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DIY "silent" pc for music

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DIY "silent" pc for music

Post by hywong2005 on Sun Aug 25, 2013 1:20 pm

I've built an audio pc with no moving parts (almost) to minimize microphonics. It is used solely for listening to lossless music files. Based on the Intel Atom DN2800MT, I power it with a switching psu (to be replaced with a battery soon) and use a mSata SSD in a mini PCIe slot for the OS and other software. Music files are stored separately in an external HD. To facilitate cooling, the pc is housed in an open acrylic casing.



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Re: DIY "silent" pc for music

Post by dudie-dude on Sun Aug 25, 2013 2:49 pm

Hi there hywong, thats a fine piece of work, really cool!
 I was planning to go this route using
 Asus AT510NT-I Deluxe but put on hold for the time being.
 Nice!!

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Re: DIY "silent" pc for music

Post by elhefe on Sun Aug 25, 2013 3:41 pm

This is going to be my top choice for the DIY of the Year product... Smile

Come on... Commercialise it please...

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Re: DIY "silent" pc for music

Post by STC on Sun Aug 25, 2013 4:06 pm

Hi HYWong,

Nice work! I am also thinking of building a silent PC for my system.

Please tell us more about the system. I am interested to know what soundcard you are using. 

Thanks for sharing.
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Re: DIY "silent" pc for music

Post by Wikin on Sun Aug 25, 2013 4:51 pm

hywong2005 wrote:I've built an audio pc with no moving parts (almost) to minimize microphonics. It is used solely for listening to lossless music files. Based on the Intel Atom DN2800MT, I power it with a switching psu (to be replaced with a battery soon) and use a mSata SSD in a mini PCIe slot for the OS and other software. Music files are stored separately in an external HD. To facilitate cooling, the pc is housed in an open acrylic casing.



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Hi HYWong,
Very nice work there. What OS are you using and are you using some device to remote control it?

Looking at the picture of your setup, I think your DAC Magic will be the huge bottleneck on the overall sound.

cheers
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Re: DIY "silent" pc for music

Post by vt4c on Sun Aug 25, 2013 6:24 pm

Totally Coool! Very Happy
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Re: DIY "silent" pc for music

Post by STC on Sun Aug 25, 2013 6:33 pm

ST wrote: I am interested to know what soundcard you are using. 
Sorry for the silly question. Anyway, could please let me know if the internal sound driver disable when you output to your DAC. I notice that with my Realtek drivers uninstalled the sound seemed bit of low rez.

Thanks.
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Re: DIY "silent" pc for music

Post by hywong2005 on Sun Aug 25, 2013 7:07 pm

Guys, Thanks for your kind words.

First, I'm no expert in this field and have plenty more to learn. My design philosophy for the audio pc is to go minimalist. That should minimize "noise" caused by moving parts, the circuits and parts in the pc. The DN2800MT fits my needs well and the Asus AT510NT-I Deluxe should be fine too.

Instead of a soundcard, I use J River software to play my flac files. It has a nice user interface and I particularly like the 3D function. So my pc is controlled with a Dell 23" touch screen monitor via HDMI and USB. I'm also using an android tablet to wirelessly control it. Windows 7 Home premium 32 bit is installed as the OS. It has touch screen function. Why 32 bit? Because there is only support for DN2800MT using Windows 7 32 bit e.g. graphics media accelerator driver.

Commercialize it? Haven't thought about it. But I suppose I could make the casing on request when I have the time.
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Re: DIY "silent" pc for music

Post by runemaster on Tue Aug 27, 2013 12:13 am

Just curious, hopefully you can tell me, won't playing from external HDD causes jittering as well?

Also, if the DAC is not USB asynchronous, won;t the jittering be there as well?

Thanks. Noob here, just cuious on this as it looked like a nice project
Thanks

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Re: DIY "silent" pc for music

Post by hywong2005 on Tue Aug 27, 2013 11:59 am

runemaster wrote:Just curious, hopefully you can tell me, won't playing from external HDD causes jittering as well?

Also, if the DAC is not USB asynchronous, won;t the jittering be there as well?

Thanks. Noob here, just cuious on this as it looked like a nice project
Thanks
Thanks for your comments Noob.

I could be wrong, but based on the little I understand, jitter is basically the instability of the pace of a clock or signal. It is relevant when digital data is streamed based on the clock from the computer to the DAC where the receiver receives the data, extracts the clock and decodes the data. On the other hand, data streamed from a hard disk to the processor, whether external or internal is not clock-based so I think the issue of jitter does not arise.

I'm using the M2tech Hiface as the USB-S/PDIF interface. It contains two quartz precision oscillators which is said to output data stream with very low jitter to the DAC.

I hope what I'm saying is correct.
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Re: DIY "silent" pc for music

Post by hywong2005 on Thu Aug 29, 2013 9:26 am

dudie-dude wrote:Hi there hywong, thats a fine piece of work, really cool!
 I was planning to go this route using
 Asus AT510NT-I Deluxe but put on hold for the time being.
 Nice!!
Hi dudie-dude,

Thanks. I bought my DN2800MT last year in March and never got around to work on it until recently. Let me know when you start work on the Asus. We could share experiences. I'm working on my second audio pc using an old Intel i3 2100 cpu. Its more complex as I need to find a suitable passive heatsink to replace the cpu fan, as well as a picopsu.

Best wishes.
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Re: DIY "silent" pc for music

Post by sph on Thu Aug 29, 2013 10:55 am

Do these PC boards have I2S output?

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Re: DIY "silent" pc for music

Post by hywong2005 on Thu Aug 29, 2013 6:19 pm

sph wrote:Do these PC boards have I2S output?
Unfortunately no. The DN2800MT is a very basic board cum cpu but has the features I want. I chose the simplest board and cpu because in my opinion electrical noise increases in tandem with the complexity the board and cpu.
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Re: DIY "silent" pc for music

Post by runemaster on Sat Aug 31, 2013 11:06 pm

Bro, I suddenly noticed, where is your computer power switch? Very Happy

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Re: DIY "silent" pc for music

Post by hywong2005 on Sun Sep 01, 2013 9:32 am

runemaster wrote:Bro, I suddenly noticed, where is your computer power switch? Very Happy
Hi Noob, The power on/off switch (tiny one) is at the end of that thin double strand wire sticking out at the back left of the casing next to the blue hdmi cable. That wire goes underneath the motherboard, then comes out in front to connect to the 2 on/off pins. I can improve on this if I can find a nice small momentary switch to install it on the casing.
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Re: DIY "silent" pc for music

Post by kp93300 on Mon Sep 02, 2013 11:18 am

Hi Wong
very nice and innovative.
I also use  atom based fanless music pc. It runs very well with Windows8 64bit and sounds much much better when compared to W7.
what power supply do you used?
cheers

kp93300

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Re: DIY "silent" pc for music

Post by hywong2005 on Mon Sep 02, 2013 3:03 pm

kp93300 wrote:Hi Wong
very nice and innovative.
I also use  atom based fanless music pc. It runs very well with Windows8 64bit and sounds much much better when compared to W7.
what power supply do you used?
cheers

kp93300
Hi, Appreciate your comments. Thanks

The Jriver programme I'm using has nice graphics and I control it with a touchscreen monitor. While Windows 8 64 bit can be installed in the Atom DN2800MT, Intel however only provides support to the board installed with Windows 7 32 bit. For example the graphics media accelerator driver is not available for Windows 8 whether 32 or 64 bit.

For the sake of having nice high resolution graphics I decided to use Windows 7 although Windows 8 is optimized for touchscreen and may sound better as you said. 

When my deep cycle battery arrives, it will replace the current switching power supply I'm using.

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