Help me beat my CD Transport

ack

VIP/Donor & WBF Founding Member
May 6, 2010
5,142
6
38
Boston, MA
Can't wait to hear the new gear!
 
May 30, 2010
13,910
4
38
Portugal
Same here. Vinyl can be extremely good, and I enjoy it. However, there is so much to adjust, optimize and tweak...I'll leave that to others, and enjoy their systems ;)

Also, the cost is prohibitive to me, both in terms of hardware and software (I have no vinyl collection). In order to get analog that equals or surpasses my digital I would have to spend multiples of what I spent on my digital, and I rather put the money into optimal resolution of the system to do justice to the unexpectedly impressive capabilities of my digital. Which I recently did, with new speakers (Reference 3A Reflector), a new amp (Octave R320) and new subs (JL Audio Fathom 112v2).
Congratulations - these are big changes. Are you boosting all these KT150s's with the black boxes?
 

flyer

VIP/Donor
Dec 16, 2012
325
0
16
Belgium
www.ultisone.com
Octave MRE220 are the ones I had with SBB, about 2-3 years ago. Very good amplifier but with a high output impedance (like 4-5 ohm and I was then told all Octave models have such output impedances) so speaker matching is tricky. if you have a speaker like Rockport (like I did) or other that dive well below this impedance, then you can kiss goodbye to linearity. I had a +5dB bump between 600 and 2700 Hz on my Rockport Avior. Obviously I didn't keep that combination very long.
 

Al M.

VIP/Donor
Sep 10, 2013
3,874
9
38
Greater Boston
Octave MRE220 are the ones I had with SBB, about 2-3 years ago. Very good amplifier but with a high output impedance (like 4-5 ohm and I was then told all Octave models have such output impedances) so speaker matching is tricky. if you have a speaker like Rockport (like I did) or other that dive well below this impedance, then you can kiss goodbye to linearity. I had a +5dB bump between 600 and 2700 Hz on my Rockport Avior. Obviously I didn't keep that combination very long.
Interesting. The Octave v80 SE that features KT150 tubes like mine was measured by Stereophile:

https://www.stereophile.com/content/octave-audio-v-80-se-integrated-amplifier-measurements

JA says "the variation in the V 80 SE's frequency response with our standard simulated loudspeaker was ±1.1dB" (Fig. 1). With my 8 Ohm speakers w/o crossover I wouldn't expect any problems, and indeed, the Octave R320 sounds linear with them.

I've heard of one person who drives his Magnepan 30.7 with Octave MRE220, with KT150 tubes (the older standard version featured KT120s). He loves the combination.
 

thmor288

New Member
Feb 7, 2018
13
0
0
Getting good sound from a PC based (or for that matter from a Mac based) system is not difficult. Getting amazing sound is (especially for a Mac based system) but for a PC based system is possible, complicated but possible. And not that expensive (if you do it right).

How to do it?
1. Get a small PC that is not that powerful, since you do not want very powerful clocks (they create noise) and it is fan-less. Set it up with an SSD for a hard drive.
2. Put inside it at least 4GB of RAM (8 is ideal), but still 4GB can work.
3. Get a fanless switching power supply from HDPLEX (not the linear, it sounds worse than the fanless, I have done the listening tests) if you are building a PC from scratch, or get an outboard linear PSU if you got something like a Minix (there the linear sounds better than the switching). Done the tests with all knids of switching power supplies (even went medical grade) but on that occasion linear sounds better.
4. Get the PC set up with Win Server edition 2016, Audiophile Optimizer and Fidelizer 8 Pro (difficult to be done right but necessary if you want the best). You can do it with Win10 also (really good sound) but Win Server 2016 sounds better.
5. Install on that PC the MusiCHI suite Server, do all the necessary shell optimizations and install the drivers for your DAC.
6. Get an external HDD for your music (then get an Intona Isolator for that connection), or connect it to your local network so that it can be configured to "see" your music library where it is stored.
7. Get a powerful Win10 tablet or a Win10 based netbook (at least i3, better with an i5 so that it can handle "quickly" your (possibly) big library data). Install on it the MusiCHI client software.
8. Get a LAN isolation set-up (T-Plink, optical fiber, linear PSUs) for your "server" PC so that the noise form the network cannot reach your final source.
9. Get 2 good quality (Supra) Cat7 LAN cables if you want wired connection for both your computers, other get only one for your "server", your "client" can be wireless.
10. Get a 3R USB regeneretor from Ideon Audio for your USB connection of your "server" PC to your DAC. Please get a couple of good quality (200-500$) USB cables for the "server"-3R-DAC connections, they matter too.
11. Get linear power supplies for all your other active equipment (PC server as mentioned above, external HDD, LAN isolator, 3R etc.).
12. Enjoy the best sound you can get from a PC based source!
13. Cannot do it by yourself? Get the guy behind MusiCHI to walk you through it (and solve all your problems while doing it)...

Beware, I am not affiliated with anybody mentioned above just a happy user. I have lately finished that set up, compared it to a mac based source (totally creamed it), to the top of the line Melco unit (bettered it by a worthwhile margin for a fraction of its cost) so I am happy I have created an amazing sounding source. With the MusiCHI suite, besides excellent sound you also get the best data management software available.

By the way I used to have the Theta Data Basic 2 and a Forsell Air Reference CD transport, but gave them up after I set up my PC based system right. Only glitch with that set up (it does not matter to me), no streaming (yet). But my opinion about streaming is that you never know what the sound quality of the material you are listening is, so...

My 2 cents on the subject...
 
May 19, 2014
693
0
16
Round Rock, TX
Same here. Vinyl can be extremely good, and I enjoy it. However, there is so much to adjust, optimize and tweak...I'll leave that to others, and enjoy their systems ;)

Also, the cost is prohibitive to me, both in terms of hardware and software (I have no vinyl collection). In order to get analog that equals or surpasses my digital I would have to spend multiples of what I spent on my digital, and I rather put the money into optimal resolution of the system to do justice to the unexpectedly impressive capabilities of my digital. Which I recently did, with new speakers (Reference 3A Reflector), a new amp (Octave R320) and new subs (JL Audio Fathom 112v2).
First, congrats on your system, I'm picking up my 2nd JL Audio sub soon, they are, IMO unmatched wrt bass quality. Also, I've been saying what you stated above for quite a while on WBF but few agree. Digital in general and over the past decade is making strides; analog, not so much. In particular computer based servers and streaming. Those that claim streaming and computer server sonics can't match a transport are plain ignorant, it's technology that's dealing with the exact same source signal. How it's transmitted enabling/limiting whatever quality (jitter, noise) are all that make a difference. Once that's figured out (and it is) you'll see more and more servers /streaming surpass transports.
 
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Getting good sound from a PC based (or for that matter from a Mac based) system is not difficult. Getting amazing sound is (especially for a Mac based system) but for a PC based system is possible, complicated but possible. And not that expensive (if you do it right).

How to do it?
1. Get a small PC that is not that powerful, since you do not want very powerful clocks (they create noise) and it is fan-less. Set it up with an SSD for a hard drive.
2. Put inside it at least 4GB of RAM (8 is ideal), but still 4GB can work.
3. Get a fanless switching power supply from HDPLEX (not the linear, it sounds worse than the fanless, I have done the listening tests) if you are building a PC from scratch, or get an outboard linear PSU if you got something like a Minix (there the linear sounds better than the switching). Done the tests with all knids of switching power supplies (even went medical grade) but on that occasion linear sounds better.
4. Get the PC set up with Win Server edition 2016, Audiophile Optimizer and Fidelizer 8 Pro (difficult to be done right but necessary if you want the best). You can do it with Win10 also (really good sound) but Win Server 2016 sounds better.
5. Install on that PC the MusiCHI suite Server, do all the necessary shell optimizations and install the drivers for your DAC.
6. Get an external HDD for your music (then get an Intona Isolator for that connection), or connect it to your local network so that it can be configured to "see" your music library where it is stored.
7. Get a powerful Win10 tablet or a Win10 based netbook (at least i3, better with an i5 so that it can handle "quickly" your (possibly) big library data). Install on it the MusiCHI client software.
8. Get a LAN isolation set-up (T-Plink, optical fiber, linear PSUs) for your "server" PC so that the noise form the network cannot reach your final source.
9. Get 2 good quality (Supra) Cat7 LAN cables if you want wired connection for both your computers, other get only one for your "server", your "client" can be wireless.
10. Get a 3R USB regeneretor from Ideon Audio for your USB connection of your "server" PC to your DAC. Please get a couple of good quality (200-500$) USB cables for the "server"-3R-DAC connections, they matter too.
11. Get linear power supplies for all your other active equipment (PC server as mentioned above, external HDD, LAN isolator, 3R etc.).
12. Enjoy the best sound you can get from a PC based source!
13. Cannot do it by yourself? Get the guy behind MusiCHI to walk you through it (and solve all your problems while doing it)...

Beware, I am not affiliated with anybody mentioned above just a happy user. I have lately finished that set up, compared it to a mac based source (totally creamed it), to the top of the line Melco unit (bettered it by a worthwhile margin for a fraction of its cost) so I am happy I have created an amazing sounding source. With the MusiCHI suite, besides excellent sound you also get the best data management software available.

By the way I used to have the Theta Data Basic 2 and a Forsell Air Reference CD transport, but gave them up after I set up my PC based system right. Only glitch with that set up (it does not matter to me), no streaming (yet). But my opinion about streaming is that you never know what the sound quality of the material you are listening is, so...

My 2 cents on the subject...
Or you could just get a good Ethernet interface (Ethernet to S/PDIF, AES, I2S) or a DAC with a good Ethernet interface in it. Then you can use any PC or Mac with any power supply. The only supply that improves things is the router supply.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
 
May 19, 2014
693
0
16
Round Rock, TX
Getting good sound from a PC based (or for that matter from a Mac based) system is not difficult. Getting amazing sound is (especially for a Mac based system) but for a PC based system is possible, complicated but possible. And not that expensive (if you do it right).

How to do it?
1. Get a small PC that is not that powerful, since you do not want very powerful clocks (they create noise) and it is fan-less.
What exactly is a "powerful clock"?
 

Al M.

VIP/Donor
Sep 10, 2013
3,874
9
38
Greater Boston
First, congrats on your system,
Thanks.

I'm picking up my 2nd JL Audio sub soon, they are, IMO unmatched wrt bass quality.
And congrats to you too!

Also, I've been saying what you stated above for quite a while on WBF but few agree. Digital in general and over the past decade is making strides; analog, not so much.
Not sure about analog not making strides, but definitely great, not just good, digital is getting cheaper and cheaper, and digital overall is just geting better and better. If you want to get really great, highly resolving and yes, natural and realistic sound from a source for not too big of a price tag, digital is the way to go, but I guess we agree. -- Not to take away from the fact that analog at its best can be phenomenal.
 
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May 19, 2014
693
0
16
Round Rock, TX
The lower the clock frequency of the CPU the lower the noise level inside the PC. I probably was not as clear as I should be.
That makes sense, thanks. Essentially you're underclocking the CPU..
 

thmor288

New Member
Feb 7, 2018
13
0
0
That makes sense, thanks. Essentially you're underclocking the CPU..
The PC based server, in my "client-server" configuration does not need to be powerful (it only plays one song at any time, then waits to get the next address to play the next song and that's it!) so it is the goal to be as low power (computing) as possible.

You see after the Audiophile Optimization and Fidelization (8Pro) the number of processes that remain is extremely low so theoretically even an Atom based PC can easily do the job (around 1-2% of CPU power to be specific in my case with a Minix small PC as the server), as long as it can accept the 64bit win server 2016 OS (The Intel Atom is Intel's line of low-power, low-cost and low-performance x86 and x86-64 microprocessors).

Getting as clean (noiseless) data to the DAC is not a USB or an ethernet issue (as the path is concerned), you need clean data anyway, it makes the dac's job so much easier. That is why I use a LAN optical isolator with ultra low noise linear power supplies to separate my client communication from my server in my totally local network without any router (all routers create their own high level noise that is way higher than what is, IMHO, acceptable, and even an ultra low noise power supply does not cure it, they are designed to handle data, computer that is, not specially designed for music) And thats why I use Cat7 cables to connect them to that isolator, it does make a difference in a very transparent system. And to be even more clear about that configuration, the communication between the client and the server is about sending the command to play a song that is stored at a specific location, no music data go through. And yet, that way that I set up, to avoid vibrations that is, the LAN isolator, that again I say, does not carry music data, still affects the damn sound quality. That I have not figured out why its happening yet!

I would love to get my hands on a system (transmiting/receiving that is) that gets away with all of that (by the way I am an EE and a reviewer in my country (Greece) and I am still looking for the perfect solution). The solution that I have described is as near perfect, as far as I can tell, as I could get it, and since it works I shared it within the forum, but I am sure still it has issues, I just have not stumbled on them yet...
 
Oct 30, 2017
496
0
16
USA
The PC based server, in my "client-server" configuration does not need to be powerful (it only plays one song at any time, then waits to get the next address to play the next song and that's it!) so it is the goal to be as low power (computing) as possible.

You see after the Audiophile Optimization and Fidelization (8Pro) the number of processes that remain is extremely low so theoretically even an Atom based PC can easily do the job (around 1-2% of CPU power to be specific in my case with a Minix small PC as the server), as long as it can accept the 64bit win server 2016 OS (The Intel Atom is Intel's line of low-power, low-cost and low-performance x86 and x86-64 microprocessors).

Getting as clean (noiseless) data to the DAC is not a USB or an ethernet issue (as the path is concerned), you need clean data anyway, it makes the dac's job so much easier. That is why I use a LAN optical isolator with ultra low noise linear power supplies to separate my client communication from my server in my totally local network without any router (all routers create their own high level noise that is way higher than what is, IMHO, acceptable, and even an ultra low noise power supply does not cure it, they are designed to handle data, computer that is, not specially designed for music) And thats why I use Cat7 cables to connect them to that isolator, it does make a difference in a very transparent system. And to be even more clear about that configuration, the communication between the client and the server is about sending the command to play a song that is stored at a specific location, no music data go through. And yet, that way that I set up, to avoid vibrations that is, the LAN isolator, that again I say, does not carry music data, still affects the damn sound quality. That I have not figured out why its happening yet!

I would love to get my hands on a system (transmiting/receiving that is) that gets away with all of that (by the way I am an EE and a reviewer in my country (Greece) and I am still looking for the perfect solution). The solution that I have described is as near perfect, as far as I can tell, as I could get it, and since it works I shared it within the forum, but I am sure still it has issues, I just have not stumbled on them yet...
Have you looked at what Benjamin at Mojo Audio does in this respect on his low voltage DejaVu server suing JCAT Femto cards? Curious of your thoughts on his topology.

https://www.mojo-audio.com/deja-vu-music-server-windows-10/
 
May 19, 2014
693
0
16
Round Rock, TX
The PC based server, in my "client-server" configuration does not need to be powerful (it only plays one song at any time, then waits to get the next address to play the next song and that's it!) so it is the goal to be as low power (computing) as possible.

You see after the Audiophile Optimization and Fidelization (8Pro) the number of processes that remain is extremely low so theoretically even an Atom based PC can easily do the job (around 1-2% of CPU power to be specific in my case with a Minix small PC as the server), as long as it can accept the 64bit win server 2016 OS (The Intel Atom is Intel's line of low-power, low-cost and low-performance x86 and x86-64 microprocessors).

Getting as clean (noiseless) data to the DAC is not a USB or an ethernet issue (as the path is concerned), you need clean data anyway, it makes the dac's job so much easier. That is why I use a LAN optical isolator with ultra low noise linear power supplies to separate my client communication from my server in my totally local network without any router (all routers create their own high level noise that is way higher than what is, IMHO, acceptable, and even an ultra low noise power supply does not cure it, they are designed to handle data, computer that is, not specially designed for music) And thats why I use Cat7 cables to connect them to that isolator, it does make a difference in a very transparent system. And to be even more clear about that configuration, the communication between the client and the server is about sending the command to play a song that is stored at a specific location, no music data go through. And yet, that way that I set up, to avoid vibrations that is, the LAN isolator, that again I say, does not carry music data, still affects the damn sound quality. That I have not figured out why its happening yet!

I would love to get my hands on a system (transmiting/receiving that is) that gets away with all of that (by the way I am an EE and a reviewer in my country (Greece) and I am still looking for the perfect solution). The solution that I have described is as near perfect, as far as I can tell, as I could get it, and since it works I shared it within the forum, but I am sure still it has issues, I just have not stumbled on them yet...
Thanks again. Many people at CA implement very similar power configurations (myself included). Many have moved to D (ethernet) to D (USB) converters like micro/ultra rendu coupled with a front end computer server with linear PSUs. If you haven't yet I highly encourage you to visit the site. Also, Music CHi looks to be quite similar to JRiver however since it doesn't seem to support Tidal it's a deal breaker for me. I also didn't see any DoP support, again wouldn't work for me. I and many others have switched to Roon coupled with Tidal and HQplayer for configurable filters, upsampling, DSD <-> PCM conversion, and an unmatched client interface.

In terms of CPU and overall system loading, the approach above is completely opposite of yours since it requires quite a robust processor (Intel Core i7 if possible) since upsampling to DSD in particular is quite processor intensive. A low power, lower core count low frequency Atom would never do. This strategy is employed by many including the highly acclaimed SGM music server. Just different ways of trying to achieve the ultimate input for a DAC while providing the most convenient music management interface.
 
May 30, 2010
13,910
4
38
Portugal
(...) You see after the Audiophile Optimization and Fidelization (8Pro) the number of processes that remain is extremely low so theoretically even an Atom based PC can easily do the job (around 1-2% of CPU power to be specific in my case with a Minix small PC as the server), as long as it can accept the 64bit win server 2016 OS (The Intel Atom is Intel's line of low-power, low-cost and low-performance x86 and x86-64 microprocessors). (...)
Your posts, filled with factual data and opinions are really a source of information, thanks! They are really welcome, as I am getting a JCAT Fento Ethernet card tomorrow I need to stop reading and take decisions and freeze the subject. Can I ask why using Audiophile Optimization and Fidelizer in the same system? Which does what and which should be installed at start?

BTW, I am 100% Roon dependent and want to use bit perfect streams to the Vivaldi upsampler.
 

wisnon

Active Member
Dec 12, 2011
2,476
2
38
Easiest turnkey solution is to get a decent PC server and add the full Lauferteknik Memory Player SSD software package with Clock Mapper service on top. Jitter begone!
Clock? no need for super expensive one when clever architecture obviates that limitation. Sam is da man.
 
May 19, 2014
693
0
16
Round Rock, TX
Thanks.



And congrats to you too!



Not sure about analog not making strides, but definitely great, not just good, digital is getting cheaper and cheaper, and digital overall is just geting better and better. If you want to get really great, highly resolving and yes, natural and realistic sound from a source for not too big of a price tag, digital is the way to go, but I guess we agree. -- Not to take away from the fact that analog at its best can be phenomenal.
Agree with all except the analog recent strides primarily because analog has been around for about a century so much has already been accomplished to maturing the technology and areas to improve. Also, cost no object - analog wins. Even better than vinyl is tape (cheaper and better).

Digital is in its infancy by comparison, yet has come so far qty sonics and sonics/$. Imagine where digital will be at the century mark - 2080.