Jump to content


Photo

Requirements for a dedicated computer

dedicated computer requirements audio computer PCA

  • Please log in to reply
84 replies to this topic

#1 FelipeRolim

FelipeRolim

    Die Hard

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 316 posts
  • LocationQuatiguá/Paraná/Brazil

Posted 13 November 2018 - 01:06 AM

Since I had the feeling that the real performance of a stereo system isn't achieved by a desktop blu-ray player, but with a completely dedicated computer, I spent a lot of time on the mission of extracting the best I can from a dedicated computer. For this, many and many hours of studying and listening have brought me to the current stage, with at least one computer that I think performs well. In this topic, my goal is to write some things that I consider for a computer assembly, things that I took into consideration, things that worked for me, and that's why they represent my personal opinion on the subject.

 

The first thing that I consider essential in a dedicated computer is a linear power supply. First, talking generically, what I have to say is: every low signal source that's part of the system (computer, pre-amp, DAC, e.g.) is extremely more sensible than high signal source (usually amplifiers and integrated amps). It happens because the SNR between them is very small, in direct comparison. For example, a noise of 0,5v represents much more for a circuit with a voltage of 1,5v, 4v or 5v (as in the USB connection, or between DAC and pre-amp, or between pre-amp and amplifier) ​​than for a circuit with 35v signal (amplified output). This makes a special care with noise necessary for our systems, especially high frequency noise. Many people say that electromagnetic shielding is enough, but it just physically isolates the circuit elements. I could, e.g., insulate a transformer with mu-metal, or a power supply, and probably the high-frequency irradiation will be controlled. However, there are other two big strands that are part of the equation: a) controlling EMI/RFI waves irradiation doesn't mean that they won't exist amymore, but just will remain closed. I mean, by enveloping a computer power supply, for example, all radiated noise will be confined within itself, reflecting indefinitely (there is a difference between absorbing and isolating); b ) even with a control of the phisycal incidence of electromagnetical waves, we cannot forget that noise also circulates over the conductors. And not just that. High-frequency noise has no "path", no definite direction. At the same time that it comes with the power cables (phase and neutral), it also returns through the same cables. In a few words, it means that the noise generated by a switched power supply propagates through internal components, spreads to the equipments through the USB cable, the coaxial cable, the RCA/XLR cables and reaches the speakers, but also returns by the electric cables to feed the other equipments directly by the transformer. This is, therefore, a double loss, since, with a switched power supply in the system, everything loses: DACs, preamplifiers, among others, and not just the equipment with a switched power supply. Not long ago I was highly contested in a Facebook group when making these notes, but no one was willing to prove me the opposite with the use of an oscilloscope. It's obvious that's there are linear PSU and linear PSU, switched PSU and switched PSU, and that an excellent switched power supply can be better than a bad linear power supply, but, in principle, working at 60Hz and with adequate filtering (and a few other things), a linear power supply, by its nature, can achieve a better level of performance.

 

Based on several assumptions, I developed and tested a dozen linear power supplies to arrive at the final form of what I have today. I believe that implementations are possible, but this isn't the focus of my dedication now. The fact is that after I completely removed any and all switched power supplies from my system, the performance level went up severely, and as I was implementing the computer and other items, I noticed that much of what I heard was due to the fact that the computer didn't has a switched power supply, and I was able to prevent it from inserting noise into the network or audio path. So, I consider that the first and one of the most important care of any audiophile that wants to build a digital stereo system is the non-use of switched power supplies and, of course, the adoption of good performance linear power supplies.

 

In next post, I'll write about the hardware of a dedicated computer (motherboard, processors and others). Hope you enjoy.

 

PS.: for those interested, I can also talk and explain about the construction of my linear power supplies, already apologizing for my bad English.


  • Marcin_gps, Adrian, Thuan and 12 others like this

- Speakers KEF Reference 203/2 with spikes;

- Schiit Freya preamp. (with Electro-Harmonix 6SN7 Gold-Pin tubes and Synergistic Research Orange Fuse) and Audio Research VS115 (with Tung-Sol KT120 and Svetlana 6H30 tubes and AMR Gold Fuse);

- DAC Ayre QB-9 192/24 + Furutech FI-03 ( R) + Synergistic Research Orange Fuse;

- Digital transport: the Control-PC is a dedicated computer with a Gigabyte H310N motherboard, a Intel Core i3-8100T processor, an Arctic Alpine 12 Passive Cooler, 16GB Corsair Vengeance DDR4 RAM 2400MHz, a JCAT Net Card FEMTO and 1TB Samsung 850 Pro SSD; the Audio-PC is a dedicated computer with a Gigabyte H310M M.2 2.0 motherboard, a Intel Core i3-9100T processor, an Arctic Alpine 12 Passive Cooler, 16GB Corsair Vengeance DDR4 RAM 2400MHz, a JCAT Net Card FEMTO and a JCAT USB Card FEMTO. Both computers use Windows Server 2019 Datacenter Core Mode (17763.737) with RAMdisk as Operational System, JPLAY FEMTO Alternative version, Minority Clean and Audiophile Optimizer v. 3.00 (1A in Control-PC and 4D in Audio-PC). Both also use hand made linear power supplies with a Furutech FI-06 ( R) NCF.

- Cables: Nordost Tyr (speaker), Nordost Valhalla XLR and Siltech 770i XLR (interconnects), Curious Evolved USB Cable, Nordost Valhalla Power Cable (DAC), Transparent PowerLink MM2 (power amp.), 2 x Purist Audio Design Canorus Praesto Revision Power Cable (power distributor and computers), Purist Audio Design Limited Edition Praesto Revision Power Cable (preamp.) and Jupiter Pure Silver Cotton Insulated (all internal wires from the computers).

- Acessories: Furutech GTX-D (G); Furutech GTX-D ( R) (x2); Sunrise Deep Line (x3); ebony spikes, carbon fiber bases; Nordost Qv2 (x3); acoustical and electrical reinforcements.


#2 Thuan

Thuan

    Die Hard

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2,136 posts
  • LocationSouth Bay Area

Posted 13 November 2018 - 02:17 AM

Felipe,

I've always enjoyed reading your posts, and this post is no less interesting. You've touched the profound core of computer audio, and I look forward to your further posts on the similar topics. Thank you.
  • screenmusic and FelipeRolim like this
WS2019 core, AO3 (1A/2D), JPLAY/JCAT XE/iOS, ES/TC, Xeon CPU, Industrial ECC RAM, Gustard X26, Singxer SU6, Linkwitz Pluto 2.1+

#3 FelipeRolim

FelipeRolim

    Die Hard

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 316 posts
  • LocationQuatiguá/Paraná/Brazil

Posted 13 November 2018 - 02:38 AM

thuanb, thank you so much for what you wrote. I don't have much to collaborate with, and here in Brazil the experiences are often limited because of a prohibitive import cost. Even so, I'll always try to add to this space.


- Speakers KEF Reference 203/2 with spikes;

- Schiit Freya preamp. (with Electro-Harmonix 6SN7 Gold-Pin tubes and Synergistic Research Orange Fuse) and Audio Research VS115 (with Tung-Sol KT120 and Svetlana 6H30 tubes and AMR Gold Fuse);

- DAC Ayre QB-9 192/24 + Furutech FI-03 ( R) + Synergistic Research Orange Fuse;

- Digital transport: the Control-PC is a dedicated computer with a Gigabyte H310N motherboard, a Intel Core i3-8100T processor, an Arctic Alpine 12 Passive Cooler, 16GB Corsair Vengeance DDR4 RAM 2400MHz, a JCAT Net Card FEMTO and 1TB Samsung 850 Pro SSD; the Audio-PC is a dedicated computer with a Gigabyte H310M M.2 2.0 motherboard, a Intel Core i3-9100T processor, an Arctic Alpine 12 Passive Cooler, 16GB Corsair Vengeance DDR4 RAM 2400MHz, a JCAT Net Card FEMTO and a JCAT USB Card FEMTO. Both computers use Windows Server 2019 Datacenter Core Mode (17763.737) with RAMdisk as Operational System, JPLAY FEMTO Alternative version, Minority Clean and Audiophile Optimizer v. 3.00 (1A in Control-PC and 4D in Audio-PC). Both also use hand made linear power supplies with a Furutech FI-06 ( R) NCF.

- Cables: Nordost Tyr (speaker), Nordost Valhalla XLR and Siltech 770i XLR (interconnects), Curious Evolved USB Cable, Nordost Valhalla Power Cable (DAC), Transparent PowerLink MM2 (power amp.), 2 x Purist Audio Design Canorus Praesto Revision Power Cable (power distributor and computers), Purist Audio Design Limited Edition Praesto Revision Power Cable (preamp.) and Jupiter Pure Silver Cotton Insulated (all internal wires from the computers).

- Acessories: Furutech GTX-D (G); Furutech GTX-D ( R) (x2); Sunrise Deep Line (x3); ebony spikes, carbon fiber bases; Nordost Qv2 (x3); acoustical and electrical reinforcements.


#4 FelipeRolim

FelipeRolim

    Die Hard

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 316 posts
  • LocationQuatiguá/Paraná/Brazil

Posted 13 November 2018 - 03:29 PM

The second thing that I consider essential is the hardware, and, in this point, I'll allow myself to extend a little bit more, once it divide in a lot of subjects that need analysis. To facilitate, therefore, I'll separate by subitems:

 

a) absence of moving parts: the moving parts of a computer consist, basically, of coolers and hard drives. These two things are powered by motors that, apart from being noisy mechanically, are high frequency noise generators, even on a small scale, which reflect indefinitely by the computer. Some people say that, to avoid this problem, external power and a few filters are enough, and the noise won't be audible anymore. I disagree. I've already tried to power my HDD and a cooler with an external power supply, and even with a 5v battery (20000mA power bank). It didn't work. The motors not only generate noise from the cable that powers them, but also emit electromagnetic waves that spread without direction. Since motherboards have very sensitive and microscopic rails, and the processor, memories and internal controllers already work at high frequency, this noise, in the house of MHz and even GHz, generated by the motors, affects the boards and the cables and cause distortions, harmonics, and this reflects in the loss of quality. It's worth remembering here that the computer is the birth of the audio, and that the digital information can be lost and/or distorted until reach the speakers. So, the more care you take with intrusions, the better it will be for the end result, and all of this is perfectly audible. It's also worth remembering that the electric power also makes noise and, especially on the motherboard, this is audible and deserves special care..

 

Some people maintain that this way of thinking (loss or distortion of computer information) became obsolete with the advent of asynchronous DACs. Well, if it is true, and if the data is buffered previously in the DAC, then, doesn't make sense that devices like ISO Regen, UltraRendu, JCAT USB Isolator and other things bring a positive result. Even a few USB/SPDIF interfaces, such as Mytek, Audiophilleo, SOtM dx-USB HD, M2Tech HiFace would work just as well, instead of the USB connection. What I think is that the purity of the circuit as a whole is, yes, one of the key points of the overall yield. As a solution, I defend the use of solid state storage and passive cooling.

 

b ) the fewer onboard controllers used, the better. We know that a computer has a lot of onboard controllers, like SATA, RAM memory, VGA, LAN, USB, PCI-Express, processor clock and many others. In my experiences, I noticed that, the smaller the number of controllers in use, the better, clearer and more faithful the audio, and the closer it gets to the analogue, and it gains attributes of microdynamics, decay, spatiality and fidelity of tones and harmonic body. The controllers work at high frequency, and this generates electromagnetic noise that affects everything inside the PC, from the cables to the boards and storage devices.

 

To allow the use of the controllers in a small number, we must connect to the computer as few elements as possible, and it mean using only USB, LAN and power connections, externally to the computer. The USB connection is only for connecting the PC to the DAC. The network connection is used to connect one PC to another, as well as to control them remotely. There's no need of video connection, mouse/keyboard connections, external hard drives connection. Everything else is completely unnecessary to the audio playback (this is, in my opinion, one of the reasons for why a notebook or a Mac Mini aren't so good as a desktop computer: they have unsurpassed rigidity in hardware set-up). This means that the VGA controller, the integrated USB controller, the fan speed controller (point "a" above), the mouse and keyboard controller and some others, are not in use, at least actively, and only the essential ones remain active for correct operation of the computer and for musical reproduction. From what I've heard, the worst controller for the audio quality is the VGA one. The onboard USB brings a bit of noise, but on a smaller scale, it's something less obvious, but with which I do not want to hang out. This can all be achieved in the absence of a monitor, using a mobile phone or tablet for remote control, and when longer maintenance is required, with remote access via another computer or notebook. Video connection, never.

c) the fact of having hardware is not enough for good performance. You also need to adjust the hardware: in my research, I came across instruction manuals from Computer Audio Design, Computer Audiophile, Fidelizer, and a few others. Each one has its own ideas, and through reading and listening, I have tried to bring together the best of all in a material I have assembled. Several manuals argued that certain features inherent in the motherboard and processor would be harmful to the audio and should therefore be disabled. As in this hobby we cannot believe everything, but also can not doubt anything, I tested what was recommended, one by one. I absolutely disabled everything related to Intel SpeedStep, Turbo Mode, C-States, Virtualization Technology and Hyper-Threading (Audiophile Optimizer recommendatoin). I found improvements in audio quality, but the most vital was Hyper-Threading. This detonated the sound quality. I noticed that this all caused the processor cores to work very unsteadily with energy, now consuming more, and heating more, and now consuming less, for cooling and energy saving. This v-core oscillation, however, brought dirt to the sound, and the deactivation left the frequencies of the cores locked at a fixed value (2GHz) and the sound more fluid and clean. I also deactivated the onboard audio, the SERIAL driver and the USB 2.0 drivers (I only left 3.0 port active) and decreased the video memory to 64MB (in particular, I also deactivated the Audio-PC SATA controllers). I left HPET (High Precision Event Timer) enabled.

Having said that, I ask the license to digress a little to talk about something important: for those who don't know, Hyper-Threading is a feature that processors use to execute multiple threads (threads) in a single core. The practical result of this is that, with it active, Windows "sees" the processor with twice as many cores and processing performance goes up. Therefore, a Core i3 has two physical cores and four virtual cores, as well as some Core i5. Some Core i7 have four physical cores and eight virtual cores, and so on. There are some Intel Xeon with ten physical cores and twenty virtual cores. As a consequence, with Hyper-Threading disabled, a Core i3 processor works only with two cores, as well as some Core i5. This in essence. In addition, disabling the Turbo Mode prevents the processor's frequency from rising beyond the base. It turns out that, because of this sum, performance drops substantially, and then that very good processor with a very high benchmark, isn't so good anymore. The latency of this whole process is very low and more than enough, and the processing is far from itself limit.

I say all this to come to the conclusion that a processor of very high performance isn't essential for high fidelity audio, except for three exceptions that I want to mention in the sequence. To elucidate, let's take as example two processors, a Core i3-6300T and a Core i5-6400T. The first, with Hyper-Threading disabled, will only have two cores working at 3.30GHz. The second, with Hyper-Threading and Turbo Boost disabled, will work with four cores at 2.20GHz. For audio purposes, therefore, what would be the difference of an Intel J5005, which has four physical cores working at 1.50GHz and only 10w of TDP? What would be so significant compared to an Intel N3700 with four physical cores working at 1.60Hz and only 6w of TDP? Only in the 8th generation of processors is the Core i3 now have four physical cores. For more RAM, USB cards, M.2 connections are good, I have no doubt that processors like the J5005 are still the fastest part of the entire computer, and that with everything off, expensive processors with expensive motherboards are underutilized. Despite this, the exceptions are very important.

 

The first exception I referred to is the Xeon line. These processors have a completely different operation, but more importantly, server motherboards have a much higher, more robust construction with very high precision components, and this greatly benefits the performance of the computer in terms of music reproduction. So, for certain applications, I just find interesting to leave the motherboards with embedded processors to go to the Xeon line. The second exception I mentioned above is the processor cache. Tests carried out by several users are unison in the sense that a large cache brings very significant benefits to the quality of the audio, and that is one of the characteristics of greater responsibility in the approximation of the analog audio. But what is this cache? 6MB? 8MB? Something to conclude, then, that a Core i3-8300, with its 8MB cache, is superior to a J5005, with its 4MB cache? Not at all! I mean something on the order of 25MB, 30MB, up to 60MB cache. Using a 6 or 8MB processor will not even tickle an audio file, which allows me to come to the conclusion that, again, if it's not to mount a PC with an Intel Xeon, it's even better to use a motherboard with an Intel J1900, N3700, N3710, N3160, J4105 or J5005, because they will allow to build a computer with consumption in the order of 20w, as it's what I have here, that consumes something between 20 and 25w, when in reproduction, and this with a SOtM USB card and a linear power supply that I believe is responsible for at least 5w of that total.

 

The third and more important exception, in my opinion, is related to a Single-PC or Dual-PC setup. When using the Single-PC or Dual-PC configuration, there may be a greater demand for processing, bitstream, latency, and so it may be interesting to have a more powerful computer being used as Control-PC or as Single-PC. Here, using (for now) a computer with an Asrock J1900-ITX motherboard, 16GB of DDR3 RAM, a 1TB SSD, and a dedicated USB card, I could play 192/24 with JPLAY v. 6.2 at 700Hz and 0.01s without interruptions in Single-PC mode, and I can now play 192/24 at 1000Hz also without interruptions with v. 7.0. As it's now the Audio-PC, it's still more than enough to play 192/24, and I think it wouldn't have problems even with DSD256. However, in this case, the Control-PC will import more, so I think that for DSD playback, in both Single-PC mode and Dual-PC mode, at least one computer needs to be powerful (I repeat, not for 192/24) and preferably an Intel Xeon (because I really don't see an advantage in using a Core i5 or i7 if it's to disable various features in the BIOS).

 

What we can observe, in the end, is that building a dedicated computer, after all these observations, may seem extremely complex, but it isn't. But it's not cheap either. The fact is that for certain applications, it's much smarter to direct the investment to particular components, such as a dedicated USB card and/or a dedicated LAN card, and the return on audio quality will be much more significant than using a Core i3- 8300 compared to a J5005. The issue is not performance, benchmark, but process exclusivity, low heat generation, low latency, low jitter, minimum use of onboard controllers and low power consumption.

 

To summarize: if you're going to use a Single-PC configuration and will not use an Intel Xeon, buy a motherboard with an embedded processor and direct your investment in the amount of RAM, storage capacity (1TB SSD, at least), linear power supply and dedicated USB board. No need for Core i3, i5 or i7. If you're going to use a Dual-PC setup, the most perfect would be to use both Intel Xeon-based computers, but if that's not possible, I also don't see a need for anything other than an embedded processor, keeping the investment focus on the USB card, on te dedicated network cards and linear power supplies. And, for those who would like to know my opinion, I say: yes, I think the best USB and network cards in existence today are the JCAT FEMTO. Better than SOtM and much better than PPA. Currently, I have a SOtM tx-USBexp, but I intend to buy a JCAT as soon as possible, because I don't consider SOtM a reliable brand in terms of effective troubleshooting, and have literally abandoned the evolution of USB cards. This differentiates JCAT from other brands.

 

In the next post I'll write about the software.


  • Marcin_gps, Adrian, motberg and 4 others like this

- Speakers KEF Reference 203/2 with spikes;

- Schiit Freya preamp. (with Electro-Harmonix 6SN7 Gold-Pin tubes and Synergistic Research Orange Fuse) and Audio Research VS115 (with Tung-Sol KT120 and Svetlana 6H30 tubes and AMR Gold Fuse);

- DAC Ayre QB-9 192/24 + Furutech FI-03 ( R) + Synergistic Research Orange Fuse;

- Digital transport: the Control-PC is a dedicated computer with a Gigabyte H310N motherboard, a Intel Core i3-8100T processor, an Arctic Alpine 12 Passive Cooler, 16GB Corsair Vengeance DDR4 RAM 2400MHz, a JCAT Net Card FEMTO and 1TB Samsung 850 Pro SSD; the Audio-PC is a dedicated computer with a Gigabyte H310M M.2 2.0 motherboard, a Intel Core i3-9100T processor, an Arctic Alpine 12 Passive Cooler, 16GB Corsair Vengeance DDR4 RAM 2400MHz, a JCAT Net Card FEMTO and a JCAT USB Card FEMTO. Both computers use Windows Server 2019 Datacenter Core Mode (17763.737) with RAMdisk as Operational System, JPLAY FEMTO Alternative version, Minority Clean and Audiophile Optimizer v. 3.00 (1A in Control-PC and 4D in Audio-PC). Both also use hand made linear power supplies with a Furutech FI-06 ( R) NCF.

- Cables: Nordost Tyr (speaker), Nordost Valhalla XLR and Siltech 770i XLR (interconnects), Curious Evolved USB Cable, Nordost Valhalla Power Cable (DAC), Transparent PowerLink MM2 (power amp.), 2 x Purist Audio Design Canorus Praesto Revision Power Cable (power distributor and computers), Purist Audio Design Limited Edition Praesto Revision Power Cable (preamp.) and Jupiter Pure Silver Cotton Insulated (all internal wires from the computers).

- Acessories: Furutech GTX-D (G); Furutech GTX-D ( R) (x2); Sunrise Deep Line (x3); ebony spikes, carbon fiber bases; Nordost Qv2 (x3); acoustical and electrical reinforcements.


#5 Marcin_gps

Marcin_gps

    JPLAY & JCAT Founder

  • Administrators
  • 4,088 posts

Posted 13 November 2018 - 05:36 PM

Thanks for your very extensive report! I agree with almost everything you wrote :)

 

Here are my 2 cents:

- some hard drives 2.5" 5400RPM are not very noisy, especially when used on top of anti-vibration platforms and the sound is excellent too while the cost is much lower compared to an SSD. 

- apart from Xeon CPUs I like using ECC RAM, I've done a comparison years ago and found ECC RAM to sound better

- SSD using SLC type of memory chips sound better than any other technology

- I prefer to disable HPET too. 

 

Otherwise, I fully agree with you! Seems you've come a long way :)

 

Regards, 

Marcin


  • FelipeRolim likes this

Follow my hi-fi journey on YouTube


JPLAY FEMTO: a complete network music software player for the most demanding audiophile.

Want to squeeze more from your PC-audio? Hear the difference with JCAT
 
Join Computer Audio Enthusiasts group on facebook

#6 taxman2

taxman2

    Die Hard

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 568 posts
  • LocationSofia, Bulgaria

Posted 13 November 2018 - 05:47 PM

I was aware of the tricks you've pointed out but you've summarized it all. Thank you for taking the time and effort of doing and sharing it! Everyone could learn new tricks just by reading your post carefully. It is very good to have people like you in this forum.


  • Marcin_gps, motberg and FelipeRolim like this

Furman Elite 10i (power conditioner), JPlay Femto, Audiophile Optimizer, Process Lasso Pro, Fidelizer Pro, 2 x fanless mini PC, Control PC - WS 2019 core -16GB RAM, Audio PC - WS 2019 core 8GB RAM, JCAT USB Card, 2 x JCAT Femto Net Cards, 3 x 100VA Ultra Low Noise LPS, JCAT Isolator, SU-1 with external LPS, Gustard X-20 (modified), Audia Flight Pre Mk III (dual mono class A preamp), Audia Flight FL50 Mk IV(dual mono class A amplifier), Focal Electra 1008BE;


#7 taxman2

taxman2

    Die Hard

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 568 posts
  • LocationSofia, Bulgaria

Posted 13 November 2018 - 05:54 PM

Thanks for your very extensive report! I agree with almost everything you wrote :)

 

Here are my 2 cents:

- some hard drives 2.5" 5400RPM are not very noisy, especially when used on top of anti-vibration platforms and the sound is excellent too while the cost is much lower compared to an SSD. 

- apart for Xeon CPUs I like using ECC RAM, I've done a comparison years ago and found ECC RAM to sound better

- SSD using SLC type of memory chips sound better than any other technology

- I prefer to disable HPET too. 

 

Otherwise, I fully agree with you! Seems you've come a long way :)

 

Regards, 

Marcin

SSD is no longer expensive. Just bought Samsung evo 850 (old model) 1TB brand new for 150 EURO.


Furman Elite 10i (power conditioner), JPlay Femto, Audiophile Optimizer, Process Lasso Pro, Fidelizer Pro, 2 x fanless mini PC, Control PC - WS 2019 core -16GB RAM, Audio PC - WS 2019 core 8GB RAM, JCAT USB Card, 2 x JCAT Femto Net Cards, 3 x 100VA Ultra Low Noise LPS, JCAT Isolator, SU-1 with external LPS, Gustard X-20 (modified), Audia Flight Pre Mk III (dual mono class A preamp), Audia Flight FL50 Mk IV(dual mono class A amplifier), Focal Electra 1008BE;


#8 Marcin_gps

Marcin_gps

    JPLAY & JCAT Founder

  • Administrators
  • 4,088 posts

Posted 13 November 2018 - 05:56 PM

SSD is no longer expensive. Just bought Samsung evo 850 (old model) 1TB brand new for 150 EURO.

Good choice and you're right about 1TB, but it gets expensive if you need 4TB


Follow my hi-fi journey on YouTube


JPLAY FEMTO: a complete network music software player for the most demanding audiophile.

Want to squeeze more from your PC-audio? Hear the difference with JCAT
 
Join Computer Audio Enthusiasts group on facebook

#9 taxman2

taxman2

    Die Hard

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 568 posts
  • LocationSofia, Bulgaria

Posted 13 November 2018 - 05:57 PM

Prices will drastically drop next year. 


  • Marcin_gps likes this

Furman Elite 10i (power conditioner), JPlay Femto, Audiophile Optimizer, Process Lasso Pro, Fidelizer Pro, 2 x fanless mini PC, Control PC - WS 2019 core -16GB RAM, Audio PC - WS 2019 core 8GB RAM, JCAT USB Card, 2 x JCAT Femto Net Cards, 3 x 100VA Ultra Low Noise LPS, JCAT Isolator, SU-1 with external LPS, Gustard X-20 (modified), Audia Flight Pre Mk III (dual mono class A preamp), Audia Flight FL50 Mk IV(dual mono class A amplifier), Focal Electra 1008BE;


#10 FelipeRolim

FelipeRolim

    Die Hard

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 316 posts
  • LocationQuatiguá/Paraná/Brazil

Posted 13 November 2018 - 06:34 PM

Thank you friends. I'm flattered to read this. For me, it's harder to write in English than to organize ideas, but carefully I can do it.

 

I think with the popularization of M.2 NVMe, the price of SSD should fall, but I honestly haven't yet been able to come to a solid conclusion about what plays with better sound quality: whether the SSD with a SATA filter and an audiophile cable (Audiopheeling, Pachanko), or whether an M.2 directly connected to the PCI-Express ports. In theory, M.2 NVMe seems to be ahead, but I have not yet completed anything. I'm not in the habit of concluding about something without testing exhaustively before on my own system. For now, my computer doesn't support the M.2 standard, and I only see an advantage in using NVMe, because it allows direct use of the PCI-Express port.

 

 

Thanks for your very extensive report! I agree with almost everything you wrote :)

 

Here are my 2 cents:

- some hard drives 2.5" 5400RPM are not very noisy, especially when used on top of anti-vibration platforms and the sound is excellent too while the cost is much lower compared to an SSD. 

- apart from Xeon CPUs I like using ECC RAM, I've done a comparison years ago and found ECC RAM to sound better

- SSD using SLC type of memory chips sound better than any other technology

- I prefer to disable HPET too. 

 

Otherwise, I fully agree with you! Seems you've come a long way :)

 

Regards, 

Marcin

 

I was aware of the tricks you've pointed out but you've summarized it all. Thank you for taking the time and effort of doing and sharing it! Everyone could learn new tricks just by reading your post carefully. It is very good to have people like you in this forum.

 

I am glad that I've been able to reach conclusions close to your own, even though I'm isolated in Brazil and only based on reading and experimentation. I don't have much people with who I can share my experiences.

 

I have some considerations to make. About hard drives 2,5" 5400rpm, I've tested it a lot at the beggining. Using a SOtM SATA II filter and external power, the hard drive sounded very very close to the SSD at the same condictions. I also tried to put the hard drive outside the computer, and the sound improved a little bit. However, only then was possible to avoid certain electromagnetic interference, and yet I couldn't get rid of a specific problem: when using JRiver or foobar2000, the best performance I achieved was configuring a complete buffer of music to RAM. I think it's completely different from using the JPLAY in ULTRAstream Engine, because it looks like doesn't use a lot of RAM buffer and, consequently, the reading is always constant. Fact is, using JRiver or foobar2000, there were cases where the music was fully loaded into RAM, and only at the end, in the last 15 or 20 seconds of a song, the next one was starting to load. That made the 5400rpm hard drive, in these final seconds, need to re-accelerate (to get out of the latency state - spin-up) to be read properly. The result of this, for the audio, was a relative lack of uniformity in the final seconds of a song, which doesn't occur with the SSD (always ready to be read - much lower latency). But, it's important to note that the 5400rpm hard drive is usually better than the 7200rpm one, for some reasons, but for two in particular: a) lower vibration and less noise irradiation; b ) easier to reach the standard working speed and, consequently, lower latency. It's true that we're dealing with milliseconds, but when it comes to digital scope, it's exactly what we want to avoid, hehehehe. I like the SSD for the sonority and the price.

 

Finally, regarding ECC RAM and SLC memory on SSDs, I think I don't know, or didn't pay attention yet. I need to optimize my experiences with this.

 

PS: I tested HPET a long time ago and found no difference between on and off. I'll repeat this test in the future to see if the perception changes.


- Speakers KEF Reference 203/2 with spikes;

- Schiit Freya preamp. (with Electro-Harmonix 6SN7 Gold-Pin tubes and Synergistic Research Orange Fuse) and Audio Research VS115 (with Tung-Sol KT120 and Svetlana 6H30 tubes and AMR Gold Fuse);

- DAC Ayre QB-9 192/24 + Furutech FI-03 ( R) + Synergistic Research Orange Fuse;

- Digital transport: the Control-PC is a dedicated computer with a Gigabyte H310N motherboard, a Intel Core i3-8100T processor, an Arctic Alpine 12 Passive Cooler, 16GB Corsair Vengeance DDR4 RAM 2400MHz, a JCAT Net Card FEMTO and 1TB Samsung 850 Pro SSD; the Audio-PC is a dedicated computer with a Gigabyte H310M M.2 2.0 motherboard, a Intel Core i3-9100T processor, an Arctic Alpine 12 Passive Cooler, 16GB Corsair Vengeance DDR4 RAM 2400MHz, a JCAT Net Card FEMTO and a JCAT USB Card FEMTO. Both computers use Windows Server 2019 Datacenter Core Mode (17763.737) with RAMdisk as Operational System, JPLAY FEMTO Alternative version, Minority Clean and Audiophile Optimizer v. 3.00 (1A in Control-PC and 4D in Audio-PC). Both also use hand made linear power supplies with a Furutech FI-06 ( R) NCF.

- Cables: Nordost Tyr (speaker), Nordost Valhalla XLR and Siltech 770i XLR (interconnects), Curious Evolved USB Cable, Nordost Valhalla Power Cable (DAC), Transparent PowerLink MM2 (power amp.), 2 x Purist Audio Design Canorus Praesto Revision Power Cable (power distributor and computers), Purist Audio Design Limited Edition Praesto Revision Power Cable (preamp.) and Jupiter Pure Silver Cotton Insulated (all internal wires from the computers).

- Acessories: Furutech GTX-D (G); Furutech GTX-D ( R) (x2); Sunrise Deep Line (x3); ebony spikes, carbon fiber bases; Nordost Qv2 (x3); acoustical and electrical reinforcements.


#11 FelipeRolim

FelipeRolim

    Die Hard

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 316 posts
  • LocationQuatiguá/Paraná/Brazil

Posted 14 November 2018 - 04:22 PM

Continuing. During these years, I’ve see around the world a lot of defenders of the Raspberry and of others ARM-based equipment, and even the Logitech Squeezebox. From everything I heard, I couldn’t find anything that can outperform a dedicated computer. I’ve seen arguments that there are Linux with 4, 5, 7 processes while playing song, that with a Raspberry Pi3 would be possible to dedicate a core per process, exclusively, that battery power is much cleaner than any other. Nothing I heard makes me replace the computer connected directly to the electric power (without batteries - if anyone wants, I can explain why). I don’t want to discuss it, but I think that the computer superiority is related, first, to the software optimizations that are arising through the years and, second, to the hardware optimizations, not only with regard to the computers themselves, but also because DACs often have dedicated Windows-specific drivers, which makes integration better, and with that, performance as well. I tested Rapsberry for months, optimized several Linux distros, such as Archphile, Runeaudio, Volumio and a few others. Even at that time using Windows 8.1 with CAD scripts and JRiver, I was unable to make Raspberry outperform computer performance.

 

Currently, we have seen a great popularization of what they call “Network Audio Adapter” (NAA), especially using HQPlayer. These people seem to forget that the concept of server and core, or Control-PC and Audio-PC has long existed, and is adopted by JPLAY. We have also seen the popularization of Roon and other software, each defending itself with his own arguments. I haven’t test any of those “ready equipment”, such as the sMS-200 Ultra, the ultraRendu, but my tendency is not to be interested in anything that is Linux-based. I intend to test it in the future, such as Roon and HQPlayer, but it isn’t something I have pressure.

 

Actually, I don't like any kind of software or hardware that is "plastered", which doesn't allow a large number of adjustment possibilities. Because of it, I haven't tried nothing like sMS-200 Ultra, ultraRendu and similar devices. What I believe is that the most current solution is based on dual computer setup, and being sMS-200 a "nano-computer", I don't find any reason to adopt it, since I can do everything myself, always considering the peculiarities of the system (which I consider to be very important). Forthermore, I don't like to buy something that in a few years will be "abandoned" by the manufacturer and, to have something better, I'll need to buy the new one. I don't like this programmed obsolescence. In addiction, I cannot accept that they "push" equipment at me, as if were a necessity. I cannot accept that if I buy an sMS-200 Ultra, to obtain a good sound I need to buy a tx-USBultra, an sPS-500 and an sCLK-OCX10, because it makes appear that they don't want to attack directly the problem and are creating "periferical solutions" that don't solve it effectively. For me, this is the greatest example, and that’s why I prefer to adopt the computer: because it allows you to go straight to the point, to adopt devices that effectively solve (JCAT USB Card FEMTO, e.g.). What no one seems to dispute is that it's no use having powerful hardware and making BIOS settings if the software settings are not adequate either. For many years I’ve used foobar2000 and XBMC (current KODI) with Windows 7, until I realize that JRiver a much higher audio performance.

 

After, I started to use Fidelizer, Computer Audio Design scripts, until I got to Audiophile Optimizer, replacing Windows 8.1 with Server 2012R2 and then with Server 2016 (I tested all in Core and GUI modes), this with still unbeatable result on my system (I didn’t test Server 2019). For this, I needed a lot of reading and, after getting a course, I kept testing for myself. Windows Server 2016 made the system deliver more spatiality, better sense of time and space, larger soundstage and much more realism of timbres, voices, better scaling of instruments, which contributed to overall growth (and Core Mode even more than GUI Mode). I think that a mention to the operational system is very important, because it dictates the direction of all software performance. Even a stock Windows Server 2016 Standard GUI is better than Windows 8.1 with all CAD scripts.

 

If you use Windows Server 2016 Core Mode and Audiophile Optimizer, almost nothing must be done to get the same performance I got (and which I think is fairly good, given my experience with other systems and with real presentations). If you use a Windows Server 2016 GUI Mode and don’t use Audiophile Optimizer, at least some settings are interesting, such as disabling SSD/HDD caching, virtual memory, Firewall, Windows Defender, Windows sounds and OneDrive, and always remembering to use as few controllers as possible. Many things are written in the Audiophile Optimizer manual or can be easily located on the Internet. In my case, I haven’t done any of this, since Audiophile Optimizer does it all by itself (I still don’t know the Fidelizer interventions in depth, so I cannot speak properly).

 

To summarize everything that has been written so far about computers and operating systems, I say that for me, using one or two dedicated computers with Windows Server in Core mode is, by 2018, the best solution we can find in terms of sound quality. Nothing that I tested has even been able to be equated to a desktop computer with Windows Server as an operating system, a linear power supply and an audiophile USB card (and we can include a SATA audiophile cable as well), and the distance increases even more when using two computers, even if one of them isn't completely dedicated. But this, it’s good to stand out, only when the dedicated computer is the one that’s between the source (first computer) and the DAC, always. Reverse the roles, that is, put the dedicated computer at the beginning, with another device interposed, doesn’t seem so good. By 2019, I'm going to build a second dedicated computer, using well-selected components (specially JCAT Net FEMTO and USB FEMTO cards; I don't intend to continue in SOtM anymore) and trying to optimize the cost-benefit ratio. Only then, when I reach a level that I think is reasonable, I'll be able to afford the famous sMS-200 Ultra and UltraRendu to compare and test other software and gadgets like the ones I mentioned on my own system.

 

One thing that I really want to know is: how much I need to spend to beat a SOtM or a Sonore equipment? This is something that interests me especially.

 

PS: of course, it's impossible to exhaust all the alternatives of experimentation, to test all the equipment available in the market. So, to write these posts, I'm taking into account what I heard in my system and in others, and compiling results that I got and that helped me get to a higher level of performance, taking into account the fidelity of the presentation in relation to the content of the media and to my best references. It is important to make clear that all tests are contextual, so, we must take into account the particularities of a system.


  • Marcin_gps, motberg, Thuan and 1 other like this

- Speakers KEF Reference 203/2 with spikes;

- Schiit Freya preamp. (with Electro-Harmonix 6SN7 Gold-Pin tubes and Synergistic Research Orange Fuse) and Audio Research VS115 (with Tung-Sol KT120 and Svetlana 6H30 tubes and AMR Gold Fuse);

- DAC Ayre QB-9 192/24 + Furutech FI-03 ( R) + Synergistic Research Orange Fuse;

- Digital transport: the Control-PC is a dedicated computer with a Gigabyte H310N motherboard, a Intel Core i3-8100T processor, an Arctic Alpine 12 Passive Cooler, 16GB Corsair Vengeance DDR4 RAM 2400MHz, a JCAT Net Card FEMTO and 1TB Samsung 850 Pro SSD; the Audio-PC is a dedicated computer with a Gigabyte H310M M.2 2.0 motherboard, a Intel Core i3-9100T processor, an Arctic Alpine 12 Passive Cooler, 16GB Corsair Vengeance DDR4 RAM 2400MHz, a JCAT Net Card FEMTO and a JCAT USB Card FEMTO. Both computers use Windows Server 2019 Datacenter Core Mode (17763.737) with RAMdisk as Operational System, JPLAY FEMTO Alternative version, Minority Clean and Audiophile Optimizer v. 3.00 (1A in Control-PC and 4D in Audio-PC). Both also use hand made linear power supplies with a Furutech FI-06 ( R) NCF.

- Cables: Nordost Tyr (speaker), Nordost Valhalla XLR and Siltech 770i XLR (interconnects), Curious Evolved USB Cable, Nordost Valhalla Power Cable (DAC), Transparent PowerLink MM2 (power amp.), 2 x Purist Audio Design Canorus Praesto Revision Power Cable (power distributor and computers), Purist Audio Design Limited Edition Praesto Revision Power Cable (preamp.) and Jupiter Pure Silver Cotton Insulated (all internal wires from the computers).

- Acessories: Furutech GTX-D (G); Furutech GTX-D ( R) (x2); Sunrise Deep Line (x3); ebony spikes, carbon fiber bases; Nordost Qv2 (x3); acoustical and electrical reinforcements.


#12 GAR

GAR

    Die Hard

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 204 posts
  • LocationMorristown, NJ USA

Posted 14 November 2018 - 06:10 PM

This is awesome, Felipe. Thank you -

 

Gary


  • Thuan likes this

#13 FelipeRolim

FelipeRolim

    Die Hard

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 316 posts
  • LocationQuatiguá/Paraná/Brazil

Posted 14 November 2018 - 06:41 PM

Thank you, Gary. Getting to where I arrived today wasn't easy for me. I've been testing a lot of things since Core2Duo computers, since DDR2 RAM, since the beginning of SATA II connections, probably since 2009 or 2010. I haven't heard many things, I'm not a person who hears better than the others, but here in my system I've always listened carefully to everything I set out to listen to, always being careful to don't get the wrong results.

 

I hope I've followed the right way, and that my experiences find support in the personal experiences of other colleagues...


- Speakers KEF Reference 203/2 with spikes;

- Schiit Freya preamp. (with Electro-Harmonix 6SN7 Gold-Pin tubes and Synergistic Research Orange Fuse) and Audio Research VS115 (with Tung-Sol KT120 and Svetlana 6H30 tubes and AMR Gold Fuse);

- DAC Ayre QB-9 192/24 + Furutech FI-03 ( R) + Synergistic Research Orange Fuse;

- Digital transport: the Control-PC is a dedicated computer with a Gigabyte H310N motherboard, a Intel Core i3-8100T processor, an Arctic Alpine 12 Passive Cooler, 16GB Corsair Vengeance DDR4 RAM 2400MHz, a JCAT Net Card FEMTO and 1TB Samsung 850 Pro SSD; the Audio-PC is a dedicated computer with a Gigabyte H310M M.2 2.0 motherboard, a Intel Core i3-9100T processor, an Arctic Alpine 12 Passive Cooler, 16GB Corsair Vengeance DDR4 RAM 2400MHz, a JCAT Net Card FEMTO and a JCAT USB Card FEMTO. Both computers use Windows Server 2019 Datacenter Core Mode (17763.737) with RAMdisk as Operational System, JPLAY FEMTO Alternative version, Minority Clean and Audiophile Optimizer v. 3.00 (1A in Control-PC and 4D in Audio-PC). Both also use hand made linear power supplies with a Furutech FI-06 ( R) NCF.

- Cables: Nordost Tyr (speaker), Nordost Valhalla XLR and Siltech 770i XLR (interconnects), Curious Evolved USB Cable, Nordost Valhalla Power Cable (DAC), Transparent PowerLink MM2 (power amp.), 2 x Purist Audio Design Canorus Praesto Revision Power Cable (power distributor and computers), Purist Audio Design Limited Edition Praesto Revision Power Cable (preamp.) and Jupiter Pure Silver Cotton Insulated (all internal wires from the computers).

- Acessories: Furutech GTX-D (G); Furutech GTX-D ( R) (x2); Sunrise Deep Line (x3); ebony spikes, carbon fiber bases; Nordost Qv2 (x3); acoustical and electrical reinforcements.


#14 taxman2

taxman2

    Die Hard

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 568 posts
  • LocationSofia, Bulgaria

Posted 14 November 2018 - 08:34 PM

Felipe, what you've said is the absolute truth. I don't own expensive computers, but I've made sure they are properly equipped with JPlay Femto Net cards and JPlay USB card. They are fanless, fully optimized and TDP-low powered. My secret is that I stay with WS 2012 on control PC and that pays very well back. I never have problems with playback interruptions even with KS Ultrastream 700Hz before and 1000Hz now. My audio pc is on WS2016 and runs all the necessary processes (JPLay, Fidelizer and Process Lasso) optimized by AO. I am in love with the sound that I hear. Discovering JPlay and this forum 2 and a half years ago put a new era in my sound experience and perspectives. And for this I am extremely grateful. Thank you Josef and Marcin.

BTW, no other software could compare to what you have made.

.


  • Marcin_gps, Adrian, Thuan and 2 others like this

Furman Elite 10i (power conditioner), JPlay Femto, Audiophile Optimizer, Process Lasso Pro, Fidelizer Pro, 2 x fanless mini PC, Control PC - WS 2019 core -16GB RAM, Audio PC - WS 2019 core 8GB RAM, JCAT USB Card, 2 x JCAT Femto Net Cards, 3 x 100VA Ultra Low Noise LPS, JCAT Isolator, SU-1 with external LPS, Gustard X-20 (modified), Audia Flight Pre Mk III (dual mono class A preamp), Audia Flight FL50 Mk IV(dual mono class A amplifier), Focal Electra 1008BE;


#15 FelipeRolim

FelipeRolim

    Die Hard

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 316 posts
  • LocationQuatiguá/Paraná/Brazil

Posted 14 November 2018 - 09:49 PM

taxman2, I have a question. Do you use Windows Server 2012 R2 on Control-PC because of a personal preference or because it's the only way you encountered to make it work? Here, for a while, I'm using a dedicated computer (Asrock Q1900-ITX, SOtM tx-USBexp, Mini-Box M4-ATX and linear power supply, running with Windows Server 2016 Core mode, Audiophile Optimizer, JPLAY FEMTO and RAMdisk) in conjunction with a notebook (Core i7-7500U, 16GB RAM DDR4) on which I installed Windows Server 2016 GUI and JPLAY. In comparison, both running Windows Server 2016 sounded better than one of them (or both) running Windows Server 2012R2. I'm wondering if this is a personal preference or if you have another specific reason. Anyway, I agree with you. I don't think it's possible to find better software than JPLAY. The next post will deal with this: the music software.


  • Marcin_gps, motberg and Thuan like this

- Speakers KEF Reference 203/2 with spikes;

- Schiit Freya preamp. (with Electro-Harmonix 6SN7 Gold-Pin tubes and Synergistic Research Orange Fuse) and Audio Research VS115 (with Tung-Sol KT120 and Svetlana 6H30 tubes and AMR Gold Fuse);

- DAC Ayre QB-9 192/24 + Furutech FI-03 ( R) + Synergistic Research Orange Fuse;

- Digital transport: the Control-PC is a dedicated computer with a Gigabyte H310N motherboard, a Intel Core i3-8100T processor, an Arctic Alpine 12 Passive Cooler, 16GB Corsair Vengeance DDR4 RAM 2400MHz, a JCAT Net Card FEMTO and 1TB Samsung 850 Pro SSD; the Audio-PC is a dedicated computer with a Gigabyte H310M M.2 2.0 motherboard, a Intel Core i3-9100T processor, an Arctic Alpine 12 Passive Cooler, 16GB Corsair Vengeance DDR4 RAM 2400MHz, a JCAT Net Card FEMTO and a JCAT USB Card FEMTO. Both computers use Windows Server 2019 Datacenter Core Mode (17763.737) with RAMdisk as Operational System, JPLAY FEMTO Alternative version, Minority Clean and Audiophile Optimizer v. 3.00 (1A in Control-PC and 4D in Audio-PC). Both also use hand made linear power supplies with a Furutech FI-06 ( R) NCF.

- Cables: Nordost Tyr (speaker), Nordost Valhalla XLR and Siltech 770i XLR (interconnects), Curious Evolved USB Cable, Nordost Valhalla Power Cable (DAC), Transparent PowerLink MM2 (power amp.), 2 x Purist Audio Design Canorus Praesto Revision Power Cable (power distributor and computers), Purist Audio Design Limited Edition Praesto Revision Power Cable (preamp.) and Jupiter Pure Silver Cotton Insulated (all internal wires from the computers).

- Acessories: Furutech GTX-D (G); Furutech GTX-D ( R) (x2); Sunrise Deep Line (x3); ebony spikes, carbon fiber bases; Nordost Qv2 (x3); acoustical and electrical reinforcements.


#16 moriez

moriez

    Advanced

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 92 posts

Posted 14 November 2018 - 10:33 PM

And the nominees for most enjoyable audiophile journey 2018 are:

 

FelipeRolim.. for outstanding use of plain English 

FelipeRolim.. for humble enthusiasm through every sentence

FelipeRolim again for sharing extensive experience and knowledge

 

I think I could read a pocketbook of this stuff :popcorn: And right on time for help with my next step.

 

Many thanks! Keep going  ;)


  • Thuan, NickD and FelipeRolim like this

#17 Thuan

Thuan

    Die Hard

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2,136 posts
  • LocationSouth Bay Area

Posted 14 November 2018 - 10:49 PM

I can't wait and am looking forward to hearing more of your thoughts.
  • FelipeRolim likes this
WS2019 core, AO3 (1A/2D), JPLAY/JCAT XE/iOS, ES/TC, Xeon CPU, Industrial ECC RAM, Gustard X26, Singxer SU6, Linkwitz Pluto 2.1+

#18 taxman2

taxman2

    Die Hard

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 568 posts
  • LocationSofia, Bulgaria

Posted 15 November 2018 - 07:24 AM

taxman2, I have a question. Do you use Windows Server 2012 R2 on Control-PC because of a personal preference or because it's the only way you encountered to make it work? Here, for a while, I'm using a dedicated computer (Asrock Q1900-ITX, SOtM tx-USBexp, Mini-Box M4-ATX and linear power supply, running with Windows Server 2016 Core mode, Audiophile Optimizer, JPLAY FEMTO and RAMdisk) in conjunction with a notebook (Core i7-7500U, 16GB RAM DDR4) on which I installed Windows Server 2016 GUI and JPLAY. In comparison, both running Windows Server 2016 sounded better than one of them (or both) running Windows Server 2012R2. I'm wondering if this is a personal preference or if you have another specific reason. Anyway, I agree with you. I don't think it's possible to find better software than JPLAY. The next post will deal with this: the music software.

I've said it before in many posts. You don't expect control pc to sound good, you don't expect it to sound at all. It's only purpose is to provide a stable connection with audio pc as well as to manage your music library. In my experience WS 2012 is most reliable for such purposes. Running WS 2012 on control pc does not affect the SQ. The SQ gets affected if you run it on audio pc.


  • FelipeRolim likes this

Furman Elite 10i (power conditioner), JPlay Femto, Audiophile Optimizer, Process Lasso Pro, Fidelizer Pro, 2 x fanless mini PC, Control PC - WS 2019 core -16GB RAM, Audio PC - WS 2019 core 8GB RAM, JCAT USB Card, 2 x JCAT Femto Net Cards, 3 x 100VA Ultra Low Noise LPS, JCAT Isolator, SU-1 with external LPS, Gustard X-20 (modified), Audia Flight Pre Mk III (dual mono class A preamp), Audia Flight FL50 Mk IV(dual mono class A amplifier), Focal Electra 1008BE;


#19 FelipeRolim

FelipeRolim

    Die Hard

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 316 posts
  • LocationQuatiguá/Paraná/Brazil

Posted 15 November 2018 - 12:31 PM

And the nominees for most enjoyable audiophile journey 2018 are:

 

FelipeRolim.. for outstanding use of plain English 

FelipeRolim.. for humble enthusiasm through every sentence

FelipeRolim again for sharing extensive experience and knowledge

 

I think I could read a pocket book of this stuff :popcorn: And right on time for help with my next step.

 

Many thanks! Keep going  ;)

 

I can't wait and am looking forward to hearing more of your thoughts.

 

Thank you guys. Words like these are always motivating!

 

I've said it before in many posts. You don't expect control pc to sound good, you don't expect it to sound at all. It's only purpose is to provide a stable connection with audio pc as well as to manage your music library. In my experience WS 2012 is most reliable for such purposes. Running WS 2012 on control pc does not affect the SQ. The SQ gets affected if you run it on audio pc.

 

It's very interesting to know. Here, usign Windows Server 2016 in both computers has a much better audio quality than using Windows Server 2012R2 on Control-PC. I don't know exactly why this happens, but I think it's related to not using Audiophile Optimizer or any other optimization software on Control-PC (as I said, I use a notebook for a while and don't want to waste a licence with it). You gave me an ideia. In future, I'll try at least Fidelizer 8.2 free. On the occasions I tested, I didn't find the free version to be very effective, but it doesn't cost anything to try again. Thank you for your collaboration with the topic!


- Speakers KEF Reference 203/2 with spikes;

- Schiit Freya preamp. (with Electro-Harmonix 6SN7 Gold-Pin tubes and Synergistic Research Orange Fuse) and Audio Research VS115 (with Tung-Sol KT120 and Svetlana 6H30 tubes and AMR Gold Fuse);

- DAC Ayre QB-9 192/24 + Furutech FI-03 ( R) + Synergistic Research Orange Fuse;

- Digital transport: the Control-PC is a dedicated computer with a Gigabyte H310N motherboard, a Intel Core i3-8100T processor, an Arctic Alpine 12 Passive Cooler, 16GB Corsair Vengeance DDR4 RAM 2400MHz, a JCAT Net Card FEMTO and 1TB Samsung 850 Pro SSD; the Audio-PC is a dedicated computer with a Gigabyte H310M M.2 2.0 motherboard, a Intel Core i3-9100T processor, an Arctic Alpine 12 Passive Cooler, 16GB Corsair Vengeance DDR4 RAM 2400MHz, a JCAT Net Card FEMTO and a JCAT USB Card FEMTO. Both computers use Windows Server 2019 Datacenter Core Mode (17763.737) with RAMdisk as Operational System, JPLAY FEMTO Alternative version, Minority Clean and Audiophile Optimizer v. 3.00 (1A in Control-PC and 4D in Audio-PC). Both also use hand made linear power supplies with a Furutech FI-06 ( R) NCF.

- Cables: Nordost Tyr (speaker), Nordost Valhalla XLR and Siltech 770i XLR (interconnects), Curious Evolved USB Cable, Nordost Valhalla Power Cable (DAC), Transparent PowerLink MM2 (power amp.), 2 x Purist Audio Design Canorus Praesto Revision Power Cable (power distributor and computers), Purist Audio Design Limited Edition Praesto Revision Power Cable (preamp.) and Jupiter Pure Silver Cotton Insulated (all internal wires from the computers).

- Acessories: Furutech GTX-D (G); Furutech GTX-D ( R) (x2); Sunrise Deep Line (x3); ebony spikes, carbon fiber bases; Nordost Qv2 (x3); acoustical and electrical reinforcements.


#20 FelipeRolim

FelipeRolim

    Die Hard

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 316 posts
  • LocationQuatiguá/Paraná/Brazil

Posted 15 November 2018 - 03:48 PM

Well, we talked about the hardware itself, we talked about the operating system, and now I want to talk about music software players, which are no less significant.

 

Many years ago, the first software I used was foobar2000. Since I came from computing, computer formatting, hardware, at that time, it was inconceivable to me that there could be changes in the transfer of 0 and 1 between the PC and an asynchronous DAC. So, being foobar2000 a very light software, with a lot of features and plugins, I couldn’t find a more perfect option. Even some friends calling my attention to JRiver (then, in v. 19), I kept the foobar2000. A little later, comparing it with XBMC, I noticed some sonority differences and I started to use XBMC, which I did for a long time. This I did for a matter of preference, not for evaluating the performance itself. Only when version 21 was released did I start using JRiver. I used it for a long time, went to version 22, 23, and then I met HySolid. In comparison to JRiver v. 22 or 23 (I don’t remember), HySolid delivered even more spatiality, more resolution and more faithful tones. I thought it removed some harmonics from the songs, the sound gave a slight weight loss, but as I was using the KEF R300, which have a full and rich sound, I didn’t think the harmonics were really missing. The control of the bass has also been fantastic, and I have the impression that the bass comes down a bit more. Only two things bothered me in HySolid: a) it doesn’t seem to be software that gets attention from its developers, and; b ) over time, I came to find the sound more objective, precise, with better focus, but also without emotion, without the realism that a song needs to deliver. I still consider it better than JRiver (even in v. 24), but these little things have begun to make me want more. I wanted the resolution of HySolid, the precision, the focus, added to the realism, the emotion, the wealth of JRiver. Even so, for a long time I continued using Windows Server 2016 Core, Audiophile Optimizer 2.20 (at the time, still in the Beta version) and HySolid. It was the best combination I had, at the extreme limit of performance.

 

After that, due to comments I read and by indication of Phil, I decided to test JPLAY (v. 6.2). I already had a fully dedicated computer (single), with improved hardware and specific care, which guaranteed me the minimum of transparency necessary for a fair comparison between them on equal terms. To get the best performance possible, I settled-up JPLAY with Kernel Streaming, ULTRAstream, Hibernate ON, DAC Link at 700Hz, PC Buffer at 0.01s and OS Timer at 0.5s (playing via MinimServer and avconv). HySolid has been configured with ASIO mode and reproduced through its own software, directly from the login screen (I didn’t use the JPLAY Driver, because I wanted to know the software separately, without any reciprocal interference). JRiver has also been configured with ASIO mode, loading music into RAM, with some pre-loading and volume settings, and controlled by Gizmo. This was the best setting I could find for them. Don’t ask me how software can treat bits differently, how only 0 and 1 can result in something different in the end. The fact is that these three softwares play in a completely different way.

 

As I had announced JRiver's retirement here on my computer, at first I focused only on the comparative HySolid vs. JPLAY. At that time, they seemed very close to each other, but sounded in a complete different way. In terms of resolution, there was nothing different between them. Everything one delivers, the other too. The same I could say in terms of extension and cleaning of treble, amplitude of soundstage and many other aspects. However, there were three different things that put JPLAY far ahead: better macrodynamic, soundstage location and amount of harmonics (not in excess, but in comparison to HySolid), which seemed to make the speakers grow, offer a more powerful and deep bass and show more perfect musical instruments in terms of size. In fact, with JPLAY it’s extremely easy to differentiate one instrument from the other, e.g., by reason of its own size, in terms of the pressure exerted by the arch on violins, cellos, the strength with which the musician plays a guitar or a piano, all shown perfectly by the speakers. HySolid delivered a more a thinner, drier sound, with less harmonics (compared to JPLAY), but not to the point of going bad. Therefore, due to the greater realism delivered, I started using JPLAY.

 

JPLAY brings together the resolution, dynamics, spatiality, cleanliness and precision of HySolid and the musicality, realism, expressiveness and emotion of JRiver. Music has life!

 

The most interesting thing is that, over time, MinimServer, FFmpeg and JAVA have been getting updates. I repeated the tests a lot of times and, from a certain moment, I thought FFmpeg started playing better than avconv. The constant updating of these three softwares allowed JPLAY to improve even more. From a certain point, the trio MinimServer + FFmpeg + JPLAY was clearly superior to JRiver (and I still compare nowadays, with v. 24) and HySolid (and with some adjustments to the proper use of SoX VHQ, it got even better). And, as if the gains were no longer possible, I used JPLAY v. 6.2. in trial version for a long time, coexisting with those interrupts of a few seconds for each song. A few months ago, I bought JPLAY v. 6.2 and, comparing the Official to the Alternative Version (optimized for Intel CPUs), I found a new improvement. The sound seems to be a bit more fluid and natural, cleaner and closer to analog sound. The changes were few, but still evident and always welcome.

 

Now, with JPLAY FEMTO, an unprecedented improvement has been observed in my system. It's very impressive to see what JPLAY can do in its more exigent setup. The extreme limit that exists in previous version (DAC Link at 700Hz) was increased to 1000Hz, and in this specific setup, the system can reach a level that I've never heard yet. Although using the same 700Hz, the gains that the version 7.0 brings make the result better then with the version 6.2, but it's at 1000Hz that it shows the differential. Using the whole set provided (JPLAY FEMTO and femtoServer) the level increases even more, and something that I've never thought been possible occured. This is because, in my conception, using the current hardware, the Ayre QB-9 would already be at its quality limit, and wouldn't be possible to obtain more of it without completely reformulate the computer and/or build another one. The JPLAY FEMTO makes me rethink about it. Just change the frequencies one by one to watch the evolution, and believe me, I did it.

 

There's a noticeable gain in spatiality, in resolution, in dynamics, in aeration, in ambience and ease of identification of stage positions. The feeling that causes me using the JPLAY set at 1000Hz is that the room saturation decreases considerably, and that everything I could get with a larger room is delivered by the system here in this small room. It's difficult to explain and even more difficult to understand this. I believe that the most illustrative representation of this is in the aspect of the differentiation of the intensity of various musical instruments. We call this dynamic, but what I mean, quite synthetically, is just that there's now a gigantic facility in understanding the different intensities and planes of various musical instruments. It's as if a photograph gained more colors, more sharpness, and as if the proportion of what is represented in it was extremely faithful. Of course, since it's the same software, most improved, there were no changes in soundness, timbral aspects and balance that merit repair. The sonority is the same, rich, with an extremely complete harmonic body, which differs completely from the lean and apathetic sound of foobar2000, p. eg, and resembles JRiver, but with a much higher resolution and performance level. Improvements relate to how to play, with more spatiality, resolution, aeration, better timming, etc., rather than to aspects that can change the course of a system or requiring some (re)adaptation or overcorrection. I highly recommend you try it out. It may seem complex, but it isn't, at the end.

 

Anyway, to end another gigantic post, I want to sum it up one more time: for the purpose of using a pure computer for audio, in terms of software (and still observing the correct selection of hardware that I mentioned above), the combination of Windows Server 2016 Core mode + Audiophile Optimizer + JPLAY FEMTO (all controlled by BubbleUPnP) seems to me an excellent alternative. There’s a lot of people using Bughead Emperor, HQPlayer, HySolid, Roon, Album Player, JRiver, combining them with the JPLAY Driver or doing upsampling to DSD512 with HQPlayer, but I’m convinced that nothing can overcome JPLAY FEMTO. I have a lot of things to listen related to music software players, but I still haven’t found anything approaching JPLAY, especially JPLAY FEMTO. In addition, I also need to deepen my knowledge about the Fidelizer and Process Lasso. It still doesn’t seem to make sense for me to overlay software with the same purpose, because it creates the risk of losing control of what is changed, but nothing beats hearing, and that is what I will do.

 

In the next posts I want to talk about fine tuning, about improvements that we can make without spending a lot of money and collaborating with the sound quality. This, of course, beyond all that we have already said.

 

PS.: there are noticeable differences between using Single-PC and Dual-PC setup with JPLAY. However, to keep the line of reasoning and make the ideas better organized, I'll write about it on a separate post.

 

PS. 2: I forgot to comment that even the "simplistic" hardware that I indicated on the initial thread is fully capable of making JPLAY work at its maximum capacity, and with all the benefits that have been highlighted.


  • NickD and moriez like this

- Speakers KEF Reference 203/2 with spikes;

- Schiit Freya preamp. (with Electro-Harmonix 6SN7 Gold-Pin tubes and Synergistic Research Orange Fuse) and Audio Research VS115 (with Tung-Sol KT120 and Svetlana 6H30 tubes and AMR Gold Fuse);

- DAC Ayre QB-9 192/24 + Furutech FI-03 ( R) + Synergistic Research Orange Fuse;

- Digital transport: the Control-PC is a dedicated computer with a Gigabyte H310N motherboard, a Intel Core i3-8100T processor, an Arctic Alpine 12 Passive Cooler, 16GB Corsair Vengeance DDR4 RAM 2400MHz, a JCAT Net Card FEMTO and 1TB Samsung 850 Pro SSD; the Audio-PC is a dedicated computer with a Gigabyte H310M M.2 2.0 motherboard, a Intel Core i3-9100T processor, an Arctic Alpine 12 Passive Cooler, 16GB Corsair Vengeance DDR4 RAM 2400MHz, a JCAT Net Card FEMTO and a JCAT USB Card FEMTO. Both computers use Windows Server 2019 Datacenter Core Mode (17763.737) with RAMdisk as Operational System, JPLAY FEMTO Alternative version, Minority Clean and Audiophile Optimizer v. 3.00 (1A in Control-PC and 4D in Audio-PC). Both also use hand made linear power supplies with a Furutech FI-06 ( R) NCF.

- Cables: Nordost Tyr (speaker), Nordost Valhalla XLR and Siltech 770i XLR (interconnects), Curious Evolved USB Cable, Nordost Valhalla Power Cable (DAC), Transparent PowerLink MM2 (power amp.), 2 x Purist Audio Design Canorus Praesto Revision Power Cable (power distributor and computers), Purist Audio Design Limited Edition Praesto Revision Power Cable (preamp.) and Jupiter Pure Silver Cotton Insulated (all internal wires from the computers).

- Acessories: Furutech GTX-D (G); Furutech GTX-D ( R) (x2); Sunrise Deep Line (x3); ebony spikes, carbon fiber bases; Nordost Qv2 (x3); acoustical and electrical reinforcements.





0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users