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Old 29th September 2009, 06:26 AM   #1
seafire is offline seafire  Mauritius
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Default Hi quality music server with asus xonar stx

Hi Guys.I first posted this at digital source and then realised it belongs here I have two medium range cd players Marantz cd7300 and rotel rcd 951.However the hassle of changing discs all the time is getting to me.I am looking at building a dedicated music server with fanless CPU and two power supplies to eliminate noise.I plan on using the Asus stx as soundcard and will use the analogue outs directly into my amp.I have previously used the digital coax out on a intel Bad Axe board using Asio4all into a Denon AVR 3508 using the Denon's onboard 24 bit dacs to good effect.This was then pre-amped out to various amps(depending on my mood) like a Sunfire 400x5 bi amped or one of my class A/B amps(Marantz pm 94 / Denon poa 600 etc.The sound quality using this process was better than both cd players direct with more dynamics and wider sound stage.I also have a Nakamichi PA7 preamp and both the Nak and Marantz pm 94 preamp still sound the best to me.
My questions are as follows:
How good will the onboard dac on the asus stx be for analogue out?.If it can equal or better my cd players analogue out I will be happy as I now have endless music!
I have been scoping an external dac by AUDIO GD (DAC 19 MK 3).Seeing that a pc will be the source , will this not be overkill as the coaxial out is still from a pc?.
Will the ultimate be the Asus xonar stx digital coaxial out into theAUDIO GD DAC 19 mk3?.How much better will the Asus coax out be than the Intel onboard coax which I found to be very good.
All music is recorded using EAC and a cd brake program to control spin speed whilst recording.Asio drivers will be used and the pc running a minimized windows xp(all extras disabled)
Feedback and opinions will be most welcome
Seafire
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Old 29th September 2009, 10:41 AM   #2
sandyK is offline sandyK  Australia
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Default Hi Quality Music Server

"I have been scoping an external dac by AUDIO GD (DAC 19 MK 3).Seeing that a pc will be the source , will this not be overkill as the coaxial out is still from a pc?.
Will the ultimate be the Asus xonar stx digital coaxial out into theAUDIO GD DAC 19 mk3?.How much better will the Asus coax out be than the Intel onboard coax which I found to be very good."

seafire
The measures you intend taking with this PC as far as fanless etc. should see the SQ from this method markedly better than your typical CD player's Analogue OUT, or for that matter, into the same DAC from SPDIF OUT of the CD player.
I can't answer your question about Asus Xonar SPDIF vs. Intel SPDIF, as my PC only has SPDIF available from my Asus Xonar D2X.
Analogue OUT from my Asus Xonar D2X sounds better than analogue out from a typical affordable CD/DVD player, even a well modified player.
However, it is still some way behind SPDIF from my Asus Xonar D2X into a heavily modified Musical Fidelity X-DAC V3.

SandyK
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Old 29th September 2009, 11:03 AM   #3
seafire is offline seafire  Mauritius
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Thanx Sandyk.
I think I will first see how the analogue out from the Asus Xonar sounds.The point is that I want to input straight into my Nak and Marantz pre-amps.I have a feeling that it is going to be a close race against an external dac.Will the price difference (150$ vs 500$) warrant the SQ.Reading what I have about the Xonar STX I have a hunch that it will be a close call.
Your take???
Seafire
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Old 29th September 2009, 11:20 AM   #4
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Hi seafire,
I have also been contemplating building a PC based music server with the Xonar. What is stopping me is cost to make the PC completely quiet. I am very sensitive to background noise and did not find a way yet to eliminate all the fans and keep the cost reasonnable.
A fanless power supply is around $200, A fanless case is difficult to find at a reasonable cost: another $200+. Solid State drives are around $200.
That PC is going to cost me more than $1K.
I still find the cost too high compared to devices like the Egreat M31B
http://www.egreatusa.com/egreat-egm3...-tank-n31.html
Many times cheaper that anything I can build myself. But again, I do not know if the analog output is audiophile grade.
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Old 29th September 2009, 11:22 AM   #5
sandyK is offline sandyK  Australia
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Default Hi Quality music server

seafire
Is the STX the new one with the inbuilt headphone amplifier, and swappable I.C. s ? I think you would need a much higher priced DAC to beat the Asus Xonar soundcard's Analogue OUT.

SandyK

Lowtherdream
For starters, try mounting the fans with the attached. I got mine from QuietPC (N.Z.)

Ultra-Soft Arrowhead Fan Mounts AFM02B, qty 8 (2 fans)
N.Z.$ 10.29

Last edited by sandyK; 29th September 2009 at 11:30 AM.
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Old 29th September 2009, 12:37 PM   #6
seafire is offline seafire  Mauritius
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lowtherdream View Post
Hi seafire,
I have also been contemplating building a PC based music server with the Xonar. What is stopping me is cost to make the PC completely quiet. I am very sensitive to background noise and did not find a way yet to eliminate all the fans and keep the cost reasonnable.
A fanless power supply is around $200, A fanless case is difficult to find at a reasonable cost: another $200+. Solid State drives are around $200.
That PC is going to cost me more than $1K.
I still find the cost too high compared to devices like the Egreat M31B
http://www.egreatusa.com/egreat-egm3...-tank-n31.html
Many times cheaper that anything I can build myself. But again, I do not know if the analog output is audiophile grade.
Hi Lowtherdream
Your costs could be brought down.Buy one hi end fan-less clean power supply
that will feed your cpu ,mobo and soundcard.The second power supply can be used for running hdd and and auxilaries.Run the cpu with a fan less heat sink.You can always extend the molex connectors and isolate the 2cnd power supply away in a box etc.Hard drives can be put in a plastic box with a lid. Mount on blu tack etc to isolate noise and vibration.Another alternative is a laptop hard drive as 500 G are now available and are not so noisy.120 mm low noise low rpm fans are a dime a dosen today and are extremely quiet. With a little imagination there are endless options
Seafire
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Old 29th September 2009, 12:38 PM   #7
seafire is offline seafire  Mauritius
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sandyK View Post
seafire
Is the STX the new one with the inbuilt headphone amplifier, and swappable I.C. s ? I think you would need a much higher priced DAC to beat the Asus Xonar soundcard's Analogue OUT.

SandyK

Lowtherdream
For starters, try mounting the fans with the attached. I got mine from QuietPC (N.Z.)

Ultra-Soft Arrowhead Fan Mounts AFM02B, qty 8 (2 fans)
N.Z.$ 10.29
Yup that's the one
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Old 3rd October 2009, 08:06 AM   #8
seafire is offline seafire  Mauritius
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Default Xonar STX is here.

I received my ASUS XONAR STX audiophile card today.Being in IT myself I have decided on a Foxconn 45GMX-V as the platform,as we have built and sold well over 300 of these motherboard based pc's and found them very reliable.
Power supply is X2 Ac-bel 650 w .Both are modified to run fan less simply by adding x2 larger heatsinks from a piece of extruded heatsink aluminium.X 1 is dedicated power for the mobo and xonar card.Having no motors(cpu fan,hard drives etc) ensures clean power to the soundcard.The CPU is Intel Dual-Core 5200 with a fan less heatsink. The second power supply feeds all hard drives, +5 v of the usb out and a 120 mm low rpm low noise fan.So as can be seen the two power supplies are totally isolated from each other.
Foxconn onboard sound disabled.Onboard graphics are used with no hardware acceleration.Win XP SP 3 loaded with the minimum services.Hard drives are X 2 Samsung 750 gig.All music is EAC extacted wav files played back with Foobar 2000 and Asio drivers.
Pc has been running for two days to check power supplies.A little warmer than normal but absolutely no problems .I will be installing xonar today and start extensive evaluation and tests.
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Old 3rd October 2009, 11:39 AM   #9
phofman is offline phofman  Czech Republic
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Nice setup. I just wonder if 650W is not an overkill for a regular PC HW.
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Old 3rd October 2009, 01:13 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phofman View Post
Nice setup. I just wonder if 650W is not an overkill for a regular PC HW.
he is running TWO 650 watt psu's!!! that's definitely overkill!!!

From all of my reading. and I have been reading every review of 300-500 watt power supplies I can find. Including many fan less power supplies. All reports I have read have stated that the average PC doesn't need more then 200-250watts for a power supply. and even a pc with a Heavy Dity graphics card, power hungry CPU, multiple hard drives etc. doesn't need much more then 300watts.

AND, what has been very interesting, is that many of the so called 500+ watt power supplies, wont actually put out 500 watts! One review i read the supply would only do 250 watts before it blew up! and the reviews of the noise spec of these supplies is quite telling.

I really like the reviews at http://www.silentpcreview.com and I like that they will also point out other reviews of products on other websites! they go to great lengths to talk about there test methods and even admit when they find a flaw in there testing and they what they did to correct it. pretty in depth stuff. and there not afraid to say, hey this is a piece of crap and here is why, look, here, here and here kind of thing!

I too am embarking on building a Media PC. I have a Zalman HD160XT case on the way with a Gigagbyte GA-P31-S3G MB, ATI HD4760 video card with HDMI output, Visiontek 650 HDTV Tuner card and soon Blu-Ray drive and Xonar sound card.

I have been debating the merits of the Xonar card. My MB has SPDIF output that i can used to feed and external DAC for audio only playback. and audio for video is routed through the HDMI port to my Denon Surround sound receiver that is used for movie playback. So why do i really need the Xonar card? the only benefit i can see is for the copy protection ** for Blu-Ray disc's. so what am i missing??

Playback of DVD-A disc's maybe. I wish i could play SACD's in a HTPC, not sure if that is possible but i don't think so.
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