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Windows 11 PE Audiophile Creation Guide


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#381 Dev

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Posted 06 October 2022 - 03:25 AM

well, I tried a USB 32Gb flash drive and then an 16Gb Optane in a M.2 to USB enclosure, the Optane definitely sounds better IMO.

 

 

 

When PE is running in Ramdisk, the boot drive is not accessible, no. I forget in flatboot, but I think it is? Easy to check.
 

 

 

The flatboot works similar to hard drive, which means not everything is loaded into the RAM.

 

 

 

I will try and re-post my list of services of what is needed for network/Windows audio later - it’s a bit outdated but I could manage, probably.

 

 

That would be wonderful. I tried killing couple of them without success, for example, in earlier post it was mentioned that winlogon.exe was not necessary but the desktop disappeared and an error dialog popped up. I can't do anything after that, other than hard reboot the server.



#382 keith_correa

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Posted 06 October 2022 - 07:50 AM

I tried killing couple of them without success, for example, in earlier post it was mentioned that winlogon.exe was not necessary but the desktop disappeared and an error dialog popped up. I can't do anything after that, other than hard reboot the server.

If like me, you are using Explorer as the shell then winlogon cannot be killed - I had tried this before and failed.  :)



#383 internethandle

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Posted 06 October 2022 - 04:23 PM

Yes, you need to have WinXShell as shell to do that tweak and a good deal of others.

Dev, the longer post I made on this page earlier this year still largely applies for most of what I do in flatboot to edit an ISO and post-boot after editing one, if you want to peruse it before I am able to update what services I now have enabled/disabled - will follow with that later - although, again, what is in this post is largely the same as what I do now:

http://jplay.eu/foru...on-guide/page-6

Much of what I do post-boot is not easily made automated, I do many things each time I restart etc. — this is easily alleviated if you keep the music server/PC running and never shut down, which is what I do, typically, but frustrating if you do not. I know samotc has also sought to create cmd and batch scripts to do much of what he does post-boot automatically, I am unsure how successful he has been, however, so you would need to ask him.
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#384 CAD

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Posted 10 October 2022 - 05:15 AM

Any one try to get Roon working with this?



#385 samotc

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Posted 10 October 2022 - 07:00 AM

Any one try to get Roon working with this?

 

 

I think Internethandle does it with Spotify, so loading Roon supposes that it will be possible, I will tell you that the different
 
players change their behavior with respect to the "normal" Windows.
 
In my system (Win11 PE) I have tried 4 players: HQPlayer desktop 3 and 4; JRiverMC 28, Foobar2000 and Bughead
 
Emperor (Infinity Blade); And the results were, from better to worse, the following:
 
INFINITY BLADE> FOOBAR2000 >>> HQPLAYER4> JRIVERMC28.
 
Instead, in Windows "normal" they were very different, from better to worse:
 
Bughead Emeperor (Infinity Blade) >>> HQPlayer4 >> JRiverMC28> Foobar2000.
 
As "normal" Windows versions I have used the following:
 
Server Core 2022> Server Core 2019> Windows 11 Pro 22000.194> Windows 10 from initial versions to 20H1.
 
All were much lower than Win11 PE and Win10 PE.
 
This is my experience, I hope it serves you.


#386 samotc

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Posted 10 October 2022 - 07:00 AM

Any one try to get Roon working with this?

 

 

I think Internethandle does it with Spotify, so loading Roon supposes that it will be possible, I will tell you that the different
 
players change their behavior with respect to the "normal" Windows.
 
In my system (Win11 PE) I have tried 4 players: HQPlayer desktop 3 and 4; JRiverMC 28, Foobar2000 and Bughead
 
Emperor (Infinity Blade); And the results were, from better to worse, the following:
 
INFINITY BLADE> FOOBAR2000 >>> HQPLAYER4> JRIVERMC28.
 
Instead, in Windows "normal" they were very different, from better to worse:
 
Bughead Emeperor (Infinity Blade) >>> HQPlayer4 >> JRiverMC28> Foobar2000.
 
As "normal" Windows versions I have used the following:
 
Server Core 2022 (RAMDISK)> Server Core 2019 (RAMDISK)>>> Server 2022 Desktop>Server 2019 Desktop>Windows 11 Pro 22000.194> Windows 10 from initial versions to 20H1.
 
All were much lower than Win11 PE and Win10 PE.
 
Another alternative, easier for rookies, is to opt for the miniwindows road, this would be an intermediate point between "normal"
 
Windows and Windows PE.
 
Miniwindows Server Core 2022 occupies only somewhat less than 2GB, which requires little RAM and sounds better than "normal"
 
Windows but worse than Windows PE, with the advantage that the changes made remain in registration.
 
To inform yourself more, go to the reboot.pro forum
 
This is my experience, I hope it serves you.


#387 Dev

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Posted 10 October 2022 - 06:13 PM

any of you able to run the system continuously for days ? my system (win11pe) runs for a day or so and then there is nothing - no monitor output. it doesn't respond to keyboard or mouse. I have to hard reboot it using the power switch. anybody face similar problem ?



#388 Dev

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Posted 10 October 2022 - 06:16 PM

making Roon work is in my todo list but I first need to make the system stable with networking and a minimal playback s/w, like jplay.



#389 internethandle

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Posted 10 October 2022 - 08:37 PM

any of you able to run the system continuously for days ? my system (win11pe) runs for a day or so and then there is nothing - no monitor output. it doesn't respond to keyboard or mouse. I have to hard reboot it using the power switch. anybody face similar problem ?

Are you suspending the winlogon.exe process in Process Hacker or similar after booting? I’m not referring to terminating it, which is a more advanced step that requires other steps prior to doing so (and still requires winlogon.exe to be suspended). You should always suspend winlogon.exe’s process after booting, regardless of what else you may do before or after boot, because it prevents a “killswitch” that Microsoft coded into WinPE which forces it to reboot or shut down after approximately 48 to 72 hours of continuous use. This is likely what is happening. I keep Win11PE running sometimes for weeks at a time without any problem.

See this little article or others if you Google (you don’t need to use Pssuspend to suspend the process, though - the “suspend” command of something like Process Hacker accomplishes the same thing - also, we do not need to concern ourselves with “wininit.exe” in our case):

https://www.boot-dis...uest_reboot.htm
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#390 Dev

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Posted 10 October 2022 - 09:03 PM

Are you suspending the winlogon.exe process in Process Hacker or similar after booting? I’m not referring to terminating it, which is a more advanced step that requires other steps prior to doing so (and still requires winlogon.exe to be suspended). You should always suspend winlogon.exe’s process after booting, regardless of what else you may do before or after boot, because it prevents a “killswitch” that Microsoft coded into WinPE which forces it to reboot or shut down after approximately 48 to 72 hours of continuous use. This is likely what is happening. I keep Win11PE running sometimes for weeks at a time without any problem.

See this little article or others if you Google (you don’t need to use Pssuspend to suspend the process, though - the “suspend” command of something like Process Hacker accomplishes the same thing - also, we do not need to concern ourselves with “wininit.exe” in our case):

https://www.boot-dis...uest_reboot.htm

 

 

Ahh...I didn't know the killswitch part of WinPE. Thanks a bunch. Yeah, I think that is probably what is happening in my case. I just used process hacker to suspend it (right click on it and select suspend). lets see if it runs trouble free from now on.

 

I am trying to automate as much as possible and try to make it completely headless without any need for monitor/keyboard/mouse attached. So far I have not been able to succeed. Even though jplay is marked to start automatic, it doesn't for some reason. Maybe I need a batch script to force start the services.

 

In this context of automation, it looks like the Pssuspend might be useful tool if someone doesn't want a manual intervention. 



#391 Kuni

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Posted 11 October 2022 - 12:27 PM

After a week of testing different Win11PE settings I found some preferences to share:

 

1. System Events Broker (SystemEventsBroker) and Windows Management Instrumentation (winmgmt) are left running.

     Sound wise it keeps vocals in front and close to your ears. Instrument edginess is retained.

     If I stop those services mids become laid back and little dull, yet pleasant for Class D amplifiers. I use pass labs XA160 which is forgiving amp. 

2. For purest audio it is recommended to SUSPEND services RpcSs, RpcEpMap, Power, LSM. Sounds becomes micro detailed.

    Warning: system becomes not responsive except audio player. 

    In my setup it is too detailed, hence I keep it running.

3. Loading Win11PE to RAM give wider soundstage and more analog/pleasant feel.

    Similar as if you test your audio player running in LOW preference compared to REALTIME (in my case) and much more. 

    Another example for those using foobar2000. You can download plug-in to load track or album into ram with the right click. Similar sound, but less of everything.  

4. Windows 2016 with AO sounds similar to my ears compared to WIN11PE run from VHD. When loaded from RAM it already sounds better.   

5. Win11XPE did not work in XSHELL mode. I could not install any audio players or .NET. Gave up on that but understood explorer option is very light. 

6. After I load windows, I run *bat script to stop as many services as I can. I have running 12-13 services now.  By the way, less is not necessarily better.

 

1 combined with 3 is heaven in my system. 

 

Good luck 


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#392 internethandle

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Posted 11 October 2022 - 11:25 PM

Years ago on another forum, Tir Na Hifi, a user named "jesuscheung" began posting a lot of Windows-based tweaks and optimizations (then mostly for Win 7 and Server 2012 and the like), where myself and others would contribute. "JC," as we came to know him, was influenced by a user in China, "pkshan," who had a Chinese language-based blog and website where his ethos was tweaking Win 7 and foobar, but based purely on SQ, not on minimizing everything. So, in other words, he would make one (seemingly meaningless or unrelated to SQ) change, like change a transparency setting for each window, or change the size of icons on the desktop, and after each change he would listen to see if he felt like this sounded better or worse. At one point, pkshan created a whole ISO for Windows 7 with many such changes, albeit only available in Chinese. "JC" applied this ethos to his own Windows tweaks, where he would try something, then listen, and regardless of whether it meant reducing latencies, or CPU activity, or memory usage, or whatever the case might be, he would reverse the change/tweak if he felt like it sounded worse. You can find the thread here, many years dormant -- still has some interesting info!:

 

https://tirnahifi.or...419cea6c0ae28a1

 

Anyway, I bring this up because what kuni is describing with some of the services and settings sounding "better" or "worse" reflects a similar approach. This is a totally legitimate way of approaching tweaking/altering/"breaking" Windows to achieve better sound quality, and over the years I have seen some combination of one of three scenarios for doing that:

 

1) minimizing Windows footprint above all else, whether that means reducing latencies, CPU activity, RAM activity, or simply reducing Windows size. The theory driving this is that the smaller/more broken/the less footprint you achieve in Windows, the less "noise" is generated by the OS and, concurrently, in the music server hardware, and/or latencies are improved, all resulting in better SQ.

 

The first example of this I ever encountered was on "Computer Audio Asylum" where the cMP ("cics memory player") project began in the 2000's, which eventually culminated in users reducing Windows XP to a ridiculously small size, something like 20 to 30 MB. There were various registry changes involved as well as other of the kinds of steps we do even now (turning off services), but there was also a very heavy focus on  manually deleting system files in places like the c:\Windows directory, which is a very slow and methodical approach with a lot of headaches, but they were extremely successful. More successful than many modern attempts in terms of sheer size, at least, although some of that is reflected in the already smaller size of Windows XP before modification vs. modern Windows OS'es, even PE.

 

2) tweaking as I just described, meaning making a change to the OS in some way, listening, and keeping or rejecting the change based on SQ alone

 

3) some combination of the above two, which many resort to -- this is more what kuni has resorted to

 

Anyway, personally, the approach of listening to each tweak or change just drives me too nuts, lol, and I have long ago committed to just reducing Windows to as small of a footprint as possible, despite what may happen to SQ for each change. I also have become much more dependent on solutions like WinXPE's or using something like WinReducer/NTLite on a "normal" Windows ISO, meaning that much of the reduction in size and bloat occurs before the ISO is even created and installed/booted. For a modern Windows OS like Win11, this is much preferable to manually deleting portions of the OS post-install, as it also reduces traces of the "packages" removed from registry and elsewhere (there's some evidence that registry size also effects SQ, with bigger being worse).

 

Taken together, all of these changes toward reducing size and footprint have usually, at least eventually, resulted in "better" SQ for me, and has helped me keep my sanity versus listening to every change. I also would say that reversing changes that "should" sound better is fine, but it is probably best to test in each of our systems, as the synergy of various OS changes and all of our different components and transducers etc. will give us all different results.

 

Regardless, Windows PE has allowed me to get Windows down to the least amount of CPU activity (as measured in handles/threads), memory usage, processes, and services of any version of Windows I've ever tweaked/modified. It also is much easier to do things that are either impossible in other versions of Windows (terminating lsass.exe, for instance) or require a ton of work to do so.

 

Kuni, I am unsure why WinXShell is not working for you in Win11PE. Do you mean it just doesn't boot at all, or that programs aren't running, as you say? Which audio players do you mean? 


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#393 samotc

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Posted 12 October 2022 - 07:36 PM

I agree with Internethandle, what has worked best for me is to reduce the footprint/size of Win11PE, what SQ provides me with the best, it only has 10 active processes and 19 services running, seen with Processhacker, I have achieved a size of Win11PE of 370 MB with drivers for my 2 DACs, and with F2K and BH Emperor installed. I think I can't reduce it anymore, but I have seen that the smaller the size (with the same number of processes and services) the system sounds better.
What cannot be generalized is what services and drivers to disable, since each system works differently. I have 2 PCs and what works well on one does not work on another, which forces me to try one by one, what services, drivers, and files to delete, as you can imagine it is very tedious and long, but it may be worth it, although I only recommend this to experienced tweakers, although walking you learn the way.

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#394 seeteeyou

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Posted 12 October 2022 - 09:05 PM

Windows 7 PE was the very first version of PE that could actually support audio devices, we could treat this particular barebone version as our baseline minus both audio and networking support

 

https://www.google.c...ch?q="NoDust99"

This is the smallest Windows 7 PE ever seen. Only 39,4 MB with Desktop and Full Access to all HDD & CDROM (IDE & SATA). No Network Support!

 

Boot.wim with merely 433 files and 94 folders

 

https://sharetext.me/raw/qfx23cjbso

 

I checked the registry and found only two dozens of packages under CBS

 

Spoiler

 

 

 

And then here's the official version of Windows 11 PE build 22621 from Microsoft

 

https://download.mic...ed0461b952d.cab

 

429 packages were found under CBS and we could subtract 67 of them since they're meant for the SysWOW64 folder, that means we've got 362 packages

 

Spoiler

 

 

 

There's something else called Microsoft Validation OS (build 22621) and it's fairly similar to Windows 11 PE

 

https://software-sta...ALIDATIONOS.iso

 

Subtract 188 (SysWOW64) packages from 528 and we've got 340 packages under CBS

 

Spoiler

 

I wouldn't even bother with "regular" version of Windows 11 since it's pretty much like a waste of time, unless we're just using one of those Windows Tablets as the DLNA / UPnP control point while running MC/LE/ES.

 

The last time I checked, Server Core / Desktop Experience version of Windows Server 2022 contained 2,023 / 2,899 CBS packages respectively.

 

http://jplay.eu/foru...r-2022/?p=52953

 

 

 

Since we're always getting started with (at least) 300 or so CBS packages, in the end it's just a matter of figuring out what packages could be removed / added whenever we're running CBSEnum.

 

Some of the most important ones such as audio / networking / .NET Framework could be added by borrowing a little something from the WimBuilder2 project

 

https://github.com/s...E/01-Components

02-Network = networking

03-Audio = audio

NetFX = .NET Framework

 

 

We are already using .NET 6.0 on Linux. If you install Microsoft’s .NET 6.0 package on Windows, you can get the “new” performance there today, though to be fair the gap between older versions of .NET and 6.0 is much smaller on Windows.

 

https://community.ro...lable/199688/41

Since .NET framework cannot be reinstalled, can you please try to install .NET Desktop 6.0 and see if this by any chance helps?

 

For stuff like Roon Core or Roon Bridge, the latest version of .NET Desktop Runtime script could be copied to the Win10XPE folder accordingly

 

https://www.tenforum...tml#post2264054

 



#395 Kuni

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Posted 12 October 2022 - 09:34 PM

Internethandle, great reading! I admire experiences by everyone and try as many settings when time allows. I think hardware is driving software preferences, but not otherway around.
My limitation is that I like using musicbee player as versatile option and I did not find other way to install it with xshell. All the rest is single audio pc. By the way hysolid is better than music bee. Hysolid though need new compatibility version....

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#396 internethandle

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Posted 12 October 2022 - 11:59 PM

Hi Kuni,

Makes sense, there definitely are some programs that do not like WinXShell vs Explorer. There likely is a way to get those players working by restoring drivers that are lost when you switch from Explorer to WinXShell. It may take a while to figure out which ones are missing, though - you would need to do something like compare the drivers loaded by the program via the Process Hacker “modules” tab in a WinPE running Explorer vs. one running WinXShell or use another program that explores dependencies.

#397 Dev

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Posted 13 October 2022 - 01:09 AM

Did anybody try Win 10 LTSC edition ? Is it suppose to work ?

 

Just for the gigs, I tried creating a PE image from Windows Server 2019, though it created and seemed to boot fine but couldn't get to the explorer shell and throws a bunch error messages, which is to expected.



#398 Dev

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Posted 13 October 2022 - 01:12 AM

@internethandle, with winlogon suspended, whenever the PC goes to sleep (monitor off, etc), I couldn't wake it up. Jplay still works fine but if I need to do something with keyboard/mouse, I can't. Only way is to hard reboot. Does it mean we need to disable sleep ? If so, can we do it in flatboot or do we remote registry settings ?



#399 internethandle

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Posted 13 October 2022 - 03:26 AM

@internethandle, with winlogon suspended, whenever the PC goes to sleep (monitor off, etc), I couldn't wake it up. Jplay still works fine but if I need to do something with keyboard/mouse, I can't. Only way is to hard reboot. Does it mean we need to disable sleep ? If so, can we do it in flatboot or do we remote registry settings ?

 

 

Any registry change needs to be done either with "Remote Registry" as samotc does or simply by loading and then unloading the registry hives while a VHD is mounted in regular windows in something like Registry Workshop or if need be regular Registry Editor. These are located in the VHD's Windows\system32\config directory (SYSTEM and SOFTWARE are the pertinent ones, with mostly SYSTEM being of concern). If you edit the registry within PE during flatboot, the settings will not retain when you reboot.

 

Anyway, yes, you definitely need to make sure all hibernation/power saving/screen saver options are disabled. I was not even aware it was available in WinPE. There are various ways to do this. You could try powercfg commands post-boot, such as "powercfg.exe /hibernate off" which is obviously something you could automate into a batch script/similar. Personally, given I go as low footprint as possible, I would remove or disable the Power Policy service altogether. You can do this either by disabling the service (HKLM\(hive name chosen)\ControlSet001\Services\Power "Start" DWORD to 0x04) prior to boot, or you could try something similar to deleting or renaming "umpo.dll" in PE's Windows\system32 folder, which is tied to the Power service, so deleting/renaming it will cause the service to be unable to run. The Power service is what controls and implements hibernation/screen saver/etc. behavior in Windows. I do not have it running at all in Win11PE.


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#400 internethandle

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Posted 13 October 2022 - 03:50 AM

Oh also, I'm unsure what you mean by if anyone has tried LTSC/gotten it to work. There are a good number of people who have used it as an OS for audio -- Taiko does for the Extreme for instance, although they seem to have a propietary series of modifications they don't really reveal, like many of their products and services. It sounds worse, even with mods and reduction, to my ears than PE, if that's what you mean.  






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