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Computer Audiophile

What's the weakest link in my system?

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Long time lurker, first poster.

I seek advice/opinion from any prepared to offer it.

My system consists of:


Music Server(s):

e-Machines er1402 Net-top


Music Server Operating System:

Microsoft Windows 7 (64-bit)


Digital to Analog Converter(s):

Audiolab 8000ap (via HDMI)



Audiolab 8000ap



Musical Fidelity XAS100/Sure Electronics DIY 4X100 D class



Spendor S6 (original front ported model)



Ubranded HDMI

Van Den Hul RCA



Loudspeaker Cables:

Tellurium Q Black-front

QED silver- centre

Unbranded 19strand OFC - rears


Power Cables:Unbranded


Remote Control(s):

Philips Pronto (pretty much only used to control volume/input source on Audiolab)

wireless mouse

Android Phone/gmote (rarely if ever used)


I'm either happy with, (or working on) everything 'downstream' of the Audiolab but I'm very weak on I.T. stuff so I'd like to ask how I can maximize output from the net-top.

I'm very keen to keep most of the the functionality of the net-top.

I use it for video and audio (HDMI) hooked up to a flat screen tv.

I don't have much hi-rez music yet, but I plan to build a collection.

Shamefully, most of my listening is done via Spotify, which I use to 'explore' music, which I then buy on cd to play on my Musical Fidelity X-Ray (optical TOSlink-Audiolab).

I've discovered that despite the low rez, I really love Spotify as I love listening to stuff which is new to me.

I pay for premium spotify and have spent months building up playlists so I'm not really considering MOG as it would be a huge pain to re-create my lists (or would it?).

God I wish Spotify would offer a proper high rez option!.

Physical media holds no real attraction for me, quality and choice are everything (not necessarily in that order!).

I'm assuming that software or power supply changes are all I can do to maximise quality?.

Where should I look for replacement power supply's?.

Is it possible (and worthwhile?) to disable the wi-fi in the net-top? (I have ethernet).

I've read that windows doesn't make the best of audio, but I really can't get my head round Linux etc, so I'd like to do what I can to make the best of Windows.

I currently use (and quite like)XBMC for video, and I'm trying to get used to MediaMonkey for audio (can't say I particularly like the interface so far, but early days yet), but could I make better choices?.

Anyway, sorry for the lengthy question and thanks to anyone prepared to advise!.

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Welcome to CA :-)


How much memory does your music server carry ? I checked on the net, but I am not sure if it can have more than 2 GB ?


It will be ok, but depending on the software you will use and the resolution of the music, you could eventually aim for a little more memory capacity ?


As long as there are no hiccups and you appreciate the music you hear, everything is fine.


You mention the PSU... If you do a search about this matter, you should find a lot of food for thougts on this site :-)



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Hi Alain, thanks for the welcome and very quick reply :-)

The net-top has 2GB and I doubt that it's readily upgradeable as the box is the size of a hardback book and I'm not sure I trust myself to start prying it open.

I've spent quite a lot of time browsing the issues round power supplies but haven't found anyone selling ready made (upgrade) solutions.

If you know of a place to get a better linear (or other) power supply could you point me in the right direction?.

If anyone in the UK has found this type of thing that would be very useful to know about.

Any idea if its possible to disable the wi-fi without opening the case?

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Hi Copacetic,


I believe it should be possible to "disable" the wi-fi through the Device Manager ?

Start -> Control Panel -> Device Manager -> Network Card... At this point, you should see (under Network Card) the wireless network card. I you right-click and choose "Disable", it should do the trick. If you want to enable it, you just follow the same route :)


As for power supplies, I am not very good at this. I thought about doing something, but I finally decided to stop my search for a while. All I can say is that for my next PC I will certainly look for a fanless PSU of good quality, but I am not sure if I really want to venture in the direction of linear PSU... I know it is feasible, but I am more aware of my skills limitations than the contrary ;) Maybe your are not necessarily looking for a linear PSU, but...


Maybe someone else could help with suggestions here ? Have you googled for this ?


EDIT: I am quite sure that companies will follow the trend if there is enough demand for it... One day we should find external linear PSU like what we can find on certain hi-fi components... But the motherboards also carry a lot of electronics that would need to be addressed, otherwise it will "undo" what one is trying to achieve externally...

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Thanks Alain,

Your suggestion for disabling the wi-fi card was perfect.

There's no noticeable effect on sound quality (yet), but I plan to leave it off, as strictly speaking, I don't need wi-fi.

My power supply is an external 19V 3.45A model, and I cant help but think that it should be easier to replace with a linear supply than a conventional PC's supply.

My PC is really just a netbook or laptop without a battery or screen, perhaps I would have been better off buying one of these?.

Since I've got the net-top now though, I guess I'll just have to make the best of it.

I've been trying to find one of those external batteries used for extending/recharging iPads/laptops and the like, but finding something in 19V-3.45A is proving very difficult (and some are very expensive!).

I've also recently discovered very contradictory opinions here on CA regarding the advantages of linear supplies versus switch mode.

But I'm guessing battery is a safe bet if I can find a convenient or cheap way to achieve it.

Once I get the hardware sorted I'll also look into shutting down unnecessary software and installing a better player.

I found a (speeded up) Youtube of someone upgrading the RAM in my model to 4Gb, so I now know that's do-able, although it looks like a bit of a pain in the ass.

Apparently I could also replace the hard-drive with an SSD, but are there any real gains to be made doing that?, I can't hear the fan or drive at all already, but I do get the very occasional digital 'fart' while listening which is mildly annoying(probably due to lack of software/bloatware 'housekeeping').

I don't suppose anyone could point me in the direction of a guide/guides to trimming the 'software fat' to help me jam my fat old carcass into that audiophile bikini I've been saving up for?

Any opinions/advice on the battery approach also very welcome.

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Hi Copacetic,


As for the batteries, I had not tried that route yet so I prefer not to give advice on something I don't really have knowledge about.


As for an SSD, though it had a very fast access time and is very silent, I would suggest to take care of other things first that will cost nothing, but some time.


I can point to a few programs that could at least help you identify some potential problems when playing music or videos ?


This little application will show if your PC is under heavy load or not, allowing (or not) to play music without hiccups or digital "fart" (I like that one!).


Another program will let you know what starts at the same time as Windows. There are lots of programs that are installed and taking their share of CPU load plus memory (RAM):



I currently use this application to disable (at least temporarily) some programs that I do not use. It does not remove the program, but only prevent it from being started at the same time as Windows. One example: Adobe Reader is for reading pdf files (there are others like Foxit, smaller). Well I discovered that each time there is an update to it (automatic update), it reactivate itself in the starting pool... So I check regularly with this applicatioin and deactivate it again. You could be surprised how much programs do the same thing ! Deactivating the startup for those programs can really help your PC to be "lighter" and faster.


There is another application called "Fidelizer" that you can use:


This app will "reduce" the PC load to some extension and could be of some help. I have tried it, but since I already have a software (for music) that deactivates a lot of things on my dedicated PC, I don't have the need for it.


I would start with these first. As you will potentially see things improving, it will help you determine if you have to go further and at what pace...


I do not know what is the CPU brand and power, but if you take care of the "bloatware" that is started with Windows, it will be a good start.


There are lots of other things that can be done about the amount of programs and services running concurrently, but this can have its cost as it could lead to a less functional PC. At this point it will be up to you to choose if you want to have your PC oriented towards music and video or else.


I do have a dedicated PC (desktop) to play music. I do not use this PC for anything else. It sure has lost some functionality, but it was my choice (I have another PC for the "all purpose" things).


For the moment, this is what I would suggest. "First things first" :) As you will get a little more at ease with Windows and its complexity, you will eventually be wishing to go further.


Remember though: sometimes things can happen and your Windows could suddenly not work properly. Please take the time to "google" and check about what you intend to deactivate. It can be a marvelous voyage to hi-fi, but it can also turn into a nightmare...


At least ensure yourself to have some kind of backup for your registered software (keys and IDs), documents, emails, photos, videos and music - as needed). Do you have what is needed to reinstall your PC ? Have you done this before ?


You can PM me if you wish ?



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