Please help a rookie; 8-year-old laptop music serv


This is my first post on any kind of audio forum, so I apologize in advance for my ignorance if I’m violating any convention/etiquette etc. I love music, but confessed to being overwhelmed regarding all the technical development since the days of tubes.

Over the last year I’ve come to rely more and more on my laptop/J River/Bryston DAC as my primary music source. I have a problem I’m hoping someone can help me with:

I have an 8-10 year-old "HP Pavilion entertainment" laptop that I use strictly as a source to play un-compressed audio files on my home music system. The output from the laptop goes via USB to an Bryston DAC, which in turn feeds the Audio Research LS17SE tube pre amp , and then into the amplifier etc. .

Windows is the operating system (although I think it may be obsolete – XP?). Within the last six months, I've replaced the hard drive with a "solid-state hard drive" (that I think cost around $300). This laptop runs J River Media System.

Finally, I followed what was for me, a super complex process based on some instructions on an audiophile website to configure the software so it is optimally set up to provide a high fidelity audio signal. I think this software configuration consisted chiefly of bypassing a lot of the typical windows and other software choices that affect the quality of the audio signal, but I really have no idea. Like I said I’m not a technical person and have little computer knowledge so was pretty labor-intensive/time-consuming for me.

This set up sounded great, except the fan was too noisy. Unfortunately, now the laptop is not working. When I push the power button all the lights come on I can hear the fan spin for about 15 seconds, but it doesn't boot up – seems to keep cycling through this process.

When this initially happened, I took the battery out and I was able to get it to boot up and open up the J River program to manage the music and it worked but it took a super long time. Now I can't even get the screen to light up or the computer to do anything but cycle on and off for 15 seconds – the screen never lights.

I would very much appreciate advice about best options; because the laptop is already configured for high fidelity audio playback, and has the solid-state hard drive, I'm wondering if I should just try and repair whatever is wrong. Ideally I would also like to replace the fan with a much quieter version.

If however, there's something fundamentally wrong/obsolete with the laptop (like maybe the Windows XP operating system?)then I guess the best option would be to buy another one. Because I only use this laptop for this limited purpose, I'm thinking the ideal solution would be something used and relatively inexpensive that I could transfer my solid-state hard drive to?

I would very much appreciate any advice or suggestions from the knowledgeable folks here about what would be the best solution.

I don’t want to spend a ton of money for a new, state-of-the-art music server, however as this is my primary digital music source I would be willing to spend up to around $1500 if it would materially improve the sound quality.

Thanks again for your consideration advice!

Best regards, Mike
mallen1010
Mike, what you need is Almarg.
My 7yo wants analogue!
I've got for him Crosley purchased at estates for $5 and some of junk records to land the needle on'n'he's happy now:-)
I think its time to upgrade. It might be a hassle at first but I think you'll be better off in all regards in the end

I'd look for a newer 64bit PC or Laptop with 4gb memory or more.

Are your music files on teh solid state drive? If so, you'll need to be able to salvage and use that. First thing to do will be to make a backup copy! :^) Also add a daily file backup process from there so changes/additions get saved as well.

I started out with an XP PC and now am running 64 bit Windows 7. I use Plex and Squeeze system currently. Have never used JRiver. Once new PC is up and running you may or may not need to tweak it on teh newer OS.

Main thing is to have a step by step plan to move forward that includes a way to salvage your data (music) files that you do not want to lose.
+1 Mapman. In the long run you will be most happy. Are you using the BDA-1? This is a great DAC however the usb input is there for convenience. I use a USB/SPDIF converter.
Kijanki, thanks :-)

Actually, the OP had submitted a separate but very similar post which I responded to here, before seeing this thread.

Best regards,
-- Al