HTPC for Music (JRiver, DSD), Movies (rip, transcode & download to tablet) - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 10-25-2013, 08:08 PM - Thread Starter
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USE CASE:
* tower placed in closet w/cable through wall to pre/pro in listening room (so I don't mind fan & disc noises)
* JRiver music (Flac, DSD stereo, and some multi-channel)
* Movies (rip and play BluRay & DVD, transcode & download to tablet for airplane flights)
* Browse large music library


Is this overkill?
No video card needed?
In the future I plan to get a USB DAC (new pre-pro Emotiva XMC-1 w/USB DAC) but I need the S/PDIF sound card for now (or I could get a USB S/PDIF coverter or USB DAC)
I already have the case w/550W power supply
I may be compromising audiophile sound by not using a linear power supply w/seperate rail for a USB to USB DAC?


Intel Core i7-4770K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor

Gigabyte GA-Z87X-UD4H ATX LGA1150 Motherboard

Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory

Samsung 840 Pro Series 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk

LG BH16NS40 Blu-Ray/DVD/CD Writer

Microsoft Windows 8.1 Pro - OEM (64-bit)

Asus Xonar Essence STX 24-bit 192 KHz Sound Card

Corsair 300R ATX Mid Tower Case (already have)

Existing 2TB ATA drive + new 3 or 4 TB drive
BU w/eSATA to 2 TB & 3 TB drives
Future NAS (Synology or unRaid)


Existing system:
Panasonic 65' ZT plasma
Oppo 103
Emotiva DCM-1 pre/pro & MPS-1 7-ch amp
2 SeatonSound MFW-15 upgraded sub-woofers
7 Onix Ref 3/100/2/1 speakers with Ninja upgrades
Music Hall MMF 5 turntable
whole house surge protection at the electrical panel
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post #2 of 10 Old 10-25-2013, 08:50 PM
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Why do you need the sound card? Don't need a sound card if you're outputting digitally, perhaps I'm missing something.

I'd put the sound card budget to a dedicated GPU.
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post #3 of 10 Old 10-25-2013, 09:26 PM - Thread Starter
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how is the quality of the mother board SPDIF output vs. the card?

Sound quality is important. My other option is something like this:

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/497-computer-audiophile-pocket-server-c-p-s-v3-zuma/


Do I need a graphics card? I'm just playing movies (no gaming)?
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post #4 of 10 Old 10-26-2013, 02:32 AM
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The 1's and zeroes of the motherboard spdif are the same as the sound card....it's digital. Ideally you should be using hdmi output anyway if you want lossless surround sound for movies.
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post #5 of 10 Old 10-26-2013, 07:28 AM
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the value of a soundcard is in its digital to analog conversion. if you're using spdif a soundcard wont convert to analog. it sends the digital data to the receiver and uses the dac inside it to decode the audio.


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post #6 of 10 Old 10-26-2013, 01:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Let's try this again.

SOUND:
For JRiver stereo playback I seem to have the following options:
* TOSLink or COAX to pre-pro (Coax doesn't seem very popular now but an option until I get a USB DAC). I have read concerns about TOSLink but a suggestion for TOSLink is below.
I used the Toslink connection in my review (of Xonar) because I was suspicious of the switching power supply possibly injecting RF noise into the common ground shared by the DAC when it was connected by coax. I therefore used a high-quality Toslink to make sure that the grounds were isolated.
John Atkinson - Editor, Stereophile

Here is a review of the Xonar card SPDIF w/JRiver and 4 settings:
http://www.computeraudiophile.com/content/378-asus-xonar-hdav13-slim-and-asus-xonar-essence-stx-review
The Xonar card would be great for analog recording (I have thousands of records) and while the DAC is good for a card I don't think it will match the DAC I ultimately choose nor do I want to keep using 8 cables so I'm considering it for Analog to Digital conversion and as a digital coax transport..

* HDMI to Oppo 103 HDMI input and OPPO analog out to pre/pro in 8-CH analog mode (at the moment I don't have an HDMI pre/pro (plan to get XMC-1 w/HDMI & USB DAC. I didn't think JRiver used HDMI but I have found references to the contrary...folks are doing it for not just MC but stereo.

* USB DAC (a future for me I think...if not in pre/pro then stand alone)

* I do want to play DSD and other high rez files so up to 24/96 is a minimum but 192 is preferred. MC DSD needs a good processor

* consider avoiding the traditional switching power supply and getting a linear power supply such as: http://www.mini-box.com/picoPSU-150-XT-102-power-kit used in the ZUMA server I referenced

VIDEO:
* Haswell is said to provide enough video capability for 1080p video playback (Bluray playback & ripped BD & HD-DVD playback). What benefit would a video card provide if I'm not playing games?

* Which processor? Is this a good choice or overkill?
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post #7 of 10 Old 10-26-2013, 06:36 PM
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JRiver supports high bit rates over HDMI. The limit would be I assume the limits specified in the target devices EDID. I have a 5 year old or so Pioneer Elite that has no objection at all to accepting stereo or multichannel in at 24/192. This is routine stuff for JRiver. In output format you would normally specify 24 bits in a 32 bit package and HDMI is happy with that. If you are using a receiver some only support 96K others 192K. Some high end receivers may allow 32bit/384k input to their DACs I don't know. It would not be an issue for JRiver. It will send the device up to whatever the device limits is.

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post #8 of 10 Old 10-27-2013, 10:23 AM - Thread Starter
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there are recommendations for a linear power supply vs. standard box switching PC supply plus a special USB card for connection to USB DAC....even more complexity adding seperate power rails for USB card, and even OS drive. The PC could render the music and video stored on NAS and controlled by a laptop/tablet from listening chair.

that lead me to want to ditch a PC direct connection all together and use network conneciton to something like a LINN DS1 (or even my Oppo which I have been doing). I read a review of a LINN DS1 renderer but the preference was for the digital coax connected directly connected to Linn vs. Lan cable from NAS. This is suprisign because I thought a big benefit of networked audio was remvoing the PC connetion direct to audio system.

The easier solution is to just use a traditional HTPC direclty connected (through the wall) to pre/pro.

anyone compared an audio PC with linear power supply vs. a laptopds vs. a HTPC?
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post #9 of 10 Old 10-30-2013, 09:18 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm thinking about a LINN DS UPnP renderer for audio and streaming video from my office PC/NAS to Oppo as a DLNA renderer. I played some HD-DVD rips recently which have been impressive for video but I'm still interested in better music audio..

I also have done some experimenting:
* i5 HP Ultrabook HDMI w/JRIVER to Oppo HDMI in. I played an HD-DVD rip from SSD and the controls were fast. I listend to some music on JRiver as well.

* JRiver on office PC (old AMD dual core) sending DVD rip to Oppo as renderer and controlling JRiver from HP Slate 7 Android tablet running Gizmo. I have used a laptop for control and enjoyed the panes view and other controls but the tablet remote was impressive.

* connect a USB drive w/several Acoustic Sounds, MFSL and Audio Fidelity SACD rips to DSF files and played on Oppo in native DSD. These are great recordings (listening to Ben Webster now) and a joy to hear in high rez although the 103 analog section isn't audiophile grade like 105 and others which is why I'm interested in hearing the Linn.

* Continue to use my P4 media PC in the closet connected to pre-pro SPDIF w/mAudio Revolution card as a reference
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post #10 of 10 Old 12-24-2013, 08:28 PM
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So what did you end up doing? I've been ripping all my DVDs on my home office PC via MC19, where my music and photos happen to be as well, and trying to figure out the next steps.
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