Input humbly requested

Aug 22, 2014
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#1
Hi folks, I am a Digital only Audiophile and have decided to significantly alter my front end. I have a custom Win 7, Esoteric K-03X, connected via Shunyata Alpha USB feeding a McIntosh C1100 PreAmp. The PC is fed via a 25’ Supra ethernet cable into a Gigafoil V4 (with Keces Power supply) with the final 0.65 meters of Resolution Audio Ethernet cable.

After a fabulous in-house demo of a Bricasti M1SE (pre MDx board), I am moving into a multi-step process with first an M3 with Network and eventually to an M21 with Network card.

My question is about what becomes most important in this front end?

The Bricasti (ROON endpoint) will be fed (local files on NAS and Qobuz) from my router via the 8 meter Supra cable to a Gigafoil V4 (powered by Keces PS) with A final 0.65 meters being the Resolution audio Ethernet cable. The Win 7 PC simply runs ROON core and will be connected to the router via rather generic Ethernet cable.

I will use the Bricasti as my PreAmp as well.

One product replacing many.

Any thoughts are welcomed.
 

Brucemck2

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May 10, 2010
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#2
Congratulations on the M3. It’s a great DAC that‘s killer good at the price point.

IMO, in order:
1. AC power quality (Responds well to great power conditioning. I’ve used PS Audio regenerators and Triton/Hydra with success.)
2. High quality power cable (Shunyata, Purist and Audioquest all worked well)
3. Ethernet network isolation (decent filter like your Gigafoil at a minimum; ideally a high quality switch on an isolated robust power supply)
4. Ethernet cabling
5. Roon core device

I’ve not tried a dedicated server with a direct high quality Ethernet output. I suspect that’d be on the top half of the list above.

ps - The optional M3 built in headphone amp is outstanding!
 
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Aug 22, 2014
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#3
Congratulations on the M3. It’s a great DAC that‘s killer good at the price point.

IMO, in order:
1. AC power quality (Responds well to great power conditioning. I’ve used PS Audio regenerators and Triton/Hydra with success.)
2. High quality power cable (Shunyata, Purist and Audioquest all worked well)
3. Ethernet network isolation (decent filter at a minimum; ideally a high quality switch on an isolated robust power supply)
4. Ethernet cabling
5. Roon core device

I’ve not tried a dedicated server with a direct high quality Ethernet output. I suspect that’d be on the top half of the list above.

ps - The optional M3 built in headphone amp is outstanding!
Thank you for this organization. I was trying to get my head around the priorities and you have helped! Here is where I am at with each point.

1) I have a Denali 6000/S V2 and it is better than the PS Audio P10 it replaced. I am good with this.

2). I have WW Silver Elektra 7 PCs but Will explore the newest Shunyata cables although their product line is confusing.

3) Using a Gigafoil V4 currently which goes copper to fiber to copper. My last 0.65 meters is a Resolution Audio Ethernet cable which worked very well in old system.

I am open to exploring different options to the Gigafoil but it seems to satisfy the basic requirement of isolating the last meter with fiber optics. Any change would require an in home demo. Perhaps an Ether Regen???

4). I have a 27’ run from my router to my ‘rack’. Cost is an issue. The Supra Cat 8 I use was in improvement over generic at a reasonable cost. What else might be better at a reasonable cost for 8 meters?

5). This is interesting to me. My custom PC has an upgraded power supply and more than enough ‘power’ to ‘do the math’. I understand there is always better. Match RAM chips etc but I am just not sure this is where the major jump is.
 

Thuan

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Apr 20, 2020
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#4
"a dedicated server with a direct high quality Ethernet output. I suspect that’d be on the top half of the list above". It's so true. See 5) below.

4). 27' of copper running from router to audio rack: I'd replace it with fiber. Sonora opticalModules on both ends come to mind.

5) Custom PC: I'd go Windows Server 2019 Datacenter, GUI or Core for smaller footage OS. Add JCAT Femto network adapter.
 

Brucemck2

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May 10, 2010
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#5
"a dedicated server with a direct high quality Ethernet output. I suspect that’d be on the top half of the list above". It's so true. See 5) below.

4). 27' of copper running from router to audio rack: I'd replace it with fiber. Sonora opticalModules on both ends come to mind.

5) Custom PC: I'd go Windows Server 2019 Datacenter, GUI or Core for smaller footage OS. Add JCAT Femto network adapter.
All of these make sense. Fiber is a lot more cost effective than boutique wiring for your long run. I’ve used an EtherRegen before and after a Gigafoil - noticeable improvement that’s “different” but not better based on sequencing. There‘s not much upside to adding processing to your Win7 device unless you’re experimenting with HQ Player (which offers hours of “entertainment“ dialing in the filters). Adding that JCAT card would likely be noticeable if you don’t replace your Win7 with a dedicated server. (My windows server has tricked out net and USB cards with dedicated linear power supplies.)
 
Aug 22, 2014
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#6
So it seems I would need two of the Sonore Optical module. One to do the copper to fiber conversion From my router and a second to do the fiber to Copper conversion to my Bricasti. They are brand new and run $300 each. Is that what we are talking about?

If I want to do the same thing for the Win 7 PC, I would need 4. Hmmm.
"a dedicated server with a direct high quality Ethernet output. I suspect that’d be on the top half of the list above". It's so true. See 5) below.

4). 27' of copper running from router to audio rack: I'd replace it with fiber. Sonora opticalModules on both ends come to mind.

So 4 modules to do the conversion on each end of the two Ethernet connections?

5) Custom PC: I'd go Windows Server 2019 Datacenter, GUI or Core for smaller footage OS. Add JCAT Femto network adapter.
I will dig into Win Server 2019. I wonder if my PC can handle it. For some unknown reason, it would not run Win 10 when it was a free download/upgrade. Never figured out why.
My case is a slim Fanless Strecom. I am not sure I could fit the JCat Femto into it.
 
Aug 22, 2014
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#7
All of these make sense. Fiber is a lot more cost effective than boutique wiring for your long run. I’ve used an EtherRegen before and after a Gigafoil - noticeable improvement that’s “different” but not better based on sequencing. There‘s not much upside to adding processing to your Win7 device unless you’re experimenting with HQ Player (which offers hours of “entertainment“ dialing in the filters). Adding that JCAT card would likely be noticeable if you don’t replace your Win7 with a dedicated server. (My windows server has tricked out net and USB cards with dedicated linear power supplies.)
Hi Bruce, I have no interest in playing with HQ player. I am trying to minimize any processing and that is going the other way. I have played around with REW to creat convolution filter that are then used in the ROON DSP system. Can’t explain why but it just didn’t sound right.
 

Brucemck2

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May 10, 2010
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#8
I too struggled to get filters I enjoyed from REW, Accourate and AudioLens - they all require deft artistry which I’m not far enough down the learning curve to create. This service provides really nice convolution filters for a reasonable price:
https://www.homeaudiofidelity.com

I tried Win Server and didn’t notice a material difference vs. Win 7 or 10. I did notice a material improvement from a better net card in my server (and pre Bricasti for USB a better USB card).

You only need optical for your single long run. Your shorter run will get good isolation from your GigaFoil.
 

Thuan

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Apr 20, 2020
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#9
One of my 2 PCs, the audioPC or endpoint, has passive heat cooling system independent of the lid being closed or open. I'm obsessed with directly connecting JCAT card to the PCIe port, so I keep the case open, let the card plugged in partially protruding from the case top. Doesn't look picture perfect but works like a charm and sounds terrific. If your Streacom case can handle heat w/o the lid, and the motherboard has spare PCIe port, you can use a short, high quality ribbon riser to make a JCAT card work. Feed it a decent linear PSU, and result will be very rewarding.

As for OS, I'd start with 2019 GUI. Core would be fun and headache at the same time, but again very rewarding and not insurmountable. For expert help, I'd make friends with AudiophileOptimizer (3.0) and AudioPhil (author) at AudiophileStyles (originally ComputerAudio) forum. I suspect, without AudiophileOptimizer and Fidelizer (another optimization software), there is not much difference among Windows 10, Windows Server 2019 Gui and Core in SQ.

My two cents only. Strong suggest you brainstorm, try out without significant loss, and decide what best suits your preferences and budget.
 
Aug 22, 2014
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#10
One of my 2 PCs, the audioPC or endpoint, has passive heat cooling system independent of the lid being closed or open. I'm obsessed with directly connecting JCAT card to the PCIe port, so I keep the case open, let the card plugged in partially protruding from the case top. Doesn't look picture perfect but works like a charm and sounds terrific. If your Streacom case can handle heat w/o the lid, and the motherboard has spare PCIe port, you can use a short, high quality ribbon riser to make a JCAT card work. Feed it a decent linear PSU, and result will be very rewarding.

As for OS, I'd start with 2019 GUI. Core would be fun and headache at the same time, but again very rewarding and not insurmountable. For expert help, I'd make friends with AudiophileOptimizer (3.0) and AudioPhil (author) at AudiophileStyles (originally ComputerAudio) forum. I suspect, without AudiophileOptimizer and Fidelizer (another optimization software), there is not much difference among Windows 10, Windows Server 2019 Gui and Core in SQ.

My two cents only. Strong suggest you brainstorm, try out without significant loss, and decide what best suits your preferences and budget.
Thuan,
Thank you for this input. I have a question on the ‘signal flow’ of my music in my soon to be front end system. It will consist of:
1). Win 7 PC as my ROON core connected to my Asus router via Ethernet currently 25’ but could be 3’.
2) Synology 214+ NAS with two 8 TB drives containing ~2TB of FLAC and DSD files.
3) Bricasti DAC M3 or M21, acting as the ROON endpoint. It will also be connected to my NAS via 25’ of ethernet cable.

In that system, do my music files flow from the NAS to my Win 7 PC through the router then back to The Bricasti through the router?

Or, does ROON on my Win 7 PC call for the files and they flow from the NAS to the Bricasti?

Understanding that will help put your comments into perspective and decide where to keep the Gigafoil (WIN7 connection or Bricasti connection to the Router), where to put the fiber and / or decide if the Jcat Net Card is important.

If my files never reach the PC, why would it’s network card impact SQ?

Thank you in advance.
Craig
 
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Brucemck2

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#11
Typically:
Your Win7 will call for the file from your NAS. That call goes through your router.
Your NAS sends the file to your Win7 through your router.
Your Win7 processes the file inside Roon.
Your Win7 sends that processed file to your Bricasti - that goes through your router.
Your Bricasti converts that digital feed to analog.

The Roon Core processes the file, converting it from FLAC (or whatever) to a stream of bits expected by the DAC. That’s why convolution, PEQ, etc. happens in the Core. That’s why the net card matters.

I would put the GigaFoil right upstream of the Bricasti That isolates your DAC from the upstream network.

I don’t think your Bricasti will be connected directly to your NAS? I think your NAS would be connected to your router, as would your Win7?
 
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Likes: Thuan
Aug 22, 2014
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#12
Typically:
Your Win7 will call for the file from your NAS. That call goes through your router.
Your NAS sends the file to your Win7 through your router.
Your Win7 processes the file inside Roon.
Your Win7 sends that processed file to your Bricasti - that goes through your router.
Your Bricasti converts that digital feed to analog.

The Roon Core processes the file, converting it from FLAC (or whatever) to a stream of bits expected by the DAC. That’s why convolution, PEQ, etc. happens in the Core. That’s why the net card matters.

I would put the GigaFoil right upstream of the Bricasti That isolates your DAC from the upstream network.

I don’t think your Bricasti will be connected directly to your NAS? I think your NAS would be connected to your router, as would your Win7?
Okay, I get it. I will look further into the JCat Net card and giving it’s own linear PS and explore getting fiber between my Router and my Win 7 PC.

My Bricasti will be connected to my Router and receive the digital stream (NAS or Qobuz) from that.
 
Aug 22, 2014
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#13
Hmmm, JCat Net Femto Cards are out of stock. I can wait.
 

Brucemck2

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May 10, 2010
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#14
Macattack - a high quality switch (replacing the Asus) would also make a nice improvement given everything traverses it and it’s the last link before the Bricasti. I’d do that before the net card in your Win7.
 
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Thuan

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#15
Great advice #11 and #14. Can't agree more.

If you go oM route, the device can be further improved in SQ with some cost effective mods. I'd try a pair first.

Changing OS can wait. Audio grade switch is a good idea, and so is a non wifi router.

Not only high quality Ethernet cable at the long leg matters, replacing all SMPS wall wart PSUs with LPSUs or at least better PSUs helps improve the SQ.

Once the JCAT netcard ordered and arrived, feed it with your best 5V, no more. I once killed a Femto card by accidentally plugging a 9v PSU to it, ouch!

Can you describe how your setup sounds? Hopefully, gradually the setup will even "Wow" you with more consistency than it does today.
 
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Aug 22, 2014
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#16
Hmmm, I need WiFi in my home so how about an Audio grade switch downstream from that connecting both the Bricasti and my Win 7 PC? I will dig into the options. I am aware of some of them from reading WBF.

My current system is in flux. I have removed my Esoteric K-03X, Cybershaft Limited 2 OP17 clock and Shunyata Alpha Clock cable. They are all being sold.

When I recently had a Bricasti M1SE in my room, in general, it brought more snap and upper frequency range as compared to my front end using a McIntosh C1100 preamp along with the equipment above. I liked what I heard. It brought us more detail without fatigue and moved us to the front of the orchestra as opposed to the middle.

I reacted most to the detail and increased dynamics. It sold me to make this dramatic move to simplify my front end. I will keeP my C1100 for awhile after receiving my M3 to fully flesh out how I feel about using the Bricasti as a Preamp. But I am leaning towards going all the way and selling the C-1100.
 

Thuan

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Apr 20, 2020
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#17
Everyone needs Wifi. What I meant was, separate wifi functionality from router, instead use a Wifi Access Point, which is connected to the high quality switch, for the task. You may need more than one audio grade switch. But better SQ will be had that way.
 

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