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Building a computer based system.. Recommendations???

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rhulancorp's picture
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I have a £10,000 budget, for speakers, amp, wires, etc and a Computer, which I'm going to put together myself... I just have a few questions before I start...

1) how important is the cd drive in the computer... Will I need to invest a lot in a good one for just ripping music, not playing...

2) should I get an internal or external DAC... It's cheaper for an internal one but is there any other differences I need to take into account

3) noise... I'm going to make this computer as quite as possible, but are there any tips you can give me for this?

4) music player... I like using the iPhone remote app to control iTunes... And using flac converted files to apple lossless, would there be a sound difference over another software player?

5) I really want to build this thing myself for other reasons, but for all my real listening music that i want in the highest quality, would it be worth buying a media streamed like a NAIM or similar that streams from a computer and stores cd's... I will get this option if I really have to but I didn't like any of the streaming devises offered by anyone! 

 

Thanks

 

rhulancorp's picture
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RE: Building a computer based system.. Recommendations???

I also need a sound card or internal DAC I'm not sure on the difference of the 2.... Does a sound card turn the signal from digital to just "line analogue"? Which I can then send to the amplifier?

duaplex's picture
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RE: Building a computer based system.. Recommendations???

rhulancorp wrote:

I have a £10,000 budget, for speakers, amp, wires, etc and a Computer, which I'm going to put together myself... I just have a few questions before I start...

1) how important is the cd drive in the computer... Will I need to invest a lot in a good one for just ripping music, not playing...

2) should I get an internal or external DAC... It's cheaper for an internal one but is there any other differences I need to take into account

3) noise... I'm going to make this computer as quite as possible, but are there any tips you can give me for this?

4) music player... I like using the iPhone remote app to control iTunes... And using flac converted files to apple lossless, would there be a sound difference over another software player?

5) I really want to build this thing myself for other reasons, but for all my real listening music that i want in the highest quality, would it be worth buying a media streamed like a NAIM or similar that streams from a computer and stores cd's... I will get this option if I really have to but I didn't like any of the streaming devises offered by anyone! 

 

Thanks

 

1. Not very, the software used is more important when ripping and which settings you chose, failing that downloads in Flac do exist

2. If 10,000 is the budget a good external DAC I would say

3. Now this depends, what are trying to build? Is it an ITX machine, if so look at shuttle PC? Your goal is minimal fans and noise dampening material. Also newer ITX boards and ATX now carry onboard HD audio and Video no need for graphics card unless you are gaming.

4. Not sure on that one

5. Possibly, however a good hard drive would do the same job, of course it depends if your PC is in the same room, if not then streaming would be beneficial.... NAS maybe? Smile

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CnoEvil's picture
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RE: Building a computer based system.. Recommendations???

Hi there,and I hope you had a good Christmas.

With £10k as a budget, you have to be very careful and do a lot of listening in order to avoid expensive mistakes.

In order to come up with meaningful suggestions, can you give details of :

- The type of music you listen to

- The size of your room

- How you like your music presented (smoother and detailed or up front and more analytical)

- Any brands that you've heard and liked the sound of

I would advise going for a Streamer like those from Linn (my preference) and Naim. This imo sounds better than an equivalent CDP and is far more versatile.....and can be controlled by an iThingy / PDA / Laptop etc.

With regard to amps, you need to get out and try some good ones, which should include some Solid State, Hybrid and Valves, in order to see where your preference lies.

I would propose brands like Musical Fidelity; Sugden; Lavardin; Electrocompaniet; Bel Canto; Leema; Pathos; Icon Audio; Unison Research

The speakers to look at will depend on whether you want Floorstanders or Standmounts, and what your taste requires. At the moment, there are great speakers available from the likes of Kef; Sonus Faber; PMC; Proac; Vienna Acoustics; Spendor; Focal; Harbeth

An example of a system I might put together would be:

Linn Majik DS + Sugden IA-4 + Kef R700 ( or Proac D18 )

For cables, I would look to Atlas, Telurium Q or Vertere and for a rack, Hi-fi Racks podium or Magic-Racks.

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shooter's picture
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Posts: 2672
RE: Building a computer based system.. Recommendations???

rhulancorp wrote:

I have a £10,000 budget, for speakers, amp, wires, etc and a Computer, which I'm going to put together myself... I just have a few questions before I start...

1) how important is the cd drive in the computer... Will I need to invest a lot in a good one for just ripping music, not playing...

2) should I get an internal or external DAC... It's cheaper for an internal one but is there any other differences I need to take into account

3) noise... I'm going to make this computer as quite as possible, but are there any tips you can give me for this?

4) music player... I like using the iPhone remote app to control iTunes... And using flac converted files to apple lossless, would there be a sound difference over another software player?

5) I really want to build this thing myself for other reasons, but for all my real listening music that i want in the highest quality, would it be worth buying a media streamed like a NAIM or similar that streams from a computer and stores cd's... I will get this option if I really have to but I didn't like any of the streaming devises offered by anyone! 

 

Thanks

 

 

Yep, i would go fanless.  

To be honest if its audio only and you want a FLAC rip with auto meta and artwork Vortexbox is hard to ignore at the price. I had a look at building my own Vortexbox based machine,  the softwere is open source and Martin at Vortexbox is very approachable if you have questions or issues. Though Vortexbox are wireless only you can output via SP/DIF with any softwere options available in the GUI if you do a self build.

A nice aluminium case not dissimilar to the Zen machine is available, you'll also need a low output mini ITX motherboard with wireless capability, ram, processor, psu and a pair of WD Reds which will work in a fanless design.

By the time thats all paid for you'll be lucky if it works out cheaper than the off the shelf Vortexbox or LivZen machine, for instance a pair of 2tb WD's are £180 give or take, they really are good value for money, mind you not as interesting as building your own and you'll have the option of hardwiring direct into a DAC   Smile

 

Just to pick up on a couple of other points:

I would use a dedicated DAC and keep the PC aspect separate.

For streaming the defunct Squeezebox for hi-res or the Apple Airport Express for 16/44.1 only.

Regarding a remote you can use the freely available MPod/Mpad remote to control your Vortexbox based machine direct.

 

Rip your tunes, either stream or hardwire the machine and control it all with the remote direct from the HDD, I quite like the simplicity of this set up but it may not for all.

CnoEvil's picture
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RE: Building a computer based system.. Recommendations???

I would go with a lot of what Shooter has said, except I prefer the dedicated Streamer route.

IMO.

- It is better to be independant from from your laptop (except possibly for as an extra means of control) 

- Fanless is the way to go

- A ripping Nas is well worth persuing, especially if you are capable of making your own "Vortexbox".

- Listen to how well the likes of Naim and Linn Streamers sound before making a decision

- The amp and speakers you choose will make or break the success of your system, so need serious consideration as well.

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"Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again."  André Gide

shooter's picture
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RE: Building a computer based system.. Recommendations???

You may find the link below interesting if your thinking of downloading hi-res tracks for playback:

 

http://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html

 

On a personnel note my system is:  iMac > AEX > Dac with volume contral > Actives

At some point this year i'll add dedicated music server like the build above and a pair of subs in parallel which will in theory give me a full range system.