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Building a DIY Music Server


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@Dev: I could not agree more, if this is an all out attempt to build an 'extreme class' DIY server; cost no object but for labor cost, VAT and profit margin we are likely missing the point of DIY for most folks. As much as I'm able to buy an Extreme today if I wanted I won't do that for the very reason I love tinkering and discovering what makes audio tick, especially when this is done together with others.

Much of the high End customer scene for me is too close to the Little Britain character Andy 'I want that one'  Pipkin, if you know what I mean.

 

 

ISP, cat8.1, Zylix switch, Finisar <1321>Solarflare 8522, AMD 7, Aorus X570 Elite, Corsair AX1200i, 8Gb Apacer Ram, Pink Faun I2S OCXO on LPS, home grown RJ45 I2S cable, Metrum Amethyst (modded to accept I2S), Klangfilm 204a, Klangfilm Trionor (3Tesla 835, JBL2402)

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1 hour ago, Dev said:

I am noticing that many are looking to build an Extreme as DIY with all sort of requirements - best parts, best chassis, best power supply, TAS, Taiko USB card, etc. If this is going to mimic the Taiko Extreme as close as possible, I wonder what's left of Extreme ? I am sure Taiko is not going to give away their IP but its good to understand how far apart or how close this build will be from it so that some can decide if it makes sense just to buy the Extreme instead ?

 

Some do DIY for the love of it, irrespective of the cost, some do it for the savings, while many are in both the categories. I belong to both and for me its critical to understand the price to performance ratio. If I need to spend $15k for this build, I would probably have double thoughts on spending couple of grand more and getting a commercial server instead. What do others think ?

 

@DevVery good question! A question many will find tough to answer. 

 

@NenonWhile I am aware we are in the early stages of development, I would greatly appreciate if you conducted the following comparison in the future:

 

1. External DC4 19v into HDPlex 800W ATX-DC for minor voltages + Dedicated 12V EPS rail.

2. SOTA LPSU with dedicated rails (I assume this is the direction things are headed, but you can correct me if I'm wrong here)

 

Yes, the first scenario is a compromise, but a compromise I am and many others may be willing to take if it means saving thousands and having a system within 10% of a system with dedicated rails. Some food for thought.

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@Nenon; Thanks for clarifying, the way I see it we should not underestimate the power of DIY....as example, and not talking down what Taiko is doing, capacitors in Panzerholz is nice but in a whole the effect is not even close to 'undressing' a capacitor and sealing it in non metal case. Folks are trying exotic things, there are more means to an end etc... 

 

This is not bragging or trying to diminish anyones work in any way, just trying to clarify there is a wealth of knowledge out there that, when combined,  could work wonders and would make up for an interesting journey (also for Taiko). 

 

If this is a  'Mahlen nach Zahlen'  (paint by numbers) exercise it's more like building a kit, do some soldering, stick in some parts and screw a few things together, count me out.

 

ISP, cat8.1, Zylix switch, Finisar <1321>Solarflare 8522, AMD 7, Aorus X570 Elite, Corsair AX1200i, 8Gb Apacer Ram, Pink Faun I2S OCXO on LPS, home grown RJ45 I2S cable, Metrum Amethyst (modded to accept I2S), Klangfilm 204a, Klangfilm Trionor (3Tesla 835, JBL2402)

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+1 @MarcelNL I bought a load of Salas L-adaptor pcbs... but you know what I just can't be bothered to solder them all up... it just takes too much time.  Good quality connection wire is also expensive, as are the right crimping tools.  Modular completed components is better for me and less likely for me to end up swearing at them.  I love the HD Plex chassis I have, I would certainly consider paying more to have a 'deluxe' version of this with an integral psu.  Love Paul Hynes and Sean Jacobs stuff, the prices are fine if you just want to power a single rail NUC, but count me out on based on multi-rail prices.  Perhaps I'm HDPlex's target audience, price of the H5 chassis and their new 500w linear is what I'm comfortable with.

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@Nenon

 

Hi Nenon,

 

as TAS is based on LMS it could work on different platforms.

 

Do you know if Taiko Audio have plans to offer TAS as software player (without hardware) like Audirvana etc. on different platforms?

 

Thanks

 

Matt

 

"I want to know why the musicians are on stage, not where". (John Farlowe)

 

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15 minutes ago, matthias said:

Do you know if Taiko Audio have plans to offer TAS as software player (without hardware) like Audirvana etc. on different platforms?

No idea. Given that it is still in alpha, my guess is they probably don't know either at this stage. 

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6 hours ago, Nenon said:

I use HQP and Roon and will share what I do. That can be used as a starting point. But I am hoping the DIY community would test other software and come up with better options. 

 

Interesting, so you came up with something you like better than Euphony.  I always liked HQP, and have been meaning to try HQPE (embedded), but I never experienced the SQ problems others claim with Roon so I've stayed with it, and it's by far the best UI (though I have no big problem with the HQP UI options).  The combo is interesting.  You don't have to get into that now while you're focused on hardware.

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17 minutes ago, Exocer said:

Yes, 2 definitely would sound better. Thank you.

My question was more about how close one can get with two rails and an DC-ATX converter vs dedicated rails in a dual Xeon build.

 

If building dual a CPU RIG only brings you slightly above a well executed i9 rig when you're limited to two rails of high quality power and an HDPlex DC-ATX converter, the entry price may not be worth it for many.

 

If building a dual CPU rig (again limited to two rails) can substantially improve upon a well executed i7/i9 rig with the same power, this journey becomes a lot more attractive (to me).

 

Does a build like this require dedicated rails to truly sing, is the question.

The dual Xeon server I built for myself with the mockup HDplex passive cooling with a 3-rail SJ LPS (one for the HDplex 800W DC to DC ATX, one for the 12V EPS connectors, and one for the JCAT XE card) sounded significantly better (after a lot of tweaking) than my previous builds. It's worth building it with your existing power supplies @Exocer. Can't comment about other people, but I know a bit about your system from our private chats, and I feel confident you would like it. 

And there will be some other options to try as this project unveils. 

 

10 minutes ago, Darryl R said:

 

Interesting, so you came up with something you like better than Euphony.  I always liked HQP, and have been meaning to try HQPE (embedded), but I never experienced the SQ problems others claim with Roon so I've stayed with it, and it's by far the best UI (though I have no big problem with the HQP UI options).  The combo is interesting.  You don't have to get into that now while you're focused on hardware.

I liked Euphony on other servers. On this dual CPU hardware I prefer Windows LTSC. I use HQP+NAA for bitperfect local files playback (I don't upsample) and Roon for streaming Qobuz. I don't use both together... some people do that to upsample the Roon output, but that's not my thing. 

When you align the logical motherboard diagram with the hardware placement and careful configuration of process affinities, the magic happens.

For example, I have

- The motherboard onboard NIC, all Windows processes, and HQP all assigned to one CPU.

- The Optane card for the OS is physically placed on a PCIe slot connected to the CPU above. 

- I have my USB card physically placed on a PCIe slot directly connected to the other CPU and assign NAA and any other audio related processes with affinities to that CPU.

It makes a difference! 

 

Affiliated with Sean Jacobs

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3 hours ago, Nenon said:

This will not be a Taiko Extreme equivalent. The Extreme is packed with technology and tweaks that will not be shared with our DIY community.

 

On the other hand, you mentioned Taiko was willing to share some tech which was not in the Extreme.  That should be interesting, but either way, it's hard to truly critique the pricing estimates until we see the power supply, which as we all know is a big cost variable (I was hoping somebody has a breakthrough prototype in SMPS for this project, which could shrink chassis size requirements ;)

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I gotta assume power supplies are half the budget.  Given what the likes of Sean, Paul Hynes, etc cost (although Nenon can maybe help here in a group buy :)  ) it will be a good goal to stay around $10k all in.  

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So adding all up am I correct in thinking that this route will be leading to a dual Xeon based server in a seriously nice case, operating under some Windows OS ? And potentially having TAS available.

 

I see the potential advantage of a dual CPU setup, and even when I'm using Daphile I have nothing against some other OS if it sounds as good or better. Daphile does not (or I am wrong mainly due to a lack of documentation) allow for simple task control at the core level. I am reading the Daphile thread on this board and see some have been tinkering with assiging IRQ's to a core, yet how the current Daphile version handles this is not very clear.

 

With an abundance of cheap used Xeon MB's and CPU's it might be a feasible build even when on a budget, the big question is; is the TDP of older CPUs too large for the case?

 

ISP, cat8.1, Zylix switch, Finisar <1321>Solarflare 8522, AMD 7, Aorus X570 Elite, Corsair AX1200i, 8Gb Apacer Ram, Pink Faun I2S OCXO on LPS, home grown RJ45 I2S cable, Metrum Amethyst (modded to accept I2S), Klangfilm 204a, Klangfilm Trionor (3Tesla 835, JBL2402)

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To me it's great to have some of the experience from Taiko available as loose map of the scenery but I'd like to avoid tunnel vision of focussing too much on their route, their solution apparently works great yet there likely are some other solutions that work too.

 

We will not likely build a DIY Extreme, as mentioned; if I wanted one and thought the 25k or so are justified I'd buy one and not bother with tinkering.

 

Whatever dual (or single CPU) TDP is IMO something to take into account from scratch when deciding on a cabinet as sufficient cooling is important. I acknowledge that a CPU likely dissipates way less than the advertized TDP (which is usually underestimated)during normal use (sans heavy DSD upsampling or active filtering etc).

If it were for me and if it would be possible I'd hardwire the whole thing from CPU to output without a MB or a circuiiot board in between, stick a couple of whopping cooling profiles to the CUP and put it all in a dampened and EMI treated wooden box rather than any metal. Alas, if it was that simple (or feasible)... I'll keep that for my tube amp(s).

 

in the extreme thread I read that having more than 10 cores total is of sonic benefit, I have little reason to doubt that. Do we know if it matters and how much it matters WHAT makes the total of 10 cores? dual CPU over a single, which CPU?

 

 

 

 

 

 

ISP, cat8.1, Zylix switch, Finisar <1321>Solarflare 8522, AMD 7, Aorus X570 Elite, Corsair AX1200i, 8Gb Apacer Ram, Pink Faun I2S OCXO on LPS, home grown RJ45 I2S cable, Metrum Amethyst (modded to accept I2S), Klangfilm 204a, Klangfilm Trionor (3Tesla 835, JBL2402)

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1 hour ago, MarcelNL said:

If it were for me and if it would be possible I'd hardwire the whole thing from CPU to output without a MB or a circuiiot board in between, stick a couple of whopping cooling profiles to the CUP and put it all in a dampened and EMI treated wooden box rather than any metal. Alas, if it was that simple (or feasible)

You probably know this is not possible... But not because it's hard to solder tiny wires - that part, as difficult as it is, is actually possible. It's the high speed circuit and the interference there. We are talking about Gigahertz frequencies. Take a working motherboard and just move some of the PCB traces by a couple millimeters without changing anything to the circuit. Chances are it would stop working or become so unstable that it would be unusable. The interference in those circuits is HUGE. Hardwiring it is simply IMPOSSIBLE! This is not a tube amplifier that only needs to handle frequencies less than 100,000 KHz. 

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53 minutes ago, Nenon said:

You probably know this is not possible... But not because it's hard to solder tiny wires - that part, as difficult as it is, is actually possible. It's the high speed circuit and the interference there. We are talking about Gigahertz frequencies. Take a working motherboard and just move some of the PCB traces by a couple millimeters without changing anything to the circuit. Chances are it would stop working or become so unstable that it would be unusable. The interference in those circuits is HUGE. Hardwiring it is simply IMPOSSIBLE! This is not a tube amplifier that only needs to handle frequencies less than 100,000 KHz. 

absolutely clear that hard wiring is no option....

ISP, cat8.1, Zylix switch, Finisar <1321>Solarflare 8522, AMD 7, Aorus X570 Elite, Corsair AX1200i, 8Gb Apacer Ram, Pink Faun I2S OCXO on LPS, home grown RJ45 I2S cable, Metrum Amethyst (modded to accept I2S), Klangfilm 204a, Klangfilm Trionor (3Tesla 835, JBL2402)

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3 minutes ago, AME said:

Hello,

 

I'm  following this thread with great interest, I'm fairly new on the forum, but hope to contribute more in the future. 

I'm also in the process of building a music server and almost have finished it, I allready started building, before I learned of the Taiko DIY project, otherwise I probably would have waited. 

 

Parts used:

- HDPlex case

- Asus Sage C621 single processor mainboard

- Intel Xeon Silver 10 Core

- 6 RDIMM memory modules with Samsung IC's

- Custom copper cooling for Xeon

- Intel P900 Optane 280Gb for OS

- M2 drives for music files on M2 PCI Express adapter

- Windows LTSC 2019 and Process Lasso

 

I choose to use a single processor, mainly because of the added extra cost for a dual Xeon system, the complexity with the passive cooling and the power supply requirements. The Power supply I'm planning to use can simply not handle two CPU's.

 

I choose to use a Xeon, because of the 48 PCI Lanes direct to CPU and the sound signature according to Emile from Taiko.

The Asus board has 4 PCI slots directly attached to the CPU.

 

One thing which was a challenge, was to find a proper passive cooling solution for the Xeon. I looked initially at the solution Nenon used for his build, but decided to take another route. So together with a friend of mine, who also wanted to build a new music server with the same components, we started to make our own cooling solution.

It all started with a copper block of a few KG. It was a lot of work, but the result is great.

 

I did a burn in test for a couple of days and the CPU never exceeded 49 degrees celsius. Under normal load it stays around 29 degrees celsius.

 

image.png.1b1a9cb71815b4c74da514f48b2d2f42.pngimage.png.8c5feb8779b63c8a0cfbdc21a04b7dfc.png

 

 

image.thumb.png.b5bc088705d969f9b734db1217c7853d.png

 

I have used a HDPlex 400W ATX PSU to test the server and it sounds great, a lot better then my former Intel 7700 build.

 

I also compared a SoTm USB Card with external clock from my former build with the motherboard onboard USB and couldn't believe that the onboard USB sounded better. Probably the new USB controller chip is a lot better.

 

Next step would be a very good power supply. I actually had a Farad Full ATX prototype PSU on loan, not cheap, but it sounded fantastic. I will write a seperate post on this.

 

I'm very interested in the Taiko DIY project and probably can use a lot of parts from my current build.

 

@Nenon any idea when the Taiko DIY components wil be available?

 

 

 

 

 

 

image.png

 

Nice work @AME. I am sure people here would be interested in your cooling solution. In fact Hdplex might be interested too. 

I am expecting the Taiko stuff to be available sometime in the second quarter of this year. 

My advice to you - hold off on the power supply decision! 

Affiliated with Sean Jacobs

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