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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 4:41 am 
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Location: St. John's, NL, CA
Okay computer fans, here's your chance. One of my goals with my most recent set up was to keep it small and convenient. One of the reasons I gave up my tt, and it was a lovely rig, was simply the amount of extra space and fussiness it requires. Not to mention the amount of space the LPs need! So I went with the Ayon CDP because it's 3 units in one -- CDP, DAC and pre-amp. CDs, while still a physical medium, at least took up less space than LPs, but I appreciate that a large CD collection still takes up a lot of space, and it would be great to recoup that for other purposes. But computers are not small either and, in fact, are usually composed of a number of parts and boxes -- key board, main box with CPU, monitor, external hard drive, etc. A computer system also require some sort of DAC, which usually means another box! Still, if the number of boxes and physical parts can be minimized, the prospect of getting rid of the physical CDs is appealing to me. With economy of space in mind, then, what would be the best (best sounding and smallest) computer based set up possible? I will always have 2 speakers and 2 amps (gotta have mono blocks I'm afraid), but I'm really interested in as compact a front end as possible, and recouping all space that would otherwise go to physical media like CDs and/or LPs.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 5:24 am 
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Joined: Tue Jun 08, 2010 1:27 pm
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Location: Mount Pearl, NL, CA
A computer based setup doesn't necessarily require a lot of space. The processing power required is miniscule by comparison to other computer applications so the box doesn't need to be big and have intrusive fan noise. My Zotac Z-box is fanless and about 8"X8"X2" and is so innocuous as to get lost in the equipment rack. I have it hooked up to my home theatre projector so I don't need a monitor but you could also have it running 24/7 and have it running your audio software and access it through various remote desktop apps on your ipad if you have one. Almost everyone has a tablet these days. So you don't even need a screen in an ideal setup. you can also run a tiny wireless keyboard with touch pad or pointer and mouse buttons on it (Logitech has several nice models). I understand there are comparable devices to my device choice, but really any mini PC will do in my opinion. I tried to get one that had USB, SPDIF out and HDMI so my connection options wouldn't be limited, which increases the diversity of DACs you could choose from.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 5:51 am 
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Joined: Wed May 30, 2007 7:54 am
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Location: Vernon, BC, CA
They do not get much smaller than this:

http://bryston.com/products/digital_audio/BDP-Pi.html

Image

And you can build your own raspberry PI based music player with built in DAC for under $100.
(you do need a tablet or smartphone to control)

Add a touch screen for local control, another $100.

Hard drive space is extra.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 6:50 am 
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Joined: Tue Jul 24, 2012 7:52 pm
Posts: 453
Location: Waverley, NS, CA
For space, an all in one is a good option, all the guts are in the monitor.
Not suggesting this PC, only this type.

http://www.bestbuy.ca/en-CA/product/len ... e9bfd7en02

I also built a very nice pc in one of these mini cases, nice size, can sit flat or on end.
Put I7, SSD Drive etc in it.

http://www.in-win.com.tw/Corporate/en/g ... w&id=BQ656


Last edited by allgonoshow on Wed Nov 02, 2016 7:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 7:02 am 
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Joined: Mon Aug 16, 2010 3:21 pm
Posts: 92
Location: Edmonton, AB, CA
http://www.musicalparadise.ca/store/ind ... duct_id=83

music server?


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 7:31 am 
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Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2013 12:19 pm
Posts: 1146
Location: Toronto, ON, CA
Jared Rachwalski wrote:
They do not get much smaller than this:

http://bryston.com/products/digital_audio/BDP-Pi.html

Image

And you can build your own raspberry PI based music player with built in DAC for under $100.
(you do need a tablet or smartphone to control)

Add a touch screen for local control, another $100.

Hard drive space is extra.


Theres your answer!

Also the Bryston looks gorgeous. Probably a waste of money but really nice design for a Pi.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 8:11 am 
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Joined: Sat Sep 20, 2008 4:55 am
Posts: 115
Location: London, ON, CA
EL34 wrote:
Okay computer fans, here's your chance. One of my goals with my most recent set up was to keep it small and convenient.


If you are handy the most flexible system is a mini-pc, i like the SFF or USFF dell optiplex series as they are plentiful and cheap (the 780 is $169 CDN at dell's online store). I use USB to a DAC and from there to pre-amp but there are integrated amps with DAC's or you can use a DAC and powered speakers. Windows 7 is a great OS to run once you remove all the crap and turn off everything. I run KODI as the audio media center with a MCE compatible remote and a Logictech K400 wifi keyboard/mouse (available in eng/fr from staples). The kodi remote app also runs on my phone and tablet so easy to control the unit. Video is to a small 32" lcd for onscreen browsing/viewing record covers etc and kodi also lets me listen to internet radio stations like Swiss Classical FM

A add on e-Sata/firewire card is used to connect to an external storage device for the media.

For apple people a mac mini is the way to go...


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 8:13 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 08, 2013 12:29 pm
Posts: 481
Location: Victoria, BC, CA
I already went this route but haven't disposed of my vinyl set up.... The idea was to simplify and reduce the overall size. I'm not a computer guy but a fellow CAM'er sent me instructions for stripping down an old laptop I had to be used as a simple music server. I have that running through a great DAC. Very simple, not much room needed.
I kept my TT and only LP's that I really like (now down to about 50).


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 8:27 am 
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Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2013 12:19 pm
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Location: Toronto, ON, CA
If you've got the space just do what I do. Build a stripped down, plain PC (i7 4790k, cheap mobo, 16-32gb ram, GTX 1070 GPU and a tiny SSD for boot) and leave it in another room pulling your music from a separate server.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 8:46 am 
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Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2015 2:08 pm
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Location: victoria, BC, CA
If you like the PC route, instead of the usual Windows options you should try Volumio which is now available for x86 http://www.volumio.com/
It's a "stripped" down Linux install that's optimized for digital audio, and it will boot faster than any Windows version and won't need "optimizing" to get rid of all the c**p Windows services. You won't need to run Kodi or any other music player software on top either. Sound card drivers might be a concern though,but most support Linux these days(maybe?), or just use USB to a DAC. You can probably get it to boot off a USB stick so no HDD required.

If you like the "size" of Raspberry Pi solutions the only setback is that it's not something that will look good on your rack (but is small enough be hidden away). Audiophonics.fr sell a case kit (which includes an lcd panel, power switch etc) that you can use for your own project.
http://www.audiophonics.fr/en/diy-dac/a ... 11137.html

The above can be bought pre-assembled with a Pi and DAC. Also Audiophonics do a lot of network players
http://www.audiophonics.fr/en/network-a ... c-656.html


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 9:13 am 
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Location: Toronto, ON, CA
FoxFoxFox wrote:
If you've got the space just do what I do. Build a stripped down, plain PC (i7 4790k, cheap mobo, 16-32gb ram, GTX 1070 GPU and a tiny SSD for boot) and leave it in another room pulling your music from a separate server.



Why the cheap motherboard? High latency is computer audio’s worse enemy. Browse the pages of AnandTech and you will see how much of an effect a motherboard has on latency. Top of the line workstation or gaming motherboards are not necessary needed but this is an area I would not skimp out on. Forget the gaming video card and the much outdated i7 4790k. A newer, slower CPU with intergraded video is more than adequate to do the job....and much cheaper!

Intel NUC’s fit well with what the OP is looking for. At around 4 inches square, they offer a slew of choices of on-board CPU’s. Just add RAM, and SSD of your choice with some models allowing a second on board HDD or SDD for storage. Purchased one for my father last x-mass – despite it was not being used for audio, it measured well below the acceptable level for DPC Latency.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 9:16 am 
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Joined: Sun Jan 18, 2009 8:17 pm
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Location: Quebec, QC, CA
sthomas1049 suggestion is spot on. I use an Intel NUC and couldn't be happier.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 9:30 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 03, 2005 8:43 am
Posts: 936
Location: Burlington, ON, CA
For clarity - are you looking to install a PC in your rack and hang a DAC right off it or are you intending to run a server somewhere and then install a streamer in your rack and hang a DAC off that?

I do the latter. Streamers (you can build one out of a Pi as an example) are typically very small and quiet. PC's can be large and noisy. Not all are of course, but a typical tower or laptop could produce more noise than you want in your room.

I have a media closet, so the format of the PC does not matter to me.

I run a dedicated netbook as my server. In the past I have run large format towers, SFF towers and a latptop as the server.

I have a Pi like streamer with a DAC hanging off. It is all in the media closet now, but at one point the streamer was out in the room with the gear.

Conventional wisdom (computer audiophile) suggests that if you use a streamer it matters less what config the server has.

_________________
Give me a musical system and a PC front end

Mark in Burlington


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 10:17 am 
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Joined: Sat Aug 25, 2007 2:00 am
Posts: 1221
Location: Guelph, ON, CA
Depending on what you will eventually use the computer for, there can be advantages to using a full sized audio-optimized PC with keyboard, mouse, internal drives, fan controller, proper mouse/keyboard/monitor. You can go small, but you might find some limitations, especially if you plan to install an operating system first, install and configure software, rip CDs, tag files, download stuff, do backups, etc.

But I understand about space...if I was to pass away I'm sure my wife would probably just keep her Bose Wave Radio/CD, sell my big system/computer and convert my man-cave into a guest bedroom.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 12:53 pm 
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Joined: Sun Oct 26, 2008 5:10 pm
Posts: 47
Location: Ottawa, ON, CA
I am a big fan of the Intel NUC (Next Unit of Computing). They have an IR port which allows me to control quite a bit with my universal remote control (Harmony).

I have a couple of i3 units which allow me to run Jriver Media Center (for audio) and XBMC/Kodi for video. I control everything that isn't IR/universal remote friendly with TightVNC.

I hang a decent DAC off of an USB port into an Integrated amp.

http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/ ... rview.html

My units are 4.25" x 4.25" x 2.25"

I typically buy a lot from Newegg Canada - http://www.newegg.ca .

Have fun !


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