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23 minutes ago, Nenon said:

built The Loudspeaker (TL-1) by Troels Gravesen about 18 months ago, and that has been my reference since then. Needless to say, I went overboard with my OCD. They also use Duelund tinned copper caps as well as Jantzen Amber-Z Caps, Path Audio resistors (not a fan of the Duelund resistors), special wire, WBT connectors, top quality 1.5'' thick baltic birch, etc.

They have 18'' woofers. The original design was using DSP and ClassD Hypex plate amps for the 18'' woofers, but I am very sensitive on bass details and definition. After a lot of testing, I settled on passive crossovers and bi-amping. Tried quite a few amplification options, including the Jeff Rowland 625 S2 amps as mentioned in one of my previous posts. But when I heard what those AudioMirror monoblocks did, I could not go back to anything else. That was not a self-intuitive test result. Typically one of the weaknesses of tube amplification is deep base. But I guess 95dB efficient 18'' woofers are a different beast. 

So, here I am, bi-amping with two sets of monoblocks (4 monoblocks total)!!! The question is what am I going to do in the summer months with those heaters... it was nice and cozy in the winter :)


😀 Troels, I know his site well so you are a diy speaker builder too. Nice higher efficiency speakers. 👍
Personally I fancy this model http://www.troelsgravesen.dk/Ellipticor-3.htm, first order filtering and no capacitors in the filter and excellent drivers.


🇳🇱
Meitner ma1 v2 dac,  Sovereign preamp and power amp,

DIY speakers with scan speak illuminator drivers.

Under development:

NUC7i7dnbe, Euphony Stylus

EtherRegen, LPS1- Isoregen, Lush^2

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Nenon - You mentioned shooting higher than an Innuos Statement, so this unit would sound better? Curiously if you were to produce another, what would one of these cost?

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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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@Nenon

 

What a fabulously informative and detailed post - thank you! 
 

Where you commented...

“I am not sure what thought process triggered your question. But if you are wondering if someone else can build you a DIY server that sounds better than the Statement and costs less, I don't really know if that's easily achievable. I feel like you can only pick two items from the list below but not all 3: 

1. Someone else to build it.

2. Cost is no more than the Statement.

3. Sounds better than the Statement. 

And lastly don't forget that a DIY server does not have a good resale value and you don't have support and warranty from a well-established company. 

 

Sorry for the long answer to what seemed like a simple question.”

 

Reading the tread I suspected the builds were will north of 10k in parts. Where I’m coming from is this... I’ve been a strong proponent of Analog, yet my Esoteric spinner has been a good 2nd place. I have a Mac Mini and DAC and never liked the SQ, and it sat. Hearing the Digital has come a long way I borrowed an Aqua La Scala Optologic DAC and the Antipodes Cx / Ex. For the first time digital has pulled deeply into the music. This I can live with, the cost I can’t. 
 

I also thinK the digital will improve immensely and that products will depreciate considerably as a result. Therefore buying used appeals. 
 

I picked up a decent deal on a almost new Innuos Zen Mkiii and dipped my toes in the waters. It’s no where near the price points of the Antipodes I listened to. This along with my Ayre Codex are just ok, my Esoteric is vastly superior.
 

Important context for me is, the intrinsic market value of the Esoteric is perhaps $1500 these days, and when I put the Innuos / Ayre combo up against it worth perhaps $2700, the Esoteric is better. 
 

The other part Is my financial priorities, I’m looking for a used Aqua DAC, that doesn’t leave me with Innuos Statement kind of money. After reading your wonderful tread, I though perhaps I can build something that might get close to the SQ of a Statement (or the Antipodes) for 30% of the cost. By the sounds of it, it will be well higher than that!

 


 

 

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16 hours ago, StreamFidelity said:

@Nenon Thank you for your very interesting considerations.

 

For me, the advantages of DIY music servers are the transparency and the easy interchangeability of the installed components. There are many standards for computers. For example, one USB PCIe card can easily be exchanged for another. Or a RAM memory stick is exchanged for an ECC RAM. I agree that power supply is one of the keys to increasing SQ. Good external LPS are expensive. The nice thing about DIY is that you can start with an inexpensive power supply and later buy a high-quality one - if the budget allows it.


Agreed, that is a great reason to rationalize going the DYI route!

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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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28 minutes ago, Exocer said:

details of your previous build

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

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1 hour ago, Downtheline said:

Can't. Wait. To hear what happens with improvements in network, power and OS optimization.

Based on my recent experience, I have a hunch the SQ will take a sizeable step up when the EPS gets fed by a greater quality power supply and quality cables as you continue to upgrade.

 

Enjoy, there is going to be lots fun ahead...

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