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Software as a hi-fi system component (Read 290 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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