Dummy first entry to avoid possible disappointment
Giro, InTheGroove, Digit, ClassicOne, MG12
I decided to start a new thread on this one. This is continuation of my enquiring from another thread on benefits of streamers over PCs as sources. I think it was concluded that streamers don’t offer nothing more over a PC functionality wise. But still many people prefer a streamer than a PC, which is of course all right.
I think I’m in luck. Right after my aging laptop died a few weeks ago a new computing solution emerged that really meets my needs and I think at some stage I’ll take a plunge.
I’m thinking of integrating a PC into my hi-fi and use it as a high quality transport (and use its other features as well since a PC is so much more versatile and flexible device compared to a standalone streamer). I never really liked the idea of a computer as a transport because I would never stand the look of a laptop on my hi-fi rack. OK, something like a Macbook Air is very pretty indeed but I think (and I may come out as traditionalist? ) a laptop’s place is on my laps and not on the display in my living room. Others may say that something like Mac Mini would be a better option with its diminutive size and un-PC-like looks. True, but it has something I really hate about PCs – the fan. I really wished I could get rid of the fan noise altogether.
Now, enter Intel NUC (Next Unit of Computing). The thing has a size that puts even a Mac Mini in shame but it’s a very capable platform nonetheless. Powered by Intel’s i3 dual core 1.8GHz processor, offers support of up to 16GB of DDR3 RAM. It’s also got 2 mini PCI Express slots which means you can fit it with an SSD (I believe as of today up to 500GB of storage on that interface) and upgrade it to a wi-fi ready device. Despite its size this thing should be on par with typical modern laptop performance wise. But size and specs are only part of the story because you still need a fan too cool it down. And that’s where 3rd party enclosure manufacturers step in. It appears you can make an enclosure for this motherboard that will effectively act as an oversized heatsink making use of any fan redundant. I found this aluminium enclosure form Impactics that ticks all the boxes for me. It even looks quite cool and menacing and “audiophile” too. Reminds me of Pass Aleph power amp enclosures . Also Tranquil PC have on offer their own all-alu NUC enclosure doubling as a passive cooler. Unfortunately, this is not going to be a cheap-as-chips project because only the motherboard and the enclosure total up to around €350 - 400. And you still need to factor in RAM and SSD (depending on your needs), wi-fi card (if you want one), power supply and some operating system. I believe the budget should close at €800 all in for my spec if I opt for Win8. But I believe the extra outlay as compared to the likes of Sonos or Simple Audio is a worthwhile sacrifice considering extra functionality and flexibility on offer. Not to mention that having 200GB storage on board means I will not have to play around with NASes for a while.
So much for introduction. Now is the time for asking questions as I don’t want to start the whole research on my own. As some of you might remember from the other thread I’ll have a problem with graphical interface with this solution as I don’t have a TV and don’t intend to get one in the foreseeable unless OLED technology leaps forward and they’ll start offering foldable screens. Projector is out of the question for me as well. Ideally I’d like to have that PC controlled the way you’d usually control a streamer – via a remote device with screen on its own, in my case it would either be an iMac (2012) and/or some cheap laptop and/or a smartphone (if need be Win8 based). So what are your suggestions? What soft and hardware I’d need to have to make it all work as it should? And what players would you recommend for Win8 and Linux platforms (bit perfect data transfer is assumed)? Thank you all in advance for your suggestions. I’ll not be able to contribute much in my thread due to time restraints but I appreciate every input made and will definitely read all post and consider all suggestions.
Well the fan on my new PC is hardly audible, Im sure those AL ones are great but at what cost, really for £700 you can get a high spec pc with loads of memory and a SSD which seems to be an advantage for music, maybe thats why my pc is so quiet? I would have a look at Scan computers before taking the plunge.
silent pc's have been around for quite a while now, they are nothing new.
Have a look at mini-itx form factor.
If it's just for music, the new intel i3 systems would be overkill quite frankly.
you'll need some form of monitor to set it all up though. Once it's set up, you can then either remote control the computer, or use an app to control whatever bit of software you plump with.
Just to give you some examples - here's some cases
here's some motherboards without fans
If you have any specific questions, just ask...
Well the fan on my new PC is hardly audible,
but not after 7 years of use and that's my problem here. passive will always be silent.
Im sure those AL ones are great but at what cost, really for £700 you can get a high spec pc with loads of memory and a SSD which seems to be an advantage for music, maybe thats why my pc is so quiet? I would have a look at Scan computers before taking the plunge.
about €100 for the enclosure.that small motherboard is more expensive than average motherboard. so it's not that much more expensive than decently looking one typical enclosure. and I should stress out "decently looking". I don't want a PC in my living room. I want audio equipment.
and I should stress out "decently looking". I don't want a PC in my living room. I want audio equipment.
click on the cases link I posted above...
I know. NUC, however, is new.
I don't know if I'm interested in another big(gish) box on my rack. I like the fact NUC will allow the whole thing keep as minimalistic as possible ATM.
no. if it was I would propably went for a dedicated streamer.
you'll need some form of monitor to set it all up though.
that shouldn't be too much of a problem.
Once it's set up, you can then either remote control the computer, or use an app to control whatever bit of software you plump with.
cool, That's what I'm counting for.
thanks. I'll take a look later and see how much larger such unit would end up to be.
it's worth noting that a lot of the dedicated htpc cases are made to be the same form factor as hifi equipment - 19" rack mount size or smaller for the specific purpose of not looking like a pc, but as a bit of AV equipment. This can be regardless of the size of the equipment you actually put in it, but that's no different to looking inside some amps where there's a massive transformer and a small pcb and a lot of empty space.
if you wanted to test the concept, you could have a look at getting say a raspberry pi for 25 quid and bunging open elec on it (it runs xbmc). It won't be the best, most powerful etc, but it will give you a good idea of how it will work in your set up and if it's for you or not.
200GB storage on board,
That is not very much at all, but more memory should be cheap, think I paid about £30 for 1TB but check before buying.
more available. Aside from no optical drive, this could be a very nice compact little media player. A USB hard drive can be added for additional storage.
Mac mini > AVI ADM9Ts
You'll need an external soundcard for the Pi unless you use HDMI. The analogue out SQ is s#it and there was a known bug that causes pops and clicks...
One solution HERE, although if using a USB DAC, audio shouldn't be an issue should it?
Last summer, when my aged Win XP laptop died. I intended to to exactly what Overdose suggested, and build a Hi-Fi-Pi - so using Twitter, I persuaded several Pi enthusiasts to experiment the concept - the results they tell me, were terrible for a number of reasons.
Instead - I did think about using something like this:-http://content.hwigroup.net/images/products/xl/168289/6/acer_veriton_n4620g_dtvfheh003.jpg
As much as I like good quality sound - I also like something to look at (other than the news with subtitles) - So I use Soundspectrum G-Force slide show plus superimposed random patterns. A small Form PC that can be fixed behind a TV as is doesn't come with a monitor. Install iTunes and control it with a Smartphone App, or with something like VNC.
Anyways - after trying two different Buffalo NAS boxes, which didn't perform as I expected - I ended getting a Win7 laptop...The only time you can hear fan noise is if graphics are displayed - but if just streaming music, I close the lid. Happy days!!
iTunes 10.7 on ASUS x401, Arcam DAC, Audioquest, Arcam Solo, QED, Monitor Audio R250 + REL Quake
Hey, it's you! Hello there!
No signature worth mentioning...
Indeed it is!! - well spotted! You see how a recognisable avatar can give you away? haha!
Someone alerted me to these.
They seem to fit the bill perfectly?
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