Spec an Audiophile PC With Me Using CAPS 3.0 as a Starting Point, Adding HDMI for Multi-Channel Hi Rez Audio!!! - Page 29 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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Old 05-27-2015, 03:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Over a month ago picked up two used Theta Gen VIII Series 3 DACs, so now have three of them for 5.1 channels, and use a DH Labs Silver Sonic analog balanced splitter from the Theta CB4 SSP to my two JL Audio f212 subwoofers.

Less than two weeks my new Media Server arrived, a CAPSv4 Pipeline as sold by Small Green Computer with an outboard HDPlex linear power supply. Now I use my prior
CAPS3 Zuma (modded with larger case and an added Sapphire/ATI video card for multi-channel audio) only for multi-channel.

On two channel, the CAPSv4 Pipeline is even much better than what I had luved with my CAPS3! Appreciably quieter, one can turn up the volume on the CB4 "higher and higher". Drums, bass, everything simply clearly sounds better. Bottom line is the CAPSv4 has appreciably less power consumption and EMI/noise thus that cleaner background and greater dynamics. I played several recent jazz recordings all in hi rez - "Jazz Funk Soul"; "Hacienda" by Jeff Lorber Fusion; and two albums by David Chesky and the New Harmonic Jazz. Oh - also an old but goodie Billy Cobham album and the improvement in dynamics is beyond what I could have expected. Don't get me wrong - the CAPSv3 has been terrific for stereo - but once one hears the CAPS4 Pipeline, one cannot go backwards!

For two channel now I almost always listen with the CB4 in multi-channel DTS Neo6! I have matching top dog speakers (Aerial 7t), monoblock amps (Theta Prometheus),
and DACs (Theta Gen VIII Series 3) at each channel including subwoofer, and I am finding that the "extra" extrapolated speakers only enhance the otherwise two channel presentation without taking away!!@@@

You mean you don't remember me? Back 1999 - 2003, I started and moderated the AVS Tweaks forum and also the AVS Special Guests forum.

My home theater at:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1158431
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Old 05-30-2015, 12:07 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Bruzonsky
Over a month ago picked up two used Theta Gen VIII Series 3 DACs, so now have three of them for 5.1 channels, and use a DH Labs Silver Sonic analog balanced splitter from the Theta CB4 SSP to my two JL Audio f212 subwoofers. Less than two weeks my new Media Server arrived, a CAPSv4 Pipeline as sold by Small Green Computer with an outboard HDPlex linear power supply. Now I use my prior CAPS3 Zuma (modded with larger case and an added Sapphire/ATI video card for multi-channel audio) only for multi-channel. On two channel, the CAPSv4 Pipeline is even much better than what I had luved with my CAPS3! Appreciably quieter, one can turn up the volume on the CB4 "higher and higher". Drums, bass, everything simply clearly sounds better. Bottom line is the CAPSv4 has appreciably less power consumption and EMI/noise thus that cleaner background and greater dynamics. I played several recent jazz recordings all in hi rez - "Jazz Funk Soul"; "Hacienda" by Jeff Lorber Fusion; and two albums by David Chesky and the New Harmonic Jazz. Oh - also an old but goodie Billy Cobham album and the improvement in dynamics is beyond what I could have expected. Don't get me wrong - the CAPSv3 has been terrific for stereo - but once one hears the CAPS4 Pipeline, one cannot go backwards! For two channel now I almost always listen with the CB4 in multi-channel DTS Neo6! I have matching top dog speakers (Aerial 7t), monoblock amps (Theta Prometheus), and DACs (Theta Gen VIII Series 3) at each channel including subwoofer, and I am finding that the "extra" extrapolated speakers only enhance the otherwise two channel presentation without taking away!!@@@
Yesterday and this AM finished recalibrating audio/speaker levels in my sytem. This is pre-Dirac. Will recalibrate with Dirac in near future.

In the past, I had calculated delays for all of my CBIV audio modes based on speaker & subwoofer distance from the front center row (two rows, front row three leather recliners, back row two leather recliners, with the front center recliner and the back left recliner having “me” or whoever is sitting there right in front of the front center Aerial 7t or right in the center of the front & surround left and right Aerial 7ts). But I have found that I like watching DirecTV at center front, but I like listening to music at the back left. And sometimes I like watching blu ray movies from the back left, too. So I thought – why not setup CBIV modes with calibrating “delay” and “level” for the speakers for both the front center and back left (again, only two recliners in back row, and the left is actually in the center of speakers from left to right)? So I did.

I like to use the start of the blu ray movie “Prometheus” to hear and evaluate bass on my system for movies! WOW! Interesting I found the bass overall not as loud as before. But the bass is deeper, more musical, and so much more REAL! When the spaceship is hovering over the waterfall, I now hear the waterfall like when I visited Niagara Falls some years ago! I’ve always liked the back row for movies, liking the bass I would feel and hear – bass is great in the front row, but even better in the back row. Now that I have made a source setting for the CBIV based on my position at left back row (actually center as discussed above), with the proper speaker delays for that position, I found that the subwoofer speaker level for the back is quite a bit higher than the front, so I lowered the back subwoofer level to about equal the other speakers. And the result in doing this that I can really hear my system in all its glory!

You mean you don't remember me? Back 1999 - 2003, I started and moderated the AVS Tweaks forum and also the AVS Special Guests forum.

My home theater at:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1158431

Last edited by Steve Bruzonsky; 11-09-2015 at 09:20 AM.
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Old 11-09-2015, 07:58 AM
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As promised, some pics of my audio server build.

It has a linear power supply with three super regulators delivering 12V, 5V and 3V3 (and they can supply 5A+ each).

I also designed an ATX power control board. It monitors the supply voltages and coordinates with the motherboard to supply power when the motherboard requests PWR-On. The board has a built-in pre-amplifier for measuring the quality of the super regulators. (100Hz line rejection is exceptional and well greater than 130dB...)

The power supply required an in-rush control circuit.

Motherboard is an ASRock Z97E-ITX with Windows 10 sitting on an M2 card underneath the board. Processor is Haswell 4570T. Sound card is an ESI Juli@ XTe with modified clocks.
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Old 11-09-2015, 08:01 AM
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And some more
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Old 11-09-2015, 08:25 AM
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PS: spot the Theta part!

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Old 11-09-2015, 08:49 AM
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Beautiful, super clean and very robust.

David

B&W 802 Diamond's/HTM-2 Diamond ctr/CM6 surrounds / Theta Casablanca IV / Theta Compli Blu 3D / McIntosh MC501 mono-blocks / McIntosh HCA100 / Aurender N10 / Audeze LCD3 / PS Audio P10 Power Regenerator / REL S5 / ClearAudio Innovation TT / MIT Oracle Matrix 50 / audioquest Redwood, Water & Diamond / Audio Magic Silver / XLO Pro / Sony 70" 4K
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Old 11-09-2015, 09:19 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stevekale View Post
As promised, some pics of my audio server build.

It has a linear power supply with three super regulators delivering 12V, 5V and 3V3 (and they can supply 5A+ each).

I also designed an ATX power control board. It monitors the supply voltages and coordinates with the motherboard to supply power when the motherboard requests PWR-On. The board has a built-in pre-amplifier for measuring the quality of the super regulators. (100Hz line rejection is exceptional and well greater than 130dB...)

The power supply required an in-rush control circuit.

Motherboard is an ASRock Z97E-ITX with Windows 10 sitting on an M2 card underneath the board. Processor is Haswell 4570T. Sound card is an ESI Juli@ XTe with modified clocks.
Nice!

Have you optimized Windows 10 to streamline its running processes to only those necessary for your audio? (Over on Computer Audiophile forum there is a guy who sells an Optimizer for some prior Windows versions and who is currently working on Optimizer software for Windows 10.)

Does your motherboard have HDMI out - and if so, are you using this for multi-channel music?

Are you using JRiver Media Center 21, Roon, or some other music software?

What do you use for your network server? Or you using an external USB driver to store your music software?

I like the M2 cards for your onboard system memory. How much memory?

Nice project! Sure it sounds great!

You mean you don't remember me? Back 1999 - 2003, I started and moderated the AVS Tweaks forum and also the AVS Special Guests forum.

My home theater at:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1158431
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Old 11-09-2015, 10:00 AM
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Hi Steve

I had the guy who was head of IT at my previous job tweak Win 10 for me. In his view, "there isn't that much to do with Win 10" but then that could still mean a lot by my or your standards.

Yes the motherboard has HDMI out and I use this for multichannel.

Yes, I use JRiver.

I have a bank of SSDs within the enclosure for storage. See third pic in #844 . For now that's enough for my music collection. I have 300 and something DVDs on a Synology network server but frankly I never watch them. (I have repurchased my core favourites in Blu Ray.)

The M2 card is just 32GB which is more than plenty for the OS, apps and odd file etc that might end up on it.

David - thanks!

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Old 11-09-2015, 12:04 PM
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And some more
Outstanding workmanship!

Were the SM components done by a pick&place machine? If not that's some damn good hand soldering.

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Old 11-09-2015, 12:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi Steve

I had the guy who was head of IT at my previous job tweak Win 10 for me. In his view, "there isn't that much to do with Win 10" but then that could still mean a lot by my or your standards.
I've heard that about Windows 10. However, I suspect it is more complex than that, and I believe "Phil" (or is it "Audiophil"?) over at the Computer Audiophile Forum, when he completes beta on his Optimizer for Windows 10, will offer us the very best in this regard. I may update my servers from Windows 8 (optimized by Small Green Computer) to Windows 10 AFTER this new Optimizer for Windows 10 is available!
You may then want to do the same.

You mean you don't remember me? Back 1999 - 2003, I started and moderated the AVS Tweaks forum and also the AVS Special Guests forum.

My home theater at:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1158431
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Old 11-09-2015, 01:00 PM
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Outstanding workmanship!

Were the SM components done by a pick&place machine? If not that's some damn good hand soldering.
Thanks Glimmie. The power rail SMD were all soldered by hand. I did the ATX Power Control board (pic 8 in post 843) with the "skillet" approach. I printed the board actual size onto mylar film with a laser jet printer and cut a stencil. I then spread solder paste onto the board with the stencil and placed the parts. I have a temp-controlled induction hob with a skillet plate. Place the board on the plate and the plate on the hob and wait 'n watch. Works very well. When it came to the power rails however I decided it was just as easy to hand solder them.

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Old 11-09-2015, 01:08 PM
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BTW the front panel button is from Theta. It is a power standby button from the Casablanca. You would not believe how difficult it is to get a very simple brushed aluminium 'button' - it is a small piece of rod with an o-ring on one end (so that it doesn't fall out of the front panel forwards) that sits against a momentary push-to-make SMD switch (on a small printed circuit board with an LED). I couldn't find one anywhere and eventually asked Theta for a couple. The problem is the power-on side of the CB front panel is thicker than this panel's 10mm. I had to get the little rod/button cut to size and a new slot for the o-ring cut in it. The stupid little piece of material that does nothing except give your finger something to push against cost me about $100 in the end.

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Old 11-09-2015, 01:11 PM
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Keep me posted re the Win 10 optimiser. But, I don't think that stuff affects the audio much if anything at all. It does help lower current draw on the power supply though to remove all the background processes going on. I don't spend any time over at Computer Audiophile any more as most people there have next to know knowledge about what they're doing.

Apparently Microsoft revamped WASAPI for Windows 10 with some professional audio consulting help. I am still using ASIO for 2 channel, however.

I must say, this server with my new Xtreme D3 DAC does sound very, very good - to me anyway.

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Old 11-09-2015, 02:29 PM
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That is awesome work. When are you making mine? Or better yet when r u giving me step by step instructions so I can make my own?
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Old 11-10-2015, 02:33 AM
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Ha! Thanks. Happy to share schematics etc with Theta lovers. As with anything audio, the biggest part of the cost (apart from design labour time) is the enclosure (the base enclosure is just the start as you get milked for all the drilling and front panel work), followed by the toroid and main filter caps (if you go "luxe" like I did - likely not necessary). I'm using the power supply design for +/-12V for my headphone amp. I have a couple of spare ATX power control boards (and spare in-rush limiter boards). The biggest issue will likely be sourcing some of the CPU cooling components which I ripped out of a Streacom enclosure. Probably not insurmountable though. It will certainly teach you SMD soldering!

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Old 11-10-2015, 03:21 AM
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Yes that crazy smd soldering. As you know already I dislike it very much.
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Old 11-10-2015, 03:35 AM
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Nah! It's easy. You will be surprised. The first time you look at soldering 2mm x 1.25mm you think "OMG!" but then when you do it you think "well that was easy; I can use a smaller part and pack the components in tighter next time". You need a pair of fine-tip tweezers and just use the "tack 'n reflow" approach. If you can stomach his annoying voice, this guy's tutorials are very, very good.


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Old 11-10-2015, 05:28 AM
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Ok and thanx for the video. I will definitely watch
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