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Found 43 results

  1. Customised CAPS build report

    The below was written in June 2015; I've just opened a blog here so decided to move it over to the blog. Here is a report detailing my experiences of building a customised CAPS. Hopefully this will benefit others who are thinking of also building a machine for themselves - or at least provide some entertainment Before I start I would like to thank all those that helped me on these forums, especially Hifidelit and also Larry from HDPLEX; and of course Chris for blazing the way. This project started with the demise of my last CAPS (CAPSv2) which I had purchased ready made a few years ago. For some reason a chip or 2 on the mobo fried, so I either had to replace the mobo or start a whole new build. I had been very happy with the sound of the CAPSv2, though there were one or two things that I had been thinking of improving anyway. The first thing was an issue I had been experiencing with some kind of electrical "noise" in the system. This had manifested initially in a very high pitched noise from the internal beeper (fixed with a drop of glue), and then through the VGA video output with some kind of flickering/banding effect on the monitor. No matter what I tried, I couldn't fix the video issue. So I was keen to have a clear video display and ideally with a digital output rather than VGA. The second issue was power - the CAPSv2 was never meant to be a powerful machine, though the lack of power was often noticed with things slowing down, even browsing through my music collection. So I decided to go for a new build. After doing a fair bit of reading and research, as well as getting help from these forums, I settled on the following build: Case: Streacom FC5 Evo WS There were a few reasons that I went for this case. I wanted something a bit larger than my old Origen M10 case, to give a little more flexibility inside. It was a better size on my music rack. It was a fairly solid all-aluminium case and looked pretty good too. The heat dissipation properties as reported were good - it uses a heat block over the cpu with 4 copper pipes fixed to the side of the case. The FC5 Evo is a re-designed version of the original FC5. There is now a further update called the Alpha, though the improvements were not substantial enough for me to justify the extra cost (see below). There are not many alternatives in this area; HDPLEX seems to be the main alternative, and there is A-Tech Fabrication also though these are hard to find in Europe and more expensive. What cinched it for me was a reasonably priced unused FC5 Evo that I managed to find on Ebay. Mobo: Asus Z97 Gryphon The mobo choice was probably the hardest for me, as there seems to be little information about in terms of choice for an audiophile build. The Streacom site lists a number of motherboards that are suitable, though the list looked a little outdated. The FC5 case has the benefit of accepting both mini-ITX and micro-ATX motherboards so that widened the search a bit. The Asus Z97 Gryphon ticked the boxes for me, and there are companies online (e.g. CooltechPC) that report successfully using it with the FC5 case. It's a micro-ATX board and is LGA1150 compatible. CPU: Intel Core i7 4770T This chip offers the combination of high power with a relatively low TDP (45W). It is quad-core 2.5GHz with 8MB of L3 cache, and has integrated Intel HD 4600 graphics. I know it is quite powerful for a music PC, but - I wanted to use the Roon software which is quite graphics-intensive (Roon recommend a reasonable spec), and I might also use the machine on occasion for light gaming (emulation), for which the Intel integrated HD 4600 should suffice. RAM: Fairly standard choice here I think with the Crucial 2 x 4GB DDR3 1600. SSD: I'm using the same SSD as in my CAPSv2; the OCZ Vertex 2 60GB. Power: HDPLEX linear PSU 100W (with 160W VA R-core transformer), with HDPLEX 160W DC to ATX converter. Accessories: SOTM SATA noise filter (as used on previous CAPS). 24" Asus ProArt monitor from previous build. PCIe firewire card with PCIe flexible riser card. Building the machine Here is how the build went, along with some pictures. The motherboard, boxed: The Streacom FC Evo case: The inside of the case, with the power button chip on the left and the USB3 card on the right The mobo with the armour: The mobo without the armour: Notice the heatsinks which cover the VRMs. I was a bit worried that these would interfere with the cooling pipes. The CPU in the socket: The cooling block on the CPU; heatsink is definitely in the way of the pipes: Another view: So my initial thought was to try and bend/mould the heat pipes over or around this heatsink. I got a few longer heat pipes to allow this and some pipe benders. Unfortunately, this process was a lot more difficult that I had thought. The heat pipes are quite bendable in the areas where they are straight, though at the parts where they are already bent or twisted, they are extremely difficult to bend by hand. From this pic you can see that there was a bit of bending to do, especially as the ends had to remain flush with the respective heat sinks: Ultimately, this did not go well: So, what I had to do was remove this heatsink. From what I had read online, this heatsink is not necessary and the temperatures tend to be pretty low without it on. It was fairly easy to remove with a few screws. So, with the heatsink removed, here is the mobo in the case with the heat pipes in position as a dry run: All fits quite well now. With the heatsink removed, fitting the cooling system wasn't too difficult. I applied a thin layer of thermal paste to the CPU, fitted the block (which also had thermal paste in the grooves), fitted the pipes to the block and fitted the other end of the pipes to the case (also with thermal paste between the pipes and the case blocks. With the thermal paste, cover and connecting screw in place: Another view: Now for a slight break and a fast forward. I connected the rest of the things up; the 2 RAM strips were in place, the power supply hooked up - 19V output from the HDPLEX linear PSU going to the internal DC to ATX converter with the 24-pin from the DC to ATX going to the mobo and the 4-pin to the extra CPU power slot. Power button from the case hooked up to the mobo. SOTM SATA noise filter in place and powered via 5v rail. All external connections hooked up. So with some trepidation, I prepared to fire up the system for the first time. Part of me wondered if it might not start, and.....it didn't. Damn. What happened was that one LED lit on the mobo, but nothing else; no POST, no BIOS beep, no output to the monitor, nothing. The LED that lit was the power standby LED, and it was a constant green. No other onboard LEDs lit or even flashed. This is where a fun week or two of troubleshooting began. I learnt a lot and a went through most of the basic suggestions that I came across; checking all connections, checking compatibility of the components, checking the CPU was sited properly with no bent pins, trying the RAM in the different slots, updating the BIOS, resetting the BIOS, removing all components, breadboarding, trying different video outputs etc etc. Frustratingly, nothing whatsoever made any difference. On discussion with Larry he thought it might be the DC to ATX that was fault, so sent me a replacement one...though same problem. When I spoke to PC-people about it, they all laughed at my PSU and said that 100W was far too low powered and that most machines use at least 500W and more if it's a powerful machine. I explained that it was just a music server with SSD and no video card though was still advised by a number of sources that the problem was likely the power. So, I bought a cheap 500W standard ATX power supply, and hooked it up. No difference. Damn. Looking into it further, I wondered if it was because the cable going to the PSU power slot was 4-pin though the receptor was 8-pin. I tried an adapter; no difference. I noticed that the mobo didn't seem to have any internal beeper and thought great - maybe if I connected up a beeper then I would at least get a BIOS error code. I got a beeper, connected it up and...no beep. Not even a squeak. On further discussions I was advised that the extra PSU I had tried was possibly too poor (it was only £15), so I bought a better and more powerful Corsair one to test. No difference. By this stage I thought that it must be the mobo or the CPU that was faulty, though had read that this was fairly uncommon. I returned the mobo as faulty and received a replacement, hooked it all up and....IT WORKED!! Hallelujah. At least, it booted to BIOS. So must have been a faulty mobo. I wondered if I might have damaged the first one in any way, but I didn't see any damage to it. Anyway, on with the build; all hooked up with the new mobo (with mobo heatsink removed): The DC to ATX: And ready to go: So, with everything connected including the SSD which had been freshly formatted and ready for a new Windows installation, I go for the first-time power up, planning to install Windows off a USB drive. Power on....boots to BIOS. SSD not recognised. Pooh. Turn the machine off, check the connections, power on again...same problem. Hm...why isn't the SSD being recognised by the BIOS? I'm thinking that it's probably a power issue, and hook up the external ATX power supply to the SSD, rather than the 5v rail from the HDPLEX PSU. And...BIOS sees the SSD! Great. But...something wrong with the HDPLEX linear PSU? On discussion with Larry, I checked the 5v PSU output with a multimeter, which was fine at around 5.07v, and checked the end of the molex cable (which was connected to the PSU via another adapter cable, which showed a voltage fluctuating between around 0.1 and 0.2v...so likely a problem with one of these cables. Larry sent me a replacement, I hooked it up, tested it, and...5.07v! Great. So, hooked up this cable to the SSD via the SOTM filter and fired up the machine again and...STARTS! Woohoo. So installed Windows 10 from USB flash drive (developer preview). But, during the installation process, the SSD disappeared from the BIOS again on occasion. I read up on this but couldn't find a reason. All the cables seemed to be connected properly. It only seemed to occur on restarting the system - the system never just failed, or the SSD never stopped working when the machine was running. So I figured it was something to do with the startup process. A restart of two usually fixed it. So I managed to continue on with the installation. Windows 10 installed fairly easily, and the PC was hooked up via ethernet, though the internet connection was extremely temperamental. The default homepage of Bing.com loaded each time, and the search brought results, though hardly any webpages would load. One or two would, some were very slow and then without pictures, and some just timed out. I couldn't suss this at all and wounded if it might be some bug to do with the preview. After trying a few things I decided to do a reinstall with Windows 8.1 Pro 64bit. Windows 8.1 installed OK, and I went on to install and update the necessary drivers, install a few apps and disable a few services. I installed Roon and began scanning my library...finally we are getting there - Hooked up the DAC via firewire cable, installed the DAC drivers, set the DAC in Roon...hit play and....ahhhh. Music. So the story has a happy ending. There are two outstanding issues that I am still working on. One is a slight transformer hum. On discussion with Larry (great customer service), he sent out another HDPLEX linear PSU in case there was a problem with my existing one. Same hum/buzz though. I've put the PSU on separate rubber isolation feet though same problem. You can hear it just the same if you pick up the unit. It's not loud by any means - though easily heard with the ear a foot or two away from the PSU, and once you hear it, you can continue to as you move away from the PSU. The listening position is around 12 feet away from the PSU though I can just about detect it from there. So currently I'm getting some longer cables so that I can shift the PSU into a cabinet that's next to the hifi rack. I've already tried the unit in there and I think that pretty much makes the noise undetectable from the listening spot. The second issue that I'm still working on is that the SSD still intermittently disappears from the BIOS on starting up the machine. More often that not it starts fine. I'm not sure what I'll do about this. So a work in progress, but I'm very happy with it now, with a noticeable improvement in sound on my previous setup too.
  2. SOtM sCLK-48 installation

    Need help here. I m trying to install SOtM sCLK-48 as an upgrade to my existing tX-USBexp card. My case is an HDPlex H5s (1st gen), it's very similar to the Streacom F5. My motherboard is microATX size and I have one SSD in the case. The good old CAPS v3 Zuma setup. Is there anybody out there who has accomplished this? Comments? Recommendations? Any pics?
  3. Hi everyone. I tried to find an answer to my question searching the forums but could not. I have fallen behind my hobby in the last 4.5 years and computer audio has moved on considerably. The last time I shopped around and felt like up to date, there was no Roon and no Microrendu, no HQPlayer. It was mostly about Jriver, Jplay and AO. And definitely linear power supplies. I’m willing to upgrade what I have in hand and I’m very confused. I will very much appreciate if you can help. Please do not recommend me to do years of reading. Help if you can. Digital side of my setup: 1. Dual boot Single PC CAPS V3 Zuma (Intel i7-3770T / Intel DH77EB Micro ATX / SOtM tX-USBexp / SOTM Sata filter / Streacom F5 / 128gb SSD only for OS) 2. Powered by 3 rail Paul Hynes linear power supply (Motherboard, SOTM, SSD) 3. Dual boot: a. Jriver19 on WinServer2012R2 AO1.26 Core – strictly audio b. Jriver20 on Win10 – audio, video, family, ease of use… 4. Meitner MA-1 DAC 5. Synology NAS – where all audio(/video) files are Now the hard part, I would like to upgrade my hardware to venture into more resource intensive software like Dirac and/or HQPlayer. My idea is to upgrade the CPU, motherboard and memory cards and stick with the rest (case, ssd, sotm gear and the power supply). I really need video capability, that’s why I have the dual boot currently. Does this make sense? I already have a brand new CPU in hand, i7-7700T. Can you recommend me a motherboard? Preferably microATX to stick with the former CAPS v3 design? Or am I being foolish? This route will ignore the MicroRendu trend, right? Spending all that money for new mobo, memory etc I could very well get myself a MicroRendu. Am I sacrificing too much for that friendly video capable win10 boot for family? Is there a way to have best of both worlds? Your guidance will be most appreciated.
  4. Computer Audiophile Pocket Server C.A.P.S. v4 Pipeline

    CAPS v4 Pipeline is more traditional than CAPS Cortes because it’s designed to connect directly to one’s audio system. The server has space to add in cards such as USB, AES/EBU, or S/PDIF. In addition to cards, the server has plenty of room for power products and large desktop hard drives. Pipeline offers plenty of room and power for user experimentation as opposed to the mini servers of the caps v3 ilk. I’ve been using the server in a 100% silent configuration with a linear power supply and solid state hard drive with great success. I can’t wait to see what members of the CA Community do to this server to take it beyond my standard configuration and push it to the max with tips, tricks, and tweaks.[PRBREAK][/PRBREAK] Hardware The hardware used for the Pipeline design was selected because of the great response to the powerful CAPS v3 Zuma server and because my testing proved this new hardware was not only as good as Zuma but offered much more versatility and longevity. I believe this server has awesome potential in its current form and all the directions users will take the design. I selected the Supermicro X10SLH-F motherboard ($215) mainly because of its seven year life-span, support for E3-1200 v3 family of Xeon processors and 1600MHz ECC memory, extra PCIe slots, and support for IPMI 2.0 with KVM. While designing the server I talked to one person who asked why even update the Zuma server if I don’t have any revolutionary changes. I explained my big reasons for the update and really stressed the fact that this motherboard will be available and supported for seven years. I love the fact this board has such long term support, especially because keeping up with end of life components is a pain in my neck once the CAPS servers are published. It’s also a pain in the neck for all the members of the CA Community who want to purchase or build a sever for which they can’t obtain new parts. The X10SLH-F’s support for Xeon processors was important to me because Pipeline is essentially a server for data, not multimedia. The server doesn’t need integrated video form an i7 series processor. Users should be aware that the x16 PCIe slot on this motherboard only supports x8 speeds, thus adding a video card if needed may be tricky. The Xeon processor selected, E3-1241 v3 (BX80646E31241V3) ($273), supports error correction and features quad core 3.5 GHz performance with a TDP of only 80 watts. Some Xeon processors “feature” a TDP of nearly double that of the E3-1241 v3. The low-ish TDP of 80 watts is required to use the fanless case with heatipes selected for this server. Identical to CAPS Cortes, both this CPU and this motherboard support ECC or error correcting code memory. This type of RAM detects and corrects common types of data corruption. Pipeline features 16GB of Crucial (2 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM ECC Unbuffered DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Server Memory (CT2KIT102472BD160B) ($179) Random Access Memory (RAM). The SuperMicro X10SL7-F board supports up through 32GB of RAM should one wish to increase from the specified 16GB. The X10SLH-F motherboard supports six SATA III drives and even a SATA DOM power connector. During my testing I used one Samsung 850 Pro SSD ($130) with SOtM SATA power filter ($70) and pulled music from my Cortes NAS replacement server. The reason I mention the fact that this server supports six drives, even though I only use a single drive, is because this allows additional SSD or spinning hard drives to be connected to the server internally without using the USB bus. In the past I’ve been wary of using spinning hard drives, but several other members of the CA Community have used them with great success (and less neurosis). Just as in CAPS Cortes, I recommend 6TB Seagate drives for users seeking to contain all their storage inside the Pipeline chassis. With six SATA drive ports it’s also possible to use enough SSDs to contain a user’s library given that many users, according to the CA drive space survey, have less than several Terabytes of music to store. Expansion via PCIe is also very easy with the X10SLH-F motherboard. Pipeline features 1x PCI-E 3.0 x8 (in x16), 1x PCI-E 3.0 x8, and 1x PCI-E 2.0 x4 (in x8) slot. In the single PCIe 2.0 slot I have the SOtM tX-PCIexp card ($350) for increased USB audio performance over the standard built-in USB ports. Powering this card I also recommend the HDPlex Power Supply, described below, because it’s critical to supply the cleanest power signal possible. Given the server’s direct connection to a DAC or other audio component, a dirty power signal will have negative effects on audio performance unless the audio component used features 100% isolation from the server (I.e. Are QB-9 DSD). The number of slots in the Pipeline server also allow for AES/EBU cards from companies such as Lynx or RME and for S/PDIF cards from companies such as ASUS and ESi. I searched for a way to add Thunderbolt to this server through a PCIe card, but was unable to find a card that didn’t require an on-board Thunderbolt header on the motherboard. Users that aren’t afraid of wireless interference (RFI) can use both an SOtM tX-PCIexp and an ASUS PCE-AC68 802.11ac card connect to the motherboard at the same time. Another nice feature of this server motherboard is the USB 3.0 capability. I say this not for audio playback but for backup purposes. Connecting a large USB 3.0 drive to Pipeline enables users to backup a music library and take the external drive off-site for safer storage (presumably). The last piece of the X10SLH-F motherboard that I absolutely love is the integrated Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI) 2.0 with KVM and dedicated LAN port. This interface enables the user to connect to the server via web browser and access it as if the user was physically at the server with a keyboard, monitor, and mouse. The IPMI even enables the user to connect to the server when the power is off, get into the BIOS, and restart the server if the operating system hangs. It’s a great feature for the Pipeline server because this server is likely to sit in an audio rack without any monitor attached. Case options for the Pipeline server were very limited because I wanted the server to look like an A/V component. One of the only cases that fits the size and versatility requirements is the Streacom FC10 ($330). This is a “full” size chassis without a single fan. In order to run the server fanless users must purchase the Streacom ST-HT4 CPU Cooler Riser ($30) and Streacom ST-LH4 Pipes ($25) that extend further out over the motherboard than the included heat pipes. Working on a server in this case, compared to the small CAPS cases, is akin to working on an old American automobile when there was enough room under the hood for a person to stand next to the engine. The power supply I’m using for the CAPS v4 Pipeline server is an HDPlex Linear Power Supply ($358) in combination with the HDPlex 250W Internal DC-ATX PSU ($85). Once the power hits the motherboard there isn’t much any of us can do to clean it up. However, using a linear supply for the main power and the USB card power we can effectively create a barrier of clean power around the server. The linear supply won’t feed the typical switching noise back into the power line and on to the audio components and the same linear supply feeding the USB card will make sure the direct connection to the audio system is as clean as possible. In other words, it’s like a moat of clean power surrounding the dirty PC power. The HDPlex linear supply features a 100VA R-Core transformer and ELNA audio capacitors with extremely low ripple noise of less than 3mv. This PSU also features four individual outputs on the back for 5v, 9v, 12v, and 19v power needs. I am using both the 9v for the SOtM card and the 19v for the server main power connection. This main power connection is the HDPlex 250W DC-ATX PSU. I was very happy to find this PSU because it features all the connections needed for the fairly large server sized motherboard (Supermicro X10SLH-F). Finding another DC to ATX converter than can support this board is nearly impossible. Software Like all CAPS v4 computers, Pipeline runs on Windows 8.1 Professional 64-bit. I use the professional version because I connect to the server recently with Windows’ built-in Remote Desktop capability. It works great and doesn’t require an additional third party application for remote control of the actual server. The media management and playback application I use most often on Pipeline is JRiver Media Center because of its all encompassing capabilities and its great integration with JRemote for iOS. This combination of hardware and software makes Pipeline endlessly flexible. As always, my component selections aren’t the only selections that will make a successful server. Members of the CA Community are encouraged to use Pipeline as a platform from which to experiment. Those readers seeking a complete solution should be pretty happy with Pipeline just as it’s designed. I encourage members of the community to post questions, concerns, and comments below. JRMark Score - === Running Benchmarks (please do not interrupt) === Running 'Math' benchmark... Single-threaded integer math... 3.851 seconds Single-threaded floating point math... 2.365 seconds Multi-threaded integer math... 1.165 seconds Multi-threaded mixed math... 0.805 seconds Score: 2321 Running 'Image' benchmark... Image creation / destruction... 0.301 seconds Flood filling... 0.556 seconds Direct copying... 0.847 seconds Small renders... 1.047 seconds Bilinear rendering... 0.817 seconds Bicubic rendering... 0.469 seconds Score: 5451 Running 'Database' benchmark... Create database... 0.177 seconds Populate database... 1.116 seconds Save database... 0.387 seconds Reload database... 0.097 seconds Search database... 0.808 seconds Sort database... 0.743 seconds Group database... 0.808 seconds Score: 5198 JRMark (version 20.0.44): 4323 A Note About Sponsorship Before going further I'd like to thank JRiver for sponsoring the entire CAPS v4 project. Researching and purchasing all the parts for CAPS servers takes time and money. In the past I spent over $10,000 just trying different motherboards, memory, SSDs, cases, etc… This time around I thought it would be prudent and a win-win for everybody if I obtained sponsorship for CAPS v4. I sought sponsorship from a handful of companies and before the "ink" on the email was dry JRiver stepped up to sponsor the whole project. This sponsorship enabled me to take the CAPS project further in a shorter period of time than I would have been able to on my own. The bottom line is that members of the CA Community benefitted from this sponsorship. Without this benefit to the entire Community I wouldn't have sought sponsorship. Period. Also, JRiver had no input on the design of the servers' hardware or software. Prior to contacting JRiver I had already decided what playback applications would be used for the CAPS v4 project. I also didn't let JRiver know this software decision, thus avoiding any semblance of impropriety. Again, thanks to JRiver for supporting CAPS v4 and the CA Community. Gallery [ATTACH=CONFIG]15711[/ATTACH] [ATTACH=CONFIG]15708[/ATTACH] [ATTACH=CONFIG]15715[/ATTACH] [ATTACH=CONFIG]15712[/ATTACH] [ATTACH=CONFIG]15709[/ATTACH] [ATTACH=CONFIG]15706[/ATTACH] [ATTACH=CONFIG]15713[/ATTACH] [ATTACH=CONFIG]15710[/ATTACH] [ATTACH=CONFIG]15707[/ATTACH] [ATTACH=CONFIG]15714[/ATTACH] [ATTACH=CONFIG]15718[/ATTACH] [ATTACH=CONFIG]15719[/ATTACH] [ATTACH=CONFIG]15716[/ATTACH] [ATTACH=CONFIG]15720[/ATTACH] [ATTACH=CONFIG]15717[/ATTACH] Links Motherboard: Supermicro X10SLH-F Case: Streacom FC10 CPU: Intel Xeon E3-1241 v3 (BX80646E31241V3) RAM: Crucial (2 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM ECC Unbuffered DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Server Memory (CT2KIT102472BD160B) SSD: Samsung 850 Pro 128GB 2.5-Inch SATA III Internal SSD (MZ-7KE128BW) HDD: Seagate Desktop HDD 6TB 6Gb/s 128MB Cache 3.5-Inch HDD (STBD6000100) PSU: HDPlex Linear Power Supply in combination with the HDPlex 250W Internal DC-ATX PSU Music App: JRiver Media Center USB Card: SOtM tX-PCIexp SATA Filter: SOtM SATA power filter
  5. CAPS v4 Maroubra and Bundoran

    This is the final installment of the CAPS v4 series! It will cover both the Maroubra and Bundoran servers because they are very closely related. This is the first time a CAPS design has been based on an Intel NUC. Part of me feels bad because there isn’t much to “design” when using the NUC platform, but I am more excited than anything because there is a lot of user demand of NUC based servers. For readers unfamiliar with the Intel NUC, it’s a very small motherboard with the CPU soldered to the board. It’s one of the platforms Intel has decided to keep supporting, unlike its traditional motherboard business. Anyway, the main purpose for NUC based CAPS servers is size. These servers will fit into almost any component rack or fit nicely hidden behind a DAC. There isn’t much hardware experimentation to be done when using a NUC, but I believe I’ve found a couple ways to make these last two designs a bit more audiophile than a standard off-the-shelf server. The Maroubra and Bundoran servers aren’t for everyone, especially those who like to try different things and tweak their systems a bit. These servers are simple solutions that don’t cost an arm and a leg and fit nicely into any existing audio system. I hope readers don’t see this installment of CAPS v4 as anticlimactic but rather something offering two sensible solutions for specific members of the CA Community.[PRBREAK][/PRBREAK] CAPS v4 Maroubra This NUC server is based on the Intel NUC Kit D54250WYKH ($379). The board holds a 1.3 GHz Core i5 processor, four USB 3.0 ports, and a SATA connection to power the custom USB audio card or in the case of the Bundoran server an extra hard drive if needed. The motherboard supports up to 16 GB of 1.35v DDR3L memory. Users must be very careful selecting memory because this board will not support standard 1.5v DDR3 memory. For this build I selected G.Skill Ripjaws Series Laptop Memory F3-1600C9D-16GRSL ($162). A surprising amount of people have less than one terabyte of music stored on their local hard drive. This is another reason the NUC is a great platform. The board doesn’t have endless SATA HDD ports like many full size boards, but it does support a single mSATA SSD. The mSATA drive I selected for this server is the 1TB SAMSUNG 840 EVO MZ-MTE1T0BW ($450). The Maroubra server features a custom USB audio card from SOtM, similar to the SOtM cards many members of the CA Community already use. What’s special about this card is it’s powered via internal SATA power connection or an external source. This USB card is also shaped specifically to fit side-by-side with the motherboard in an ML320 fanless case from Logic Supply. However, a custom rear panel is required. Small Green Computer will be handling all the CAPS v4 Maroubra orders for people interested in this custom USB card / case / rear panel. Price to be determined. The Intel NUC Kit D54250WYKH comes with a very standard switch mode power supply. I haven’t specified a separate power supply for this server, but I am certain many of those already available will work just fine. The server requires 65W / 19V / 3.42A / socket C6 (barrel output connector has 2.5mm internal diameter and 5.5mm external diameter). There’s not much else to say about this server because there’s not much one can do to customize it. I envision this server for cost-conscious computer audiophiles seeking a small server with clean USB audio output and either a small local library of music or a larger NAS based collection. This isn’t a server for tweak geeks :~) CAPS v4 Bundoran This server is almost identical to Maroubra with the exception of an optional hard drive and a different USB audio solution. This server is for computer audiophiles with less than 2TB of music who either A) don’t need USB power to their DACs (i.e. Are QB-9 DSD) or B) want to experiment with different external USB power conditioning rather than the internal SOtM card. What’s different from Maroubra? In addition to the 1TB mSATA SSD users can select any size 2.5” SSD or HDD. I prefer the Samsung 1TB Evo SSD. This will provide the user with 2TB of space for music. In the Bundoran the SOtM card is replaced with this 2.5” hard drive. Thus, users seeking USB power conditioning must look for an external solution. I’ve been using the Teddy Pardo TeddyUSB PSU for USB powered equipment ($399) with great success. The TeddyUSB accepts USB input from the server and outputs the USB audio stream with a clean linear based 5V signal, stripping away the dirty USB power from the server. The standard Logic Supply ML320 ($139) case is all that's required for this model. No special rear panel. Software Like all CAPS v4 computers, Pipeline runs on Windows 8.1 Professional 64-bit. I use the professional version because I connect to the server recently with Windows’ built-in Remote Desktop capability. It works great and doesn’t require an additional third party application for remote control of the actual server. The media management and playback application I use most often on Pipeline is JRiver Media Center because of its all encompassing capabilities and its great integration with JRemote for iOS. Wrap-up Due to the simplicity of these servers, I'm sure I missed a thing or two in the explanation. Please let me know what questions you have in the comments below. Note: The newer 5th generation NUC servers are available, but I don't believe there are any fanless cases available for them just yet. Thus, the 4th generation specified here is still recommended. A Note About Sponsorship Before going further I'd like to thank JRiver for sponsoring the entire CAPS v4 project. Researching and purchasing all the parts for CAPS servers takes time and money. In the past I spent over $10,000 just trying different motherboards, memory, SSDs, cases, etc… This time around I thought it would be prudent and a win-win for everybody if I obtained sponsorship for CAPS v4. I sought sponsorship from a handful of companies and before the "ink" on the email was dry JRiver stepped up to sponsor the whole project. This sponsorship enabled me to take the CAPS project further in a shorter period of time than I would have been able to on my own. The bottom line is that members of the CA Community benefitted from this sponsorship. Without this benefit to the entire Community I wouldn't have sought sponsorship. Period. Also, JRiver had no input on the design of the servers' hardware or software. Prior to contacting JRiver I had already decided what playback applications would be used for the CAPS v4 project. I also didn't let JRiver know this software decision, thus avoiding any semblance of impropriety. Again, thanks to JRiver for supporting CAPS v4 and the CA Community.
  6. Article: CAPS v4 Maroubra and Bundoran

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  7. Computer Audiophile Pocket Server C.A.P.S. v4 Cortes

    CAPS v4 Cortes is like no other CAPS server to date. The server isn’t designed to connect directly to an audio system via USB or AES/EBU. Cortes is a server in the truest sense of the word. It’s designed to serve music to a single zone or to multiple zones over Ethernet, be a workhorse for all types of file operations such as format conversion or resampling, run network diagnostic tools if needed, and be the most flexible music server in the CAPS stable of designs. Cortes is a Network Attached Storage (NAS) replacement. The impetus to design a NAS replacement such as Cortes came from computer audiophiles' changing playback methods with the addition of many more network based players, and my own desire for a more flexible server that enabled me to install almost any piece of software available. Running several network based audio players in my system lead me to realize they are all different and function best with their own special software configurations. One DLNA renderer may work best with MinimServer and another may function best with JRiver Media Center. Using a traditional NAS limited my options to A) Installing MinimServer by jumping through a ring of fire while wearing a gasoline soaked suit (NAS units without the MinimServer package require a difficult installation), B) Using the built-in NAS DLNA media server application that likely doesn’t support gapless playback, DoP over Ethernet, any has terrible library browsing capabilities, or C) Install JRiver Media Center on a PC and map a drive from the PC to the NAS to serve up the music stored on the NAS. There are other scenarios and possible installation configurations, but this description should get my point across. As much as NAS vendors would like their products to appear as solutions for all media storage needs, NAS drives have serious limitations that can be overcome with a different solution. Thus, I designed Cortes. Cortes, just like any other computer isn’t perfect and suffers from it’s own limitations. For example, the Windows operating system is often seen as unstable, buggy, and less secure than its competitors. Fortunately, I’ve been running a Cortes server for months and haven’t run into any of the commonly perceived issues associated with the operating system. Windows can be a surprisingly stable OS when used as a network server setup like Cortes. Another limitation of the Windows OS is the requirement for more powerful hardware than a typical Linux based NAS. I like to flip this around to suggest that users of Cortes will actually prefer the increased horsepower as opposed to traditional NAS drives with ARM or Atom based processors and less memory than the new iPhone 6. This added horsepower may seem like a waste of resources if all the server does is share music over Ethernet. If that’s all this server did I would agree the horsepower is unneeded. However, over the course of the last decade I’ve used my NAS drives to do much more than serve music. For example, creating 24 bit / 176.4 kHz PCM versions of all my DSD material required me to use JRiver Media Center running on my PC to pull the files over the network, convert the DSD to PCM, and copy the files back to the NAS. This is so inefficient and time consuming. Using a Cortes server the DSD and PCM music remains on the same drive on the local PC. This uses the power of the Cortes CPU, the greater RAM capacity, the faster hard drives, and the blazing fast hardware RAID controller. Another area where Cortes’ added horsepower is terrific is analyzing a music library and making mass changes to metadata. Using Cortes and JRiver I selected my entire 50,000+ track library and instructed JRiver to analyze the dynamic range on every track. Sure the entire process took a while, but there’s no way I would have even attempted this using a traditional NAS system. I also like to include a bit more information in the title of my albums than the simple album name. This enables me to determine if I’m selecting the PCM, DSD, high resolution, or a specific master of an album before even tapping it on my iPad. Once I had my entire DSD library in a high resolution PCM format (I also kept the original DSD content) I selected all the new tracks and had JRiver Media Center append the suffix “PCM from DSD” to every track’s album title. Using all the Cortes horsepower the whole process was done in the blink of an eye. The flexibility to install nearly any application on the Cortes server can’t be overestimated. This is great for both consumers and application developers. For example, MinimServer currently has 18 different versions available for installation. The need for all these versions stems from different software and hardware requirements of NAS units and desktop computers. Even with 18 versions there are NAS units such as those from Thecus that MinimServer doesn’t support. Software and hardware fragmentation is a problem that hurts everybody. I've been running my Cortes server for months with JRMC, MinimServer, Devialet AIR, TIDAL, Sonos, Logitech Media Server, Twonky, and UPnP Tools without a single issue. Not only are these applications installed and running, but the installation and configuration of them was simple. Cortes makes NAS software configuration seem quite archaic. Running JRiver Media Center on Cortes not only enables use of all its UPnP/DLNA capabilities, but also enables the user to manage his library with ease. Too many people think that switching to a network based player will relieve them of the need for a computer because the music will flow form a NAS. However, without a good music management application such as JRMC the user is stuck with bad metadata or possibly no metadata. Plus, there’s nothing better than running JRMC on the actual computer that stores the music, i.e. Cortes. In addition to music related applications I recommend installing apps like Developer Tools for UPnP. Included in this suite of tools is a program called Device Spy. This program lists every UPnP device on one’s network and is capable of probing all the devices and listing their capabilities. This app is very helpful if one is having issues with a UPnP server, renderer, or control point. During Cortes testing I had an issue where the server couldn’t find all the renderers on my network. i was unsure if this was an issue with JRiver Media Center or the renderer or something else entirely. I opened Device Spy and saw the same issues that I saw through JRMC. This enabled me to rule out JRMC and focus more on the server itself. I made several configuration changes, each time using Device Spy to rescan my network. The problem was related to bonding two network cards into one large aggregated virtual device. Once I disabled link aggregation, Device Spy listed all the UPnP devices immediately. The Cortes motherboard, a SuperMicro X10SL7-F ($243), is much more of a server class component with a longer life span than previous CAPS servers and popular desktop computers. This board has many great features that suit a NAS replacement perfectly. The X10SL7-F supports Intel® Xeon® E3-1200 v3 processors that are much more geared toward data crunching than the Core i7 series of CPUs that have integrated video for multimedia playback. Thus, I selected the Intel Xeon E3-1241 v3 (BX80646E31241V3) ($273) as the Central Processing Unit (CPU) for Cortes. Both this CPU and the motherboard also support ECC or error correcting code memory. This type of RAM detects and corrects common types of data corruption. Cortes features 16GB of Crucial (2 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM ECC Unbuffered DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Server Memory (CT2KIT102472BD160B) ($358) Random Access Memory (RAM). The SuperMicro X10SL7-F board supports up through 32GB of RAM should one wish to increase from the specified 16GB. The board also features Dual Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports via Intel i210AT. These port support link aggregation to increase throughput to 2GB full duplex if needed, although I experienced some DLNA related issues when enabling this NIC bonding feature. Storage options on the X10SL7-F board are perfect for a NAS replacement. The board offers 2x SATA (6Gbps), 4x SATA (3Gbps), and 8x SAS2 (6Gbps) via LSI 2308 hardware RAID controller. Such a configuration enables the OS to reside on a 6Gbps SSD on one, more average, controller and all the music data to reside on the LSI 2308 server class hardware controller. The Cortes server features a single Samsung 850 Pro 128GB 2.5-Inch SATA III Internal SSD (MZ-7KE128BW) SSD ($130) for the operating system and two Seagate Desktop HDD 6TB 6Gb/s 128MB Cache 3.5-Inch HDD (STBD6000100) ($300 ea.) for the music. The 6TB drives are configured as a RAID1 / mirroring set. Thus, if one drive fails no data is lost and no backup needs to be restored. A new drive must be put in place, but no further configuration or data restoration is required. Should one wish to backup his music inside the same chassis it’s possible to install up to four hard drives on the 3Gbps controller enabling a fairly quick and easy data backup. There are more secure ways to backup, but this way is pretty easy and even recommended more than the unbacked up method most people use. Another fairly good method of backup with the Cortes server is an external drive via the X10SL7-F’s USB 3.0 ports. The last piece of the X10SL7-F motherboard that I absolutely love is the integrated Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI) 2.0 with KVM and dedicated LAN port. This interface enables the user to connect to the server via web browser and access it as if the user was physically at the server with a keyboard, monitor, and mouse. The IPMI even enables the user to connect to the server when the power is off, get into the BIOS, and restart the server if the operating system hangs. It’s a great feature for the Cortes server because this server is likely to sit in a back room somewhere out of easy reach. My Cortes server resides in another room and without any keyboard, monitor, or mouse connected. The computer case I selected is the Corsair Graphite Series 600T ($160). During my research phase I tried smaller cases, but always had issues squeezing the components into the case. I found no purpose for using the smaller cases and settled on this mid-sized Corsair case that’s very easy to populate and looks half-way decent in person. The power supply I selected is the Corsair Professional Series 760 Watt Digital ATX/EPS Modular 80 PLUS Platinum AX760i ($185). It’s my current belief that the power supply of a network server has no baring on sound quality of a network based music player unless the PSU is feeding garbage back into the power line that isn’t isolated form the audio components. I like the Corsair AX760i because of its DSP controlled monitoring and performance. This PSU makes on-the-fly adjustments for tight voltage regulation, 80 PLUS Platinum efficiency, and stable power. One additional component I added to the design is a Corsair Hydro Series Extreme Performance Liquid CPU Cooler H80i ($86). I like these coolers because, like the PSU, they enabled performance monitoring and adjustments via an application. The H80i is liquid cooled, fan-assisted, but never needs any maintenance associated with other liquid cooling solutions. Like all CAPS v4 computers, Cortes runs on Windows 8.1 Professional 64-bit. I use the professional version because I connect to the server recently with Windows’ built-in Remote Desktop capability. It works great and doesn’t require an additional third party application for remote control of the actual server. The UPnP server I use most often on Cortes is JRiver Media Center because of its all encompassing capabilities and its great integration with JRemote for iOS. This combination of hardware and software make Cortes as stable as a Linux based NAS, but endlessly more flexible. As always, my component selections aren’t the only selections that will make a successful server. Members of the CA Community are encouraged to use Cortes as a platform from which to experiment. Users not needing 6TB of drive space can obviously scale back on the cost of hard drives. Please be careful when purchasing memory, as I went through a couple different memory models that made the server un-bootable. Those readers seeking a complete solution should be pretty happy with Cortes just as it’s designed. I encourage members of the community to post questions, concerns, and comments below. A Note About Sponsorship Before going further I'd like to thank JRiver for sponsoring the entire CAPS v4 project. Researching and purchasing all the parts for CAPS servers takes time and money. In the past I spent over $10,000 just trying different motherboards, memory, SSDs, cases, etc… This time around I thought it would be prudent and a win-win for everybody if I obtained sponsorship for CAPS v4. I sought sponsorship from a handful of companies and before the "ink" on the email was dry JRiver stepped up to sponsor the whole project. This sponsorship enabled me to take the CAPS project further in a shorter period of time than I would have been able to on my own. The bottom line is that members of the CA Community benefitted from this sponsorship. Without this benefit to the entire Community I wouldn't have sought sponsorship. Period. Also, JRiver had no input on the design of the servers' hardware or software. Prior to contacting JRiver I had already decided what playback applications would be used for the CAPS v4 project. I also didn't let JRiver know this software decision, thus avoiding any semblance of impropriety. Again, thanks to JRiver for supporting CAPS v4 and the CA Community. Links Motherboard: SuperMicro X10SL7-F Case: Corsair Graphite Series 600T CPU: Intel Xeon E3-1241 v3 (BX80646E31241V3) RAM: Crucial (2 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM ECC Unbuffered DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Server Memory (CT2KIT102472BD160B) SSD: Samsung 850 Pro 128GB 2.5-Inch SATA III Internal SSD (MZ-7KE128BW) HDD: Seagate Desktop HDD 6TB 6Gb/s 128MB Cache 3.5-Inch HDD (STBD6000100) PSU: Corsair Professional Series 760 Watt Digital ATX/EPS Modular 80 PLUS Platinum AX760i CPU Cooler: Corsair Hydro Series Extreme Performance Liquid CPU Cooler H80i Tools: UPnP Developer Tools Music App: JRiver Media Center
  8. Hello, I'm considering two Roon/Tidal setups: 1. C.A.P.S Pipeline, as headless Roon core/output, Ipad controlled. Linux (Roon recommendation) or Win (Intelligent Platform Management Interface) or 2. Small PC as Roon core (e.g. Mac mini, Intel NUC) + Auralic Aries as Roon output, Ipad controlled. As I currently see it: Pro 1. Versatility, easier to repair in case of hardware failure, hardware upgradable, can be reused for other PC duties if replaced, one unit, can use HQPlayer (if I ever find out what to use this for) . 2. Optimized hardware, optimized software (upgradeable firmware), no unnecessary (noisy) hardware, has a remote for basic operations (e.g. skipping songs). Con 1. OS hassle/maintenance, not optimized entirely for hifi. 2. If hardware fails it is probably a complete unit loss, not exactly pretty, two units. If you have any comments/recommendations, I would appreciate them. What would you do? Martin
  9. I have no experience building PC's and have been looking for a ready built fanless computer along the lines of the CAPS series. After reading countless forums on the the subject I know I am not alone. My research has come across this unit from Atlast Solutions in an attractive case that includes a single PCI-e slot for your audio specific USB card. Fanless cpu cooler with heat pipes, core i5 processor, 8gb RAM and Samsung 120 GB SSD for $716 ex VAT. I would really like to know what CA community thinks of this unit.The price and overall package seems like the best I can find out there in a ready made unit. Ultimate Fanless PC, Core i5, Dual DVB-T2 Tuner, 8GB, 120GB SSD [ASUS Q87T] - Atlast! Solutions
  10. I have been reading this websites forum postings for over a year. What a great site. This is my first post. I currenctly use a low end PC to stream music to my system and I am tired of the background noise it puts out. I am ready to jump to a fanless PC. I have read the CAPS forums extensively and want to assemble my own server. I currently own the Elfidelity USB card which I would like to continue using for now with the intention of upgrading later. I would like to ask the community if anyone has found a fanless unit with a PCI-E slot that is capable of solid streaming and rendering. The closest candidate I have found is this unit from Shuttle on Amazon. [h=1]Shuttle XPC SH170R6 SFF Intel Skylake H170 Chipset LGA1151 i3/i5/i7/Pentium, Support 4K HD Video, Dual-channel DDR4 Max 64GB[/h] http://www.amazon.com/Shuttle-SH170R6-Skylake-Chipset-Dual-channel/dp/B016B6B6GI/ref=sr_1_3?s=pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1453675592&sr=1-3&keywords=shuttle+pc While the CPU has a heat pipe cooling mechanism the power supply has a fan. Of course the power supply could be replaced with a Teradac power supply. Has anyone found a better candidate with a PCI-E slot. I would like to keep this project under $700 [h=1][/h] Thank you for any input you can share.
  11. I though I would get in on all the good deals this week and offer CA readers a discount on the CAPS. The high end Pipeline CAPS Pipeline And my best selling CAPS, the Micro ZUMA. CAPS Micro ZUMA The coupon code is BF123 This will save you $100 on either of these two products. The coupon code is valid from now until Monday (Cyber Monday) 11/30/2015. I also want to offer CA reader $50 off our new microJukebox. This automatically rips CDs and serves the files to any player. It will support Roon Server and player in a few weeks. If you order it now the Roon icon will show up when it's available. http://microjukebox.com/products/micro-jukebox The coupon code is BFCA503 This will save you $50 on the microJukebox The coupon code is valid from now until Monday.
  12. Computer Audiophile Pocket Server C.A.P.S. v3 Carbon

    CAPS v3 Carbon is the third of four v3 designs to be published and the last derivative design from v3 servers Topanga and Lagoon. The Carbon design is different form previous designs in several ways such as a more stylish case similar to an audio component, unique external storage expansion options, and a SATA filter. Carbon also provides endless opportunities for creativity inside the spacious chassis for items like batteries, power supplies, hard drives, and even a UPS. I believe the Computer Audiophile Community will have some very creative ideas for using the extra space inside this chassis. Carbon is my favorite CAPS design thus far and it's the one I use every day. I power the server and SOtM USB card with an optional Red Wine Audio Black Lightning battery supply. The sound quality from the CAPS v3 Carbon server is equal to or better than the best servers I've heard in recent memory.[PRBREAK][/PRBREAK] For an introduction to the CAPS v3 server designs please read the article linked here . To read about the entry level CAPS v3 Topanga design please read the article linked here . To read about the CAPS v3 Lagoon design please read the article linked here . Hardware Motherboard - Intel DN2800MT Marshalltown Mini-ITX Note: This is the same motherboard used in the Topanga and Lagoon designs. Some of the information below is repeated from the articles about those servers. This motherboard is the successor to the board used in CAPS v1. After comparing nearly all available motherboards and considering the CAPS requirements the DN2800MT was the last board standing. This motherboard has a lot going for it including low power, low profile, no fan, and external DC power input among other items. I'm a firm believer in using as little power as possible, within reason, to accomplish a task. The key is finding a balance between low power and features. The DN2800MT has a Thermal Design Power (TDP) of only 8 watts. CAPS v1 had a TDP of 11.8 while CAPS v2 had a TDP of 13 watts. TDP is the maximum amount of power the computer's cooling system is required to dissipate. Many CPUs today have a TDP around 65 watts and can range from 17 watts for mobile CPUs to 130 watts for a powerful desktop CPU. Keep in mind that's only the CPU, not the CPU / motherboard combination like the Intel DN2800MT. The DN2800MT features a 1.86 GHz dual core Atom N2800 CPU (6.5 watt TDP). This processor has plenty of power for most music servers designed to output bit perfect audio. Using room correction or an add-on application like JPlay will likely require a much faster processor. A newer feature to the CAPS servers is the mSATA slot. Versions 1 and 2 were designed before any motherboard featured this technology. Traditional boards have standard SATA I/II/III ports that connect a spinning hard drive or solid state drive to the board via a SATA cable. mSATA drives are much more like computer memory in size and appearance. These drives are solid state and fit directly into the motherboard without any cables. Even though the DN2800MT board has mSATA capability the Carbon design doesn't use this slot. The server is still very easy to build but absolute simplicity was outweighed by the desire for a lower power SSD that requires internal power and SATA cables. Even better use of the mSATA slot is turning it into an ExpressCard 34 slot to expand storage options for larger music libraries. More on this below. The DN2800MT will likely be in production until the end of 2014. After that availability will be curtailed but readers should be able to find them online if needed. I prefer to use motherboards with extended life cycles when possible. This specific board isn't listed as part of Intel's Extended Life Program, but two years of remaining production and limited availability after that should get us to the next CAPS design. A frequent request from CA readers is an HDMI port on the CAPS servers. The DN280MT offers both HDMI and old school analog VGA ports. The onboard graphics are nothing to treasure but should be fine for displaying one's music library via JRiver Media Center. I haven't tried video playback as that is outside the scope of the CAPS designs. This is one area the CA community can help each other by testing video playback and reporting successes or failures. This motherboard features both standard and high current USB 2.0 ports. Lack of built-in USB 3.0 ports may be disappointing to some, but I don't think it's a showstopper. When connecting a USB DAC to the Carbon server readers should avoid using USB hard drives due to how the USB protocol operates. This issue may be alleviated some by separating the PCIe SOtM USB 3.0 card and built-in USB 2.0 bus lanes and controllers but that doesn't change the USB protocol. USB relies on a host processor to manage the low level protocol. This can load the host CPU with interrupts and buffer copies. This raises the question of how should users store their music collections if the internal hard drive is too small? My recommendation for the Carbon design differs from Topanga and Lagoon in that Carbon is much more flexible for both internal and external storage. Carbon users should consider Network Attached Storage (NAS), Internal SSD, External eSATA, and FireWire hard drive options. I use a Network Attached Storage (NAS) drive for nearly all my listening. My over 4,000 album music collection is stored on the network and accessible to any network attached device in my house. On the Carbon server a mapped drive such as M: is pointed to the NAS and JRiver is configured to watch the M: drive for library changes. CAPS v3 Carbon has plenty of room for internal solid state disks. Even the larger 3.5" SSDs will fit easily into the Carbon chassis. The motherboard is limited to two SATA ports. Depending on the size of one's collection this may be just fine. Or, readers can "stick it to the Man " and put in a spinning had drive capable of holding several terabytes. That would stray from the CAPS requirements, but if it's your server you only need to please yourself. The most unique storage options for the Carbon design involve turning the mSATA slot into an ExpressCard 34 slot. The Intel DN2800MT board was designed with this in mind as evidenced by the horizontal slot in its backplate or I/O shield. Installing an ExpressCard to mini-PCIe adapter is as simple as installing an mSATA card. It requires two screws and about 00:30 seconds. Once the adapter is in place virtually any ExpressCard 34 can be used in this slot. In my testing I used both an eSATA and FireWire 800 ExpressCards. Both cards worked perfect under Windows 8 without installing any drivers. Windows 8 has everything built-in to support these cards. I'm sure many other cards will work fine, but I only recommend the cards I've tested. In my research I found several cards for both interfaces that cause nothing but problems. I selected the cards that I thought were best for the CAPS design considering computer audiophiles want to listen to music rather than mess with a flakey ExpressCard. The FireWire card features two FW800 ports and a power port. If a FireWire drive requires more power than the card can deliver users may need to connect a small PSU. My guess is most people won't use the power option because larger hard drives often ship with power supplies. Depending on the power draw of the FW800 drive Red Wine Audio may be able to accommodate users with a third power lead from the Black Lightning to the FireWire ExpressCard. Note: Logic Supply has no plans to include the small horizontal opening in the backplate used for the Lagoon server. Note: I haven't tested the FireWire ExpressCard with a FireWire DAC. Readers may notice I don't connect the front panel USB ports to an internal USB header. The reasons for this are twofold. One I wouldn't use these ports for anything even if I only had one USB device. Two leaving these ports unconnected removes an internal cable from the PC design. Tidiness is important to me even on the inside of a computer where nobody looks. The Carbon PC case has USB 3.0 ports on the front but the Intel DN2800MT board doesn't feature any USB 3.0 headers to support SuperSpeed. The ports can be used at USB 2.0 speed if desired by connecting to a USB 2.0 header on the board. Click to enlarge <iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/xwU74_MIGjY" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> Click to enlarge * * * * * Storage - Samsung 840 Pro Series 2.5" 64GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (MZ-7PD064BW) I selected the Samsung 840 Pro series of drives for three main reasons. 1. I've used the Samsung 830 Series of SSDs for awhile and have been thrilled with the performance and stability. The 830 Series was selected as the top SSD drive on many "Best Of" lists over the last year and I agree with its selection. The new 840 Series appears to improve upon the 830 designs and I expect nothing less from these drives. In the CAPS v3 servers the 840 Pro Series works terrific. 2. Low power consumption. According to Samsung the 840 Pro Series consumes 0.068W active and 0.042W idle. The 830 Series consumes a "wapping" 0.24W active and 0.14W idle. This low power consumption is critical when using the enhanced power supply discussed below. 3. End of life for the Samsung 840 Pro Series is as far off as possible with solid state drives. The 840 Pro Series was just released in October 2012. Hopefully these drives will be available for the life of the CAPS v3 designs as opposed to the CAPS v2 SSD that disappeared too quickly from store shelves. The 840 Series comes in both Pro and non-Pro versions. I selected the Pro version mainly because it's an MLC drive as opposed to the new TLC based non-Pro drive. Solid state drives are available in Single Level Cell (SLC), Multi Level Cell (MLC), and Triple Level Cell (TLC) NAND flash memory. SLC drives are enterprise class performers with the highest cost per gigabyte. The number of SLC drives available int he consumer market has dwindled quickly over the last few years. MLC drives are currently in the sweet spot between cost and performance. TLC drives are new to the consumer market. Samsung is the first manufacturer to release a TLC based drive in its 840 non-Pro Series. TLC drives can be much slower than MLC and SLC drives. Samsung indicated the 840 Series TLC drives are roughly 50% slower than the Pro models. In addition to the performance hit by using TLC NAND the TLC drives suffer greatly in endurance compared to the other SSD options as well as increasing program, erase, and read latency. In the future TLC drives will likely equal MLC performance as the technology is used and refined. Currently I wouldn't use a TLC drive for a CAPS server or every day computer. The Samsung 840 Pro Series comes in 64, 128, 256, and 512GB sizes. The 64GB is specified for the CAPS v3 Carbon but its availability is limited as of this writing. Given it's a new drive this should only improve. In the Carbon photos readers will notice I'm using the 128GB version as it's the smallest Pro Series drive I could purchase in October. The 840 Pro Series has a Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) of 1,500,000 hours, 500K less than the Mushkin mSATA drive used in the Topanga design. 840 Pro drives support trim like most solid state drives. Trim is a command run by the operating system that identifies unused blocks of data the drive can delete. This helps avoid severe performance degradation down the road. The specifications of the 840 Pro drives with 256 MB of Samsung DDR2 SDRAM cache memory and Samsung's 4th-generation 3-Core MDX Controller are very good at 97K IOPS (Random Read Speeds) and 530 MB/s / 390 MB/s (Sequential Read/Write Speeds). The speed of sequential writes increases to 520 MB/s on the 256 and 512GB drives. Astute readers will probably wonder why I selected a drive with SATA III 6 Gb/sec speed even though the motherboard only supports SATA II at 3 Gb/sec. The number of SATA II drive available is diminishing by the second and selecting a drive solely because its maximum speed is equivalent to the current motherboard's maximum speed would be a mistake. The 840 Pro Series can also be used in the future paired with a SATA III 6 Gb/sec capable motherboard and operate at its full potential. Random Access Memory (RAM) - Mushkin Enhanced Essentials 4 GB (991644) I suspect the main item readers will want to know about the memory selection is why 4GB rather than the brand and specific modules. I'll get the later out of the way first. I selected the Mushkin memory because it's readily available, has worked very well for me, and meets the RAM requirements of DDR3 800/1066 SO-DIMM. One additional item in this category is my selection of a single 4GB module rather than two 2GB modules. I did this because the modules are 1.5v each. Doubling the power requirement for the same amount of memory doesn't make sense. Also, I could not locate readily available RAM modules with low voltage of 1.35v. Thus, a single 1.5v module was selected. Why 4GB when many readers are using 8, 12, and 16GB? According to Intel the DN2800MT motherboard only supports up to 4GB of RAM. I know a few readers have placed more memory on this board successfully, but for this music server I don't know if the pros outweigh the cons. My hunch is that 4GB is plenty of RAM in Carbon. Related to the selection of 4GB of RAM is the fact that Intel's Cedar Trail platform (DN2800MT) doesn't support 64-bit or DirectX 10.1 Graphics Drivers. A major benefit of 64-bit is the capability to use more than 4GB of memory. Without full 64-bit software support Carbon runs on a 32-bit operating system. The maximum amount of memory in this 32-bit OS is 4GB. Power Supply - Seasonic SSA-0601D-12 Selecting a power supply for the CAPS v3 Carbon server involved a bit of research into the energy efficiency standards and finding a balance between efficiency, quality, and cost. I have no doubt a music server's power supply can have a great impact on a high end audio system. I'll detail my findings and recommend a terrific but not inexpensive PSU upgrade below. The Carbon server doesn't require a lot of power. Thus I selected a readily available 60 watt PSU. In my tests this server maxed out at below 25 watts! The Seasonic SSA-0601D-12 is a 12v 5A DC adapter with reduced idle power draw. It complies with Energy Star 2.0, CEC level V the highest level currently in use (>87% efficiency), and Eup Lot 7. I've used this supply for months without any issues and highly recommend it to CA readers. PC Case - Wesena e4 v3 CAPS v3 Carbon was designed with a different case than Topanga, Lagoon, and the soon to be released Zuma designs. The Wesena e4 v3 case comes in both black and silver and may be purchased with a physical disc drive slot should readers want to rip CDs. The The small panel on the front bottom right opens for access to two USB ports. The top of the case can be removed without any tools using the small flippers in the back to prop up the top. I really like the tool-less design. The case ships with two or four fans but they can easily be removed with a screw driver or disabled by simply not connecting them to the motherboard. I have a few reasons for selecting the Wesena e4 v3 case. Most important this case enables the server to meet all the CAPS requirements. There are hundreds if not thousands of PC cases that could have fit the bill for CAPS v3 Carbon. Most of them are hideous looking. Based on appearance it's easy to rule out 99% of the cases available. I really like the look of the Wesena e4 v3 as it's wide like the audio components in many readers' equipment racks and has a really nice finish to the metal. The case is very low profile only allowing 2.25" in height for internal components. The biggest issue to work around when selecting a case was the ability to use both the SOtM USB PCIe card and the mSATA slot with ExpressCard 34 adapter. The Logic Supply MC500 case only allows use of the SOtM USB card with the specially designed backplate. This backplate doesn't feature the horizontal opening for ExpressCards to be placed into the adapter. Thus using one or the other was a show-stopping limitation. The Carbon design requires a breathable case with room for PCI/PCIe expansion away form the motherboard or perpendicular to the motherboard. I mention breathable case because some fanless designs feature a PCIe expansion port but force the use of heat dissipation through different CPU coolers and heat pipes. Such a design increases the level of build difficulty without getting anything in return. The Wesena e4 v3 features a PCIe slot capable of accepting both half and full size cards and the slot doesn't interfere with the original Intel DN2800MT motherboard's backplate. With the original backplate in place and the horizontal slot punched out an eSATA or FireWire ExpressCard can be used without issue. This case provides more than enough room for computer audiophiles to use their creativity. The DN2800MT motherboard features two SATA ports. The space inside the case can be used to house both the recommended Samsung 840 Series SSD as well as another hard drive suitable for one's music collection. There is plenty of room to accommodate the SOtM SATA Filter on one or two internal SSDs as well. The option to use internal storage combined with the ability to use the mSATA adapter for external storage for backup is nice for many users. The open space inside the Wesena e4 v3 will likely provide plenty of room for housing power supplies. Many CA readers have experimented with different PSUs and experienced great results. I doubt a huge linear supply will fit in the case but one never knows. If the supply was designed as low profile we may be in luck. On the back of the case is one small hole to accommodate a typical power supply and a large rectangle opening to accommodate any number of PSU upgrades. I'm not a fan of the external wires and bulk associated with many PC PSUs. Placing the PSU inside this case and running the AC cord out the back may be a nice option. There are also some very good switching PSUs that come without a housing to be placed inside a case like the Wesena e4 v3. I haven't tried any personally but I know some manufacturers and CA readers have tried them with good results. During CAPS v3 research I stumbled upon the OpenUPS from Mini-Box. Skilled or adventurous readers may want to consider this component for powering the Carbon server via batteries. The OpenUPS can handle input voltage from 6-34v and output from 6-24v. It supports balancing up to six Li-Ion, Li-Po, LIFEPO4, Lead Acid batteries. The unit does use a switching regulator to increase or decrease voltage. This is a lesser design than a product like the Red Wine Audio Black Lightning but it's also potentially much cheaper. I experimented with the OpenUPS a little bit but consider the unit a bit beyond what most computer audiophiles are willing to install. I think the OpenUPS has serious potential for those who have the knowledge and time to implement it correctly. Click to enlarge Click to enlarge Enhanced Power Supply Option - Red Wine Audio, Black Lightning High-Current Battery Power Supply The easiest component to upgrade in the CAPS v3 Lagoon design is the power supply. Lagoon is powered externally via its DC input or internally using a two-pin connector and internal PSU. Intel recommends using an external power supply and the outside DC input although doesn't give any reason for this recommendation. The SOtM tX-USBexp USB card can also be powered internally (4-pin connector) or externally (DC input). This combination of motherboard and USB card, both with external power options, is terrific for a CAPS music server. My requirements for an enhanced CAPS v3 power supply were low noise and the ability to power both the motherboard and SOtM tX-USBexp card via the same supply. My research lead me to Vinnie Rossi of Red Wine Audio. RWA has been a leader in battery powered high end audio for years. In addition, Vinnie is one of the nicest guys in the industry. Looking at his Audio Circle forum readers will see all the dedicated RWA users and kind words about Vinnie's customer service. Both the quality of the products and integrity of the manufacturer matter greatly. Many computer audiophiles have been burned by online direct sales from companies who've since disappeared and or stopped offering customer support. CA readers should have zero hesitation working with Vinnie Rossi and Red Wine Audio. A few months ago I asked Vinnie about his Black Lighting High-Current Battery Power Supply and its ability to power a CAPS v3 server. Vinnie responded with a few questions and a resounding certainty that there would be no problems. Vinnie has customers powering all kinds of computers, among other items such as audio components, with the Black Lighting. Vinnie recommend I measure the power consumption at peak and study state for the v3 server I wished to power. I purchased a Kill-A-Watt power strip and ran the Lagoon server for several days. The consumption never reached above 25 watts. With this information Vinnie recommended a single or double LiFePO4 (LFP) battery pack based Black Lightning depending on how long I wished to run from batteries. I selected the single battery option as a start knowing I could always upgrade to a double battery solution by simply adding a battery to the existing chassis. One great feature of the Black Lightning is its ability to power components with different input voltages. The Intel DN2800MT motherboard has an input voltage of +9V ~ +19Vdc (12V recommended) and the SOtM tX-USBexp card has an input voltage of +6.5V ~ +9Vdc. With this information Vinnie configured the Black Lightning for 12V output and crafted a power cable sporting one 12V connector and one 9V connector with a linear regulator. Note: CAPS v3 Carbon runs for eight hours on a single battery Black Lightning. The positive impact of the Black Lightning High-Current Battery Power Supply could be heard immediately and without playing even one track. Powering both the SOtM tX-USBexp and Intel DN2800MT motherboard with the Black Lightning in battery mode removed very audible noise from the my system. The background of my system in an idle state, while powered on, was very noticeably blacker. Even the most casual listener could hear the difference in blackness before a single note was played. I was instantly impressed by the Black Lightning and conducted further testing to figure out how much or how little needed to be done to increase performance of one's audio system. I initially assumed that powering only the SOtM tX-USBexp card via battery, with the internal PSU disconnected, and the motherboard powered via the Seasonic PSU would yield an equal or nearly equal benefit as powering the entire server via battery. I was wrong with this assumption. Even though the clean battery power source of the Black Lightning was used to power the SOtM card that sends power to the USB receiver chip in the EMM Labs DAC2X I still heard harsh electrical noise through my speakers. Based on this test it appears that noise from the Seasonic PSU / motherboard combo is getting to the SOtM card via the PCIe slot's gold connectors. With this knowledge I thought maybe powering the motherboard from the battery supply and the SOtM card via the motherboard could clean up the noise. Wrong again. Both of these attempts cleaned about 20% of the electrical noise from what I heard through my speakers. Removing the Seasonic and powering everything with the Black Lightning once again cleaned up my system beautifully. Once the CAPS v3 Carbon and SOtM card were powered with the Black Lightning and the music started flowing the sound was stunning. This combination is far better than previous CAPS designs in all areas. Now that I've run both the CAPS v3 Lagoon and Carbon servers from the Red Wine Audio Black Lightning High-Current Battery Power Supply I can't go back to standard computer power supplies. The difference is audible, repeatable, and wonderful. Note: During testing I tried to measure the difference between running battery versus a normal computer power supply. I used both my iPhone 5 and iPad 3 with Faber Acoustical's SoundMeter FFT and Studio Six Digital's FFT programs as well as an Audio-Technica AT2020 USB microphone connected to my MacBook Pro retina. These tools are far from ideal for capturing the differences I heard. The noise I attempted to measure was not a a fixed frequency and not constant. In my un-anechoic chamber of a listening room I couldn't reliably capture the differences as the FFTs displayed too many noises from my room. It's also likely an experienced user could capture these differences as they are very audible and unmistakable. Add-in USB Card - SOtM tX-USBexp The SOtM tX-USBexp is a USB 3.0 PCI express card that snaps into the single PCIe slot on the Intel DN2800MT motherboard. The card half-height but requires the full size PCIe bracket / trim plate to get perfectly into the case's backplate. Both small and full size brackets are included with purchase of the SOtM tX-USBexp from Simple Design . One huge benefit of this USB card is the ability to power it externally with the Red Wine Audio Black Lightning or any PSU of choice. Nearly all high end USB DACs require USB bus power form the computer to power the USb receiver chip in the DAC. Sending the dirty power from a computer motherboard can result in very audible noise and decreased sound quality. Readers with DACs that don't require USB power can also turn the USB power switch to the off position on the SOtM tX-USBexp card. This setting stops all power from going to the DAC. The SOtM tX-USBexp has been problematic under certain conditions. When using the card with Windows 7 I had many issues including very distorted sound and stuttering during playback. This was unacceptable so I stopped using the card with Windows 7. I tracked the issue down to the drivers included with the card from SOtM. USB 3.0 was not included in any PCs when Windows 7 was released and Microsoft still hasn't included native support for USB 3.0 devices. Thus the need for separate device driver installation. Fortunately Windows 8 includes native USb 3.0 support for existing USB 3.0 chipsets including the TI chipset used in the SOtM tX-USBexp. Windows 8 not only recognizes the SOtM tX-USBexp after installation but also enables the card to function flawlessly. I've tested the card with every DAC that has come through Computer Audiophile and haven't had a single issue. Note: I found it easiest to use a flexible PCIe riser cable rather than a PCIe riser card in the Carbon server due to the height of the PCIe slot on the case. The flexible riser I use and recommend is the EXP1-362-10 from Logic Supply. Software Note: Software specifications and recommendations are identical to the CAPS v3 Topanga and Lagoon designs. Operating System - Windows 8 Pro 32-bit The operating system for all the CAPS v3 designs is Microsoft Windows 8 Pro. Topanga, Lagoon, and Carbon run on the 32-bit OS and Zuma runs on the 64-bit version. Three main questions to be answered with this selection are 1. Why 32-bit over 64-bit? 2. Why Windows 8 over Windows 7 or Linux. 3. Why the Pro version over the standard Windows 8 version? 1. Why 32-bit over 64-bit? CAPS v1 is 32-bit, CAPS v2 is 64-bit, and CAPS v3 is both 32 and 64 bit depending on the design. A simple answer is you don't bring a knife to a gun fight. In other words use the right tool for the job. As previously mentioned the the "Intel the DN2800MT motherboard only supports up to 4GB of RAM and Intel's Cedar Trail platform doesn't support 64-bit or DirectX 10.1 Graphics Drivers." When designing the CAPS servers I select the hardware before a specific version of the operating system. Reversing these selections leads to decisions based less on needed features and more on specifications. 2. Why Windows 8 over Windows 7 or Linux. One major reason I selected Windows 8 over Windows 7 is longevity. I know both operating systems will be supported after CAPS v4 is released however I want users of a CAPS v3 system to have support for as long as possible. According to Microsoft the End of mainstream support for Windows 7 is January 12, 2015. Around two years from now the third party vendors will also stop supporting Windows 7 as they typically follow Microsoft's lead. I can't say that either Windows 7 or Windows 8 is sonically better than the other. The audio portion of the Windows 8 operating system is unchanged as far as I can tell. I'm sure there are some minor changes but I haven't seen any that really matter. Windows 8 RT is another story but that's for tablets using an ARM processor. Windows 8 still supports low level audio access and exclusive mode for low latency and bit perfect output. WASAPI (Windows Audio Session Application Programing Interface) is still in Windows 8 as it was in Windows Vista and Windows 7. Audio output modes WASAPI and WASAPI - Event Style work just fine in JRiver Media Center on Windows 8. Windows 8 also has native driver support for USB 3.0 chipsets including the TI chipset on the SOtM tX-USBexp PCIe card. This card wasn't part of the CAPS v3 Topanga design but is a critical part of the other three designs. I don't see a benefit to recommending Windows 7 for Topanga and Windows 8 for Lagoon, Carbon, and Zuma just because Topanga doesn't use USB 3.0. This USB 3.0 native driver support is a must for good performance with the SOtM card. All Windows 7 USB DAC drivers I've tried on Windows 8 have worked without issue once installed. The installation can require Compatibility Mode on the 32-bit version of Windows. This is a simple check box to click and the installation will work without a hitch. DACs that don't require driver installation such as the AudioQuest DragonFly also work perfect on the CAPS v3 servers. It has been reported by several CA readers that the DragonFly has issues with Windows 8 and AudioQuest mentions this issue on its website. I've tried several configurations to cause an issue with the DragonFly and I can't make it stutter, pop, or click on playback. One additional item that may be important to some readers is Windows 8's touch capability. Readers who use JRiver Media Center in Theater View with a nice touch enabled screen like the Dell S2340T 23" multi-touch monitor will benefit nicely from Windows 8's built from the ground-up touch support. I selected the Windows operating system over a Linux based solution for two reasons. First I still don't believe Linux is easy for an end user without Linux experience. I've tried many solutions and always found issues that would stop the unlearned from enjoying a music server rather than learning a new language. I haven't found a Linux distribution that supports easy click & learn navigation. By that I mean enabling users to click around and figure things out on their own. Without Linux knowledge it just ain't gonna happen. Readers shouldn't take this as a dislike for Linux. Rather it's part of selecting the right tool for the job. The second reason I selected Windows over a Linux distribution is the new initiative to get the CA Community involved in CAPS designs. I believe a Linux based CAPS server will be much more successful if lead by a group of dedicated CA readers to perfect and address some of the issues other readers may have with the OS. The customizability of Linux lends itself to endless possibilities for CA readers. If someone can think of it, it can be done. Linux is only limited by one's imagination. As a group the CA Community can likely take a Linux based CAPS design to an incredibly high level. I would love to recommend a specific Linux ISO image for CA readers to install on CAPS v3 hardware. I know a few readers have been working on Linux based projects and those projects are great places to start. 3. Why the Pro version over the standard Windows 8 version? This one is simple. Windows 8 Pro support Remote Desktop, using its built-in RDP capability, from both Mac OS X and another Windows computer. There is no need for third party solutions running in the background. I've used Windows RDP for years as the main connection method to my music servers when I need to view the whole desktop. It works every time, it works well, and it's free. The standard version of Windows 8 doesn't support RDP using the Remote Desktop Client. Windows 8 Pro Customization This article is mainly about hardware and software selection. It will be much more effective for me to write a specific Windows 8 article addressing tweaks and OS customizations at a later date. Plus, the CA Community has already started tweaking Windows 8 and discussing it in the Forum. I will use those discussions and the assistance from the Community when publishing a Windows 8 music server guide. Playback Software - JRiver Media Center 18 The selection of JRMC as the playback software for all CAPS v3 designs should come as no surprise to CA readers. I haven't' seen a better playback, library management, and remote controllable application to date. In addition to the application's superiority over the competition the JRiver team has been terrific over the years supporting even the smallest of audiophile requests such as native DSD playback. For more details as to why I prefer JRMC over everything else please read the following article -> Link . JRiver has a Benchmarking feature that runs computers through Math, Image, and Database tests. The CAPS v3 Carbon server produced the following scores that are slightly better than Topanga. Running 'Math' benchmark... Score: 442 Running 'Image' benchmark... Score: 599 Running 'Database' benchmark... Score: 763 JRMark (version 18.0.81): 601 I didn't recommend a remote control application for JRiver in the CAPS v3 designs. There are a few available ranging in price from free to about $10-15. Readers unfamiliar with the options should consider JRiver's own Gizmo if using an Android device or JRemote is using an iPad/iPhone/iTouch. Wrap Up That's the Computer Audiophile Pocket Server CAPS v3 Carbon. It's my favorite CAPS server to date and the one I use every day for listening pleasure and component evaluation. The server is absolutely silent, capable of great sound, great looking, has no moving parts, fairly inexpensive, has no legacy components, is easy to operate, easy to assemble / install, small in size, consumes low power, produces low heat, accepts the SOtM tX-USBexp PCIe card, and plays all pertinent sample rates from 44.1 kHz through 192 kHz and DSD. That's the entire CAPS requirement list from version 1 of the server through v3. The Carbon design offers terrific performance and an upgrade path to a better power supply. Whereas Lagoon isn't the most versatile server ever built as it works best with NAS storage, Carbon offers almost endless storage options. The sound quality and usability of the Carbon server are both terrific. Computer audiophiles seeking more power should pursue the CAPS v3 Zuma design to be released in a few days. Where to buy retail: Small Green Computer Where to buy components: CAPS v3 Carbon - Total Price: $1,080 Case: Wesena e4 v3 Price: $176.00 Link Motherboard: Intel DN2800MT Price: $110.00 Link Memory: DDR3 4GB RAM (991644) Price: $19.00 Link SSD: MZ-7PD064BW Price: $100.00 Link Power Supply: 60W, 12V (PW-12V5A-L5) Price: $25.00 Link OS: Win 8 Pro 32-bit Price: $140.00Link Playback App: JRMC v18 Price: $50.00 Link Flexible Riser: EXP1-362-10 Price: $34.50 Link Add-in Card: SOtM tX-USBexp Price: $350 Simple Design SATA Power Noise Filter: SOtM Price: $65 Link ExpressCard to mini-PCIe adapter: AOC-MT-EXPRESS-CARD Price: $10.00 Link Optional ExpressCard Storage ExpressCard to eSATA: SD-EXP40020 Price: $17.00 Link ExpressCard to 1394b (FireWire 800): EC1394B2 Price: $59.50 Link Optional Power Supply Red Wine Audio, Black Lightning High-Current Battery Power Supply $895 (single battery), $1,195 (dual battery) Link
  13. C.A.P.S. v2.0

    Early in 2010 the original Computer Audiophile Pocket Server design was published on CA. At the time I wasn't sure if readers would be interested in building their own servers. I thought it would be a great thing if many computer audiophiles used the exact same music server. This could ease troubleshooting and enable the sharing of successful tweaks among all C.A.P.S. users. I had no idea the C.A.P.S. server would become incredibly popular among computer audiophiles. Many CA readers commented on the original build with suggestions to make it better while others were delighted someone else had done all the work. I was very happy to read both types of comments. After the original Pocket Server debuted I began fielding questions about it at every computer audio seminar I attended. A few months later in true computer audiophile fashion everyone was asking about the next C.A.P.S. server. The inquiries were a double-edged sword. I was thrilled so many people expressed interest in the server. At the same time pressure was building to create something better. After nearly 18 months I believe I have something better. It is with great pleasure that I reveal the Computer Audiophile Pocket Server version 2.0! [PRBREAK][/PRBREAK] <font size="4"><b>C.A.P.S. Version 2.0</b></font> I was originally going to release version 1.5 as a minor update to the first Pocket Server. I was underwhelmed by some of the "upgrades" available from computer component manufacturers and couldn't justify calling it version 2.0. However, I have since scrapped the design of v1.5, wiped the slate clean, and built new version 2.0. This is not a minor upgrade to <a href="http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/Computer-Audiophile-Pocket-Server-CAPS">version 1.0</a><a href="http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/Computer-Audiophile-Pocket-Server-CAPS"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/icons/ex.png" style="padding: 0pt 0pt 0pt 3pt;" alt="link"></img></a>. I have tentative plans for version 3.0 but readers should not hold their breath waiting for this version. The current plan is very different, complicated, and will need a new set of requirements. Thus, if you like v2.0 don't wait for v3.0 as you might be disappointed and waiting quite awhile. My goal in publishing C.A.P.S. v2.0 is the same as it was for the original Pocket Server, <i>"[T]o put together a hardware and software music server solution that I would actually use and the Computer Audiophile readers could actually use. I would do the leg work, test & listen to everything, and provide the information for CA readers to put together the exact same music server."</i> Readers unfamiliar with history behind these servers are likely asking why the name Pocket Server? Here is a brief explanation copied from a comment response to version 1.0. <i>"The title does not reference the literal size of the music server. The name Pocket Server is no less accurate than the name Compact Car…Along the way this server was named the Pocket Server by a colleague who was very surprise at its small size when I pulled it out of my carry-on luggage. The server is a bit larger today than it was at that time but the name hasn't changed. This colleague named the server because it was so small not because it actually fits into a pocket. I elected to keep the name, going with the spirit of the name not the letter of the name."</i> Many CA readers realize standard off-the-shelf computers don't make the best high-end audio music servers. Sure a regular Dell built with nothing but price in mind, with commodity parts and software from any company willing to fork over enough cash, can work as a music server. Such a computer is usually good as a proof of concept machine but literally nothing else that has to do with high-end audio. Don't believe me? Try it and report back in the comments section below. The prevalence of USB DACs in high-end audio has made the need for a quality computer even greater. A quick glance at most computers built today usually reveals a few internal USB hubs to which devices like IR receivers, Bluetooth controllers, keyboards, trackpads, memory card readers, and built-in cameras are all attached. Most users have no clue computer are built this way. Computer audiophiles frequently avoid using external USB hubs like the plague. Little do they know they're using internal USB hubs for their USB DACs. Evidence of one problem related to this can be found by using a USB DAC with a pre unibody MacBook Pro. If the DAC is not connected to the correct USB port the listener will experience audio drop-outs. The trouble stems from several internal devices sharing the same USB bus, namely the keyboard in this situation. In layman's terms there are too many cars on the highway. The audio car should be in the dedicated high occupancy vehicle lane cruising by itself. In reality this is rarely the case. Throughout the history of consumer electronics the massive mainstream consumer base selects a technology because of its convenience. The niche high-end audio industry perfects this frequently less than desirable technology. Think optical S/PDIF - TosLink. Audiophiles are always striving to improv technology whether it be turntables, CD players, or music servers. The C.A.P.S. v2.0 design is no exception. This is a USB based design that's unlike almost every other music server. C.A.P.S. v2.0 addresses potential USB issues by providing the USB audio data its own autobahn in addition to other leading edge customizations. The performance and sonic quality of Pocket Server 2.0 has truly surprised me. I believe the Computer Audiophile Pocket Server version 2.0 is better than version 1.0 in every respect. Yes, that unequivocally means sound quality. Period. <font size="4"><b>Requirements</b></font> The requirements for version 2.0 are identical to the original Pocket Server. The requirements are both objective and subjective. When necessary I'll do my best to explain how or why my component selections meet these criteria. <ol> <li>Absolutely silent.</li> <li>Capable of great sound.</li> <li>Great looking.</li> <li>No moving parts.</li> <li>Fairly inexpensive.</li> <li>No legacy components.</li> <li>Easy to operate. <ol> <li>Directly or</li> <li>Remotely</li> </ol> </li> <li>Easy to assemble / install <ol> <li>Assembly / installation by one's self or</li> <li>Assembly / installation by local computer shop, son, daughter, neighbor, or friend.</li> </ol> </li> <li>Small size.</li> <li>Low power consumption.</li> <li>Low heat.</li> <li>Accept an add-in card for audio or additional capabilities. Hardware & Software must accept appropriate add-in cards.</li> <li>Play 16/44.1, 24/44.1, 24/88.2, 24/96, 24/176.4, and 24/192 all bit perfect.</li> </ol> <font size="4"><b>Hardware</b></font> <b>Motherboard</b> The main component of every computer is the motherboard. Selecting the right one is the toughest part of designing a server. It's very easy to go overboard with features and wind up with a board that requires so much cooling it sounds like the Space Shuttle. On the the end of the continuum are the boards without any features. These low power featureless boards are interesting but not for a C.A.P.S. design. My motherboard selection for C.A.P.S. v2.0 is the $167 Jetway NF96FL-525-LF. One thing to note about this board is its large heat sink. There is no way to use a full height PCI card, even with a riser, without hitting the heat sink. The main features of this board are a dual core 1.8 GHz Intel Atom D525 fanless processor, capacity for four GB of RAM, Integrated graphics, PCI slot for expansion, an eSATA port, and built-in DC 12-volt power. The dual core 64-bit Atom processor is a major improvement over the original server design. C.A.P.S. v1 was very close to maxing its slower single core 32-bit Atom processor. Like the previous design this processor requires no fan to assist in dispersing heat and satisfies the no moving parts, absolutely silent, low power, and low heat criteria. The other critical component for a silent fanless design is built-in DC power. This enables use of a small external power supply that connects to the rear of the server. Finding a "regular" fanless power supply is not impossible but can severely limit one's case options due to size and heat dissipation. The Jetway's support of 4Gb of memory is another major improvement. Mainstream operating systems and applications continue to take "advantage" of more memory every release. The eSATA port on this motherboard was one of the features that elevated this board over all others. I realize not every computer audiophile has or wants a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device. These users require direct attached storage. It has been my experience that the speed of eSATA disks is a great benefit to music servers. The annoyance of waiting for an external hard drive, even if it's only a second or two, can drive users nuts over time. Using eSATA this annoyance should be reduced considerably. The remaining feature that is imperative to the C.A.P.S. v2.0 design is the PCI expansion slot. The PCI slot may seem like old technology when compared to new blazing fast PCI-express slots. However, many PCI-express cards such as the Lynx AES16e are actually bridged PCI cards made to work in PCI-express slots. The advantage of PCI-express may be moot for most music servers. Plus, C.A.P.S. v2 requires a PCI slot for its superior USB implementation discussed elsewhere. <center><a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/jet-side-full.jpg" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S-v2-jet"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/jet-side-thumb.jpg"></a> <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/jet-top-full.jpg" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S-v2-jet"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/jet-top-thumb.jpg"></a> <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/jet-acc-full.jpg" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S-v2-jet"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/jet-acc-thumb.jpg"></a> <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/minick-design/full/IMG_1739.jpg" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S-v2-jet"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/minick-design/thumb/IMG_1739.jpg"></a> <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/minick-design/full/IMG_1745.JPG" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S-v2-jet"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/minick-design/thumb/IMG_1745.jpg"></a></center> <b>Ancillary Components</b> The remaining ancillary components aren't as exciting but required nonetheless. The <b>memory</b> used for version 2.0 is 2x2GB (4Gb total) modules of DDR2 667 from Transcend. The motherboard front side bus runs at 667 as well. The fact that this memory is standard size as opposed to "laptop" size memory is a plus. It should be easier to find other options and cost less than the smaller modules. There were a few options when selecting the <b>power supply</b> for this C.A.P.S. server. I ruled out using a linear supply for many reasons such as cost, size, complexity, scarcity, and logicality given the standard onboard switching power supplies. The three main PSU options were either 60, 80, or 102 Watts. This server is not power hungry so I followed the less is more path by selecting the Casetronic PW-12V5A-L5 60w supply. The <b>solid state drive</b> selected for version 2.0 will probably surprise many readers. I usually select OCZ drives as they are my standard go-to SSDs. This time I selected the very inexpensive $100 64GB Micro Center brand drive. The Micro Center drives are manufactured by ADATA using the SandForce 1222 Controller. I've used this very good performing drive over the last few months without any issues. <center><a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/ram-side-full.jpg" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S-v2-ancillary"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/ram-side-thumb.jpg"></a> <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/ram-angle-full.jpg" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S-v2-ancillary"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/ram-angle-thumb.jpg"></a> <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/psu-full.jpg" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S-v2-ancillary"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/psu-thumb.jpg"></a> <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/psu-cord-full.jpg" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S-v2-ancillary"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/psu-cord-thumb.jpg"></a> <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/ssd-full.jpg" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S-v2-ancillary"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/ssd-thumb.jpg"></a></center> The one piece of C.A.P.S. v2.0 that remains unchanged from v1.0 is the $320 Origen<sup>ae</sup> M10 <b>computer case</b>. I simply haven't found a better case for the job that meets all the requirements. The M10 is great looking, small, and is compatible with PCI add-in cards. There are literally hundreds of computer cases available that could have been used for this design. Unfortunately almost all of them are hideous looking compared to the M10. The Origen<sup>ae</sup> M10 has form and function. <center><a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/0208/m10_shot1.jpg" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S-v2-M10"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/0208/m10_shot1-s.jpg"></a> <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/0208/m10_shot2.jpg" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S-v2-M10"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/0208/m10_shot2-s.jpg"></a> <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/0208/m10_shot3.jpg" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S-v2-M10"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/0208/m10_shot3-s.jpg"></a> <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/0208/m10_shot4.jpg" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S-v2-M10"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/0208/m10_shot4-s.jpg"></a> <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/0208/m10_shot5.jpg" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S-v2-M10"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/0208/m10_shot5-s.jpg"></a></center> <center><a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/0208/M10_main.jpg" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S-v2-M10"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/0208/M10_main-s.jpg"></a> <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/0208/m10_strip.jpg" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S-v2-M10"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/0208/m10_strip-s.jpg"></a></center> <b>Audiophile Add-ins</b> The next two pieces of the C.A.P.S. v2.0 puzzle will never be found in an off-the-shelf Dell, HP, Apple, etc. The <b>SOtM tX-USB</b> and <b>SOtM In-Line SATA Power Noise Filter</b> are as far removed from standard commodity computer hardware as it gets. The inline SATA noise filter connects directly to a hard drive whether it's solid state or standard spinning disk. Regular SATA data and SATA power cables are then connected to the filter. No special cables required. The installation could not be simpler. The SOtM filter has individual 12V, 5V, and 3.3V RF noise filters in addition to ripple noise filters. I was skeptical at first but after seeing objective measurements detailing the positive effect this filter has on a computer system and placing this filter in the new C.A.P.S. server I'm sold. Add to cart for all my servers. The SOtM tX-USB is a half height PCI to USB card that fits perfectly in the Origen<sup>ae</sup> M10 case as it's delivered with both short and long PCI trim plates. The design of the SOtM tX-USB is an all-out-assault on PCI to USB cards. The tX-USB has its own power line noise filter, individual ultra low noise regulators to power up to two attached USB devices, onboard ultra low jitter clock, onboard PCI host controller, and separate power connector. This enables the card to be powered by an external linear or battery PSU. Many computer audiophiles like to experiment with cutting the power leg from USB cables or special ordering cables without the power leg. The tX-USB has an easily accessed manual switch, next to the USB ports on the card, that enables/disables sending power over the USB cable. Users will have to check their DACs to determine if USB power is required. Some USB DACs require USB power even if the DAC itself is powered by a separate supply. The tX-USB is 100% compliant with USB 2.0 Hi-Speed and all prior USB specifications and speeds. <center><a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/sata-filter-diag-full.jpg" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S-v2-sotm-diag"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/sata-filter-diag-thumb.jpg"></a> <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/tx-usb-diag-full.jpg" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S-v2-sotm-diag"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/tx-usb-diag-thumb.jpg"></a></center> Low quantity high quality components are never inexpensive. The SOtM components are no exception. The inline SATA noise filter retails for $65 and the tX-USB PCI card rings up at $339. Powering the tX-USB with the Jetway motherboard requires a SATA to LP4 Molex adapter <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/sata-adapter-01-full.jpg" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S-v2-sata-adapter">(Photo 1)</a> <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/sata-adapter-02-full.jpg" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S-v2-sata-adapter">(Photo 2)</a> as the motherboard ships with two SATA only power connectors. The $6 Nippon Labs SATA 15 Pin Male to Molex 4 pin female adapter should work great with C.A.P.S. v2.0 and the tX-USB. During the build process I was itching to get the server running so I created my own cable using spare parts from my music server graveyard. I recommend simply ordering the inexpensive adapter. Much easier and better looking. As a side note, Linux users will be happy to learn the tX-USB PCI card supports Hi-Speed USB 2.0 devices when used with the correct kernel. The most likely question CA readers are asking themselves as they read this article is, "How does it sound?" I unequivocally state the SOtM products improved the sound quality of my system when placed into the C.A.P.S. v2.0 server. In fact I was so interested to hear if these products made a difference I placed the tX-USB in the server then connected a <a href="http://www.usbdacs.com">Wavelength Audio</a><a href="http://www.usbdacs.com"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/icons/ex.png" style="padding: 0pt 0pt 0pt 3pt;" alt="link"></img></a> WaveLink converter to a <u>main motherboard USB port</u> instead of the tX-USB. Old habits are hard to break. I was sorely disappointed as I heard absolutely no change with only the tX-USB installed and my USB converter to the main board. After a couple tracks I mentally retraced my steps and realized my error. Like any wise Golfer I gave myself a mulligan. With the WaveLink connected to the tX-USB (power enabled as required by WaveLink) I listened to the same tracks that I had played using the previous misconfiguration. I was pleasantly surprised to hear such a nice difference. I understand what has gone into engineering the SOtM components but I also understand far better how computers operate. How can there be a sonic difference? USB is USB isn't it? Bit transparent is bit transparent isn't it? Unfortunately there's much more to computer audio than meets the eye or the ear. While working on C.A.P.S. v2.0 a CA reader posted the following link to a <a href="http://www.audioasylum.com/forums/pcaudio/messages/9/90278.html">discussion on Audio Asylum</a><a href="http://www.audioasylum.com/forums/pcaudio/messages/9/90278.html"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/icons/ex.png" style="padding: 0pt 0pt 0pt 3pt;" alt="link"></img></a>. The discussion details some of the problems associated with USB audio and the difficulties in addressing the issues. A phrase that comes to mind after reading such informative discussions is, "The more you know, the more you know you don't know." <center><a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/minick-design/full/IMG_1384.JPG" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S-v2-sotm"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/minick-design/thumb/IMG_1384.jpg"></a> <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/minick-design/full/IMG_1385.JPG" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S-v2-sotm"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/minick-design/thumb/IMG_1385.jpg"></a> <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/minick-design/full/IMG_1765.JPG" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S-v2-sotm"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/minick-design/thumb/IMG_1765.jpg"></a> <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/minick-design/full/IMG_1755.JPG" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S-v2-sotm"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/minick-design/thumb/IMG_1755.jpg"></a> <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/minick-design/full/IMG_1756.JPG" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S-v2-sotm"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/minick-design/thumb/IMG_1756.jpg"></a></center> <center><a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/minick-design/full/IMG_1760.JPG" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S-v2-sotm"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/minick-design/thumb/IMG_1760.jpg"></a> <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/minick-design/full/IMG_1759.JPG" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S-v2-sotm"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/minick-design/thumb/IMG_1759.jpg"></a> <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/minick-design/full/IMG_1766.JPG" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S-v2-sotm"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/minick-design/thumb/IMG_1766.jpg"></a> <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/minick-design/full/IMG_1771.JPG" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S-v2-sotm"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/minick-design/thumb/IMG_1771.jpg"></a> <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/minick-design/full/IMG_1777.JPG" class="thickbox" rel="C.A.P.S-v2-sotm"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/minick-design/thumb/IMG_1777.jpg"></a></center> <b>Optional Add-ins</b> FireWire DAC users are also in luck with C.A.P.S. v2.0. The PCI USB card can be excluded from the design by substituting an $8 SYBA SD-VIA-FW1E1H <b>PCI FireWire card</b>. This card works perfect with the Weiss Engineering DAC202. The total savings is $331. <a href="http://www.sybausa.com/productInfo.php?iid=458">Manufacturer Link</a><a href="http://www.sybausa.com/productInfo.php?iid=458"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/icons/ex.png" style="padding: 0pt 0pt 0pt 3pt;" alt="link"></img></a> | <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16815124034&cm_re=fw1e1h-_-15-124-034-_-Product">Newegg Product Page</a><a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16815124034&cm_re=fw1e1h-_-15-124-034-_-Product"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/icons/ex.png" style="padding: 0pt 0pt 0pt 3pt;" alt="link"></img></a> I did not include an <b>internal ROM drive</b> in Pocket Server version 2.0. If needed one can use an external drive or a $90 Panasonic SATA Slim drive or a $169 Sony Optiarc Blu-ray drive. Many slot loading drives feature drive eject buttons that are not compatible with the Origen<sup>ae</sup> case. Please look closely before purchasing another drive. A $5 mini SATA cable is likely required for the slot loading optical drives. <a href="http://www.shop.perfecthometheater.com/DVD-Super-MULTI-Drive-UJ875A.htm">Panasonic SATA Slim drive</a><a href="http://www.shop.perfecthometheater.com/DVD-Super-MULTI-Drive-UJ875A.htm"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/icons/ex.png" style="padding: 0pt 0pt 0pt 3pt;" alt="link"></img></a> | <a href="http://www.shop.perfecthometheater.com/BD-MULTI-Drive-BC-5600S.htm">Sony Optiarc Blu-ray drive</a><a href="http://www.shop.perfecthometheater.com/BD-MULTI-Drive-BC-5600S.htm"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/icons/ex.png" style="padding: 0pt 0pt 0pt 3pt;" alt="link"></img></a> | <a href="http://www.shop.perfecthometheater.com/Mini-SATA-Cable-for-slot-ODDs-Mini-SATA.htm">Mini SATA Cable</a><a href="http://www.shop.perfecthometheater.com/Mini-SATA-Cable-for-slot-ODDs-Mini-SATA.htm"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/icons/ex.png" style="padding: 0pt 0pt 0pt 3pt;" alt="link"></img></a> <font size="4"><b>Software</b></font> <b>Operating System</b> During the design of the original Pocket Server I researched and tested a few different operating systems including Windows 7 and Voyage Linux. I've closely followed Voyage's development since that time and noted the rise of other Linux based servers aimed at audiophiles. Given the C.A.P.S. v2.0 requirements and the fact that companies such as <a href="http://www.sonore.us/">Simple Design</a><a href="http://www.sonore.us/"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/icons/ex.png" style="padding: 0pt 0pt 0pt 3pt;" alt="link"></img></a> can design and build a better Linux system than I ever could I elected to bypass Linux for the Pocket Server design once more time. Linux is great but like everything in life it has an appropriate time and place. Linux is not the right fit for the C.A.P.S. v2.0 design. <img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2010/0224/win-7-packaging-JRMC14.png" style="padding: 5pt 10pt 7pt 5pt;" align="left">I selected Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit as the version 2.0 operating system. Most of the same reasons used for the v1.0 design hold true for v2.0. Windows 7 meets all the software based requirements for a Pocket Server. Quoting the C.A.P.S. v1.0 article, Windows 7, <i>"s capable of great sound, [is] a current OS, easy to operate and install, works with more hardware than any other OS, and is capable of bit perfect playback at all required sample rates when configured properly."</i> CA readers familiar with the original design will likely wonder why I selected the 64-bit version when previously I saw no benefit to a 64-bit OS. The main reason I went with the 64-bit OS is I wanted the new C.A.P.S. design to be forward "thinking" for lack of a better term. It's clear the personal computer industry is moving toward 64-bit hardware and 64-bit operating systems. In fact most hardware has supported a 64-bit architecture for years. The C.A.P.S. v2.0 hardware is no exception, it fully supports 64-bit software. <b>Playback / Library Management Application</b> <a href="http://www.jriver.com">J River Media Center 16</a><a href="http://www.jriver.com"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/icons/ex.png" style="padding: 0pt 0pt 0pt 3pt;" alt="link"></img></a> is by far the best choice for the playback application running on C.A.P.S. v2.0. JRMC has the best mix of file format support, good graphical user interface, database functionality, customization, and most importantly audio output modes such as WASAPI - Event Style, WASAPI, Kernel Streaming, and ASIO. In addition to a great application J River has very good support for the computer audiophile community. I recently had the opportunity to visit the guys at J River, once again, and test the new $FREE Android remote control app <a href="http://wiki.jriver.com/index.php/Gizmo">Gizmo</a><a href="http://wiki.jriver.com/index.php/Gizmo"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/icons/ex.png" style="padding: 0pt 0pt 0pt 3pt;" alt="link"></img></a>. Readers with Android devices would be remiss not to give Gizmo a shot. I really like the functionality of the app and its ease of use. Currently iPhone users can control JRMC via a plain web interface or use an app such as <a href="http://www.bitremote.com/">BitRemote ($10)</a><a href="http://www.bitremote.com/"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/icons/ex.png" style="padding: 0pt 0pt 0pt 3pt;" alt="link"></img></a>. After everything was installed and configured I began paring down the Windows operating system including applications and services. I uninstalled nearly all of the Windows "Features" including Games, Indexing, Search, Printing, etc. Within the Windows System Properties - Performance Options I selected "Adjust for best performance". this disables all the animations and graphically intense pieces of the operating system. I also disabled System Restore, Windows Defender, Windows Firewall, and Windows Update. Obviously there is no anti-virus software on the C.A.P.S server. I also removed everything from the startup folder and Registry startup entries via MSCONFIG. As a precautionary measure I installed the Google Chrome Internet browser for the rare times I need to find album art online. This browser appears more secure than many of the Microsoft Internet Explorer versions. A default Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit installation has over 140 services some of which run in the background whether or not they are required by the user. The C.A.P.S v2.0 server is currently running 33 of 144 possible services. It's certainly possible to stop or disable more of the remaining 33 services. It has been my experience that these remaining services provide a good mix of stability and software usability. I've included a list of services, status, and startup type in the document below. · <a href="http://files.computeraudiophile.com/2011/0623/C.A.P.S.v2-Services.pdf">C.A.P.S. v2 Services PDF</a><a href="http://files.computeraudiophile.com/2011/0623/C.A.P.S.v2-Services.pdf"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/icons/ex.png" style="padding: 0pt 0pt 0pt 3pt;" alt="link"></img></a> <font size="4"><b>Comparison C.A.P.S. Version 1.0 and 2.0</b></font> Comparing the original Pocket Server to version 2.0 reveals this new design as the clear winner. Not only is v2.0 less expensive it offers better performance and sound quality. The motherboard, CPU, and RAM received a needed upgrade that leaves v1.0 in the dust without requiring a massive cooling apparatus or spinning fans. The most critical improvement to v2.0 is the replacement of the Lynx AES16 with the SOtM tX-USB card. This card in combination with many of the new USB DACs should make CA readers very happy. Running a USB DAC from a C.A.P.S v1.0 built-in USB port simply doesn't measure up. C.A.P.S. v2.0 is also a great system for FireWire users who will save $339 off the USB server price. After publishing the original Pocket Server design a few readers asked why not simply purchase a Mac Mini for $699 and call it a day? A Mac Mini doesn't meet the stated requirements of the C.A.P.S. design. Absolute Silence, no moving parts, and the ability to use an add-in card for expansion are not possible with a Mac Mini. Plus, the C.A.P.S server has increased computer audiophiles' engagement in this wonderful hobby through many user tweaks and customizations simply unavailable under OS X and a Mac Mini. Some people like to get more involved in the server part of the system while other would rather set it and forget it by using a Mac Mini. There's no right or wrong here. Both approaches have nothing to do with one's enjoyment of music or one's credibility as a music loving audiophile. It's even more likely that many CA readers enjoy both types of systems. I currently enjoy a highly tweaked C.A.P.S. v2.0 server and at the same time a Mac server, a Linux server, and hopefully soon a <a href="http://www.meridian-audio.com/sooloos/">Meridian-Sooloos</a><a href="http://www.meridian-audio.com/sooloos/"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/icons/ex.png" style="padding: 0pt 0pt 0pt 3pt;" alt="link"></img></a> server. This is all about furthering one's enjoyment of great music and interest in high-end audio. Nobody should care how it's done. <font size="4"><b>Wrap-Up</b></font> <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/cash-logo-black.png" class="thickbox" rel="cash"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/cash-logo-black-thumb.jpg" style="padding: 2pt 5pt 2pt 2pt;" align="left" alt="CASH-List"></a>There you have it the Computer Audiophile Pocket Server version 2.0. I sincerely hope this server design accomplishes my goal of being a hardware and software solution everyone can and will use. I'll never make a penny from this design and I'm not looking to publish a design that competes with an existing manufacturer. This design is first and foremost for all the Computer Audiophile readers who've shown such dedication to our terrific hobby and encouraged me to release an updated C.A.P.S. server. I thought about readers' likes, dislikes, and requirements throughout the entire design process. That said I didn't compromise any part of the design by sinking to the lowest common denominator. That's simply not what Computer Audiophile is about. I'm very excited to read user comments about the design, good and bad, and to see users start building their own v2.0 servers. It really has been my pleasure to design, build, and reveal the new Computer Audiophile Pocket Server version 2.0. <i>The Computer Audiophile Pocket Server v2.0 piece by piece</i> <ul> <li><b>Motherboard</b>: <a href="http://www.jetway.com.tw/jw/ipcboard_view.asp?productid=716&proname=NF96FL-510-LF%20/%20NF96FL-525-LF">Jetway NF96FL-525-LF ($167)</a><a href="http://www.jetway.com.tw/jw/ipcboard_view.asp?productid=716&proname=NF96FL-510-LF%20/%20NF96FL-525-LF"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/icons/ex.png" style="padding: 0pt 0pt 0pt 3pt;" alt="link"></img></a> | <a href="http://files.computeraudiophile.com/2011/0623/Manual-G03-NF96-F-V6.0.pdf">Manual (PDF)</a><a href="http://files.computeraudiophile.com/2011/0623/Manual-G03-NF96-F-V6.0.pdf"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/icons/ex.png" style="padding: 0pt 0pt 0pt 3pt;" alt="link"></img></a> | <a href="http://www.logicsupply.com/products/nf96fl_525">Logic Supply Product Page</a><a href="http://www.logicsupply.com/products/nf96fl_525"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/icons/ex.png" style="padding: 0pt 0pt 0pt 3pt;" alt="link"></img></a></li> <li><b>Memory</b>: <a href="http://www.transcendusa.com/Products/MemList.asp?axn=goSearch&srhMemWay=STD&L0No=Transcend&L2No=37&L4No=66&LangNo=0&Func1No=1&Func2No=12">Transcend DDR2 667 Memory 2GBx2 ($53 x 2 Modules = $106)</a><a href="http://www.transcendusa.com/Products/MemList.asp?axn=goSearch&srhMemWay=STD&L0No=Transcend&L2No=37&L4No=66&LangNo=0&Func1No=1&Func2No=12"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/icons/ex.png" style="padding: 0pt 0pt 0pt 3pt;" alt="link"></img></a> | <a href="http://files.computeraudiophile.com/2011/0623/RAM-Datasheet-TS256MLQ64V6U_2980_S.pdf">Datasheet</a><a href="http://files.computeraudiophile.com/2011/0623/RAM-Datasheet-TS256MLQ64V6U_2980_S.pdf"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/icons/ex.png" style="padding: 0pt 0pt 0pt 3pt;" alt="link"></img></a> | <a href="http://www.logicsupply.com/products/256mlq64v6u">Logic Supply Product Page</a><a href="http://www.logicsupply.com/products/256mlq64v6u"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/icons/ex.png" style="padding: 0pt 0pt 0pt 3pt;" alt="link"></img></a></li> <li><b>Solid State Drive</b>: <a href="http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml?product_id=0351760">Microcenter Brand 64GB SATA II 3.0Gb/s 2.5" G2 Series</a><a href="http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml?product_id=0351760"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/icons/ex.png" style="padding: 0pt 0pt 0pt 3pt;" alt="link"></img></a></li> <li><b>Power Adapter</b>: <a href="http://www.casetronic.com/product_d.php?dtype=0&id=0000000040#DETAIL">Casetronic PW-12V5A-L5 DC 12V, 60W Level 5 ($23.50)</a><a href="http://www.casetronic.com/product_d.php?dtype=0&id=0000000040#DETAIL"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/icons/ex.png" style="padding: 0pt 0pt 0pt 3pt;" alt="link"></img></a> | <a href="http://www.logicsupply.com/products/pw_12v5a_l5">Logic Supply Page</a><a href="http://www.logicsupply.com/products/pw_12v5a_l5"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/icons/ex.png" style="padding: 0pt 0pt 0pt 3pt;" alt="link"></img></a></li> <li><b>Computer Case</b>: <a href="http://www.origenae.co.kr/">Origen<sup>ae</sup> M10 ($320)</a><a href="http://www.origenae.co.kr/"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/icons/ex.png" style="padding: 0pt 0pt 0pt 3pt;" alt="link"></img></a> | <a href="http://www.shop.perfecthometheater.com/OrigenAE-chassis-and-amplifiers_c30.htm;jsessionid=0E147D8574CC026D36EFCD950A5C0A71.qscstrfrnt04">Product Purchase Page</a><a href="http://www.shop.perfecthometheater.com/OrigenAE-chassis-and-amplifiers_c30.htm;jsessionid=0E147D8574CC026D36EFCD950A5C0A71.qscstrfrnt04"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/icons/ex.png" style="padding: 0pt 0pt 0pt 3pt;" alt="link"></img></a> | <a href="http://files.computeraudiophile.com/2011/0623/M10_User_guide_1.0911_En.pdf">User Guide (PDF)</a><a href="http://files.computeraudiophile.com/2011/0623/M10_User_guide_1.0911_En.pdf"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/icons/ex.png" style="padding: 0pt 0pt 0pt 3pt;" alt="link"></img></a> | <a href="http://files.computeraudiophile.com/2011/0623/m10-brochure.pdf">Brochure (PDF)</a><a href="http://files.computeraudiophile.com/2011/0623/m10-brochure.pdf"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/icons/ex.png" style="padding: 0pt 0pt 0pt 3pt;" alt="link"></img></a></li> <li><b>PCI to USB Card</b>: <a href="http://sotm-audio.com/sotm/products/tX-USB.htm">SOtM tX-USB ($339)</a><a href="http://sotm-audio.com/sotm/products/tX-USB.htm"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/icons/ex.png" style="padding: 0pt 0pt 0pt 3pt;" alt="link"></img></a> | <a href="http://www.sotm.sonore.us/">Purchase Page</a><a href="http://www.sotm.sonore.us/"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/icons/ex.png" style="padding: 0pt 0pt 0pt 3pt;" alt="link"></img></a> | <a href="http://files.computeraudiophile.com/2011/0623/tX-USB-Operating-Instructions-Rev1.0.pdf">Operating Instructions (PDF)</a><a href="http://files.computeraudiophile.com/2011/0623/tX-USB-Operating-Instructions-Rev1.0.pdf"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/icons/ex.png" style="padding: 0pt 0pt 0pt 3pt;" alt="link"></img></a></li> <li><b>SATA Power Filter</b>: <a href="http://www.sotm.sonore.us/">SOtM In-Line SATA Power Noise Filter ($65) / Product Purchase Page</a><a href="http://www.sotm.sonore.us/"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/icons/ex.png" style="padding: 0pt 0pt 0pt 3pt;" alt="link"></img></a></li> <li><b>Internal Power Adapter</b>: <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16812816038">Nippon Labs SATA to Molex Power Adapter SATA - SATA 15 Pin Male to Molex 4 pin female ($6)</a><a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16812816038"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/icons/ex.png" style="padding: 0pt 0pt 0pt 3pt;" alt="link"></img></a></li> <li><b>Operating System</b>: <a href="http://www.microsoft.com/windows/">Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit ($185)</a><a href="http://www.microsoft.com/windows/"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/icons/ex.png" style="padding: 0pt 0pt 0pt 3pt;" alt="link"></img></a> | <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116997&cm_re=windows_7-_-32-116-997-_-Product">Newegg Product Page</a><a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116997&cm_re=windows_7-_-32-116-997-_-Product"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/icons/ex.png" style="padding: 0pt 0pt 0pt 3pt;" alt="link"></img></a></li> <li><b>Playback Application</b>: <a href="http://www.jriver.com/">J River Media Center 16 ($50)</a><a href="http://www.jriver.com/"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/icons/ex.png" style="padding: 0pt 0pt 0pt 3pt;" alt="link"></img></a></li> <li><b>(<i>Optional</i>) PCI FireWire Card</b>: <a href="http://www.sybausa.com/productInfo.php?iid=458">SYBA SD-VIA-FW1E1H ($8)</a><a href="http://www.sybausa.com/productInfo.php?iid=458"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/icons/ex.png" style="padding: 0pt 0pt 0pt 3pt;" alt="link"></img></a> | <a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/FireWire-SD-VIA-FW1E1H-Manual.jpg">User Manual (JPG)</a><a href="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/graphics/2011/0623/FireWire-SD-VIA-FW1E1H-Manual.jpg"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/icons/ex.png" style="padding: 0pt 0pt 0pt 3pt;" alt="link"></img></a> | <a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16815124034&cm_re=fw1e1h-_-15-124-034-_-Product">Newegg Product Page</a><a href="http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16815124034&cm_re=fw1e1h-_-15-124-034-_-Product"><img src="http://images.computeraudiophile.com/ca/icons/ex.png" style="padding: 0pt 0pt 0pt 3pt;" alt="link"></img></a></li> </ul>
  14. Article: C.A.P.S. v2.0

    View full article
  15. Low voltage memory

    Hi everyone In thinking through the build for my music playback machine (based roughly on CAPS), I had a thought about the memory. Many boards support both low voltage and regular voltage memory. Is one, theoretically, inherently better than the other? I can imagine that low voltage memory would draw less power and thus would induce less jitter. At the same time, with low voltage pushing out ripple noise may be harder. I genuinly don't know. It could also be that it doesn't matter. What is the opinion here? Does it matter which type you pick? And why? Thanks!
  16. Computer Audiophile Pocket Server C.A.P.S. v3 Lagoon

    CAPS v3 Lagoon is the second of four designs and a very nice upgrade from the entry level Topanga server. Lagoon has major similarities with Topanga such as the same motherboard, memory, base power supply, and case. I made a point to enable easy upgrading from the Topanga server while at the same time not dumbing-down the Lagoon design. A familiar addition to Lagoon is the SOtM tX-USBexp PCIe USB card for improved USB audio performance. In addition the mSATA drive from Topanga has been replaced with a new very low power SSD. The power saved by switching disks is not insignificant and plays a role in Lagoon's optional enhanced power supply. Based on my experience with this power supply I won't use a CAPS server without it in the future. The difference between using the server with and without the enhanced PSU is easily identifiable and repeatable. Even the most inattentive listener should recognize the impact of this PSU. Lagoon's unassuming compact design, increased sonic performance over Topanga, and enhanced power supply options should make it a great option for many computer audiophiles.[PRBREAK][/PRBREAK] For an introduction to the CAPS v3 server designs please read the article linked here . To read about the entry level CAPS v3 Topanga design please read the article linked here . Hardware Motherboard - Intel DN2800MT Marshalltown Mini-ITX Note: This is the same motherboard used in the Topanga design. Some of the information below is repeated from the Topanga article . This motherboard is the successor to the board used in CAPS v1. After comparing nearly all available motherboards and considering the CAPS requirements the DN2800MT was the last board standing. This motherboard has a lot going for it including low power, low profile, no fan, and external DC power input among other items. I'm a firm believer in using as little power as possible, within reason, to accomplish a task. The key is finding a balance between low power and features. The DN2800MT has a Thermal Design Power (TDP) of only 8 watts. CAPS v1 had a TDP of 11.8 while CAPS v2 had a TDP of 13 watts. TDP is the maximum amount of power the computer's cooling system is required to dissipate. Many CPUs today have a TDP around 65 watts and can range from 17 watts for mobile CPUs to 130 watts for a powerful desktop CPU. Keep in mind that's only the CPU, not the CPU / motherboard combination like the Intel DN2800MT. The DN2800MT features a 1.86 GHz dual core Atom N2800 CPU (6.5 watt TDP). This processor has plenty of power for most music servers designed to output bit perfect audio. Using room correction or an add-on application like JPlay will likely require a much faster processor. A newer feature to the CAPS servers is the mSATA slot. Versions 1 and 2 were designed before any motherboard featured this technology. Traditional boards have standard SATA I/II/III ports that connect a spinning hard drive or solid state drive to the board via a SATA cable. mSATA drives are much more like computer memory in size and appearance. These drives are solid state and fit directly into the motherboard without any cables. Even though the DN2800MT board has mSATA capability the Lagoon design doesn't use this slot. The server is still very easy to build but absolute simplicity was outweighed by the desire for a lower power SSD that requires internal power and SATA cables. The DN2800MT will likely be in production until the end of 2014. After that availability will be curtailed but readers should be able to find them online if needed. I prefer to use motherboards with extended life cycles when possible. This specific board isn't listed as part of Intel's Extended Life Program, but two years of remaining production and limited availability after that should get us to the next CAPS design. A frequent request from CA readers is an HDMI port on the CAPS servers. The DN280MT offers both HDMI and old school analog VGA ports. The onboard graphics are nothing to treasure but should be fine for displaying one's music library via JRiver Media Center. I haven't tried video playback as that is outside the scope of the CAPS designs. This is one area the CA community can help each other by testing video playback and reporting successes or failures. This motherboard features both standard and high current USB 2.0 ports. Lack of built-in USB 3.0 ports may be disappointing to some, but I don't think it's a showstopper. When connecting a USB DAC to the Lagoon server readers should avoid using USB hard drives due to how the USB protocol operates. This issue may be alleviated some by separating the PCIe SOtM USB 3.0 card and built-in USB 2.0 bus lanes and controllers but that doesn't change the USB protocol. USB relies on a host processor to manage the low level protocol. This can load the host CPU with interrupts and buffer copies. This raises the question of how should users store their music collections if the internal hard drive is too small? My recommendation for the Lagoon design differs from Topanga in that I only recommend one method of music storage with Lagoon and that's a NAS. Network Attached Storage is really the only way to use Lagoon because it only features USB ports. I use a Network Attached Storage (NAS) drive for nearly all my listening. My music is stored on the network and accessible to any network attached device in my house. On the Lagoon server a mapped drive such as M: is pointed to the NAS and JRiver is configured to watch the M: drive for library changes. The reason I don't recommend using eSATA with Lagoon like I did with Topanga is the SOtM tX-USBexp PCIe card and the Logic Supply computer case with special backplate prohibit running an eSATA cable from inside to outside the case. Logic Supply has no plans to include the small horizontal opening in this backplate, similar to the standard Intel DN2800MT backplate, to accommodate the many uses of the opening. The CAPS v3 Carbon design has no such limitation but comes at a greater cost and a completely different case. The use of this horizontal opening in the Carbon design is really cool and opens up a world of possibilities for creative computer audiophiles. Sticking with USB readers will notice I don't connect the front panel USB ports to an internal USB header. The reasons for this are twofold. One I wouldn't use these ports for anything even if I only had one USB device. Two leaving these ports unconnected removes an internal cable from the PC design. Tidiness is important to me even on the inside of a computer where nobody looks. Click to enlarge <iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/xwU74_MIGjY" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> Storage - Samsung 840 Pro Series 2.5" 64GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (MZ-7PD064BW) I selected the Samsung 840 Pro series of drives for three main reasons. 1. I've used the Samsung 830 Series of SSDs for awhile and have been thrilled with the performance and stability. The 830 Series was selected as the top SSD drive on many "Best Of" lists over the last year and I agree with its selection. The new 840 Series appears to improve upon the 830 designs and I expect nothing less from these drives. In the CAPS v3 servers the 840 Pro Series works terrific. 2. Low power consumption. According to Samsung the 840 Pro Series consumes 0.068W active and 0.042W idle. The 830 Series consumes a "wapping" 0.24W active and 0.14W idle. This low power consumption is critical when using the enhanced power supply discussed below. 3. End of life for the Samsung 840 Pro Series is as far off as possible with solid state drives. The 840 Pro Series was just released in October 2012. Hopefully these drives will be available for the life of the CAPS v3 designs as opposed to the CAPS v2 SSD that disappeared too quickly from store shelves. The main reason I excluded an mSATA drive from the Lagoon design was power consumption. The Samsung 840 Pro Series consumes far less power than the Mushkin mSATA drive specified for use in the CAPS v3 Topanga. The 60GB Mushkin consumes 0.7 watts at idle and 2 watts active. Many people online have questioned these high numbers but nobody has been able to prove the numbers are inaccurate. The 840 Series comes in both Pro and non-Pro versions. I selected the Pro version mainly because it's an MLC drive as opposed to the new TLC based non-Pro drive. Solid state drives are available in Single Level Cell (SLC), Multi Level Cell (MLC), and Triple Level Cell (TLC) NAND flash memory. SLC drives are enterprise class performers with the highest cost per gigabyte. The number of SLC drives available int he consumer market has dwindled quickly over the last few years. MLC drives are currently in the sweet spot between cost and performance. TLC drives are new to the consumer market. Samsung is the first manufacturer to release a TLC based drive in its 840 non-Pro Series. TLC drives can be much slower than MLC and SLC drives. Samsung indicated the 840 Series TLC drives are roughly 50% slower than the Pro models. In addition to the performance hit by using TLC NAND the TLC drives suffer greatly in endurance compared to the other SSD options as well as increasing program, erase, and read latency. In the future TLC drives will likely equal MLC performance as the technology is used and refined. Currently I wouldn't use a TLC drive for a CAPS server or every day computer. The Samsung 840 Pro Series comes in 64, 128, 256, and 512GB sizes. The 64GB is specified for the CAPS v3 Lagoon but its availability is limited as of this writing. Given it's a new drive this should only improve. In the Lagoon photos readers will notice I'm using the 128GB version as it's the smallest Pro Series drive I could purchase in October. The 840 Pro Series has a Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) of 1,500,000 hours, 500K less than the Mushkin mSATA drive. 840 Pro drives support trim like most solid state drives. Trim is a command run by the operating system that identifies unused blocks of data the drive can delete. This helps avoid severe performance degradation down the road. The specifications of the 840 Pro drives with 256 MB of Samsung DDR2 SDRAM cache memory and Samsung's 4th-generation 3-Core MDX Controller are very good at 97K IOPS (Random Read Speeds) and 530 MB/s / 390 MB/s (Sequential Read/Write Speeds). The speed of sequential writes increases to 520 MB/s on the 256 and 512GB drives. Astute readers will probably wonder why I selected a drive with SATA III 6 Gb/sec speed even though the motherboard only supports SATA II at 3 Gb/sec. The number of SATA II drive available is diminishing by the second and selecting a drive solely because its maximum speed is equivalent to the current motherboard's maximum speed would be a mistake. The 840 Pro Series can also be used in the future paired with a SATA III 6 Gb/sec capable motherboard and operate at its full potential. Note: The SOtM In-Line SATA Power Noise Filter is not used in the Lagoon design because it doesn't fit with the drive mounted up against the top of the case. Random Access Memory (RAM) - Mushkin Enhanced Essentials 4 GB (991644) I suspect the main item readers will want to know about the memory selection is why 4GB rather than the brand and specific modules. I'll get the later out of the way first. I selected the Mushkin memory because it's readily available, has worked very well for me, and meets the RAM requirements of DDR3 800/1066 SO-DIMM. One additional item in this category is my selection of a single 4GB module rather than two 2GB modules. I did this because the modules are 1.5v each. Doubling the power requirement for the same amount of memory doesn't make sense. Also, I could not locate readily available RAM modules with low voltage of 1.35v. Thus, a single 1.5v module was selected. Why 4GB when many readers are using 8, 12, and 16GB? According to Intel the DN2800MT motherboard only supports up to 4GB of RAM. I know a few readers have placed more memory on this board successfully, but for this music server I don't know if the pros outweigh the cons. My hunch is that 4GB is plenty of RAM in Lagoon. Related to the selection of 4GB of RAM is the fact that Intel's Cedar Trail platform (DN2800MT) doesn't support 64-bit or DirectX 10.1 Graphics Drivers. A major benefit of 64-bit is the capability to use more than 4GB of memory. Without full 64-bit software support Lagoon runs on a 32-bit operating system. The maximum amount of memory in this 32-bit OS is 4GB. Power Supply - Seasonic SSA-0601D-12 Selecting a power supply for the CAPS v3 Lagoon server involved a bit of research into the energy efficiency standards and finding a balance between efficiency, quality, and cost. I have no doubt a music server's power supply can have a great impact on a high end audio system. I'll detail my findings and recommend a terrific but not inexpensive PSU upgrade below. The Lagoon server doesn't require a lot of power. Thus I selected a readily available 60 watt PSU. In my tests this server maxed out at below 25 watts! The Seasonic SSA-0601D-12 is a 12v 5A DC adapter with reduced idle power draw. It complies with Energy Star 2.0, CEC level V the highest level currently in use (>87% efficiency), and Eup Lot 7. I've used this supply for months without any issues and highly recommend it to CA readers. PC Case - LGX MC500 Compact Mini-ITX Case The LGX MC500 case didn't impress me at first with its unassuming appearance. Once I took delivery of the case I quickly changed my mind. It looks much better in person than online. It's black unobtrusive design somewhat disappears in one's audio system. I like that the case has no front LED lighting indicating either hard drive activity or power status. Computer audiophiles don't need to see if the hard drive is being accessed and with a little education can identify if the server is on or off by looking at the Ethernet port. When Lagoon is turned off the Ethernet port, if connected, will have a single green light blinking. When the server is on and connected to a Gigabit switch the lights will blink both green and amber. If the computer had a sound one would know instantly if it was on, but the silence of Lagoon requires this little peek in the back for confirmation it power state. More important than the appearance of this case is its versatility and ability to meet CAPS requirements including a fairly inexpensive price tag. The case is designed for only mini-ITX motherboards. I like that because there is no extra space when it's not needed. The CAPS v3 Carbon design has extra space but there's a reason for that space. Logic Supply states a single 2.5" hard drive can be placed in this case. In my testing I easily placed two 2.5" drives in the case even with one hovering over the SOtM tX-USBexp PCIe card. Using two 2.5" drives could enable readers to customize this server design and fit a nice sized music collection on internal drives. The LGX MC500 is delivered with one fan attached to the chassis. This fan is easily removed to satisfy the CAPS fanless design requirement. When ordering the case from Logic Supply readers will want to order the Atom-MC500X package. This package includes the sometimes difficult to find DN2800MT I/O shield / backplate that features an opening for the SOtM PCIe expansion card. Logic Supply has the backplate in stock as of this writing at an added cost of $17.00. In addition to the backplate this Atom-MC500X package includes the motherboard, case, power supply, and PCIe low profile riser necessary for the SOtM installation. Click to enlarge Enhanced Power Supply Option - Red Wine Audio, Black Lightning High-Current Battery Power Supply The easiest component to upgrade in the CAPS v3 Lagoon design is the power supply. Lagoon is powered externally via its DC input or internally using a two-pin connector and internal PSU. Intel recommends using an external power supply and the outside DC input although doesn't give any reason for this recommendation. The SOtM tX-USBexp USB card can also be powered internally (4-pin connector) or externally (DC input). This combination of motherboard and USB card, both with external power options, is terrific for a CAPS music server. My requirements for an enhanced CAPS v3 power supply were low noise and the ability to power both the motherboard and SOtM tX-USBexp card via the same supply. My research lead me to Vinnie Rossi of Red Wine Audio. RWA has been a leader in battery powered high end audio for years. In addition, Vinnie is one of the nicest guys in the industry. Looking at his Audio Circle forum readers will see all the dedicated RWA users and kind words about Vinnie's customer service. Both the quality of the products and integrity of the manufacturer matter greatly. Many computer audiophiles have been burned by online direct sales from companies who've since disappeared and or stopped offering customer support. CA readers should have zero hesitation working with Vinnie Rossi and Red Wine Audio. A few months ago I asked Vinnie about his Black Lighting High-Current Battery Power Supply and its ability to power a CAPS v3 server. Vinnie responded with a few questions and a resounding certainty that there would be no problems. Vinnie has customers powering all kinds of computers, among other items such as audio components, with the Black Lighting. Vinnie recommend I measure the power consumption at peak and study state for the v3 server I wished to power. I purchased a Kill-A-Watt power strip and ran the Lagoon server for several days. The consumption never reached above 25 watts. With this information Vinnie recommended a single or double LiFePO4 (LFP) battery pack based Black Lightning depending on how long I wished to run from batteries. I selected the single battery option as a start knowing I could always upgrade to a double battery solution by simply adding a battery to the existing chassis. One great feature of the Black Lightning is its ability to power components with different input voltages. The Intel DN2800MT motherboard has an input voltage of +9V ~ +19Vdc (12V recommended) and the SOtM tX-USBexp card has an input voltage of +6.5V ~ +9Vdc. With this information Vinnie configured the Black Lightning for 12V output and crafted a power cable sporting one 12V connector and one 9V connector with a linear regulator. Note: CAPS v3 Lagoon runs for eight hours on a single battery Black Lightning. The positive impact of the Black Lightning High-Current Battery Power Supply could be heard immediately and without playing even one track. Powering both the SOtM tX-USBexp and Intel DN2800MT motherboard with the Black Lightning in battery mode removed very audible noise from the my system. The background of my system in an idle state, while powered on, was very noticeably blacker. Even the most casual listener could hear the difference in blackness before a single note was played. I was instantly impressed by the Black Lightning and conducted further testing to figure out how much or how little needed to be done to increase performance of one's audio system. I initially assumed that powering only the SOtM tX-USBexp card via battery, with the internal PSU disconnected, and the motherboard powered via the Seasonic PSU would yield an equal or nearly equal benefit as powering the entire server via battery. I was wrong with this assumption. Even though the clean battery power source of the Black Lightning was used to power the SOtM card that sends power to the USB receiver chip in the EMM Labs DAC2X I still heard harsh electrical noise through my speakers. Based on this test it appears that noise from the Seasonic PSU / motherboard combo is getting to the SOtM card via the PCIe slot's gold connectors. With this knowledge I thought maybe powering the motherboard from the battery supply and the SOtM card via the motherboard could clean up the noise. Wrong again. Both of these attempts cleaned about 20% of the electrical noise from what I heard through my speakers. Removing the Seasonic and powering everything with the Black Lightning once again cleaned up my system beautifully. Once the CAPS v3 Lagoon and SOtM card were powered with the Black Lightning and the music started flowing the sound was stunning. This combination is far better than previous CAPS designs in all areas. Now that I've run the CAPS v3 Lagoon and Carbon servers from the Red Wine Audio Black Lightning High-Current Battery Power Supply I can't go back to standard computer power supplies. The difference is audible, repeatable, and wonderful. Note: During testing I tried to measure the difference between running battery versus a normal computer power supply. I used both my iPhone 5 and iPad 3 with Faber Acoustical's SoundMeter FFT and Studio Six Digital's FFT programs as well as an Audio-Technica AT2020 USB microphone connected to my MacBook Pro retina. These tools are far from ideal for capturing the differences I heard. The noise I attempted to measure was not a a fixed frequency and not constant. In my un-anechoic chamber of a listening room I couldn't reliably capture the differences as the FFTs displayed too many noises from my room. It's also likely an experienced user could capture these differences as they are very audible and unmistakable. Click to enlarge Add-in USB Card - SOtM tX-USBexp The SOtM tX-USBexp is a USB 3.0 PCI express card that snaps into the single PCIe slot on the Intel DN2800MT motherboard. The card half-height but requires the full size PCIe bracket / trim plate to get perfectly into the case's backplate. Both small and full size brackets are included with purchase of the SOtM tX-USBexp from Simple Design . One huge benefit of this USB card is the ability to power it externally with the Red Wine Audio Black Lightning or any PSU of choice. Nearly all high end USB DACs require USB bus power form the computer to power the USb receiver chip in the DAC. Sending the dirty power from a computer motherboard can result in very audible noise and decreased sound quality. Readers with DACs that don't require USB power can also turn the USB power switch to the off position on the SOtM tX-USBexp card. This setting stops all power from going to the DAC. The SOtM tX-USBexp has been problematic under certain conditions. When using the card with Windows 7 I had many issues including very distorted sound and stuttering during playback. This was unacceptable so I stopped using the card with Windows 7. I tracked the issue down to the drivers included with the card from SOtM. USB 3.0 was not included in any PCs when Windows 7 was released and Microsoft still hasn't included native support for USB 3.0 devices. Thus the need for separate device driver installation. Fortunately Windows 8 includes native USb 3.0 support for existing USB 3.0 chipsets including the TI chipset used in the SOtM tX-USBexp. Windows 8 not only recognizes the SOtM tX-USBexp after installation but also enables the card to function flawlessly. I've tested the card with every DAC that has come through Computer Audiophile and haven't had a single issue. Software Note: Software specifications and recommendations are identical to the CAPS v3 Topanga design. Operating System - Windows 8 Pro 32-bit The operating system for all the CAPS v3 designs is Microsoft Windows 8 Pro. Topanga, Lagoon, and Carbon run on the 32-bit OS and Zuma runs on the 64-bit version. Three main questions to be answered with this selection are 1. Why 32-bit over 64-bit? 2. Why Windows 8 over Windows 7 or Linux. 3. Why the Pro version over the standard Windows 8 version? 1. Why 32-bit over 64-bit? CAPS v1 is 32-bit, CAPS v2 is 64-bit, and CAPS v3 is both 32 and 64 bit depending on the design. A simple answer is you don't bring a knife to a gun fight. In other words use the right tool for the job. As previously mentioned the the "Intel the DN2800MT motherboard only supports up to 4GB of RAM and Intel's Cedar Trail platform doesn't support 64-bit or DirectX 10.1 Graphics Drivers." When designing the CAPS servers I select the hardware before a specific version of the operating system. Reversing these selections leads to decisions based less on needed features and more on specifications. 2. Why Windows 8 over Windows 7 or Linux. One major reason I selected Windows 8 over Windows 7 is longevity. I know both operating systems will be supported after CAPS v4 is released however I want users of a CAPS v3 system to have support for as long as possible. According to Microsoft the End of mainstream support for Windows 7 is January 12, 2015. Around two years from now the third party vendors will also stop supporting Windows 7 as they typically follow Microsoft's lead. I can't say that either Windows 7 or Windows 8 is sonically better than the other. The audio portion of the Windows 8 operating system is unchanged as far as I can tell. I'm sure there are some minor changes but I haven't seen any that really matter. Windows 8 RT is another story but that's for tablets using an ARM processor. Windows 8 still supports low level audio access and exclusive mode for low latency and bit perfect output. WASAPI (Windows Audio Session Application Programing Interface) is still in Windows 8 as it was in Windows Vista and Windows 7. Audio output modes WASAPI and WASAPI - Event Style work just fine in JRiver Media Center on Windows 8. Windows 8 also has native driver support for USB 3.0 chipsets including the TI chipset on the SOtM tX-USBexp PCIe card. This card wasn't part of the CAPS v3 Topanga design but is a critical part of the other three designs. I don't see a benefit to recommending Windows 7 for Topanga and Windows 8 for Lagoon, Carbon, and Zuma just because Topanga doesn't use USB 3.0. This USB 3.0 native driver support is a must for good performance with the SOtM card. All Windows 7 USB DAC drivers I've tried on Windows 8 have worked without issue once installed. The installation can require Compatibility Mode on the 32-bit version of Windows. This is a simple check box to click and the installation will work without a hitch. DACs that don't require driver installation such as the AudioQuest DragonFly also work perfect on the CAPS v3 servers. It has been reported by several CA readers that the DragonFly has issues with Windows 8 and AudioQuest mentions this issue on its website. I've tried several configurations to cause an issue with the DragonFly and I can't make it stutter, pop, or click on playback. One additional item that may be important to some readers is Windows 8's touch capability. Readers who use JRiver Media Center in Theater View with a nice touch enabled screen like the Dell S2340T 23" multi-touch monitor will benefit nicely from Windows 8's built from the ground-up touch support. I selected the Windows operating system over a Linux based solution for two reasons. First I still don't believe Linux is easy for an end user without Linux experience. I've tried many solutions and always found issues that would stop the unlearned from enjoying a music server rather than learning a new language. I haven't found a Linux distribution that supports easy click & learn navigation. By that I mean enabling users to click around and figure things out on their own. Without Linux knowledge it just ain't gonna happen. Readers shouldn't take this as a dislike for Linux. Rather it's part of selecting the right tool for the job. The second reason I selected Windows over a Linux distribution is the new initiative to get the CA Community involved in CAPS designs. I believe a Linux based CAPS server will be much more successful if lead by a group of dedicated CA readers to perfect and address some of the issues other readers may have with the OS. The customizability of Linux lends itself to endless possibilities for CA readers. If someone can think of it, it can be done. Linux is only limited by one's imagination. As a group the CA Community can likely take a Linux based CAPS design to an incredibly high level. I would love to recommend a specific Linux ISO image for CA readers to install on CAPS v3 hardware. I know a few readers have been working on Linux based projects and those projects are great places to start. 3. Why the Pro version over the standard Windows 8 version? This one is simple. Windows 8 Pro support Remote Desktop, using its built-in RDP capability, from both Mac OS X and another Windows computer. There is no need for third party solutions running in the background. I've used Windows RDP for years as the main connection method to my music servers when I need to view the whole desktop. It works every time, it works well, and it's free. The standard version of Windows 8 doesn't support RDP using the Remote Desktop Client. Windows 8 Pro Customization This article is mainly about hardware and software selection. It will be much more effective for me to write a specific Windows 8 article addressing tweaks and OS customizations at a later date. Plus, the CA Community has already started tweaking Windows 8 and discussing it in the Forum. I will use those discussions and the assistance from the Community when publishing a Windows 8 music server guide. Playback Software - JRiver Media Center 18 The selection of JRMC as the playback software for all CAPS v3 designs should come as no surprise to CA readers. I haven't' seen a better playback, library management, and remote controllable application to date. In addition to the application's superiority over the competition the JRiver team has been terrific over the years supporting even the smallest of audiophile requests such as native DSD playback. For more details as to why I prefer JRMC over everything else please read the following article -> Link . JRiver has a Benchmarking feature that runs computers through Math, Image, and Database tests. The CAPS v3 Lagoon server produced the following scores that are slightly better than Topanga. Running 'Math' benchmark... Score: 442 Running 'Image' benchmark... Score: 599 Running 'Database' benchmark... Score: 763 JRMark (version 18.0.81): 601 I didn't recommend a remote control application for JRiver in the CAPS v3 designs. There are a few available ranging in price from free to about $10-15. Readers unfamiliar with the options should consider JRiver's own Gizmo if using an Android device or JRemote is using an iPad/iPhone/iTouch. Wrap Up That's the Computer Audiophile Pocket Server CAPS v3 Lagoon. The server is absolutely silent, capable of great sound, great/good looking, has no moving parts, fairly inexpensive, has no legacy components, is easy to operate, easy to assemble / install, small in size, consumes low power, produces low heat, accepts the SOtM tX-USBexp PCIe card, and plays all pertinent sample rates from 44.1 kHz through 192 kHz and DSD. That's the entire CAPS requirement list from version 1 of the server through v3. The Lagoon design offers terrific performance and an upgrade path to a better power supply. Lagoon isn't the most versatile server ever built as it works best with NAS storage. Readers who require more storage options will be interested in the CAPS v3 Carbon design with its plethora of choices. The Carbon design is based on Lagoon and uses everything except the case, backplate, and riser card. Where to buy retail: Small Green Computer Where to buy components: CAPS v3 Lagoon - Total Price: $886 Atom-MC500X Package: Case (LGX MC500), Motherboard (DN2800MT), Power Supply (PW-12V5A-L5), PCIe Riser (PCIex1-LPR): Package Price: $227.00 Link Memory: DDR3 4GB RAM (991644) Price: $19.00 Link SSD: MZ-7PD064BW Price: $100.00 Link OS: Win 8 Pro 32-bit Price: $140.00Link Playback App: JRMC v18 Price: $50.00 Link Add-in Card: SOtM tX-USBexp Price: $350 Simple Design Optional Power Supply Red Wine Audio, Black Lightning High-Current Battery Power Supply $895 (single battery), $1,195 (dual battery) Link
  17. Computer Audiophile Pocket Server C.A.P.S. v3 Zuma

    The fourth and final CAPS v3 server design is called Zuma. This design is a big departure from all other CAPS designs. Zuma is a high power server capable of nearly any audio task it's assigned whereas previous CAPS servers have slightly more power than needed for bit perfect audio output. Zuma is much more difficult to assemble than the previous servers because it requires installation of processor heat pipes to keep the CPU cool. Computer audiophiles are forewarned that Zuma isn't for the newbie seeking a weekend project. I hadn't built a fanless PC requiring thermal paste and heat pipes for over a year when I sat down to tackle this build. My sloppy work with the thermal paste can be seen in the photos. Once the paste is on a surface it's nearly impossible to remove. Fortunately any competent computer tech can put the server together or CA readers can simply purchase a fully assembled Zuma server from Small Green Computer. The look of Zuma is very nice and similar to traditional audio components with close to an 18 inch width. Zuma has three different display outputs, that should make users seeking a media server happy and eSATA for excellent external storage. CAPS v3 Zuma is a very versatile server with plenty of power and options to please many computer audiophiles.[PRBREAK][/PRBREAK] For an introduction to the CAPS v3 server designs please read the article linked here . To read about the entry level CAPS v3 Topanga design please read the article linked here . To read about the CAPS v3 Lagoon design please read the article linked here . To read about the CAPS v3 Carbon design please read the article linked here . Hardware Motherboard - Intel DH77EB Micro ATX Desktop Board My search for a motherboard to place in the CAPS v3 Zuma server was more difficult than the other CAPS designs because Zuma requires a heat pipe CPU cooling solution. The other low power CAPS designs use Atom processors that are cooled by small heat sinks attached to the motherboard. An Intel Ivy Bridge processor can produce much more heat than any Atom processor. Thus the need for a more robust method of moving heat away from the CPU. The reason I mention the processor right away is that processor placement on the motherboard is critical. A processor placed far from the side wall of the PC case or a processor placed next to tall motherboard components is incapable of being cooled by heat pipes at a reasonable to low cost. Any motherboard and processor combination can be cooled silently with heat pipes, but the cost of the case and CPU cooler can increase by $500 to $1,000 quickly. I purchased the Intel DH77DF motherboard with FireWire and eSATA hoping I'd be able to passively cool the server but its CPU was placed in a location most heat pipes couldn't reach. The Intel DH77EB MicroATX motherboard is the best board for the CAPS v3 Zuma server because it supports 3rd Generation Intel Core i7 Ivy Bridge processors, up to 32GB of RAM, PCI Express slots, external storage disk options, and most important this board has an ideal processor placement for passive cooling. An important design element of all CAPS designs is longevity. In the world of computers longevity is often discussed in quarters (Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4) rather than years. For example a computer component may be available in the first quarter of one year and replaced by the fourth quarter of the following year in time for the holidays. While not part of Intel's Extended Life Program (XLP) the DH77EB's support for 3rd Generation Intel Core i7 Ivy Bridge processors should prolong its lifespan as these processors should be available longer than the previous two generations of Core i7s. Plus, the fact that this board doesn't support Intel's over clocking Z77 chipset should also prolong its lifespan. Users of the Z77 chipset usually want the latest and greatest whereas users of the DH77EB's H77 non-overclocking chipset are likely looking for stability and longevity. Powering a motherboard that supports Intel Core i7 processors is simple unless a fanless design is required. One of the requirements for all CAPS designs is a completely fanless chassis. The Intel DH77EB motherboard is fairly easy to power because it doesn't have an overabundance of power-sucking features. Many motherboards I considered required large box type ATX PSUs. Some of these ATX PSUs are fanless however they frequently require a case fan to remove the large amount of heat they emit into the computer. These ATX supplies also limit the case options far too severely for a CAPS design. The DH77EB can be powered by a picoPSU that's small enough to fit in most nice looking cases. Like the other CAPS v3 designs Zuma features an HDMI output port. Unlike the other designs there isn't an analog VGA output but there are both DVI-I and DisplayPort digital outputs. Combined with an i7 processor the integrated Intel HD Graphics should be much better on the Zuma design than all previous CAPS servers. I haven't tried video playback as that is outside the scope of the CAPS designs. This is one area the CA community can help each other by testing video playback and reporting successes or failures. The Intel DH77EB motherboard is the first CAPS design to feature native USB 3.0 ports in addition to USB 2.0 ports. Just as I didn't think the lack of USB 3.0 ports on the previous CAPS designs was a showstopper I don't think the inclusion of native USB 3.0 ports on the Zuma server is anything special. When connecting a USB DAC to the Zuma server readers should avoid using USB hard drives due to how the USB protocol operates. This issue may be alleviated some by separating the PCIe SOtM USB 3.0 card and built-in USB 2.0/3.0 bus lanes and controllers but that doesn't change the USB protocol. USB relies on a host processor to manage the low level protocol. This can load the host CPU with interrupts and buffer copies. The only positive I see with the native USB 3.0 ports is the speed with which a backup can be completed. Users connecting a USB 3.0 drive to the side or rear USB 3.0 ports, for backup only then removing the drive, will see a huge boost in speed and dramatic decrease in the time it take to complete a backup. Everyone is backing up right? This raises the question of how should users store their music collections if the internal hard drive is too small? My verified recommendation for the Zuma design is eSATA or NAS (Network Attached Storage). My unverified recommendation is to use more internal SATA hard drives. I use a Network Attached Storage (NAS) drive for nearly all my listening. My over 4,000 album music collection is stored on the network and accessible to any network attached device in my house. On the Zuma server a mapped drive such as M: is pointed to the NAS and JRiver is configured to watch the M: drive for library changes. Both CAPS v2 and CAPS v3 Zuma feature built-in eSATA ports (3Gb/s). I really like using eSATA drives because they appear the same as an internal SATA drive in Disk Management and use a completely different protocol than USB drives for data access. Similar to the concept of separation of Church and State is the CAPS concept of separation of Disk and DAC. I mention an unverified recommendation above because I haven't tried multiple internal SATA drives with the existing specified CAPS v3 Zuma power supply. Given the low power requirements of the Samsung 840 Pro Series I am pretty confident users will not have any difficulties with two or three drives inside the Zuma case. Prior to purchasing internal SSD drives readers should know the Dh77EB motherboard features, two SATA III (6Gb/s) ports, two SATA II (3Gb/s) ports, and two shared SATA II (3Gb/s) ports. The shared "ports" consist of one mSATA slot (3Gb/s) and one standard SATA II port (3Gb/s). One pitfall of having these different types of ports is the inability to properly configure a large storage drive spanning several hard drives. While it can be done I don't recommend it due to different speeds, controllers, and less than stellar software RAID. Click to enlarge Central Processing Unit - Intel 3rd Generation Core i7 (Ivy Bridge) i3770S Selecting a processor for a CAPS design is usually simple as the previous designs had processors built in to the motherboard. The Zuma design is different as a processor and motherboard must be selected separately. The Intel DH77EB features an LGA1155 socket supporting Intel's Ivy Bridge processors. The major item of consideration for the Zuma processor was Thermal Design Power (TDP). TDP is the maximum amount of power the computer's cooling system is required to dissipate. I wanted a Core i7 processor with the lowest TDP in an effort to balance heat and power. Unfortunately the Core i7 3770T processor with a TDP of 45W is nearly impossible to purchase at this time. Many laptops from major manufacturers use this 3770T design so Intel has sold its inventory to these manufacturers and likely promised a delayed retail availability. The i7 3770K processor is unlocked and capable of being over clocked into oblivion. This processor is for gamers not computer audiophiles. The i7 3770S edition is a great match for the Zuma server. The letter S in 3770S indicates “Performance Optimized Lifestyle” and is built for performance and energy efficiency. It has a TDP of 65W, just below the K model and above the T model. The 3770S processor is widely available through companies such as NewEgg and Amazon. In addition to performance and efficiency the 3770S features Intel HD Graphics 4000. This should offer nice video output. The stats on the processor are 4 cores, 8 threads, 3.1 GHz speed, 3.9 GHz max turbo frequency, 8 MB smart cache, and 22 nm lithography. Storage - Samsung 840 Pro Series 2.5" 64GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (MZ-7PD064BW) I selected the Samsung 840 Pro series of drives for three main reasons. 1. I've used the Samsung 830 Series of SSDs for awhile and have been thrilled with the performance and stability. The 830 Series was selected as the top SSD drive on many "Best Of" lists over the last year and I agree with its selection. The new 840 Series appears to improve upon the 830 designs and I expect nothing less from these drives. In the CAPS v3 servers the 840 Pro Series works terrific. 2. Low power consumption. According to Samsung the 840 Pro Series consumes 0.068W active and 0.042W idle. The 830 Series consumes a "wapping" 0.24W active and 0.14W idle. This low power isn't as important in the Zuma design as it is in the previous CAPS designs, but I still like keeping power use to a minimum when it makes sense. 3. End of life for the Samsung 840 Pro Series is as far off as possible with solid state drives. The 840 Pro Series was just released in October 2012. Hopefully these drives will be available for the life of the CAPS v3 designs as opposed to the CAPS v2 SSD that disappeared too quickly from store shelves. The 840 Series comes in both Pro and non-Pro versions. I selected the Pro version mainly because it's an MLC drive as opposed to the new TLC based non-Pro drive. Solid state drives are available in Single Level Cell (SLC), Multi Level Cell (MLC), and Triple Level Cell (TLC) NAND flash memory. SLC drives are enterprise class performers with the highest cost per gigabyte. The number of SLC drives available int he consumer market has dwindled quickly over the last few years. MLC drives are currently in the sweet spot between cost and performance. TLC drives are new to the consumer market. Samsung is the first manufacturer to release a TLC based drive in its 840 non-Pro Series. TLC drives can be much slower than MLC and SLC drives. Samsung indicated the 840 Series TLC drives are roughly 50% slower than the Pro models. In addition to the performance hit by using TLC NAND the TLC drives suffer greatly in endurance compared to the other SSD options as well as increasing program, erase, and read latency. In the future TLC drives will likely equal MLC performance as the technology is used and refined. Currently I wouldn't use a TLC drive for a CAPS server or every day computer. The Samsung 840 Pro Series comes in 64, 128, 256, and 512GB sizes. The 64GB is specified for the CAPS v3 Zuma but its availability is limited as of this writing. Given it's a new drive this should only improve. I'm currently using the 128GB version as it's the smallest Pro Series drive I could purchase in October. The 840 Pro Series has a Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) of 1,500,000 hours, 500K less than the Mushkin mSATA drive used in the Topanga design. 840 Pro drives support trim like most solid state drives. Trim is a command run by the operating system that identifies unused blocks of data the drive can delete. This helps avoid severe performance degradation down the road. The specifications of the 840 Pro drives with 256 MB of Samsung DDR2 SDRAM cache memory and Samsung's 4th-generation 3-Core MDX Controller are very good at 97K IOPS (Random Read Speeds) and 530 MB/s / 390 MB/s (Sequential Read/Write Speeds). The speed of sequential writes increases to 520 MB/s on the 256 and 512GB drives. The Zuma motherboard supports SATA III (6Gb/s) speeds to take full advantage of the Samsung 840 Pro Series drives. Random Access Memory (RAM) - Crucial 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory (Model CT2KIT51264BA160B) The CAPS v3 Zuma design is somewhat finicky about RAM modules. The Crucial CT2KIT51264BA160B was the third set of memory modules I purchased for testing with Zuma. Other modules caused the server to reboot shorty after POST. Readers who stray from the Zuma design should steer clear of Crucial Ballistix Sport and Corsair Dominator Platinum. This memory works well in other designs just not CAPS v3 Zuma. I selected 8GB of RAM for the Zuma design thinking users may want to try memory based playback or block out a chunk of memory for an add-on software app etc… 8Gb should be plenty of memory, but if users want to move up to 16GB I have tested the Crucial 16GB kit (8GBx2), 240-pin DIMM (Model CT2KIT102464BD160B). Power Supply - picoPSU-150-XT + 102W Adapter Power Kit The Intel DH77EB motherboard doesn't have an external DC input like the previous CAPS designs. The motherboard requires a 24-pin DC to DC converter. These converters feed the internal PC components and have a DC input that connects to the adapter outside the PC case. I tested three different picoPSUs for the Zuma design. Two of the PSUs work just fine while the other didn't even power on the server. Readers ordering the Zuma case from Perfect Home Theater should NOT order the picoPSU from PHT. The 150W PSU-450+120W converter is one of the options at check-out when ordering the case from Perfect Home Theater. I tested this unit but was unable to boot the server. I also checked with another source who tried the same configuration as I and was unable to boot his server. The picoPSU sweet spot is the PicoPSU-150-XT 12V DC-DC ATX power supply with the 102 watt adapter. This PSU has enough power to run the server at 100% CPU utilization for hours without faltering. I highly recommend the 102 watt adapter because 1. it supplies enough power and 2. it has a standard 5/2.5mm barrel connector rather than a 4 pin mini-din jack. The barrel connector will mount perfectly on the PC case whereas the 4 pin connector requires an incompatible mount to be installed on the case. To use the 4 pin connector users must either special order a mount or remove the square plate and feed the 4 pin receiver through the large hole. This looks kind of funny as the hole is much larger than the 4 pin receiver. Readers interested in more power for the Zuma server can opt for the picoPSU-160-XT + 192W Adapter Power Kit. I tested this picoPSU and found no issues. In fact it's the one pictured in the Zuma photos. If adding more hard drives or a bus powered external drive this PSU may be nice to have. Unfortunately the 192w adapter only comes with a 4 pin mini-din jack. It's not a showstopper just an small inconvenience at installation. Both picoPSU options come with interchangeable connectors for a 4 pin mini-din jack and a standard 5/2.5mm barrel connector. The advantage of using a standard barrel connector is the ability to use a better power supply like the Red Wine Audio Black Lightening without ordering a custom connector. PC Case - Streacom FC5WS EVO (HTPC-FC5-EVO-B (black) or HTPC-FC5-EVO-S (silver)) Case options for a nice looking and passively cooled server are very limited. There are many cases that meet one of the two requirements but few that meet both requirements. The Streacom FC5WS EVO comes in both black or silver. I like its clean front panel without an unsightly USB port. Streacom wisely placed two USB 3.0 ports hidden between heat fins near the front right side of the nearly 18 inch (wide)case. THE FC5WS EVO isn't a tool-less case, like the Wesena e4, as it requires four screws to open the top. The black finish is pretty nice but very easy to mark up with one's fingers or a tool. I attempted to wipe off a couple spots with my thumb but wound up leaving a nice thumb width mark from my skin. The most critical feature of the FC5WS EVO is its passive cooling capability. Passive cooling has come a long way over the years with much smaller and equally effective designs. The low profile CPU heat sink and four heat pipes work great to transport the heat away from the CPU and into the aluminum case for dissipation. This passive cooling design can accommodate CPUs with a TDP of 95W. The Zuma CPU has a TDP of 65 Watts. Even when operating at high CPU utilization the Streacom FC5WS EVO doesn't get hot to the touch in my listening room. Playback of bit perfect music through JRiver is a breeze that only warms the CPU heat sink. Installation of the CPU, heat sinks, and heat pipes isn't for the unlearned computer audiophile. The Streamcom instructions are pretty good but the process of installation can be frustrating and messy. During installation I accidentally smeared more thermal paste on the heat pipes and case than I would have liked. This made for an unsightly appearance inside the chassis even after my failed attempts to remove the paste. Once the CPU heat sink, heat pipes, and side panel heat sinks are installed they should not be removed for re-working. I would like to have a second chance at the installation as I'm sure I could do it a bit better and cleaner but the more these parts are moved the messier it gets and the greater the chance at breaking a necessary piece. I've had my share of over-tightened screws break off during fanless CPU installations. Users should plan the install out very carefully. I recommend quasi-installing the pieces without tightening the screws or using thermal paste just to get the feel of how it will work and where the pipes may be placed. Or, go the easy route by ordering a Zuma pre-assembled by Small Green Computer. I don't encourage anyone to build the Zuma server without decent PC knowledge. If assembled by a novice this wonderful hobby of ours will be about troubleshooting a computer rather than listening to music. The FC5WS EVO case has room for additional hard drives. I believe all the SATA ports could be used with 2.5" SSD drives with a little room to spare inside the case. Extra storage can also be had by using the mSATA slot. The expansion slot for PCIe cards can accommodate either full or half height cards. All expansion cards require a PCIe riser card or flexible riser as the cards must be mounted horizontally away from the motherboard. I selected a flexible riser because none of the riser cards I tried was the correct height for the SOtM card. The flexible riser is easily adjusted to any height. Click to enlarge Enhanced Power Supply Option - Red Wine Audio, Black Lightning High-Current Battery Power Supply Note: Testing the Black Lightning with the CAPS v3 Zuma is underway. Due to the picoPSU's strict 12v only input it will not work with the Black Lightning configuration used for the previous CAPS v3 designs. The picoPSU's "over-voltage protection" occurs at 13 - 13.5v. The CAPS v3 Lagoon and Carbon servers don't have an issue with a little voltage swing so they work great with the Black Lightning LiFePO4 pack that can range from 15v when fully charged and running on AC, down to around 12V. Vinnie at Red Wine Audio is adjusting my Black Lightning with a good 12v regulator to work with the Zuma server. Vinnie also highly recommends using a Black Lightning with two batteries due to Zuma's power consumption of 22 watts / 0.2 amps steady state and 60 watts / 0.7 amps maximum (tested with Kill-A-Watt PS10 power strip Link ). The following text is based on my previous experience with the Black Lightning and the specs of the CAPS v3 Zuma server. Zuma is powered externally via its DC input that connects to the internal picoPSU. The SOtM tX-USBexp USB card can also be powered externally via DC input. This combination of motherboard and USB card, both with external power options, is terrific for a CAPS user seeking a PSU upgrade. My requirements for an enhanced CAPS v3 power supply are low noise and the ability to power both the motherboard/picoPSU and SOtM tX-USBexp card via the same supply. My research lead me to Vinnie Rossi of Red Wine Audio. RWA has been a leader in battery powered high end audio for years. In addition, Vinnie is one of the nicest guys in the industry. Looking at his Audio Circle forum readers will see all the dedicated RWA users and kind words about Vinnie's customer service. Both the quality of the products and integrity of the manufacturer matter greatly. Many computer audiophiles have been burned by online direct sales from companies who've since disappeared and or stopped offering customer support. CA readers should have zero hesitation working with Vinnie Rossi and Red Wine Audio. Recently I asked Vinnie about his Black Lighting High-Current Battery Power Supply and its ability to power a CAPS v3 Zuma server. For some illogical reason I assumed the high power CAPS would preclude a battery supply. Vinnie has customers powering all kinds of computers, among other items such as audio components, with the Black Lighting. Vinnie recommend I measure the power consumption at peak and steady state for the v3 Zuma server. Here is where the Zuma server departs from previous CAPS designs. The consumption reached 60 watts maximum but the steady state was about 22 watts. With this information Vinnie recommended a double LiFePO4 (LFP) battery pack. One great feature of the Black Lightning is its ability to power components with different input voltages. The picoPSU-150-XT has a strict input voltage of 12Vdc and the SOtM tX-USBexp card has an input voltage of +6.5V ~ +9Vdc. As of this writing Vinnie is configuring my Black Lightning with linear regulators for both the 12V and 9V connectors for use with the Zuma server. I will publish results as soon as I receive the returned unit. Note: CAPS v3 Carbon and Lagoon run for eight hours on a single battery Black Lightning. Once I have more information I will publish stats for the Zuma / BL combination. Add-in USB Card - SOtM tX-USBexp The SOtM tX-USBexp is a USB 3.0 PCI express card that snaps into a PCIe slot on the Intel DH77EB motherboard. The half-height card can use either full or half-height PCIe bracket / trim plate. Both small and full size brackets are included with purchase of the SOtM tX-USBexp from Simple Design . One huge benefit of this USB card is the ability to power it externally with the Red Wine Audio Black Lightning or any PSU of choice. Nearly all high end USB DACs require USB bus power form the computer to power the USb receiver chip in the DAC. Sending the dirty power from a computer motherboard can result in very audible noise and decreased sound quality. Readers with DACs that don't require USB power can also turn the USB power switch to the off position on the SOtM tX-USBexp card. This setting stops all power from going to the DAC. The SOtM tX-USBexp has been problematic under certain conditions. When using the card with Windows 7 I had many issues including very distorted sound and stuttering during playback. This was unacceptable so I stopped using the card with Windows 7. I tracked the issue down to the drivers included with the card from SOtM. USB 3.0 was not included in any PCs when Windows 7 was released and Microsoft still hasn't included native support for USB 3.0 devices. Thus the need for separate device driver installation. Fortunately Windows 8 includes native USB 3.0 support for existing USB 3.0 chipsets including the TI chipset used in the SOtM tX-USBexp. Windows 8 not only recognizes the SOtM tX-USBexp after installation but also enables the card to function flawlessly. I've tested the card with every DAC that has come through Computer Audiophile and haven't had a single issue. Note: I found it easiest to use a flexible PCIe riser cable rather than a PCIe riser card in the Zuma server due to the height of the PCIe slot on the case. The flexible riser I use and recommend is the EXP1-362-10 from Logic Supply. Software Operating System - Windows 8 Pro 64-bit The operating system for all the CAPS v3 designs is Microsoft Windows 8 Pro. Topanga, Lagoon, and Carbon run on the 32-bit OS and Zuma runs on the 64-bit version. Three main questions to be answered with this selection are 1. Why 64-bit over 32-bit for Zuma? 2. Why Windows 8 over Windows 7 or Linux. 3. Why the Pro version over the standard Windows 8 version? 1. Why 64-bit over 32-bit? CAPS v1 is 32-bit, CAPS v2 is 64-bit, and CAPS v3 is both 32 and 64 bit depending on the design. Zuma is 64-bit. The decision to use a 64-bit OS for Zuma was simple. In order to use more than 4GB of RAM the OS must be 64-bit. Whether to not more than 4GB is needed is another story and is up to each individual use case. The Zuma server was designed to be flexible and much higher powered than the other designs. More than 4GB of memory or at least the ability to use more is necessary. 2. Why Windows 8 over Windows 7 or Linux. One major reason I selected Windows 8 over Windows 7 is longevity. I know both operating systems will be supported after CAPS v4 is released however I want users of a CAPS v3 system to have support for as long as possible. According to Microsoft the End of mainstream support for Windows 7 is January 12, 2015. Around two years from now the third party vendors will also stop supporting Windows 7 as they typically follow Microsoft's lead. I can't say that either Windows 7 or Windows 8 is sonically better than the other. The audio portion of the Windows 8 operating system is unchanged as far as I can tell. I'm sure there are some minor changes but I haven't seen any that really matter. Windows 8 RT is another story but that's for tablets using an ARM processor. Windows 8 still supports low level audio access and exclusive mode for low latency and bit perfect output. WASAPI (Windows Audio Session Application Programing Interface) is still in Windows 8 as it was in Windows Vista and Windows 7. Audio output modes WASAPI and WASAPI - Event Style work just fine in JRiver Media Center on Windows 8. Windows 8 also has native driver support for USB 3.0 chipsets including the TI chipset on the SOtM tX-USBexp PCIe card. This card wasn't part of the CAPS v3 Topanga design but is a critical part of the other three designs. I don't see a benefit to recommending Windows 7 for Topanga and Windows 8 for Lagoon, Carbon, and Zuma just because Topanga doesn't use USB 3.0. This USB 3.0 native driver support is a must for good performance with the SOtM card. All Windows 7 USB DAC drivers I've tried on Windows 8 have worked but installing the drive on the 64-bit OS can be tricky. An error message I received when trying to install XMOS / Thesycon USB drivers that haven't been "signed" is, "Preinstallation failed! Please run setup again. If you are asked to confirm installation of software, please confirm." This somewhat unhelpful message is displayed because Windows 8 Pro 64-bit enforces code signing more rigorously than the 32 bit version. To get around this error and install the unsigned USB drivers for your DAC follow these instructions Link . One additional item that may be important to some readers is Windows 8's touch capability. Readers who use JRiver Media Center in Theater View with a nice touch enabled screen like the Dell S2340T 23" multi-touch monitor will benefit nicely from Windows 8's built from the ground-up touch support. I selected the Windows operating system over a Linux based solution for two reasons. First I still don't believe Linux is easy for an end user without Linux experience. I've tried many solutions and always found issues that would stop the unlearned from enjoying a music server rather than learning a new language. I haven't found a Linux distribution that supports easy click & learn navigation. By that I mean enabling users to click around and figure things out on their own. Without Linux knowledge it just ain't gonna happen. Readers shouldn't take this as a dislike for Linux. Rather it's part of selecting the right tool for the job. The second reason I selected Windows over a Linux distribution is the new initiative to get the CA Community involved in CAPS designs. I believe a Linux based CAPS server will be much more successful if lead by a group of dedicated CA readers to perfect and address some of the issues other readers may have with the OS. The customizability of Linux lends itself to endless possibilities for CA readers. If someone can think of it, it can be done. Linux is only limited by one's imagination. As a group the CA Community can likely take a Linux based CAPS design to an incredibly high level. I would love to recommend a specific Linux ISO image for CA readers to install on CAPS v3 hardware. I know a few readers have been working on Linux based projects and those projects are great places to start. 3. Why the Pro version over the standard Windows 8 version? This one is simple. Windows 8 Pro support Remote Desktop, using its built-in RDP capability, from both Mac OS X and another Windows computer. There is no need for third party solutions running in the background. I've used Windows RDP for years as the main connection method to my music servers when I need to view the whole desktop. It works every time, it works well, and it's free. The standard version of Windows 8 doesn't support RDP using the Remote Desktop Client. Windows 8 Pro Customization This article is mainly about hardware and software selection. It will be much more effective for me to write a specific Windows 8 article addressing tweaks and OS customizations at a later date. Plus, the CA Community has already started tweaking Windows 8 and discussing it in the Forum. I will use those discussions and the assistance from the Community when publishing a Windows 8 music server guide. Playback Software - JRiver Media Center 18 The selection of JRMC as the playback software for all CAPS v3 designs should come as no surprise to CA readers. I haven't' seen a better playback, library management, and remote controllable application to date. In addition to the application's superiority over the competition the JRiver team has been terrific over the years supporting even the smallest of audiophile requests such as native DSD playback. For more details as to why I prefer JRMC over everything else please read the following article -> Link . JRiver has a Benchmarking feature that runs computers through Math, Image, and Database tests. The CAPS v3 Carbon server produced the following scores that are slightly better than Topanga. Running 'Math' benchmark... Score: 2515 Running 'Image' benchmark... Score: 6356 Running 'Database' benchmark... Score: 5265 JRMark (version 18.0.103): 4712 I didn't recommend a remote control application for JRiver in the CAPS v3 designs. There are a few available ranging in price from free to about $10-15. Readers unfamiliar with the options should consider JRiver's own Gizmo if using an Android device or JRemote is using an iPad/iPhone/iTouch. Wrap Up That's the Computer Audiophile Pocket Server CAPS v3 Zuma. It's the first high powered CAPS server to date. The server is absolutely silent, capable of great sound, great looking, has no moving parts, fairly inexpensive, has no legacy components, is easy to operate, easy to assemble / install (buy qualified personnel), small in size, consumes low power for a higher power design, produces low heat, accepts the SOtM tX-USBexp PCIe card, and plays all pertinent sample rates from 44.1 kHz through 192 kHz and DSD. That's the entire CAPS requirement list from version 1 of the server through v3. The Zuma design offers very fast performance. An upgrade path to a better power supply is being tested at the time of this writing. Zuma offers decent storage options of NAS or eSATA. The sound quality and usability of the Zuma server are both great. Computer audiophiles seeking computing power to accomplish most audio related tasks should consider CAPS v3 Zuma over all previous designs. P.S. As one astute CA reader pointed out in the comments section of the CAPS v3 Introduction the names Topanga, Lagoon, Carbon, and Zuma are all beaches in Malibu, California. One of my favorite places :~) Where to buy retail: Small Green Computer Where to buy components: CAPS v3 Zuma - Total Price: $1,547 Case: Streacom FC5WS EVO Price: $272.00 Link Motherboard: Intel DH77EB / BOXDH77EB Price: $100.00 Link Processor: Intel Core i7 i3770S Price: $305 Link Memory: Crucial 8GB DDR3 1600 (CT2KIT51264BA160B) Price: $45.00 Link SSD: MZ-7PD064BW Price: $100.00 Link Power Supply: picoPSU-150-XT + 102W Adapter Power Kit Price: $76.00 Link OS: Win 8 Pro 64-bit Price: $140.00Link Playback App: JRMC v18 Price: $50.00 Link Flexible Riser: EXP1-362-10 Price: $34.50 Link Add-in Card: SOtM tX-USBexp Price: $350 Simple Design SATA Power Noise Filter: SOtM Price: $65 Link Cable: Internal USB 3.0 Price: $9.00 Link Optional Power Supply Red Wine Audio, Black Lightning High-Current Battery Power Supply $1,195 (dual battery) Link
  18. CAPS v1 flickering screen

    Hi, I've noticed this with my CAPSv1 as long as I can remember, though due to other commitments am only just getting round to looking into it. I have the CAPSv1 (Computer Audiophile - Computer Audiophile Pocket Server - C.A.P.S.), i.e. Intel D945GSEJT motherboard with Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950 integrated video. I am connected via VGA cable to a 24.1" Asus PA248Q monitor, VGA input. The issue I am having is this - there is a constant kind of banding/flashing/flickering over the entire display. It's not that obvious, though quite noticeable if you sit in front of the monitor for a while or if you know it's there. I was experimenting with colour screen fills in paint, and it seems most noticeable on a grey background. I can't see it at all with black and hardly with white. It's noticeable with a range of colours though, and particularly with greys. I know that it's not the monitor as the display is quite stable when connected to a Macbook. Any help appreciated !
  19. Hello, I would kindly like to ask for some helpful advice and feedback to make final decisions on how to build the CAPS V3. I am starting the build with a HDPLEX h1s case and a HDPLEX-LPSU, that should feed the CAPS, the USB Card and my V90 DAC. As the PPANG V2 card is my choice, I will need a thin micro-ITX board, which limits the choice of MoBo/CPUs. The OS will be on a Samsung 850 pro 128 GB. On a cost/performance ratio I was tending to a ASROCK Q1900TM, that is not the most powerful, but a quad core CPU with a TDP of 10, which seems to be not too bad because it is more performant as the DN2800 board used in Lagoon build. And it is "Made in Japan", so it might have a deep purple flavour ;-) Having a look forward (DSD Up/Down-Sampling )I was taking into account on more powerful alternatives: The Gigabyte H81TN or Q87TN, alternatively the ASUS Q87T with a Intel I3-4130T CPU, allowing me to upgrade the bios of the Q87 boards in order to be compatible with the newest HASWELL generation. That would provide the upgrade path to a more powerful CPU if needed. What I like at the Q-boards is the double GB-LAN connection on the thin mini ITX form factor. As the CAPS will be fed by an UNRAID-NAS with Dual Gbit LAN connection, I regard this a s a good connection backup plan. I fear with the H81 or the Q1900, a simple failure on the LAN unit could make me a lot of headache. But I am not sure if this would be a common problem in computer audio? I've just read that people are not happy with the speed performance on the LAN connection. Any thoughts and advice on making a choice for the board/CPU? Regarding the RAM, would the MUSHKIN 992019 (8GB , 7-7-7-20) a good choice? It's not on the MB's compatibility list, could that prove to be a problem ? Many thanx in advance and greetings from the Loire valley Tom PS. I did not put links to the different parts, as I was not aware if this is allowed and/or useful. If it would be useful, let me know, I could post them ;-)
  20. Hello everyone I need help as I am thoroughly confused. I need something to get music files stored on my NAS into my DAC. I have read many forum posts on this site and others and have narrowed down the choices but need help in finalising one of these. I am currently using a laptop with Win server 2012, Audiophile Optimiser and JRiver, USB out into my DAC. Files are on a Synology NAS. Flac and Wave. I wanted to get something better than my noisy laptop. I am not interested in DSD as my DAC does not support it and I have no plans to change it in the near future. Further I do not care if the streamer/network player outputs to the DAC via USB or SPDIF. Everyone says USB is better but most people who have AB'ed it confirm there is very little difference between them. I just want something that sounds good. The price of each of these options are given below. Hope that helps you all in suggesting something. NAD M51 - $2100 Bryston BDP -1 - $1650 Aires - $2250 Zuma with linear PS - $2300 (APPX) As I don't use Apple I would prefer not to use Aires but if it sounds better I can buy it and wait for the promised Android app. Also even if get a CAPS type solution I do not plan to have a 2 PC set up using JPLAY and AO as it becomes too expensive for me. Thanks in advance for you feedback.
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