2 hours ago, MichaelH said:
I have a Cambridge Edge A integrated amp, Martin Logan Vistas, and a Denon DVD-5900 as the primary source (used for audio only) for my CD and SACD collection. I use its digital coax out direct to the Edge for CDs. Sometimes I stream Tidal from my laptop connected via USB, but I want to add something better and more permanent. I've been reading these forums and gaining knowledge, but these threads can quickly go DEEP into the weeds. I'm looking for pointers on how to start planning a PC that would be a good fit. What should my priorities be?
I'm a software engineer, I have no problem building a PC, I've used linux as my primary OS for more than 15 years, and so I gravitate toward having a PC of some kind where I can have control of the software, upgrade software over time, and perhaps just use VNC or remote desktop to control the thing. I want to end up with the ability to stream Tidal or other high-quality services, potentially with video (like the Berlin Phil Digital Concert Hall), and I guess other mainstream video. I do not yet own a TV, so advice on that is also welcome. (Maybe I should plan to stream video sources direct from the TV? Haven't owned a modern TV, so I don't have experience there.)
I mostly listen to classical and some jazz, and I had a ~10 year career as a classical musician before the software industry lured me away, so my ear is picky about quality and accuracy.
Hardware: I'm reading in this forum about being fanless, linear power supply, using particular RAM, isolating the SSD's power, or having no local storage at all, having a dedicated high-end USB card, isolating power to that too, .... Then I'm also reading about people using NUCs or even raspberry pis. Can you help me digest and prioritize these things? What would be a good fit for my setup to produce a high-quality stereo source? Or is this whole idea crazy, and I should just get a Bluesound Node 2i or similar?
Software: I understand that Tidal does not support MQA on linux. Bummer. I much prefer to run linux, but I may be willing to run Windows if that's the only way to get MQA. It's just been a LONG time (my last Win desktop was XP). Thoughts on that? I have at least been able to identify that disabling pulseaudio makes a noticeable difference when my laptop is the source. Should I be looking at Roon, or can I get by without it? I have a modest FLAC collection that I don't often think about, so streaming is probably the priority.
Any advice at all would be appreciated. There are probably some questions I should be asking but don't yet know enough to ask. Thanks!
First of all you should start with the hardware. Although straightforward, this is not the case. At first, low CPU low powered computers were preferable. Now, trends are higher CPU high powered computers that can do lots of upsampling, running HQPlayer etc. Decide your budget for the pc. For my build, I will choose the low powered option, upsampling is not my cup of tea. First the build and later comes all the tweaking options you have been reading about.
Secondly comes the software. Since you are a linux guy, there are ready linux distros here that can do the work effectively, like Euphony OS. I use win10 because my software player of choice only comes in win10.
Thirdly, comes the streaming. Most players offer some sort of integration with streaming services. The best intuitive software this time around, albeit expensive, is roon. There is a trial version you can test and see if it suits you. Other players will do the work too, it is a matter of preference and convenience. I use MUSIChi suite.
Lastly, do not overestimate MQA. It will soon become obsolete.
Streamers: Since you are a PC guy, streamers will not suite you. They are static, not upgradeable, an out of the box solution that gets the job done, without much hassle. Of course, there are models that cost thousounds that do more, like upsampling etc. But then again, you cannot mess with it.