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Software as a hi-fi system component (Read 1336 times)
Lonely Raven
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Software as a hi-fi system component
01/09/17 at 21:12:13
 
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beowulf
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Re: Software as a hi-fi system component
Reply #1 - 01/11/17 at 07:48:21
 
I agree, the playback software is important part of the chain.  There seems to be a bias and/or a psychological discomfort for a lot of people to listen to music over their PC.  Most software is almost plug and play ~ though the free stuff out there does require more effort IMO.  If someone can post a message in a forum, you can download and install JRiver or Roon without much more effort.  You can dig deeper if feeling adventurous, but most people can get up and running with a simple setup within a half an hour or even less.

Interesting, I read on the comments section (of that Darko article you posted) there is something out there called the "Roon Core Kit".  From what I understand it is an OS dedicated to running Roon only.  A little too closed in IMO as I also use my PC for watching movies and Roon is only for music playback so that would not work for me, but it's out there.  

TBH though I just don't see the need for a dedicated music PC only, I have heard some dedicated music servers out there and I don't feel they perform and/or sound any better than a PC ~ plus a PC can do it all, no need for a dedicated server and then a dedicated streamer, etc. the PC/Mac can do it all and much more for much less $$$.  I do believe in choosing parts that are as quiet as possible though like those used in the C.A.P.S. from Computer Audiophile.

A lot of people also say that running Microsoft Server OS rather than something like Windows 10 is quieter as there is not as much going on in the background, but I'm not sure if I buy into that philosophy either.  I also think that Sonore microRendu is a another example of some "audio guru" making a product for a problem that just doesn't exist IMO.  I've seen some measurements on it and with the standard PSU that comes with the microRendu it actually performs worse than a PC!  And only when you buy an expensive LPSU does it even approach the same level of what a PC can do in the first place, but by that time you are talking well over the cost of a kickass PC with an i7 core that will stomp all over it.
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Lonely Raven
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Re: Software as a hi-fi system component
Reply #2 - 01/12/17 at 20:47:00
 

I've done extensive testing using Windows 7, Windows 10, and 2012 Server, with and without Audiophile Optimizer.

It absolutely makes a difference.

The fewer spurious processes you have running, the lower the emitted noise from the processors and busses. The less of that mess you start with, the easier it is to clean up your data stream and power lines *before* it gets to your DAC allowing it to do its job.

I read about the Roon core. Roon is Linux based I believe, which is why the core can run on my Synology NAS. I like the idea of Roon core on a dedicated PC.  I have (and build) these little i5 and i7 based PCs that I use as dedicated playback machines, and they only cost $150 (used - starting price). So for the cost of a power cable and the Roon core I could have a dedicated music management and streaming system I can control from my phone? Yeah, count me in.
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beowulf
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Re: Software as a hi-fi system component
Reply #3 - 01/12/17 at 23:42:19
 
Lonely Raven wrote on 01/12/17 at 20:47:00:
I've done extensive testing using Windows 7, Windows 10, and 2012 Server, with and without Audiophile Optimizer.

It absolutely makes a difference.

The fewer spurious processes you have running, the lower the emitted noise from the processors and busses. The less of that mess you start with, the easier it is to clean up your data stream and power lines *before* it gets to your DAC allowing it to do its job.

I read about the Roon core. Roon is Linux based I believe, which is why the core can run on my Synology NAS. I like the idea of Roon core on a dedicated PC.  I have (and build) these little i5 and i7 based PCs that I use as dedicated playback machines, and they only cost $150 (used - starting price). So for the cost of a power cable and the Roon core I could have a dedicated music management and streaming system I can control from my phone? Yeah, count me in.


Which OS sounded best to you out of Windows 10 or Server 2012?  Did you use Audiophile Optimizer with both and what were you conclusions?

The Roon Core Kit would interest me if I only listened to music, but I use my server to store and watch movies as well so it's just too much separate stuff for me. One of the reasons I like JRiver so much is that it can do "almost" all of it.  I would like to see Tidal integration as IMO it is a buggy Band-Aid and nowhere near Roon's integration, but other than that I'm good with JRiver and Windows 10.

What kind of PC case are you using for the PC's you're making?  I may be interested in an i7 core based one if the case is decent looking.  I have an Asus VivoPC and the case for it is pretty nice looking (kind of looks like a Mac Mini, perhaps a little better looking IMO than the Mac), so I have no issues placing it in my hi-fi console/rack as it doesn't call too much attention to itself.

You can see it on the rack here (nice and small and out of the way).  The tweaked out "ZenWave Audio SurgeX Edition" power unit and cables were laying on the floor as I was testing it out at the time I took that pic, but I didn't leave them there permanently Grin





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« Last Edit: 01/12/17 at 23:45:40 by beowulf »  
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Lonely Raven
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Re: Software as a hi-fi system component
Reply #4 - 01/13/17 at 20:33:37
 
I felt Windows 10 with Audiophile Optomizer was easier to setup, but Server 2012 with AO sounded better. That said, I read that there was a Windows update that changed how sound is handled (I don't recall specifics), and Windows 10 is the only option now because it's hands down better. Since switching to Roon and using my PS Audio Bridge II, I've not tried the latest AO on the latest Windows 10, but it's on my To-Do list. I also had an audiophile over who loved how my mini-pc sounded and bought it off me on the spot...it wasn't even for sale but he just threw money at me so I shrugged and let it go.  So I have to build myself another one. I've got two or three of these laying around. LOL

As for the PC Case - I use these Lenovo Tiny Form Factor PCs as a base. (not my photo, but I found this image for size reference.



We use them at my work, so I know how reliable and quiet they are. So when I can find them off lease somewhere, I buy them up and build audio PCs out of them. They are pretty good out of the box, but switching to shielded memory, SSD hard drive, and maybe adding some foil shielding helps quiet them down further. After that, it's all about the software. Oh, and because they use standard 19v laptop power bricks (outboard power supply!), I can also add a Linear Power Supply to clean it up further.  I think I have a thread on here from two years ago where I detailed my progress with Audiophile Optomizer and modifying an industrial linear power supply into an audiophile one.  ;)
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« Last Edit: 01/13/17 at 20:35:15 by Lonely Raven »  
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beowulf
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Re: Software as a hi-fi system component
Reply #5 - 01/17/17 at 23:49:24
 
Lonely Raven wrote on 01/12/17 at 20:47:00:
I've done extensive testing using Windows 7, Windows 10, and 2012 Server, with and without Audiophile Optimizer.

It absolutely makes a difference.



Hi LR, getting back to this for a moment, when you say extensive testing, do you mean actual measurements or by ear?

I've seen some actual measurements testing done by Achimago with JPlay and Fidelizer, which they did show CPU processes reduced through the software, but nothing of measureable significance in relation to jitter, noise levels, distortion, etc.  

Albeit not Audiophile Optimizer, but unless AO is coding something significantly different in their software than what Fidelizer/JPlay are doing then I find it fascinating that anyone is hearing anything different when test measurements are saying otherwise.

There were also no measureable differences between Windows 8 vs 10.

Now if there were measureable differences that could show proof of something of significance happening ~ I would definitely be interested in this software, but I can't see myself paying money for software that shows no notable differences through actual measurements.
 
It's not like tube rolling or cable swapping where the tones of the analog signals are being altered through different metallurgy and such ... the whole idea of this type of software is to make things sound better by reducing processes, but if by reducing processes shows no measureable differences than how can it be that people hear a difference? Undecided
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Lonely Raven
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Re: Software as a hi-fi system component
Reply #6 - 01/19/17 at 02:02:31
 

I've already been down this path - I don't have measurement tools, so I can only go by how it sounds in my system. I'm not going to debate how or why they sound different as I don't have the science or tools to prove it; I can only say that they do sound different to me.

The more I tinker, the more I find *everything* matters. If someone can't measure the difference, then I can only suppose they are measuring the wrong thing.
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StevieT
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Re: Software as a hi-fi system component
Reply #7 - 03/21/17 at 21:53:14
 
I started using Amarra Software. Best Ive heard to date. Ver 3 and Ver 4 are Very different, I prefer ver 4 for mac.

Im an Old-school Windows and hardware builder. A few years ago I came to the hard realization that Macs just SOUND better. Their hardware sounds better but more importantly their OS is better!

I now build my own Macs. Hacintoshes. Ive built a dozen!
My current i7 build sounds slightly better than an i5 MacMini i dont use anymore.

SSD drives absolutely sound better than spinning drives. Just say'in!

I still have and hardly use an Arcam FMJ (Ring DACs) CD Player.
The inexpensive Devil Sound USB DAC i have, playing AIFF's in my Mac sounds only slightly inferior and its 1000 times more convenient.

My and a buddy have been collecting Music for YEARS. Now have about 2 TB of AIFFs. And I still find myself saying, I don't have that album??? LOL

Software players and OS are VERY important, most important I believe.

iTunes sounds sterile in comparison. And I GIVE UP on Windows!

Not been on this forum in Many years. My Custom Select needed a repair. Pappa did a nice job! Amp sounds better than ever.  

I drive it with a custom McAlister preamp. I have a custom McAlister 16wpc SET amp but its a winter only amp! Haha, runs VERY HOT!

Happy listening!
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« Last Edit: 03/21/17 at 21:55:09 by StevieT »  
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Lonely Raven
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Re: Software as a hi-fi system component
Reply #8 - 03/22/17 at 22:36:33
 

I agree with you on most of that, I just haven't had enough side by side to say Mac is better than Windows (or vice versa).  

I've been wanting to give Palomino one of my custom built PCs and let him have at it for a few weeks, side by side with his Mac. I trust his judgement since we often come to the same conclusions about sound, and he has a good way of presenting things without giving away the outcome so i can judge for myself.

Damnit, I'm going to have to make this happen now!

Tom, I'm building you a Windows PC to play with!
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Tripwr1964
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Re: Software as a hi-fi system component
Reply #9 - 03/31/17 at 22:26:56
 
am i the only one on this site who uses Daphile (linux distro)?

i've had real good luck with it, been using for going on three years.  it's very stable.  i leave my players on all the time and there are times when Daphile has been up and running for months with no issue or need to reboot.  and it has features that i don't even know what they are!

it sounds pretty nice too.
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Lonely Raven
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Re: Software as a hi-fi system component
Reply #10 - 04/03/17 at 21:35:08
 
I haven't dabbled in Linux in...probably 10 years.

Is the software all compiled into the OS, or do you have to pick a linux distro, then install and configure software separately?  I have spare machines, so I might try it.

I did try HQPlayer on Windows 10, trying to connect to my DirectStream Bridge II via network - and HQPlayer kept crashing. I've not really spent much time trying to figure out what's going on with it...just too busy working on my home theater project and...you know, going out on dates and stuff. LOL
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Tripwr1964
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Re: Software as a hi-fi system component
Reply #11 - 04/03/17 at 23:17:10
 
i just download the .iso from the site
https://www.daphile.com/#download
there are instructions too.  using usbwriter-1.3 i put it on a thumbdrive.
interface is via phone (using any squeeze box app) or via web interface.

i am sure you would know what most of the setup options mean... all this dsd pcm etc.... i don't even know what this stuff is. ha

i have all my flac file on a system hd (not my player) and just direct the player to this location on my network.

another i've had good luck with is Volumio.  use this one with my raspberry pi's.


everything is runable from this distro's.  i just run them right from the thumb drive.  no internal hd or fans and external pico psu's in my players.  only thing on the mother board is some ram.
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« Last Edit: 04/03/17 at 23:23:26 by Tripwr1964 »  

CSP3, CAD 120s MKII, Sota Star Sapphire, SME309, Pulse3, ZP3 jupiter, ZMC1, Schiit bifrost multibit, CEC TL5 transport, MG1.6QR w/ ext xo & mye stands/947/betsys. herbies iso, VH audio flavor diy pwr cords, Beden 8402 IC,
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Donnie
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Re: Software as a hi-fi system component
Reply #12 - 04/03/17 at 23:40:35
 
It looks like I might have a new toy to try on my Ubuntu laptop!
I'm running Jriver 21 or 22 on it right now but they are asking for money. So a upgrade must be in order.
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Core32
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Re: Software as a hi-fi system component
Reply #13 - 04/04/17 at 12:40:58
 
I've been using Daphile for 2 years +.
Love the sound but the interface can be a bit tricky to set up Tidal and streaming services in general.
I can control playback via my remote PC or my old decommissioned Android phone.
It has a built in CD ripper.
The OS is tiny and small enough to easily fit on and boot from a USB stick if you want.
That way you could leave your JRiver install in place and just redirect the laptop to boot from the USB stick temporarily for a trial.
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« Last Edit: 04/04/17 at 12:43:08 by Core32 »  
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Tripwr1964
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Re: Software as a hi-fi system component
Reply #14 - 04/04/17 at 13:47:40
 
core

yes i'd agree with the addons/apps, i've never really tried to figure that out. i'll have to try it again, and if i have questions drop you a note.  i don't use streaming services but my kids/wife do and they are always asking for that option.

other cool thing is that your friends can connect to your wifi and download a squeezebox app and they can control the music (leaves me free to drink!).

there is also a variable volume control you have to check in the audio options to get that to work.  it's not defaulted to on for some reason.

hows the CD ripper?  haven't tried that either.  i've been using dbpower amp since the beginning.
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Lonely Raven
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Re: Software as a hi-fi system component
Reply #15 - 04/04/17 at 18:28:15
 

Does Daphile do DSD upconversion? That's part of why I'm looking to HQPlayer. My DirectStream does DSD128 which IMHO is the start of really analog sounding digital.

I'm downloading Daphile ISO now - I doubt I'll have time to load it up tonight, but I have a machine ready, I'd just need to drop an SSD in it and load the ISO to USB drive!

YEY - more options!

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Tripwr1964
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Re: Software as a hi-fi system component
Reply #16 - 04/04/17 at 18:43:56
 
LR looks like it... up to DSD512.

Features:
Headless music server OS
Bitperfect and gapless playback
Extensive audio format support
Native DSD playback up to DSD512
PCM resolutions up to 384kHz/24bit
High quality audio resampling including PCM to DSD conversion
Convolution filtering for DRC and equalizer
"Play from RAM" to minimize CPU load and disk activity during playback
Automatic audio device configuration with multiplayer support
CD ripping with AccurateRip™ verification, automatic metadata tagging and cover art
Supports external file servers as music source
Easy configuration and installation through the web interface
WiFi hotspot support (if compatible hardware exists)
Software update via web interface
Network-attached storage (NAS) service
Whole system included in about 200MB ISO-file

Daphile is based on the open source Squeezebox Server, Squeezelite and Linux.
Since Daphile is used and configured completely via the web interface the user is not required to have any Linux skills.
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Lonely Raven
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Re: Software as a hi-fi system component
Reply #17 - 04/06/17 at 17:41:22
 
That's so perfect!

I just read today that Roon is basically working on the same thing (Roon OS - linux based USB installed music player) - except their library management smokes most other software out there.

So it looks like I'll be building at least two machines - one with Daphile OS and one with Roon OS and see which wins me over in ease of use, connectivity options, streaming options, and of course - sound quality.
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