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Old 1st August 2005, 04:54 PM   #21
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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Hi Amo,


I was concerned about the same sort of issues you are raising and used shielded ata cables and dressed the atx power cables out of the way.

Although I think the grounding techniques used in most pc's are questionable I think doing something substantially different may actually make the situation worse in some instances and none of us have the required equipment to verify whether the changes helped or hindered.

Also mu-metal is used for magnetic shielding not electrostatic shielding which is what is mainly going to be the issue in your pc except around a few large filter inductors in the power supply on the mobo.. Also mu-metal looses its magnetic shielding properties when formed to shape and has to be re-annealed in a high temp oven after forming in order to retain its magnetic shielding properties. Most RFI shields are made of plated tin.

I would shield the audio card if possible, and if using spdif out I would choose a card with a transformer or add one to the existing spdif output to provide some common mode isolation from PC noise to devices connected to the output. A good common mode choke prior to the transformer would also be a good idea. The spdif output would probably float and not be connected to the case at all or if needed could be grounded just at the case bracket.

Based on my so far limited experience I don't think there is much of an issue with noise inside the pc.

I am using unfiltered spdif output from the mobo, and despite my reservations about the hardware quality with ASIO running it sounds quite good, and for now is good enough.

I plan to make a little spdif card with the cm choke, a cap, some resistors and the transformer and drill a small hole in the case for an isolated bnc which will free up a much needed card slot for something else.

I started this thread as a discussion of issues I was trying to address in the design of my server, so just about anything goes here as long as it is in some way related. Your topic was & is relevant..



Kevin
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Old 2nd August 2005, 02:13 PM   #22
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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Hi Mac,
Cool! Mine is working pretty well, just starting to load music into it. I will probably add another HD shortly for storing video and put the virtual memory there too..

Kevin
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Old 4th August 2005, 04:36 AM   #23
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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I have started to rip cds to flac and have found that not using the replaygain setting in flac results in a better sounding file. I also am using the playlists created in EAC and editing them in notepad where I use replace all to replace the .wav extensions in the playlist with .flac extensions so that the original order of the album is preserved.

Sound quality is definitely very good on 16bit cd's, unfortunately it appears something is stripping the HDCD subcode from the HDCD's I have so instead of playing back with 20 bits they playback at 16 bits. I suspect this problem might be EAC, but to be sure I will rip one or two HDCD songs to wav files and test them.

Has anyone successfully ripped and converted to flac with the HDCD subcode intact and if so how did you do it?

Kevin

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Old 4th August 2005, 05:01 PM   #24
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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I have done a little further research into the question of HDCD ripping, according to what I have read both EAC and FLAC support it, and the spdif output of the ALC650 in my mobo purports to support it as well.

I have a PS Audio Ultralink II which supports HDCD playback. Last night after my last post I ripped an HDCD to wav file and observed that the DAC did not indicate it was HDCD encoded. I them converted it to flac and noted no difference in behavior.

I will decode the flac file back to wav and use Nero to burn a copy and see if that is recognized as an HDCD as the next step. I also have a flac pluggin for Nero which I will not use for this experiment, but will test later.

Open questions re HDCD:

Flac reference decoder plugin for Winamp
Flac plugin for Nero
Asio_out.dll plugin for Winamp
Flac
EAC
Asio4all
ALC650E Spdif output

The DAC works fine in HDCD mode with the Sony SACD player I use as a transport for playing CDs now that the Lambda is dead.

Kevin
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Old 8th August 2005, 05:06 PM   #25
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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Haven't yet resolved the question of HDCD.
Downloaded and installed FOO as a media player yesterday, still have to install and configure ASIO as the output device for this player.

Turns out that for those of you who have been baffled by Otachan's asio files as I was, they are actually zipped with 7-zip found at http://7-zip.org. I have never heard of this version of zip which obviously is not recognized by windows, apparently microsoft has never heard of it either - so I don't feel so bad. Very, very annoying.

The extension for this obscure file format is .7z...
Do we really need yet another incompatible zip format??

I wish someone would mirror otachan's website in English as these drivers don't appear to be available anywhere else and there is no English language version available.

The upshot of it is that I will be able to upgrade to a much more recent version of ASIO for Winamp tonight as well as install the latest ASIO driver for FOO as well.

Foo is a very simple media player with a stripped down interface. Seems quite robust. I am going to experiment with it and see if it has any effect good or otherwise on the sound of my FLAC files.

Also I suspect that the mobo SPDIF output isn't that great. It sounds pretty harsh for about the first half hour or so and then things smooth out considerably. I will probably start the quest for a decent sound card with spdif output again shortly.

The outboard DAC is always powered and the other equipment is all tube and sounds relatively innocuous even when cold.

TV tuner card came, still no S video adaptor for the mobo so video recording will have to await its arrival.

So far everything basically works, and there are no major issues other than the HDCD issue.

Kevin
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Old 9th August 2005, 05:05 PM   #26
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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Here's the latest since I can see a lot of people are reading this thread if not participating..

I successfully installed the latest version of Otachan's ASIO DLL for FOO last night and I could hear an immediate improvement, that is once I disabled the DSP based volume control in FOO. For whatever reason it was responsible for some fairly audible crunchy sounding distortion (ain't subjectivism wonderful ) in the high frequencies.

FOO seems like a good way to go in terms of a media player, it generates tabbed playlists which I think is useful if you are playing albums. The interface is very simple to the point of being barebones, but the program itself seems to be very robust and stable and will run even with broken 3rd party dlls and other ills. I also like the fact that it is open source freeware. The name is pretty strange.

Since I could not find an audio card I liked I have decided to design & build an outboard USB dac and spdif/aes/ebu interface for the music server. Right now I am planning on using a PCM2707 for USB to I2S, PCM1794 D/A, and DIT4192 for SPIF/AES support. THe PCM2707 provides all of these functions internally, but I think the overall performance can be slightly improved by externalizing the functions, and in any case the 1794 is a better D/A than the one provided in the 2707. I will use a precision 12.000MHz oscillator on the 2707 instead of the usual cheap mpu crystal typically used. (The internal PLL uses the system clock to synthesize all of the audio clocks as well as those used by the USB client.)

In the mean time I am building a box containing common mode filtering and a pulse transformer for the spdif output to provide some isolation from computer generated noise and to break a potential ground loop that will happen when I add the tv tuner card and s-video output card.

I have ripped about 10 cd's so far and the results are getting better as I learn how to optimize the ripping/conversion parameters. I may go back and replace a few of the early cds with new rips.

That's about it for the moment.

Kevin
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Old 9th August 2005, 05:50 PM   #27
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You might want to take a look at MPXPLAY:

Link Here

DOS based, plays "everything", has everything, amazing piece of software.

Drive 44780 LCD screens, input from keyboard, joystick, ...

Direct track access, it's amazing, take a look.
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Old 10th August 2005, 03:38 AM   #28
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I have setup a music server with 160G using the TVIX module. I have already rip a few dozen cd and the digital output is excellent. My friend has compare this to his fully Blackgated heavy-weight Sony 777 and he found the TVIX to be smoother than the Sony but lose on the bass.
You'll need to connect to a monitor for the display however.
Does anybody else have experience on this product?
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Old 19th August 2005, 04:38 PM   #29
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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Here's the latest news.

Most of the bugs are resolved, however I have yet to resolve the HDCD format issue.. I should have burned that test cd by now, but haven't - I really don't have an excuse.. Well I do actually, other hifi hardware problems unrelated to the server. (Nummie broke his pre-amplifier - now happily fixed, ah the joys of DIY!)

A number of people on the hydrogenaudio forum have stated quite categorically that all AC97 codecs resample to 48kHz, and if true this would account for my not being able to play HDCD encoded material back in HDCD.

I think I can test this hypothesis by temporarily using my m-audio transit as a spdif (optical only unfortunately) source. The transit supports asio directly..

OT:
If you join and post to the afore mentioned forum be aware that if you make an unsubstantiated remark or error in your post other members will quickly use the warn button on you. I made a factual error in one of my early posts, got warned and suspended for 3 days as a result. I now have a warning level of 33% and assume it could get worse.. It's not a place to express your opinions...
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Old 21st August 2005, 02:36 PM   #30
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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Well I have confirmed that AC97 codecs do usually resample everything to 48kHz and in the case of the codec used on my mobo - a Realtec part. the resampling cannot be defeated. I installed my m-audio transit as the audio interface to my dac and I am now able to play HDCD encoded material in HDCD mode.

Kevin
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