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Ray
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Music Player/Servers

Post by Ray » Wed May 22, 2013 7:46 am

Thought I'd post a story about my on-going "fun" with music server PCs.
Long story short, I started a few years ago experimenting with Media Monkey and an original Cambridge DAC-Magic as a FLAC music player combo.
Not really expecting much...boy was I wrong. What seems like about a dozen builds later, moving to J-River and I've ditched ALL spinning disks in the listening room.

The final frontier has recently been trying to find an HTPC computer case that didn't look like a computer case. I'd used a couple Lian LI PC-C37s, which worked fine, but still looked PC-ish.

I'd been keeping an eye on the Streacom cases, used in some of the CAPS builds (Computer Audiophile site) I'd stayed away from these for some reason, one being that they are nasty expensive.

I finally broke down, bought one and popped one of the two existing players i have now into the new case.
I also didn't was to mess around with a power brick, so, I found a power supply that will fit in the 1U case. (and I've subsequently found an even better/smaller one that will replace the one shown in the pictures below)

In the end, the build has far exceeded my expectations. The case is first rate "audiophile" quality. and doesn't look out of place sitting next to other gear.
It's a bit of a hassle with the heat-pipes, but, again in the end well worth it to have an absolutely fanless system.
Motherboard is Asus P8-Z77M, i7 3770s, samsung 840Pro SSD. (in the pictures the Pyro SE drive is installed, but this has been changed out for 128GB Samsung)

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Magnepan 20.7
Conrad Johnson ART 300
Conrad Johnson GAT V2
Meitner MA 1 V2
Custom Server running MC 23
Dual Synology 1512+ 12 TB total storage

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Re: Music Player/Servers

Post by admin » Mon May 27, 2013 3:48 pm

Wow, this is amazing! Congrats on the build. I think at first glance you would never be able to tell that this is a computer sitting on your component rack,... and that's a good thing. May I ask how much the entire project cost? Also, since there are no fans and you depend on passive cooling only, does the unit get very hot after extended use? It's hard to find a modern day PC that doesn't have a fan cooling the CPU or power supply.

Also, can you tell us a little about the software your using for the media control... I see a little glimpse of it in one of your pictures. I think going with the SSD hard drive is also a nice touch. You essentially built a PC with zero moving parts, very nice. Do you think you will have issues with storage space, lossless audio sure takes up a lot of space.

Once again, awesome job!
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Ray
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Re: Music Player/Servers

Post by Ray » Thu May 30, 2013 10:13 pm

In no particular order:

the most "painful" purchase was the case itself. Streacom FC5EVO from QuietPC it's around $290 with shipping. I had to swallow hard on that one.

beyond the case overall costs are more or less as expected:

pretty much from memory, these should be pretty close thought:
Case: $290
i73770S $300 the "S" or T are lower power versions of 3770s making them about the biggest cpu one could handle in a small case like this if going fanless.
16GB Ram (8GB will do) $130
Pico 160 Power supply: $149
MW HRP - power supply: $80
Asus P8Z77-M: $140
Win 7 home $100
J-River MC18: $50
Samsung (or other SSD) 128GB: $130

I use JRiver MC18 Exclusively for Media Playback. In my case it's configured for Audio-only. One consideration is the embedded graphics (4000) included on the 3770S is fine and dandy for audio, if using JRiver's video playback capabilities, the case could be made or demanded for a separate video card, which then throws more heat and cost into things.

the 3770s is a 65W device, which is the largest recommended for this case/heatsink.
the case gets warm to the touch, not at all near hot. My power amps get far warmer, bordering on hot.

All media in my case is stored externally on Synology NAS devices. (around 4TB each) the SSD is used only for booting/running JRiver. BIG SSDs are still a bit expensive to store a ton of media. Ultimately it would be cool to have a TB or so of SSD within the case.
In the meantime, high-rez audio streamed over wired Ethernet from the NAS works absolutely fine.
-------------------------------------------------
Magnepan 20.7
Conrad Johnson ART 300
Conrad Johnson GAT V2
Meitner MA 1 V2
Custom Server running MC 23
Dual Synology 1512+ 12 TB total storage

Ray
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Re: Music Player/Servers

Post by Ray » Sat Jun 15, 2013 6:55 am

Doesn't seem like there are many (any?) music player/server builders around here (..we fit under the same catagory as computer nerds international, you know who you are :) I'm a card-carrying member)

As luck would have it, I got an opportunity to whip up another music player.
Always wanting to use-the-latest, this new player will be Haswell based (i7 4770S with Asus H87M-E) I don't expect any surprises..and looks like I'm using the same case (Streacom) as the prior server.
-------------------------------------------------
Magnepan 20.7
Conrad Johnson ART 300
Conrad Johnson GAT V2
Meitner MA 1 V2
Custom Server running MC 23
Dual Synology 1512+ 12 TB total storage

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Re: Music Player/Servers

Post by camusmuse » Mon Nov 04, 2013 6:07 am

VERY impressive build there. Certainly does look like it belongs in a hifi rack. I have been using my PC as a media center since ATI came out with the All in Wonder.....yeah, things have come along way. Sadly my finances have not been able to keep up. Current setup is a dedicated Dell Laptop in a docking station that is always on and a USB terabyte stand alone. Output is a Behringer UCA202, also connected USB. Not the best for sure, but it has both RCA I/O and a Toslink out that goes to my Home Theater for that system, but the terabyte drive can be accessed from any of my systems over ethernet from the laptop, including my CJ system through another docked laptop with spdif out. There is some loss in quality, but the convenience is worth it, besides, when I really want to listen I gotta dust off the old turntable...lol. I know ACTUALLY getting out of my chair to play music....lol. Again, I applaud your system, once I get the funds I will build something similar, but it will be full audio video and I will have to add a few more terabytes for my blurays....:P

Ray
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Re: Music Player/Servers

Post by Ray » Mon Nov 04, 2013 3:25 pm

The part that skews the cost on these things is the darned case.

not that motherboard/CPUs/RAM etc are cheap, but they are known quantities..in the past I've used Atom based MBs. Only issue is that the graphics are not as smooth. (Of course if using for Video than Atom might not be the right choice)

I personally don't subscribe to all the hysteria surrounding switching power supplies, "audiophile" usb ports etc. which can drive the cost up through the roof.
-------------------------------------------------
Magnepan 20.7
Conrad Johnson ART 300
Conrad Johnson GAT V2
Meitner MA 1 V2
Custom Server running MC 23
Dual Synology 1512+ 12 TB total storage

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Re: Music Player/Servers

Post by camusmuse » Mon Nov 04, 2013 4:00 pm

I agree, I cannot for the life of my come up with the name of the case that I wanted. But it came with a remote, and they have since discontinued the particular model. There was a build up using it on a HT forum that I was going to basically copy. As for audiophile usb, yeah, Im not buying it....literally. What I have works just fine. Maybe when I get my CJ system a bit more refined and my DIY speakers, up, going, and tuned right I might see a need for improvement. But honestly, and sadly most of my favorite music isnt all that well recorded....some are just down right terrible. Many are from nearly 100 years ago, so there is much lost that will never be found in a megabuck system. I do have some "audiophile approved" vinyl and cd's, and yes that is where the "nice" systems really strut their stuff...but what is more important; the content or how the content sounds. Best example, I love Django Reinhardt, Stephane Graepelli....etc, there are very few "audiophile" recordings from that vintage. But I listen to them alot more than say the Twin Peaks soundtrack....lol. Right now it's "Up on Cripple Creek" by The Band....followed by Limehouse Blues from Jazz at the Pawnshop. Cant beat the convenience of media centers..... As for the graphics, as long as it does the latest HDMI...should be good, have to find the right case though. I have a Galaxy PCIe that I dont have a board for....yet. Once of these days I'll catch up....:)

Ray
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Re: Music Player/Servers

Post by Ray » Mon Nov 04, 2013 4:41 pm

camusmuse wrote:I agree, I cannot for the life of my come up with the name of the case that I wanted. But it came with a remote, and they have since discontinued the particular model. There was a build up using it on a HT forum that I was going to basically copy. As for audiophile usb, yeah, Im not buying it....literally. What I have works just fine. Maybe when I get my CJ system a bit more refined and my DIY speakers, up, going, and tuned right I might see a need for improvement. But honestly, and sadly most of my favorite music isnt all that well recorded....some are just down right terrible. Many are from nearly 100 years ago, so there is much lost that will never be found in a megabuck system. I do have some "audiophile approved" vinyl and cd's, and yes that is where the "nice" systems really strut their stuff...but what is more important; the content or how the content sounds. Best example, I love Django Reinhardt, Stephane Graepelli....etc, there are very few "audiophile" recordings from that vintage. But I listen to them alot more than say the Twin Peaks soundtrack....lol. Right now it's "Up on Cripple Creek" by The Band....followed by Limehouse Blues from Jazz at the Pawnshop. Cant beat the convenience of media centers..... As for the graphics, as long as it does the latest HDMI...should be good, have to find the right case though. I have a Galaxy PCIe that I dont have a board for....yet. Once of these days I'll catch up....:)
You said it right there, will all the messing around, high-rez files, 24bit/129khz, and now with DSD, 2X and 4X DSD, super USB cables, "Quantum phase angle electron arc migration cable" or fill in your own line of mumbo-jumbo...it's still far and away the production techniques or lack thereof that make or break a recording. :)
-------------------------------------------------
Magnepan 20.7
Conrad Johnson ART 300
Conrad Johnson GAT V2
Meitner MA 1 V2
Custom Server running MC 23
Dual Synology 1512+ 12 TB total storage

camusmuse
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Re: Music Player/Servers

Post by camusmuse » Mon Nov 04, 2013 5:34 pm

"Quantum phase angle electron arc migration cable" ha! gonna have to use that one on some of my local audio junkie friends....might have to throw in some Tony Stark though and make it the "Quantum phase angle electron arc REACTOR migration cable". The cable POWERS itself.....lol. Sadly I think i remember some "consumer" audiophile interconnects that actually did have a power supply now that I jog a few brain cells....lol...:) Hey if you got it, spend it, cant take it with ya....

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