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  1. We are trying a new wiki-esque method of showing the settings in AudioLinux. October 2019 Things evolve. Over time I have found that Euphony OS is simpler to install and run and it sounds better to me. I had been running a two box solution with a sever and a couple of different endpoints. My configuration changed over the summer when a new version of Euphony was released that runs the OS in RAM. I have migrated to a single box solution that uses my Xeon Server (see my Xeon thread on that) directly connected to my Kii Three Speaker system. See my profile for the system design. The NUC described here is a Wonderfull endpoint or server if needed. Get the best power supply you can afford and this thing sings! Notes as of 6/25/19 The Dawson Canyon NUC also know as the DNHE / DNKE / DNBE / DNFE system is classified as a commercial grade NUC with a 3yr life cycle. The dnh"E" stands for Extended Life. Most Intel NUC(s) have a refresh cycle of about 18 months to two years. However, anytime Intel releases a commercial grade system to the market, the life cycle is a minimum of 3yrs. According to the roadmap, the Dawson Canyon will continue to be on the market all of 2019 and 2020. Currently, we are dealing with an Intel shortage that should come to rest by the end of July. The NUC(s) impacted are mostly i7 and i3 Dawsons (in all formats H/K/B/F. At the root of the following thread you will find the beginning: If this construction system is too much for you to do, or you want to buy rather than build. Here is one option: I have started a thread on building a music server. See below: There has been a HUGE flurry of activity on the “Massive SQ” thread onAudiophileStyle. 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 NUC7i7DBNE single board computer. $575 Akasa NUC Plato X7D case $170 OR Intel NUC7CJYH. $130 Akasa Newton JC Fan-less. $100. https://amzn.to/2Wvd7fg Here is the rest of what you need to order: RAM Ballistix Sport LT 8GB Single DDR4 2400. $60. https://amzn.to/2WsAPZr 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, 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: menuand 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. It will automatically start-up in RAM after that delay. 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 **** IF you are going to have more than one AudioLinux device running Roon on your network you will most likely run into a problem where Roon gets confused about devices. You will have to apply the fix in this post: https://audiophilestyle.com/forums/topic/54933-audiolinux-and-nuc-troubleshooting-and-tuning/?page=31&tab=comments#comment-918823 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. *** I am close on this one please stand by**** 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 ---------------------------------------------------------------- Adding WiFi to the build I have been thinking about adding a WiFi card to the build so I dug around and found the card and antennas on Amazon. So here is ONE WAY to add WiFi to the NUC Parts needed M.2 card for your NUC. In my case the Intel AC-8265. https://amzn.to/2Wt9mH2 Antennas and cables for the card. https://amzn.to/2Bcm5Vx Tools needed Phillips screwdrivers as before Needle nose pliers. 5/16 in socket wrench Small round file You might want to skip the coffee before you do this. Do not forget your anti-static protection ! This is the point where I have to play the robot on "Lost in Space". DANGER WILL ROBINSON The connectors on this card are tiny, fragile, and fussy. In my build, the Akasa case is anodized black and I could not insert the SMA connectors into the case without filing the holes out a bit. NOTE metal filings are conductive and can short out the CPU board. I HIGHLY INSIST that you remove the board and then file the case. HIGHLY INSIST! Here we go This is where the board will go and you can see the rubber grommet for one of the antenna leads. Note that the M.2 board mounting screw has a post below it that has to be removed to put the lower board in. Remove the screw and the post. Here is a view of the socket and the post with the board not installed. The second picture shows the board installed. I had to remove the board to install the antennas leads. *** DO NOT INSTALL THE BOARD BEFORE CONNECTING THE ANTENNA LEADS AND PUTTING THE SMA CONNECTORS ON THE CASE *** Here is the board with the antenna leads connected. It is really close quarters in there. Those connectors are fussy. This shows one of the antenna SMA connectors mounted in the case. I used a 5/16in nut driver to snug up the SMA to the case. The antenna is threaded on and you do not want a loose connector/cable. Finally, the case buttoned up antennas installed. I set up on the bench with keyboard, mouse, and monitor. I can then attach my Chord Mojo for quick test final test and initial audio quality review. Software and BIOS Setup for WiFi There is one BIOS change needed to enable the M.2 card in the machine. Look at the PCI page in Advanced Settings. The WiFi setup is now in the Audio Linux menu! And of course in operation. Foot notes after a few weeks in operation. 1. I have now re-connected the WiFi card as my new home network allows me to create multiple networks. I created a 5GHZ only network SSID for the endpoint. I have that running. I will report further. 2. I am having a very hard time determining if I can hear the difference of the USB stick in or out. I have made some other changes in the network since then and I will go back and re-test.
  2. Been playing around with my dCS Network Bridge for a week or so with amazing sound, mostly with Roon, also tried USB memory stick and Audirvana with amazing sound. Last night when playing with Roon it stopped making sending output to my Devialet D440 Pro via AES XLR. The Devialet was fine when playing via "Devialet Air", it also plays fine from my CD player via SPDIF, so both Roon and Devialet are not the culprit. I tried the following with the dCS NB: - Output from SPDIF - Playing USB stick from dCS App - Playing from Audirvana - Playing QNAP uPNP from dCS App No sound from all of the above. It seems my dCS NB has lost all digital output. The dCS app shows music playing, but the Devialet is not seeing any inputs. Tried turning everything off and on, also tried SPDIF out, same results. I don't know what else to try. Is there any way to reset the dCS NB? Help! I don't know what else to try.
  3. As has been described in another thread : Making a network-bridge to directly couple my SOTM200 to my NUC-PC gives a much better SQ then using a simple switch. Under W2012R2 I got a really better SQ by using your optimizing script (V2.10 & V2.20 beta2a) in GUI mode. Even better in minimal-server-mode, but NOT in core mode. In core-mode (with or without optimizing script) the network-bridge is no longer working : either the NAS is not seen (ping) in my network or my SOTM200 is not seen. Without a bridge (NUC & SOTM both connected to a switch and then to my router I have no problems in core-mode). Maybe you could find a solution for this problem? Is a network-bridge even possible in core-mode? Is it possible to make the bridge in core-mode using command-line commands or check on the network bridge? I would really like to try this because I would expect an even better SQ in optimized core-mode like I got in my previous setup with Jplay in a dual control PC - audio PC.
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