SQ difference between pc and dedicated music servers? Questions about noise etc

Discussion in 'Digital Sources' started by Donny, Nov 4, 2018.

  1. Donny

    Donny Big Damn Hero Subscriber

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    I am thinking about getting a music server (Sony Hap-z1es).
    I have heard that pc's are "noisy". I'm not really sure if this refers to the fans running or if it means in the signal. I guess the real question is would a music server such as the sony be better than a pc with a high quality external dac? After all the music would still be downloaded on the pc and then transferred to the server. So the pc isn't really out of the loop and what about ethernet? Could ethernet contaminate the signal?
     

     

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  2. bigx5murf

    bigx5murf AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Only onboard audio in PCs can introduce noise, and some of the better internal cards nowadays should be free of that.

    I would op for a NAS over a dedicated music server.
     
  3. Donny

    Donny Big Damn Hero Subscriber

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    So I currently am using an external dac. Does that mean I am bypassing the pc noise? Also I am lost as to what NAS is. Thanks!
     
  4. Condorsat

    Condorsat Audio Enthusiast

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    Like you .. I use external DAC .. but Chris Connaker (Founder, Computer Audiophile) gave a good explanation of NAS at RMAF12. About 3:30 minute mark.
     
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  5. 4-2-7

    4-2-7 Smart Ass Sponsor Subscriber

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    Just like anything else, it all depends on the total of the system. If you have a 15 year old computer a new computer could sound a world better not using a stand alone DAC that the old computer needed. I find all this a rabbit hole and a race to liberate people from their money. The same with the latest greatest digital sampling, formatting and players.

    Keep it simple, keep your computers up to date and use a good DAC, you can subscribe to different player services anytime you wan't and drop them at will.
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2018
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  6. Frank Sol

    Frank Sol Addicted Member

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    :thumbsup:

    Adding to that ^

    Personally , I prefer running Linux for music playback
     
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  7. Donny

    Donny Big Damn Hero Subscriber

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    Thanks guys. I learned a lot from these posts and that video!
     
  8. bigx5murf

    bigx5murf AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Yes, but in rare occasions, you can still get a ground loop with the USB. A powered USB hub usually fixes that. Or you can use an optical dac if your PC had an optical output, those are immune to ground loops because they're electrically isolated.

    NAS stands for Network Attached Storage. It's basically a hard drive or multiple hard drives connected to your router, so that any device on your network can access the files. You can also set it up as a Plex server, then you can stream your collection anywhere you have an internet connection.
     
  9. rwartner

    rwartner Super Member

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    Decide what you are really trying to accomplish. What is the source of your music and how do you want to play it.

    For me a laptop and external DAC works perfect. I wanted to rip CDs and play them. When gigantic USB drives became available hardware was no longer an issue.
    So for folks like me basically it is DAC preference. I don't worry about noise.
     
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  10. sKiZo

    sKiZo Hates received: 8642 Subscriber

    External DAC is a good thing and should run rings around anything but the cream of onboard audio. However ...

    People keep forgetting about the other end of the cable. I prefer the USB connection on my DAC - it does have lower resolution, but just sounds better than S/PDIF, and 96/24 is more than enough for quality playback. Problem - there's a LOT of USB accessories attached to the typical computer today, and I found out some weird noises and latency issues were caused by competition from my wireless keyboard/mouse. Solution was adding a dedicated and completely isolated USB channel just for the DAC (and ADC when I'm ripping vinyl). It's (and I feel dirty saying this) audiophile grade, and even has it's own power supply ... problem solved.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Doubled the cost of my digital connection, but hey ... I'm worth it ... ;-}
     
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  11. Donny

    Donny Big Damn Hero Subscriber

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    I'm now using a program mentioned in the video,J river. I really like it so far and plan on staying with an outboard dac. My dac is modest budget dac so I am going to try something more upscale. I'm thinking benchmark.
     

     

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  12. cpt_paranoia

    cpt_paranoia Super Member

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    Don't worry; it's just a bog-standard two-port USB card that they have hacked to add a power supply. Which, of course, is still powered from the pc... It ought to be able to filter out some of the PC's noise, though.

    A well-engineered USB DAC ought to be able to eliminate noise on its USB input. But not all USB DACs are well engineered, so reducing noise on the PC's USB port is a reasonable step.
     
  13. PianotunerNJ

    PianotunerNJ Active Member

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    I go from the HDMI, direct digital, to my surround receiver. Using ASIO driver, or WASAPI driver, you bypass any windows processing. If your power supply is good (I use monster power conditioner for entire system) there should be 0 noise. No external dac needed if you’re using an HT receiver with HDMI input. If your receiver is decent and can decode hi-res audio formats, you have no need for an expensive dac. I know most guys here are stereo purists and the idea of a surround receiver is taboo, but I’ve compared my system to much more expensive ones and in my opinion it holds up very well for stereo, and the surround music is sometimes really awesome to experience. HDMI offers the potential to get the highest resolution in stereo, and also surround, that is available. Going digital direct to the receiver removes analog loss from the chain. All the decoding is done in the receiver, which, in theory, should be optimized to the amplifier in the receiver. If you get a good receiver with ample power, you will never need to look back. I haven’t. The dac Through USB seems like a very clunky approach. I tried it but I found that the HDMI, single cable, no additional hardware solution worked better, at least in my case. And don’t forget the power supply/conditioner, that’s huge for stopping loop noise, and for feeding your equipment a steady clean power source which enhances the performance and lifespan of all your toys. That should be the first thing anyone concerned about noise floor acquires, always IMHO. I have 3 of them, one for each system.
     
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  14. PianotunerNJ

    PianotunerNJ Active Member

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    Of course, if your looking to feed vintage stereo amps, the dac is your only option. I still encourage the power conditioner though.
     
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  15. KingBubba

    KingBubba "Too Much Stuff" Subscriber

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    I use the Thinkpad in my bedroom more than the others in other rooms. All my Thinkpads have USB sound cards in them. In the bedroom, the only computer sound issue I have is with Firefox. When I scroll up and down a page, I get a slight buzzing noise, only when the page is moving. It is not enough that I feel the need to add a DAC.
     
  16. FauxHall

    FauxHall Super Member

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    I have the Sony HAP-Z1ES. Once I get a download to my computer or rip a CD, the transfer from my laptop's hard drive via hardwired Ethernet is flawless.

    I will also put in a good word for the Sony's DAC. It up-samples and converts every file to double DSD before driving the analog out signal. I use the XLR balanced outputs to the Sony TA-A1ES integrated amplifier.

    It also does some magic on MP3s and streaming services, making both sound MUCH better than their bitrate would suggest. I think they call it "DSEE" and to my ears, it works.
     
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  17. E-Stat

    E-Stat AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    The noise has to do with the SMPS used with computers. I keep mine as far away from the small players as possible via Ethernet or Wi Fi with players using linear or battery/capacitor based power supplies. Computer used as file server only.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2018
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  18. whell

    whell AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Maybe a dumb question, but since I've never really bothered investigating dedicated music servers: isn't a dedicated music server in simplest terms just a computer / dac in a prettier box?
     
  19. E-Stat

    E-Stat AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Better ones use linear power supplies, only the hardware/peripherals required for music playback with vastly stripped down versions of the OS.

    You could not use them as s general purpose computer for other applications.
     
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  20. botrytis

    botrytis Trying not to be a Small Speaker Hoarder Subscriber

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    More than likely it is dirty power. I have seen the affect of that.
     
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