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I have been pondering the idea of building an "Audiophile" PC. One thing a lot of people seem to miss, is liquid-cooling for custom built PC's. The only moving part needed is the pump, which can be stored outside the PC to avoid transferring vibrations. All hoses can be run with rubber grommets, to further avoid any vibration from the motion of the cooling medium.
For a quality redundant solution (in case of pump failure), you can have a second in-line pump to trip, or have fans installed on top of the water cooling copper 'plates' and they can automatically come on if the temp gets to a desired set-point (which in our case would only be due to a pump failure).
The rotational hard drive has vibrations, but purchasing a quality, low-RPM laptop hard drive, and mounting it with rubber 'edging' will eliminate most of that vibration.
A quality audio card to transmit a digital signal, and one should be set!
Any thoughts? I'm seriously thinking about starting this project, I just want some feedback...
Tobz-my "audiophile" PC is a fanless, headless mini-ITX system with a NEC spinpoint drive. It is dead silent, and uses a Waveterminal U24 USB audio output device. Doesn't take much computing horsepower to route audio out the USB, so I really wouldn't invest too much in trying to build a monster PC... I also previously used a Mac Mini as an audio server, although in comparison, the Mac Mini was louder.
Lokie, for storage I went with a Buffalo terastation. It can be configured as RAID 5 and provides about 700GB of storage for less than $1K. It is "Network Attached Storage," which means it hooks up to your LAN and can be stuck in a closet somewhere (even though its pretty quiet). In a single user/single system environment, the easiest thing to do is to "mount" the NAS as a drive--it will just appear as a letter drive (e.g., "F:") on your desktop. My config is a bit different, but that is because the NAS is accessed by a bunch of different computers. Incidentally, if you go the Squeezebox/Slimserver route, I understand you can run slimserver on the terastation, which has to be on all the time anyway...
Matt, thanks for the primer, nice work!! I am looking into setting up PC audio and I need all the help I can get.
Another alternative for external storage is to get a router with USB built-in, such as the Netgear WGT634U. Any external drive can be connected to the router and acts as network storage. Additional drives can be daisy chained if needed.
Edesilva or Matt, is there anyway to connect my PC to a Benchmark DAC1 without going through the USB since the DAC does not have a USB port? My PC has a standard coax digital out already. I suppose it's for me to hook up to a HT setup for DVDs, I am not sure if I can configure it to play MP3 or any kind of music source. Please advice.
I thought the Benchmark had some provision for USB in; if its an add-on, I would seriously consider it. I'm not sure how good the on-board digital outputs are--might try it and see if you like it.
A number of devices exist that are USB audio devices that have USB in on one end and coax or toslink digital out on the other. I use a Waveterminal U24, but there is also the M-Audio Transit, some Edirol devices, and others--including some "networked" solutions using Squeezeboxes or Apple Airports. The Waveterminal gets a lot of kudos, but I gather its no longer being made. I also know that there are a number of companies out there (including audioengr here--aka Empirical Audio) doing modded Transits. So, yes, you can use a USB audio device and run that output into your DAC via coax or toslink. (That is what I do...)
Kublakhan, saw this recently... Might be a less expensive solution. My mini-ITX system has a NEC spinpoint drive in it--it is one of the quiestest drives I've never heard. Seriously, you might also look at the reviews over at http://www.quietpcusa.com (think that is the name).
guys - there are only 4-5 drive manufacturers out there - its a very complex, capital intensive operation - not like making cables LOL
the easiest way to quiet a drive is to put it in an aluminum enclosure (for heat dissipation) with no fan - voila no fan noise - but shortened lifespan too... Anyone know what's inside a Glyph or if its cooled???
If you are looking for hardcore metrics to compare drives try this site which caters to IT buyers:
Has anyone implemented a NAS solution in a Mac + iTunes environment? Someone told me yesterday that there are word length restrictions in OSX that make it incompatible with using network attached storage as the residence for your music library, and that he had investigated this thoroughly with Buffalo and some other storage suppliers. Perhaps it does work, but you lose important functionality in iTunes. Curious if anyone has knowledge about this.
I used a Buffalo Terastation with a Mac Mini for a time and didn't have any glitches. Had about 1500 CDs on the terastation.
In that vein, just noticed this guy, which seems like an interesting option, since it includes a VPN Firewall, router, etc. in addition to being a 1TB/1.6TB/2TB NAS RAID storage solution. Kind of a nice all-around box:
Both SB and iTunes are OS agnostic. No doubt there are some tricks making NAS do its thing, but we have a PC accessing a iTunes Library that lives on a Mac, that is also shared with the SB.
Check the threads here and on Audio Asylum PC Forum under NAS to see what you come up with - i recall seeing some things about how it required some know how but that was eons ago in developer time (6-12 months LOL)
That is the way I had it set up--the same files on the terastation were accessed by a couple XP boxes, a Mac Mini, and a collection of audiotrons and squeezeboxes. On the Mac side, I think the only trick was making sure the drive was mounted before starting iTunes. I seem to recall a bit of frustration on the windows side before realizing that using the full server address was a better solution than "mounting" the NAS as a letter drive (e.g., "G:"). The problem with the latter setup was that depending upon whether other things were hooked up, the NAS might appear as "F:" or "G:", and if the addressing in iTunes was built on one, it wouldn't find the songs if it ended up the other, if that makes any senses. Using full server addressing (e.g., "//server/My Music/" eliminated that problem. I think I set up different accounts on the NAS for each computer as well to avoid problems with it not allowing the same "user" to be logged on more than once...
Are there any way to get a stabilized usb signal, from my laptop. I use a Musiland US1 usb interface to connect my laptop to my Cambridge Audio 840 C cd-player, which has two digital input. My question is, if there any solution to get a better signal from my USB port? I heard about external powered usb signal purifier...., but I can't find any on the net.