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Building the ideal(ish) Music Server

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18 minutes ago, kukynas said:

@BioBrian unfortunately Oppo doesn't specify its network supported formats

 

No limitation via the network (eg. CIFS) .... but no DLNA compliant server can ever choose to send it DSD (or FLAC).

 

It would be interesting to see if UPnP (eg. JRiver configured suchly) sending it FLAC/DSD/whatever would work....   probably.

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I use win 2016 core mode and  jriver server running 24 bit audiophile DLNA output to share my library over my home network to a sotm sms200ultra renderer. Dsd is sent via dop and the Gieseler Gross Dac plays back up to dsd 256.

Trouble free and sounds bloody fantastic! 

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I have just built my first "idealish" and looking for some advice and pointers. Firstly want to thank all who have contributed to this thread. Its long, has lots of conflicting opinions, lots of stuff I dont understand, the occasional flare up, and heaps of good info. So, a great thread IMO. Also like to thank @Chanh for lots of help behind the scenes, supplying some great bits to get me going and stopping me from blowing things up before i get to hear a note.

 

This is the very beginning of my music server adventures and after seeing the entry cost of the ready built options out there I decided to see what can be achieved at a moderate cost and effort. 

 

I had already been running roon from an old discarded i3 laptop which I originally was using win 7  and now  linux ubuntu. I  put it on as well as windows just in case I want to go back. I cant really put my finger on whether there are any differences between the operating systems sound wise as its a bit of an ordeal to go back and forth but in terms of the ability of the laptop to do dsp processing its far more stable and quieter and cooler with Ubuntu.  

 

This was connected to the dac via a USB regen. into a Vitus Ri-100 integrated with onboard Dac card into Duntech princesses. An external USB hard drive is connected to the laptop.

 

I have now procured enough s/h bits and put together a renderer consisting of a Jetway NF9C 2 sticks of 2GB Hynix 1R memory with a SOTM TX-USB card,  and teradak 3-9v @ 1 amp supply and a Keces DC116 supply (2 x 12 v DC @ 3 amp). I chucked this into an old desktop case to get it all going. 

 

I have used Snakeoil OS with roon bridge on it running from a USB stick (not through the sotm)

 

My first comparo was between the old setup as described and between the renderer connected though LAN to the network running roon bridge and the laptop as server/core. No uptone between renderer and DAC.

 

First impressions are it is better (phew!) with better soundstage and a more natural presentation.

 

I hope to be comparing this to an SMS-200 at some point as it is already more expensive than that.

 

I am interested in what might be best to improve next in terms of low hanging fruit and (offcourse) bang for buck.  Also hope it might help others with trying to figure out how to start. It seems really simple but for some reason it took me a while to get going. Lots of paralysis by analysis i suspect.

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Hi Fred: Great stuff. Since you have some quality gear, my strong rec. would be  to consider a solid, quality Balanced/Symmetrical Power Supply (i.e. Equi=tech, or similar) to power your source and/or digital gear -including Streamer.

 

If you are using basic (throw-in) factory power cords -good ! lol

AC power cords have an enormous impact upon SQ -from my experience mostly, near entirely for the worse. It's remarkable the impact a P/C (Power Cord) has in concert with the device's internal P/S, yet a casual listen convinces. If using a suitable (good-sounding) power cable -great. If not, experiment with #16-#18 (AWG) "throw-in's". You should notice easily and 'cleanly' the (SQ) distinctions  between  the ubiquitous, everyday (black, grey) AC power cord likely lying around the household.

(For an easier 'test', find and use a thicker and thinner one should you wish to investigate/audition.)  

 

Long story short: My (next step) recommendation would be a quality AC power 'supply' -including a AC power re-generator, the 're-gen' being particularly impressive with 'digital gear (CDP, DAC, Streamer).   

 

Enjoy,

 

pj

 

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1 hour ago, frednork said:

I am interested in what might be best to improve next in terms of low hanging fruit and (offcourse) bang for buck.  Also hope it might help others with trying to figure out how to start. It seems really simple but for some reason it took me a while to get going. Lots of paralysis by analysis i suspect.

BIOS 

Sort out your network

Isolate USB

Then worry about CPU cache etc

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28 minutes ago, rmpfyf said:

BIOS 

Sort out your network

Isolate USB

Then worry about CPU cache etc

Bios- does this mean disable multithreading? anything else?

Network,- does this mean 2 layer separate subnet? anything else?

Isolate USB. - I thought the  SOTM TX-USB card does that?

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1 hour ago, allhifi said:

Hi Fred: Great stuff. Since you have some quality gear, my strong rec. would be  to consider a solid, quality Balanced/Symmetrical Power Supply (i.e. Equi=tech, or similar) to power your source and/or digital gear -including Streamer.

 

If you are using basic (throw-in) factory power cords -good ! lol

AC power cords have an enormous impact upon SQ -from my experience mostly, near entirely for the worse. It's remarkable the impact a P/C (Power Cord) has in concert with the device's internal P/S, yet a casual listen convinces. If using a suitable (good-sounding) power cable -great. If not, experiment with #16-#18 (AWG) "throw-in's". You should notice easily and 'cleanly' the (SQ) distinctions  between  the ubiquitous, everyday (black, grey) AC power cord likely lying around the household.

(For an easier 'test', find and use a thicker and thinner one should you wish to investigate/audition.)  

 

Long story short: My (next step) recommendation would be a quality AC power 'supply' -including a AC power re-generator, the 're-gen' being particularly impressive with 'digital gear (CDP, DAC, Streamer).   

 

Enjoy,

 

pj

 

HI PJ, thanks for the feedback. I will give a few cables I have a go and see if anything pops out as better. I havent gone too far down the regen path as from my reading the general consensus was not to condition / regen the power amp section. I see that some of the guys have amazing setups with 10k plus conditioners that wont compress a power amp. Unfortunately not within budget atm. 

Is possible for the server however

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37 minutes ago, frednork said:

Bios- does this mean disable multithreading? anything else?

Network,- does this mean 2 layer separate subnet? anything else?

Isolate USB. - I thought the  SOTM TX-USB card does that?

 

BIOS - more than that - did a post a few pages back though mostly it's device management, speed syncing and P/C state management.

 

Network - yes, with isolation on the last leg. I do a little more with CPU affinity though you're limited on an i3.

 

Isolate it at IRQ and power level on the motherboard. You'll need to install some software to power off excess ports (if your motherboard supports this much), again CPU affinity, and nix all other USB if you can (admittedly this lesser part is less of an issue with a separate USB controller for audio as per your card). 

 

Would consider going to 1 RAM stick 1R. Try removing your second and see how you sound. 1x stick lights up 200+ less traces on your motherboard and drops some latency loss. Think EMI. 

 

There's a few other things you can do to cut kernel jitter though honestly Snakeoil OS is an excellent build. 

 

You'll have more flexibility on 4 genuine cores and more cache. See about an i5 T-class. 

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1 hour ago, frednork said:

HI PJ, thanks for the feedback. I will give a few cables I have a go and see if anything pops out as better. I havent gone too far down the regen path as from my reading the general consensus was not to condition / regen the power amp section. I see that some of the guys have amazing setups with 10k plus conditioners that wont compress a power amp. Unfortunately not within budget atm. 

Is possible for the server however

Hi: AC 'Re-gen.' ONLY for source/digital. Alternately, a quality Balanced/ Symmetrical power supply/conditioner '(Equi-Tech' is widely known -but pricey)  to power 'Source' components (CD, DAC, Tuner, Streamer etc.)

 

I have two (2) 'Blue Circle' Balanced Power Supply's, MR-1200, and MR-800 (Watts). Originally (and experimentally) I used  my first one (MR-1200) to power the entire sound system (Preamp, Power and all sources).

Although both Blue Circle models have a AC duplex socket labelled 'Digital', a dedicated second one for  all of my 'source' components (MR-800 Blue Circle) is used -with excellent results.

 

Once digital audio equipment is powered separately from analog gear, the gains in performance/SQ is considerable. This also holds (and proves) true when only a regular duplex AC wall outlet is available: One (AC) outlet (with/without power bar/extender) to power the preamp, power or Integrated, while the other  (AC receptacle) to power Digital/Source components.  Considerable  gains is clarity/definition, layering, dynamics, tonal realism resulted.  

 

Keep in mind, there are other sources/company's  offering AC Power Re-gen's

priced far more reasonably (than PS Audio for example). Balanced Power manufacturer's has dwindled but remain available used from time to time. 

  

Equipment Racks featruring low-mass and high rigidity is also highly recommended.:VTi 304/404 series some examples.

 

pj

 

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Budget idealish vs SOTM SMS200 

 

Did a comparison with an SOTM SMS-200.  The SOTM had the original power supply, USB cable was a Jaycar . The "idealish" consisting of a Jetway NF9C 1 stick of 2GB Hynix 1R memory with a SOTM TX-USB card,  and teradak 3-9v @ 1 amp supply and a Keces DC116 supply (2 x 12 v DC @ 3 amp). It has Snakeoil OS with roon bridge on it running from a USB stick (not through the sotm). Music was played through Roon from a I5 laptop over a normal wired home network. Am in the process of optimising the server and most unnecessary things that could be shut down from the bios were.

 

We listened to one track only during comparisons (all business, no pleasure) - The gunners dream from Pink Floyds final cut ,

The track is not that easy to compare without hearing it a few times but once you get to know it it is quite demanding and (obviously) well recorded.

 

We first listened to the SOTM , Then we went back and forth a couple of times to get our bearings . Initially the SOTM sounded pretty good however once the idealish was playing the SOTM seemed a bit hazier,, soundstage not as defined. It was just noisier, like on every note there was a minute amount of hash like noise coming through. The piano at the start of the track showed this up quite well as well as the sax solo.

 

Ok, I thought the idealish sounded pretty good in isolation but it was good to confirm it was better than something that cost probably about half as much.:ermm:

 

Now we knew the SOTM is recommended to be used with a better quality power supply so we hooked up the Keces to it and tried again. It sounded much better. The haze seemed to have disappeared, the soundstage opened up, the game was on with the SOTM lifting its game significantly.

 

I have an Italian HID Diamond USB cable so we tried that - slightly better again.

Then tried adding a USB regen as well,  another nice improvement. It was really sounding quite good and we hadnt gone back to the idealish in between, I didnt know which would prove better as it had been quite a while since I heard the idealish.

 

So I moved  the Keces and HID cable on the idealish (but no regen) and we had a listen. Very close this time.  We both agreed the idealish in the end had the edge but much harder to pick. It was just more natural sounding and more engaging.

 

Then we tried running the idealish from the motherboard usb just to see . It was actually not that different to the SOTM card. I thought the SOTM usb sounded better but the other listener thought they were very close.

 

So there you go. Regardless of whether you buy a SOTM or Ultrarendu or DIY or pretty much anything else, if it is for  more than just casual listening a decent power supply makes a big difference. I guess we knew that but it was good to see it borne out so clearly in our listening.

 

With all the added bits to the SMS-200 the value equation starts to change and the 2 units are in a similar ballpark pricewise. If you take the SOTM usb card out of the idealish, the idealish is starting to look much better value. 

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On 04/07/2018 at 2:40 PM, rmpfyf said:

 

BIOS - more than that - did a post a few pages back though mostly it's device management, speed syncing and P/C state management.

 

Network - yes, with isolation on the last leg. I do a little more with CPU affinity though you're limited on an i3.

 

Isolate it at IRQ and power level on the motherboard. You'll need to install some software to power off excess ports (if your motherboard supports this much), again CPU affinity, and nix all other USB if you can (admittedly this lesser part is less of an issue with a separate USB controller for audio as per your card). 

 

Would consider going to 1 RAM stick 1R. Try removing your second and see how you sound. 1x stick lights up 200+ less traces on your motherboard and drops some latency loss. Think EMI. 

 

There's a few other things you can do to cut kernel jitter though honestly Snakeoil OS is an excellent build. 

 

You'll have more flexibility on 4 genuine cores and more cache. See about an i5 T-class. 

@rmpfyf thanks for the above, I have tackled some of the easier stuff, ie 1stick 2gb ram-Done! no problems

 

for others that might be reading this if you are not optimising your M/B it might be a bit dry reading, feel free to skip itB)

 

BIOS, I shut down everything I could that didnt stop it from working but  as a BIOS beginner there are a few things I didnt know what was preferred like this bus clocks stuff

IMG_20180705_105637.thumb.jpg.76a2731c2eaa476b3aa15b27f5dfaa11.jpg

IMG_20180705_105849.thumb.jpg.22f6721e1d407ad48c3730052d948bc4.jpg

 And this usb legacy support

 

 

not sure if thisIGD makes any difference

 

IMG_20180705_110331.thumb.jpg.e3f4f066fe90ed15c82eed25b96cf1c6.jpg

 

Wasnt sure about this PPM stuff either

IMG_20180705_110119.thumb.jpg.cba2439efac91d99f9f08f50d715b487.jpg

 

Any benefit to increasing voltage? gut feel is no but...

IMG_20180705_110023.thumb.jpg.e0a9ebfc58ee6d9a4446288219d3dd76.jpg

 

and spread spectrum? 

IMG_20180705_105952.thumb.jpg.db49660ec78cb62d73567c1148f70537.jpg

 

also assuming I dont need azalia, I think I can shut down another apir of USB's (is this all I need to do to shut them down?) what about this timer thing?

 

IMG_20180705_111856.thumb.jpg.4c4a5f1492e507101591d165b4e7fa95.jpg

 

 

You also mention speed syncing, where do I find that?

 

Also "Isolate it at IRQ and power level on the motherboard". How do I do that?

 

"You'll need to install some software to power off excess ports (if your motherboard supports this much), again CPU affinity," what sort of software?

 

Sorry for such a tedious post.

 

Good news is I will be comparing this server to a SOTM Ultra hopefully in the next week or 2 so would like it as optimised as possible.:winky:

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See below in bold

7 hours ago, frednork said:

@rmpfyf thanks for the above, I have tackled some of the easier stuff, ie 1stick 2gb ram-Done! no problems

 

for others that might be reading this if you are not optimising your M/B it might be a bit dry reading, feel free to skip itB)

 

BIOS, I shut down everything I could that didnt stop it from working but  as a BIOS beginner there are a few things I didnt know what was preferred like this bus clocks stuff

That'll depend on how many PCI devices you've got in the system and a few other things. No hard and fast rules and it's unlikely to break anything. See if going up to 64 gives you better sound (it'll be a function of less kernel jitter as the PCI devices in your machine have more regular access to the CPU - though you just might not have enough devices/load to make a difference). I'd try for more and listen a bit until there's no more improvement (if there's any to start),

 

 And this usb legacy support

Enabled fine

 

not sure if thisIGD makes any difference

No difference, just leave it to whatever you've got together

 

Wasnt sure about this PPM stuff either

EIST you can disable if you've got your CPU clock speeds set independently.

I would think you'd want to report your C-states to the OS, though I'm not sure if Linux cares what the BIOS asks anyway here. More important that you disable any C-states beyond C3.

 

Any benefit to increasing voltage? gut feel is no but...

No - if anything you'd want to decrease it but this can hang your system and depending how your motherboard's power system is configured it can actually raise ripple noise on the relevant power rail too. Would let it go, there are bigger fish.

 

and spread spectrum? 

Leave it off. Can reduce EMI by shifting clock timing, you certainly don't want the latlter

 

also assuming I dont need azalia, I think I can shut down another apir of USB's (is this all I need to do to shut them down?) what about this timer thing?

Enable the high precision timer

Disable Azalia

Only enable the USB ports you need - hopefully there's only one for audio

 

You also mention speed syncing, where do I find that?

Set your CPU speed, iGPU speed and RAM speed to multiples of each other, e.g. 800/400/1600 (or 2400 if you're DDR4). Less essential to tweak the RAM so but if you imagine the CPU die has a GPU right next to it, and if it's doing things at frequencies significantly different to the CPU's activities, the effect on power quality is irregular.

 

Also "Isolate it at IRQ and power level on the motherboard". How do I do that?

Are you comfortable working at shell level (terminal)?

 

"You'll need to install some software to power off excess ports (if your motherboard supports this much), again CPU affinity," what sort of software?

Same as last comment. Let me know your thoughts on this and we'll work accordingly. I'm sure others will chip in with thoughts and things to try too.

 

Sorry for such a tedious post.

 

Good news is I will be comparing this server to a SOTM Ultra hopefully in the next week or 2 so would like it as optimised as possible.:winky:

 

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@rmpfyf thanks again!

 

That'll depend on how many PCI devices you've got in the system and a few other things. No hard and fast rules and it's unlikely to break anything. See if going up to 64 gives you better sound (it'll be a function of less kernel jitter as the PCI devices in your machine have more regular access to the CPU - though you just might not have enough devices/load to make a difference). I'd try for more and listen a bit until there's no more improvement (if there's any to start),

 

The only PCi is the USB card, will give it a go, thanks.

 

Only enable the USB ports you need - hopefully there's only one for audio

There are the ports on the isolated card and also am running snake oil from a usb only, no hard drive. I figured as it is only a renderer and not server it might be better. Would a hard drive improve things? Not having issues with system not coping.

 

Set your CPU speed, iGPU speed and RAM speed to multiples of each other, e.g. 800/400/1600 (or 2400 if you're DDR4). Less essential to tweak the RAM so but if you imagine the CPU die has a GPU right next to it, and if it's doing things at frequencies significantly different to the CPU's activities, the effect on power quality is irregular.

Is this done through shell?

 

Are you comfortable working at shell level (terminal)?

Not super comfortable but have done it previously, would like to try.

 

Am hoping this would raise it a few notches.

 

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On 11/07/2018 at 10:09 AM, frednork said:

@rmpfyf thanks again!

 

That'll depend on how many PCI devices you've got in the system and a few other things. No hard and fast rules and it's unlikely to break anything. See if going up to 64 gives you better sound (it'll be a function of less kernel jitter as the PCI devices in your machine have more regular access to the CPU - though you just might not have enough devices/load to make a difference). I'd try for more and listen a bit until there's no more improvement (if there's any to start),

 

The only PCi is the USB card, will give it a go, thanks.

 

Only enable the USB ports you need - hopefully there's only one for audio

There are the ports on the isolated card and also am running snake oil from a usb only, no hard drive. I figured as it is only a renderer and not server it might be better. Would a hard drive improve things? Not having issues with system not coping.

 

Set your CPU speed, iGPU speed and RAM speed to multiples of each other, e.g. 800/400/1600 (or 2400 if you're DDR4). Less essential to tweak the RAM so but if you imagine the CPU die has a GPU right next to it, and if it's doing things at frequencies significantly different to the CPU's activities, the effect on power quality is irregular.

Is this done through shell?

 

Are you comfortable working at shell level (terminal)?

Not super comfortable but have done it previously, would like to try.

 

Am hoping this would raise it a few notches.

 

 

Sorry mate out of the country presently so missed this for a few days. 

 

The speed changes are BIOS. Essentially how you configure your BIOS gives Linux a range of options to play with; if you configure it to enable changing CPU speeds, Linux will give you that functionality if support is compiled into the kernel (usually is though you can rip it out). One of my PCs is locked at 800Mhz. Another isn't, and I do it in software as required - so if I'm playing a file back with convolution and/or resampling the CPU goes to max speed to process the audio, then drops to minimum speed for playback. XXHighEnd and a few others do similarly. 

 

I haven't worked out how to disable the iGPU entirely. Which would be a powerful thing. Intel's CPU manual suggests there's a state for this though I've not sat down enough to exhaust trying... which would then have me ask someone with more clues :) If anyone knows how please share. 

 

For controlling USB power in Linux I use uhubctl https://github.com/mvp/uhubctl - you need to download (git cone) and compile, then run. Preferably put it into a script you run at startup. I would have only your audio plugged in to your USB card and nothing else anywhere. It may even allow you to de-power the unused port on your card (I'm assuming possibly incorrectly that it's got two). If you a** it up you just reboot and you have your regular system back. Give it a shot or write back asking for exact instructions, either is fine, we are all here to help each other :)

 

I would run your OS from a SSD simply because OS latencies are going to be lower than for USB, and you are trying to reduce OS jitter at all costs. My best results have been with the SSD powered independently. I couldn't get an NVMe solution sounding better, probably because though the latencies are lower the motherboard power consumption gets a bit wild (which in turn has an indirect effect on jitter); probably the ultimate is a nice, shielded and isolated NVMe SSD with independent power. It wouldn't be hard (though the usual suspects, PPA etc, are likely to come out with a bog-stock Samsung or similar at 3x the price for a bit of ally/a few bits of wire/a rubber grommet).

 

I'll be home in a few days and I'll pull up notes on CPU isolation and affinity management. Basically you can tell which programs to run on what cores, you can tell which devices to run their interrupts on what CPUs, and you can change this whilst music plays to hear the difference dynamically. Then it's a matter of:

  • Having things that annoy the CPU whilst it's meant to be playing music annoy it less (or not at all - LAN connectivity is a big one here, and surprise surprise shutting down networking during playbacks sounds best... but then you have no control)
  • Having things that need really super fast important access to your CPU do so (e.g. your USB interrupt, or the PCI interrupt your USB card sits on)
  • Getting your kernel configured to run your CPU so that it's not doing too much work under low-load running (the sort of which happens when you're running music). I have no idea what SnakeOil does here, I have an idea what my Linux does because I built it... which is not a criticism, SnakeOil is excellent. I just don't know if you could change this, or if you'd even want/need to. I'd be betting this bit is already well-configured by the SnakeOil team.

 

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On 14/07/2018 at 12:40 PM, rmpfyf said:

 

I would run your OS from a SSD simply because OS latencies are going to be lower than for USB, and you are trying to reduce OS jitter at all costs. My best results have been with the SSD powered independently. I couldn't get an NVMe solution sounding better, probably because though the latencies are lower the motherboard power consumption gets a bit wild (which in turn has an indirect effect on jitter); probably the ultimate is a nice, shielded and isolated NVMe SSD with independent power. It wouldn't be hard (though the usual suspects, PPA etc, are likely to come out with a bog-stock Samsung or similar at 3x the price for a bit of ally/a few bits of wire/a rubber grommet).

 

I

Trying to figure out if an M.2 SSD will work in the motherboard and whether that would be better than a standard 2.5".

It has a PCIe miniport but not sure if it will work. its this one https://www.jetwaycomputer.com/download/Manual/NF9C/NF9C-V2.0.pdf

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6 hours ago, frednork said:

Trying to figure out if an M.2 SSD will work in the motherboard and whether that would be better than a standard 2.5".

It has a PCIe miniport but not sure if it will work. its this one https://www.jetwaycomputer.com/download/Manual/NF9C/NF9C-V2.0.pdf

when i had one of these boards i used a C-fast card in the appropriate slot for the OS. i started with an adapter which allowed the use of SD and micro SD cards and that worked fine. then i bought an 8gb cfast card off aliexpress where they are quite cheap. make sure you get the right one as there are 2 kinds. 

 

these mobo's don't do M.2 in that miniport. and you can't use it for the OS.

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9 hours ago, frednork said:

Trying to figure out if an M.2 SSD will work in the motherboard and whether that would be better than a standard 2.5".

It has a PCIe miniport but not sure if it will work. its this one https://www.jetwaycomputer.com/download/Manual/NF9C/NF9C-V2.0.pdf

 

I found that I didn't like the M.2 using motherboard power. Yet to see an adaptor that gets around this (though it probably exists, particularly if it's just done into a usual PCIe slot. Don't see the point in SATA M.2, would need to be NVMe.

 

I've found it to be bootable, though I run Linux and I imagine the BIOS has a bit to do with this at any rate... as mentioned above if it's not a drive the BIOS can 'see' then you can't boot it.

 

Honestly a SATA SSD on a block with it's own PSU isolated from the PC is going to sound pretty good.

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2 hours ago, rocl444 said:

 

when i had one of these boards i used a C-fast card in the appropriate slot for the OS. i started with an adapter which allowed the use of SD and micro SD cards and that worked fine. then i bought an 8gb cfast card off aliexpress where they are quite cheap. make sure you get the right one as there are 2 kinds. 

 

these mobo's don't do M.2 in that miniport. and you can't use it for the OS.

 

19 minutes ago, rmpfyf said:

 

I found that I didn't like the M.2 using motherboard power. Yet to see an adaptor that gets around this (though it probably exists, particularly if it's just done into a usual PCIe slot. Don't see the point in SATA M.2, would need to be NVMe.

 

I've found it to be bootable, though I run Linux and I imagine the BIOS has a bit to do with this at any rate... as mentioned above if it's not a drive the BIOS can 'see' then you can't boot it.

 

Honestly a SATA SSD on a block with it's own PSU isolated from the PC is going to sound pretty good.

Thanks for that, I suspected that it may not be an improvement. The SATA will be easier to repurpose if required as well!!

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I've see this thread popping up now and again, but I have never bothered to read any of it until last night.

What perked my interest was what your guys are doing with separating power supplies as much as possible for each part that requires power, plus the optimization of the OS.

 

Now normally I'm dubious to say least regarding going to such lengths, thinking that it's not going to make that much of a difference, or what difference it does make is either barely perceivable, or worse, more of a placebo effect of having put the effort into building it, you trick yourself into hearing differences that don't really exist.

 

But, while doing a search for more information about the  Kii Audio THREE active speaker, which in turn was perked by the review in the current August issue of HiFi News & Record Review, I came across several YouTube videos of it, but the one I'll link to below is the one that's relevant to what the posters in this thread have been doing regarding media server builds, and I'd thought I share my find.

 

The video is taken from the last Munich High End Show, the demonstration uses the Kii THREE speakers with the added BXT bass module, but the actual demonstration is not of the speakers, but of the new INNOUS ZENITH STATEMENT server V's the previous limited edition top of the line INNOUS ZENITH SE.

 

From the description of the differences between the two units, it is my understanding that what basically has been done is to isolate a separately power each component of the server, plus they have made a bespoke MB to attain this, and to reduce EMI where they have found it most problematic......so basically what you guys have been doing.

It seems the differences in the line of INNOUS servers is pretty much differentiated by this separation of power to the various components.....with the Statement having 8 separate liner power supplies.

 

This video completely changed my mind on just how much of a difference can be got if you take care of this powering of separate components, and of course OS tweaking.

If you just want to hear a quick A/B difference of the two servers, the videos poster has edited the video so the differences are easier to hear at 7.58.

 

By the way, I strongly suggest wearing some decent headphones while watching this demo.

 

Looks like I have a LOT of reading to catch up on looking at the length of this thread.🤔

 

Edited by Tweaky

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I just reinstalled snakeoil and there have been some top notch tweaks made to it, a lot of what’s been mentioned further up in the thread for Linuxophiles EG where you can force the application to run on an exclusive core etc - I’m very excited to give this a go!

 

I wasn’t smart enough to work this part out myself.

 

Great work Kith!

Edited by realysm42

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On 19/07/2018 at 2:54 AM, Tweaky said:

I've see this thread popping up now and again, but I have never bothered to read any of it until last night.

What perked my interest was what your guys are doing with separating power supplies as much as possible for each part that requires power, plus the optimization of the OS.

 

Now normally I'm dubious to say least regarding going to such lengths, thinking that it's not going to make that much of a difference, or what difference it does make is either barely perceivable, or worse, more of a placebo effect of having put the effort into building it, you trick yourself into hearing differences that don't really exist.

 

But, while doing a search for more information about the  Kii Audio THREE active speaker, which in turn was perked by the review in the current August issue of HiFi News & Record Review, I came across several YouTube videos of it, but the one I'll link to below is the one that's relevant to what the posters in this thread have been doing regarding media server builds, and I'd thought I share my find.

 

The video is taken from the last Munich High End Show, the demonstration uses the Kii THREE speakers with the added BXT bass module, but the actual demonstration is not of the speakers, but of the new INNOUS ZENITH STATEMENT server V's the previous limited edition top of the line INNOUS ZENITH SE.

 

From the description of the differences between the two units, it is my understanding that what basically has been done is to isolate a separately power each component of the server, plus they have made a bespoke MB to attain this, and to reduce EMI where they have found it most problematic......so basically what you guys have been doing.

It seems the differences in the line of INNOUS servers is pretty much differentiated by this separation of power to the various components.....with the Statement having 8 separate liner power supplies.

 

This video completely changed my mind on just how much of a difference can be got if you take care of this powering of separate components, and of course OS tweaking.

If you just want to hear a quick A/B difference of the two servers, the videos poster has edited the video so the differences are easier to hear at 7.58.

 

By the way, I strongly suggest wearing some decent headphones while watching this demo.

 

Looks like I have a LOT of reading to catch up on looking at the length of this thread.🤔

 

Hi Tweaky:  I can easily hear the (very easy to discern) distinctions on my (outboard) computer speakers -of course being authentic 3-ways ! I'm not kidding. The 'liquidity, tonal richness (realism), clarity/definition, layering/ dimensionality and micro/macro dynamics are all far superior. But, $11K (Euro). Ouch.

   

pj 

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9 hours ago, realysm42 said:

I just reinstalled snakeoil and there have been some top notch tweaks made to it, a lot of what’s been mentioned further up in the thread for Linuxophiles EG where you can force the application to run on an exclusive core etc - I’m very excited to give this a go!

 

(Ah, so people do read this thread ;))

 

I saw the build updates. Haven't had a chance to try, life gets in the way. There's a few other things that can be done too in addition to these tweaks, it's not quite the full set of what's described above.

 

Still, it's very slick and very free. A super nice and very good OS.

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6 hours ago, rmpfyf said:

 

(Ah, so people do read this thread ;))

 

I saw the build updates. Haven't had a chance to try, life gets in the way. There's a few other things that can be done too in addition to these tweaks, it's not quite the full set of what's described above.

 

Still, it's very slick and very free. A super nice and very good OS.

Hey dude,

 

You're right, it's not the full selection, but a great start for Linux noobs like me :) I'm looking forward to optimising all of this stuff to do with cores etc.

 

You're still welcome to pop over for a tune session if you like; I've got way more whisky than I can reasonably consume alone too, you can help me out with that as well!

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Budget idealish DIY computer vs SOTM sms200 ultra

 

Been a bit busy lately and opportunities for working on the idealish have been limited. Had the chance to compare it with the sms200 ultra, so a quick review for your reading pleasure.

 

I previously compared it to an sms 200 and I think its fair to say the idealish was  better when the power supplies used were the same. With the original power supply the sms200 was quite inferior to the idealish. 

 

The "idealish" consists of a Jetway NF9C  motherboard, 1 stick of 2GB Hynix 1R memory with a SOTM TX-USB card,  and teradak 3-9v @ 1 amp supply and a Keces DC116 supply (2 x 12 v DC @ 3 amp). It has Snakeoil (new build "Blind Testing") OS with roon bridge on it running from a USB stick .

 

The Ultra is a 9v model which was powered from a SOTM sps500 power supply. 

 

Curious usb cable was used

 

 Music was played through Roon from a I5 laptop over a normal wired home network. 

 

We listened to one track only during comparisons (all business, no pleasure) - The gunners dream from Pink Floyds final cut ,

The track is not that easy to compare without hearing it a few times but once you get to know it it is quite demanding and (obviously) well recorded.

 

Well how did they compare? To be honest it took a few back and forths to figure it out as they were very close. But as we continued to back and forth things started to become clearer. Both players sounded very good with no big complaints either way. However there were some differences we noticed in terms of tonal smoothness and in terms of soundstage. The idealish was slightly smoother with less harshness noticeable particularly on the saxophone solo but not very noticeable in other sections. The SOtm had a slightly deeper and more cohesive soundstage that made the recording more interesting to listen to. But as I said it was not that obvious. 

 

A really interesting thing to try would be to swap the power supplies but unfortunately we couldnt as the idealish runs on 12v and the sotm ultra on 9.

 

If I had a gun to my head I would choose the ultra as the benefit in soundstage was present at all times,

 

So this has made me want to improve the idealish a bit more and see if I can improve the soundstaging on the idealish. If there are tweaks you know of which relate to soundstage improvement please let me know

 

 

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8 minutes ago, frednork said:

Budget idealish DIY computer vs SOTM sms200 ultra

 

Been a bit busy lately and opportunities for working on the idealish have been limited. Had the chance to compare it with the sms200 ultra, so a quick review for your reading pleasure.

 

I previously compared it to an sms 200 and I think its fair to say the idealish was  better when the power supplies used were the same. With the original power supply the sms200 was quite inferior to the idealish. 

 

The "idealish" consists of a Jetway NF9C  motherboard, 1 stick of 2GB Hynix 1R memory with a SOTM TX-USB card,  and teradak 3-9v @ 1 amp supply and a Keces DC116 supply (2 x 12 v DC @ 3 amp). It has Snakeoil (new build "Blind Testing") OS with roon bridge on it running from a USB stick .

 

The Ultra is a 9v model which was powered from a SOTM sps500 power supply. 

 

Curious usb cable was used

 

 Music was played through Roon from a I5 laptop over a normal wired home network. 

 

We listened to one track only during comparisons (all business, no pleasure) - The gunners dream from Pink Floyds final cut ,

The track is not that easy to compare without hearing it a few times but once you get to know it it is quite demanding and (obviously) well recorded.

 

Well how did they compare? To be honest it took a few back and forths to figure it out as they were very close. But as we continued to back and forth things started to become clearer. Both players sounded very good with no big complaints either way. However there were some differences we noticed in terms of tonal smoothness and in terms of soundstage. The idealish was slightly smoother with less harshness noticeable particularly on the saxophone solo but not very noticeable in other sections. The SOtm had a slightly deeper and more cohesive soundstage that made the recording more interesting to listen to. But as I said it was not that obvious. 

 

A really interesting thing to try would be to swap the power supplies but unfortunately we couldnt as the idealish runs on 12v and the sotm ultra on 9.

 

If I had a gun to my head I would choose the ultra as the benefit in soundstage was present at all times,

 

So this has made me want to improve the idealish a bit more and see if I can improve the soundstaging on the idealish. If there are tweaks you know of which relate to soundstage improvement please let me know

 

 

I ran this test a few months ago with the same result.

I've moved my "idealish" on and now only have the sMS-200 Ultra.

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