Wireless for the Keyboard, Not the Computer?

I use a wireless router to access the internet on my Sony VAIO laptop which I can then move around the house. This Sony laptop usually lives on my desktop, where it is hooked up to an external video monitor, and has USB out to connect it to a desktop audio system which consists of Behringer amps, an EQ and ATC monitors.

My desk is also in my listening room with my main 2 channel system.

I spend a lot of time sitting at my desk - where I can work, surf the web, watch the news etc - AND listen to the ATCs which sound very good.

But sometimes I am really tempted to DISconnect the laptop, move across the room to the sofa, and connect the USB output directly to my main rig through an Audio Research DAC, in order to listen through the main speakers. In theory, this is easy to do, but in practice, it is a bit of a pain, and I miss the larger video monitor when working directly from the laptop.

This dilemma has me thinking.....

* What if all of my audio files were ripped and stored not to my Sony laptop, but to a larger desktop computer?
* Where the larger, desktop computer could be a) optimized for audio and b) hard wired to both the desktop and the main system's DACs at all times?
* This way, to move across the room and sit on the sofa while listening to my big rig, I could use a wireless KEYBOARD?
* And a VGA splitter box to hard wire a second, full size video monitor?

This way, it seems I could get rid of the laptop, but still move around the room by simply picking up the wireless keyboard? Use a bigger video monitor...and also improve the audio quality?

A smaller point, but I would also like to ditch the laptops as they are always breaking.

Advice on this or any other PC configurations greatly appreciated and thank you.

But please please please, dont say: "just get a Mac"?!

OK, I won't say just get a Mac. But I will say just get a Sonos or a Squeezebox.
that's exactly what I do. I have a wireless blue tooth mouse and keyboard, but hard wired the monitor with a 28 foot monitor extention cord over by my listening chair. It really makes it nice when you only want to hear a couple tracks off various cd's. You never have to move out of the sweet spot. Have fun, Frank

Dreaming up these configurations is not my strength, so I am glad to hear you thought it was a good idea, too. Yes, the "sweet spot" is a key issue, particularly with Magneplanars. Thank you!


Ha - my disclaimer should have contained Mac, Airport Express, Sonos and/or Squeezebox.

If you have been around this forum for any time at all, you should know that audiophiles prefer the path of the greatest, most torturous resistance, even if the benefits are not discernible in blind tests.

Which is why I am leaning towards lossloss WAV files only, and hard wired DACs to the most audio capable PC only.
I should have looked at your system before commenting. Point taken.

Blind tests aside, having a desktop PC in a listening room (with all the challenges that come with them - not the least of which is fan noise) doesn't seem like the most elegant solution these days, even for those of us who like to torture ourselves!

You may want to at least check out Slim Devices Transporter (review up on sonicflare.com now) or Olive or the McIntosh MS750 thing the NY Times wrote about a week or two ago. (Put Another File in the Jukebox, Baby. Feb. 20 issue) For $6,000 I thought the author was seriously demented for choosing the MS750, but to each his own...

Network drives stored in another room can be be connected via ethernet to most of these servers and then physically connected to the dac. The sound from the best ones out there should, imho, rival anything coming from a pc and probably be a lot more user friendly.

And as you've probably been around here a while, you know that there have been plenty of threads "proving" other lossless formats (apple/flac) will sound as good WAV.

Either way, good hunting. That's a hell of a nice setup you've got there...
I just looked at the NYT article again. He recommended the Olive over the McIntosh. Not that the article will be of much help, he barely discusses sound. Ease of ripping seems to be the biggest factor for the author..

Thank you for the compliment and glad you enjoyed my system link - I have put a lot of time and thought into the room, but of course, there always remains a long way to go....

Network drives in another room - now you are speaking my language!

I am increasingly realizing that most of the PC work I do involves email or other sites. More and more I am therefore thinking that all of my files and work should be outsourced to a more robust system than my usual laptops. Perhaps a home network that is otherwise hard wired to external DACs is the ticket...

Obviously, ease of ripping and/or my ability to fit 17,000 songs on an iPod nano is not my highest priority....
I'll throw another mix on how I use my Squeezebox 3 in my system. I have a 3.5TB Thecus N5200pro NAS with my music ripped in loseless FLAC and my media center pc by my video system is running slimserver (Squeezebox Client software) because I'm too lazy to load slimserver on my NAS right now. I have the squeezebox modified by Bolder with the Bolder Ultimate Powersupply connected to wi-fi and I use my remote, or my palm, or my TabletPC, or my projector to allow me to choose my music. The new Squeezebox remote is totally cool also.

I used a Sonos system which requires way less work to setup and the remote is awesome except once your collection gets to big it takes too long to scroll through all the artists.

If you did direct connect you can use VNC or Remote Console in XP professional to connect to a hardwired system to you audio system. or you can get an RF wireless keyboard and mouse (which I use on my HTPC) to control your system, or a firefly remote with Girder or something also.. There are too many options..
I use a laptop as well. (fujitsu S series. carried it all over the world since 2003 without a problem.) And like you, it's used primarily for email and web sites. When I started loading my music files on, it filled up the drive pretty quickly and overburdened the OS quite a bit. (itunes on PC is a memory hog)

Anyway, moving the music to an external drive was the best thing I ever did. I use the laptop for ripping to the network drive (attached via ethernet for speed and accuracy) and to control the playlists (wirelessly to Sonos ZP80). Without the burden of playing music while simultaneously doing a host of other things, a bunch of problems were eliminated. It doesn't take a very stout computer to handle emails and web surfing.(outside of being able to take physical punishment)

Though Sonos may not have the quality of sound you are looking for (without mods anyway), Transporter or Olive might.
I do exactly as you discribe. The best way to get a quiet pc is to have a computer store build you one with the parts you pick out yourself. Make sure you get the quietest power supply you can find and also case fans. Some hard drives are quieter than others also. Do some research online to find the quietest parts. Make sure you also get a video card that has a dvi out so you can connect it to a hdtv with a dvi to hdmi cable. Also make sure the video card is passively cooled for less noise. I did all this for about $1200 about a year ago. I hooked it up to my 50inch dlp and set the video card for 1080p and it works great. I now use a 19inch monitor on a table right in front of the couch to avoid having a tv between my speakers. Also make sure you get a bluetooth wireless keyboard and mouse. The cheaper non bluetooth wireless ones do have much of a range. Sean
Re Quiet PCs

Could anyone suggest any particular manufacturers whose PCs might be "quieter" or better suited to audio?

Any used bargains - a Mac G tower, perhaps?

In general I would prefer a windows machine, but I mainly use this PC for music and internet activity.
I am thinking of moving my computer into the next room. I tried my bluetooth mouse and keyboard and they were still working from a distance of 60 feet. I only need 10 feet to get it into the next room, so my standard usb cable from the Freeway 2 to the dac will still work.
Cwlondon, Threre are no ready built PCs that are quiet that i know of. Macs are a different story. Mac minis are very quiet. I personally dont like macs at all. A good site to look at is endpcnoise.com. Sean

I am very intrigued to see your comment:

"I personally dont like macs at all"

as it seems over 50% of replies to any PC audio related thread end in:


Why dont you like Macs? I have resisted switching to a Mac, but I suppose if a Mac Mini could handle:

Foobar and
Internet Explorer

it would handle most of my needs for this particular machine.

But still wish there was a reasonably priced Windows machine that was similarly quiet.
Thank you.
The newer Dells are pretty darn quiet. I use mine with Blue tooth keyboard and mouse. I also have a remote for the PC. I was using it in the room just fine. As the hard drives started piling up, I decided to move it to a closet in the hallway just around the corner from my Plasma. All connections come through the wall.

I have all my movies and music stored to HDs.
So now I watch TV,record TV,play movies, listen too music and surf the net from the couch with the keyboard and mouse.
I also wonder if you could use something like one of these DMA2200 which requires no wires at all from the PC. Just hook this to your other monitor/Dac and been done with it.
Re Dells are pretty darn quiet

I understand that the physical noise of the computer - like a fan in a power amp - would be an irritating distraction from any high end device.

However, I thought the PC audio geeks argued that normal PCs were electrically noisy devices, and therefore no where near dedicated transports which is why you needed to spend thousands on their tweaks etc etc.

So of course a physically quiet device is a good thing which products like the Sweetwater Creation Stations seem to address.

But I am also hoping to get the "quietest" least jittery audio signal from my USB port to an external DAC.
From my understanding jitter through USB and Toslink are two totally separate things.

Doesn't the jitter from USB have more to do with how the end device or USB Dac deciphers the signal changing it eventually over to I2S?

Or by using a clock in the end device to control the information being sent from the PC or Mac?

I see your point if you're planning to use the spdif output directly from the PC itself. USB seems to be not as touchy in this area from what I've read and experienced so far.

Also if your Dac has galvanic isolation from the PC's USB port. Electrical interference from what I gather shouldn't be a major problem if the USB port is functioning properly.
Cwlondon, If I gave mac a chance I would probably like it. I've only ever owned PCs so I'm used to them.

As far as quietness I was only referring to physical quietness.

I use usb from my computer to a empirical audio IS2 Offramp to a benchmark dac1 modded by empirical audio to accept a IS2 connection from the offramp. This setup runs circles around my marantz DV8300 universal player. It also costs much more.

Your best bet would to use a usb dac. There are lots of these on the market with more comming all the time. Sean
Sarcher30 and others, thank you.

Sean, as we continue to unravel this mystery, one of my key questions would be why it is necessary to spend a thousand bucks on the tweaky Offramp device.

Would the Benchmark and/or any number of other DACs which now have a direct, USB input not also convert to I2S somewhere along the way?
Cwlondon, Its not necessary anymore. I bought my benchmark dac1 before they had a usb option. At the time it seemed like the best way to go. Now you can buy them with a usb connection. The Offramp is still a good option for people that allready have a nice dac that doesn't have a usb port.

I believe that the new benchmark dac1 usb does convert to IS2 inside the box. I think the wavelength usb dacs also do this. I'm not sure about other companies usb dacs. You would have to ask them.

Other products that use an ethernet connection such as the Transporter by Slim Devices and Linn Acurate DS should have low jitter also.

It would be nice to be able to test all these options in your own system to see which is best for you, but unless you have alot of money and patience thats not likely to happen. Unless you can find a dealer that will let you demo them. Sean