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How simple can an audio computer be?

Printed From: Graham Slee Hifi System Components
Category: Digital Audio
Forum Name: Computer Audio
Forum Description: Is computer audio here to stay or is it just another flavour of the month?
URL: https://www.hifisystemcomponents.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=4980
Printed Date: 11 May 2021 at 2:03pm
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 12.01 - http://www.webwizforums.com


Topic: How simple can an audio computer be?
Posted By: Ash
Subject: How simple can an audio computer be?
Date Posted: 18 Jun 2020 at 11:10pm
There is so much choice in the market of single board computers that I find myself asking the question:

What is the minimum hardware specs needed to play a stream of audio data competently?

I have read that the newer Raspberry Pi 4B suffers from more electronic noise than its earlier versions due to the more capable processor and memory. Maybe something from the Orange Pi range may be more suitable for audio data streaming... I assume something with just 1GB of RAM is more than adequate for the task? Something like the Orange Pi PC board paired with the Allo DigiOne Signature HAT on the 40-pin GPIO and a GSP power supply. The OPi PC has a barrel jack power input too (rejoice!) and has an IR receiver module for remote operation. I wish I had known about single board computers years ago. I have been living in the dark!





Replies:
Posted By: ICL1P
Date Posted: 19 Jun 2020 at 9:12am
Originally posted by Ash Ash wrote:

I wish I had known about single board computers years ago. I have been living in the dark!



You’ve just not been paying attention Ash. Some of us have been talking about them here since at least as long ago as 2014.

https://www.hifisystemcomponents.com/forum/the-missing-piece-one-for-leo_topic2192.html - https://www.hifisystemcomponents.com/forum/the-missing-piece-one-for-leo_topic2192.html

https://www.hifisystemcomponents.com/forum/my-new-music-server_topic2240_post25753.html?KW=Raspberry#25753 - https://www.hifisystemcomponents.com/forum/my-new-music-server_topic2240_post25753.html?KW=Raspberry#25753


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Ifor
=====
Reflex M & ACCESSION M, CuSat50, Majestic DAC, a Proprius pair.


Posted By: BackinBlack
Date Posted: 19 Jun 2020 at 11:52am
Ash
When looking at the various SBCs, bear in mind the software available for handling audio files and storage devices. The SBC, audio card(Hat in Pi speak) and software compatibility is not always clear.
Whilst most of the software for SBCs is open source which allows some flexibility in tailoring it to your needs, there is no warranty that it will work either. Even some of the paid for software can be glitchy.
The software is generally Linux based and audio card manufacturers (should) submit their drivers for inclusion in the Linux distributions.
The Raspberry Pi is the most commonly used SBC and has more readily available software than others, I've tried alternative SBCs in the past and found it frustrating when things don't work quite as expected or not at all. Delving into code to modify even the simplest OS is not for the feint hearted.
Do you run Linux on your recently purchased fanless computer?


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Just listen, if it sounds good to you, enjoy it.


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 19 Jun 2020 at 8:19pm
Yes, 2014, around the time of the Aylesbury Roadshow and introduction of the "big DAC". I remember reading many posts about Squeezebox Touch and Raspberry Pi as streamers, thinking that "streaming" exclusively meant wireless data transfer and wifi networks. I did not really understand the topics and have always been a "cables only" guy. However, after learning more about how computers work, I wanted to make mine simpler to save space and make it more suited for high fidelity audio.

Regarding my Hystou fanless mini PC, I have used the SATA SSD drive with Windows 10 Home from my previous PC in this new computer. I could install any Linux distro on it or on an SD card or USB drive if I wanted. I will have a play with different operating systems. I tried Linux Mint and Ubuntu several years ago.


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 20 Jun 2020 at 12:17am
Thanks Ian, I think I will stick with Raspberry Pi as you suggest, for compatibility.

A RPi1A+ with an Allo DigiOne Signature HAT and a GSP 5V 3A linear supply would be a good starting point for me. A metal case for the PCBs would be even better.


Posted By: ICL1P
Date Posted: 20 Jun 2020 at 9:19am
you can get a nice metal case if you go with HiFiBerry instead of Allo.

https://www.hifiberry.com/shop/cases/steel-case-for-hifiberry-digi-pi-4/ - https://www.hifiberry.com/shop/cases/steel-case-for-hifiberry-digi-pi-4/


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Ifor
=====
Reflex M & ACCESSION M, CuSat50, Majestic DAC, a Proprius pair.


Posted By: BackinBlack
Date Posted: 20 Jun 2020 at 10:54am
Pi 3 Model A+ seems to be the current preferred Pi for Audio, it is WiFi only though, no ethernet. Otherwise either Pi 1A+ or Pi 3 B+. As you say the Pi4 processor is overkill and perhaps unnecessarily noisy.
Simplest configuration to start with would be Pi feeding USB to Majestic, no HAT required.
Simplest software is PiCoreplayer. MoodeAudio and Volumio appear to be the most popular, providing quite comprehensive facilities and interfaces.

Ian


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Just listen, if it sounds good to you, enjoy it.


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 20 Jun 2020 at 12:46pm
I don't need to connect it to the internet so if the hardware of the Pi1A+ is adequate to run any of the OS you have suggested, all good. Bluetooth and wifi received by the more capable Pi3A+ may be detrimental to signal fidelity? Micro-signals are the most susceptible to EMI (smaller order of magnitude) so if I can remove it and put it in a metal case, might be a step in the right direction. The prices are so cheap that any of these boards are "low risk".


Posted By: ICL1P
Date Posted: 20 Jun 2020 at 1:09pm
won’t you need the Internet for the UI or do you intend to attach a touchscreen to the Pi?

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Ifor
=====
Reflex M & ACCESSION M, CuSat50, Majestic DAC, a Proprius pair.


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 20 Jun 2020 at 1:44pm
I would prefer a touchscreen.

Will a mouse/keyboard with a TV not be able to navigate the operating system?


Posted By: BackinBlack
Date Posted: 20 Jun 2020 at 2:19pm
Most pi Music OSs are designed to run "headless" ie without a screen attached. The GUI can be on any browser used on Android, iOS or PC necessarily connected by WiFi or LAN. Touchscreens can be used directly attached to the Pi, the Pi 7" touchscreen being the easiest to implement as Moode and Volumio (Other OSs are available, but I'm not sufficiently familiar with them) have integral software specifically tailored for the Pi Touchscreen. 
Connection to a TV via the HDMI port is also possible, but needs some specific setup procedures as normally the HDMI port only accesses the OS command line for use with keyboard and mouse connected via USB.
If you don't intend connecting the Pi to the Internet, what music file sources are going to use? An SSD or USB memory stick connected to the Pi USB ports works well.
The uSD card used to load the OS can also contain Music files, but this has severe drawbacks. If you need to reload the OS any Music files on the uSD card will be lost. Some users also claim that reading music files from the uSD hinders the OS reading the uSD card, I've not tried it so am only passing on information.
The Moode forum provides a wealth of information and is a generally friendly place, a bit like here!
If that all sounds complicated, it isn't. It's all much in line with your topic heading - How simple can it be?

Ian


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Just listen, if it sounds good to you, enjoy it.


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 20 Jun 2020 at 2:50pm
Thank you.

I have plenty of CDs that I can rip onto an SSD. This is all new territory for me. Whilst I'm not a technophobe, I am not up-to-date with modern technology as I don't need to use most of it. Shall be a learning curve.

Funny thing is though that audio data would be sourced from USB storage via a "noisy" bus when the rest of the streamer is designed to avoid USB.


Posted By: BackinBlack
Date Posted: 20 Jun 2020 at 4:19pm
I'm not yet entirely convinced about the merits of S/PDIF over USB. The Pi (and other SBCs) are configured to output an I2S signal which can then be processed by a HAT to give an S/PDIF signal, the processing may include various re-clocking processes. The S/PDIF signal is then re-processed before the DAC input, which again involves buffering and re-clocking, to present the reconstituted I2S.
Simplistically, as far as the digital information is concerned, a clean, well timed 0/1 stream should be presented to the Digital to Analogue Conversion process. Extraneous noise on the signal, if well below the switching threshold, should have little impact on the conversion process. Noise imposed on the power supply rails via whatever source, however will impact on the post conversion filters, buffer/output stages. EMI interference will be present at all stages, circuit design will determine what impact this has.
As I said that is a very simplified version of events, the point is though that with all that processing your "micro-signals" don't stand a chance of being preserved in the digital domain. If we were talking Analogue signals it's a very different story and we know someone that understands that. Wink


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Just listen, if it sounds good to you, enjoy it.


Posted By: Chris Firth
Date Posted: 20 Jun 2020 at 4:20pm
piCorePlayer can be set up to be both server and player simultaneously, and it's possible to connect a touch screen to drive the thing, just like a Squeezebox Touch.

Headless working is simple. and you can use a Smartphone to drive it with an appropriate app installed.


Posted By: BackinBlack
Date Posted: 20 Jun 2020 at 4:26pm
Chris, long while since I used PiCoreplayer, probably before I had a Touchscreen, so didn't realise that it could handle a Touchscreen.

Ian


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Just listen, if it sounds good to you, enjoy it.


Posted By: Chris Firth
Date Posted: 20 Jun 2020 at 4:33pm
IIRC you need to install Samba to use a touch screen.

Correction - it's in Jivelite.



Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 20 Jun 2020 at 5:12pm
If the Pi board chosen has Ethernet port, I could connect it to my main PC and use the PC to source the audio files to the Pi through a network, as long as it has enough bandwidth. Not really an advantage though, especially if the cable has poor shielding.

As for producing something to listen to, choices for ripping audio CD data to computer storage are: SATA vs USB vs PCI.

Why do I feel like this trail of thought is going to go full circle and it turns out USB was the most sensible option?


Posted By: Chris Firth
Date Posted: 20 Jun 2020 at 6:22pm
Originally posted by Ash Ash wrote:

If the Pi board chosen has Ethernet port, I could connect it to my main PC and use the PC to source the audio files to the Pi through a network, as long as it has enough bandwidth. Not really an advantage though, especially if the cable has poor shielding.

As for producing something to listen to, choices for ripping audio CD data to computer storage are: SATA vs USB vs PCI.

Why do I feel like this trail of thought is going to go full circle and it turns out USB was the most sensible option?

Why connect a RasPi to your PC?
Connect it to network and it can talk to whatever you want it to talk to .

On the ethernet cable front - UTP is generally best, as it doesn't have a screen to act as aerial and ground plane noise conduit.

USB is not an audio connection.
It's designed for connecting myriad devices together, and it can be used for audio, but it's also a great conduit for ground plane noise, which is sat there at extremely low amplitudes but still adversely affecting things.
You're better off having players that can be controlled over network, which interface directly with your amplification, and don't use USB.

Just my considered opinions Smile




Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 20 Jun 2020 at 7:04pm
Advantages of a headless network player:

-Less cables (1. power supply   2. S/PDIF output   3. ethernet carrying digital audio data and user instructions to processor [could be wifi to eliminate cable])

-Host device can be a mobile device allowing you to be remotely located and not sat close to the receiving hardware. (Software makes it into a dedicated remote control.)

-Host device holds the data on microSD, eliminating USB

-No need for a TV or monitor to be connected to the Pi so another source of EMI is eliminated


Disadvantages:

-EMI from other devices??

-Latency or loss of connection??




So basically this is remote access, like what PC technicians can do to fix your computer through the internet.

So "streaming", in this context, is pretty much what I originally thought it was. Transmitting digital data wirelessly from a master device to a slave device.


Posted By: Chris Firth
Date Posted: 20 Jun 2020 at 7:41pm
Originally posted by Ash Ash wrote:

So "streaming", in this context, is pretty much what I originally thought it was. Transmitting digital data wirelessly from a master device to a slave device.

It can be, but isn't necessarily so.
I control my streaming setup wirelessly (from laptop or Smartphone), but all the other connections are wired, for dependability as much as anything else.

My son's stuff is hooked up wirelessly to a business class router set up as wireless access point, but that's because I don't fancy pulling up the floor and throwing in ethernet cabling.


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 20 Jun 2020 at 7:49pm
Thanks for your advice. I will certainly give it some consideration. I do suspect that I will be substituting one set of problems for another, if I go down the networking route. I only listen on one device and it is always in the same room as the rest of my equipment.

But definite thanks though.


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 20 Jun 2020 at 11:18pm
Can Raspberry Pi CPUs be underclocked to improve noise performance and save power?

This is something I might try on my fanless mini PC at some point in the future to see if it reduces electronic noise. I can unplug the bluetooth/wifi card if I want, I can reduce the amount of RAM plugged in and I can use a 12V linear power supply in place of the stock PSU. Can try optical but no facility for coaxial like with the Pi HAT.


Posted By: ICL1P
Date Posted: 20 Jun 2020 at 11:20pm
Originally posted by Chris Firth Chris Firth wrote:

I control my streaming setup wirelessly (from laptop or Smartphone), but all the other connections are wired, for dependability as much as anything else.
Me too, and thanks to Chris for guiding me through wiring up my house.

-------------
Ifor
=====
Reflex M & ACCESSION M, CuSat50, Majestic DAC, a Proprius pair.


Posted By: Chris Firth
Date Posted: 21 Jun 2020 at 9:39am
Originally posted by Ash Ash wrote:

Can Raspberry Pi CPUs be underclocked to improve noise performance and save power?

They're already low power devices.
The Pi 3b+ is the one to look at - the Pi 4 draws a bit more current and this one might be the one you're thinking of.

As always the cheap and cheerful 5vdc SMPS for the Pi are the significant noise generators, but that's what ferrite beads are very effective at filtering off.


Posted By: Chris Firth
Date Posted: 21 Jun 2020 at 9:40am
Originally posted by ICL1P ICL1P wrote:

Originally posted by Chris Firth Chris Firth wrote:

I control my streaming setup wirelessly (from laptop or Smartphone), but all the other connections are wired, for dependability as much as anything else.
Me too, and thanks to Chris for guiding me through wiring up my house.

You're more than welcome Ifor Smile



Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 22 Jun 2020 at 7:22am
I guess title of this discussion should have been "optimised PC vs dedicated streamer" as that seems to be what it boils down to.


Posted By: Aussie Mick
Date Posted: 23 Jun 2020 at 12:05am
Anything we can do to remove the laptop/PC from the chain is good. Electrical storm in a box.
Mick.


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Rega RP8 - Apheta 2 - Accession MC Enigma PS -Solo ULDE (Focal Utopia) - Proprius - PMC Twenty5.22


Posted By: Dave Friday
Date Posted: 23 Jun 2020 at 9:26am
Hi, are any of the tablet style any good ( with a Bitsi or ?)
Ta.


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lp12,oc9mk3,ca610p,krimson40watt pa,kef105.4


Posted By: VinodCrispon
Date Posted: 24 Jun 2020 at 5:19pm
Hi MIck,
I See you are using Mac Book Pro >> ROON to Majestic. Do you use Optical or USB Connection? Which one do you prefer?
Also while you Play from Mac book, do you run it on Battery or you plug-in the laptop Charger in. Do they make any difference (Improvement vs Deterioration).
Cheers,
Vinod Vincent


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Vinod Vincent

Elevator & Accession w PSU-1/ Majestic w Enigma/ Cusat/ Lautus
TT: Amazon 1(Candenza Bronze)
Amp: Accuphase E650
CD/Streamer: OPPO UDP205/CYRUS StreamX2
Speaker: Dynaudio Contour S3.4


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 24 Jun 2020 at 9:11pm
I've decided to scratch the itch. Shall obtain a RPi 2B model and try the HiFiBerry Digi+ Pro or Allo DigiOne Signature HAT with it. No wifi or bluetooth EMI on the board, more USB connections than the A+ form factor, 900MHz quad-core processor and 1GB RAM so less noisy than the 3B/4B. Shall maybe add an Sbooster MKII linear PSU or try Graham's upcoming PSU, which will hopefully be available soon.

I'm not interested in networking it or running it headless/wireless. I want it to be an all-in-one independent unit so will have to be clever with my choice of screen interface.


Posted By: Chris Firth
Date Posted: 24 Jun 2020 at 9:24pm
Why not just buy a CD player?
A CD player is nothing but a simple computer.
Some even have a USB input where it will read the files on it.


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 24 Jun 2020 at 9:35pm
Already have a USB CD/DVD player. I can just plug it into whatever computer I want.

The Pi is a modular system and can be adapted. I don't like to play CDs, only use them as a source of data.


Posted By: Chris Firth
Date Posted: 24 Jun 2020 at 10:56pm
I use a RasPi to facilitate easy access to a large local digital library, and accessing subscription content providers.
Being networked is its greatest asset.
It delivers content to the rendering devices on the network in a most efficient manner.

Content that can be controlled, from my smartphone/laptop/IR RC/touching the screen on the rendering device if it has one.

How are you going to update your local library?
I just point material at the storage point and transfer it.
No system down time.




Posted By: Aussie Mick
Date Posted: 25 Jun 2020 at 2:01am
Hi Vinod,
    I’ve recently lay moved to a MacBook Air, and I miss optical. I thought it was a tad calmer sounding, less noise. I use optical from my cd transport. Yes, running off battery is also less noisy. 
Mick.


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Rega RP8 - Apheta 2 - Accession MC Enigma PS -Solo ULDE (Focal Utopia) - Proprius - PMC Twenty5.22


Posted By: VinodCrispon
Date Posted: 25 Jun 2020 at 2:34am
Hi Mick,
Thanks for sharing your experience. 
I tried the Mac (Battery Powered) >>> Optical Out >>> DAC it sounded calmer than with the Mac charger connected. 
In my very little experience the optical have always been too bright or thin sounding for my liking. I use optical only for sources I do not have any other option like my Sony Bravia TV & Chromecast Audio.
So you are running optical between the C.E.C TL5 & Majestic? Any reason why you prefer the optical over the Coaxial? What cable are you using? I would like try from my source as well. 
Cheers,
Vinod Vincent


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Vinod Vincent

Elevator & Accession w PSU-1/ Majestic w Enigma/ Cusat/ Lautus
TT: Amazon 1(Candenza Bronze)
Amp: Accuphase E650
CD/Streamer: OPPO UDP205/CYRUS StreamX2
Speaker: Dynaudio Contour S3.4


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 25 Jun 2020 at 1:27pm
Going for the HifiBerry Digi+ Pro HAT rather than the Allo Digione Signature HAT. Would rather put the cost difference towards a better power supply. Plus there is already a steel case available.

Will be able to compare USB, optical and coaxial from a single device.


Posted By: VinodCrispon
Date Posted: 25 Jun 2020 at 2:06pm
Hi Ash,
Looking forward to your experience on the "HifiBerry Digi+ Pro HAT ".
Power supply "Plixir built in SIngapore" "Kingrex from China/Taiwan" can be really quiet one's. Sonic benefits for the HifiBerry never tried. 
I use the "Plixir" for my QNAP NAS & a Topping P50 for my Router.
Is there a PSU expected for these application from GSP? (Not aware of all the topics in the forum)


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Vinod Vincent

Elevator & Accession w PSU-1/ Majestic w Enigma/ Cusat/ Lautus
TT: Amazon 1(Candenza Bronze)
Amp: Accuphase E650
CD/Streamer: OPPO UDP205/CYRUS StreamX2
Speaker: Dynaudio Contour S3.4


Posted By: BackinBlack
Date Posted: 25 Jun 2020 at 2:18pm
Hi Ash,
The HifiBerry steel case provides good durable protection to the Pi and HAT and adds weight which helps it stay put.  I use them and like them, they allow WiFi and Bluetooth to be used. They necessarily have perforations for connections and ventilation and the 2 parts are not positively electrically connected, so (at computer operating frequencies) it's not a Faraday cage, but better than an EMI transparent plastic case.
Containing EMI requires carefully designed enclosures, you may remember the hoops that Graham jumped through in developing the Accession case to satisfactorily achieve EMI shielding.
With the high frequencies involved in modern digital devices, physical separation is your best friend.

Ian


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Just listen, if it sounds good to you, enjoy it.


Posted By: Aussie Mick
Date Posted: 26 Jun 2020 at 3:59am
Hey Vinod,
   This thread has made me reinvestigate. I have a Slee coax and a cheapish toslink hooked up now. The Slee coax winds on solidity and warmth, the toslink on calmness and detail. Not better or worse, just different, but I do wish the toslink had the acoustic mass of the Slee cable! After a few days of listening, I’m now favoring the coax. There you go. Nothing set in stone.
Mick.


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Rega RP8 - Apheta 2 - Accession MC Enigma PS -Solo ULDE (Focal Utopia) - Proprius - PMC Twenty5.22


Posted By: VinodCrispon
Date Posted: 26 Jun 2020 at 6:59am
Hi Mick,
Thanks for the info. Yes if the Optical has the "Acoustic Mass" of the Coax definitely it would have been the super star. However I just wonder if a better optical cable can make any Difference. 
I plan to clean the optical cable tips with the optics cleaner we use in our work place.
Example:  https://sg.rs-online.com/web/p/fibre-optic-cleaning/1038582/ - https://sg.rs-online.com/web/p/fibre-optic-cleaning/1038582/
In my work application it definitely increases the intensity of light through the optics, not sure of the Audio quality improvement. 
What is your opinion on your CD Transport? This is the Belt Driven model right? How different it is from the Conventional Direct drive Transport?


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Vinod Vincent

Elevator & Accession w PSU-1/ Majestic w Enigma/ Cusat/ Lautus
TT: Amazon 1(Candenza Bronze)
Amp: Accuphase E650
CD/Streamer: OPPO UDP205/CYRUS StreamX2
Speaker: Dynaudio Contour S3.4


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 26 Jun 2020 at 8:01am
I do suspect that USB, optical and coaxial will all be roughly equal performing in my intended system. This is because I have Lautus USB 1.2m cable and Lautus 1.5m coaxial, both of the correct impedances and my optical cable is a short 1m. I may try a more expensive glass fibre construction cable if I think it's worth a shot.

The main reason I think they will be roughly equal is the excellent design of the Majestic DAC. It is intended to get the most out of each input type. Nothing in it was an afterthought or budget sacrifice IMO. Will be great to finally do a comparison, especially with MySphere 3.1, which is transparency on a plate.

As ridiculous as it sounds, I might try wrapping my Pi assembled steel case in multiple layers of aluminium foil, including any unused ports, to see if this increases electromagnetic shielding and produces any audible improvement.


Posted By: Aussie Mick
Date Posted: 28 Jun 2020 at 1:40am
Hi Vinod,
   The belt drive supposedly has the advantage of moving to motor further away from the laser, thus reducing reading errors caused by vibration. Unless I had the same machine with a conventional set up, I’d have no way of knowing of how much of a difference it makes. It’s REALLY quiet mechanically compared to other CD players I’ve had, and I’m extremely happy with the sound. 
My only complaint is the price. Talking Australian dollars, the recommended retail here is $4,400, but in Japan it sells for $1,200 Australian dollars. So I bought mine direct from Japan. I think it’s around £2,200 in the UK.
Mick.


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Rega RP8 - Apheta 2 - Accession MC Enigma PS -Solo ULDE (Focal Utopia) - Proprius - PMC Twenty5.22


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 30 Jun 2020 at 8:05am
I have scrapped the RPi idea. Doing more research at the moment but been looking at Allo Sparky SBC with shield board or better yet, Allo USBridge Signature with Digione Signature in metal case and linear power supply. Might use the Allo Shanti instead of the Slee 5V 3A PSU. I am undecided.

After inspection of the USBridge Signature, maybe, as I suggested before, USB may turn out to be the best interface for audio data stream.

Graham, promote your 5V 3A PSU to me. What will it do that the Allo Shanti might not? I probably won't be able to hear a difference.


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 16 Sep 2020 at 11:52am
I still intend to get the GSP 5V 3A PSU and a Allo USBridge/Digione Signature player, to stream audio from a computer or smartphone to my Majestic DAC. Do I have to set up the streamer as a wifi/Bluetooth device? This is new territory for me.

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Lautus S/PDIF>Majestic>Lautus-R3>2xProprius>MySphere 3.1


Posted By: BackinBlack
Date Posted: 16 Sep 2020 at 12:41pm
The Allo USBridge will need to connect to your network, either by ethernet cable or WiFi depending on exact model. Bluetooth can be used for output to or input from other audio devices, although sound quality is compromised.
Ethernet/Wifi connectivity is needed for control of the player from PC/Tablet/Smartphone and access to streaming sources. Music files can be stored on an attached HDD, SDD, PC integral HDD or NAS on your network.
A further option for controlling the player is a touchscreen.
Which Allo version are you proposing to use, is it still the all-in-one USBridge Signature player?
Ian


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Just listen, if it sounds good to you, enjoy it.


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 16 Sep 2020 at 12:59pm
USBridge Signature player, yes. Will have the Digione Signature added to it in case I want to stream over coaxial to the Majestic rather than over USB. Thinking of having my CD FLAC rips on a high capacity flash drive plugged into one of the USB ports and the Slee PSU powering both boards. Would use a phone or PC as a headless controller. So the actual data stream would not be wireless; only the control of what data to send would be wireless. If I could connect it to PC to play youtube videos, that would be great too. In the case of youtube streaming, audio goes to the PC/smartphone controller over wifi then is transmitted to the Allo boards over wifi, so both control and data would be wireless.

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Lautus S/PDIF>Majestic>Lautus-R3>2xProprius>MySphere 3.1


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 17 Sep 2020 at 1:05pm
What about playing Blu ray or DVD media or video games, either on console or via emulation? The audio data could still be sent to the streamer/GSP signal chain over wifi? The Pi3B compute module is only 1.4GHz so is fine for audio, but probably insufficient for both video and audio? Regarding super hi-res formats above CD, it would be nice to have compatibility with those too but it isn't a necessity.

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Lautus S/PDIF>Majestic>Lautus-R3>2xProprius>MySphere 3.1


Posted By: BackinBlack
Date Posted: 17 Sep 2020 at 7:50pm
Providing the Blu-Ray/DVD/Games console source has discrete digital audio and video outputs the audio stream can be sent direct to your Majestic, the Video direct to monitor/TV.
If the source has uPNP/DLNA capability then "WiFi" connection to the Allo is possible, providing the OS you use has the capability.
The Allo along with most pi or SBC based streamers is aimed solely at Audio processing, keeping it isolated from video signals.
The pi has more than enough processing power to deal with PCM audio of at least 384kHz sample rates and similar quality DSD audio.



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Just listen, if it sounds good to you, enjoy it.


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 17 Sep 2020 at 8:31pm
Just going to wait a bit longer and sell some things while waiting for the 5V 3A GSP power supply then I will bite the bullet.

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Lautus S/PDIF>Majestic>Lautus-R3>2xProprius>MySphere 3.1


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 15 Dec 2020 at 12:05am
I am poised to order an Enigma for my Majestic DAC for sure but I am still struggling to justify using a dedicated streamer over my gaming motherboard. I don't want to drop a grand on an Allo USBridge player and GSP 5V Linear PSU and not be able to tell barely any difference to my motherboard as well as have less functionality and more complexity if I use it headless. I have some Blu-ray audio CDs as well, which I don't know if I will be able to play direct via a streamer.

If streamers are so good, why aren't they implemented in professional studios? What about CD/disc ripping? Surely if a computer is good enough for ripping, it's good enough for playback? I have a lot of reservations, obviated by my lack of a purchase even though I want to improve my source purity. Are high quality PC power supplies available for gaming motherboards?

If I want to enjoy optimum audio from a video game or film, a streamer wouldn't be usable, making the whole idea redundant... Ouch

If Graham could design an improved motherboard PSU PCB that I could swap into my existing metal enclosure, I'd be all over it immediately. As it stands with the 5V 3A PSU, I fear that I will struggle to justify a genuine need for it. Ouch


The more I think about it, the more streamers just seem like a convenience device more than a prerequisite for the highest sound fidelity. I guess it's down to user preference of user interface.
Enjoyment is more related to signal to noise ratio. Many of you here are fond of vinyl, which is far from a dead-quiet source.


-------------
Lautus S/PDIF>Majestic>Lautus-R3>2xProprius>MySphere 3.1


Posted By: Chris Firth
Date Posted: 15 Dec 2020 at 3:59am
Originally posted by Ash Ash wrote:

If streamers are so good, why aren't they implemented in professional studios?

The BBC (Broken Biscuit Company?) does not play physical media these days on anything being produced
from a mainstream studio.
They haven't done so for years.

They have a robust music server, and rendering devices in the studios.

You'll find similar at many pf the larger commercial radio stations too.

You don't hear about them because you (as a listener) do not need to know about the machinations and processes of how they go about their business.


Posted By: Graham Slee
Date Posted: 15 Dec 2020 at 7:59am
Noise is a function of temperature. Frozen things don't move. Hot things do.

Transistors have thermal voltage through which current flows and so contain resistance. All resistors produce noise: 576nV for a low noise 1k resistor with 20kHz bandwidth.

Transconductance operated transistors are least noisy but very non-linear unless emitter resistance is added, which increases noise.

Emitter resistors reduce gain, which can relax the need for subsequent large compensation capacitances, allowing faster slew rates...

Stop right there!

So low noise means slow/sluggish, and more noise means faster/more precise with music?

Correct.

Without surface damage, you can easily forget you're listening to vinyl, but it's only 12 "bit"!


-------------
Not simple enough for Google-Bot to understand...


Posted By: Aussie Mick
Date Posted: 15 Dec 2020 at 12:31pm
Hi Ash,
  My personal experience is that streaming sounds noticeably better than direct USB from a MacBook Pro, and that my CD Transport bests streaming. That experience is through three different DAC’s, one being the Majestic.
Having said that, I didn’t know that prior to actually listening to a streamer. I still don’t own a streamer, because I find both usb and CD still quite excellent sounding. And LP. If I had unlimited funds, yes I’d buy a streamer. Having heard three at home, I’m not missing them. But I know they’re better. 
I hope that helps?
Mick.


-------------
Rega RP8 - Apheta 2 - Accession MC Enigma PS -Solo ULDE (Focal Utopia) - Proprius - PMC Twenty5.22


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 15 Dec 2020 at 1:04pm
I may have to sacrifice money to learn about what makes a digital transport sound best. I guess it's not a mistake if lessons are learned, regardless of outcome.

-------------
Lautus S/PDIF>Majestic>Lautus-R3>2xProprius>MySphere 3.1


Posted By: lfc jon
Date Posted: 15 Dec 2020 at 7:45pm
I did't know computer audio and streamer audio was so complicated, after reading these posts I am completely lost, I think I'll stick to vinyl and CDs as I have enough problems downloading music then putting it on to my portable Hi Res music player. When I read about streamers in mags it seems so easy just plug and play or am I missing something here ?
I did once think about recording Vinyl to digital so I could put it on my portable but I gave up on that I dear as I am useless with computers. I am good at crashing them (vary good) and losing things on them (where it's gone to on the computer)


-------------
Pro-j tt,Ortofon 2m Bronze cart,Audiolab 8300CD,GS Reflex M. Solo headphone amp both with PSU1,MF M2si amp, Monitor audio silver 100 speakers, Atlas cables and Lautus cables


Posted By: CageyH
Date Posted: 15 Dec 2020 at 8:13pm
Ash, you can get linear power supplies for a PC, at a cost.
What I did though was buy a normal SMPS PSU designed for my PC, but one with low noise characteristics. Have a google for Jonny Guru. They do PSU reviews, and you can see if yours is suitable.




-------------
Kevin
European loan coordinator, based near Toulouse, France.


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 15 Dec 2020 at 8:48pm
I feel more confident going down a gaming motherboard route than an audio streamer route,  as I feel it is more versatile in the long run. Music in the studio is recorded/made with computers with plenty of processing power so why does listening have to be different. Onboard motherboard audio on some gaming PCs is very good nowadays. It is the power supply and peripherals like fans that principally generate electronic noise so need to be carefully considered. The BIOS can be very customisable and unneccessary things can be disabled. Brands like Corsair appear to produce modular PSUs for desktop PC which may be the direction I take.

-------------
Lautus S/PDIF>Majestic>Lautus-R3>2xProprius>MySphere 3.1


Posted By: CageyH
Date Posted: 15 Dec 2020 at 9:08pm
My music streamer is built round a gaming spec PC, but not the latest generation.
I have a passively cooled i7-6700k, which has been de-lidded and fitted with a better thermal compound.
There are no fans (except the PSU one, which hardly ever comes on) and no mechanical HDDs in my PC.
I have a decent DVD writer fitted, which has a low error rate and is well ranked in the DVD drives for audio ripping. The graphics card does not need to be powerful, so is also a passively cooled card.

I would have a look at the ripple voltages etc. of some of the PSUs before you decide. Mine is an EVGA branded unit, but got very good reviews.

As you are probably aware, a gaming PC tends to have a lot of fans, as it is all about getting the performances out of what you have.
My gaming PC is water cooled, but I don’t use this to stream as it has a noisy water pump and quite a few fans.


-------------
Kevin
European loan coordinator, based near Toulouse, France.


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 15 Dec 2020 at 10:13pm

This is my PC at the moment. SSD storage, optional optical drive for CD/DVD ripping and playback. Optional wi-fi card. All the noise I hear beside me is from the PSU; there is coil whine and fan noise and definitely needs to be substituted with something better. The fan on the CPU heatsink is rotating quite slowly and is pretty inaudible. If I could underclock the CPU and/or increase the heatsinking area, the CPU fan could be removed without the temperature of the heatsink rising too much. The quality of the audio on this board is very good. Both the AKG K1000 and MySphere 3.1 sound very good straight out of the "line out" jack on the back, which is equivalent to the "SPK" jack on the front of the former PC tower. The impedance of the analogue output is adaptive depending on what load is connected. K1000 lacks some power but is clear and MySphere, a much easier load, is driven fine. I think I should modify this system rather than go for a dedicated streamer. The Allo USBridge Signature may have purer USB though so I don't know... Much entertainment is audio-video, not just audio. Therefore investing in an audio-only system like a USBridge Signature seems silly.


-------------
Lautus S/PDIF>Majestic>Lautus-R3>2xProprius>MySphere 3.1


Posted By: CageyH
Date Posted: 16 Dec 2020 at 1:31am
One of these may help cut down on the electrical noise from the fan, apparently:
https://www.audiophonics.fr/en/pc-htpc-modules/elfidelity-axf-86-pro-power-filter-for-pc-4-pin-connector-p-9062.html - https://www.audiophonics.fr/en/pc-htpc-modules/elfidelity-axf-86-pro-power-filter-for-pc-4-pin-connector-p-9062.html

It sounds like you need to add a headphone amplifier for the K1000. If you are happy with the sound, then I would not change anything else. The Gigabyte audio output is pretty good quality.

Personally I would stay away from USB for audio, as the system bus is quite noisy. On my streaming PC, I use an additional sound card with a built in DAC (Asus Essence STX II). It will drive headphones relatively well. I find it better than the onboard audio, but not as good as a dedicated DAC, such as the Majestic. Out of choice, I would feed the Majestic with the digital coaxial output. 


-------------
Kevin
European loan coordinator, based near Toulouse, France.


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 16 Dec 2020 at 7:46am
I connect the Majestic and Proprius via USB but I could try optical. Don't have coaxial available unfortunately. K1000 and MS3.1 are driven superbly from this. Although K1000 is now only a temporary test headphone so I will not be keeping it for much longer.

I have achieved fantastic results from USB in the past. My doubt is whether I really will benefit from a dedicated transport instead of an optimised PC.


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Lautus S/PDIF>Majestic>Lautus-R3>2xProprius>MySphere 3.1


Posted By: CageyH
Date Posted: 16 Dec 2020 at 8:46am
USB is "limited" to 48kHz 24 bit, optical is up to 96kHz 24 bit and coax 192kHz 24 bit on the Majestic.

The board you have is what model Gigabyte Auros?
You may be able to fit a coaxial out board, which in my opinion sounds best compared to optical and USB.


-------------
Kevin
European loan coordinator, based near Toulouse, France.


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 16 Dec 2020 at 6:05pm
Most of my media is CD so any spec above 16-bit 44.1kHz doesn't really matter too much. I am a bit of a sceptic of anything above Nyquist.

Motherboard is Gigabyte Aorus Z390 Pro ATX.

As for USB, optical and coaxial, I think all of them can sound great if designed properly and I don't believe any of them are immune to interference. Poor grounding and voltage ripple seem to be major culprits of electronic noise. I could add a soundcard but it ultimately uses the same power supply as the rest of the board and the origin of the signal is the same (CPU).



-------------
Lautus S/PDIF>Majestic>Lautus-R3>2xProprius>MySphere 3.1


Posted By: CageyH
Date Posted: 16 Dec 2020 at 7:39pm
But how many other devices do you have plugged into USB?

Your mobo has support for S/PDIF out on the S/PDIF_0 header, but it will need an expansion card.

SPDIF_O (S/PDIF Out Header) This header supports digital S/PDIF Out and connects a S/PDIF digital audio cable (provided by expansion cards) for digital audio output from your motherboard to certain expansion cards like graphics cards and sound cards. For example, some graphics cards may require you to use a S/PDIF digital audio cable for digital audio output from your motherboard to your graphics card if you wish to connect an HDMI display to the graphics card and have digital audio output from the HDMI display at the same time. For information about connecting the S/PDIF digital audio cable, carefully read the manual for your expansion card.




-------------
Kevin
European loan coordinator, based near Toulouse, France.


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 16 Dec 2020 at 8:52pm
Yes, you're right. With USB, it depends what other devices share the same bus as to how much noise may be introduced.

-------------
Lautus S/PDIF>Majestic>Lautus-R3>2xProprius>MySphere 3.1


Posted By: CageyH
Date Posted: 03 Jan 2021 at 10:11am
You could try an Oehlbach XXL Masterclock. Buy it from somewhere like Amazon, and then you can send it back if it is no good. To this you could also add an Allo Digione Signature player, using SPDIF to feed the majestic.

You could also just use optical out direct to the majestic.

You could also add an SPDIF output to your motherboard, and then feed the Majestic direct.

This may help:


But I suggest you read up a bit more on the subject.


-------------
Kevin
European loan coordinator, based near Toulouse, France.


Posted By: CageyH
Date Posted: 03 Jan 2021 at 10:17am
And this:


Hans gives you a good idea of how you can achieve these things, but he does have interesting opinions at times.


-------------
Kevin
European loan coordinator, based near Toulouse, France.


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 03 Jan 2021 at 6:11pm
Thanks Kevin. Yes, I am still in the research phase at the moment.

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Lautus S/PDIF>Majestic>Lautus-R3>2xProprius>MySphere 3.1


Posted By: CageyH
Date Posted: 04 Jan 2021 at 10:16am
I think you need to decide what quality level you want.
If it is just CD quality, then a NUC or RPi may be siufficient.

If it is just to stream music from an SSD, a basic PC with passive cooling will do the job.

To make use of a DAK PSU, the RPi is probably the best/cheapest option.
You can stream your music other the ethernet and use a network bridge hat on the RPi. The DAK PSU can feed the audio side, and a different PSU can feed the noisy RPi side, as there is an isolator card in place.

This will output to your Majestic. Out of preference, I would use coaxial to get best quality.


-------------
Kevin
European loan coordinator, based near Toulouse, France.


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 04 Jan 2021 at 1:42pm
The quality level I want is zero compromises at all.

If I go for RPi, it will definitely be a USBridge Signature. I may add the Digione Signature onto it just to allow as much connectivity as possible but intend to buy another Bitzie and implement its S/PDIF capabilities too, all powered by Graham's 5V 3A PSU. Shall connect the RPi to my motherboard via Ethernet, in order to control it.

Going to substitute a lower power 65W TDP i3 processor into my current motherboard so I can passively cool it without having to mess about with undervolting. Want my Windows/Linux operating system on M.2 drive/s so that only a single CD/DVD or Blu-Ray drive is connected on the SATA bus. The current ATX power supply is rubbish so may try the Corsair AX850 as the AX1000 would be overkill.

I already have a simple USB CD/DVD drive and it looks like I might be able to connect this to the USBridge Signature for playing/ripping. Blu-ray audio ripping would have to be done with the motherboard system via SATA I guess.


-------------
Lautus S/PDIF>Majestic>Lautus-R3>2xProprius>MySphere 3.1


Posted By: CageyH
Date Posted: 04 Jan 2021 at 1:53pm
The right passive cooler will handle a 95W CPU, unless you are really pushing it.

I use an i7-6700k with a Zalman FX70 without a cooling fan. For music streaming duties, it is fine.
A HTPC case may be a good solution, as some have passive coolers built in. Silent PC is a good place to have a look around.


-------------
Kevin
European loan coordinator, based near Toulouse, France.


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 04 Jan 2021 at 3:17pm
Yeah, TDP of the i7-9700K is claimed at 95W. Despite the size of my current heatsink, if I disconnect the CPU fan and wait a little while, the heatsink gets quite hot quite quickly just idling so I don't want to risk melting silicon. Something like an 8th gen i3-8100 is quad-core 65W TDP and can replace it and I have my eye on a large copper heatsink with more surface area that should do the job. Hoping that the cost of buying new and the cost of selling old should roughly break even.

**The T version of the i3-8100 has a TDP of 35W so I will go for that instead.



*** Just bought a second-hand i3-8100T for £55. Shall report back after delivery and installation.


-------------
Lautus S/PDIF>Majestic>Lautus-R3>2xProprius>MySphere 3.1


Posted By: CageyH
Date Posted: 04 Jan 2021 at 4:22pm
have you seen the size of the Zalman FX70? It is huge....
I can run the i7-6700k (known for running hot) with no issues. A different heat sink may have been good, but your new processor sounds ideal. I did de-lid my CPU and change the TIM. This has probably helped a bit as well.

I also run Fidelizer on my music PC, as this shuts down the unwanted windows services.





-------------
Kevin
European loan coordinator, based near Toulouse, France.


Posted By: CageyH
Date Posted: 04 Jan 2021 at 4:26pm
Add one of these, and you don’t need a fan on your CPU cooler:

https://www.quietpc.com/nofan-cr-80eh - https://www.quietpc.com/nofan-cr-80eh


-------------
Kevin
European loan coordinator, based near Toulouse, France.


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 04 Jan 2021 at 4:32pm
I bought this system a couple of years ago as a pre-built PC when I knew nothing about CPUs or putting together a PC. Have been slowly changing it towards my needs and reducing its power consumption seems like a logical step as I'm not playing games with it. Even if I were, it wouldn't be any of the modern resource-demanding titles so anything too powerful is just a waste.

Already I find it difficult to believe that this system idling is drawing amps and amps of current as the gauge of the wires sourcing the motherboard would need to be thicker to transfer such power without heating/melting. I understand that the current is mainly distributed between orange, red and yellow wires but still, I reckon if I had Graham's DAK supply and paired it with two SBooster 12V PSUs and wired up the pins correctly, there would be more than enough power available.


*Note - Just because I could, doesn't mean I would. LOL

**Wow, that Zalman FX70 is massive...


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Lautus S/PDIF>Majestic>Lautus-R3>2xProprius>MySphere 3.1


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 04 Jan 2021 at 4:34pm
Originally posted by CageyH CageyH wrote:

Add one of these, and you don’t need a fan on your CPU cooler:

https://www.quietpc.com/nofan-cr-80eh - https://www.quietpc.com/nofan-cr-80eh

This is exactly what I was intending on buying Wink


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Lautus S/PDIF>Majestic>Lautus-R3>2xProprius>MySphere 3.1


Posted By: CageyH
Date Posted: 04 Jan 2021 at 4:42pm
A lot of the power requirement is linked to your graphics card.
Needless to say I fitted a passively cooled GPU. If I remember correctly, it was a GTX 1030.
No point going any better for a music PC.

What GPU do you have?

To run a Pc effectively, I think you will need about 400W.
I still think that the best solution for you is to use your PC for storage, and add a “transport” to send the music to the DAC. This will make full use of the DAK PSU, whereas I think you are really pushing the limits by trying to run a PC on one, with other PSUs attached.

It will be interesting to see how much power you need. There may be some software you can download (like HWMonitor) which will show your actual power consumption. I think it also shows the peak, and average. This will soon tell you if your current idea will work. I will be surprised if it does.


-------------
Kevin
European loan coordinator, based near Toulouse, France.


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 04 Jan 2021 at 4:48pm
I just use the internal integrated graphics for now. UHD Graphics 630, nothing special.

My mixed power supply idea costs too much for what the end result would be. Not going down that route.


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Lautus S/PDIF>Majestic>Lautus-R3>2xProprius>MySphere 3.1


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 09 Jan 2021 at 12:12pm
I have substituted the Intel i3 8100T and Nofan CR-80EH CPU cooler into the system. Everything seems to be running fine. Runs cool to slightly warm. Gone from 95W TDP to 35W TDP processor.

Shall sell the i7 9700K and Hyper 212 Evo CPU cooler that I was using before to generate some funds.

I'd like to run Windows 10 on NVMe instead of SATA SSD, need to swap my CD/DVD SATA drive for a Blu-ray drive and want to swap my noisy Fractal Design Essence PSU for something like a Seasonic Prime 600 fanless PSU, as a starting point. Not sure if the ear-to-board low level noise I can hear is directly being caused by the current power supply or whether the components will generate it regardless. Only one way to find out.


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Lautus S/PDIF>Majestic>Lautus-R3>2xProprius>MySphere 3.1


Posted By: CageyH
Date Posted: 09 Jan 2021 at 4:10pm
My PC is (mostly) silent, unless the PSU gets too hot, then the fan kicks in. Yes, I could go cfanless, but it gets quite warm in the south of France, so did not want the risk of the PSU going pop, and taking out the other components.

I need to see a picture of the NoFan in place. I bet it is huge!



-------------
Kevin
European loan coordinator, based near Toulouse, France.


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 09 Jan 2021 at 4:48pm
I'm happy to go for a fanless PSU because my PC is quite minimalist so the amount of current being drawn isn't mammoth. I have a cool room but even if we did get some prolonged hot weather here on the south coast of England, the amount of power I will be using will only be a fraction of its maximum rating. I'm still tempted to pursue the Linear PSU idea later on so current draw will be spread over more than one power supply. I have been looking at a site called Highend-AudioPC and there are some products there for me to think about, such as PC software options for optimising sound quality and a USB PCIe soundcard to take a purer USB signal to a hi-fi system, which would involve the implementation of Graham's 5V 3A supply to power the card. Could pair this with the Bitzie for more connectivity. Perhaps a USB soundcard with linear power supply could produce results on par with the USBridge Signature.

I will photo the NoFan at some point. It isn't that big compared to the heatsink it is replacing and I reckon I would still probably be able to use the closest RAM slot if I wanted to. Some passive coolers are so big that they render the first slot unusable.


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Lautus S/PDIF>Majestic>Lautus-R3>2xProprius>MySphere 3.1


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 09 Jan 2021 at 5:54pm
I just realised that my motherboard has header pins for S/PDIF, labelled SPDIF_0. A daughter board could connect here allowing optical and coaxial outputs. Even more reason that I should overhaul how power is supplied to the board, especially +5V. This data line is probably currently plagued with noise and jitter, although probably not any worse than the rear USB connections that I use.


I really want to find a versatile and viable alternative to the USBridge Signature. Call me strange but I'm not a fan of the micro-USB power socket for supplying higher currents and for product durability/longevity. Also don't want to commit to microSD slot and non-upgradable GPU options or having to send audio data over ethernet cable when I can keep the signal path shorter and simpler.


-------------
Lautus S/PDIF>Majestic>Lautus-R3>2xProprius>MySphere 3.1


Posted By: Graham Slee
Date Posted: 09 Jan 2021 at 6:20pm
Originally posted by Ash Ash wrote:

I just realised that my motherboard has header pins for S/PDIF, labelled SPDIF_0.

If you could attach the output to a 'scope, you could find the voltage level. If it is 5V "data", it could be coaxed directly to the input tracks to the Majestic's decoder chip.

Not that I'd encourage anyone to hack a Majestic. Wink


-------------
Not simple enough for Google-Bot to understand...


Posted By: CageyH
Date Posted: 09 Jan 2021 at 6:20pm
Hence my post earlier in this thread suggesting you bought the SPDIF board, and giving you a link to such a board. Wink

-------------
Kevin
European loan coordinator, based near Toulouse, France.


Posted By: Graham Slee
Date Posted: 09 Jan 2021 at 6:23pm
Alternatively, you could hook SPDF_0 up to a suitable pulse transformer via a 75 ohm resistor, and connect the secondary to a phono socket.


-------------
Not simple enough for Google-Bot to understand...


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 09 Jan 2021 at 7:07pm
Thanks Graham, I had just been wondering whether I could wire that header directly to the coaxial input of the Majestic DAC. Wink

Sorry Kevin, I must have overlooked your previous recommendation because I didn't understand. Wink

I'm a slow learner. But I learn. Wink


-------------
Lautus S/PDIF>Majestic>Lautus-R3>2xProprius>MySphere 3.1


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 09 Jan 2021 at 8:53pm
USBridge Signature idea now dropped. Woohoo, no dedicated streamers.

Going to take desktop PC to the max instead.

Definitely got a purpose for Graham's DAK supply now. Big smile Need the 5V 3A supply and a Lautus Powerwire Bitzie to go with a JCAT USB card XE for the ultimate digital transport. Will have USB, optical and coaxial options. Will buy a PCIe S/PDIF daughter board too so I can compare each interface from the transport to its respective interface from the motherboard. Good thing the Majestic has so many inputs for comparisons... Smile

Going to hear a Bitzie with much cleaner data stream and a dedicated linear power supply.

Oh, and an Enigma, can't forget that. I better get selling some more stuff, this is going to cost a bit.

Thanks for everyone's help.



-------------
Lautus S/PDIF>Majestic>Lautus-R3>2xProprius>MySphere 3.1


Posted By: CageyH
Date Posted: 09 Jan 2021 at 10:10pm
A JCAT USB XE at €800? Shocked

-------------
Kevin
European loan coordinator, based near Toulouse, France.


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 09 Jan 2021 at 11:03pm
Don't some digital transports (streamers) cost thousands of pounds?

Although it's not like I can do much else with money this year and I think it's safe to say I'm past the point of sticking to a budget after MySphere. Dead


-------------
Lautus S/PDIF>Majestic>Lautus-R3>2xProprius>MySphere 3.1


Posted By: CageyH
Date Posted: 10 Jan 2021 at 6:40am
some do, yes.
Even so, I think you are better off improving the coax or optical side as the Majestic/Bitzie are 48Khz on USB. You may as well get a CD Transport for half the price if you want CD quality sound, rather than an €800 usb card.

Now if JCAT did a SPDIF card, this may be a better option with a higher frequency range available.

Just my opinion.


-------------
Kevin
European loan coordinator, based near Toulouse, France.


Posted By: CageyH
Date Posted: 10 Jan 2021 at 6:44am
What does the USB XE give over and above the USB FEMTO?

-------------
Kevin
European loan coordinator, based near Toulouse, France.


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 10 Jan 2021 at 8:16am
Yes, I was comparing their specs and information. I believe the XE uses an oscillator clock and voltage regulators all with tighter tolerances but I will compare them again. It seems like minor improvements for the premium price but I want to obtain the best results I can and they both cost a lot.  I understand the coaxial connection is favoured over USB/optical for its larger bandwidth in sampling frequency. If JCAT offered a S/PDIF transport, I would be drawn towards that instead, yes. Although perhaps the limited bandwidth isn't as significant as it may seem.

Problem with a CD transport is it is designed to play one type of media only. I have a CD archive currently but I want to move to file-based audio eventually. A computer gives me more connectivity and a platform that can be adapted more to my needs than a dedicated product.


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Lautus S/PDIF>Majestic>Lautus-R3>2xProprius>MySphere 3.1


Posted By: CageyH
Date Posted: 10 Jan 2021 at 8:35am
Have you looked at a network Renderer?
With this, you won’t need an expensive USB card, as it will isolate your Pc from the DAC.


-------------
Kevin
European loan coordinator, based near Toulouse, France.


Posted By: CageyH
Date Posted: 10 Jan 2021 at 9:12am
Streaming from QoBuz, I can clearly hear the difference between the 44.1 kHz and the higher sampling rates. Sure it is not “huge”, but there is a difference.

-------------
Kevin
European loan coordinator, based near Toulouse, France.


Posted By: CageyH
Date Posted: 10 Jan 2021 at 4:00pm
How about this?
https://www.audiophonics.fr/en/pc-htpc-modules/matrix-element-h-usb-30-controller-jack-dc-pcie-femtoclock-crystek-power-filter-p-13543.html - https://www.audiophonics.fr/en/pc-htpc-modules/matrix-element-h-usb-30-controller-jack-dc-pcie-femtoclock-crystek-power-filter-p-13543.html

It has a handy power in feature for a PSU to avoid the noisy PC PSU, so gives you more money to spend where it really counts.


-------------
Kevin
European loan coordinator, based near Toulouse, France.


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 10 Jan 2021 at 5:52pm
A network renderer? Like a cluster, combining processing power to perform the same task? Isn't that going back to streaming over ethernet or wi-fi?

With your streaming service, do the different resolution files originate from the same master? If so, how can you be sure? I used to struggle to tell any difference between a 320kbps mp3 rip and a WAV rip from some of my CDs. I highly doubt I would be able to discern differences in even higher resolution formats, but perhaps I'm just a moron with bad hearing.

Thanks for your USB card suggestion. I will have a look at the whole market of USB cards before settling on one. I did see that some have a power option switch, which is good. This current suggestion needs 12V, which rules out Graham's PSU though. I'd have to source a 12V linear PSU to use.

I really appreciate your contribution to my topic though. I want to identity the most sensible way forward before I drop a load of cash on it.

My rationale isn't just about isolating the audio aspects from the computer electrically, as the computer is still the origin of the signal, whether it's isolated or not (the processor generates the original micro-signal, surely). My rationale is to try to improve the fidelity of the initial signal generation in the first place, to alleviate the need to try and remove the signal from a bigger ocean of noise and interference. Ideally the computer would be powered with a linear power supply as well, to remove the switching element.


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Lautus S/PDIF>Majestic>Lautus-R3>2xProprius>MySphere 3.1


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 10 Jan 2021 at 6:14pm
Your previous suggestion looks really good.

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Lautus S/PDIF>Majestic>Lautus-R3>2xProprius>MySphere 3.1


Posted By: CageyH
Date Posted: 10 Jan 2021 at 6:37pm
Ash,

My personal view is that USB audio is bad. Audio over WiFi is also bad. Audio over Ethernet is not something I have tried, but many people have success with it.

I am also happy to admit that my opinions may be wrong, especially with computer audio. There are so many different ways to achieve what you are looking for.

I think I would start with my DAC, and ask the designer what he would recommend I use as an input, and go from there. Once I had that information, I would then set about optimising my PC/audio system to deliver that signal as best as possible  for the available budget.

The Jcat USB is probably a very good USB card, but how much better is it than the one I have linked to? Is it within a few percent performance wise? The law of diminishing returns applies here, as it does elsewhere. I am just trying to make sure you spend wisely, and have thought about what options you have available. You were talking about a Bitzie, but a Majestic would be better.

As for my streaming service, I am not sure where the Masters originate from, but there is something in the low rate audio files that I can clearly identify. With the higher quality files, this "sound" is missing. Once you have identified it, you can't help but hear it.

One thing for certain though, I still prefer my analogue setup to my digital one. My digital is done on a budget. I think whatbyou were looking at paying for a USB card would almost cover the cost of my entire set up. Yiu have to remember that I did repurpose some old IT equipment I had lying around though.

The important points for me to maximise the quality are as follows:
No moving parts in or near the PC. Admittedly, I have a couple of DVD drives in mine, but they don't spin up when not in use.

Separate the OS form the music library. One disc for each.

I am not 100% convinced that a linear PSU will make much difference in a PC. It is electrically noisy. A good quality SMPS should be fine. Look what the Proprius use.

Use of some.optimisation software on your OS will reap benefits. I use one, and the difference was very noticeable.

I am sure there is more I can add to this. Juat take your time making a decision. If you decide to invest a big chunk of cash in a USB card or similar, just make sure there is a return policy available to uou if you find it makes very little difference. Home trials are a must for me on anything expensive.

The only thing I could not try at home before buying was my home built power amp.


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Kevin
European loan coordinator, based near Toulouse, France.


Posted By: Ash
Date Posted: 10 Jan 2021 at 7:15pm
Thanks Kevin, yes there are so many ways to achieve the same thing and will take my time in making a decision. Bitzie isn't a must as I use the Majestic anyway but both share the same S/PDIF circuitry. Going to Majestic coaxial via Bitzie USB limits the specs to 24-bit, 48kHz but does offer a high quality analogue output for headphones. Although a Solo ULDE from Majestic would be even better.

I will be thinking this over for several weeks whilst Brexit chaos settles a little.


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Lautus S/PDIF>Majestic>Lautus-R3>2xProprius>MySphere 3.1


Posted By: Lucabeer
Date Posted: 12 Jan 2021 at 9:31am
I am reading this thread only now...

I am a PC enthusiast and I have often built rigs. I was reading some posts about reducing fan noise, and I can only have three recommendations for a really silent PC:

- use case fans by Noctua or beQuiet, and whenever possible use the larger ones (140mm vs 120mm): larger fans can move the same amount of air when running at lower speeds

- play with the curves in BIOS, so that the fans really speed up only when necessary: for listening to music, the load on the PC is extremely low, so temperatures will not rise. Thus, you can set VERY low fan speeds for temperatures below 40-50 degrees

- for CPU cooling, get one of the Noctua coolers. I use the gargantuan NH-D15s and I assure you that it's TOTALLY quiet. It's much more quiet that liquid cooling solutions that cost much more (I have had them, but the pump noise is more noticeable than the fan of the Noctua). If the NH-D15s is overkill (I have one because my CPU is an overclocked i7), there are cheaper, smaller and equally quiet solutions in the Noctua catalogue




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