Audio PC

How important is it to make sure an audio PC is built specifically for that purpose. Is cross talk between PC parts common in terms of creating noise that will be audible through monitors or headphones.

What steps would you guys reccomend to figure out if noise is being generated by components rather than a power outlet?

Is it very expensive to hire an electrician to install audio friendly outlets in your home/studio?

It is very important they are built specifically for the purpose of getting AC from the outlet to the component. Other than that there is no such thing as power cord for this, power cord for that.   

Each and every component generates its own noise. Never fear, the whole system is immersed in a sea of noise. The little bit generated by components is definitely worth considering but frankly the least of your problems. That is a main reason why power cords work in the first place.   

Therefore, it is pointless to waste time trying to figure out what noise is coming from where. Forget all that, just deal with the fact noise is everywhere.  

Would you hire an electrician to operate a screwdriver? Can you operate a screwdriver? No? If no then you can pay me $100 and I will show you how. Then once you know which end goes in the slot and which direction to turn the screws you go to the breaker panel flip the power off and swap your outlet. Take you about 5 minutes.
“Is it very expensive to hire an electrician to install audio friendly outlets in your home/studio?”

I wouldn’t hire electrician for changing out an outlet. Watch this video, if you still need help, PM me and I can walk you through over a video chat.

“Is cross talk between PC parts common in terms of creating noise that will be audible through monitors or headphones.”

I wouldn’t worry too much about the internal noise in a PC, they are not designed for optimal audio output in first place. If you want to still use PC as your primary source for audio, try AQ Dragonfly or JitterBug.

Hope this helps!
The big issues tend to be the PC's power supply injects a lot of noise into the AC line, and ground loop noise over the USB connector.


From the computer, I would connect a OPTICAL cable to a external DAC this will eliminate/isolate any electrical noise between the computer and the rest of the system :-)
Build an AMD processor computer.  Add a Pink Faun card of your choice (USB / SPDIF / I2S).  Then get a dedicated linear power supply for the Pink Faun (such as Farad Super 3 or Teddy Pardo or some others). 

I would recommend using a higher end power supply such as Seasonic or similar to get the least amount of noise.  You are pretty much stuck with switching power supplies in a computer unless you try to build a small format music server (there are linear power supplies out there that support PC motherboards).
I built my own Music Server/HTPC and use it for streaming music DSD & PCM and surf the web with the same Windows 10 PC. It has only 8GB of RAM, an Intel i7 Processor (2018 Vintage), and a Fanless Power Supply ( Seasonic X-400 Fanless PSU), and Fanless Heatsink for the i7 CPU. The motherboard is an ASUS Gaming type.

Extremely quiet and as added insurance, I have a solid wire 12AWG/20A AC circuit for the PC & TV while the Audio Rig has a dedicated stranded wire 10AWG/20A.

Hard drives are of the spinning type (1TB, 1TB, & 6TB). It sound good to me. The noise floor is low enough for me.
coincidentally, first time in my main system last night, I hooked up my little hp laptop (HP Pavilion x360: 14m-dy0013dx). It has B&O audio, that helped me make a choice when buying it.

wireless YouTube stream, headphone out jack, adapter to rca, direct to my integrated amp.

I was delightfully surprised how darn good Eva Cassidy sounded

here is a documentary about that performance

I've seen/heard it before, but never thru my dedicated music system. holy smokes, the signal is better than you realize when played thru a revealing system.

I'm gonna patch that laptop into the Home Theater and see if it beats my current pc in that system. that will tell me something. I went integrated intel sound there many years ago, to avoid fan noise from a dedicated sound card. 

maybe it's about newer and better integrated audio chips!

then, I'll compare that to my Oppo-105 when I move it into that system this weekend.

It is actually shocking how significant the impact of the digital server can be for sound quality.  I used a PC built to the specs of the second iteration of the CAPS server as my first digital server.  I upgraded to an Antipodes DX II and it had a nicely positive impact on the sound quality.  I was considering going up to their latest K50 to get even more when I came across the Taiko Audio Extreme thread and that persuaded me to go whole hog and try that.  I mean "Wow!" what an improvement in sound quality!  

So, IME how the "PC" is built for server duties is every bit as important as the DAC (or possibly more so).  YMMV.
I built a dedicated fanless Intel NUC powered by an Sbooster Mkll PSU for Roon Rock.From NUC to Router i use a Mad Scientist Black Magic LAN cable.Result is amazing!
Avoid any laptop or desktop computer that is inherently noisey. If you have a gaming laptop or laptop, I wouldn't use it for audio.

My Gigabyte Aero 17 is quite noisey. For that, I have an iFi silencer 3.0 that does wonders for it. Although it has a built in GPU, I undervolted the laptop and achieved 30% better performance and silent fans during music playback. 

Fanless laptops or desktop computers are ideal fo audio only applications. 
For music listening I use a QuietPC with SSDs. The constant 'noise' coming from the background processes in the computer which are not necessary for music reproduction can be brought down to the absolute minimum by installing Audiophile optimizer.Finally I configured my USB interface (DAC) so that it doesn't use the power over the USB cable from the PC but its own linear psu. Like this the PC and the DAC are galvanically isolated.For playing music I use HQPlayer 4 or a standalone studio production tool (like  Ozone 8 for instance) with which I can add virtual tape etc in real time. Very cool.
The biggest problems with using a PC is the noise,  When I was using my PC (I upgraded to an Aurrender and COULD NOT BE HAPPIER) the biggest issue was the noise form the power supplies and the crappy USB interface (USB sucks.  Its for peripherals - not music).  I got an ESI Juliet Sound Card and replaced the power supplies and it sounded good - but the ease of working it was annoying. You need to be a network admin to handle it.  The Aurrender was a game changer for me.  PCs suck for music. Leave them for work and get a real streamer.  
When using a computer you need to know what to do with it otherwise it really can suck. But it has enormous processing power which no stand alone digital audio gear can ever reach. USB is a high end audio connection if used properly. Noise is not a  problem.
USB over I2S is in many ways  better than any other digital connection for reproducing music at home and it has potential for tweaking to what you really need. Using a computer for sound reproduction is the ticket to real music because it offers so many options. Let's not forget that sound studios work with computers to produce the music we listen to.
“USB over I2S is in many ways better than any other digital connection for reproducing music at home”

It appears you have no direct experience with I²S yet otherwise you wouldn’t have made the above statement. I am not saying USB sucks but once you hear I²S from dedicated streamer (optimized for audio) you will not go back to USB or any other legacy outputs.

“Let’s not forget that sound studios work with computers to produce the music we listen to.”

The PRO studio implementation is in different stratosphere from home audio. Most people don’t have any clue how to optimize home network for audio which is a key to high resolution streaming.
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Modern digital recordings are recorded, mixed and even mastered on computers.  Pretty much off the shelf everyday computers.  They tend to have powerful processors, tons of memory, vast storage, dedicated hardware I/O and can be supplemented with DSP boards.  This doesn't mean you shouldn't try to optimize your playback, but it should serve as a point of reference.
Anyone thinking of using computers for home playback should be prepared to pay lots of money for extreme fidelity.