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Old 10-22-2012, 07:59 PM
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Pursuing great digital on the bleeding edge

Iím getting ready to add digital streaming to my main system but want to do it in a way that gives it a chance to better my existing digital Ė a Sony SCD-777ES player with AudioNote DAC for redbook. It took me years to finally get-along with digital and this combination made that possible so this is a pretty high hurdle for me.



I understand that computer based audio has the potential to sound better than physical media players so Iím interested, and the idea of ripping my CDs to a central server for convenient whole house sharing is appealing. The higher resolution recordings now available as online downloads take the potential for digital beyond my redbook stuff too and based on my SACD experience, might be a step in the right direction for me.

In addition to PCM hi-res, Iím very intrigued by the idea of DSD streaming which seems to be gaining some momentum around the edges of computer audio. There are downloads available and (apparently) a way to get my SACDs through a streamer so this really ups the ante for me, even though it complicates my wish-list.

I doubt Iíll mess around with vinyl ripping as no matter how Ďcloseí this gets to reproducing the sound of an LP, I can always just listen to the LP Ė seems pointless if doing it right creates any compromises or raises the price of admission, unlessÖ

The hardware to do vinyl ripping could come into play if I consider a higher-end sound card (maybe external USB) that would allow me to do system and room measurements. I will soon be messing with tapped horns and a digital crossover in front of them so a streamer that can easily fill the role here with a mic plugged in would be real nice.

So I basically want everything but have to do it on my budget Ė simple.
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Old 10-22-2012, 08:03 PM
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After way too much time investigating all this stuff, Iíve come up with my want list and since itís a long list, it pretty much means there isnít an affordable canned solution and Iíll be putting it all together myself. Iíd like to have;

- Streaming from an external file server over a 1G wired connection (already have an unRaid server running on my network).
- Windows OS running jRiver
- Fanless with a solid-state drive for OS Ė has to be quiet.
- Ability to later add a sound-card for acoustic measurements/analog-digital conversion
- Ability to use high-end USB and/or Firewire cards
- Motherboard, CPU, case (maybe DIY) and power-supply (fanless) will be whatever they need to be to get me to the pointy-end Iím shooting for.
- Headless option Ė might start out with standard peripherals but can see moving to an android tablet or something down the road.
- I donít want Ďoversamplingí of redbook (based on my preference for non-ovesampling AudioNote DACs) but DO want to able to play hi-rez 24/96 or even 24/192 PCM.
- I love SACD so want to be ready for the emerging option of streaming DSD. I know jRiver can stream it and there are DACs out there that can decode it so I want to consider this in any hardare/software decisions I make.


Iíll probably do this in 2 steps Ė build the streamer and feed the Audionote DAC redbook and 24/96 hi-rez (which Iíve read it can handle Ė yet to be confirmed), then add a new DAC that can do all the other stuff down the road.

I may end up on a tangent building a HTPC video streamer for my other system but there will be a bunch of crossover and shared wish-list items so it may be good to mix that in with this project. Ultimately, if jRiver works for my video streaming needs, there might be a lot of crossover and having 2 boxes using similar hardware and software would sure be nice.

Iím a little apprehensive about changing out the AudioNote DAC as I just like what it (and AudioNote CD players in general) do but Iím trying to keep an open mind Ė and there is that DSD streaming thing stuck in my head. So far, I keep ending up looking at Mytek as a DAC option but that remains to be seen.
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Last edited by Billfort; 10-22-2012 at 08:06 PM.
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Old 10-22-2012, 08:39 PM
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ashok ashok is offline
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I, like many others here, use Vortexbox for my digital music serving needs, and am therefore am a little partial to that solution. The latest version of Vortexbox does support DSD streaming, along with hi-resolution PCM.

With that in mind, you might consider the following (no affiliation): Sonore Music Server. I think it meets a lot of your requirements. I do think you could build a comparable device for a fair bit less than their asking price. Output would be via USB and/or Firewire - connect DAC of your choice. But start out with a sound-card with S/PDIF output to continue using the AudioNote.

Sonore sells a DSD DAC (USB input only) that seems reasonable. It is PCM-capable too, of course.

Also check out Auraliti for some interesting products.

And finally, a thread from Audiocircle on DSD DACs.
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Old 10-22-2012, 08:51 PM
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You might wanna shoot Jimmy Neutron a PM, he uses JRiver extensively and has a very nice music server that looks to be similar to what youre after. Im a Linux guy, so I cant be of much help in the software department. I can tell you how my system functions, that may give you more ideas. I run a large dual-quad Xeon virtual machine host, one of my virtual machines being the Vortexbox music server OS. I have my optical drive running in pass-thru mode, so the Vortexbox VM will automatically rip CDs once theyre placed in the drive. The server is stored in another section of the house, so noise is non-existent. I have 8TB of storage on that thing, and run 8 virtual machines. This way, I can tinker to my hearts content without worry of messing up something important. Im only a few minutes away from restoring to a fully functioning VM backup. As for the front end of it all, I use Squeezeboxes. Vortexbox runs Logitech Media Server which streams the music on out. I control it all through a web browser, my Android phone, or my Galaxy Tab. There are many ways to skin a cat. Like I was saying above, get ahold of Jimmy Neutron, hes sporting a similar setup, sans pro-audio card.
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Last edited by BadassBob; 10-22-2012 at 08:55 PM.
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Old 10-22-2012, 09:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Billfort View Post
- Windows OS running jRiver
Sorry, missed that part about the Windows OS. Vortexbox is Linux based, and that could be a big reason to disqualify it. But it is fairly easy to use.
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Old 10-23-2012, 05:27 AM
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Thanks for the info guys, now I have more to read.
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Old 10-23-2012, 06:46 AM
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That Sonore stuff is really interesting, especially the Sonore/exD DAC.

I'm not that adverse to Linux, just like what I've seen with jRiver - more to think about.
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Old 10-23-2012, 07:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Billfort View Post
Thanks for the info guys, now I have more to read.
That's a beautiful digital rig you have there. You will really like having everything accessible by server when all is said and done. I run a boulder modified squeezebox and having everything at my finger tips at all times is a great addition to my system.
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Old 10-23-2012, 08:03 AM
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When you design your streaming system, make sure that it can be fully controlled from tablet (either iPad or Android). From my experience tablet is the best interface to use for any audio/video system. You may avoided need of keyboard and screen for your computers (if you use one) in that case, which will me your music room cleaner.
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Old 10-23-2012, 08:07 AM
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I priced out a nice DIY Vortexbox unit that would look great on a rack. As much as I love running it in a VM away from everything else, I have an itchy trigger finger now .

http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/sho...5&postcount=13

Comes in just under $400 after shipping.
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Old 10-23-2012, 02:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by for_p1 View Post
When you design your streaming system, make sure that it can be fully controlled from tablet (either iPad or Android). From my experience tablet is the best interface to use for any audio/video system. You may avoided need of keyboard and screen for your computers (if you use one) in that case, which will me your music room cleaner.
I have to concur with this, you really don't want to be using a keyboard as a control interface if you can help it. This would mean you would need an MPD server (your OS would have to be Linux), and something like MPOD (that would run on your tablet).

Personally, I would make it easier on yourself and try a Squeezebox Touch + NAS first. I've compared its coax out against a Pro Audio Lynx AES16 sound card using 24/192 files and found the SQ difference negligible. Plus, with LMS, you can use iPeng as a control interface which is phenomenal, a real game changer IMO.
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Old 10-23-2012, 02:36 PM
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Plus, with LMS, you can use iPeng as a control interface which is phenomenal, a real game changer IMO.
iPeng is very nice for those on Apple devices. My favorite LMS controller for Android is Squeeze Commander, its crazy good. If youre using an Android device, its well worth the $5
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Old 10-23-2012, 03:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Billfort View Post
In addition to PCM hi-res, Iím very intrigued by the idea of DSD streaming which seems to be gaining some momentum around the edges of computer audio. There are downloads available and (apparently) a way to get my SACDs through a streamer so this really ups the ante for me, even though it complicates my wish-list.
I'm guessing you mean a DSD decoding DAC? If so, this is a rather esoteric fringe area of digital audio handled only by some high end DACs (like DCS and EMM) and will cost you dearly. It's kind a big, risky investment considering the future of SACD, which is rather uncertain.

Equally as esoteric would be ripping SACD, but far less costly; I would look into this instead if you have a big SACD library. You need a first gen PS3 with SACD playback capability, and it needs to be on firmware 3.55 or 3.41 (or you need to figure out how to downgrade it).
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Old 10-23-2012, 05:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nd4speed View Post
I'm guessing you mean a DSD decoding DAC? If so, this is a rather esoteric fringe area of digital audio handled only by some high end DACs (like DCS and EMM) and will cost you dearly. It's kind a big, risky investment considering the future of SACD, which is rather uncertain.

Equally as esoteric would be ripping SACD, but far less costly; I would look into this instead if you have a big SACD library. You need a first gen PS3 with SACD playback capability, and it needs to be on firmware 3.55 or 3.41 (or you need to figure out how to downgrade it).
Well, this is the cutting edge forum after all, and discussion of esoterica is indeed the point.

I would further submit that DSD DACs are slowly coming into their own. Consider the following:
  • Availability of DSD-DACs from Sonore, Mytek and Benchmark (soon to be released) that are not as expensive as the Meitner or dCS offerings. There might be one or two more.
  • Capability of software like Foobar, JRiver, Pure Music and Vortexbox to play DSF, DSDIFF and SACD ISO files. I think Amarra is capable of this too.
  • The DSD over PCM development effort - See this article in positive-feedback. Pretty much all major DAC manufacturers and player-software people are involved in it.
All this is for nothing unless there is any music that can be played using these devices. There are a couple of companies offering DSD downloads:The offerings may not be to everyoneís liking, but they are there.

Ripping SACDs is problematic even if you are able to get hold of the correct PS3 version. But there is a guy on AudioCircle who is offering to rip SACDs for free. Ok, not the most preferred route, but it does exist.

In summary, I donít think DSD playback via a computer will remain on the fringes for very long. But donít hold me to my prediction
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Old 10-23-2012, 07:03 PM
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Yes ashok, this is exactly what I have been talking about and the Mytek and Sonore DSD capable DACS are the kinds of pieces I might give up my AudioNote for...maybe.

I do have a first gen PS3 player with the old firmware too so yes, that weighs into possible direction.
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