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piinob
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PC based Music System

I want to build a PC based server to add to my system. My question is what are the recommended processor speed and RAM requirements? I have heard that there are some good ripping programs. Are there any specs to watch for when selecting Hard Drives? What about sound card selection? I use PC's every day in my job, but using them for sound is all relatively new to me. I have a pretty good DAC, and am at the point of buying a new PC.

Also, does anyone know if the dual processors will in fact allow the PC to multitask. In the past I have seen that Macs seem to be much more proficient at this than PC's. Please enlighten me?

Bruce-in-Philly
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My Insights and Link to my PC Server Description

http://forum.stereophile.com/forum/showf...rt=all&vc=1

See link above for a complete description of my system (2 systems, one in my big stereo rig and one for headphones at my desk).

My comments are based on my very real experiments and experience.

First, PC Power:

As described in my link above, the PC-player does not need much processing power at all. My main PC in my audiophile system is an old Dell Latitude C810 laptop (about 7 years old). It has a Pentium III processor, 512 RAM and about 1 GHZ speed. Not at all a powerhouse and it works beautifully as a player. This is great news as you can usually pick up a free machine or one really cheap on eBay and have a dedicated player.

As a Ripper:

Here I found nothing but confusing information on the net as the net wisdom notes that you must have a super fast machine and drive to rip quickly

piinob
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Re: My Insights and Link to my PC Server Description

Thanks Bruce. This is gonna be fun!

DennisWieck
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Re: PC based Music System

Most of the case fans and power supply are very noise. You may need to look for double ball bearing fans and choose a fanless power supply. I'm going to build a new PC based Audio/Video system. I'm now looking a video card supporting High-Definition. Any suggestion?

piinob
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Re: PC based Music System

I am not at all informed about Video. I just barely am able to keep up with the audio. Seems that the audio "noise" that that comes from the audio community some times is difficult to sort from the actual sound. There are some guys on this forum who seem to know what they are talking about who might be able to help you if they read this far down the forum page.

bobedaone
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Re: PC based Music System

I've set up a very satisfying server system. I think the best (albeit usually more expensive) way to integrate a computer with hi-fi is to use a Mac. Yeah, okay, that's kind of a cop-out, but it works. I have a 320 GB external drive about half-full of music, primarily Apple Lossless rips of my CD collection. I have an Airport Express and run iTunes on my iMac G5 to stream the music. I have an optical mini-to-toslink cable to connect the Airport to my Audio Alchemy DDE v1.2 DAC. It's simple, it's enjoyable, and it is truly high-fidelity, comparable to CD players costing several hundred dollars. The only drawback of my setup is that I can't control playback from my couch; The Airport Express does not have a remote. I may at some point add a Squeezebox to gain that functionality, as well as the other nifty features, like internet radio. For now, though, the $100 AE is a lot of gadget for me. Not only can I stream music, but they threw in a free wireless router, too!

jazzfan
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Re: PC based Music System


Quote:
I want to build a PC based server to add to my system. My question is what are the recommended processor speed and RAM requirements? I have heard that there are some good ripping programs. Are there any specs to watch for when selecting Hard Drives? What about sound card selection? I use PC's every day in my job, but using them for sound is all relatively new to me. I have a pretty good DAC, and am at the point of buying a new PC.

Also, does anyone know if the dual processors will in fact allow the PC to multitask. In the past I have seen that Macs seem to be much more proficient at this than PC's. Please enlighten me?

Hi Shade,

I know that there have been several very good answers to many of your questions but I noticed that so far everyone has failed to mention one very important fact regarding a server based music system. That is that in a server based music system the PC, including the sound card, is not doing any digital to analog conversion, rather the PC is streaming the digital data to a remote device and that remote device is then doing the D to A conversion.

Therefore when assembling a PC for use as a music server as opposed to a PC on which to playback music, the sound card is pretty much irrelevant. For example, both the Slim Devices' Squeezebox and Transporter have internal DACs which convert the digital data stream sent by the server (the PC) into an analog output for use in an audio system. Besides that there is also the option of bypassing the internal DAC on these devices and using an external DAC, but in the case of the Transporter this is not really necessary since the internal DAC is quite good.

I am current using a Transporter (and it's analog output) has my main source component in my main audio system and also using a Squeezebox in my bedroom headphone rig. In the case of the Squeezebox I am using it's digital output to feed the DAC in my Headroom Desktop headphone amp. In both cases the sound is quite good and on par with a very good stand alone CD player.

Since you already have an external DAC then I suggest that you look into putting your money into a device like the Squeezebox rather than spend it on a high end sound card.

piinob
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Re: PC based Music System

I have noticed that apple seems very popular, and appears simpler. I am fortunate enough to have a girlfriend with some apple experience so I have decided to get up to speed on Apple as much as is feasable. Thanks Eric

piinob
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Re: PC based Music System

Jazzfan, I was wondering if using my DAC might make the soundcard less significant. The squeezebox looks like a great place to jump into this and start tinkering some. Thanks

jazzfan
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Re: PC based Music System


Quote:
Jazzfan, I was wondering if using my DAC might make the soundcard less significant. The squeezebox looks like a great place to jump into this and start tinkering some. Thanks

Any digital audio output from a computer, be it via a streaming music server such as the squeezebox or via a USB connection into a DAC, makes the soundcard not only less significant but completely insignificant since the soundcard or any computer audio device should have no bearing on the digital output. I wrote "should have" because there are soundcards which can effect the digital output unless one takes the time to properly configure the card to just "pass through" the digital audio stream without any alteration.

And yes, the squeezebox is a good place to start especially if one already has an external DAC.

struts
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Re: My Insights and Link to my PC Server Description


Quote:
Here I found nothing but confusing information on the net as the net wisdom notes that you must have a super fast machine and drive to rip quickly
Willie
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Re: PC based Music System

Erik (and Jazzfan),

Your posts have been very informative for me - ignorant about most things audio and all things computer, save for what I've read online the last few weeks (thanks again Al Gore for the internet!?!) A couple questions: I love the iTunes interface, its searchability, etc. If I get a Squeeze Box 3 to hook up to my audio system, can I still interface with iTunes and control what is playing via my iMac or will I have to access my music via the SB3? Obviously Erik's setup via the Airport facilitates this, but sacrifices the remote access...any developments on remote accessibility?

Thanks,
Willie

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