Do these HTPC mods & tweaks improve sound? - diyAudio
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Old 22nd May 2003, 11:11 PM   #1
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Default Do these HTPC mods & tweaks improve sound?

Somebody went to a lot of trouble to build a HTPC "from scratch," starting with the case. (The case itself weighs about 20 kilograms.) Many of the parts are really "tweaked out," and I'm wondering, how much return does one get for the time and money invested in tweaks like these? For example:

Cast iron feet on the case.
Click the image to open in full size.

Copper tape and a glob of glue from a glue gun goes to these capacitors on the MB.
Click the image to open in full size.

Aluminum covers over the video and sound cards.
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Poor guy couldn't control his excitement with the hot glue gun again, this time on the capacitors of the sound card.
Click the image to open in full size.

Notice the capacitors and resistors added not only to the 5VDC/12VDC power connectors, but also to the fan of the power supply.
Click the image to open in full size.

There are others, but you get the idea.

What I'm curious to know is, how different is the quality of the resulting sound/video likely to be compared with a compilation of unmodified versions of the same components?

Thanks!

cdwitmer
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Old 23rd May 2003, 01:56 AM   #2
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Default Can't hurt?

I think this guy is on the right track, computers are full of radiated digital noise, noise on the power supply lines and physical vibrations. I always try to use a seperate power supply cable for the HD and CD drives, reasoning that the surge from the CD spinning up and down and the laser off and on can't help the HDs circuitry. Similar theory as bi-wiring speakers?

Physically dampning the caps seems like a good idea. Shielding the cards makes sense too. I wonder if there is a way to terminate the unused PCI slots? A reason to use a mATX motherboard instead, since it would have less slots?

Since this appears to be a Home Theater PC, I'm sure noise from the PC is a big concern.

I'm hunting for a USB 2.0 to SPDIF 24/96 (or 192!) for the purpose of getting a cleaner digital signal outside of the PC.

David
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Old 23rd May 2003, 07:40 AM   #3
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Convection cooling for the CPU?? What system is that, P4 / Celeron?
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Old 23rd May 2003, 09:36 AM   #4
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Default Onkyo makes a nice cheap USB DAC: SE-U55X

I don't know if Onkyo's "Wavio" SE-U55X is being sold outside Japan yet (I know the SE-U55 is available outside Japan), but if it is, it might be worth checking out. That has some pretty nice specs. They have something they call Vector Linear Shaping Circuitry to eliminate pulse noise and smooth out the analog signal. They claim a 110 dB S/N ratio. I don't know if that applies to the inputs as well as the outputs. It also comes with an IR remote controller.
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Old 23rd May 2003, 09:38 AM   #5
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Default mhelin, it's a convection cooled Celeron CPU

Yeah, he chose the Celeron so he could convection cool it. Actually, his HDTV video card is more of a heat problem than the CPU, apparently.
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Old 23rd May 2003, 10:09 AM   #6
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Default High grade case parts for HTPC / Audio computers

This website is entirely in Japanese, but they manufacture an incredible array of case components for serious HTPC and audio computers. They will even machine a fan entirely out of aluminum if you want it! All kinds of materials for deadening vibrations, as well as for absorbing radiation and noise of all types. Plus every conceivable kind of heat sink. I'd post links to all the pictures, but there are just too many.

"Japan Value Co., Ltd."
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Old 23rd May 2003, 11:25 AM   #7
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Talking Radical

This one is radical, but changing that poor noisy switching PSU by some toroids would have some big effects.
Problem is you would have to stabilize all the voltages, and the +5v is usually around 20A.
Audio boards with external dacs and analog stages (the professional ones) is the way to go too.
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Old 23rd May 2003, 12:31 PM   #8
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Well how about going half way.
Just power the sound card, TV card with well regulated torids.
Cut into the power supply tracks off the MB, and supply the clean power.
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Old 23rd May 2003, 12:38 PM   #9
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How about battery power?
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Old 23rd May 2003, 01:06 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by MWP
Well how about going half way.
Just power the sound card, TV card with well regulated torids.
Cut into the power supply tracks off the MB, and supply the clean power.
No need to cut tracks.
My humble SB Live is with OPA2604 op-amps and a +/- regulated psu in a small box inside the computer.
The PSU connects directly to the op-amps, properly bypassed.
The sound is muuuuuuuch better.
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