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About bobfa

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    Groovin' in Audiophile Style!

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    Illinois, USA

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  1. The computer could be a Roon core, mine is not yet setup to do that. I feel that it needs persistant storage so a 32GB Optane “SSD” for storage and then reconfigure Audio Liniux. I have the Optane SSD but I have not done the work to setup Audio Linux or installed it yet. This is on the “bucket” list. I am also looking at trying the endpoint with an internal wireless network. This “might” reduce the need for an audiophile network switch.
  2. bobfa

    New HDPLEX 200W LPS

    Rajiv, My Sonic Transporter i7DSP came with a Dell-branded 90W "Laptop Brick". Here are a couple of pictures. This is my first real test into improving the server and network side of things. **** I am sorely tempted to move the server and power supply into the LR and put a "good" ethernet cable between them or put a wireless card in my NUC. So many options. (but that is not part of this thread!!)
  3. I found that if you start the "purchase" process on the Intel NUC site it shows you places to buy the product. By doing that with Simply NUC you can avoid their up-sell items. I have purchased from SimplyNUC also. The Akasa cases seem to be in low stock. I wonder if we are increasing the demand?? Thanks for sharing what you built and your experience.
  4. bobfa

    New HDPLEX 200W LPS

    I ran the power supply for 24hours on the bench just loaded down with a small NAS and a NUC. I then put the supply on my Sonic Transporter Server. After another day I started listening on the small system in my office and found some interesting changes. This afternoon I was able to "borrow" some time to sit down and listen on the Living Room system. WELLLLLLLL,..... The power supply is worth it to me. It increases the server cost from $2000 to $2500. The whole experience is better. A couple of the BT tracks I use for reference show more detail and are more "open/relaxed". The sound track to The Lord of the Rings; The Return of The King feels more "alive". The choir vocals stand out better. The Billy Boyd vocal sounds more like you are in the hall listening to him sing. The music is more moving. Annie Lennox feels more present singing "Into the West" . It was hard to go back to work. I really like this kind of homework.
  5. Dan, Thanks for the report I am glad your system is sounding better and that it is a lot simpler. Quick question are you using a wired Ethernet connection between the two NUC boxes? In the first part of the post you mentioned Ethernet but I was wondering if you had gone to wireless when you installed the server? Bob
  6. That is great then others can more simply play with that config.
  7. Gsquared, Are going to boot off of the Octane stick and run from RAM? It would be cool if you could document the steps for that so others can duplicate the process. Bob
  8. bobfa

    New HDPLEX 200W LPS

    Quick suggestion. Edit the lead post in the thread and put this info into it.
  9. Bruny, I d do not know how that NUC will sound. There are a lot of variables! Before you do anything I do not know if the older devices will boot from UFEI as the new Audio Linux is setup to do. The procedure is pretty simple you could purchase an Audio Linux License, and a 32GB USB stick to test with. Then follow the sections for building the USB boot, setting up the BIOS and setting up Audio Linux. Bob
  10. Dutch I will put a note under the picture with your quote thanks. This helps with the goal of having a good summary in the mater posts. It is trying to fake a wiki!
  11. All, I will check but I can still edit the main post so we should be good. I had the idea of keeping the first post up to date with the configuration of my endpoint. I will be adding the other configuration changes for timezone, etc. to the post so it is "finished". There are two other threads around the server side configurations and the Audio Linux config testing thread. I will add them in above. I will still report sound quality findings on the "Massive" thread. Going forward here I am investigating a couple of endpoint themes and if they work out I will adjust the config as needed. IF anyone has updates that will help others to understand building your own endpoint, has suggestions for fixes, etc. Please feel free. I abbreviated a few things that could use some more words. Thanks for all the kind words and support! Off to work on my HDPLEX power supply powering the server homework @austinpop assigned the other day!
  12. Note as a prefex to this thread I really want to keep it fun and friendly. Please this thread is a lot like a few others where we are listening and learning. We are not proving and measuring!. There has been a HUGE flurry of activity on the “Massive SQ” thread on AudiophileStyle. The discovery of putting a specific Intel NUC computer into the stereo system as the network endpoint running Audiolinux (AL) in RAM with no other disks has dramatically improved the audio quality for many of us. Here is a link to where the NUC part of this thread “started:” https://audiophilestyle.com/forums/topic/30376-a-novel-way-to-massively-improve-the-sq-of-computer-audio-streaming/?page=359&tab=comments#comment-860030 Two primary NUC models are in use. The single board computers are typically put into a fan-less case, hooked up to a high-quality power supply, booted off of a USB stick into RAM. What I hope to accomplish here is to have a “recipe” for success. Just like baking a cake you need to have your tools and ingredients ready before you start. Remember this is first and foremost a DIY project and t is also a “Work In Progress”. For me, it is also a rousing success. From 0 to NUC/AL/RAM in 2 hours *Not including Prep* To bake our NUC cake, we need the following components and tools. Setup Tools USB Keyboard and Mouse HDMI Monitor and HDMI cable Power supply for the NUC. **** discussion on this later *** Small Phillips screwdriver Anti-static work strap. A well-lit place to work A Windows PC or Mac to download AL and set up the USB stick Internet connection Just the right amount of coffee What needs to be in your Stereo system Ethernet connection A USB cable to the DAC Power supply for the NUC/AL Roon system (my choice, there are others) What you need to buy Two NUC models have been popular in this project. From all reports, they both sound great. According to some the i7 model sounds better and costs more! Take the time to read the relevant parts of the “massive” thread. I chose to get the Core i7 model. Note that the prices are estimates for the USA and do not include tax, shipping,etc. The Celeron Model comes from Intel as a complete system in a box. You need to extract the computer from the box and mount it in the fan-less case. Intel NUC7i7BDNE single board computer. $575 Akasa NUC Plato X7D case $170 OR Intel NUC7CJYH. $130 Akasa Newton JC Fan-less. $100 Here is the rest of what you need to order: RAM Ballistix Sport LT 8GB Single DDR4 2400. $60 USB Stick. SanDisk Ultra Flair 32GB USB 3. $10 Audio-Linux headless. $49. (license and one year support) Once you order up the parts and get everything in place, let us get Audiolinux setup installed on the USB stick. You can do this from Windows PC or a Mac. I have done both following the instructions on the audio-linux.com website and if you have a PC do it there for speed. The Mac method took 75min to build the same USB stick. *** Etcher does run on MacOS. You should be able to build the USB stick there. *** In your favorite Windows PC web browser download your Linux image and a copy of Etcher. http://audio-linux.com https://www.balena.io/etcher/ Put the USB stick in your machine. Install and run Etcher. Etcher prompts you for the location of the image file you want to flash to your USB stick. Etcher should show the target as your USB drive! MAKE Sure because it ERASES the target! It takes 10-15 minutes to complete flashing the USB stick. While the USB stick is flashing, we can build the NUC board into the case. For the rest of this setup, you need a nice clean workspace and your anti-static strap. Oh and go slow on the Coffee! First, unbox the case remove the top cover to inspect the inside and inventory all of the materials. The top case cover has four small Phillips head screws to remove. Here are three views inside the case. The above views are the inside front with the board holding the power switch, the LEDs and the two USB 3 ports. The small board is the two front USB 2 ports. Below is the inside rearview where the computer board is mounted and the shielded cutouts for the ports. Flip the case over and put the feet on so that to protect the bottom from scratches. There are four feet with screws to attach. Be sure to put them in the correct screw holes. You can now carefully set aside the case as we have to do a “fan-ectomy” on the NUC Board. You are dealing a bare computer motherboard; please observe standard anti-static protection procedures. An anti-static wrist strap and the anti-static bag that the board comes in are your friends. Here are pictures of both sides of the board. On the top side, you have the RAM and M.2 slots and some of the other connections for drives. The second picture shows the included fan and heatsink that we have to remove. First, you need to unplug the fan power cable. The connector is small so be careful pulling it off. Remove two small screws holding the fan down to the heatsink. The heatsink is attached to the motherboard with three screws. In the above picture, you can see them on the silver bar and in the recessed hole in the black part of the heatsink. Carefully remove the screws, and you can pull the heatsink away from the board. Note that the heatsink “grease” sticks them together a bit. Below you can see the separated heatsink and the board with the compound on the CPU (black part). Now you need to clean up the old heatsink compound from the CPU. Use cotton swabs and some alcohol to clean it off. The picture below shows the CPU module after cleanup. Next put the new heatsink grease on the CPU and the heatsink pad on the smaller black rectangle. The pad is a bit fussy to get stuck down. There are some pictures in the install page from Akasa that may help. In my case, they have an addendum showing how they now include the heatsink grease. From the picture below I used too much thermal paste! Thanks, @Dutch for pointing that out. A couple of dots would have been enough Here is a video of better ways. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYwHB2P6GmM It is time to install the board in the case. Carefully set the motherboard on the static bag aside and bring the case back to your workplace. Put the rear of the case closest to you and move the cables out of the way. Observe the part of the case where the CPU seats on the upraised heatsink and the four standoffs for mounting the board. There are four screws and fiber washers to hold the case in place. Carefully set the board CPU side down onto the case aligning it to the standoffs. Being careful not to strip the screws install them all but do not tighten. Once all four screws are in carefully tighten them down. I do them: upper left, lower right, lower left, upper right. Just my method! Next, it is time to connect the cables. The two USB 2 connectors are on the upper left, and the black thin flat ribbon cables plug into them. The two big USB 3 cables plug into the USB connectors on the top. Finally, the multi-color cable plugs into the header. The connector is keyed and goes on the leftmost pins. There is a hole blocked on the connector and a clipped pin on the board. With the connections completed installing the RAM in the bottom slot is next. The bottom slot is slot #2, but folks think it is the right place. The little RAM board goes in at an angle into the connector and is then pressed down to hook into the spring latches on the side. Dress the cables so that you can screw the top plate back on to the case! The “hardware” part complete. Now for the “smoke test.” You need to connect the keyboard, display, mouse, network. Finally, plug in the power cable and press the power switch to turn on the computer. ** do not plug the USB stick in yet ** Making the initial changes to the BIOS If the NUC passed the smoke test, the computer boots up to the BIOS where you have to make some settings changes. Note that on the first screen the UFEI Boot selection is ticked on. Note the temperatures of the CPU. Keep an eye on them as we go forward to make sure you did a good job on the heatsink grease! Mine here is under 30C which is GREAT. Set the BIOS clock on this screen if it is not right. Select the “Advanced” menu selection shown on the above screen to go to the next settings pages. Select the SATA tab and turn off SATA and the activity light. On the Boot Configuration page, I have mine set to boot USB first, Network last and the USB, and Optical are checked on. (may be able to uncheck the Optical). I may be doing a network boot, so I left it alone. On the Secure Boot tab, uncheck the Secure Boot item to disable it. Audioliniux does not use Secure Boot. On the performance tab under Processor, uncheck Hyper-Threading and Turbo Boost. The only other change I have made is to set the Primary Power setting to Balanced Enabled. I think others have set to Low Power. ** Note that this is all still a bit of an experiment and these settings may change. ** Insert your Audiolinux USB stick into one of the USB 3 connectors. You can now use the F10 key to save and exit the BIOS. Audiolinux Setup We are now on the final leg of the setup. With great thanks to Piero Olmeda, the author of Audiolinux distribution this part this part is pretty simple! When the machine boots up, some text goes by and if all is well the computer displays the Audiolinux menu screen. You may see a few differences in this screen depending upon what version of the system menu you have installed. Piero updates the different parts of the OS on a regular basis. Before we start with the configuration, you should update the system. This menu is driven merely by the cursor keys, the number pad, and the enter key. So cursor down to the update menu and press enter. Since you are not getting ahead of me yet, you are booting and running off of the USB stick, so no RAM mode issues need to be addressed. Note that I am running this NUC as a Roon endpoint so I have not explored other audio packages. During the install steps, you need the default passwords for Audiolinux. I assume that they might change so, please refer to the Audio-Linux.com website to find them. (scroll down and look or search on the page for the correct passwords. Cursor down and select the update menu item. You need to run the first four updates if you are following along with me. I did them in order. (I do not know if that order is “correct”). You will need your passwords during this. After you have completed the last update of the Audiolinux menu go back to the first page and select option 8 Console Mode. That takes you to the command line. DON’T PANIC! Just type in the command: menu and press enter. You have restarted the Audiolinux menu, so the new version runs. You are now going to configure the system to be a Roon endpoint, run in RAM and extreme mode. From the first screen select the configuration menu item. The above screen appears. Select the Roonbridge men item to set-up endpoint. After that completes set number 14 (scroll down) Set real-time priority to “extreme." Finally, select 15 enable ramroot. Select Cancel to return to the main menu screen and select Reboot. The computer reboots and automatically loads the OS into RAM. As the machine boots up and pauses for a few seconds displaying this screen. (sorry for the blur) After the boot to RAM is complete, the Audiolinux menu appears. From the Audiolinux menu check the CPU temperature found on the “Status” page. Also check the Audio Status from the “Configuration” Page. HURRAY! Pat yourself on the back. Toast yourself! Your Audiolinux Roon endpoint should be fully operational. Grab a USB cable and DAC and hook them up. Fire up the Roon application to add the new device to your audio system. There are some more steps to perform, but for testing purposes, you can run the system right now to see how it works. I mentioned at the start of this article that a good power supply is beneficial for NUC to produce the best sound. The NUC runs from 12v to 19v DC. There are reports that running at 19V may sound better. Some of the users have the UpTone Audio LPS 1.2 running their Celeron NUCs. Others are using Paul Haynes supplies, and I am sure there are many others. I have an UpTone Audio JS-2 in my system, and it runs my NUC and my ISORegen. Before you put the NUC into production, there are some other settings that you need to do. I am a huge fan of having the clocks running correctly in my computers and setting up Audiolinux to use network time server to keep the clocks on the beat is essential. Some other items can be adjusted as needed. @austinpop has an excellent post describing how to do some of them. https://audiophilestyle.com/forums/topic/54933-audiolinux-and-nuc-troubleshooting-and-tuning/?tab=comments#comment-901393 This little bit of cleanup work requires you to edit a couple of files and run a few commands on the command line in Linux. Now is also the time where you can do some of the fine-tuning and changes that may influence audio quality. I am not going to show the final tweaks of Audiolinux in this article. I want you to play, listen, and read some more. There is another thread on tuning and troubleshooting. https://audiophilestyle.com/forums/topic/54933-audiolinux-and-nuc-troubleshooting-and-tuning/?tab=comments#comment-901393 I am planning to post a summary of my settings over the next couple of weeks, and I have the time/date setup and fine-tuning in that. This article is a summary of my NUC build and a record for my own memory. I hope that others find value in it. There is so much work that has been done by others I cannot thank them all. I have to shout out to the following folks for all their work. @austinpop @lmitche @romaz @greenleo @hifi25nl @rickca I know that there are so many others I cannot remember them All! Thanks Bob Fairbairn
  13. I am still working on my network designs and I started playing with an idea last evening. I have a small TP-Link travel router that I have setup in client mode so it is an end-point on my network. I then hooked my UltraRend system to the travel router and now that system is on wireless. I have no sound quality report yet! I have been thinking of using alternative connection such as wireless or fiber optic connection to see if it changes the sound quality! I am wondering if it elimates the need for fancy switches,......
  14. bobfa

    New HDPLEX 200W LPS

    I have my HDPLEX 200 up and running on the bench to break-in. It will be running my music server on the power supply shortly.
  15. bobfa

    New HDPLEX 200W LPS

    FYI: Pubilc Service Message HDPllex 200 arrived today. The AC switch was set to 220V, and I did not notice. Things were much happier when I matched that switch to my 110V supply.....