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cazzesman

New CAPS for 2020 - Music PC Build

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90 views and not a single comment.   Me thinks the building of DIY Music servers in Australia has a limited attention span 🙂

 

People must be happy to buy Antipodes, Innuos, Bluesound or Auralic off the shelf.      Audiophile Style forum by contrast is full on into folk building their own machines.

 

Also the chat regarding LPS' for the DIY Servers is huge on AS.    There seems to be very limited interest and/or DIY expertise in building LPS's here.    

 

I know Mr Gieseler builds some smaller versions but nothing like Keces or HDPlex power supplies appears available in Australia.

 

Regards Cazzesman

 

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I feel like the AS community is self-selecting for interest in DIY servers. I can’t think of an aspect of hifi that interests me less.

 

Having said that, those analogue performance dials are pure p0rn :D 

 

 

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I don't understand your first sentence but the 3rd did make me LOL.

 

Thanks for playing.

 

Regards Cazzesman

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I’d be interested in building my own price permitting. The case on on this latest caps server looks massive however. Put me off copying that. I guess it can be done with a smaller fanless case?

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I one day would like to build something like that. Chris did a good job as he has recommendations if one wish to build in stages.

I guess the problem is that technology is moving at fast speed and equipment that is not widely known has no future value, if you have the upgrade bug.For that reason I am "old" technology and upgrades when those at the forefront sells their stuff :).

By the way Clay Gieseler( @Gieseler Audio ) has just bought and off the shelf product the Auralic Aries G1 from Mike Lenehan( @Lenehan Audio )- he says it sounds better than his server.

So now I am trying to find a used one!

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Posted (edited)

I am running a PC based source with TeraDak LPS + Streacom FC8 fanless setup! It does require a bit of tinkering, also the double whammy (both hardware and software) which puts off most people from even starting the project. Even if you dial everything in perfectly, the effort in optimisation isn't day and night compared to say, room treatment and/or EQing. And the better your gear is, the more it compensates for poor sources. 

 

I do like the HQPlayer NAA idea as discussed in the Extreme filtering software upscaling thread, it'll probably be the basis of my next setup, nice beefy workstation somewhere far away linked to a node to playback in the listening room. You can only get so much computational power by relying on passive cooling! And not to mention the costs of a high output LPS.

 

A bit of grip with the CAPS build is the use of the all-in-one, just why when you have gone to far into customising everything else? The Streacom DB4 provides more than enough cooling for a modest CPU (not to mention much more efficient) and even a discrete GPU. The custom VU meters sure look nice. 

 

What would cap it off would be something like this on top:

 

 

Edited by Essence

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3 hours ago, cazzesman said:

I don't understand your first sentence but the 3rd did make me LOL.

 

Thanks for playing.

 

Regards Cazzesman

I only meant that, if there is going to be an online community that is into building their own custom music servers, it makes sense that it’s the one that started out as the “computer audiophile” community. That’s all :) 

 

I was a regular on there In the early 2010s when I was running a Mac mini with pure music as a source. Now my music library is on a Synology NAS and I don’t think about that end of it at all

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This is a 4.5k  to 6k aud build  (not including  the sexy dials ) and is still only the renderer! still need to add the server so just trying to figure out what this is aimed at/should be compared to. 

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Very good point Fred.   Some of the others being built by Nenon on AS are pushing $15,000.

 

They are being built for HQ Player with Roon running DSD512 at 50 degrees flat out.

 

my interest in music PC has much simpler designs.   PCM @ 24/96

 

I still think DIY designs can best Off the shelf models in bang for buck but at $5,000+ it does get interesting.

 

I guess I was judging the interest in DIY music PC's in todays climate on SNA.

 

Regards Cazzesman

 

PS.   I have zero interest in the dials but it is a terrific variation on a theme. 

 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, frednork said:

This is a 4.5k  to 6k aud build  (not including  the sexy dials ) and is still only the renderer! still need to add the server so just trying to figure out what this is aimed at/should be compared to. 

I'm with you. This is an endpoint. There are other Roon end points that are cheaper, need no PC skills, and they just work.

 

It seems like it would tickle some people's interest but I really don't see this aiming for most people who want an end point. It looks like a good project for someone who wants the satisfaction of compiling something. 
 

I do note that other options such as Raspberry Pi are mentioned as alternatives for some use cases.

 

I would think that the money used to buy a pre built end point would be better used to upgrade an amp or speakers or active speakers. That would be my preference.

Edited by gwurb

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Posted (edited)

It does become an interesting Q&A.

 

I have Active speakers with built in pre/dac and dsp.   Many Audio folk would hate my version of Audio because they can't tweak it.  It can tend to stymie their desire to try out different equipment.      A new Power Amp, different pre, different DAC etc etc.   

 

Some would say my version takes the fun out of 'playing'.     The elusive search for Audio Nirvana has some road blocks in my world.

 

I feel a bit the same way about an off the shelf Music Server and/or Renderer.    To my mind it's all inbuilt, proprietary stuff for the most part.   I also feel the RRP is made up of the Companies RnD (and rightly so I guess) and very little to do with the actual quality of the parts in the box.   


For my Source I like the idea of being able to use whatever OS I want, whatever USB Card, Power supply, motherboard and library software I care to try.

 

I can do my own RnD and have enough knowledge now to give it a go.    10 years ago I was scared to death building my first CAPS Lagoon.   Now I know the recipe for a Music PC Build.   Audiophile Style Forum and Google is your friend and savior.    

 

My build decisions are now based on the cost of components and where to draw the line between spending $3,000 and $10,000 trying to find that elusive 5% increase in SQ that my 60 yr old ears probably won't hear anyway.  

 

It's a hobby, so we all just hobby on as best we can, at the cost we feel we can justify to ourselves and our loved ones.     Ourselves is a doddle, the other hmmmmmmm. 😛

 

Regards Cazzesman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by cazzesman

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Ok, I think I get it now, 

 

from the post in A.S.

"

Why Build It?

 

Understanding why I came up with a new CAPS design may help some members of this community either avoid the project or jump in with both feet. It all started with me dipping my toes back into the world of Jussi Laako's HQPlayer. I was evaluating a couple DACs that could handle very high rates of native DSD content, but I couldn't get any of my existing audio endpoints to work perfectly with the DACs. I often heard loud noises, pops, and much of the time the DACs were just not recognized by the audio devices. I needed a solution to this issue, so I decided it was time for a new CAPS design. "

 

So, this is to allow high power processing required for HQplayer upsampling to 512k and above as it seems there are none/not many solutions that exist for that purpose that work well. So the server looks like it will be a gen 10 chip with some form of active cooling, most likely a mega power supply and GPU card to assist with processing.  This will be a very expensive build which will be hard to justify unless you are wanting to do the above. But it does make sense in that there arent "go to" solutions for this purpose. 

 

Hmmm, It has made me think about some different ways of doing things though.... 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Morning Fred,

 

I like reading about what is possible but honestly have no real desire to spend that kind of money for something I won't use.   Me and JRiver are besties now and I know how to tweak it and drive it.   My listening style is as basic as you can get.  My files (Flac and some 320mp3's) are in the Library in Alphabetical order and I scroll through until something peaks my interest and I hit play on the CD.   

 

I upsample everything to 96kHz.  I leave the bit rate alone.  I upsample to 96 because that's what my mini dsp uses.   96 runs through minidsp, mutec and into the Kii 3's.     No muss, no fuss.

 

In this case I do not require the high powered Motherboards to do handstands and play party tricks.   

 

Touch wood - my Music PC works basically flawlessly each time everytime.    My wife can work the JRiver Library via the Ipad to select music so there is no angst.   Trouble shooting any issues is normally pretty simple.   Since I put a 2tb SSD in the box for music storage I have no network streaming issues.   I have a NAS but just use that as 1 form of backup.

 

I'm sticking with the Kii 3's, mutec reclocker, Dirac Live and 2000 VA IsoTran so .........................

 

To my mind the areas for potential improvement in SQ are as follows.

 

1. An LPS such as Keces or HDplex to externally power the MB, SSD and Sotm USB card.    ($500-$1000)

 

2. Replace the Sotm PCIe UCB card with the supposed new, ubute JCat Femto XE card but at $1300 plus taxes into Aust, that is a big call.

http://jplay.eu/forum/index.php?/topic/3399-usb-card-xe/

It should basically be  direct swap for the Sotm I have.

 

3. Maybe a new NVMe card would be better than my SSD for music storage and OS.    But then I would need a new mother board with an M.2 slot.   A Mini-ITX board that would fit in my Lagoon case with dual m.2 inputs is maybe $600+.   All overkill for my needs I think.

 

4. Buy a couple of subs (SVSSB2000 pro or Rythmik Audio DirectServo) and mate them with the Kii 3's to take the strain off the Kii's bottom 20 htz, simply to give some more headroom.   $3,000 - $5000 by the time I buy the subs and some other bits and pieces to help the integration.   

 

Cheaper than $20,000 for the BXT but abit of messing around...................and for what??????  

 

Overall I think any future expenditure will be having a go at the external LPS.   If I eventually decide to rebuild the PC then the LPS won't be a waste along the way.

 

Just pondering where to spend the OS holiday money I'm not spending these next 12 months and open to suggestions. 🙂

 

Regards Cazzesman

 

 

 

 

Edited by cazzesman

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Just found this on a post on AS.

 

M.2 SSDs exist in two main types: SATA 6Gbps interface and PCIe x4 interface. The SATA ones support AHCI protocol only, whereas the PCIe interface ones often support NVMe (NVM Express).

 

The PCIe NVMe M.2 SSDs offer much throughput (PCIe x4 gen3 has a max bandwidth of 32Gb/s vs. SATA at 6Gb/s), but the power consumption is likely more bursty with higher peaks compared to SATA SSDs, along with possibly higher idle power, so I'm not convinced PCIe M.2 SSDs are ideal for music storage.

 

M.2 has another disadvantage in that it does not lend itself well to customized power. M.2 expansion slots sit directly on the motherboard, so replacing the power source for an M.2 SSD is not easy. I suppose one can work on customizing the power if the M.2 SSD is installed onto a PCIe x4 adapter card (plugged into a motherboard PCIe x4 or x16 slot) but so far I haven't heard anyone attempting this.

 

Since even SATA SSDs have way more throughput than will ever be needed for audio streaming (even DSD512 or PCM768), the more important factor is not performance but rather low drive active/idle power consumption, to help reduce electrical noise and lengthen battery life (for battery powered SSD scenario). 2.5" form factor SSDs also have a capacity advantage over M.2. Samsung sells a 4TB 2.5" 850 EVO SSD...

 

Maybe put a line through point 3. 🙂

 

Regards Cazzesman

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There are plenty of DACs that do DSD512. Even topping does it and I hear no artifacts with their DACs on a good amp. Are the artifacts coming from the amp and not the DAC but people attributing them to the DAC? I am still a bit lost as to why a whole PC is needed to decode DSD512.

 

I don't hear the difference in audio playback between a spinning HDD and an SSD. To me I would need to see some sort of measurements to show me what LPS, SSD, different cpu, different network card, etc would provide. I can't hear differences but I am open to possibility that there may some but then show me the measurements. Maybe the measurements will show something that I can't hear. @cazzesman have you seen measurements that show a change in sound reproduction with changes in drives, network cards, cpu, or other computer components? I mean whilst using a good external DAC and a modern computer. I honestly would love to see some data as I can't hear the effects that some people talk about.

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Posted (edited)

The storage for the NAA / renderer does not matter very much, its runs the OS with the audio content streamed over the network. 

 

My idea for a NAA or end point would be something like:

 

A HEDT platform, with plenty of memory channels. The idea isn't the processing power but having enough RAM to cache albums worth of DSD512/1024 content

Extremely fast network performance, 10Gb/fibre links maybe multiple bonded so no perceptible buffering times and obviously a music server fast enough to provide the throughput needed

 

I think if your requirements are not unique/specific you're better off going with off the shelf solutions such as Roon end points or SOtM products. The excess amount of electronics that comes with traditional computer motherboards would be extra electrical noise from components that you'll never use (such as onboard audio)

 

Also the computation requires are often overstated. A AMD 3600 cpu + Nvidia 2060S RTX can easily up sample DSD512 in every filter aside from EC modulator which can be had under $1k. Hardware acceleration has come a long way. The pc based music solutions are charging excessively, I do understand though, its a niche within a niche.

 

9 minutes ago, gwurb said:

There are plenty of DACs that do DSD512. Even topping does it and I hear no artifacts with their DACs on a good amp. Are the artifacts coming from the amp and not the DAC but people attributing them to the DAC? I am still a bit lost as to why a whole PC is needed to decode DSD512.

Its not the decoding part but the up-sampling process that is used to generate the DSD.

Edited by Essence

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19 minutes ago, gwurb said:

There are plenty of DACs that do DSD512. Even topping does it and I hear no artifacts with their DACs on a good amp. Are the artifacts coming from the amp and not the DAC but people attributing them to the DAC? I am still a bit lost as to why a whole PC is needed to decode DSD512.

 

I don't hear the difference in audio playback between a spinning HDD and an SSD. To me I would need to see some sort of measurements to show me what LPS, SSD, different cpu, different network card, etc would provide. I can't hear differences but I am open to possibility that there may some but then show me the measurements. Maybe the measurements will show something that I can't hear. @cazzesman have you seen measurements that show a change in sound reproduction with changes in drives, network cards, cpu, or other computer components? I mean whilst using a good external DAC and a modern computer. I honestly would love to see some data as I can't hear the effects that some people talk about.

Hi gwurb,

 

Thanks for joining the convo.    As for differences.   HDD vs SSD - obviously no moving parts and no sound is the main difference.  As for SQ I have no definitive analysis.    I added a 2tb SSD to my Music machine for ease of use vs the NAS.    It meant the LAN cable was out of the equation.    SSD loads instantly.   I have had zero problems since the install.    Occasionally the NAS network work have some hiccups.

 

I nolonger have to use the MB network card with the SSD internally placed, except for file transfer via Remote Access from my main PC.

 

Certainly the purpose designed Sotm PCIe USB card vs a standard MB USB port is chalk and cheese.    More clarity, finesse and dynamics.   

My Curious USB Cable was a big improvement over a stock USB I had.    Smoother and more articulate.   I use two 'Name brand' AES cables but have not compared them against any others.

 

The inclusion of the DIY build of the 2000 VA IsoTran was easily decernable to my ears.    Music far smoother, open and effortless.

 

I believe running software Audiophile Optimizer and Fidelizer over the WS2019 are what makes for a rock solid OS base to work from.

 

Regards Cazzesman

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24 minutes ago, Essence said:

The storage for the NAA / renderer does not matter very much, its runs the OS with the audio content streamed over the network. 

 

My idea for a NAA or end point would be something like:

 

A HEDT platform, with plenty of memory channels. The idea isn't the processing power but having enough RAM to cache albums worth of DSD512/1024 content

Extremely fast network performance, 10Gb/fibre links maybe multiple bonded so no perceptible buffering times and obviously a music server fast enough to provide the throughput needed

 

I think if your requirements are not unique/specific you're better off going with off the shelf solutions such as Roon end points or SOtM products. The excess amount of electronics that comes with traditional computer motherboards would be extra electrical noise from components that you'll never use (such as onboard audio)

 

Also the computation requires are often overstated. A AMD 3600 cpu + Nvidia 2060S RTX can easily up sample DSD512 in every filter aside from EC modulator which can be had under $1k. Hardware acceleration has come a long way. The pc based music solutions are charging excessively, I do understand though, its a niche within a niche.

 

Its not the decoding part but the up-sampling process that is used to generate the DSD.

 

Essence I see you list a Teradak LPS in your system.   Any thoughts on that device on SQ.

 

Regards Cazzesman

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48 minutes ago, cazzesman said:

 

Essence I see you list a Teradak LPS in your system.   Any thoughts on that device on SQ.

 

Regards Cazzesman

Its more or less to cover my bases, so my mains are less polluted. My Singxer SU-1 USB bridge has its own LPS with only the data connected to the PC. I can't discern any differences between switching to LPS but I invested in the switch to lift the overall system performance. The unit is quite big box and runs very warm. PC power supplies have also come a long way, like the Corsair series using GaN technology, it has some superb ripple specs. I'd bet the PSRR is impressive as well when someone decides to measure it.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Essence said:

The excess amount of electronics that comes with traditional computer motherboards would be extra electrical noise from components that you'll never use (such as onboard audio)

I don't use DSD. I keep my audio in FLAC containers encoded as PCM. I've never heard an improvement by using DSD natively or converted. I tend to like to see measurements. Ironically this is one area where DSD could measure better but I heard no improvement thus I don't want to put in an effort to change my existing audio or put something into the signal path to have PCM to DSD conversion. Maybe this means that these solutions will never be relevant to me.

 

I am curious. Is there actual proof that the larger motherboards translate into audible artifacts? I mentally understand the argument but is there actual data? My test cases have been:

 

Mini ITX MB PC -> USB DAC -> amp

vs

ATX MB PC -> USB DAC -> amp

No difference in what I heard

 

PC as above

vs

Laptop -> USB DAC -> amp

No difference in what I heard

 

Laptop -> USB DAC -> amp

vs

Laptop -> Ethernet to same DAC -> amp

No difference in what I heard

 

BUT changing the DAC made a difference.

 

My conclusion was that it was all about the DAC.

 

1 hour ago, cazzesman said:

HDD vs SSD - obviously no moving parts and no sound is the main difference.  As for SQ I have no definitive analysis.    I added a 2tb SSD to my Music machine for ease of use vs the NAS.    It meant the LAN cable was out of the equation.    SSD loads instantly.   I have had zero problems since the install.    Occasionally the NAS network work have some hiccups.

 

I nolonger have to use the MB network card with the SSD internally placed, except for file transfer via Remote Access from my main PC.

My curiosity there is whether the SSD improved the read speeds and if there were network issues. I would certainly say that SSD is recommended & a minimum of 1GigE is needed for all network devices with Cat6 cables.

 

1 hour ago, cazzesman said:

Certainly the purpose designed Sotm PCIe USB card vs a standard MB USB port is chalk and cheese.    More clarity, finesse and dynamics.   

My Curious USB Cable was a big improvement over a stock USB I had.    Smoother and more articulate.   I use two 'Name brand' AES cables but have not compared them against any others.

This is definitely something that I would need to hear elsewhere. It is too expensive of an experiment for my liking.

 

1 hour ago, cazzesman said:

I believe running software Audiophile Optimizer and Fidelizer over the WS2019 are what makes for a rock solid OS base to work from.

I haven't done that to my OS. To be honest I fail to see the logic. I mean I see the proposed logic but it doesn't make computer fundamental sense with a sufficiently powerful computer. Having a playback run as higher priority makes computer fundamental sense (so there is some merit for Fidelizer) but in general reducing processes on a computer that is already under a light load does what? The 30/30/30% split mentioned on Fidelizer  website is 30% for audio of a computer that is extremely lightly loaded already so where is the struggle? I get how it would make a difference on a lower spec computer but on an i5/i7 with 16GB ram and an SSD running a web browser with a few tabs, an email client, a word document with 10 or so pages, maybe an excel file with a few sheets, and an audio program with higher assigned priority I struggle to see where the 30% is insufficient. I am using 30% because they use it, I don't know the exact split.

 

Edit: I have read people discuss what they heard as an improvement after using Audiophile Optimizer and Fidelizer but I see no one actual talk about what is going on at base fundamental level with the computer output. Is there an actual change or is it a placebo?

Edited by gwurb

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2 hours ago, cazzesman said:

To my mind the areas for potential improvement in SQ are as follows.

 

1. An LPS such as Keces or HDplex to externally power the MB, SSD and Sotm USB card.    ($500-$1000)

 

2. Replace the Sotm PCIe UCB card with the supposed new, ubute JCat Femto XE card but at $1300 plus taxes into Aust, that is a big call.

http://jplay.eu/forum/index.php?/topic/3399-usb-card-xe/

It should basically be  direct swap for the Sotm I have.

 

3. Maybe a new NVMe card would be better than my SSD for music storage and OS.    But then I would need a new mother board with an M.2 slot.   A Mini-ITX board that would fit in my Lagoon case with dual m.2 inputs is maybe $600+.   All overkill for my needs I think.

 

4. Buy a couple of subs (SVSSB2000 pro or Rythmik Audio DirectServo) and mate them with the Kii 3's to take the strain off the Kii's bottom 20 htz, simply to give some more headroom.   $3,000 - $5000 by the time I buy the subs and some other bits and pieces to help the integration.   

Always fun to spend someone elses money without the risk of it not quite meeting expectation!!

 

1)LPS will definately be a step up and mostly the more you spend the better it gets. Easy huh!  You could blow your entire budget on power supplies and it would not be wasted as you will hear the benefit and most likely be able to use them for any future builds dont stop at keces or HDplex. JS-2, Paul Hynes , sky's the limit! 

 

2) New jcat card will most likely be better but will need good power anyway so see 1) first and the SOTM will definately improve with better power so give yourself a chance to enjoy that (already paid for ) improvement (I have had one previously)

 

3) already dealt with so crossed off the list

 

4)As impressive as Kii's are, even they think they can be improved upon with some bass reinforcement but  If its not bothering you then no need to scratch that itch until it does!

 

5)Looking at your network setup and seeing what could be improved. Sadly cables and power supplies do make a diference here also along with isolation. Devices such as Etherregen, optical converters,  Jcat net card seem everywhere now and . Just as your usb cable which "cant possibly" affect the sound due to clocks buffers and error correction 1's and zeros's etc so too the issue occurs with the network. Its easy to see how much impact it may make for you if you are able to put on a playlist and unplug the ethernet cable and sit down and listen. It costs nothing and you  will know what sort of improvement you can expect in your setup. I have been doing that a bit lately and aside from saving $1000's of dollars to attain a smiilar improvement it gets you into  a different thought process for listening more along the lines of using a tuntable which i have been enjoying (as long as you aren't streaming from Tidal or similar).

 

If you do want to be connected then cables do make a difference at the same( or maybe even greater) impact than usb cables. (at least those who dont think usb cables make a difference cant disagree with that statement too much)

 

Of course, if you can, room treatment or dsp can make much bigger gains as you have already found but if there is more that can be done it is a great sq return on investment.

 

Thats a start!

 

 

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8 hours ago, cazzesman said:

Certainly the purpose designed Sotm PCIe USB card vs a standard MB USB port is chalk and cheese.    More clarity, finesse and dynamics.   

My Curious USB Cable was a big improvement over a stock USB I had.    Smoother and more articulate.   I use two 'Name brand' AES cables but have not compared them against any others.

I believe running software Audiophile Optimizer and Fidelizer over the WS2019 are what makes for a rock solid OS base to work from.

Have you tried JCat USB Femto? The differences again chalk vs cheese when step up from Sotm to JCat. The gap is widen again with new JCat XE card. 
 

Have you tried Audio Revive USB cable? For my setup, Audio Revive brought much more life, and naturalness without compromise in dynamic like the Curious. Interestingly, Curious was so mellow and thick sounding that often balancing well with noisy server builds. 
 

WS2019 is fantastic in core mode. Yet even better when using AO 3.0. Have you tried Win10 LTSC? A very compacted version that’s only 3GB in footprint as oppose to SW2019 at bare minimal core mode at 4ish GB. 
 

If you are in W.A.., woukd have been great! There do much for us to elaborate with great advancements...! 

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Hi Chanh,

 

Nice to have your expertise and PC audio knowledge onboard.    How are your projects progressing?    Stilling building and improving?

 

Have you actually compared the JCat XE card against the rest?   If so, how does the $1300+ rate vs SQ improvement rate?

 

Regards Cazzesman

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Posted (edited)
On 29/06/2020 at 8:29 PM, cazzesman said:

Hi Chanh,

 

Nice to have your expertise and PC audio knowledge onboard.    How are your projects progressing?    Stilling building and improving?

 

Have you actually compared the JCat XE card against the rest?   If so, how does the $1300+ rate vs SQ improvement rate?

 

Regards Cazzesman

Thanks Cazzesman! 
I have done up my servers... dual pc setup. Currently, waiting for all power supplies to be assembled into a Streacom case. In total, this combo servers consists of 5 boxes. One linear psu for Control PC and 2 boxes power supplies for AudioPC. Both PC are using umbilical cords from external linear psu. 

 

All was tested with both WS 2019 and Win10 LTSC. All OS are loaded into RAM as a form of RAMDISK. This initial process takes approx 3-5mins when first turn on, but worth doing. Interestingly, Win10 LTSC sounded better. I highly recommend you to try a RAMDisk if you haven’t done so! 
 

currently waiting for the CNC to have all parts assembled. Going to be interesting.

Edited by Chanh

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