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Building the ideal(ish) Music Server


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Here we go a question to the masses:

My understanding is that the best RAM for CA is:

  • Lowest possible latency (cl)
  • Single rank
  • Clock speed isn't such a big consideration (within reason)
I've found this RAM, which meets the above criteria, but is sold in single sticks:

https://www.ramcity.com.au/buy/mushkin-proline-4gb-pc3-8500-unbuffered-240-pin-di/991788?gclid=CNnBoPrfvcYCFZYIvAodlPoCEA

The question is, as it's sold as a single stick kit, could I buy two and use them together?

Another question is would I hear the benefit of this lower latency than say Paul Pang RAM, which is stable at 1600MHZ 9?

Thanks guys for any input.

Edit: just chatted to a guy at ram city, he told me that as long as the specs match then single sticks should always work in dual data mode, so I may dip my toes with them, awaiting feedback (coughs Tasso!). Ahem.

Edited by realysm42
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Here we go a question to the masses:

My understanding is that the best RAM for CA is:

  • Lowest possible latency (cl)
  • Single rank
  • Clock speed isn't such a big consideration (within reason)
I've found this RAM, which meets the above criteria, but is sold in single sticks:

https://www.ramcity.com.au/buy/mushkin-proline-4gb-pc3-8500-unbuffered-240-pin-di/991788?gclid=CNnBoPrfvcYCFZYIvAodlPoCEA

The question is, as it's sold as a single stick kit, could I buy two and use them together?

Another question is would I hear the benefit of this lower latency than say Paul Pang RAM, which is stable at 1600MHZ 9?

Thanks guys for any input.

Edit: just chatted to a guy at ram city, he told me that as long as the specs match then single sticks should always work in dual data mode, so I may dip my toes with them, awaiting feedback (coughs Tasso!). Ahem.

 

 

 

Guys in computer shops generally know SFA about what affects audio quality at the level we are talking about - if they did,  no one would be using SMPS and pretending it doesn't matter.   If you have 2 slots, populate both if you can with the same type.

 

I  have 3 different brands of single rank and single sided memory  as well as regular low latency  memory. In every case, the single rank gives more resolution but each is different to the other.  Tonality is also affected by the memory choice and I have found myself fine tuning the sound by swapping memory to suit. But my observations come after everything else has been sorted and with an ultra low noise floor, you pick up a lot more.

 

The thing is, you don't actually hear a noise floor  so there is no real way of knowing its bad in isolation. But you clearly hear the difference when it is lowered through the use of decent linear  PSU. At that stage, finer detail that you hadn't noticed before becomes immediately apparent as does a more organic timbre. At this stage, differences between 1R and 2R memory should become clearly apparent.

 

Above all else  i think we can overthink the possibilities and its best to stick to what has been proven to be the case, rather than yet another theory from an  armchair critic of what  to try.  To be clear,  IMO the major differences between a PC and and a decent  USB music server are a high quality linear PSU, SOTM card or equivalent, low RFI/EMI cpu and mother board and all the rest are fine tuning starting with memory choice.

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Hi Tasso,

 

I should have said; I'm currently using a Longdog 12 amp filtered psu and getting a Paul Hynes SR7 built to power my mobo, ssds and SOtM usb card separately, should be with me in September.

 

I've experienced precisely what you said about the noise floor, when I put the above psu, a linear psu into an ifi usb and an Isotek mains conditioner into the system all at once (not scientifically or incrementally lol). The difference was not subtle!

 

I hear you about the overthinking of possibilities too; I'm going to be content that whatever RAM I buy is going to be better than 'typical' dual rank RAM and leave it at that - I was just wondering if there was consensus on which was best (right first time is a motto that I like lol). 

 

Whereabouts in WA are you based? When I've got my rig properly sorted it would be cool to get some opinion on it - I would say bake off but I hear there's only recently been one on servers. I don't know if you've seen my other thread but I want to fit some Neutron star clocks to the system too, but that's going to take some more research (and linear PSUs lol) before I jump into that...

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I'm in Perth - I'll be keen to see your progress. I have a couple of servers configured at any given point in time with a few different playback software options too. The PSU is looming to be a bigger issue than I first thought. Trying a nicely made choke input PSU was revealing. On one DAC we tried here the effect was profound even over a very good linear PSU. Others not as pronounced but audible improvement nevertheless.

Software is worth experimenting with to pick the style you like the most in your setup. They all claim to be bit perfect but sound different. Bit perfect is the absolute minimum requirement - an issue no one had to think of with CD players l

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It won't let me quote you Tasso, copy and paste or post links, very unusual.

 

My plan is to get the hardware squared away as much as I possibly can and then play with software as the final polish. What do you prefer, Linux or windows server (have you tried Audiophile Optimiser in conjunction with the latter?). I use Jriver in conjunction with Dirac on 8.1 currently, works pretty well for me, but as you've mentioned earlier and I've experienced, you don't know what you don't know, until you've heard it, so I keep an open mind.

 

I have a nooby question for you if you don't mind; I've bought a SOtM pcie usb card yesterday, I need to buy one to enable it to fit in my Streacom FC5 case; I don't know which to buy though, I have an Asrock H87m-ITX mobo (so comes with one PCIE 3.0 connector and of course the SOtM card is smaller, looks like a PCIE x1, can you advise me on what I should get please?

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May I ask how RAM affects sound quality? If worried about errors in 1s and 0s... then ECC RAM is best isn't it?

 

It's not about errors in the 1s and 0s.

 

It's about power supplies and electrical noise, and their effect on jitter, at the DA conversion stage.

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It won't let me quote you Tasso, copy and paste or post links, very unusual.

My plan is to get the hardware squared away as much as I possibly can and then play with software as the final polish. What do you prefer, Linux or windows server (have you tried Audiophile Optimiser in conjunction with the latter?). I use Jriver in conjunction with Dirac on 8.1 currently, works pretty well for me, but as you've mentioned earlier and I've experienced, you don't know what you don't know, until you've heard it, so I keep an open mind.

I have a nooby question for you if you don't mind; I've bought a SOtM pcie usb card yesterday, I need to buy one to enable it to fit in my Streacom FC5 case; I don't know which to buy though, I have an Asrock H87m-ITX mobo (so comes with one PCIE 3.0 connector and of course the SOtM card is smaller, looks like a PCIE x1, can you advise me on what I should get please?

I have tried Windows Server 2012 with Fidelizer and JRiver it's a great sound and I can see why it's popular. No doubt further tweaking with optimiser will improve things more. But personally I am chasing resolution and some Linux distributions see to deliver more low level detail and ultimate resolution,. But it really depends on your personal taste as well as the way the software interacts with your system.

Antipodes and a couple of other companies use Vortexbox software and I find that to be a good all round player. I quite like it's built in library and ripping functions too.

The SOTM card can still be used by the PCI-3 slot . My preference for Music server motherboards is mini-ITX boards with low power consumption ( for lower EMI). Boards with Intel Atom or Celeron ( with low TDP) perform very well indeed. For 64 bit applications like Audiophiile Linux, I use a Celeron 1900 quad core wit a TDP of 8.5 watts and the results are outstanding.

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Thanks Tasso - Linux is something I'll play with one day. I think the sound I like is as revealing and 'musical' as possible in balance.

 

Sorry for the hand holding request but could you show me the pcie ribbon riser I should buy to make it fit please? I can't see one that would fit the board (large pcie 3 slot to SOtM (small pcie 1), they all seem to be around the other way?!

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May I ask how RAM affects sound quality? If worried about errors in 1s and 0s... then ECC RAM is best isn't it?

ECC memory only works in motherboards / CPU's that have been designed to work with ECC. Very few do this and if you use ECC memory in your average board, no error correction will occur.

In terms of memory types, we know ( or think we do) that lower latency affects the outcome and where single rank lower latency ram is used, there is a corresponding audible effect,

Edited by Tasso
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Thanks Tasso - Linux is something I'll play with one day. I think the sound I like is as revealing and 'musical' as possible in balance.

Sorry for the hand holding request but could you show me the pcie ribbon riser I should buy to make it fit please? I can't see one that would fit the board (large pcie 3 slot to SOtM (small pcie 1), they all seem to be around the other way?!

It should work in the slot as is. It just won't occupy all the space.

To dip your toes into the world of Linux, try Daphile. It's very easy to install and run from a thumb drive . You just need a separate drive with music for it to access. Use any Squeezelite type app to operate it.

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It should work in the slot as is. It just won't occupy all the space.

To dip your toes into the world of Linux, try Daphile. It's very easy to install and run from a thumb drive . You just need a separate drive with music for it to access. Use any Squeezelite type app to operate it.

Hi Tasso,

Could you explain why you prefer Audiophie Linux to Daphile?

Just looking to learn.

Thanks.

Joel

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It should work in the slot as is. It just won't occupy all the space.

To dip your toes into the world of Linux, try Daphile. It's very easy to install and run from a thumb drive . You just need a separate drive with music for it to access. Use any Squeezelite type app to operate it.

 

Ah, that makes more sense, this is the first part of a computer I've seen where it doesn't have to fit perfectly in a slot to work, hence my confusion lol! Cheers Tasso.

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Hi Tasso,

Could you explain why you prefer Audiophie Linux to Daphile?

Just looking to learn.

Thanks.

Joel

In terms of audio player management, I think Daphile is the best software going but for my system and tastes the sound is a touch on the hard side, At a friend's place, I thought Daphile sounded better than the others so there are no hard and fast rules. Audiophile Linux has a typical Linux/ MPD sound which is quite neutral in its tonal balance .

Both Vortexbox and Daphiile use Squeezelite as the audio renderer and Logitech Media Server for file management . Vortexbox in my setup sounds more organic than Daphile, YMMV

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  • 2 weeks later...

Before going down the linear PSU route, I have read that the corsair ax1500i is worth a shot, the quality is said to be as good as you will get from a switched PSU.

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One thing to be wary of when building an audio oc is that fans (or any moving mechanical parts) are deleterious to sound quality. So it might be cheaper but having a 'noisy' component in your box should be avoided where possible.

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Hi great thread, pity most is beyond me. Just wondering if a MINIX NEO Z64 pre installed with android http://www.minix.com.hk/Products/MINIX-NEO-Z64-ANDROID-TV.html or 8.1 http://www.minix.com.hk/Products/MINIX-NEO-Z64-WIN-PC.html would do a reasonable job for around $200? Could add a PSU easy enough.

It's not ideal in that you will only be able to use USB attached drives or stream music from a NAS. Using external USB drives for storage is something we have been trying to avoid. Software choices are also limited and although it has Windows, driving windows based audio software like JRiver is usually better with a bit more horsepower under the hood of the CPU.

A better alternative for audio would be a squeezebox touch with Linear PSU.

If you don't want to build one, then Vortexbox Australia ( and others) supply pre-built music servers. They use low power boards which I think is important for minimal EMI interference but you will need to specify other requirements. Eg make sure it has a DC 12v external Jack so you can plug in a linear PSU. These can automatically rip your CD's and manage your audio library ( software is free) and used optimised for audio software.

http://www.vortexbox.com.au/wordpress/?page_id=19

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Why?

USB bus on motherboard doing both input and output has the potential for more USB packet noise and possible latency issues. This is quite noticeable with something like raspberry Pi but with positive change when moving to SATA HDD with Banana Pi.

CPU load should also be lower with SATA compared to USB which is always a good thing.

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Has anyone compared SQ with a single SATA SSD (for both OS and library) vs. 2 separate SATA SSDs? 

...or even with one of the SSDs connected via something other than SATA or USB?

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Has anyone compared SQ with a single SATA SSD (for both OS and library) vs. 2 separate SATA SSDs? 

...or even with one of the SSDs connected via something other than SATA or USB?

I've not tried that, i jumped from one hdd to two separate ssds. Wouod be hard to do a quick comparison too. Still waiting for my pcie riser for the sotm card lol!

I also bought some Mushkin singke sided ram from ramcity. I inspected the labels on the stick when delivered. The spec was different, one had 2r written on it, which i was concerned about. Turns out they changed the spec of the ram! Moral of the story is check you're getting what you think you are...

Bought some Paul Pang ram in the end, which is single sided. I'll report back when it's in place.

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Has anyone compared SQ with a single SATA SSD (for both OS and library) vs. 2 separate SATA SSDs?

...or even with one of the SSDs connected via something other than SATA or USB?

I have tried single SSD vs 2 as well as O/S on a CFAst card and SSD for music. . I didn't detect any differences in SQ and only use multiple SSD because 2TB SSD are so expensive.

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You shouldn't be able to detect any sound differences because its storage media written read and written in binary. Tracking and seek time especially with Hi Res media would differentiate a bigger difference as SSD's are all round faster. 

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Just finished my initial windows based music server and dac build. So far very acceptable. Will post some details tomorrow.

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You shouldn't be able to detect any sound differences because its storage media written read and written in binary. Tracking and seek time especially with Hi Res media would differentiate a bigger difference as SSD's are all round faster.

I have tried very hard to refrain myself into this stupidity argument but can't help it bring myself to a new low level here!

Will you dare placing on the table $50k bet between me for the sound differences in the identical setup with an SSD and HDD in place? Happy to fun this gtg at Tasso's setup. The majority take away $50,000. And am not frea&3n kidding HERE!

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I have tried very hard to refrain myself into this stupidity argument but can't help it bring myself to a new low level here!

Will you dare placing on the table $50k bet between me for the sound differences in the identical setup with an SSD and HDD in place? Happy to fun this gtg at Tasso's setup. The majority take away $50,000. And am not frea&3n kidding HERE!

 

Sure you pay for my plane ticket to WA. This myth has been debunked over and over again on hydrogenaudio, diyaudio and the forum where the CAPS music servers are sold. 

 

If you dare say you can hear a difference of sound quality between an SSD and hard drive, describe to me how does a hard drive make a difference in sound. Please, enlighten me. I certainly don't have golden ears.

Edited by DefQon
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Good! I can fund your one way ticket no problem! Can we confirm a $50k bet locked in?

I can also proof to you NAS will sound different to SSD too, as bonus. Note - I didn't say which sounds better but rather they will sound different from one another!

I will be back in Australia 29th July. Tasso - Do you mind assisting us with your setup and allow several to participate and be the Judge? DefQon - you can bring your own circle too, for the fairness and all will be documented in this Thread?

Please let me know?

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Put dexa neuton star clocking devices ( no not romulun cloaking devices.... that's star trek stuff!) Into your digital devices .... get jitter ( distortion mostly responsible for nasties of digital sound) down to 10 to the minus 15 (femto ) seconds ... WILL AMAZE YOU !

Sent from my SM-P905 using Tapatalk

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Good! I can fund your one way ticket no problem! Can we confirm a $50k bet locked in?

I can also proof to you NAS will sound different to SSD too, as bonus. Note - I didn't say which sounds better but rather different

Same setup with different drive or different setup with different drives?

How can you prove to me that a NAS will sound different (minus the variables of different hardware). How can you prove to me that an SSD will sound different to a mechanical hard drive using the same motherboard and etc configuration? Rather then trying to prove a point privately to me why not share it with the rest of this thread? I`ve heard a few hundred dollar music servers to 6 digit priced Boulder music servers all using different to similar configurations with mechanical and ssd configurations and have yet to hear any explainable difference of ssd vs hdd so I`am very interested in your feedback. You can enlighten this thread with your findings as I`m in the process of getting a custom $15000 music server hand built and customised by the hands of a dozen Italian virgin women.

Edited by DefQon
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DefQon - Are we not referring the identical setup, and only swapping the spin HDD to SSD via Sata with the same content? We can play the same track, identical track actually, for us all to observe.

We can use JRiver Dynamic range to verify it is the same track or you bring one of your own, no problem. :)

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You know I have compared this before.

If I don`t hear a difference (which I won`t) then you pay me $50000. SNA admins and mods can we please have a e-contract made and documented by both myself and Chanh on said conditions and if I can`t hear a difference I walk away with Tassos complete setup or a $50k cheque from Chanh and signed by Chanh. Chanh or Tasso pays my flight ticket both ways since he openly invited me to this test and was the first to suggest it.

Kthnxbai

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Same setup with different drive or different setup with different drives?

How can you prove to me that a NAS will sound different (minus the variables of different hardware). How can you prove to me that an SSD will sound different to a mechanical hard drive using the same motherboard and etc configuration? Rather then trying to prove a point privately to me why not share it with the rest of this thread? I`ve heard a few hundred dollar music servers to 6 digit priced Boulder music servers all using different to similar configurations with mechanical and ssd configurations and have yet to hear any explainable difference of ssd vs hdd so I`am very interested in your feedback. You can enlighten this thread with your findings as I`m in the process of getting a custom $15000 music server hand built and customised by the hands of a dozen Italian virgin women.

@

I dont know if I can hear a difference, but if @@Chanh says he can - why is it an issue?

From what I have read on the forum written by him and Tasso he has a discerning ear. 

Anyway this topic is about the ideal server, please dont derail it with arguments.

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I havent derailed schit mate. I merely said after Tassos post if there were to be a difference between hdd vs ssd that there shouldn't be any due to the fact that its stored as binary regardless of medium. Then chanh quoted and replied back calling my post stupid and I played along.

Maybe if you bothered re-reading what is happening here and get a sense of clue of whats going on before pointing fingers at me and suggesting I don`t derail the topic.

Sent from my LG-D855 using Tapatalk

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I havent derailed schit mate. I merely said after Tassos post if there were to be a difference between hdd vs ssd that there shouldn't be any due to the fact that its stored as binary regardless of medium. Then chanh quoted and replied back calling my post stupid and I played along.

Maybe if you bothered re-reading what is happening here and get a sense of clue of whats going on before pointing fingers at me and suggesting I don`t derail the topic.

Sent from my LG-D855 using Tapatalk

I wish it were true that SSD provided no better SQ than a spinning drive but that is not my experience , nor that of companies like Antipodes. Of course there are so many other variables at play but there does seem to be some consistency with faster access times for operating system and data leading to improved SQ. just look at the path taken with windows servers . Everything from Audiophile Optimizer through to 2 PC setups is designed to give less inhibited access to software and music files. SSD helps with this too.

There is a simple test to try if you have the right gear. If your software can access music files from an external hard drive, starting with a USB powered spinning drive you can compare it to an external USB powered SSD playing the same music files. The only thing being compared here is the drive type for music even though it should also impact the performance of player software.

Edited by Tasso
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If we are talking about the miniscule amount of difference, I preferred 2 WD Raptor X's in RAID 0 on my old music server to my Samsung 840 ssd.

 

If anything I focus on the power supply of the server, it's night and day difference but there is no good pc psu's out there for music servers. The Paul Hynes stuff is extremely expensive and not small enough to fit into a case.

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Rather then trying to prove a point privately to me why not share it with the rest of this thread

To be fair that's kindda what this thread is about, Tasso and Chanh are sharing what they have done so far, in the hopes others can read and try it out themselves and make up their own mind...

 

If you disagree, I guess it's ok too. But IMO you didn't do it right - your problem is you disagreed with disrespect.. And in a way that is really condescending.. Tasso and Chanh has and will continue to put a lot of thought and effort into this CA.

 

Your disrespect dismissed all their efforts and in a way is implying they are wasting their time (and money)... 

 

FWIW, via USB, with that SoTOM SATA filter over a HDD I honestly don't think I can tell a difference over a SSD, but without it, who knows? I don't know, let's see who can do what on the day..  Since I don't have $50 k, I'm not going to participate :(. Given the pressure of $50 k (a huge sum to me), I will be so pressured I will be crippled to do anything really. I'm glad I never get caught in these situations now as I learned that knowing I'm right is far more important than proving I'm right.. :P

But just in case this is happening, do let me know as I wanna be present as I assume there will be $100 k on the table somewhere with two armed security guards and the winner takes all :love  :love. I've honestly never seen that much money up close before (I wonder how big a stack it will be really)..

 

 

If you and chanh wanna do this, (and assuming Tasso agreed), at least do the right thing and pay for your own flights here. If you're right, you'd zip in and out of Perth and walk away with $50 k extra, and maybe ridiculed chanh too.. All in a few short hours... That should be incentive enough. Given such overwhelming conditions, it's really ridiculous to ask chanh to cover for your return ticket, especially after he has graciously offered to pay half your costs. That is something he doesn't need to do and you again showed contempt by your ridiculous demands... You want to walk away with Tasso's system? Seriously I doubt you can even make it down the stairs... I'm amazed myself Tasso can manhandle those speakers, I can't do that with my sore back. And the greed of it all. Disappointing to see.

 

Anyway, I only have 2 c to put on the table and that's it... I'd be back to lurking as I'm very interested in this thread (I deliberately not post in this thread as I don't want it derailed).. Keep up the good work Tasso+Chanh.. :thumb:

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