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 Post subject: Build advise please for Audiophile PC
PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2014 1:36 am 
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Joined: Fri Jun 20, 2014 8:24 pm
Posts: 9
Greetings everyone,

I want to build a dedicated computer solely for playing music digitally. Here's a list of hardware etc .... This list was compiled by an armchair expert and I'am convinced I could do better than this, which is why I have come seeking advise on the forum from real experts like you'll :)

Not to mention, a silent pc is of great priority, what better place could I come looking for advise :D

Here's the list....

1) case - silverstone GD-04
3) Temperature/Curent/Voltage/Consuption digital LCD meter- http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/2312180253...%3AMEBIDX%3AIT
4)DIY power supply with ultra low noise 9V voltage regulator for Jplay card
5)DIY power supply with ultra low noise voltage regulators 3.3V/5V/12V for Motherboard
6)DIY power supply with ultra low noise 8V voltage regulator for XMOS

AUDIO HARDWARE-
7) USB sound card Jcat http://jplay.eu/jcat/
8)ADUM galvanic isolator http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/2613873130...%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

PC HARDWARE-
9) Gygabite GA-H87N-WIFI motherboard http://www.gigabyte.com/products/pro...px?pid=4733#sp
10) Intel Intel-Core-i3-4130T CPU http://ark.intel.com/products/77481/...che-2_90-GHz12) 2X 4GB RAM
13)64-128Gb 2.5' SSD drive with TRIM support for OS
14) 2TB 2.5' HDD drive -for music storage

SOFTWARE-
15) Windows Server 2012 + Optimiser
16) Foobar or Foobar+Jplay
17) Desktop remote control software ( via 11,1' notebook or 8-10' Tablet)

ADITIONAL-
18) Cooper foil insulation and grounding for motherboard and HDD


Thank you for looking & best regards,
Ben


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 Post subject: Re: Build advise please for Audiophile PC
PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2014 7:52 am 
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Welcome to SPCR.

I trust whatever DIY power supply/power mgmt you are doing is Haswell-compliant...what's the driver for this?

If the primary goal is audiophile quality music playback, get a '97 chipset motherboard and not a '87. The '87's have crappy DPC latency - look at the chart halfway down this page. H97 just came out a month ago, though. So, you might want to wait until ~August to let the usual UEFI/driver bug fixes settle out.

Some of your ebay links are dead.

Have you considered building a much smaller form factor PC as you don't have a need for any add in cards, etc? It doesn't take much CPU horsepower to push digital music out through a USB port. A Baytrail based fanless NUC or mini ITX could work well and use much less power.

Heck, have you considered using something other than a PC as your front end?

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 Post subject: Re: Build advise please for Audiophile PC
PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2014 9:45 am 
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Posts: 3232
Location: ITALY
CA_Steve wrote:
Some of your ebay links are dead.

All his links are dead (he probably used the wrong BBCode).


Narcissus wrote:
14) 2TB 2.5' HDD drive -for music storage

At those capacities a decoupled 3.5" HDD might serve you better (less platters, less noise and better rates).

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Luca


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 Post subject: Re: Build advise please for Audiophile PC
PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2014 10:51 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jun 20, 2014 8:24 pm
Posts: 9
Thank you for your quick reply Steve.

Let me be very clear, when it comes to computer hardware I'm a total noobie :), so please excuse me if I don't understand the lingo, abbreviations etc though I will try my utmost best not to be spoon fed as listening to music and building an audiophile system for myself is my passion and a hobby I enjoy the most.

So let me try :).....

This list belongs to a fellow audiophile who might or might not have built the PC yet based upon the parts listed. So I will have to ask him for the configs/specs of the PSU's.

But please tell me this, is it necessary to have 3 separate PSU' instead of 1? Does it really make a difference to have 3 discrete PSU'? If not, Could you please suggest other good alternatives?

I did look at the chart & yes I can easily wait till August for things to settle down. So are you suggesting i should look into buying a gigabyte motherboard with i7 (Z97X-SOC) i7-4770k? Does this come with an i7 processor onboard? Is this a fanless option?

How about the ADUM galvanic isolator? Is it required?

What choices would I have should I choose not to go with the JPlay jcat USB card? Any good performing USB cards come to mind?

I have not yet considered building a SFF PC, but I'm definitely intrigued by the idea. The smaller the better, I would surely prefer a smaller case to a bigger one as long as it performs at par, runs as quiet and cool. Question is, can it accommodate the USB card, Motherboard and everything else on the hardware requirement?
Can you please propose a few SFF cases...

The PC will be linked to my DAC > pass labs xa100.5 class A monoblock's> Focal maestro Utopias III.

TIA :)


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 Post subject: Re: Build advise please for Audiophile PC
PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2014 10:56 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jun 20, 2014 8:24 pm
Posts: 9
Thanks Luca, point noted. Please feel free to add any other corrections which you feel might help with this build.

quest_for_silence wrote:
CA_Steve wrote:
Some of your ebay links are dead.

All his links are dead (he probably used the wrong BBCode).


Narcissus wrote:
14) 2TB 2.5' HDD drive -for music storage

At those capacities a decoupled 3.5" HDD might serve you better (less platters, less noise and better rates).


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 Post subject: Re: Build advise please for Audiophile PC
PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2014 8:21 pm 
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Location: Monterey Bay, CA
Narcissus wrote:
But please tell me this, is it necessary to have 3 separate PSU' instead of 1? Does it really make a difference to have 3 discrete PSU'? If not, Could you please suggest other good alternatives?

I think "audiophile" solutions run the gamut from inspired to just plain wacky/not grounded in science. Without knowing more, I couldn't possibly comment where on the continuum this lies. However, there are some specific requirements that need to be met to be compliant with Intel's design rules (and no, I don't know them).

Narcissus wrote:
So are you suggesting i should look into buying a gigabyte motherboard with i7 (Z97X-SOC) i7-4770k?

Not at all. Just listing the latest Anandtech motherboard review so you can see the trend of great DPC latency for the Haswell refresh motherboards vs the initial chipsets from a year ago.

Here's a potential path (and there are surely many more):
- Buy or build a fanless small form factor PC. Something like the HDDPlex. If the only function is music playback, the lowest speed dual core CPU will be fine (it's not like there's a lot of processing power in an iPod).
- Buy a DAC that has optical input and bypass all the special add-in USB card stuff and all the other special stuff for electrical noise isolation. Can't add noise to the music on the PC, because it's still a digital file. Can't pass noise through an optical link. Just don't set this case on top of your 300W monoblock heaters ;)

_________________
1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, MSI Z87-G45, MSI GTX 760 2GB Gaming, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung Evo 250GB, Crucial MX100 256GB, WD Red 2TB, Samsung DVD burner, Fractal Define R4, Antec True Quiet 140 (2 front + rear) case fans, Seasonic X-560. 35-40W idle, 45-55W video streaming, 170-200W WoW, 200-230W Rift, 318W stress test (Prime95 + Furmark)


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 Post subject: Re: Build advise please for Audiophile PC
PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2014 10:12 pm 
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Posts: 3232
Location: ITALY
CA_Steve wrote:
Narcissus wrote:
But please tell me this, is it necessary to have 3 separate PSU' instead of 1? Does it really make a difference to have 3 discrete PSU'? If not, Could you please suggest other good alternatives?

I think "audiophile" solutions run the gamut from inspired to just plain wacky/not grounded in science. Without knowing more, I couldn't possibly comment where on the continuum this lies. However, there are some specific requirements that need to be met to be compliant with Intel's design rules (and no, I don't know them).

AFAIK the main advantages of a switching supply are dimensions and efficiency: compared to any typical computer PSU, given the same power level a linear power supply may electrically perform a lot better, but in case it will waste much more space (and much more money).

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Luca


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 Post subject: Re: Build advise please for Audiophile PC
PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2014 3:35 am 
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Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 11:23 am
Posts: 684
Location: Germany
I have a few questions:

-why Server2012? Cost you an awful lot more and i fail to see any advantage

-as sugested, soundcards can deliver a certain quality, if you want more, get an external DAC

-SSD size for OS seems outdated, 256 GB is affordable. 128GB for Server2012 seems a bit low btw.

-all that PSU and copper foil stuff: It depends on the quality of your electrical grid in your place, if you happen to get "bad" electric currents, then you should think about an UPS first. Also grounding and cabling comes into play before your PC is concerned

Finally: What's your budget? If you're lucky enough to have a couple of grands to spare, you can go the RollsRoyce road. If not, you better start making clever part picking and separating the necessary stuff from the nice-to-have and the if-i-got-money-like-Rockefeller stuff.


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 Post subject: Re: Build advise please for Audiophile PC
PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2014 3:57 am 
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One thing to consider is a multi purpose system. I thought about a low power music system for a while but ended up letting my file server do the job (Linux with MPD running). If you're going with desktop class hardware you can easily make the system a HTPC with good picture as well as sound.

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HTPC: ASRock H81M-ITX | Pentium G3420 | 4GB DDR3 | Intel 520 120GB | HDPLEX H1-S | picoPSU | No moving parts | Idle 11.2W
Gaming: Intel DH77EB | i5-3570K | GTX 750 Ti | 16GB DDR3 | Intel 520 120GB | TJ08-E | G-360 360W
Server: Intel DH77DF | i3-2100T | 4TB+3x3TB | picoPSU | Idle 24W AC


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 Post subject: Re: Build advise please for Audiophile PC
PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2014 4:47 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 13, 2007 10:12 am
Posts: 3232
Location: ITALY
Pappnaas wrote:
-as sugested, soundcards can deliver a certain quality, if you want more, get an external DAC

I may be wrong, but there's no soundcard in his proposed setup: even better, he already has his own DAC (which should be served by the Jcat interface).
He just needs a music server+player.


Pappnaas wrote:
Finally: What's your budget?.

He plays a pair of Utopia Maestro with PassLabs monoblocks, so we're talking maybe about a 40-50k MSRP setup (if I'm not wrong: so a couple of grand would be less than 5% of that sum).

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 Post subject: Re: Build advise please for Audiophile PC
PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2014 5:42 am 
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Posts: 489
Location: Ottawa
Before considering anything by jplay please read the following and the links provided: http://www.jriver.com/jplay.html


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 Post subject: Re: Build advise please for Audiophile PC
PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2014 8:21 am 
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Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 11:23 am
Posts: 684
Location: Germany
@Luca

thanks for the enlightment. One of the reason to stay and participate here: You'll learn something new every day


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 Post subject: Re: Build advise please for Audiophile PC
PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2014 9:32 am 
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Posts: 9
quest_for_silence wrote:
Pappnaas wrote:
-as sugested, soundcards can deliver a certain quality, if you want more, get an external DAC

I may be wrong, but there's no soundcard in his proposed setup: even better, he already has his own DAC (which should be served by the Jcat interface).
He just needs a music server+player.

Absolutely right Luca, there's no sound card needed & I already have a DAC.


Pappnaas wrote:
Finally: What's your budget?.

He plays a pair of Utopia Maestro with PassLabs monoblocks, so we're talking maybe about a 40-50k MSRP setup (if I'm not wrong: so a couple of grand would be less than 5% of that sum).


:) slightly more, the Utopias alone cost 50k Msrp and the Pass monoblocks 17k..... I don't mind spending 5-10% of that sum. Just coz I have the means and ways to finance my hobby and passion does not mean I'am willing to throw money away.

I'am sure I can build a solid PC under 2k, with good advise from you'll..


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 Post subject: Re: Build advise please for Audiophile PC
PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2014 9:51 am 
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Joined: Fri Jun 20, 2014 8:24 pm
Posts: 9
washu wrote:
Before considering anything by jplay please read the following and the links provided: http://www.jriver.com/jplay.html


Thanks for the link, ill definitely consider it..


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 Post subject: Re: Build advise please for Audiophile PC
PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2014 10:07 am 
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Joined: Fri Jun 20, 2014 8:24 pm
Posts: 9
CA_Steve wrote:
Welcome to SPCR.

I trust whatever DIY power supply/power mgmt you are doing is Haswell-compliant...what's the driver for this?

If the primary goal is audiophile quality music playback, get a '97 chipset motherboard and not a '87. The '87's have crappy DPC latency - look at the chart halfway down this page. H97 just came out a month ago, though. So, you might want to wait until ~August to let the usual UEFI/driver bug fixes settle out.

Some of your ebay links are dead.

Have you considered building a much smaller form factor PC as you don't have a need for any add in cards, etc? It doesn't take much CPU horsepower to push digital music out through a USB port. A Baytrail based fanless NUC or mini ITX could work well and use much less power.

Heck, have you considered using something other than a PC as your front end?


Btw, DPC Latency has nothing to do with audio playback. DPC latency matters only when one is doing mastering or monitoring - i.e. listening to the signal at the same time it is being recorded. A high DPC latency has no adverse effect whatsoever on audio playback.


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 Post subject: Re: Build advise please for Audiophile PC
PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2014 10:33 am 
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Joined: Fri Jun 20, 2014 8:24 pm
Posts: 9
Pappnaas wrote:
I have a few questions:

-why Server2012? Cost you an awful lot more and i fail to see any advantage

-as sugested, soundcards can deliver a certain quality, if you want more, get an external DAC

-SSD size for OS seems outdated, 256 GB is affordable. 128GB for Server2012 seems a bit low btw.

-all that PSU and copper foil stuff: It depends on the quality of your electrical grid in your place, if you happen to get "bad" electric currents, then you should think about an UPS first. Also grounding and cabling comes into play before your PC is concerned

Finally: What's your budget? If you're lucky enough to have a couple of grands to spare, you can go the RollsRoyce road. If not, you better start making clever part picking and separating the necessary stuff from the nice-to-have and the if-i-got-money-like-Rockefeller stuff.


Electricity is always one of the factors which needs to be considered seriously when it comes to an audiophile setup.

My budget, hmmmm..... Check the Msrp of my equipment if you will, I do intend to make clever part picking which is why I'm here asking for your advise :) & hey my last name ain't 'Escobar' either ;)


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 Post subject: Re: Build advise please for Audiophile PC
PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2014 10:38 am 
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Posts: 9
CA_Steve wrote:
Narcissus wrote:
But please tell me this, is it necessary to have 3 separate PSU' instead of 1? Does it really make a difference to have 3 discrete PSU'? If not, Could you please suggest other good alternatives?

I think "audiophile" solutions run the gamut from inspired to just plain wacky/not grounded in science. Without knowing more, I couldn't possibly comment where on the continuum this lies. However, there are some specific requirements that need to be met to be compliant with Intel's design rules (and no, I don't know them).

Narcissus wrote:
So are you suggesting i should look into buying a gigabyte motherboard with i7 (Z97X-SOC) i7-4770k?

Not at all. Just listing the latest Anandtech motherboard review so you can see the trend of great DPC latency for the Haswell refresh motherboards vs the initial chipsets from a year ago.

Here's a potential path (and there are surely many more):
- Buy or build a fanless small form factor PC. Something like the HDDPlex. If the only function is music playback, the lowest speed dual core CPU will be fine (it's not like there's a lot of processing power in an iPod).
- Buy a DAC that has optical input and bypass all the special add-in USB card stuff and all the other special stuff for electrical noise isolation. Can't add noise to the music on the PC, because it's still a digital file. Can't pass noise through an optical link. Just don't set this case on top of your 300W monoblock heaters ;)


Optical is a useless interface - it is extremely jitter prone and only supports a max of 24/96kHz. No good dac worth its name uses optical for anything serious. Eg : My Parasound provides a pair of optical inputs but the manual explicitly mentions that they sound signficantly poorer than the BNC inputs.

Right now, the only bit exact way to get data from a computer to a DAC is either Async USB or Firewire. Everything else is compromised in some way or the other.


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 Post subject: Re: Build advise please for Audiophile PC
PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2014 2:57 pm 
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Posts: 504
Location: London, UK
Narcissus wrote:
Optical is a useless interface - it is extremely jitter prone and only supports a max of 24/96kHz. No good dac worth its name uses optical for anything serious. Eg : My Parasound provides a pair of optical inputs but the manual explicitly mentions that they sound signficantly poorer than the BNC inputs.

Right now, the only bit exact way to get data from a computer to a DAC is either Async USB or Firewire. Everything else is compromised in some way or the other.
Now is your chance to put these bold claims to the test. Most motherboards come with an optical out. If you can't notice a difference, why bother?

Also remember that you're getting older (shocking!) and your high frequency hearing will deteriorate. Those blasted hair cells.


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 Post subject: Re: Build advise please for Audiophile PC
PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2014 10:10 pm 
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Posts: 3232
Location: ITALY
Narcissus wrote:
I want to build a dedicated computer solely for playing music digitally.

So Ben, let's try to start from here: why a dedicated computer?
If the only function will be audio playback, why not a dedicated player, something like the Aurender?


Cistron wrote:
Also remember that you're getting older (shocking!) and your high frequency hearing will deteriorate. Those blasted hair cells.

http://yabb.jriver.com/interact/index.php?topic=80789.0 :twisted:

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Luca


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 Post subject: Re: Build advise please for Audiophile PC
PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 4:54 am 
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Posts: 9
quest_for_silence wrote:
Narcissus wrote:
I want to build a dedicated computer solely for playing music digitally.

So Ben, let's try to start from here: why a dedicated computer?
If the only function will be audio playback, why not a dedicated player, something like the Aurender?


As for aurender and similar devices, if a network player of that sort is implemented well, they might be equal or better than a computer outputting audio via usb. The only one I've liked so far is the naim network player. Rest haven't been impressive at least to me. Aurender - I can't comment as I've never heard one.


Cistron wrote:
Also remember that you're getting older (shocking!) and your high frequency hearing will deteriorate. Those blasted hair cells.

http://yabb.jriver.com/interact/index.php?topic=80789.0 :twisted:


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 Post subject: Re: Build advise please for Audiophile PC
PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 7:08 am 
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Location: ITALY
Narcissus wrote:
quest_for_silence wrote:
Narcissus wrote:
I want to build a dedicated computer solely for playing music digitally.

So Ben, let's try to start from here: why a dedicated computer?
If the only function will be audio playback, why not a dedicated player, something like the Aurender?



As for aurender and similar devices, if a network player of that sort is implemented well, they might be equal or better than a computer outputting audio via usb. The only one I've liked so far is the naim network player. Rest haven't been impressive at least to me. Aurender - I can't comment as I've never heard one.

I beg your pardon, Ben, but I would appreciate very much if you may quote a tad more properly when answering.

Said that, my point is that a computer do require some manteinance and it is not well suited into headless operation, right out of the box: a player would be more practical for just playing files (moreover objects like the Aurender are file players or music servers, not the same kind of network players, they are sort of a small dedicated computers, like some dedicated rigs for coin mining).

If you want to stick with a PC, I would give a look to some dedicated enclosures, like the Origen or the Soundgraph, along with the already quoted HDPlex and Streacom. The Grandia and Crown series from Silverstone are solid choices, but I would consider the mATX Fortress too.
If you don't mind about software manteinance, I would give a look to operating systems with headless operations in mind: I am thinking to some projects like either Daphile or Vortex.

With reference to storage capacity, I have some doubt about the planned 2Tb as somehow conservative (the quoted Aurender player sports a total capacity of 8Tb). However, whether 2Tb were enough for your digital archive, given that cost is not an actual object and price aren't that high, I would also think to get rid of any mechanical disk, and I will use a bunch of around 1Tb Crucial 2.5" SSD, so that, for a no-moving-parts possible setup, I would think to something like a Silverstone Fortress FT-03, coupled with a NoFan CR95C cooler, and a Seasonic 400FL PSU (about active hardware, about any H97 or H87 mATX board from ASRock, ASUS, or MSI along with a Core i3 will be far more than fine).

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Luca


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 Post subject: Re: Build advise please for Audiophile PC
PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 7:26 am 
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I like the idea of using a Sysnology/QNAP (etc) NAS for the backend and then using an appliance for front end. Added benefit of backup for the other PCs in the house.

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1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, MSI Z87-G45, MSI GTX 760 2GB Gaming, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung Evo 250GB, Crucial MX100 256GB, WD Red 2TB, Samsung DVD burner, Fractal Define R4, Antec True Quiet 140 (2 front + rear) case fans, Seasonic X-560. 35-40W idle, 45-55W video streaming, 170-200W WoW, 200-230W Rift, 318W stress test (Prime95 + Furmark)


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 Post subject: Re: Build advise please for Audiophile PC
PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 7:50 am 
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Another ready option could be an Apple Mac Pro, which should be very much versed into music playing, and very stylish too (even if a total overkill, computing-wise).

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