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  1. #1
    Sophomore Member Garf's Avatar
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    Microsoft Surface Pro

    Anyone else get this over the weekend?

    I picked up a Surface Pro 128gb Saturday, I was lucky they had one available. While I do not intend to use it as a standalone music server, I will test to see how it compares to my listening rig at work, substituting the Lenovo laptop with the Surface.

    Current setup Lenovo laptop USB out to Audinst HUD-Mx1 Dac/Headphone amp to either Audio Engine A2s or my B&W C5 in ear headphones. Best guess, it won't sound any different as I am using standard USB out for each.

    Gary
    MS Surface Pro with Windows 8.1 running jRiver MediaCenter 19, Schiit Lyr 2, Schiit Bifrost upgraded with Uber Analog and USB Gen 2, Grado SR-325is, ADAM A3x Nearfield Monitors, Grado SR-80i's, Bowers & Wilkins C5, Audinst HUD-MX1. CAPS 2.0 currently in the closet.

  2. #2
    Sophomore Member Garf's Avatar
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    Well, busy at work so I couldn't do a comparison of the work rig, perhaps tomorrow.

    Tonight, I plugged my Bifrost into the Surface, and listened to David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars. So the chain was Surface Pro running Windows 8, jRiver Media center using WASAPI with exclusive access to the Bifrost, Asgard to my Grado 325si headphones.

    It did an admirable job, with clean bass, nice highs (a bit bright), and a quiet background. It fell apart when the songs got more "interesting", for example on Five Years, around the 1:35 mark when the orchestra joins in and builds as the song progresses. It lacked separation in the instruments, had a small sound stage, and sounded cluttered.

    There was, however, no comparison to CAPS 2.0 with the SOtM card. Much fuller, open sound stage, with noticeable separation of instruments.

    It did beat the CAPS/Bifrost/Asgard combo through a standard USB port, which still sounded as bad as I remembered, very muddy and uninteresting.

    What was surprising was the Surface's ability to output 24/96. With the headphones hooked up to the headphone jack, initially I could not get it to play 24bit. I was using WASAPI mode, direct access, and jRiver wanted to reduce to 16bit on playback. It sounded terrible, which was to be expected.

    I was poking around websites looking for information on the CODEC used in surface, and stumbled upon an ifixit.com teardown of the Surface RT mentioning it used a Wolfson WM8962e, which should output 24bit up to 96kHz sample rates. Going back to the Sound properties in Control Panel, I selected the default format to use 24bit, 96000 Hz when running in shared mode. Success! jRiver did not downsample, though Audio Path shows I do not have a direct connection (I miss the blue icon!) Perhaps it is simply an issue with the drivers as to why I cannot take exclusive access of the headphone output. Or simply a design decision to reduce power consumption by forcing the Wolfson CODEC into a lower power state.

    Playing directly through the headphone jack, using the built in DAC at 24/96 with WASAPI in shared mode resulted in a much more enjoyable listening experience. Punchier bass, overall clarity in the sound. Sounds like the CODEC amplifier decided to kick in. As I have listened to this album too many times tonight to do an adequate comparison to the Surface/Bifrost/Asgard combination, I will just have to say it takes 3rd place, far south of the Surface/Bifrost/Asgard combo, and far north of the CAPS/Bifrost/Asgard without the SOtM card.

    So my takeaway from all of this? I will not hesitate to put several of my favorite 24bit recordings on the Surface to enjoy simply with jRiver and a pair of headphones. Tempted to see where I could take a dedicated music server build using the Surface, the one place it blows away a CAPS server is the display. Sure, for the most part you don't need a display in a headless server setup. Except when you DO need one, then its a royal p.i.t.a. to hook one up!

    surface_.png
    surface.png
    MS Surface Pro with Windows 8.1 running jRiver MediaCenter 19, Schiit Lyr 2, Schiit Bifrost upgraded with Uber Analog and USB Gen 2, Grado SR-325is, ADAM A3x Nearfield Monitors, Grado SR-80i's, Bowers & Wilkins C5, Audinst HUD-MX1. CAPS 2.0 currently in the closet.

  3. #3
    Freshman Member RSB's Avatar
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    Gary -

    I have been eyeing the Surface Pro. Thanks for your thoughts on its SQ. I was thinking to use it for a remote for my CAPS-2 via Remote Desktop, and to surf with it from my listening chair, which would be a nice use for that beautiful screen. I don't need the Surface Pro horsepower to do this, however, so I am also considering a Nexus 10, as an alternative. I am using my old laptop for that function now, which is a bit unwieldy and sometimes noisy.
    The world is but one country, and mankind its citizens.

    Living Room: Caps2/JRiver 19/Fidelizer > Wireworld Platinum USB > Calyx DAC/KingRex PSU > Kimber Heroes > Bryston BP-26/4B-SST > Kimber 8TC > B&W 802D.
    Den: CAPS3 Carbon/SOtM USB/JRiver 19/Fidelizer/Red Wine Red Lightning PS> Wireworld Starlight USB > Off Ramp5/Dynamo PS/Short Block via I2S > PS Audio Silver HDMI > W4S Dac2DSDse/femto upgrade > Kimber Heroes > Bryston B100-SST > Kimber 8VS > B&W SCMS. (Triode Wire Labs power cables).

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by RSB View Post
    Gary -

    I have been eyeing the Surface Pro ... I was thinking to use it for a remote for my CAPS-2 via Remote Desktop.
    The Surface Pro would also be great as the streamer to a Zuma with JPlay v5 in StreamerMode.
    Lets End Apostrophe Abuse's

  5. #5
    Junior Member wdw's Avatar
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    isn't this little software device device just more heavy "Detroit" metal...if it just could auto-subscribe to the NRA and send, when you're at sleep, auto-messages to the tea party, and continually write conspiracy theories about the birthright of Osama it would realize it's objective?

    ;-)....just a joke, don't shoot!
    QBase8 - Mac Mini w.SSD w.Audirvana - Sort Kones - BADA & BADA USB - Nordost Heimdall - Levinson - Magico

  6. #6
    Sophomore Member Garf's Avatar
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    Just an update, running an original, Surface Pro 128gb with a tweaked Windows 8.1, and I couldn't be happier with the result. My CAPS 2.0 is currently sitting in my wiring closet, unused.

    The CAPS 2.0 had some oddities, mostly due to my tweaking and running Windows 8. For instance, I would have to boot up, launch jRiver, exit, then reboot the server. If I didn't, a majority of the time I would experience static and dropouts at least once or twice per song. "Priming" (lol) the server by launching jRiver and restarting was the only way I was able to get rid of this. Also, with the DC plug in the back, it was always a pain to access the server. I can't count the number of times I cut the power trying to plug a USB in the back of the server. And the handful of times when the server wouldn't boot up, plop up a monitor, keyboard, see why the server wouldn't reboot, usually due to Windows attempting to repair something that wasn't broken.

    So this weekend, I hooked up the Surface Pro, and used it un-tweaked for a while. Even though it didn't sound as good as the CAPS, it was close enough that I probably wouldn't notice it after a while. I was willing to trade the convenience of the Surface for the slight decrease in audio quality. Then I tweaked windows 8.1 (per a modified script at Computer Audio Design » Computer setup), and I was thrilled by the improvement. I am not going the full route of jPlay and removing the desktop and such as they say on that website, just optimizing the OS and tablet per a modified services and features script.

    For convenience, style, give it a 10. For sound quality, equal to CAPS 2.0 in my subjective opinion. It has a linear power supply (battery!), fast SSD drive, and touch/pen input. Cons, the terrible battery on the original Surface Pro, and one USB slot. Very happy with the result, and glad that I splurged and purchased the Surface Pro 2 so I could assign music server duties to the old Surface Pro.

    Regards,

    Gary
    MS Surface Pro with Windows 8.1 running jRiver MediaCenter 19, Schiit Lyr 2, Schiit Bifrost upgraded with Uber Analog and USB Gen 2, Grado SR-325is, ADAM A3x Nearfield Monitors, Grado SR-80i's, Bowers & Wilkins C5, Audinst HUD-MX1. CAPS 2.0 currently in the closet.

  7. #7
    Site Founder The Computer Audiophile's Avatar
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    Good to hear Gary.
    Chris Connaker

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    Computer Audiophile

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  8. #8
    Male Member Snowmonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garf View Post
    For sound quality, equal to CAPS 2.0 in my subjective opinion
    Is that equal to CAPS 2.0 with or without the SOtM card?
    Prūbres morghulis

  9. #9
    Sophomore Member Garf's Avatar
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    CAPS with SOtM card. I have not put it through the paces in a critical listening session (headphones on, with more complicated music), I will let you know my impressions.

    Swapping from CAPS to an un-optimized Surface to attempt to A/B test is what initially lead me to do a full optimization of Windows 8.1. Unplugging my USB cable from SOtM card to Surface several times caused my CAPS server to become unstable. I had to disassemble the CAPS and re-seat the card to get the server to recognize it.
    MS Surface Pro with Windows 8.1 running jRiver MediaCenter 19, Schiit Lyr 2, Schiit Bifrost upgraded with Uber Analog and USB Gen 2, Grado SR-325is, ADAM A3x Nearfield Monitors, Grado SR-80i's, Bowers & Wilkins C5, Audinst HUD-MX1. CAPS 2.0 currently in the closet.

  10. #10
    @Garf,
    the idea of a Surface Pro 2 is tempting...but it seems that it only have a usb3 entry, and no ethernet. For me sure is a no go...

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeJazz View Post
    @Garf,
    the idea of a Surface Pro 2 is tempting...but it seems that it only have a usb3 entry, and no ethernet. For me sure is a no go...
    But why would you want to tie it with cables?
    Signalyst - http://www.signalyst.com
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  12. #12
    Male Member Snowmonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeJazz View Post
    @Garf,
    the idea of a Surface Pro 2 is tempting...but it seems that it only have a usb3 entry, and no ethernet. For me sure is a no go...
    SIIG Ships USB 3.0 Gigabit Ethernet Adapter Just on Time

    (assuming you're using the onboard DAC)
    Prūbres morghulis

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Miska View Post
    But why would you want to tie it with cables?
    in the scenario of using the surface pro as a player...the wifi does not perform as well as ethernet, especially for HD audio...

    in your scenario, naa and hqplayer, I guess the surface pro 2 is good enought for the hqplayer, but in that case a naa is ethernet connected anyway...

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Snowmonkey View Post
    SIIG Ships USB 3.0 Gigabit Ethernet Adapter Just on Time

    (assuming you're using the onboard DAC)
    Thank you snowmonkey...
    but is a solution that comes from an omission...maybe this tablet wannabe laptop is just not meant for that function...

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeJazz View Post
    in the scenario of using the surface pro as a player...the wifi does not perform as well as ethernet, especially for HD audio...
    Even 802.11g has been working fine for me up to stereo 192/32 or DSD128 (which is less than half of 192/32 bandwidth so DSD256 should work too). 802.11n is much more capable, and now 802.11ac should pretty much match practical speeds of gigabit ethernet, unless you use jumbo frames.

    in your scenario, naa and hqplayer, I guess the surface pro 2 is good enought for the hqplayer, but in that case a naa is ethernet connected anyway...
    Yes... NAA should be on ethernet, but tablet can be on wifi. So with 802.11n like this:

    [NAS] -> ethernet/wifi -> [Surface Pro 2] -> wifi/ethernet -> [NAA]

    Although of course it is technically entirely possible to put also NAA on wifi...
    Signalyst - http://www.signalyst.com
    Developer of HQPlayer

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Miska View Post
    [NAS] -> ethernet/wifi -> [Surface Pro 2] -> wifi/ethernet -> [NAA]

    Although of course it is technically entirely possible to put also NAA on wifi...
    Too bad the naa did not worked to me (remember the "invisible" issue...)...
    Sure look forward to the potential of it, in the future.

  17. #17
    Sophomore Member Garf's Avatar
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    I have absolutely no problems accessing files over wifi. I use the single USB 3.0 for the external DAC. The onboard DAC is decent and can output 24/96 through headphone jack, but doesn't compare to an external DAC with this setup.
    MS Surface Pro with Windows 8.1 running jRiver MediaCenter 19, Schiit Lyr 2, Schiit Bifrost upgraded with Uber Analog and USB Gen 2, Grado SR-325is, ADAM A3x Nearfield Monitors, Grado SR-80i's, Bowers & Wilkins C5, Audinst HUD-MX1. CAPS 2.0 currently in the closet.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeJazz View Post
    Too bad the naa did not worked to me (remember the "invisible" issue...)...
    Sure look forward to the potential of it, in the future.
    Yes, sometimes networks can be challenging, especially with multicast. For example I cannot get UPnP work through AirportExpress between wifi and LAN, it works only within wifi. With another AP it works fine...
    Signalyst - http://www.signalyst.com
    Developer of HQPlayer

  19. #19
    Hi guys,
    do you think that the new generation of Bay Trail tablets will performs as well as the MS Surface does? Less cache and RAM are likely to affect the overall sound quality? The T100 in particular comes much cheaper and seems a promising device…

    I’d like to upgrade my music transport (currently using an ipod touch on a pure i-20), but I’m still not able to decide among the alternatives available.
    The convenience of an apple TV (airplay from an iphone or Synology NAS) is tempting me, but I’m not willing to sacrifice excessively sound quality (output at 48Khz is said to sound quite bad)….do you think the system in signature is sufficient to appreciate the benefits of a more serious music server like a software-optimized Surface Pro?



    Just some notes:
    - I mostly play CD ripped in flac/alac (50%) and stream from spotify (50%);


    - I’d like a solution that can be comfortably controlled from the couch (from that point of view apple solutions seems much more flexible).



    Any help would be much appreciated!
    ipod touch --> Pure i20 --> nuForce dda-100 --> VOVOX initio --> Sonus Faber Toy Bookshelf

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by ciswi View Post
    do you think that the new generation of Bay Trail tablets will performs as well as the MS Surface does? Less cache and RAM are likely to affect the overall sound quality? The T100 in particular comes much cheaper and seems a promising device…
    Atom-based tablets are in completely different category than for example Core i5 based tablets like Surface Pro.

    As long as you don't do DSP like upsampling or such, for bit perfect playback Atom should be just fine. For serious DSP I would look for something with Core -series CPU...
    Signalyst - http://www.signalyst.com
    Developer of HQPlayer

  21. #21
    Thanks Miska,
    I'm not into DPS processing (at the time being) but I plan to use the device also as an hd video player attached to my TV, so I'd like to have a little bit of power when needed.
    ipod touch --> Pure i20 --> nuForce dda-100 --> VOVOX initio --> Sonus Faber Toy Bookshelf

  22. #22
    anyone notice the price drop on surface pro 's? i got one with 128 gb ssd for $540. using this thread as reference to set it up. very promising even over wifi to nas but even better with usb hub and cheap external drive.

  23. #23
    I just bought a Chord HUGO portable USB DAC/AMP. So, I am considering a Surface PRO 2 tablet as the "source" to feed my HUGO. Expecialy since there is a 512 Gb version that will allow to avoid any sorte of network streaming: All my music will be inside the tablet !

    but... reading this thread, things finally seems much more complicated than just using a DAP with optical-out connected to my HUGO !

    for example, at the begining I read " ...I loaded jRiver Media center using WASAPI with exclusive access to the Bifrost DAC....Going back to the Sound properties in Control Panel, I selected the default format to use 24bit, 96000 Hz when running in shared mode"
    can't understand a word !!

    what are: WASAPI ? exclusive accès ? shared mode ?

    --> why aren't you JUST loading jRiver, connect a USB DAC/AMP to the tablet, and listen to music ? please explain... :-)

    thanks in advance


    PS : aside question: are you able to use JRiver without keyboard/mouse ? I tried on a 11" touch screen, and the experience, with my big fingers, were not succesfull at all ! It looks like JRiver's UI is NOT desiged at all for touchscreen ! is there a Touchscreen version or plug-in ?