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ray-dude

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  1. A novel way to massively improve the SQ of computer audio streaming
    A novel way to massively improve the SQ of computer audio streaming

    I have been asked to list the main features of audiolinux. 


    I would like to put in evidence that if you would want to configure an archlinux base installation so that is identical to audiolinux, it would take very much time… 


        • AL is using a realtime kernel with very low CPU latency. This custom compiled kernel is based on realtime BFQ kernel with some adjustments and some patches. The last version can be downloaded here: https://www.audio-linux.com/ftp/packages/kernel/last/linux-rt-bfq/ This is the last 4.19.x with more patches for audio. The performance of this type of kernels with a decent processor is impressive: http://www.audio-linux.com/#LATENCY


        • AL tunes the realtime priorities of processes and interrupts using rtirq and rtapp (this last developed by myself) with the possibility of fine-tuning for your system, see http://www.audio-linux.com/html/realtime.html This has nothing to do with the “nice” parameter in linux (in this case is irrelevant) or the priority in non-realtime kernel or priority assignments in Windows. In realtime kernels if an audio application has some priority all other tasks will be executed after. This will decrease the impact on sound of other running applications but also of other equipment connected to your PC (this because of irq priority assignments). Also frequency of rtc0 and hpet is adjusted.  


        • AL implements the ramroot utility to allow RAM-resident OS for best sound quality. If the application allows it you can load also a song to RAM (see buffer parameter in squeezelite, for example). The ramsave script for saving the system in ram mode is original. 


        • AL preinstalls the most important audio services and applications like Roon and HQPlayer (and in lxqt version Logitech Media Server, Squeezelite, MPD, UpnP for MPD) so it works out of the box.  These applications are already partially configured. 


        • In AL you can install easily the application you want and eventually compile it with your parameters. All necessary packages for compilation are already installed. This is an “open” system where you can decide what you want and how to configure it. The update of applications can be made from the inside with a simple command. You can update daily, if you want.


        • In AL you can start (or enable at boot) audio services very easily with custom scripts. In headless version with the configuration menu, in lxqt version with shortcuts in the Desktop. 


        • Think to AL not as an image, but as a service. I have contributed to the fine-tune of many systems and if necessary I have made some special features on request. See for example the new how-to for big Roon database in ram mode: http://www.audio-linux.com/html/roon.html Recently I have also made a custom cover downloader and an HTTP server for accessing covers from mpd client. I am giving support not only to audiolinux but also for hqplayer, mpd, roon etc.

     


  2. The Paul Hynes SR4 PSU
    The Paul Hynes SR4 PSU

    FYI - here's a tried and true way to boost the performance of SR7 (and maybe SR4 too)

     

    https://www.computeraudiophile.com/forums/topic/30376-a-novel-way-to-massively-improve-the-sq-of-computer-audio-streaming/?page=271&tab=comments#comment-788728

    On 2/27/2018 at 11:37 PM, dgarretson said:

    That was my post on Audiogon post regarding DIY thick .999 dead soft silver DC cables on SR7.  Since then I have made some 10awg pure silver AC power cords as well, and am surprised how much better they sound on the SR7 than the several Synergistics and Furutech PCs I have on hand.  I would have guessed that the superb Hynes SR7 would benefit little from a fancy PC, but this is not the case.  

     

    Then I also added the links to get those 10AWG wires afterwards

     

    https://www.computeraudiophile.com/forums/topic/30376-a-novel-way-to-massively-improve-the-sq-of-computer-audio-streaming/?page=271&tab=comments#comment-788780

     

    99.99% pure silver @ 12AWG

     

    http://ccsilver.com/silver/superfines.html

     

    99.9% pure silver @ 6AWG

     

    https://www.riogrande.com/product/999-fine-silver-round-wire-dead-soft/105310gp


  3. AudioLinux and NUC Troubleshooting and Tuning
    AudioLinux and NUC Troubleshooting and Tuning

    I like pictures too so I hope this might help with setting up BIOS. Unused USB ports can be disabled too, I just have to find out which is which.

     

    If those more knowledgeable could add to this, it would be much appreciated. 

    On board devices Audio screen.JPG

    USB conf screen.JPG

    Secure boot off screen.JPG

    Boot configuration Linux screen.JPG

    Boot priority screen.JPG

    UEFI screen.JPG


  4. A novel way to massively improve the SQ of computer audio streaming
    A novel way to massively improve the SQ of computer audio streaming
    1 hour ago, Dev said:

     

    Roon/Squeezelite vs LMS/Squeezelite:

     

    I decided to do some careful listening this morning between the Roon and LMS, in which Squeezelite was running on the streamer end. After back-n-forth with certain tracks, I preferred LMS. It has bit more airy sound compared to Roon which has slightly thicker color - this was done without any up-sampling and raw bits straight to the PSA DS. Later I decided to try on the Purestream which is optimized for DSD256 playback. Since Roon maxes out at dsd64, I could only compare it with LMS doing dsd256, both using clans-7 sdm filter. This is where LMS made a bigger difference than Roon. I think I will stick with LMS for now but I will dearly miss the usability of Roon - as a long time Roon user, LMS interface sucks big time.

     

    All this while my server running AL in standard mode. While I didn't dare to run the server NUC in extreme mode (the stock fan cooling may not be up to it), switching to ramroot on the server made an unexpected incremental bump in SQ - I would say its not subtle and made bad recordings more enjoyable ?

     

    Hi Dev,

     

    Very interesting. And I think I agree with you - even with both using squeezelite as the player, LMS seems to sound just a tad more open and relaxed than Roon.

     

    My issue is with Roon/squeezelite is the occurrence of skipping. Sometimes it happens 5 seconds into a song - other times not at all. Also, I notice sometimes the track transitions are not gapless. I still have a few things to try:

    1. Piero's suggested priority tweaks for rtirq and rtapp
    2. playing with the -a parameter. I use "-a 16:4::" I'll see if I can change the behavior by varying these.
      • I did try "-a 499:4::" as to mimic the settings @bibo01 posted. It changed the sound. 16 sounded better. 499 seemed to smooth out the transients. I want to see if a small change can help with the skipping, without affecting the SQ.
      • Bizarre - the things that matter!

    Beyond this, it may just be that Roon's LMS emulation is not ready for prime time.


  5. A novel way to massively improve the SQ of computer audio streaming
    A novel way to massively improve the SQ of computer audio streaming
    On 11/4/2018 at 1:13 AM, austinpop said:

    The trick with the audiolinux site I'm finding is that instead of looking for a "guide" per se, you should just search on the page for terms you care about. For most people, these are the things you want to know:

    • install on USB: search "install"
    • "Roon" to start/stop Roon Core, Bridge
    • "DHCP" to switch between dynamic and static IP
    • "ramroot" and "ramsave" about running in RAM

    It still requires you to be computer literate, so this is really not for everyone.

    It seems that a few members are still waiting for the guide.  I'll post, for the computer illiterate.

     

    AudioLinux Installation Guide 1:

    Resources:

    Steps

    0. download the RUFUS and but the image from Piero.

     

    Process A: Installation to an USB disk

    1. LaunchRufus

    2. Choose the DD option

    3. Select the image

    4. Burn the image to the USB disk

    5. Everying will be erased.  click OK to proceed.

    6. Wait till and 100% and wait more.

    7. When the burning is truly finished, the start button will be available again.

     

    Will try to do some screen capture for the running of the lxqt (GUI) version and post it here later.  Hope everybody may enjoy this sw, one of my best invested $29 ?

     

     

     

     

    Step00_Resources.png

    Step01_LaunchRufus.png

    Step02_ChooseDD.png

    Step03_SelectImage.png

    Step04_Burn.png

    Step05_Warning.png

    Step06_100%.png

    Step07_BurningFinished.png


  6. A novel way to massively improve the SQ of computer audio streaming
    A novel way to massively improve the SQ of computer audio streaming

    @flkin, thank you for taking the time to report your findings in great detail.  Your data points, especially against the Antipodes CX+EX, are of great interest to me personally.  Ultimately, it is how one component compares to another component that I find the most valuable perspective and you did that very well!  

     

    Based on your initial favorable comments about the Pink Faun 2.16 some months ago,  I had phoned Pink Faun in the Netherlands to try and better understand their philosophy.  I want to say that I spoke with Jord but I can't remember for sure.  Regardless, we spoke for nearly 1.5 hours and I came away intrigued by their approach.  Here were my main takeaways:

     

    1.  Because upsampling with HQP is a key component to their 2.16 server, they believe that more power (and not less power) is better because "faster" = lower latency.  This appears to be Sound Gallerie's approach with their SGM 2015 (and now, their new SGM Evo) and so if a comparison is to be made, ideally, it should be against the Evo.  Having heard how good the SGM 2015 sounds, I think they have made a good case for this "more is more" approach.

     

    2.  Unlike everyone else, Pink Faun feels AMD sounds better than Intel which is why they went with the specific 8-core AMD CPU, chipset and board that they did.  Based on your own favorable comparative assessments of the 2.16, it would appear that their decision to go in this direction has been well founded.

     

    3.  The 2.16 can incorporate up to 6 independently powered OCXOs depending on the buyer's preference (CPU, chipset, LAN, USB, SPDIF, I2S, etc).  Wow.

     

    4.  The 2.16 has the potential for up to 20 linear rails of power (depending on the needs of the user) coming off of 2 large transformers.  Moreover, the power supply has an energy storage capacitance of >800,000uF.  This is more storage capacitance than my Soulution amplifier!  There was a time when I thought something like this was overkill but not any longer.  There's a reason why a Paul Hynes SR7 sounds better than an SR4 for a tiny component like a tX-USBultra that barely draws a few watts and according to Paul, it has to do with having plenty of overhead so that the supply is always operating within its optimum power band.  Unless it's a typo, it looks like the new Sound Galleries Evo will have a storage capacitance of 3.76 million uF.  Let the server PSU wars begin.

     

    5.  The 2.16 consumes 100 watts at idle and runs fairly warm and so it requires a well ventilated space.  Because the OCXOs need to be kept heated to sound their best and because it can take a long time to heat up the OCXOs, the 2.16 should ideally be kept constantly running.  I don't think the 2.16 is going to win any "eco" awards.  This is a legitimate concern and probably the biggest downside of the 2.16 for me since my equipment is stored in a cabinet.

     

    6.   Pink Faun is presently testing their own low-power mini streamer based off an ASUS Tinker Board which is even smaller (and potentially lower latency) than a NUC.  This streamer will have both USB and SPDIF output capability and can be powered by a 5V/2A supply.  Color me intrigued on this device.  At the time of my conversation with them, there was no word yet on how good this sounded.

     

    Now, taking into account your own findings, it would appear the 2.16 is the best server you have heard/owned to date and you certainly have put it against some tough competition.  Here are a few of my own recent findings and comments and so perhaps, I can add to the body of information that could help the community at large.

     

    @lmitche was kind enough to configure a low power NUC for me with his optimized version of headless AudioLinux running on it (thank you, Larry!).  The model I purchased (NUC7CJYH) cost me $120 and incorporates my preferred J4005 2-core Celeron with a 10w TDP and a 4MB L2 cache (2MB of cache per core).  My previous NUC had only 1MB of cache per core.  This particular model has no eMMC drive and so once AudioLinux boots into RAM via a USB stick, Larry configured it so that I can remove the USB stick and so this is a completely diskless NUC endpoint running RoonBridge.  Where my previous NUC's OS consumed 5.8GB of memory, this more compacted version of AudioLinux consumes <3GB of memory.  Most would assume that this NUC should sound better than my NUC and indeed, that is correct.  The improvement is considerable and so kudos to Larry.

     

    During this time, I also had access to SOtM's latest sMS-200ultra Neo.  When I last owned an sMS-200ultra, it was before I owned the Ref10 and so I felt it was important to revisit the latest incarnation of the sMS-200ultra to see how it would compare to the NUC.  As a similarly small device designed from the ground up for audio, I always felt these types of devices should rule the world.  WIth the sMS-200ultra Neo connected via Habst cable to my Ref10, even though I no longer had an original sMS-200ultra on hand for direct comparison, I very much liked what I heard and it was indeed better than what I recall my sMS-200ultra sounded like.  Where I felt the original sMS-200ultra sounded incisive, airier, and more detailed compared against my microRendu, there was a beguiling smoothness and naturalness to the microRendu that was also very pleasant.  What is interesting is that the ultraRendu has gone more in the direction of the sMS-200ultra and in some ways, sounds even more detailed and more mechanical whereas the new Neo has gone more in the direction of the original microRendu as it has given up some of its incisiveness for a harmonically richer and more natural sounding presentation.  In isolation and when powered by my SR7, my immediate inclination is that the new Neo is a winner and it definitely is.  However, in comparison, I still found my NUC to be better and not by a small margin.  If I were to provide 2 descriptors that sum up what this NUC offers, especially when powered by a DR SR7 rail, it is "presence" and "energy."  It was this same presence and energy that drew me to the Innuos Zenith SE and now draws me even further with this NUC.

     

    But here is where things get interesting.  As I previously reported, I found my best SQ when this NUC was used purely as a Roon endpoint (renderer) while server duty was taken over by a separate server.  While this NUC was capable of full server and endpoint duty and while playback occurred smoothly, SQ sounded strained.  While my Zenith SE filled the bill very nicely as a RoonServer, when I placed SOtM's new sNH-10G network switch between my RoonServer and Roon Endpoint, it no longer seemed to matter what I used as a RoonServer.  In other words, my unoptimized Mac Pro with its noisy 12-core Xeon, 64GB of RAM, dual GPU, and 1TB of PCIe SSD storage sounded just as good.  If there was a difference, it was too small to worry about it.

     

    WIth my 2nd NUC in hand, I now had the luxury of trying my original NUC as the RoonServer.  Even though I couldn't hear much difference between Zenith SE and Mac Pro as RoonServer, would this NUC running AudioLinux in RAM result in an improvement?  Of course, with only 8GB of memory, there isn't much room for any kind of a Roon database and so I configured this NUC for Tidal streaming only through Roon.  Even with the lower latency you get by running your OS completely in memory, there are definitely latency penalties by using a Celeron vs a 12-core Xeon when it comes to all the tasks that RoonServer is responsible for.  For example, browsing through my Tidal library occurred much more slowly through the NUC.  Nonetheless, it is SQ that matters and here is what I found.

     

    With my original NUC powered by a 12V rail from my SR7 and functioning as RoonServer and with my new "Larry" NUC powered by a DR 12V rail from my SR7 and functioning as RoonBridge, transients had better snap and seemed faster.  However, with my Mac Pro functioning as RoonServer, there was better dimensionality with richer, deeper and more natural tone.  In this instance, the Mac Pro was sounding better overall than my NUC as RoonServer.  How could this be?

     

    A couple of thoughts...

     

    1.  I no longer have SOtM's sNH-10G switch in my possession as that switch is now with Rajiv.  While SOtM thought they would be shipping this switch by now, they are having difficulty procuring enough chassis and so it remains unclear when their switch will be available and so I am presently using TLS's very fine switch but I don't think this switch isolates as well as SOtM's switch and so this may be accounting for some of the differences I am hearing.

     

    2.  When it comes to the heavy lifting required by RoonServer, I believe Pink Faun's philosophy is the correct one.  More power = faster = lower latency.  I continue to argue that with a "one trick pony" RoonBridge device, blazing speed and power are unnecessary and even unwanted and so I am very intrigued to see what Pink Faun's new Tinker board mini streamer will sound like but when it comes to RoonServer and especially if the user plans to upsample with HQP or employ DSP room correction, the more power the better.  The challenge with a high power RoonServer is they are more difficult to power well (just look at what went into the 2.16) and so there will be cost, energy, and heat considerations to take into account.

     

    I believe there is growing consensus from the likes of Antipodes and Pink Faun that for ultimate SQ, you need to distribute tasks between multiple machines.  In my current situation (without SOtM's switch), it would seem that both server and renderer matter and that attention needs to be paid to both which is an unfortunate bursting of my bubble, however, I continue to strongly believe that the renderer has the greater overall impact.  If I were to assign a level of importance, in the absence of upsampling or convolution, I would say the renderer has at least 80% impact while the server has at most 20% impact.  This bodes well because a good renderer costs a lot less than a good server and so I am hoping this observation stands the test of time.

     

    For those who plan to upsample or employ DSP-based room correction, I feel you have less choice.  If SQ is your top priority and if finances permit, then it would seem that the 2.16 should be on your short list but then so should Sound Galleries' offerings.  Otherwise, you might just find this cheap AudioLinux-based NUC to be the worldbeater that the audiophile community has been waiting for.

     

    A final word on convolution.  I have explored this with AudioVero's Acourate convolution software and I expect to explore it further because I do feel it has merit but there are consequences.  With the help of Uli Brueggeman from Germany, I was able to map my room and at various seating positions, we were able to determine my room's frequency response and where my nodes are.  He created idealized convolution profiles for me that I plugged into HQP and while I was able to effectively flatten my frequency response, it seemed to occur at the expense of harmonic richness and depth.  In other words, altering the audible frequency response of my room had an impact on the harmonic frequencies that was akin to trading accuracy for emotional impact.  The biggest negative was the soundstage became flatter.  The good news is that Uli is capable of creating graded profiles and so it's possible I will come across a profile I like.  The reason I bring this up is to highlight the pros and cons I have found with room correction.  If you're going to do it, definitely do it in the digital domain because with analog EQ, there will be resolution penalties but even in the digital domain, there are challenges.  If you employ it at the server level, then you will require a powerful server.  If you buy a device specifically designed for digital room correction like a Lyngdorf, DEQX, or Kii Three, then you're stuck with the DACs that are built in to those devices and thus far, I have not liked what I have heard.  If at all possible, I feel it's better to optimize the room rather than to digitally shape the sound but I also realize that this isn't always possible.  

     


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