Jump to content


  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Country

    United States

About Exocer

  • Rank
    Sophomore Member

Personal Information

  • Location
    NY, NY

Recent Profile Visitors

1519 profile views


  1. Speaker cable
    A novel way to massively improve the SQ of computer audio streaming
    2 hours ago, 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.  


    I've just found your and rrwolfgram14's posts and thank you very much for chiming in, your ideas sound terrific and the price is right








    My silver wires also blew away every brand name I have ever had. Thanks very much for this link.



    I put together some .999 silver loudspeaker cables a few months ago using info from the website @rrwolfgram mentioned and couldn't be happier with the results. Total cost for an 8' pair was just shy of $200. 


    And then similar ones (.9999 silver) without any kinda jacket would cost about the same here




    Heck, even 24K gold @ 24AWG would only cost $95 per foot so it wouldn't be too bad to give that a shot when we only need very short DC cables for LPS-1.2 anyways. Could that potentially be a game changer or more like a disaster? LOL

  2. Buffalo Clock Mods
    A novel way to massively improve the SQ of computer audio streaming

    Another PFB convert…


    I first got interested in the Pink Faun clock modified switch was reading the nice write up from @auricgoldfinger’s Melco switch, and later got more interested after reading many more successful posts on Pink Faun ultraOCXO clock conversion on Buffalo switch, which got me itching to give it a try, but having only one Buffalo switch and a very busy schedule lately, I have to put this project on hold until now.


    Thanks to @Nenon, he made another switch available along with a bit of an open schedule, I finally was able to get this modification going.


    In this first phase of modification, I have the Pink Faun ultraOCXO clock and DC input filter module installed, once the remaining parts are here, I will continue with chassis vibration damping and bypass capacitors installation done, but for now, I am VERY happy with the result compare with my current Buffalo switch with just the DC input conversion.  After just a few days of burn-in, it is already very evident on the SQ improvement.  My music is stored in a NAS and I also stream from Qobuz, the improvement applies to both areas, and it is not just one area of the music that is improved, it is the overall sound presentation that is making the music so much more enjoyable.


    The modification in general is quite straightforward if you are experienced with SMD work, with this success, I am now planning on modifying my other Buffalo switch as well to add one more PFB in series and see how much more improvement it will bring in my setup.


    Below are a few pictures of my PFB modification to share.  As a side note, the power consumption on Pink Faun clock is around 660mA at start, and around 280mA after half an hour of running.

    Unmodified PCB with PF Clock Board installed:




    Heatsink removed showing the stock clock:




    Stock clock removed:




    Stock clock:





    PF clock soldered to the stock clock soldering pads:





    Overall view of the first phase modification:








  3. Audiophile Optimizer Tips
    [How-To] Properly setup Windows + Best Practices (incl. free PDF guides)

    With AudiophileOptimizer 3.00 we decided to create specific installation guide's for each supported operating system. This covers Windows 10, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2016 & Windows Server 2019. The OS installation itself is a very easy task, still it made sense to create a general guideline how its done properly. Everything else important for great audio playback is done by our AudiophileOptimizer so you don't have to care for all the litte settings and fine-tunings, it's all done for you by AO within a few minutes.


    Windows 10 is the most complicated OS to install and configure and als the worst sounding from all AO supported OS'es, it's great advantage is its price tough.. If you go the Windows 10 route don't forget to remove most of the bloat that comes with it by using our "Strip down Windows 10" feature of ServiceTool. This features removes and uninstalls dozens and dozens of uneeded software components from Windows 10 making it a bit more suitable for the task of high end audio reproduction.


    All Server OS'es are much less complicated to install and configure than Windows 10, they don't come loaded with all that bloat but rather with nothing at all. Therefore there's not much to configure or consider during installation aside the decision if you want a graphical user interface or not.


    Windows Server 2019 in GUI mode gives you about the same sound quality like Windows Serverr 2016 in Core mode, but without the hassle associated with core mode. So for most people in most cases Windows Server 2019 in GUI mode combined with AudiophileOptimizer 3.00 is the best way to go, giving extraordinary good sound quality and all the convenience you could ever want.


    But before you actually start installing the operating system we highly recommend you to have a close look at our Best Practices guide. It covers many topics aside the OS installation like proper BIOS/UEFI configuration, driver installation, latency settings of your DAC/DDC and so forth. You can find the Computer Audio Best Practices Guide here: https://pdf.highend-audiopc.com/computer_audio_best_practices_guide.pdf


    If you want to try out one of the AO 3.00 supported OS's you can download the Evaluation ISO's directly from Microsoft by using on of the following Links:


    And these are the OS setup guides in PDF format for each Operating System compatible with AO 3.00:


    Enjoy it,


  4. Mounting clock and wiring of PF OCXO
    Building a DIY Music Server
    50 minutes ago, Exocer said:

    I would probably prefer to do it myself so there are no liability issues. Do you think you'll post a more detailed guide at some point for the "thrill seekers" among us?


    My situation is a bit different because I was only able to source the POE version. Have to do some tests first to determine if the switch will work being fed 5-12V at the typical input after removal of the extra POE board...


    Removing the stock clock is the biggest challenge. I can't really guide you on that part as it's kind of a struggle every time. Use the best tools you have. I do it with my teeth. Just kidding :). It's kind of a different process every time but always challenging. 


    Once you remove the clock, it gets easier. You need a magnifying glass! This is cheap one with LED and works for me:



    You solder two wires to the pins of the old clock (you can see where on the pictures below). These wires then connect to the output of the PinkFaun clock. Polarity does not matter in this case.


    And then you have to find a place to mount the PinkFaun PCB board. I drill holes into the Buffalo board (another scary procedure as the Buffalo board has a lot of components on the back) and attach the PinkFaun board with standoffs.


    The final step is to install a DC connector for the clock +5V. The pictures from one of my previous posts should be self-explanatory.



    On 8/7/2020 at 9:05 PM, Nenon said:

    Here are more details on my modified Buffalo switch. 



    1. PinkFaun ultraOCXO clock - 25 MHz - https://www.pinkfaun.com/shop/clock/67-2916-ultra-ocxo.html

    It was difficult to remove the stock clock, but once I did the rest was easy. A couple people recommended the ChipQuik kit. That stuff is great and it works really good on chips with many legs that are exposed outside the chip. But because the four legs on this clock are under the clock, you don't really have access to them. 

    The easiest way I have found so far was to cut the clock in half with sharp clippers and desolder each half individually by heating the two legs with my soldering iron. 

    Here is a close up of the pins I used for the PinkFaun clock:


    The filtering capacitors and resistors are not required. You can leave them or remove them per your preferences. 

    I used a very fine 24 AWG solid silver wire in enamel, similar to what AudioNote sells. 

    The clock is mounted on special vibration damping standoffs that decouple the clock from the switch board. 


    The bolt with a red circle around is using one of the holes on the switch board. I drilled holes in the switch board for the other 3 holes. If you are careful with the alignment, you will end up with 3 safe to drill places. Just make sure you use non-conductive nuts or add non-conductive washers. I added plastic washers on the bottom in my case. Otherwise the nut would short one part of the PCB to ground. I believe this is why my previous attempt failed... I think the board I thought that failed might be working, but the mounting nuts caused a problem. 


    2. The clock requires a dedicated 5V power supply. The quality of this power supply is crucial. I used a GX16 connector and 18 AWG Mundorf silver/gold wire.


    3. I made a small PCB board to handle some extra capacitors. It mounts on the standoffs from the removed switching mode power supply. That should close the gap between the Buffalo and Melco switch. This board was done for my DIY hobby experiment only, and I won't talk much about it. 15.5 AWG Mundorf silver/gold wire is used on both sides of this board to connect it to the DC connector (GX16) and to the switch board. 


    4. I added two additional filtering capacitors. One is a 2.2 uF Mundorf silver/gold/oil film cap. This is a decent film cap but not my favorite. There is no space for Duelund CAST caps in this chassis. The other one is a 100uF AudioNote Kaisei I had laying around. I may tweak those in the future but it's a good starting point. 


    5. Grounding post. I used WBT Nextgen copper grounding post, just because I had a spare, and I like those and a 24 AWG stranded Neotech 7N copper wire. I don't like using solid wire for this type of grounding. I also don't like plated wires or much thicker wire. That should be a good balance. I ground the chassis and the clock, but will be experimenting more with that. For example I may ground the minus from the power supply to help shunting some of the noise. That's an area I would be exploring further.

    I have a Taiko SETCHI D-3 to try and a Synergistic Research Active Ground Block SE. 


    6. Chassis damping. This chassis is not designed for audio and wrapping with bitumen-based sound dampening material helps with the chassis vibration. 


    7. Gaia feet. Not on the main picture, but additional vibration treatment with Gaia footers was also done.


    That's it. Those are all my tweaks. 

    The switch will be powered with a dual rail Sean Jacobs DC4 LPS and of course my favorite silver/gold DC cables. 


    How does it sound? I am quite impressed so far but would like to live more time with it so it would properly burn-in and my bias settles down. But I know there will be some impatient members who would send me a PM asking about the sound, so I decided to take some notes and share my first impressions.


    Initial impressions of the Buffalo with upgraded ultraOCXO clock.

    My network during the test:

    Arris SB8200 modem --(copper)--> Ubiquiti Router --(copper)--> Buffalo switch --(fiber with Fintech transceivers)--> etherRegen --(copper)--> server. 

    I kept everything the same, just swapping two identical Buffalo switches, one with the stock clock and one with a PinkFaun ultraOCXO clock. Both Buffalo switches were powered up with the same 12V LPS by Sean Jacobs. The 5V for the clock was powered by a LPS-1.2 (temporarily until I get the parts needed to adjust my rails). 

    The switch with an upgraded clock is much better. I can’t listen to the stock clocked Buffalos anymore . It's hard to describe the change. 

    There is no particular area that was improved. I can't tell there is better midrange, or better highs, or more dynamics, or anything like that. But the overall coherence of the sound has improved. The improved timing has a big impact on how the instruments sound. The difference is similar to listening to a garage band vs. a professional band playing the same notes. The music sounds overall more enjoyable. 

    What’s really cool is the level of PRAT you get from bad recordings. It does not make bad recordings sound like good recordings but it makes them so much more enjoyable. It’s like you listen to a bad recording on a good reel to reel. And that's an interesting thing as well - with this switch with a modified clock, my digital is a step further away from sounding digital. And that's for streaming Qobuz. The sound is not lean like with many digital components with improved clocks and linear regulators sound. The body of the Buffalo is still there. If anything has changed, there is maybe a level of harshness that has disappeared and the bass is more clear but still deep and impactful. 

    I have found that switches also impact local storage playing for some reason. Don't really expect that changing the clock impacts locally stored files, but I think it does. But my focus is on streaming music from Qobuz. 

    I still have a lot of tests to do. An interesting experiment would be what happens when I plug my server directly to the Buffalo with ultraOCXO clock. Right now the ultraOCXO clocked signal goes from the Buffalo to the etherREGEN, which has a good clock but not as good as the ultraOCXO. Does that mean I am losing some of the benefits of the good clock? Needs to be tested by connecting my server directly to the Buffalo switch. On the other hand, the etherREGEN is designed to minimise noise... However, in my system using the B-side of the etherREGEN is not as good as only utilizing the A-side, so I don't go across the moat and don't utilize that part of the etherREGEN design. What does that mean for the noise generated by these switches? Would the Buffalo generate more noise? TBD. One thing that may help is to shunt the power supply on the Buffalo to ground. That's something I am definitely going to try. 

    But as we speak about differences between my modified Buffalo and the etherREGEN, we need  to keep things into prospective. The upgraded clock costs more than two etherREGENs. The power supply is another seven etherREGENs. The rest of the tweaks also cost as much as an ehterREGEN. And ever since we posted about those Buffalo switches here, the price went up 3 times, and they are still extremely difficult to find. I expect now PinkFaun will run out of clocks :)). And I need one more, so don't buy them all just yet. 


    I will be modifying the clock on one more Buffalo and hopefully will be able to do some interesting tests.

    For example, what happens when you connect two Buffalos with upgraded clocks together? How do they compare to the M12 gold switch which I have access to and will be testing soon? And what if you combine two Buffalos with ultraOCXO clocks with the M12 Gold switch? I mean other than getting divorced and filing for bankruptcy... :)


    50 minutes ago, Exocer said:

    One question I had was how do you stop the PF OCXO from using onboard power? Same with your motherboard clock upgrade. 

    The PinkFaun board takes care of this. It's not just a clock but an entire circuit that you get. 


    20 minutes ago, Downtheline said:

    has anyone tried the PF clock upgrades on the BS-GS008 Buffalo variant? I have 2 of those. 

    I doubt it. One of the challenges would be that there is not enough space to mount the clock inside that switch. And if you would be spending $1500 on a clock + installation fee, you better do it on the bigger switch that is used by Melco, has SFP ports, etc.  

  5. Windows AO Configurations
    A novel way to massively improve the SQ of computer audio streaming

    Hello all, I just registered for an account in this forum not long ago.


    My build:




    MB: MSI z390m Gaming Edge AC (chipset clock: Connor Winfield DOCSC022F 24MHz)

    CPU: i7-8700 (3.2GHZ)

    Ram: Corsair DOMINATOR® PLATINUM 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4 DRAM 2400MHz C10 Memory Kit

    Case: Streacom FC9 Alpha Fanless Chassis

    SSD (OS): Samsung 970 Evo Plus (500G)

    HDD (Music File): WD Ultrastar DC HC530 (14T)

    SATA Cable: Pachanko "Aphelion" SATA

    SATA PCIE Card: IOCrest Marvell 9235 - direct to CPU

    NIC: Jcat Net Femto (Powered by Full ATX LPS) - direct to CPU

    Lan Cable (Roon Server to Uptone eR): Supra Cat8 (13m) w/Telegartner Cat8.1 RJ45

    Lan Cable (Uptone eR to dCS Vivaldi Upsampelr): Pachanko Ethernet "Aphelion (1.5m) w/Telegartner Cat8.1 RJ45

    LPS: Uptone JS-2
    Vibration Control: Thixar Silence, Stillpoints UltraSS
    Power Cable: Shunyata Alpha HC
    Hook-up wire: NEOTECH 18 AWG UP-OCC (Teflon)
    Ground Box: Telos GNR 3.1mini
    OS: WS2019 Datacenter w/ AO3 custom Roon Shell and Process Lasso
    Music Software: Roon Server
    Tuning :
    1. BIOS: Hyper-Threading = ON
    2. BIOS: Disable all other features of CPU and unnecessary components
    3. WS2019: Disable write-caching for SSD and HDD.
    4. WS2019: Network bridge in WS2019 (i.e., Roon Server direct connect to dCS Upsampler via a 13m long Supra Cat8 lan cable)
    5. WS2019: Disable 35 numbers of Windows Services
    6. Process Lasso: Assign CPU0-3 for OS / CPU4-11 for Roon
    7. Process Lasso: Turn off Process Lasso Engine
    Disable the following Windows Services in WS2019 Datacenter (AO Roon Shell):
    1. Themes
    2. Print Spooler
    3. Windows Font Cache Service
    4. Connected User Experience and Telemetry
    5. Intel HD Graphics Control Service
    6. Intel Push Notifications System Service
    7. Program Compatibility Assistant Service
    8. Intel Dynamic Application Loader Host Interface Service
    9. IP Helper
    10. Network List Service
    11. Network Connectivity Assistant
    12. Network Connection (Manual)
    13. Network Connection Broker
    14. Connected Devices Platform Service
    15. TCP/IP Netbois Helper
    16. IPsec Policy Agent
    17. COM+Event System
    18. System Event Notification Service
    19. CRYPTOGRAPHIC Service
    20. Web Account Manager
    21. Windows Audio
    22. Windows Audio Endpoint Builder
    23. Human Interface Device Service
    24. Quality Windows Audio Video Experience
    25. Windows Connections Manager
    26. Portable Device Enumerator Service
    27. Windows Update
    28. Windows Modules Installer
    29. IKE and AuthIP IPsec Keying Modules
    30. Server
    31. Shell Hardware Detection
    32. Security Accounts Manager
    CPU Voltage Tuning:
    CPU Core Voltage = 0.95v
    CPU GT Voltage = 0.6v
    CPU SA Voltage = Auto
    CPU IO Voltage = Auto
    CPU PLL OC Voltage = 1.2v
    CPU ST PLL Voltage = 0.95v
    Dram Voltage = 1.35V
    PCH Voltage = Auto

  6. Vibration Control
    A novel way to massively improve the SQ of computer audio streaming
    3 hours ago, Exocer said:

    Excited for your feedback. Pardon my ignorance on the topic but would removing the feet and placing the device directly on the Daiza further improve vibration control characteristics? (or is it the complete opposite?)


    The best place to start is direct coupling between your device (in this case DAC) and the Daiza.  On my Chord DAVE, I use 3 small ceramic tiles between the DAC case and Daiza (rubber feet are dangling).


    Once you have that baseline, then listen again with rubber feet directly against Daiza.  Things may be better or they may be worse, but you'll need to be able to listen to find out (the entire mechanical system will have different mechanical properties....think of the rubber feet like adding a capacitor to a circuit).  The Daiza is about draining vibrations away (resistor).  A direct coupling to the DAC case will give you a solid baseline, then you can start adding more complex factors (rubber feet) into the mix.


    For me, I lean very heavily into a Chesky binaural surround demo called "Four Voices".  It has four people, two in front, two in back, taking turns talking.  I've found that vibrational control on my DAC results in a HUGE increase in depth resolution (or put another way, vibrations have an outsized impact in deteriorating depth resolution).  The more I dial in vibrational control, the more natural and holographic the soundstage becomes.  When the voices behind me are as detailed and nuanced and placed in space as the voices in front of me, I know I'm in the right place.


    The tough part here is that you're tuning vibrational modes to be away from wherever your DAC is sensitive, and draining away vibrational energy so it doesn't induce electrical noise in your DAC.  Details will vary from person to person and set up to set up (where in the room resonant modes are, cabinetry, specific electronic elements in your DAC, etc).  Critical to have a way to measure when things are getting better (in my case, depth resolution) so you don't drive yourself nuts randomly trying things.


    All that being said, the lift in SQ I've gotten in paying attention to vibrations is second only to power, and relatively inexpensive if you're using passive components (I have not tried active vibration isolation for audio).  YMMV.



  7. Installing Motherboard clock
    Building a DIY Music Server
    11 hours ago, Gavin1977 said:

    @Nenon amazing post - can you show us more about how you undertook the motherboard clock mod?  I would also be interested your thoughts on the impact of the motherboard clock mod, vs say, adding JCAT USB  & NET cards only...


    The clock I replaced was under this heatsink:



    Here it is:



    I used my HAKKO FR301-03/P Desoldering Tool to remove the clock:



    Clock is out:



    Silver wires in organic unbleached cotton sleeve soldered - WBT silver solder used:



    Heatsink put back in place:



    You can mount the clock on the side and use longer wires. But I wanted to use the shortest possible wires. So I made a carbon fiber plate and used 4 standoffs on the four motherboard mounting holes to attach my plate to. I also added the 4 white standoffs to mount the clock:



    You can see the standoffs if you zoom in on one of the previous photos:



    Here it is with the clock attached before soldering the wires:



    Solder the wires and add two more wires for the DC power of the clock (on the right side). The clock takes 5V DC. Installation completed:



    I may redo the carbon fiber plate and add various holes to increase the airflow to the heatsink that this plate is blocking. But so far heat there has not been a problem. 



    1 hour ago, ASRMichael said:

    Why the HDPlex 800W DC to DC ATX Convertor? Did you test it against SJ LPS? 

    I wanted to have a more universal platform, so I can test various power supplies, motherboards, etc. I did not do an A/B comparison, but I know from experience that more rails is better. For the ultimate set up, I would have done 8 rails (3 x ATX, 1 x EPS, 1 x clock, 3 x PCIe cards). But using 6 rails (1 x Hdplex/ATX, 1 x EPS, 1 x clock, 1 x PCIe) sounds pretty good as well. The EPS rail requires a lot of current - I would say 6A+. The HDPlex needs about 30-35 Watts in this configuration, and it can take 16V - 63V. A 22V-1.5A LPS works just fine. I am using 22V-5A LPS, which is an overkill. 


  8. Clocks, LPSUs, DC-ATX Conversion
    Building a DIY Music Server

    It was quiet here for a moment, but @Energy dropped a bomb.


    We can debate forever on some of that stuff. It's very easy to be convinced in a specific technology or a specific way of doing this and scratch every other option available. I haven't found this to be the right approach for me. I prefer to be open minded. Typically I would pick the technology that makes sense to me, implement it to the best of my ability and then go back to the other alternatives to try them and move on after I find what sounds best in my system. 

    Let me comment on some of the topics @Energy mentioned - Intel vs. AMD, ECC vs. non-ECC RAM, OCXO clocks, and the HDPlex DC to DC convertors. 


    Let's start with RAM and Intel vs. AMD.

    9 hours ago, Energy said:

    Furthermore it is known that ECC sounds better as it corrects on the soft/hard bits that computers tend to make. Some people on the forum has found that to be the case including myself. So between Intel and AMD, I am more lenient of the later.


    On 2/18/2020 at 10:43 PM, Dev said:

    @Nenon and others,


    have any of you guys compared Intel vs AMD ? I think @Nenon has built both, so he must have some idea. Are there much differences between the two ? If one is starting a fresh build (and leaving the behind the price for now), is there a consensus which one sounds better ?


    I've had an Intel i9-9900K and AMD Ryzen 7 3700x builds side by side in my system and might have been the first who wrote about this in the Novel thread. I can tell you that they sound different. But I cannot tell you which one is better. I think it's a matter of personal preference. I did not like the motherboard USB output on the AMD as much as I did on the Intel build. Once you take the digital output from the PCIe, it's hard to say which one is better. 

    Then, I did a lot of RAM chip comparisons. About a year ago I had no idea that RAM could make a difference. No, that's not the right statement. I was absolutely convinced that RAM could not make any difference at all. Silly me.

    However, curiosity made me check that, and I was shocked to discover that RAM makes a significant difference. I managed to obtain some Apacer RAM for myself. And I could not believe my ears. One of the guys here convinced me to do a group RAM order, which I did, and I am very thankful that almost everybody who participated in that group buy gave me some feedback. That helped me tremendously to understand how the Apacer RAM changed the sound in different systems. There was an improvement in every system. Some systems benefited a lot more than others. There were two common denominators I noticed. First, people with more resolving systems experienced bigger impact (improvement). And second, the people who had better power supplies (cleaner power) benefitted much more from the Apacer RAM. For those who had custom double regulated SR7s or custom double regulated Sean Jacobs DC3 power supplies, it was a match in heaven. They would typically hear the improvement from the first note after swapping the RAM. The other interesting thing was that on average it took two weeks to break in and even after the break in, if you just take the RAM out and put it back in, it resets some of the settled effects and needs more break in time (not weeks but at least 2 hours or maybe a full day). Those are statistics I have collected over time thanks to all of you. 

    Having access to all kinds of different RAM modules, I did a lot of testing myself. I discovered two things that are important - quality and speed. For completeness I will repeat what I have said in other posts:

    1. Non-ECC Apacer 2400MHz was better than the Non-ECC G.Skill 3200Mhz.

    2. Non-ECC Apacer 2666MHz was better than the Non-ECC Apacer 2400MHz.

    3. ECC Apacer 2666MHz was better than Non-ECC Apacer 2666MHz.

    But that does not mean that the ECC RAM sounds better, because "it corrects on the soft/hard bits that computers tend to make". No, it's not better for that, even if that contributes to some degree. And here is why I am saying that. I recently discovered that the ECC RAM can work on motherboards that don't support ECC RAM, such as the Intel Z390 gaming motherboards that are popular here and I used in the build in this thread. If you install ECC RAM in that motherboard, it would work as Non-ECC RAM. I compared the same version of ECC RAM and Non-ECC RAM in the build in this thread. And the ECC RAM sounded better. Not because "it corrects on the soft/hard bits that computers tend to make". It does not correct anything, because it is working as Non-ECC RAM. My only explanation is that the ECC RAM was built better / better quality. 

    So for those who think the ECC RAM (working as ECC and correcting some errors that makes the sound so much better) is the holy grail and that determines what motherboard and CPU to take, please think twice. You can probably use the ECC RAM as Non-ECC, and it still sounds really good and better than anything else I have tried. So, I would not prefer AMD Ryzen just for that.  Motherboards make a big difference. I have compared quite a few. The RAM is not the only factor, and I feel like it is a bad decision to plan your build around ECC RAM because it corrects something. I am not saying that correction does not contribute to the sound, but that's hard to test, and there is obviously a lot more than that for RAM to sound good=. 


    Power supplies.

    9 hours ago, Energy said:

    Lastly, for those who are using HDPLEX 200W + HDPLEX 400W/800W HiFi DC-ATX or 800W. I think the idea is ridonculous. You are essentially using a 3mV (3,000µV) device and adding it with a 10mV (10,000µV) device to have a max output noise of 13mV (13,000µV). The HDPLEX 400W ATX Linear Power Supply may be a failure in it's independent output but it's ATX modular Output is a heck of a lot better:



    Just saying but 3mV beats 13mV. And look at that DC current headroom!


    Well, again, none of these numbers tell us anything about how these things sound in our systems, right? They definitely don't tell ME anything about the sound. What about output impedance? What cables are you using? How long are they? How much headroom it has? How fast it can handle transients? I can keep going on and on. The only thing I agree with is that 10 + 3 = 13. Can't argue with that. And I also prefer full linear power supply with separate rails for everything as long as they are good quality - which means the HDPLEX 200W does not qualify, but more on that later. 

    Let's forget about the numbers for a moment and talk about actual experience comparing these products. I have done different builds. The one in this thread is one of the best power supply arrangements I have done. There is actually only one that was better than this, but I can't talk about it. I have also used a whole range or power supplies, DC to DC regulators, ATX convertors, nanoATX, etc. etc. 

    Generally speaking I try to stay away from the HDPlex linear power supplies. I have also done some builds with the HDPLEX 400W HiFi DC-ATX. And I was not impressed. But for someone who already had only one rail of decent power supply and did not want to spend more, that was a good budget option with possibility for upgrades in the future. So here is my experience. 

    1. The most important point - not everything works equally in all builds. What worked well in my low powered systems did not work well in my high powered CPU systems. Keep that in mind. Most of my experiments have been with 65W-95W TDP CPUs like the Intel i9 and AMD Ryzen 7. I will focus on those below. 

    2. For some reason the HDPLEX 800W DC-ATX sounds better than the HDPLEX 400W HiFi DC-ATX. I don't know why, but it does. It wasn't until I tried the HDPLEX 800W DC-ATX that I considered using a SMPS DC to DC ATX devices. Basically the 800W has been a drop-in replacement upgrade (for the HDPLEX 400W HiFi DC-ATX) in most cases. 

    3. No matter what the numbers say, an HDPLEX 800W DC-ATX powered by a really good quality power supply (i.e. Sean Jacobs DC3 in my case) sounds a lot better in my system than a directly connected HDPLEX 200W. 

    4. More power of the same quality sounds better and improves dynamics. My CPU is running fine with [email protected] But feed it with a LPS of the same quality that can deliver [email protected] and it sounds even better. Feed it with a LPS of the same quality that can deliver [email protected] and it sounds even better. Same is true for 15A. And that's all I have tried so far. Someone has a really good one that can deliver 30A? I would love to try it :). Why that extra power helps? I don't know. I can't catch peaks much higher than 4A with the measurement devices I have. I guess that dynamic headroom is quite important here with linear power supplies. 


    Based on #3 and #4, would connecting an HDPLEX 200W via it's [email protected] (190W) output to a HDPLEX 800W DC-ATX sound better than connecting the [email protected] (120W) + [email protected] (10W) + [email protected] (6.6W)? I don't know. I kind of doubt it. But 190W is more than 136.6W... and read #4 above. I am still kind of sceptical to be honest, but is it worth a try? Why not. You would never know for sure until you try it. Would I consider trying this with the HDPLEX 200W + HDPLEX 400W HiFi DC-ATX? No, I don't think so. Would I consider trying this with the HDPLEX 200W + HDPLEX 800W DC-ATX? Maybe... if I had the time.


    OCXO Clocks.

    I left that as the last topic. And this is a hot topic in my mind currently. I am not an expert here, but I am applying a similar approach as with power supplies, RAM, motherboards, etc. To repeat what I said in the beginning of my post:


    Typically I would pick the technology that makes sense to me, implement it to the best of my ability and then go back to the other alternatives to try them and move on after I find what sounds best in my system. 

    As far as my understanding about OCXO clocks goes, it's easier to make a low phase noise OCXO clock at 10MHz than to achieve the same at 25MHz. The phase noise at specific frequency is not the only important variable and it's probably not even measured consistently between all manufacturers. The implementation of the clock is arguably even more important than the quality of the clock itself. Short path to the chip is important. I studied how PLLs are implemented recently, and they are not perfect. I have many questions and not a lot of answers yet. While I am doing studies on this, I am trying to identify what is a sales or marketing BS and what actually makes sense. SOTM for example are saying that you can replace ANY clock with theirs and it would be an improvement. They have repeatedly said that if we replace the Crystek clock on the JCAT USB card (and NET Femto), it would sound better. I wonder if @Marcin_gps knew that. They said that we should start replacing the OCXO clocks with their clocks. Well, I am not buying into all these things unfortunately.

    I can't imagine that on something that sensitive as the clock, we can add connectors, long cables, an external reference clock, introduce PLL that converts the master clock frequency, and it would be all much much better than a well implemented good quality clock a fraction of an inch away of the chip with clean power and done with good care. And most of these clocks we are replacing have single ended signal, not differential. What happens with the noise those long cables catch from the outside. But hey, we are open minded people, so I am willing to give it a try. The ultimate test would be how it sounds. 

    But before I do that, I would start with the technology that makes more sense to me. And that is not the SOTM clocks, connectors, cables, and external master clock. My first preference is the best quality OCXO I can find, implemented with the shortest possible wires (the best silver I have found), powered by the best power supply (again with the shortest possible DC cables and regulators sitting right next to the clock), sitting on a RMI/RFI and vibration isolation. I am also a truly believer that every clock benefits tremendously from vibration isolation. Every time I posted that last year, I was shot by objective engineers, but since this is my thread and now they have their own forum, I hope that won't happen again. 

    And here is what I am doing.


    Clock removed. Silver wires soldered.



    Carbon fiber plate installed. To be replaced with much thicker one. More holes for ventilation would be added. I believe the carbon fiber has some EMI/RFI properties and also vibration treating... but even if it did not, I like how it looks. The white standoff to be replaced with black vibration isolation ones. 



    The clock installed with a temporary DC connector for testing purposes.



    I am testing every clock on the motherboard to find out where it makes sense to have one and where it does not. A lot of listening tests ahead of me. Once I settled on all that, I would not mind trying the SOTM clock with external reference clock to see which one is better. I think that is the right way to test these things, rather than looking at the spec sheets. 


  9. Network
    A novel way to massively improve the SQ of computer audio streaming
    On 3/7/2020 at 11:43 PM, matthias said:


    Thanks for sharing.


    IMO, the most fair comparison between ER as FMC and OM should include:


    1.) Using the ER as FMC only not as switch (one copper input only).

    2.) Using the A-side only of ER.

    3.) Using for ER and OM the same HQ PS.

    4.) The downstream component must have fiber input like OR or Taiko Extreme.


    AFAIK from his posts on WBF even @romaz has not yet done this comparison.








    This took longer than I thought but here are the results of some comparisons I did:


    Several of my friends and forum members — Kennyb123, Ray-Dude, Always Learning — and I have been carrying on a back channel discussion about FMCs, SFPs, the EtherRegen (ER) from Uptone Audio and the Optical Module (OM) from Sonore/Small Green Computer. We’ve each heard some of these devices in our own systems but none of us except Kennyb123 have heard them all head to head. Through the generosity of these folks I was lent the pieces I was missing so I could do a comparison in my own system as an Extreme owner and hopefully share some insights from my perspective.

    My system is listed in my current signature.

    My LAN is fairly simple compared to many peoples’ setups:
    DSL modem (WAN port) > copper jumper > Synology RT2600ac WiFi router > copper jumper > TLS OXCO switch > copper > AV system, and copper > Thecus network attached storage (NAS) device. All of these devices are in one room across the entry foyer from the living room where my stereo is located.
    I have WiFi turned off in the modem, firewall enabled, domain name server (DNS) enabled. WiFi is turned on in the Synology RT2600ac and it is linked wirelessly with a Synology MR2200 mesh router upstairs. The MR2200 provides strong WiFi coverage upstairs and is linked via copper to an AV system in the master bedroom.
    The DSL modem is powered from one rail of an Uptone Audio JS-2 linear power supply, a Startech FMC is powered from the other rail. The Synology RT2600ac is powered from an inexpensive variable linear power supply. The NAS uses its stock onboard SMPS. All of these power supplies are plugged into a Shunyata Research PS-8 power strip using a Shunyata Alpha Digital power cord to the wall. Additionally, a Shunyata Venom Defender is plugged into one of the PS-8 receptacles.
    No particular vibration control is used other than original Stillpoints cones under the JS-2, Vibrapods under the cable modem and the FMC or device under test (DUT). I haven’t noted any particular improvement in sound quality with these vibration control devices, but I have them and so I use them.
    My baseline connection from LAN to Taiko Audio Extreme server is the one recommended by Emile early on — Startech FMCs and Startech SFPs (1550nm 80km), LC LC fiber and copper jumpers. I’ve been using these even before my Extreme arrived to connect my previous Innuos Zenith server to the LAN, with the addition of another Startech FMC and jumper at the Zenith.
    With the arrival of the Extreme, the feed from the LAN became:
    DSL modem > copper jumper (Sablon ethernet cable) > StarTech FMC/Planet Tech SFP with -10dB attenuator > fiber > Startech SFP with -10dB attenuator/Extreme
    My initial plan for testing involved comparing the baseline feed from LAN to Extreme to the following:
    DSL modem > copper jumper > ER “B” side/ER “A” side/Startech SFP w/-10db attenuator > fiber > Startech SFP with -10dB attenuator/Extreme

    DSL modem > copper jumper > ER “A” side/Startech SFP with -10dB attenuator > fiber > Startech SFP with -10dB attenuator/Extreme

    DSL modem > copper jumper > OM/Startech SFP with -10dB attenuator > fiber > Startech SFP with -10dB attenuator/Extreme

    Then repeat without attenuators on the SFP ports.
    Finally, repeat again, this time substituting Planet Tech SFPs (1310nm 20km) for the Startech SFPs. Again, with and without attenuation.
    I kept all other devices, including power supplies the same and only varied the devices used in place of the Startech FMC. Obviously, the SFPs stayed the same on each end for each trial.  

    Additionally, I used a ground lead from each device to an AC earth ground; both the Startech FMC and ER have provisions for this, I backed a case screw out a little on the OM to use as its ground point. Like Rajiv in his experiments with the ER, I didn't hear any particular advantage or improvement using the ground lead with any device -- perhaps because I have also removed all SMPS' from my equipment in the computer room/office (my NAS with its internal SMPS has been off since copying all my music to the Extreme). Since the ground wire wasn't hurting anything, I left it attached for each trial.

    As indicated above, in the case of the ER, I tried it as designed ("across the moat”), "B" to “A", as well as copper in/fiber out on the "A" side only.

    I gave each device under test a minimum of 24 hours powered up with Roon Radio playing and my amplifier off before listening, with the exception of the ER tests which I performed back-to-back without additional warm up time after the first 24 hours. Any other device I thought I might want to quickly A/B against the DUT I kept warm by using an inexpensive variable linear power supply from Radio Shack.

    So, that sets the stage with the test conditions and protocol. Next post — what I heard.

    Because of the number of permutations involved I kept the streaming tracks used for the comparisons to a minimum to in an attempt to keep the overall project manageable and importantly, to keep my sanity. Like any audiophile, I unavoidably end up listening to sound as much as music when doing comparisons — what improved, what didn’t improve? But my tolerance for this kind of listening is pretty low and I would much rather relax and just listen to music once a certain minimum acceptable sound quality is reached. Too much concentrated A/B/C testing and I start to lose the will to go on living.
    The three streaming selections I used are:
    1. Brenda Fricker, Anuna, Never Give All The Heart from The Chieftains "Tears Of Stone" 16/44.1 Qobuz stream
    2. Brian Bromberg, The Saga Of Harrison Crabfeathers, "Wood" 16/44.1 Qobuz stream
    3. Clifford Curzon, Benjamin Britten/LSO, Mozart Piano Concerto No. 2, Allegro 16/44.1 Tidal stream
    With 2. and 3. I used two different sections in each track rather than playing the whole long track through each time. Each of these recordings have places where the digital transfer can sound anywhere from hot to irritatingly bright or hard if everything isn’t up to snuff in the digital path.
    A word about what I listen for when doing this kind of test. I'm very sensitive to harshness, hardness and unnatural brightness. I listen for tonal balance and saturation, low-level detail, depth, width and height (particularly depth), and dynamic swing. And generally, I also try to listen for an undefined overall *enjoyability* -- would I be happy listening to my system sounding like this for hours, or would I be unsatisfied and restless?  
    I've found that for whatever reason, a recording on the edge of being hard or harsh sounding will be tipped over that edge and become hard to listen to by less than excellent digital performance. Sibilant sounds, cymbals, and other high frequency instruments can quickly go from brilliant to bright to hot. As the top end hardens and higher frequencies become more prominent everything seems to flatten out. My test recordings tend to emphasize this in places and so represent a worst case scenario. There is still lots of music that will sound fantastic with any of these configurations though.
    So, without further ado --

    First off, my feeling is these LAN optimizations are audible and are worth pursuing, particularly since other than the power supplies and one of the devices under test (ER), they are fairly inexpensive in the audiophile scheme of things. However, I am also in general agreement with other Extreme owners that the largest benefits are gained from premium power cords, USB cables, and vibration control. Network optimization is an order of magnitude lower in effect than power, USB and vibration.

    As a general conclusion, in all cases I preferred using the Planet Tech 1310nm 20km SFPs over the Startech 1550nm 80km SFPs. This was regardless of device (ER, FMC or OM) and regardless of attenuation used or no attenuation at all. In fact, in some circumstances the choice of SFP made a bigger delta than choice of device (ER, FMC or OM). Likewise, I found I always thought using -10dB attenuators on the receiver ports of the Startech SFPs to be a necessity, or they sounded edgy with any of the devices.
    The most cost effective and must-do item from all my experimenting is replacing any Startech SFPs with Planet Tech SFPs. The Planet Tech SFPs made every device (OM, ER, FMC) sound better in my system. At $23.90 USD the Planet Tech SFPs are a bargain.

    Specific device results --

    Any of the combinations, even the nominally last ranked, are still much better than the 50 feet of copper ethernet I originally used between LAN and server. Also, moving my feed to the Extreme all the way upstream to an ethernet port on my DSL modem and having everything else in my LAN downstream on the other side of a WiFi router fed from the modem's WAN port, was as large a positive improvement as choice of device.
    1. Last place, but still very honorable mention:
    The combination of Startech FMC/Startech SFP is one I lived with even before I took delivery of the Extreme. It was a large improvement over a long run of copper ethernet from LAN to server. I did find -10dB attenuators on the receiver ports tamed some brightness which might have been caused by overdriving the SFP receivers with the powerful 1550nm lasers over a very short fiber link. 
    The Startech FMC can sound very good, but there is better out there and it came in last of the three devices I tested. A Startech FMC with Planet Tech SFP and no attenuators sounds  better to me than the all-Startech combination of FMC and SFP.
    However, the Startech FMC configurations sound, as someone else on one of the Internet forums observed, somewhat mechanical in nature compared to better combinations.
    2. Good, and Better:

    EtherRegen (ER) "B" to "A"/Startech SFP/-10dB attenuators, and Planet Tech SFP/no attenuation --

    The ER "B" to "A" across-the-moat configuration is less mechanical or electronic sounding than the Startech FMC combos. It also nicely ameliorates any tendency of edgy digital transfers to tip over into brightness or harshness. However, with the Extreme it sounds too polite and sounds smaller and less energetic than any other combination. The Planet Tech SFP helped with the clarity but didn’t cure the small stage size and lack of dynamics.
    3. Better, and tied for Best:
    ER "A" to "A"/Startech SFP/-10dB attenuator, and Planet Tech SFP/no attenuation --
    ER in the "A" to "A" configuration brought back a good part of the dynamics and life and scale of music. The Planet Tech SFP sounded a little softer than the Startech SFP, but in either case the "A" to "A" ER brought back some of the edginess too. This was slight however, and for a person who needs a switch rather than an FMC, the ER is a cost and sound-quality effective choice. And, from the preponderance of reports, if a non-Extreme owner can use it in an "A" to "B" configuration, it might be the best sounding option of all.
    4. Best in my situation:
    Optical Module/Startech SFP/-10dB attenuator, and OM/Planet Tech SFP/no attenuation --
    The OM is perhaps the most transparent to, or maybe I should say the most dependent on the SFP it is paired with. With the Startech SFP even using attenuation, the OM can still be a little edgy. But it sounds big and bold and full of life, if just that little bit hard on top with less favored digital transfers. As a result, it sometimes sounds a little flat and a little forward when challenged with brighter recordings.
    Paired with the Planet Tech SFP and without any attenuation, the OM retains all of the life and dynamics of music without any objectionable hardness on top, and with a subjective sense of more depth, dimension and space. It doesn't hide what recordings are, but it doesn't exacerbate their imperfections either. To my way of hearing, it strikes just the right balance in the context of my system and my tastes. I had one of those, “Ahhhhh, this is good!” moments when I started listening to the OM/Planet Tech SFP combination.
    I wound up my tests by comparing streamed tracks to their twins residing in local on-board storage, and also tested the claim that with the Extreme and an optimized network, high-resolution (24/96, 24/192) streamed music can beat standard Redbook resolution (16/44.1) stored on-board the Extreme.
    Listening to the same resolution streamed to compared to local playback, I thought local playback to be a bit better -- a little cleaner, a little darker and a little more depth. But it is very close and streaming certainly doesn't suffer for the comparison. I can listen to music via the Extreme and Roon Radio streaming all day long and never get tired or restless. Every so often a poorly recorded or digitally transferred track will come up, but that can happen regardless of medium. 
    Streaming higher resolution tracks and comparing them to their standard resolution, locally stored counterparts proved a little trickier. It's difficult to determine in many cases whether the mix was also tweaked when the source recording was remastered to higher resolution; in the case of MQA high resolution, MQA processing may be affecting the recording in ways that are sometimes enhancing and sometimes detracting (in my experience). However, over a dozen or so non-MQA high resolution Qobuz selections I found that in the majority of cases I did indeed prefer the high-res streamed version over standard resolution locally stored content.

    Once again I'll just say that all of this is very much in the context of my own system, LAN and taste in music and musical presentation. And it appears that for whatever the reason, with an Extreme in the mix some of the unique attributes of the EtherRegen don't come out in the same way they do with other servers. The EtherRegen would be my first choice if I needed a switch in the feed to my Extreme because it is still better sounding than a Startech FMC, or a TLS OXCO switch. However for my needs and for what I value in sonic presentation the Optical Module with Planet Tech SFP has just the right balance.

    Hopefully this was helpful, or at least interesting and worth the time spent reading.
    I hope everyone is well and taking care of their loved ones in this challenging time.
    Steve Z

  10. Network
    A novel way to massively improve the SQ of computer audio streaming
    1 hour ago, lmitche said:

    Have you tried the Monoprice Slimrun Fiber USB 3 extension cable?

    Not yet, because I am using LVDS I2S over HDMI cable currently. I was stupid enough to think that the Silmrun HDMI extender may work and bought one but had to return it. Working on my USB-based rig... looks promising that I may be able to switch to USB soon. 

    I was hoping there would be some feedback on the USB Slimrun extender by now. It's a relatively inexpensive thing to try, easy to return, and also gives you the option to move the computer further away from your audio system, which may be beneficial. 


    49 minutes ago, Dev said:

    Nenon, are you using the A or B side of the eR ? I am perplexed when you say it makes a big difference. I can understand that it can make a difference if both ends (upstream and downstream) are connected to the A side of eR but if one is connected to A and other is connected to B, wouldn't eR isolation/moat reduce the effect of the ethernet cables in general ?

    You know, that's interesting actually. I only like using the A-side only and not crossing the moat in a very particular scenario:

    - fiber from the eR to my router.

    - JCAT Signature Gold ethernet cable to my server.

    With the JCAT ethernet cable my Qobuz streaming becomes a lot more transparent. So transparent that I think the 1Gbps on my server (vs. using 100 Mbps) brings more than crossing the moat on the eR. But with any other cable I have tried, I prefer to connect the A-side to my router and the B-side to my server. Very interesting. Of course I can try hardcoding the speed to 100Mbps when using the A-side exclusively, but I haven't had a chance to do that test. 


    Currently, I am using the B-side as I am testing a Melco switch upstream from the etherRegen.


    @austinpop is absolutely right! Adding the Melco switch between my router and the etherRegen brings Qobuz streaming to yet another level. 

    Currently I have the following network: Cable modem --(copper)--> Ubiquity router --(copper)--> Melco switch --(fiber)--> (A)etherREGEN(B) --(copper)--> JCAT NIC on the server (one box solution connected directly to the DAC). And that sounds better than without the Melco. 


    But I have a second Melco(*) switch (more on that in some future posts). So would adding a second Melco switch be even better?

    Cable modem --(copper)--> Ubiquity router --(copper)--> Melco switch --> Melco(*) switch --(fiber)--> (A)etherREGEN(B) --(copper)--> JCAT NIC on the server.


    Yes! It is better with 3 switches in the chain. The song I used for A/B comparison was even more enjoyable with the chain of 3 switches. 



    Is it worth doing that? IMO - no.

    Does it ever end? NO!



  11. Motherboard suggestions
    Building a DIY Music Server with custom made parts
    2 hours ago, Peter Avgeris said:

    Summing it up...



    1. ASUS ProArt Z490-CREATOR 10G (https://www.asus.com/Motherboards/ProArt-Z490-CREATOR-10G/)
      This motherboard is loaded with the new LGA1200 socket for 10th gen i7/i5/i3 Intel processors. Coolers for LGA1200 are the same as in LGA115x stock copper bricks are compatible


    I like this option a lot and recommend this for new builds which don't need lots of PCIe lanes ...



    1. ASUS Pro WS W480-ACE (https://www.asus.com/Motherboards/Pro-WS-W480-ACE/)
      This motherboard is also loaded with LGA1200 socket for the newest Xeon W-Series processors. No need for new parts


    I think I confused the picture here. The LGA1200 socket is for the Xeon W 1200 series, not the W-2200 series which is LGA2066. I don't recommend Xeon W 1200 series, instead I'd consider the ASUS WS 422 (https://www.asus.com/us/Motherboards/WS-C422-PRO-SE/)


    Sorry for the confusion on my part.


    1. ASUS Pro WS X570-ACE (https://www.asus.com/Motherboards/Pro-WS-X570-ACE/)
      This is AMD AM4 socket for newest AMD processors with support for PCIe 4


    Yes but AMD does not support AVX512 nor the highest CPU clock rates so I'd personally stick with i9-10900k


    From all the above, only the 1st C621e MoBo is not compatible with the HDPlex H5 chassis. It is the one that I am expecting to receive pretty soon. It is so interesting that a few guys here have access to W480 motherboard. If I was to go from scratch, I would select this one, but with audio sometimes things get really crazy.

    I will have the chance to evaluate this motherboard with only the basics so as to compare apples to apples. Without excessive HQPlayer processing, it would be nice to compare my best (so far) sounding Xeon system(s) to this motherboard. If anybody living in EU has a W480 along with its own Xeon (any type) and could part its beloved MoBo for around a month (including 2-way shipment), I would be thankful. I intend to compare everything I have access to, so as to know all of us which might be the next step in digital streaming. And of course X570 is of equal (if not higher) interest as well...


    There are different ways to do things, I am offering my own experience and optimizations. Even though I don't personally have a Z490 that's what I would recommend in general and no doubt folks who have one will be very pleased, at least based on what I know ;) 


  • Create New...