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Snakeoil Salesman 2 channel setup


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#11
So in around mid Oct of this year I finaly finished the section on how to build your own mITX computer. This build was done with a spare NF9C and the follwoing FD slimline case.
 
[Image: 20171012-snakeoil-cap-0003.jpg?mtime=1507808214]

And using a Elfidility USB filter card, pictured below:
 
[Image: 20171012-snakeoil-cap-0006.jpg]

This card is all well and good when paired with the Audio-Gd USB Digital Interface. Unfortunately the sound just don't feel right when paired with the DC-37's USB. So last night I had no choice but to gut my previous reference machine and take out the mini PCI-e riser, Paul Pang USB 2.0 and Intel E1000E card. Those things are now installed on this machine. Picture of the riser below:
 
[Image: mini-pcie_riser.png]
The impact is immedate. The height, width and depth of the front stage is better defined. There is an improvement in timbre too.

Once I'm happy with the USB performance, I'd do a proper re-evaluation of USB vs Coax of the DC-37.  Funnily enough with a new EEPROM and Barvo chip, I reckon the sound signature of my DC-37's USB has changed. Hence the word re-evaluation.

Happy may not be the right word. I was never satisfied with the USB input of this DC-37 - however I just cannot pin point what is wrong; for some reason USB on the DC-37 just don't 'feel' right. Coax on the other hand, feels right. Everything said and done, there is still life in Coax. USB may not be the best interface for a computer based playback system after all.

This motivates me even more to try and get HS/Link (A propriety Accuphase audio protocol) to work.
Snakeoil Operating System - Music, your way!
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#12
Amazing setup, Agent. That right there is my end game goal. Some day, maybe!
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#13
Here's a nasty video of my system last weekend, when I was testing out Blind Testing Alpha3.

Overall the presentation is less warm, but it is an improvement in everything else. The timing of the music have improved, and there is a noticable rush when listening to music. Incredible detail, more important - the detail is not fatiguing. (Disclaimer: YMMV).

Unfortunately I don't have the proper video equipment to capture the music presentation so we end up with this nasty video.
 

Things could be worse! I tried to do a recording of Way Down Deep (Jennifer Warnes) and my mobile phone cannot even capture the low notes (playing that back it's like they don't exist at all). Perhaps it's time for me to invest in some proper video recording gear - but honestly I have no idea what is out there. Time to seek advice from my colleagues.

So what are the configurations for my setup, mainly for my reference so I can keep track of what I'm running at this time, but FYI:
  1. Set ethernet, USB IRQ, and Squeezelite to RT priority
  2. Add '-p 99' option to music player options box. (Redundant setting but meh :D)
  3. Partition 1 CPU for LMS and Squeezelite via cpuset, the remaining CPU runs everything else
  4. Stock kernel from 1.0.0 install.
  5. Network is Intel e1000e, and IP is set to static, with jumbo frame of 9000
  6. NAS mounted on Snakeoil as a CIFS share
  7. Disable all services in Snakeoil (SSH, Samba, avahi and locale console)
  8. PaulPang USB v1 (I think) with 2nd port powered off
  9. LMS with Squeezelite 1.6.4.
As you've probably know already, all my audio gear are carefully chosen - equipment is either double insulated or the audio ground is not connected to power ground (e.g. the Uptone JS-2).  The audio system is grounded via the Accuphase DC-37. i.e. if I disconnect the power cable of my Accuphase, the whole system floats (touch any metalic surface and you'd feel capacitance).

Two other things of note:
  1. isolation (more on this in a future blog). But right now I'm using a mixture of cheap isolation feet I got from e-bay many moons ago (MS Audio carbon isolation feet, and VALabs stand with a ball bearing inside, with a small piece of Daiso earthquake gel from Singapore).
  2. Power amp is connected to my PSAudio P5 instead of to the mains. I tried powering my power amp directly from the mains - don't like what I'm hearing. Everybody tells me this is the better method but straight to mains just do not give me the clarity I am after.

    I guess powering from P5 works for me because I'm using small stand mounts - the output power rarely exceeds 20 W on both channels. Almost everybody else are using gigantic floorstanders that draws 400 W per channel.
And that's it for now. Hopefully you guys will like Alpha 3 as much as I am when it's released. Unfortuantely with audio, what works for me is unlikely to work for you. The fact that I am using small standmounts already means my settings are unlikely to be ideal in your own system. Therefore, always rememebr to tweak the configuration to find your own sound.
Snakeoil Operating System - Music, your way!
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#14
Testing out the ambient effects of the XiaoMi Yeelight Smart LED Strip in my listening room.

Video recorded on my trusty DSLR with an addon RØDE Stereo VideoMic Pro microphone. Hopefully to do more of this when I can.

I've been busy with my work for much of this year. And it all came to this - for this week I'd be on 24/7 full time support at work.

This full time support is on a 1 week roster and cycle roughly every 2 months. At the conclusion of this this week, it means my long hard toil is over (hopefully, touch wood). This has been a long time coming. The whole thing was delayed so long because my predecessor left for better pastures and left me with next to nothing to work with!

I hope to finally spend more time after my roster to finally push out Snakeoil OS Blind Testing :thumbs:.
Snakeoil Operating System - Music, your way!
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#15
Quote:(hopefully, touch wood)
Would that be  African or European wood...?  Big Grin

What... is your favourite colour?

Ask me the questions, bridgekeeper. I'm not afraid.
It is I, Arthur, son of Uther Pendragon, from the castle of Camelot. King of the Britons, defeater of the Saxons, Sovereign of all England!
In order to maintain air-speed velocity, a swallow needs to beat its wings forty-three times every second, right?

https://www.retrojunk.com/content/child/...holy-grail

Take some time out for r&r.!  You deserve it !..... and we will all await... Patiently... 'cos we know it will be better than good... Cool
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#16
[Image: dead.gif]Worked almost 10 day straight (Took a day off on Friday)! Precious old me, never had to do this ever before and I'm actually quite fatigued by now. Luckily I had a day off on Friday, I decided to put in these things into my Snakeoil PC
  1. PCI riser/extender
  2. mini-pci-e to pci-e 1x (Replacing mini-pci-e to 3 1x)
  3. PCI Intel E1000 network card (Replacing PCI-e network card, because there is only 1 PCI-e bus I can use now)
The reason mainly is to replace my old mini pci-e adaptor as the powering up sequence doesn't work quite well with my DAC. So here are the items:
   

And unpacked. I'm using the long ribbon cable for now as it's just easier. Don't see why the shorter one wouldn't work just as well (if not better). Something to do another time.
   

Here's the back of this old school network card, it's actually in beautiful Accuphase green!! Heart
   

So how's the verdict? Every thing powers up properly now. Any change to the sound? So far, in 2 days of listening:
  1. Improved clarity (plus)
  2. Seems to have lost a bit of height. There is this piece of music where some notes will linger' in front of me at ceiling height. That appears to disappear now Undecided  (Minus)
Still early days yet. Will need to rest more so I can get my brains back. Hopefully I can have a proper listen then...

One thing I do know - music is the best medicine to smoothe the soul. No matter how bad your day turns out to be, it always ends the day better when I listen to some music. Clap Clap Clap
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#17
I really need to update this thread more regularly on the changes and tweaks made. In the interests of explaining how "house sound" of Snakeoil OS is derived.

So here's the latest additions made - Two interconnects have been replaced.
  1. A Oyaide Continental 5S USB cable replacing a Furutech GT
  2. Lenehan RTek XLRs replaced some DIY monstrosity ones I've made 5 years ago.
Here's the close up of the Oyaide. Kindly on loan from TP1.
   
And briefly here's the difference this cable made when compared to teh Furutech:
  • Improved clarity - allowing me to listen more into the micro details, include some minor distortions on tracks that are probably mastered way too loud than they need to be.
  • Highs are extend longer and sounds smoother (e.g. triangles)
  • Better left right speaker integration - the speakers disappear even more now
  • More body and weight to the music (not sure how to describe this
  • Depth perception is improved, and it's easier for me to picture sounds from the background and foreground. Sounds that appear in front of the speaker now appears more apparent whereas it was a bit fuzzy when using the Furutech.
The differences between the two cables may appear to be slight. But over time the differences really does stand out, and this is a worthy upgrade over the Furutech. Especially so if you listen to a lot of music that features guitars and piano prominently. This cable is also excellent if you listen to a lot of tracks that has vocals accompanined by a small emsemble (No more than 4 instruments).

The second upgrade of course are the RibbonTeks. Lenenen is a genius bookshelf speaker maker and he also made some interconnects. Been meaning to get this cable for a while now and finally landed a pair for a good price.

   

So these cables are replacing the cables for my old SACD player. The SACD player is not used much, it's mainly used as a reference point when I am evaluating Snakeoil OS. Think of this as calibrating myself so I do not stray too far when it comes to Snakeoil OS development.

So overall this is the current system I am using now. Doesn't offer the type of bling you tend to see in the magazines, but for now it gets the job done.

   

Here's the equipment of my system as of 10 August 2018:

Electronics
  • Marantz SC-11 S1 (Pre Amplifer)
  • Marantz SM-11 S1 (Power Amplifier)
  • Marantz SA-11 S2 (CD/SACD Player)
  • Accuphase DC-37

Speakers
  • Lenehan Audio ML-1 Ultras (Speakers)
  • TuneStands (Speaker stands)

Power Supply/Regeneration
  • Modified Uptone JS-2 (Powering Computer mainboard and Paul PangUSB)
  • HDPlex Linear Power Supply (Powering AR R-77 and Ethernet Switch)
  • PSAudio P5 Power Plant

Snakeoil Tweaks
  • Acoustic Revive r-77 (Schumann Resonance thingamajingy)
  • VALab Isolation Feets
  • MSAudio Isolation Feets
  • 'Earthquake Gel' from Daiso
  • IKEA chopping boards (Isolation)
  • AMG Toppers (Sits on top of ML-1 Ultras)

Computer
  • Jetway 2600 NF9C
  • Lexar CFast card
  • PPA USB card
  • Intel E1000 NIC
  • PCI riser
  • mPCI-E to 1x PCI-e riser

Interconnects
  • Kimber SilverStreak XLR (From pre to power amp)
  • Achtung XLR (From DC-37 to pre)
  • Lenehan RTek XLR (From SACD Player to pre)
  • Lenehan RTek spades (From power amp to speakers)
  • Oyaide Continental 5S (from PPA to DC-37)
  • Hospital rated network cables (From wall to switch, and from switch to PC)

Other Accessories
  • 2x Bass traps (2 front corners)
  • 3x Panel traps (2 front 1 back)
  • ClearAudio Diamond power cables

Networking and NAS
  • HP Microserver N54L (5x 4TB Hitachis), running FreeNAS 11.1 U5
  • HP Procurve Layer 2 switches (1x 24 port and 1x 8 port)
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#18
My PSAudio P5 power regenerator has/had this weird issue. There is a hard switch at the back, and if I flicked that off, it'd never turn on again for a few days.. For more than a year I've lived with this inconvienence. Then couldn't take it anymore and decided to ship it back to the Australia distributor - Magenta Audio.

Shipped the unit all the way there (From Perth to Adelaide), and once there they couldn't fault it, at all Huh. It works every time for them. They did discover the firmware was still 0.40, and they re-flashed it to the latest. This is strange because I had definitely flashed it to the latest the day before packing it up.

Anyway, whatever the problem was. Once they gave it the all clear and shipped it back to me. Lo and behold, it is as they said - the unit worked... Granted I only flicked the hard switch a total of 3 times since receiving it. The two times I flicked the switch to the ON position, the unit powered on.

[Image: PSAudio-P5.jpg]

Lived without the P5 for approximately two weeks. And I am glad I got it back.

No matter how good you think your audio equipment is, regardless how you think AC to DC rectification works. Try and add power regeneration to your system, and experience yourself the difference it makes - for better or worse.

The whole sound stage just clears up - giving you a vivid and 3D stage that sounds so real it can fool you into thinking it's real.

Kudos to Mangenta Audio. Can't fault their after sales service, timeliness to respond, and price. Their after sales service gave me a lot of confidence and faith in this PS Audio product.

Not entirely sure how long this bliss will last. Power regenerators are fickle beasts (even my friend's Accuphase power regenerator seemed to have developed a fault). But finger crossed I'd get to enjoy music for a few more months at least.
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#19
Been MIA lately as my home is in a bit of a mess as I'm logically re-designing my home network. The experience is painful to say the least, but the hurdle might finally be over. Here's the revamped homelab system now (i.e. the system that I'm using to develop Snakeoil OS, as well as serving music to my Snakeoil PC).
 
   
 
Dev1 and Dev2 machines are the computers I'm using for all Snakeoil development work (Dev2 is mainly for testing). These machines have a special remote KVM mode where I can remotely access these computer's screen, mouse and keyboard.

Storage is where all my music and Snakeoil source code are stored. In the future I would like to move the source code to somewhere more secure (e.g. github or gitlab).

VDSL is a modem that connects my home to the Internet (because of Australia politics we don't have proper fiber). The mode is set to bridge mode and connect to the firewall.

The firewall is the gateway between the Internet and my home network. 4 links from the firewall are connected to the Unifi 48 port switch. And all my home equipment are connected to this said switch (some directly, others indirect via another edge switch).

Now this is where the complications began - VLANs. I have logically seperated out all the functions of my network (e.g. dev machines don't really need to talk to PVR and so on). So putting them on different VLANs now isolate them against each other. Should there be a case where they need to communicate, it's all handled by the firewall. For now I have logically seperated out my network like so:
   
The media VLAN only contains my Snakeoil PC and the Storage/NAS. Sure other devices on other VLANs can still communicate with the NAS. But the nature of switches mean the Snakeoil PC will now see a lot less traffic now compared to when everything is on the same network.

I still use tablets/mobiles to remotely control the Snakeoil PC, wireless is now handled by a dedicated wireless access point (see below). The firewall will route the connection from my handheld device all the way to the snakeoil PC.
   
Getting all this up and running took a lot of effort because that requires re-configuring everything, setting up the firewall rules and more. The task is not finished yet, but we're more than 50% there.
What's next? This unifi switch has 2 SFP and 2 SFP+ ports. My intention is to cost a cabler to run an optical cable from this switch back to my listening room and then connect my Snakeoil PC via an optical cable. This means my listening rig will be electronically isolated from all the gear in my home lab system.

So, a monumental attempt (for me anyway) to experiment what Ethernet and electrical isolation bring to music. Part #1 is almost complete, part #2 will have to wait... With a working home network now it's time for me to work on Blind Testing Update 2.
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