5 The audiophile computer

Part 5 of the file based players: the audiophile computer. (subtitled in English and Dutch – Nederlands ondertiteld)
The written English version: link follows soon
Dutch written version: de link komt spoedig.
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Alexey S says:

Dear Hans, thank you for this interesting explanations. Would be interesting to know your opinion regarding Intel NUC computers for home HiFi Audio. Is it suitable to stream audio via USB and as an alternative option via HDMI. Here is the link to inter NUC portfolio http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/nuc/products-overview.html. this NUC computer also has USB3 interface and because it better shielded than usb2, would be better to use it with external DAC like IFI (which is also has USB3 connection)

Dan Livni says:

Good video

Kiddomike says:

I do not consider myself a hardcore audiophile but I do like having high quality audio when listening to music. I enjoy my music very well by plugging my Grado headphones to my Macbook. However, I might consider getting that AudioQuest Dragonfly as my DAC / AMP. I do not know what to expect with that setup because Grados are low-impedance headphones.

Ulf Selmark says:

Tip! If you like Windows based PC’s and would like to tweak the OS to high quality Audio playback only (and nothing else), please take a look at this player: http://cicsmemoryplayer.com/ The player has been around for quite a while. Never the less – the instructions/info about stripping Windows services, drivers and processes down to a bare minimum that is required for HQ Audio playback is valid and can be set for Win7 as well (like I did). My cPlay PC is configured to boot directly to the player, has an external DAC connected via USB and plays music like a charm. And reasonable old PC will work – and don’t forget to use a SSD drive for the OS as Hans recommends! Maybe you’ll fall in love with this setup as I did 🙂

Vic Wahby Photography says:

Hans – I have your book, and listen for all I’m worth to your videos, but have complete novice questions. Please tell me if what I’m trying to achieve is even possible, and which category (audiophile computer?) I’m in.

I’m on a trial with Tidal. They only allow download to mobile devices, but I want to use my MacBook Pro. Can a playlist from Tidal stream successfully in HQ, or does the file need to be stored on my device?

I purchased a nuForce DAC-3. Hooked it up. Played a tune from iTunes expecting the DAC to divert the signal to itself, but it didn’t. Still hearing the sound from the Macbook.

Where in your book or on your channel can I learn about a system such as I’m devising, or am I doing something that just is ill fated?

Diodera says:

May I ask why you think the source computer matters in case you are using a _good_ (asynchronous?) USB DAC (with it’s own power supply)?

The DAC is in charge and as long as the internal buffer of the DAC doesn’t run out of data there should be no difference if you are using a shiny new Apple or an older Windows/Linux PC? If the DAC does run out of data everyone clearly hears that – for example the RaspPI seems to have same problems doing it (at least I found some bug reports mentioning that issue), so you hear some “Crackling” sometimes – but there is no sound degradation in the parts the “Crackling” doesn’t happen.

So long as you are using a _good_ USB DAC with a PC with a normal USB implementation (every PC in the last ~10y? – could even be longer) no change in the audio output – as far as I understand how _good_ USB DACs work – should happen. Am I missing something?

2P Propaganda & Design says:

Hans, It’s not very clear to me the following question, even after reading you ebook: to achieve the best budget highest analog-like quality audio should I have: 1) a server connected to a network audio adapter (microrendu, sms-200, etc) connected to DAC, (2) a audiophile computer (nimitra, sms1000, etc) connected directly to DAC or (3) a high-quality media player transport connected to DAC (aurender, chord codeX, meridian, etc)?

Capital_STEEZ says:

Wonder if a 80 plus gold power supply would be better than my 80 plus bronze. Probably not as much of a difference as just getting a power conditioner? I built my PC (pre built systems are a rip off) and use a USB dac with an ifi ground isolator.

Aztek says:


Raymond van Pietersom says:

Wat een heerlijke beschouwingen over audiofiele aangelegenheden… Dank je wel Hans!!

doraymon says:

Hans, I am desperately trying to find what is the jitter measurement on the optical out of a late 2012 Mac Mini. I even wrote to Apple and posted on different audiophile forums.
Any chance you can measure it or point me in the right direction?

cyberridz says:

I am currently exploring the possibility of using a HTPC running Lunix (Ubuntu) as an alternative to a music transport. Do you think Linux is good enough to output hi-fi quality audio? I find that switching sample rates on Linux is not as easy as on Windows or Mac OSX. Are there any good tips on Linux as an audiophile transport or player for an audiophile quality DAC or hi-fi system? There are not many resources on this subject. Thanks.

Michael Rotaru says:

I have a lot of troubles with USB powered sound cards having a very distorted audio on various laptops. Asus xonar u3 / dragonfly by audio quest , this sound cards tested on /acer aspire E1-532G, Acer Aspire 5733Z , lenovo B570e ,asus x551MA behaved very strange , mostly they had a very distorted sound unpleasant to listen but some times the sound just gets a lot better /cleaner instantly under some circumstances /after a long usage of the sound card ,some times after waking up the laptop from sleep with the sound card being plugged .
Intel processor is the USB host controller for all of this laptops …
Could this be cheap design /noisy USB ports, and that the laptops are not supplying a sufficiently clean DC voltage via its USB ports?

lunatrics says:

geweldig en leerzaam.
Love your channel…. you earned a sub.

pvt mlaren says:

i apologize if you have said this in another video but what is your setup? what do you use to play digital files and what dac do you use to convert them? i wouldn’t mind knowing the rest of you setup either(speakers, amp etc) if you are okay with revealing that information

badtz maru says:

“but since I’m a member of the society to preserve useless knowlegde…” ANother member found!

Bebad andugly says:

thanks for that info!!!! DANKE WEL…………….jej bent goed bezig!!!!

nicholascremato says:

Hans, I wanted to tell you something that happened to me at an audio meeting some years ago. We were having a heated debate about whether there was a difference in sound between an original store bought CD and a copy of that CD. The next meeting we had a computer set up to burn a copy of a recording that we were all familiar with and on axis it sounded identical however off axis there was a difference in the treble. We repeated the experiment a few times with the same results. Would you have any idea what might have caused this. Thank you for all your helpful videos.

Richardus De vreede says:

And why should a rebuild desktop, not using the onboard usb or audio with descent cables and offcourse not a cheap psu have.
So not using a desktop, neither mac or win 7 or above and watercooled to keep the computer easily within the 30 degrees range, with studio soundcards or the less scoring usb soundcard, since they miss power( the cheap onboard ones or pci-x Without 12v connection)?
The annoying thing which hifi peoples have is, they want only here the source: so interconnects should be neutral, but no, cable x sounds warmer etc., that interlink shouldn’t do a thing if it’s a right one,??agree??. I have a perfect soundcard with phono input, and doesn’t add a thing, bjt hifi lovers talk nonsense in my opinion, since their main purpose to use overexpensive interlinks and nonsense like powersupplies etc. is to bring with the use of bulbamps, which s/n are very low, is the warm natural sound they give.Give me the system and i’ll record your phono amp output stage super lineair andbelieve me…. nice for studio use, but you don’t want that sound. Nobody ones real digital sound ,it’s what it really is, and if i plackback over my hybrid mackie mixer it allready sounds way wARmer, since it’s components add a nice smooth glow . That whole hifi stuff is based on contradictions, but an interlink should act like a copperwire on a pcb and you may be also a nice engineer, but you talk in your own commercial way…..sad

Diogee Husky says:

im trying to get better sound from a laptop, its run into an onkyo reveiver and 2 vintage speakers. i notice a big difference in sound quality compared to a little nettop i used to run. its almost like the sound card cant send out as much. almost like its missing frequencies or cant do many at once. is there something i can do to fix that? lets say i play a youtube video, same link, same stereo and wiring, it sounds completley different between the 2 computers

Sal D'Agostino says:

Hans–excellent video… you’ve got me yearning for A+. One big question though… can I drag and drop entire playlists from iTunes into A+ and have them retain their order. The order is extremely important to me as I am a jazz fan who lists by session date rather than album. If I can do this, will I need to play A+ with iTunes open, and will this affect sound quality? Thank you.

Victor Orozco says:

Very nicely explained, thank you !

Vic G says:

Hans, thumbs up on the “I’m a member of the useless information society”. LOL. Please make a video demonstrating an ideal setup using a mac mini maybe?

Essam Ettouil says:

A big bravo from Morocco!
Simple and clear.
Keep going!!

samo inborut says:

Thank you.

Mike Cryer says:

Hans seems to mentioned that Qobus/Tidal are already streaming MQA. Not yet I think . I wish. Do you know when Hans?

Andy SCIALLANO says:

Solution : ditch CD/network player, use Toslink with good quality DAC. This way any computer is audiophile grade for dirt cheap.

You did not talk about the underlying sound layer at the system level that gets replaced with bit perfect playback.

Illia Samarskiy says:

Can you achive a good sound quality by using external dac that is connected to stationary pc via usb cable?

BughunterX says:

Hello. What would be interesting are some tips bout the configration of a pc for optimum DAC output, say like settings in BIOS, ASIO driver, recommended Music player etc.

Trdat says:

How important is a soundcard in a computer for sound reproduction? Can you let us know how it effects the music going into the DAC and also what soundcard do you recommend?

Cem Akyuz says:

Thanks a lot for your informative videos!

Augur Cybernaut says:

What is your thought on the Brennen music player?

Aci Doom says:

Good video and information. When it comes in choosing to output audio from PC to home theater receiver using toslink or HDMI cables, the receiver is doing the audio processing along with its internal DAC. In this scenario the purpose of an external DAC is defeated, considering I’m using a high end home theater receiver, which is processing the audio with its internal DAC. So in short, for this kind of purposes any PC or laptop will do, as we don’t really need an audiophile computer. But if I’m not going to use a high end home theater receiver, and the purpose is to listen to audio from just a computer itself, than an external DAC like the AudioEngine D1 would indeed be one of the best options around. Would you have something to add from your perspective?

Derek Dastrup says:

I follow you regularly and appreciate your material. I’m curious to see if i’m missing something on my computer. I am connected from my PC to a Marantz 5009 receiver with an external Emotiva Amp and a Bowers and Wilkins 805 Diamond setup. I also have a set of HD 800 Headphones hooked up to a Schiit Audio Gungnir DAC and Asgard 2 Amp for the headphones. While I can tell a difference between the speakers vs the headphones I cant for the life of me tell a difference between better quality audio files. I purchased from HDtracks Norah Jones Come Away With Me and Miles Davis album at 192 – 24 and would play the Spotify version against the high res track through Foobar. I have also taken the NPR audio blind test along with the Tidal blind test and am unable to tell a difference between any of them. I am wondering if i’m missing something from my computer because everything I am doing is through my PC. I am going through my PC audio out HDMI on my video card to my Marantz and out from my motherboard via Toslink into the Schiit Audio Gungnir. I do have the output in Windows 10 to reflect the top studio quality of 192 – 24. I have watched your video on the differences between 192 and 44.1 but am having trouble telling the difference between Spotify (high quality – Premium) and the 192 files. I feel like I have a great ear (which is why I thought it necessary to purchase higher end equipment) and want to be capable of hearing the difference between an MP3 and a 192 file. Something that is easy for me to tell is a well recorded song vs a poorly recorded song. I’m trying to figure out if there is something else on my PC whether it be a setting or a piece of hardware that is getting in the way of me noticing the difference between the two.

Thanks Hans

jakemybigblackdog says:

Great video Hans, very informative!!

Thanos Mantafounis says:

Greetings Hans,

my operating system is OSX and I am streaming music from my computer to the micromega WM-10.
I am not having a big digital collection (about 200GB) and they are all ripped CDs using itunes in separate hard disk.
In chapter 5 of your book you are mentioning that you have not tried storing the collection in a SSD because of the size of your collection therefore you can not comment if it proves sound quality.
Do you have any updates about this?

Since my collection is rather small would you suggest using SSD for storing music?
250GB of SSD is not that expensive at all…

Budi Lee says:

Like your videos. I really want to hear more of your opinion regarding today’s computer for audiophile, especially internal dac. Do PC’s internal sound cards, like those high-end models from Creative Labs or Asus, are all considered not an ideal way to have excellent audio? They have many features on them that they boasted to able to produce high fidelity audio. Features like high-precision clock, high snr, clean power supply, hyper-grounding, emi-shielding, bla-bla. TIA.

Richard Riley says:

I would like to see a detailed video about using a Mac Mini as the end point.

Keith Gatlin says:

I just bought a head unit with Optical out for my car how to run into a sound processor I feel like I should have bought in audison bit play HD because it is not a head unit with a screen or anything and for what you said about LCD panels giving off noise in the a computer or a head unit that is pretty much a media computer I feel like I did the wrong thing by buying it Alpine I’m trying to get the most out of my old German made MB quarts

2P Propaganda says:

Is there degradation or loss of quality if we use mac mini playing music from a NAS drive (Apple Time Capsule)?

boerenbach says:

Hello Hans, I have a question about the combi of roon, microrendu and chordette 2cute. I would like to use roon in a config with a nas 2x2tb (mirrored) with audiofiles, a microrendu or macmini and the dac chord 2cute. Speakers active dynaudio or kef ls50(W than without the chord). When I use the microrendu, how and where the roon core and datafiles are installed? What is the best config in above case? Best regards, Mart

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