Audiophile digital music setup

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Audiophile digital music setup

Postby danhackley » Sun Mar 15, 2009 8:53 am

Hi, my hope for this thread is to collect thoughts on how to set up the ideal audiophile digital music setup.

Currently I use a tower PC (Vadim) with 4 internal hard discs to store my music. This is in FLAC (lossless) format with some MP3 also. Around 1TB (1000 GB) of music data. The software I use to organise/tag/play the files is Media Monkey 3.0, which allows extensive organising via ID3 (version 1 and 2) tags. It also allows use of multiple album artworks (e.g. album cover, booklet, media label etc), in high resolution rather than the standard resolution that many programs will automatically grab from the internet. I have an internal soundcard (Creative 7.1 X-FI Elite Pro) with the line out on the rear of the card connected via a cable (3.5mm stereo jack to 2 phono) to my amplifier (Marantz PM-66SE KI signature). Output from the amp is via a pair of B&W 601 (S2) loudspeakers.

Apart from the quality of the components, my main problems with the existing system are that the PC makes a bit of noise, and also that it uses too much electricity to justify having it on just to stream the music.

I'm planning to upgrade the system, and would welcome thoughts on the best way to get the FLAC files to the speakers. Budget no more than £10,000. I'm considering things like an external DAC connected to the PC, a standalone system like the Linn digital stream player, or any other alternatives. Obviously I'll be upgrading the amp and speakers. Ability to browse the album artwork is important.

Thanks for any ideas!
Sony Vaio Laptop
Thecus N5200B NAS
Windows 7
MM3 Gold 3.2
Looking for jukebox software that manages a large collection, has good album art integration and plays flac as well as MP3
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Re: Audiophile digital music setup

Postby Eyal » Sun Mar 15, 2009 10:09 am

danhackley wrote:Apart from the quality of the components, my main problems with the existing system are that the PC makes a bit of noise, and also that it uses too much electricity to justify having it on just to stream the music.


- You can make your PC more quiet by replacing the 4 disks by a big one. Since price drop on 1 to 2 TB disks, it worth considering.
- Also, I suggest you to remove any unnecessary fans in the tower and replace them with a bigger quiet one.
- Get a good quiet power supply with a quiet cooling fan.

Opt for an AMD processor with its Cool ‘N’ Quiet™ 2.0 Technology, whitch reduces fans speed to minimum based on PC/CPU temperature.

With the next generation of award-winning power saving technology, Cool‘n’Quiet™ 2.0 technology reduces heat and noise so you can experience amazing performance without distraction. Combined with core enhancements, included in the AMD Phenom™ processor, that can improve overall power savings, deliver seamless multitasking and energy efficiency. Work, play, talk, and share on a PC that’s seen, not heard.


Interesting site: http://www.acousticpc.com

I hope it can help you.

Eyal
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Re: Audiophile digital music setup

Postby rovingcowboy » Sun Mar 15, 2009 10:46 am

i got raid system too only i use fm transmitter to get sound to stereo unit.

i use small personal transmitter for car. but it also had a plug in for dc power supply so i got a wall adapter that was to make it go from ac to dc auto lighter plug style. then plugged in the transmitter. been using that for about 5 years now. only noise i get is from other signal's in the air that might over power it for a second or two.

but i don't use flac, so i cant tell if that is the cause of your noise or the machine. as for the fans i had up to 6 fans in the other tower and got no noise from them. only the tower sounded like a vacuum cleaner.

i moved the mb, and hd's to a new matrix full tower and now have two fans one huge one and one normal one.
plus the two in the power supply and the one on the cpu but i still get no noise. just a lot quieter vacuum cleaner :lol:
roving cowboy / keith hall. My skins viewtopic.php?f=9&t=16724 for some help check on Monkey's helpful messages at viewtopic.php?p=44008#44008 MY SYSTEMS.1.Jukebox WinXp pro sp 3 version 3.5 gigabyte mb. 281 GHz amd athlon x2 240 built by me.) 2.WinXP pro sp3, vers 2.5.5 and vers 3.5 backup storage, shuttle 32a mb,734 MHz amd athlon put together by me.) 3.Dell demension, winxp pro sp3, mm3.5 spare jukebox.) 4.WinXp pro sp3, vers 3.5, dad's computer bought from computer store. )5. Samsung Galaxy 5 Android 5) 6. Proscan tablet Android 4.3 ) 7. amd a8-5600 apu 3.60ghz mm version 4 windows 7 pro bought from computer store.
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Re: Audiophile digital music setup

Postby Eyal » Sun Mar 15, 2009 4:37 pm

I have update my audio(phile) system a few months ago.

See Show your sound system topic.
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Re: Audiophile digital music setup

Postby pushpull » Sun Mar 15, 2009 4:46 pm

Using an external sound card instead of an internal one would help with noise as computers are inherently noisy places, that is electrical noise, and this can show up in audio. I really couldn't recommend any as they are outside of my budget and priority at the moment but some searching online should get you some leads. Also, I would recommend getting an Apple Touch as you can use it as a remote control to have full access to the computer you are using and allow you to run the computer without a monitor (headless). This would help with the energy consumption. If you are only using the computer for audio and not video you can strip down your video card requirements as well. Another consideration would be to use network attached storage for your library and if you go that way you could see about getting a solid state drive for the computer to reduce the noise that a spinning drive would create.
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Re: Audiophile digital music setup

Postby Lowlander » Tue Mar 17, 2009 11:34 am

PC fans the general rule is bigger = quieter. Try looking for passive components, video cards and power supplies are available in passive form. For hard disk look at SSD solutions as they're noise free. You can always throw a NAS in the closet for large storage needs.

For those with the budget there are complete fanless systems available, but come with a price to match. Also see Silent PC Review.

An alternative solution would be a Digital Media Receiver like from Netgear or a Media Extender like the xBox or others.
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Re: Audiophile digital music setup

Postby bailso » Sun Mar 22, 2009 4:36 pm

I too use an external "soundcard" (Xitel) and find this works well just converting the USB output to SPDIF. It comes with 30ft cables and so my computer is well away from my HiFi. The sound is further processed by a Cambridge Audio DAC embedded in a CD Player. I use a Dell server which seems relatively quiet itself.

I have recently read an article (HiFi News (UK) April 2009) suggesting that output plugins such as ASIO which avoid the XP Kmixer can improve sound. Does anyone have any experience using this plug in with MM particularly using a USB output rather than an internal soundcard?

Regards to all
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Re: Audiophile digital music setup

Postby javaboyuk » Sun Apr 19, 2009 12:49 pm

Ye sIf any one can get the pass through to work that would be amazing.

I can't have installed ac3filter etc but still can't seem to get MM to
use it.

As for fans see these:
Noctua NF-P12 Vortex-Control 120mm Quiet Case Fan
eg from http://www.dabs.com/productview.aspx?Qu ... 1258,50831

There not cheap but they are the quitest fans I have used, I have 6 in my tower and you really have to listen in
a nearly silent room to here its turmed on!! (they also do a cpu cooler, which I have too).

Regards
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Re: Audiophile digital music setup

Postby rovingcowboy » Mon Apr 20, 2009 12:07 am

i one time had to put a fan on a vcr that was getting too hot its fan was not enough to keep it cool for some reason? its not the same trouble you have but it might help you in knowing what i did.

which was buy a 4 inch desktop fan with three speeds on it, set it on shelf beside the air vents on the vcr.
took duck tape and cardboard taped a make shift wind tunnel to the vcr and then around the fan set the speed to low. turned it on and the vcr was never hot again. even got a breeze every time i opened the tray door to put the movie in. still it didn't keep it for long the vcr ended up in the trash dump about two years later.

as for the computer i one time set it by the ac vent in the house so it had a direct path to the fan intake vent on the tower so it never got hot as long as i had the ac on and in the summer in texas thats most the time. but i got new case and more fans for it now so it is not like that now. UM..? idea how big is your case? one of those mini case's where mac was making a box about 7 inches by 7 inches by 10 inches? and saying that was a good system?

if so get your self a huge full size tower case. put your hardware in there and you will have more room to get the wires out of the way and the case fans will be farther away from the cpu also.
8)
roving cowboy / keith hall. My skins viewtopic.php?f=9&t=16724 for some help check on Monkey's helpful messages at viewtopic.php?p=44008#44008 MY SYSTEMS.1.Jukebox WinXp pro sp 3 version 3.5 gigabyte mb. 281 GHz amd athlon x2 240 built by me.) 2.WinXP pro sp3, vers 2.5.5 and vers 3.5 backup storage, shuttle 32a mb,734 MHz amd athlon put together by me.) 3.Dell demension, winxp pro sp3, mm3.5 spare jukebox.) 4.WinXp pro sp3, vers 3.5, dad's computer bought from computer store. )5. Samsung Galaxy 5 Android 5) 6. Proscan tablet Android 4.3 ) 7. amd a8-5600 apu 3.60ghz mm version 4 windows 7 pro bought from computer store.
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Re: Audiophile digital music setup

Postby matrix07 » Thu Apr 23, 2009 10:39 pm

danhackley wrote:Apart from the quality of the components, my main problems with the existing system are that the PC makes a bit of noise, and also that it uses too much electricity to justify having it on just to stream the music.


You could go dedicated server/dedicated player route. For server, you could use your existing PC components, put it far away from your listenning area so noise won't be an issue. Use WHS or unRAID for OS. For player you could use something like this http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1111996. Use SSD instead of HDD and It'll be super-quiet. New AMPs all have HDMI input now. If you're lucky maybe you could make bit-perfect audio out works in XP, who knows. :D

danhackley wrote:It also allows use of multiple album artworks (e.g. album cover, booklet, media label etc), in high resolution rather than the standard resolution that many programs will automatically grab from the internet.


Do you know how to view all this artworks via Monkey?
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Re: Audiophile digital music setup

Postby Lowlander » Thu Apr 23, 2009 11:56 pm

If you don't want a PC running for music you might want to check out devices like:
http://www.linksysbycisco.com/US/en/products/WirelessHomeAudio
http://www.roku.com/products_soundbridge.php
http://www.logitech.com/index.cfm/speakers_audio/wireless_music_systems/&cl=us,en

and a NAS to stream it from. I don't know how their audio quality compares though.
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Re: Audiophile digital music setup

Postby Sirandar 898 » Fri May 15, 2009 9:16 pm

Here is my advice to you.

1) Eliminate PC noise by moving the PC to another room. Get a 2.4Ghz wireless key/mouse combo and a long analog or digital video cable and put the PC in one room and the rest in another room and run the cables through the wall. Connect your PC to a good amp using coax or fiber. The amp shouldn't cost more than a 1000$ US unless you like blowing money.

2) Reduce PC noise further buy replacing the CPU heat sink with a more efficient and quieter fan/heat sink. This may require CPU lapping on Core2 CPUs. Replace the small fans with larger slower turning ones. Mount your hard drive on foam as this is the best way to minimize hard drive whine BUT you can't mount direct to foam or your drive will overheat. Get a recent 7200RPM drive from Seagate or WD and be prepared to resell until you get a quiet one. Get a motherboard that supports the program Speedfan, and use Speedfan to automatically keep the fan revs at the minimum to cool your PC. Get a GPU that fits your needs and doesn't make heat like a furnace. If you do all this your PC will be quiet enough to be in the same room for most listening BUT I put mine in another room anyway. Watch out for laptops as they often have noisy fans that turn on at the worst times. Gaming laptops can be the worst.


3) Get a decent sound card but don't go overboard because you will be outputting digital anyway. Auzentech Meridian works for me.

4) Put your money in speakers as that is where you will have the most bang.

5) Encode in at least MP3 192kps but don't bother re-ripping if you have MP3 160kps or higher. Rip new stuff with your method of choice.

6) Use Media Monkey

Listening excellence for far less than 10,000 pounds
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Re: Audiophile digital music setup

Postby gargamel » Tue May 26, 2009 8:07 pm

If you want true audiophile sound to come from your computer, then I suggest using a USB DAC instead of an internal or external sound card. Two excellent USB DAC manufacturers I've tested are Wavelength (starting around $1800, you're going to wait a few months) and Audio Research (DAC7 is $3495). If you already have audiophile quality stereo components, then a USB DAC (at least the ones I've tested) is well worth the investment. I currently run a Wavelength Cosecant into a Pathos Acoustics InPol2 integrated into a pair of Vienna Acoustics Beethoven loudspeakers. The source quality from the cosecant is better than any high end CD/SACD source I've ever tested.
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Re: Audiophile digital music setup

Postby Guest » Tue Aug 11, 2009 2:28 pm

to those that are using external DACs....

what output plug-ins are you using?
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Re: Audiophile digital music setup

Postby Peke » Tue Aug 11, 2009 6:43 pm

@gargamel
Are you getting full 24/192 Up mixing on output or just 24/96 as I have not been able to make any DAC that is conected thru USB to go more than 24/96?
Best regards,
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