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I'm Looking to Upgrade my Computer Audio

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  • I'm Looking to Upgrade my Computer Audio

    Hello Sonic Orbiters,

    I'm a long-time audiophile who has built his own system from scratch over the years, combining old technology with new to come up with what I consider a very nice-sounding combination. It is time, I feel, to upgrade the new tech part of the rig.

    My sources are a Zero One Audio Mercury archival CD player (company no longer exists, but the unit still works well 15 years later) and a Dell Inspiron Laptop (not a very inspiring source, I must say) playing WAV and DSF files. The Zero One sounds great but is limited to 16/44.1 WAV files since it only rips CDs to its hard drive (no SACD or external files allowed).
    Those feed a DIY UX-201A DHT tube preamp with separate all choke-input linear power supplies, into which I have built a Buffalo IIISE DAC with it's own linear power supplies and both BNC S/PDIF and USB inputs (USB through the Sonore Audiobyte USB to I2S DIY Board).
    The Preamp/DAC feeds DIY 6E5P- 833C monoblock amps that run at 2.3kV B+ and generate up to 200 WPC from a two-stage direct-coupled SET amp.
    The amps drive Infinity RSIIb Speakers which I have completely refurbished with new EMIM and EMIT diaphragms and external crossovers.

    So, the weak point here is in the sources. What I'm contemplating is ditching the laptop and going for a modern computer audio system to feed my DIY creations. My requirements would be:
    1) A compact, quiet, very powerful computer music system that can play PCM up to DXD, DSD at least up to DSD512, and upconvert on the fly from any PCM file to DSD512 without any issues using HQPlayer (my laptop can barely convert to DSD64). It will preferably have 4TB of storage with the option for backup and external expansion drives and be able to rip and store CDs.
    2) The ability to do all of the above into my existing DAC with the existing Sonore USB-I2S board, seamlessly.
    3) The ability to control it all from a laptop, tablet or phone via the WiFi in my home with an easy-to-use interface.
    4) I don't stream music or video and don't subscribe to Tidal or Qobuz, or have Roon, and really don't see the need.
    5) I don't really want a separate music server in another room with a client in the music room - too complex and unwieldy with low WAF.

    Currently I have Verizon FIOS internet with a coax-connected WiFi extender in the music area with two ethernet ports available, so hookups to the WiFi should be simple.

    What can the Sonic Orbiter folks offer to meet the above criteria?

    Here's my system today:

    Click image for larger version

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  • #2
    I would look at a Small Green Computer server with HQ Player. Then I would stream the content to a Sonore Rendu via NAA to your USB input on your DAC.


    • #3
      So something like the Transporter i9 with embedded HQP, to a Rendu (which one would be recommended as best choice for this?), to the Sonore USB board in my DAC.

      Am I guaranteed that that combination will support all PCM and DSD formats, Even if they are HQP upconverted in real time to DSD512? I am looking to seriously future-proof this so I'm not having to upgrade in a couple years, other than software updates.

      Do you have any Rendu's with TWO USB ports? I have a really nice Zu Event silver USB cable with separate shielded power and data lines that merge at the DAC end. Even just a second power-only USB port would work.


      • #4
        The Signature Rendu is the best. Expect a wait time.

        No Guarantees. BTW I don't make the SGC server. Also, there are some combinations of the filters and resampling algorithms in HQ Player that no computer in the world support. I don't use it so I don't know. Suffice it to say what does work will be plenty good sounding.

        No Rendu has two USB ports.


        • #5
          Ok, thanks. Plenty to think about here before making a decision.

          Are there package deals with the server and Rendu together? I assumed you guys were partners of a sort, being on the same site and all.


          • #6
            GO to Smallgreencomputer.com, where you will find package specials to choose from. Cheers!


            • #7
              Thanks, Tpinkard!

              With the announcement of the new Intel i9 12900 processor (16 cores!!) I may decide to wait for that to be built into a transporter, or if that doesn't happen, build my own server. As I said above I want to future-proof this and definitely want to do DSD conversions using HQ player.


              • #8
                What is needed is not more cores, but rather faster per core processing. HQ Player will not use the other cores unless you add additional channels to stream.


                • #9
                  The i9 12900 is 3.9GHz
                  The i9 9900 is 3.1GHz

                  So it does have a 27% speed advantage, at least on paper.


                  • #10
                    The i9-12900 is supposed to be amazing but it has not been released yet!


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by agillis View Post
                      The i9-12900 is supposed to be amazing but it has not been released yet!
                      So does that mean when it is released in November you'll be considering it for the Sonic Transporter? ;-)