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Snakeoil Salesman 2 channel setup


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#1
This is my 2 channel setup, effectively is the primary system I am using to tune how Snakeoil sounds. This seems pretty ridiculous from a software computing perspective really, but try out Snakeoil OS for yourself and tell me what you think.

The bookshelves I am using are tiny, so the bass output is sub optimal. Applying a pscyhoacoustic technique (missing fundamentals) does give me the perception of a deeper bass, but it's a YMMV thing.

Often times I will go and visit the other systems from the Snakeoil Squad to get a proper bearing on the effects of these changes.

Anyway, here it is:

[Image: 20160530_System_001.jpg]

Close up of the KillerDAC (Taiwan TDA 1541double crown in non oversampling mode, tube rectifier and tube output stage). Kudos to Doncentric for the great work (Read more in this blog article):
[Image: Killer_DAC.jpg]

The entire system is made up of the following: 
  • Marantz SC-11 S1 (Pre Amplifer)
  • Marantz SM-11 S1 (Power Amplifier)
  • Marantz SA-11 S2 (CD/SACD Player)
  • Lenehan Audio ML-1 Ultras (Speakers)
  • Audio-GD 2014 (Digital Interface)
  • KillerDAC (Digital Audio Converter)
  • Jetway 2600 + PPA USB (Computer)
  • Modified Uptone JS-2 (Computer PSU)
  • PSAudio P5 (Power Regenerator)
  • PSAudio Quintet (Power Board)
  • Acoustic Revive r-77 (Schumann Resonance thingamajingy)
  • Crappy e-bay dual output PSU
Other Accessories: 
  • 2x Bass traps (2 front corners)
  • 3x Panel traps (2 front 1 back)
  • ClearAudio Diamond power cables
  • TuneStands (Speaker stands)
  • AMG Toppers (Sits on top of ML-1 Ultras)
  • IKEA chopping boards (Isolation)
  • Kimber SilverStreak XLR (From pre to power)
  • Achtung XLR (From SACD to pre)
  • Achtung RCA (From KillerDAC to pre)
  • Normal printer USB cable (from PPA to DI-2014)
  • Normal network cable (From DI-2014 to KillerDAC)
  • 1 Kg dumbell (sits on top of KillerDAC, to silence an annoying hum from a old transformer)
The room is very small (2.4 by 2.4), so I'm doing near field listening. I'm applying a lot of other psycho accoustics techniques when evaluating Snakeoil sound quality, the things I usually look for is
  • Physical Placement: Identify the physical placement and seperation (i.e. localiation) of each vocal and instrument in the sound stage (360 degrees around me)
  • Easy Listening: Just enjoying the music as it is, and get fully engaged with it
  • Naturaless: How natural the decays of the dominant frequencies are (i.e. the harmonics). In other words I hear how the echos trails off. This in general gives me a sense of space, as well as the general recording space.
  • Scale: When some instrument is playing or vocalist is singing, need to be able to visualise the scale of the sound (when a person is singing, does it sound like a normal person singing in from of you)
Short for PENS (there's no I in PENS [Image: angel.png]). Jokes aside the missing 'I' is actually important. The above is how I listen to music, and is the basis of Snakeoil.  But at the end of the day, everybody is unique. You need to exploare Snakeoil, make the changes, and find your own path that gives you that engagement. Hopefully I have make it easy enough for you to do so, please send me additional suggestions and comments on how to improve Snakeoil. Thanks [Image: smile.png]
Snakeoil Operating System - Music, your way!
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#2
Nice set you have!

Funny, I immediately recognized the Ikea chopping boards :-) as I am also using one myself. Have you also tried other kinds of wood?

Two relatively cheap upgrades I didn't find in your list, but will certainly help improving your system even more:
- using a better USB cable instead of the 'printer' one with your PPA card. Despite the fact that a USB cable just transports 0's and 1's all USB cables sound very different regarding sound stage, speed and tonality. There is no such thing as a 'digital cable'. A cheap Supra cable would already be a nice step up. But there are many other cables to be had that are much better (but also more expensive). Maybe you can lend a good one from a friend or dealer just to experience the differences.
- using an optical network. Doesn't cost that much (<100 dollar) and made a huge difference in my setup. I use two TPlink MC220L's. The one connected to my streamer is powered by a LPS.

 Thanks giving us an impression of your setup!
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#3
(02-Jun-2016, 07:39 AM) Leonard Wrote: Nice set you have!

Funny, I immediately recognized the Ikea chopping boards :-) as I am also using one myself. Have you also tried other kinds of wood?

Not really. Only replaced the original shelves (thin MDF) to these IKEA boards as the dimensions (width and length) fit the rack perfectly.

What I get after switching to bamboo is an immediate better perception of depth. As you can see from the picture having all the equipment stacked in between the speakers (and all the way up to the tweeter) is far from ideal. Unfortunately I am limited by the room, so there's little else I can do. Before the IKEA motherboards, imaging was never as good as I liked. But after the change to IKEA chopping boards, imaging is somehow "fixed". Don't know why Huh.

(02-Jun-2016, 07:39 AM) Leonard Wrote: Two relatively cheap upgrades I didn't find in your list, but will certainly help improving your system even more:
- using a better USB cable instead of the 'printer' one with your PPA card. Despite the fact that a USB cable just transports 0's and 1's all USB cables sound very different regarding sound stage, speed and tonality. There is no such thing as a 'digital cable'. A cheap Supra cable would already be a nice step up. But there are many other cables to be had that are much better (but also more expensive). Maybe you can lend a good one from a friend or dealer just to experience the differences.

I've borrowed some from local audiophiles. Both USB cables and Ethernet cables, and do get a better sound from them. This is something I will eventually upgrade to. I do have a "aftermarket" USB cable (Achtung from ebay). But that cable sounds worse compared to my printer cable Rolleyes.

(02-Jun-2016, 07:39 AM) Leonard Wrote: - using an optical network. Doesn't cost that much (<100 dollar) and made a huge difference in my setup. I use two TPlink MC220L's. The one connected to my streamer is powered by a LPS.

Something in my todo list. Just not sure how to implement this in a good way as yet.

(02-Jun-2016, 07:39 AM) Leonard Wrote:  Thanks giving us an impression of your setup!

My pleasure.
Snakeoil Operating System - Music, your way!
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#4
(02-Jun-2016, 07:55 AM) agent_kith Wrote:
(02-Jun-2016, 07:39 AM) Leonard Wrote: - using an optical network. Doesn't cost that much (<100 dollar) and made a huge difference in my setup. I use two TPlink MC220L's. The one connected to my streamer is powered by a LPS.

Something in my todo list. Just not sure how to implement this in a good way as yet.


Lots of interesting information about this topic can be found in below threads on the Computer Audiophile site:
http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f22-ne...tion-4265/
http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f22-ne...ons-24641/
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#5
Been so busy with the new job lately I havn't had time for any Snakeoil development. 

Recently I've acquired a second hand Xeon machine, and my intention is to run ESXi on it, and spin up a VM running LMS. Not sure how the SQ will be like, but very interested to find out. And the little time I had after work, I'm working on this new Xeon board.

Here's the picture of the new machine (Xeon 1230 V3 with 32 GB of ECC RAM, and water cooled).
[Image: PC_1.jpg]

The motherboard is a Supermicro X10SLL-F, it's a server board with out of band management. This means I can run this computer headless (don't connect keyboard/mouse to this machine). Control of this machine is done remotely from another computer via a web browser. This is the login screen:
[Image: PC_IPMI.png]

Once logged in, I can start a remote console (this is similar to Windows remote desktop or vncviewer), by clicking the "Launch Console":

[Image: PC_IPMI_2.png]

And this is the console, I'm running ESXi on this server:

[Image: PC_3.png]

As mentioned before, my playback system is a 3 way computer setup with: 
  1. Music player running Snakeoil with squeezelite only (the square box with the blinding blue light above)
  2. LMS running on a computer that's running a host of other stuffs (Ubuntu)
  3. NAS storing all music (FreeNAS)
My intention is to run LMS in a virtual machine on this new server running ESXi (along with my Snakeoil development VMs), to replace machine 2 above.

Also have a second server Atom motherboard (donated by tp1). Once I've finished setting up this Xeon machine, I'd re-purpose the Atom Xeon and replace machine 1 in the above list.

When completed, I'd be running server grade hardware on my 3-way computer playback system, all running on ECC RAM.

The beauty of these server board is ease of management. There was a problem with this Xeon motherboard initially, the CPU fan speed is not spinning right. This issue is fixed by upgrading the BIOS via the web interface. And I can mount ISO images virtually and install software via the web interface. All this means a better platform for Snakeoil development.
How will this new setup sound when finished? [Image: confused.gif] Hopefully in time I can find out.
Snakeoil Operating System - Music, your way!
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#6
It took four plus months. But now everything is finally setup the way I want it now. Not the neatest, but it'd do for now. These are the things that keep my music room running.

The top shelf is where my 24 port switch is, followed by 3 HD-HR DVB-T tuners.

[Image: Home_Servers.png]

The bottom shelf is the processing grunt. To the left is the new Xeon server talked about earlier(running ESXi 6.0 as I can't get 6.5 to work). And two storage servers (on the right), top one is running, second is backup.

Development of Snakeoil has officially moved to the virtual machines (left machine). Everything is versioned in GIT and Mantis is now added to manage bugs/features and releases. Hopefully these new additions combined will improve on the QA and QC issues.

[Image: Mantis.png]

Last thing to do is to think of a way to do automatic testing.  Think
Snakeoil Operating System - Music, your way!
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#7
(23-Nov-2016, 12:37 PM) agent_kith Wrote: The bottom shelf is the processing grunt. To the left is the new Xeon server talked about earlier(running ESXi 6.0 as I can't get 6.5 to work). And two storage servers (on the right), top one is running, second is backup.

Talk about jinxes. This box crashed hard a couple of days after I made the post above. Panic swept in but managed to revive it after a long 14 hours, and running 6.5!

Anyway, here's an update to my system. I'm using the Accuphase DC-37 as my DAC (and Snakeoil testing) now.
 
[Image: 20161222_DVC2.jpg]

Click the picture to read the review.
Snakeoil Operating System - Music, your way!
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#8
I'm back to the stock caps after more than 6 months with Jensens capacitors inside the JS-2. But with less capacitance - A 33 k one, and a 10 k one I think (will have to confirm later).

When I hade the Jensens, this is what I wrote back in April last year.
 
Quote:Sadly, my system may have lost a tad in clarity. Unfortunately at this stage I can't really tell if this lack of clarity is caused by JS-2 or not because I did have the KillerDAC fixed recently. This album is probably mic'ed up close, Adam's enthusiasm shows up often when he plays. And with this album I suddenly lost the connection with him, his breathings while still audible at time sounds so distant.

And this made me second guess myself, Lisitsa live at the Royal Albert Hall, were the background noise less noticeable compared to what I remembered before? I think it did, something is different, I can’t pin point what it is.

Switching between the two PSUs are inconclusive, changing the rectifier and output valves didn’t matter much either. The same disconnect is still there. While not really noticable with Lisitsa, Adam’s appeared to be alot fuzzier now. Perhaps the much rawer and closer recording of the Gratitude album perhaps makes the difference here. But I don’t really know.

So the question is, did the system loose the ability to highlight micro details? Is there a difference between clarity and resolution? While I do reckon my system is a tad more fuzzy compared to before, resolving ability did not seem to be impacted as much.

The microdetails that appeared to be missing in the past six months are almost now back Heart. Not 100% but it's enough for me to note the "fuzziness" is no longer bothering me.

The emotion connection that I have lost with some of the tracks (mentioned in the above quote) are now back.

Just not too sure about the capacitence. While I don't get 100% of the microdetails with the JS-2+Hashimoto+Stock. Everything seems to sound more exciting, there's a certain "rush" to some of the performances I don't recall I had before with some of my reference tracks.

It'd be a while before I can comment more, but so far I reckon the stock caps is superior to the Jensens. The micro details is something I just cannot give up. If you're more about the macro perhaps the Jensens is a better fit. For me I lost too much emotional connection to the music 2x Jensens is a no go for me.

It'd take me a few more months to decide if I should stick with original 2x 33 k or the current 1x33 k + 1 capacitance.
Snakeoil Operating System - Music, your way!
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#9
       
Did this a few days ago. Previously the choke has a high electrical field + high magnetic field while the transformer only has a high magnetic field.

Now both units only have high magnetic field. Not quite sure which is the choke and which is the tranny now. Huh Obviously the lower EF Is a good thing, but how did that happen?  Think

Gotta love the JS-2. It really is expensive (to me anyway), but considering the enjoyment I have got out of it, it's worth every penny Big Grin.
Snakeoil Operating System - Music, your way!
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#10
Killed the USB input of my DC-37 a while back. Finally decided to have it looked at and fixed. Happy to report USB, and in turn DSD is working now:


[Image: cute2.gif]
Reckon S/PDIF input may still sound better than USB[Image: confused.gif]. May end up not using the USB in the end, but at least now I can test any DSD bugs, or add new features easily now without too much of a hassle of swapping equipment in/out.

Too tired to do anything today, but will experiment more in the coming weeks to find the better input. And if possible, spend some time to see if can get HS/Link input to work.

If you have a DC-37 yourself, be sure to read this article. What happened to me can happen to you. Hopefully newer revisions of the DC-37 have already addressed the flaws. If not, you'd probably read it here first. [Image: lie.gif]
Snakeoil Operating System - Music, your way!
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