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About romaz

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  1. My experience is that the quality of the USB stick has no impact on SQ. I've tried an expensive SLC USB stick I had lying around and it resulted in no change in SQ that I could hear with Euphony compared against a cheap $5 Sandisk. Of course, if you are using AL ramrooted, for sure the USB stick won't matter. Just get a fast USB 3.0 or 3.1 USB stick to keep your wait times to a minimum during bootup. These devices have limited write cycles before they fail and so make sure you have a backup. Fortunately, these things are cheap. This will be my last post on AS for the foreseeable future. Please forgive me if I don't respond to queries that are addressed to me. Best wishes and I hope to meet up with some of you in Munich in May.
  2. My initial observations with the NUC were surprising for a couple of reasons. First, that a $120 Celeron-based NUC + AL could outperform (to my ears) products like a microRendu/ultraRendu/sMS-200ultra that were designed from the ground up for audio playback with high level clocking and ultra low noise voltage regulators. Second, that this same $120 NUC + AL when powered by a DR SR7 could outperform (to my ears) a $7k Innuos Zenith SE. This was my first inkling that low power CPUs like an ARM processor are probably not optimum for an endpoint. For a cheap unoptimized Celeron to outperform these highly regarded endpoints, I could offer no other explanation and this theory was only bolstered when I moved to an i7 NUC and found that the gap had widened further. It also suggested the OS matters and it matters a lot. While both my initial NUC and the Zenith SE utilize Celerons and with both powered by high quality PSUs, I believed that it was the OS that was the difference maker and I recall that Rajiv found this to be his observation also, that his SE when booted to AL resulted in improvement. Of course, optimizing the NUC by replacing its clocks has resulted in further significant improvements but the lesson that the unoptimized NUC taught me is that the performance that a CPU brings, the quality of the OS, and of course, the quality of the PSU matter just as much if not more. With respect to your server, these qualities have already been considered and so I'm not surprised that your unoptimized NUC powered by an sPS-500 isn't meeting your expectations. As for ROI, replacing clocks on your NUC is the last thing I would do. Figure out a way to better power your NUC. This would be my first priority. Second, because it's easy enough to do, go ahead and give Euphony a try just in case it's signature is more to your liking. The trial is free and it is easy to do. Or else, give WS 2016/AO a try on the NUC but of course, you won't be able to boot it from a USB stick and so you'll have to install either an SSD or preferably an Optane card. Ultimately, if you're already happy with your optimized server, your best ROI might be to sell your NUC and cut your losses.
  3. You may be right but it's best not to assume. More cores seem to matter even if you don't use HQP. In my Roon server machine where I employ no upsampling or DSP, as I go from a 4-core i7 to a 6-core i7 (a 50% jump in cores), the improvement is notable in terms of a bigger and more dynamic sound. No matter how high I crank up the 4-core i7's CPU frequency, I can't get it to match the 6-core i7's dynamics. The 4-core sounds thin and small in comparison even with the 4-core i7 powered by a 19V SR7 and with the 6-core powered by an HDPlex. At some point, adding more cores probably won't make a difference but until someone does the testing to find where that ceiling is, no one knows. The advantage of parallel processing through multiple cores is that with software that is written to take advantage of those cores, tasks can be performed more efficiently and often more effectively and so ultimately, what is important is not how many cores but whether the software was written to take advantage of those cores. A good example is Rob Watts' M-Scaler which utilizes a Xilinx XC7A200T FPGA and its 740 DSP cores. This FPGA can upsample to 1 million TAPS while consuming only 12 watts. There is no 12-watt X86 processor from either Intel or AMD that can achieve this level of performance.
  4. Brian said it perfectly. When you combine intelligence, experience, and most importantly passion, good things are bound to happen. Another thing I have noticed about Paul is humility. He doesn't claim to know it all or that his product is better than anyone else's, not even in private, and so Paul is always trying to get better rather than resting on his laurels and that is evident in the evolution of his product line. There are those who have tried to emulate Paul's designs, have even opened up an SR7 and automatically claimed superiority by virtue of using name brand parts that aren't used in the SR7 like Mundorf caps, etc. And yet, where it matters most, the SR7 always seems to prevail.
  5. Avoidance of a SSD is my chief goal since disk access isn't such a big deal with Linux. Even a USB stick which is very slow sounds as good as an Optane drive with either Euphony or AL. I think the performance of Optane is a bigger deal for Windows.
  6. Forced to choose, I would agree with you. Finding the perfect balance with just the right CPU is the goal and then from there, figuring out the best way to power it.
  7. Very helpful, thanks. It wasn't clear to me that AMD CPUs are compatible with Optane memory. With Intel CPUs, not all Intel CPUs are compatible. Value is certainly an important consideration and in the end, that may be what tips the decision to go with AMD. At this time, my objective is to search for performance and to find where the ceilings are.
  8. Once again, I'm not knocking AMD. Maybe the Ryzen 3000 series is better and maybe that's the way to go but I don't know since I haven't tested anything from AMD thus far. As stated a few times, my purpose for sticking with Intel during my testing thus far is that Intel CPUs are compatible with Intel Optane. If I have to throw an SSD into my system, the Ryzen really has to be that much better to make up for the downside of having an SSD. As for comparing an older generation i5 with only 4 cores and a paltry 6MB of SmartCache against an 8-core Ryzen with a 16MB cache, that's not really a fair comparison.
  9. Larry, you are absolutely correct and your block diagram says it all! Unfortunately, it would appear the block diagram you showed is the block diagram for the Z390 in general and so this would suggest it applies not just to your ASUS board but possibly for all Z390 boards. If so, that would mean that Optane and any other M.2-based peripherals including NVMe SSDs as well as any SATA device would have to go through the PCH. This is perhaps an advantage of the late model NUCs or just about all boards that have embedded CPUs is that they utilize an SoC architecture and are not beholden to the potential bottleneck of a PCH. Ultimately, the PCH in the newer boards are not the bottleneck of old and may not limit performance. The highway (DMI or direct media interface) that connects the CPU to the PCH has much greater bandwidth today (DMI 3.0) than it did with motherboards that came out before 2015 (DMI 2.0). Further to that, if your music server or endpoint is running headless where a keyboard, mouse, and monitor are not connected and if no extra peripherals like storage drives, audio cards, scanners, etc., are installed, then there may not be much competing traffic going through the PCH. What is clear is that any PCIe X16 slot on these boards bypasses the PCH and so anything installed into that slot (i.e. the JCAT card or Optane card) is bypassing the PCH. Since the Optane card in my server is really only functioning as a repository for the Roon database since most or all OS functions are already in memory, then the Optane card running through the PCH may be less of an issue.
  10. You summarized this perfectly! I already did this and posted my observations in my War and Peace length post. I bought the requisite serial Y-cable from Ghent and combined two LPS-1.2s in serial and the outcome was not good. SQ took a big hit and the LPS-1.2 sounded nothing like an LPS-1.2. Noise floor is higher and details are muddied. I don't think I can blame the cable since I asked Ghent to use his best wire (Neotech 7N OCC) and a JSSG360 shield with Oyaide plugs.
  11. This is very true. The one possible advantage of the JCAT card is that while you are applying a cleanly reclocked signal to your music server in the same way that the EtherREGEN would, the JCAT card is also replacing (or removing from your signal path) the dirty Ethernet port that is in your music server. Even with SOtM's sNH-10G switch in place, I found the JCAT card to still make a significant difference.
  12. I'll venture a guess. Your optimized server is better than your unoptimized NUC. Adequately powered, the more powerful CPU should sound fuller and more dynamic, at least that has been my experience, however, in your case, the 4770T in your server and the 8650U in your NUC are comparably spec'd and so it's probably not the CPU but rather the PSU. The sPS-500 is a decent PSU but despite its 19V/5A rating, I find it doesn't do a great job on my NUC. On my Celeron NUC that I could power with an LPS-1.2, I found the LPS-1.2 to sound better at 12V than the sPS-500 at 19V and so I suspect your Teradak ATX PSU is doing a better job on your server than the sPS-500 is doing on the NUC. If your Teradak has a 19V or 12V rail that you can apply to the NUC, try it there and see what you think. Put something like an SR7 or the TLS Reference 1 to the NUC and you may change your mind about the NUC sounding thin. Also, if you're using an independently powered SOtM PCIe USB card in your server, this is obviously giving your server an edge over your unmodified NUC. Try connecting your server to your DAC using one of standard integrated USB ports on your motherboard and the delta that you hear might give you some idea of how much better your NUC could sound once you send it to SOtM for clock replacement. As for WS2016 + AO sounding thicker, fuller and weightier than AL, the easiest way to find out in your system is just to boot your server into AL using a USB stick and compare. They both can be tuned to sound fuller or leaner. Regarding Euphony vs AL, yes, to my ears, Euphony sounds fuller and weightier and so it will cost you nothing to give Euphony a try but ultimately, if you're already happy with what you're getting from just your server, perhaps it's time to sell the NUC and stay with what you already have. Finding the perfect balance is a tricky thing and what works for one person may not work for another but once you find that perfect balance, it's golden.
  13. It's tough to know what to make of these Xeons. More cores (which is good) but smaller amount of cache per core (which is probably not so good). Also, it's not yet clear where the saturation point is where more cores results in no further improvement in SQ or where compromising CPU frequency for the sake of more cores becomes detrimental. Lastly, the downside of certain CPUs is that they're not compatible with Optane and that appears to be the case here.
  14. I am told UEFI boot for Euphony will be available shortly. I have nothing against AMD. I went with Intel only because I'm not sure AMD CPUs are compatible with Intel Optane cards. This shows you how much I want to avoid SSD. AMD has some purported advantages such as lack of a discrete graphics chip on the CPU's die cast but the soon to be released i9-9900KF will have no discrete graphics chip on the CPU's die cast. Ultimately, it will require listening tests to know which platform sounds better overall but I know that for my sensitivities, if a platform includes an SSD, it will be hard to overcome that.
  15. With AL, TDP is less important because you can manually specify the speed or frequency that you wish your CPU to run at. For example, you can get an 8700K and although its base frequency is 3.7GHz, you can elect to run it as slowly as the base frequency of an 8700T which is 2.4GHz and so with AL, CPU frequency doesn't really matter as long as your CPU is capable of your desired frequency. Just to be sure they perform the same at select frequencies, I monitored the temperature readings of both the 8700K and 8700T at set frequencies (i.e. 800GHz, 2.4GHz, 3.7GHz, etc) and both CPUs registered the same temperatures. As I did listening tests, I could hear no differences between the 2 CPUs when running at the same frequencies and so at this time, I don't believe the 8700K has any sonic advantage above the 8700T from 3.8GHz and down, at least with AL. With Euphony, it's difficult to know exactly what's going on. With the 8700K, which has a TDP of 95w at it's base frequency of 3.6GHz, my CPU core temps never really rise above 40 degrees C and so this CPU isn't being utilized to its full potential with respect to clock speed and yet somehow, it sounds incredibly dynamic. There is more going on with Euphony than meets the eye. What seems to also matter is the number of cores and the amount of CPU cache, especially with RoonServer. As a Roon server, even with the i7-8650U on my i7 NUC running at the same frequency as the 8700T, the 8700T still sounded bigger and more dynamic. The only difference between these 2 CPUs when they are running at the same frequency is that the 8700T has 6-cores/12-threads + 12MB of SmartCache while the 8650U has only 4-cores/8-threads + 8MB of SmartCache. My thinking is that the ideal CPU for the endpoint is probably something more powerful than the i7-8650 that is embedded in the NUC7i7DNBE. Intel will soon be releasing the i9-9900T which is an 8-core/16-thread CPU with 16MB of SmartCache and a TDP of only 35w and so I am eyeing this CPU with interest, however, cleanly powering it will be the challenge and clean power is especially important for the endpoint.
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