Music Server Project

#41
Async USB and BS

Async USB has been one of the biggest sources of bovine excrement in marketing DACs in the past year or so. It has nothing to do with data accuracy. All it means is that the incoming USB data stream is re-clocked. With sync USB, the clock of the USB receiver is synchronized with the USB transmitter (hence sometimes called adaptive because the clock adapts to the sending clock).
Async USB provides a simpler way to implement a low jitter DAC relative to adaptive mode USB. For the cost of a small number of lines of firmware code, you reduce the amount and complexity hardware needed and potentially reduce the cost of the hardware needed for a high quality result. Most thinking engineers appreciate simplicity and the potential for low cost designs that deliver the goods.

You can find plenty of bovine excrement in the marketing of all kinds of high-end gear. Marketing products using buzz words without supporting detail or test results works when the audience is technically ignorant.

Async USB got to be a hot buzz word for many audiophiles in the last year or two. You may be offended by the rise of the Async USB buzz word. However, I'm more offended by marketing of products that are not very good or are just snake oil.

Async can have just as bad jitter as sync if the clock at the DAC is badly implemented.
A bad implementation can sink any approach. No revelation there.

Bill
 

garylkoh

WBF Technical Expert (Speakers & Audio Equipment)
#42
Thanks, Bill. You are correct. Async makes things easier to implement a low-jitter DAC, but by no means is async better than sync - as some of these marketing folks would like us to believe.

Those of you club members building the server together with us, please read the cismemoryplayer site that I had a couple of posts ago. I haven't tried everything mentioned there, but a lot of what they say concur with my findings. This afternoon, I had my server already stabilized and outputting bit perfect and started tuning and tweaking.

Since Jerry came around to pick up cables from me for the DAC shoot-out, I press-ganged him to help me listen. We did some re-configurations, and I have to admit that Win7 is sounding pretty good.
 

fork

New Member
Aug 3, 2010
188
0
0
Bellevue, WA
#43
Gary, if you're out there, I'm wondering how you're confirming bit-perfect output. Also, where does the tuning come in when the output reaches the point of bit-perfect; are we talking solely about controlling electrical noise?

On a separate subject, here's a software for Win 7 that replaces nLite and vLite. Provides a simple way to turn off and delete Win 7 features, create a bootable ISO image and a few other things.


http://www.rt7lite.com/
 

garylkoh

WBF Technical Expert (Speakers & Audio Equipment)
#44
Darrin, in their latest firmware update, Weiss has files with the various resolutions to confirm 16- and 24-bit transparency for all resolutions supported. The other thing that I do is that I have a DAC with HDCD indicator, and I play a file ripped from a HDCD. If the HDCD indicator comes on, it is most likely (but no guarantee) to be bit-transparent.

Thanks for the rt7lite link. I'll explore it after RMAF. Right now, I'm focussed on getting the server tweaked to ship on Fri.
 

garylkoh

WBF Technical Expert (Speakers & Audio Equipment)
#45
Folks, is there any interest in getting together this Sat 2nd Oct to build your servers? I'm going to go to the Head-fi meet which is close to my office. John and Jerry want to build their server sooner than later and I thought that we could all get together to build them since I should have everything shipped off to RMAF by then.
 

garylkoh

WBF Technical Expert (Speakers & Audio Equipment)
#46
PNWAS Music Server Project Completed

Well, with no major incidents, no smoke, sparks or fires, we've completed the building of the unofficial club music server. Now, at least six of the members will have "identical" music servers.





Cutting pieces of Dynamat to damp the chassis and seal the ventilation holes



What it looks like completed



And the user interface.....




Excruciating details available here:
http://www.genesisloudspeakers.com/newsletter/Newsletter_RMAF2010.pdf

Now to enjoy some music.....
 

Keith

New Member
Aug 7, 2010
1
0
0
#47
Thanks Gary for making it all possible!

Well, with no major incidents, no smoke, sparks or fires, we've completed the building of the unofficial club music server. Now, at least six of the members will have "identical" music servers.





Cutting pieces of Dynamat to damp the chassis and seal the ventilation holes



What it looks like completed



And the user interface.....




Excruciating details available here:
http://www.genesisloudspeakers.com/newsletter/Newsletter_RMAF2010.pdf

Now to enjoy some music.....
Gary

I can't seem to find words adequate to properly express my sincere gratitude for the gracious help and oversight you provided during the music server assembly process last Saturday evening. Sunday morning I configured Win7 Pro on my server following your instructions. Monday I found time to connect the glass cable I bought from Joe to my DAC and play some tunes from a thumb drive. The sound improvement over my CD player which I consider pretty good for a $1200 SONY was absolutely astounding to my ears. What a fabulous investment for a few hours work and a little money! I did purchase the DBpoweramp software, installed and tuned it and the results played back through the server are marvelous. I found the best price at Newegg for the 2 Seagate drives you recommend (instructions page 3) for music storage. I found the RAID enclosure you recommend to be out of stock at Newegg but apparently available at a reasonable price from Tigerdirect. I hope to have my music storage gear received, installed and operational by this coming Saturday if Targetdirect can actually deliver the enclosure by then. In the meantime I'll be spending my free time ripping away at my sizeable CD collection for FLAC file permanent storage. Once I get the accompanying jewelcase documentation onto PDF's it'll be goodbye CD hardcopies and jewel cases and welcome more free shelf space.

Best Regards.

Keith Birdwell
 

andyr

New Member
Oct 6, 2010
5
0
0
#49
Hi Gary,

Thanks for sending me your newsletter about the Music Server. Great article - thanks for sharing. :)

I've been thinking about a music server for a couple of years now, as my age implies that, at some
not-too-distant time in the future, my eyesight will have deteriorated to the point where aligning a cartridge will not be possible ... so I'd better have ripped my vinyl to hi-rez digital before then!! :)

I would appreciate your comment on one point - which is only to do with digitizing vinyl. Sure, you need a ss drive in the music server for the OS. But - and I know this is "conventional" computer thinking ... why use a standard mirrored disk drive array to store the music files?

Why not use USB sticks to store each LP? You manually choose the LP you want to play by selecting the USB stick, insert it into the computer and then fire it up? I have read that running direct from a USB stick delivers much better sound than pulling the music file off a disk drive? :confused:

Can you comment on this?

NB: If you use a disk as storage, I have also read that you get better sound from using vastly more memory than *you* configured, so you can play the LP direct from memory, instead of off the disk? (Don't know if this is true, though! :)) )

Regards,

Andy
 

garylkoh

WBF Technical Expert (Speakers & Audio Equipment)
#50
Hi Andy,

The vinyl cognoscenti will crucify me for this, but yes, ripping your vinyl to hi-rez digital is definitely the way to go for us aging folk.

The reason I recommended a standard mirrored disk drive array for storage of music files is that solid-state drives are still too expensive in the 500GB range. Once you get the drives outside the server, and with a separate power supply, I did not find the spinning drive to be detrimental to the sound of the server. So, playing off a USB stick sounds no better than playing off the drive array I recommended.

With the drive array, you don't need to worry about looking for USB sticks. The main advantage is organization, and being able to browse your entire music collection on screen. You can select by artist, performer, soloist, whatever. The more information you tag your music with, the better you can search. For example, I can play every piece I have with David Oistrakh as soloist without having to look through every record and CD.

The server is already configured with the maximum amount of memory. You get better sound if the music storage drive is de-fragmented, and if the drive has a larger buffer. The drive I recommended is a hybrid drive with 4GB of solid-state read cache and a 32Mb buffer.
 

FrantzM

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
6,469
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#51
HI

I had fortunately ripped most of my CD to disk. I have however some problems with tagging and the likes. What would you suggest as a software to tag my colection ( around 750 GB in flac)... I use Foobar and have ordred the parts to build this particular server.
 

garylkoh

WBF Technical Expert (Speakers & Audio Equipment)
#53
If you've ripped to WAV, tagging is difficult as Foobar doesn't associate tags well. What you can do is to convert to FLAC. Software here:
http://flac.sourceforge.net/

The Flac front-end has a neat way to guess the tags at the same time you convert if you have your hard disk well organized, let it guess the tags based on your directory structure. I store my files as genre\artist\album\tracknumber title.wav - and the software correctly put those tags in.

Within Foobar, highlighting a track and hitting [ALT-ENTER] will bring up the properties dialog and you can change the tags directly. One of the Foobar components I recommended - Masstagger - allows you to tag entire libraries. It has a more flexible guessing algorithm, and I haven't found any combination of tags that I couldn't do.

Converting 1TB of WAV to Flac, tagging everything, including downloading album art took me about 3 days preparing for RMAF.
 

FrantzM

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
6,469
0
0
#55
Thanks to Gary and Vincent.

Fortunately my collectionis in flac.
I also asked that question a while ago and got an answer but have not been able to perfrom it in foobar. How can one implement a way to move the music to be played from regular storage, say a NAS to an internal SSD. IOW I would like that a given playlist to be moved , automatically to the SSD once chosen for playing.
 

FrantzM

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
6,469
0
0
#56
Vincent

The tagging problems stem from having to manually enter information . I would like a way to organize my classical side of the collection by composers, Performers, Orchestra or opus.. In the simplest less time-intensive fashion. It is currently organized by Albums but Classical music often has different Composers or Conductors on the same album...
The bother to manually enter all CD liner notes and covers was too much and many of my ripped albums are in their respective folder with only the back and Front covers, the cue file and the CD images.
 

garylkoh

WBF Technical Expert (Speakers & Audio Equipment)
#57
How can one implement a way to move the music to be played from regular storage, say a NAS to an internal SSD. IOW I would like that a given playlist to be moved , automatically to the SSD once chosen for playing.
Music stored anywhere - even offsite! - can sound good. In Foobar - go to File\Preferences\Playback\Output and set the buffer to 15 seconds. Even off a slow network, you will be well cached within the first couple of seconds.

When we did some A/B comparisons, we could not reliably distinguish between music played off the internal SSD and music played off the SATA RAID external drive. I can tell if the music is played off a USB stick, or off a USB drive, but I'm using 480ms as the buffer length.
 
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garylkoh

WBF Technical Expert (Speakers & Audio Equipment)
#58
The tagging problems stem from having to manually enter information . I would like a way to organize my classical side of the collection by composers, Performers, Orchestra or opus.. In the simplest less time-intensive fashion. It is currently organized by Albums but Classical music often has different Composers or Conductors on the same album...
Classical music is the hardest. There aren't enough tags, but each tag can have multiple values. For example, I end up using the [Performer] tag for both the orchestra and the soloist, and the [Artist] tag for the conductor. I suppose that it could also be the other way around.

With masstagger installed, you can highlight all the tracks of a particular album, right click on it, and under [Tagging] click [Manage Scripts]. Then, all the options are available, and you can write your own scripts too.

For other genre of music, there is a freedb tagger that gets tags automatically.
 

fork

New Member
Aug 3, 2010
188
0
0
Bellevue, WA
#59
set the buffer to 15 seconds. Even off a slow network, you will be well cached within the first couple of seconds.
Gary, I'm still playing my music off a standard internal HD, but my sound is not as good at the absolute minimum Foobar Buffer (under 100ms). It sounds better at 500ms and above. It sounds good at 15 seconds, but that introduces a few second delay in the play/pause/next controls, which really got on my nerves.
 

garylkoh

WBF Technical Expert (Speakers & Audio Equipment)
#60
Gary, I'm still playing my music off a standard internal HD, but my sound is not as good at the absolute minimum Foobar Buffer (under 100ms). It sounds better at 500ms and above. It sounds good at 15 seconds, but that introduces a few second delay in the play/pause/next controls, which really got on my nerves.
Darrin, yes. I've found that somewhere between 460ms and 580ms to sound the best. I have absolutely no idea why it would. But at minimum it can be quite bad. The buffer fills as it plays, so I don't know why you get delay in your play/pause/next controls. When I hit pause or next, it reacts immediately even though there's a 15sec buffer. The only time you notice the buffer is when you take a CD out of the player, and it goes on playing until the buffer empties.
 

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