want a quiet PC for playing music

Got a shopping cart of parts that you want opinions on? Get advice from members on your planned or existing system (or upgrade).

Moderators: NeilBlanchard, Ralf Hutter, sthayashi, Lawrence Lee

Post Reply
Listener
Posts: 45
Joined: Sat Apr 15, 2006 7:26 pm

want a quiet PC for playing music

Post by Listener » Sat Apr 15, 2006 11:29 pm

I want to buy a PC to store and plat the content of 1600 (and growing) CDs as compressed FLAC files. I expect to wind up with a 1000 GB of disk storage - 500 GB now and another 500 GB when I fill the first disk.

This PC will be in my home office and needs to be quiet. It's primary role would be to play music (with the J. River Media Center 11 player s/w) in the office, the library and the living room. I might use this PC for email, web browsing, word processing and light s/w development. No games, no video streaming or editing and no high res. image editing. I do all these things on a Toshiba Laptop with a mobile Pentium chip at 2.6 GHz or 2.8 Ghz now and find that to be adequate.

I'm looking for a system that will be fairly quiet and will keep the hard disks cool. I'm more concerned about audio quality in the library than in the office but I don't want the music PC to be noisy.

I'm years out of date on chip families, motherboards, power supplies and cases. I've read some reviews and comparisons but I'm not up-to-speed on acronyms and processor code names.

I expect to have 1 SATA Plextor DVD drive and 2 Seagate 500 GB SATA hard drives. It would be nice to have at least one more SATA connector in reserve. I won't use RAID. I'd prefer on-board SATA.

I need at least one and probably 2 PCI slots for high quality 2 channel audio outputs. (I also want on-board audio as the default soundcard for general sounds.)

On board video would be adequate.

A dual core processor might be nice but I'm not sure I want to pay a lot for it.

I would be happy to trade off some speed to save money and to make the job of keeping the system cool and quiet easier. I am especially interested in keeping the hard disks cool so that they last a long time.

I read a review of the Antec P180 and liked the idea of separate compartments but some of the fancy features would just make things more complicated for me. And the cost of the case and a separate high quality power supply seems higher than necessary for me.

I'm looking for a system with standard components I can buy, install and get working. I don't want to undeclock or to immediately replace the fans with quieter units.

I don't need suggestions to look at the Squeezebox/Slimserver (been there, done that, doesn't fit) or an opinion that no large capacity drive is quiet. I'm looking for practical advice on CPU, motherboard, case and power supply components that would satisfy my requirements at a reasonable cost. And that I can buy in the next month.

Bill

Devonavar
SPCR Reviewer
Posts: 1850
Joined: Sun Sep 21, 2003 11:23 am
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada

Post by Devonavar » Sun Apr 16, 2006 12:28 am

The cheapest AMD Sempron will play music just fine. Unless "light software development" requires something more, there is no reason to spend money for anything above low end.

Same goes for the motherboard. Nearly every motherboard these days has onboard sound and at least two SATA ports. Just find a brand you're comfortable with and buy their cheapest Socket 754 board, probably a VIA chipset. You'll want to avoid NForce chipsets because most of them have noisy active coolers. ATI makes some decent chipsets that can be passively cooled, and their integrated graphics are also quite good, but I get the feeling that they can be a bit pricier than other boards. I had a good experience with an MSI RS482M-IL, which has integrated graphics and 3 PCI slots.

For the case, I would recommend an Antec P150 with the included Neo HE power supply. Make sure you read up on some of the issues people have been having though. Snapping rubber bands and compatibility issues with the power supply come to mind. You should be fine so long as you find a recent revision of the case (in other words, buy from a store with high turnover).

I think you should be happy with that. After you buy the processor, you may want to consider swapping the CPU heatsink, since the stock cooler may be the loudest thing in your computer. On the other hand, I do hear that AMD's stock heatsinks have improved dramatically, so you may be able to get away without a swap.

At this point, you'll probably have a computer that is quiet but still audible. Your limiting factor will be your hard drives.

My recommendation would be to store your songs on a networked drive if possible, but since you sound like you don't have/want any other desktop computers around, so I think you should probably be able to stick with the Seagate in your main case.

Devonavar
SPCR Reviewer
Posts: 1850
Joined: Sun Sep 21, 2003 11:23 am
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada

Post by Devonavar » Sun Apr 16, 2006 12:35 am

An addendum. It occurred to me that if you have 1600 CDs to add to your collection, you may want to go with a more powerful CPU so that searching for songs doesn't take ages.

I don't know how efficient the search algorithm in your playback software is, but I do know that iTunes is quite slow finding songs in a large library even with a fast processor. Winamp and Foobar are much faster, but even they get bogged down with large libraries.

If you do decide to go with a more advanced CPU, get a high-clocked Sempron 64. You don't need dual core; searching cannot be made dual threaded easily. What you want is pure clock speed; more cache is unlikely to help much for searches, especially considering that a database of 1600 albums is not going to fit into ANY on-die CPU cache.

Trunks
Posts: 219
Joined: Sat Mar 04, 2006 1:58 am
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Post by Trunks » Sun Apr 16, 2006 12:46 am

Welcome to SPCR

I hope you take time to read the recommended lists here.
I’ll give you my honest build / guess for you.
Case: Antec SLK3700-BQE
AcoustiPack Pre-cut Kit for the BQE
ASUS A8N-VM CSM Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
Scythe Ninja Heat sink
2 Yate Loon 120 mm fans. (one for back one for CPU Heatsink).
Dust guard for front 120 mm fan. I find the plastic ones adequate.
Some fan soft mounts / Anti-Vibration Fan Mounts - Closed Corners


Your choice of AMD Socket 939 CPU
I don’t know why you would want anything more than a Athlon 64 3700 or need any thing more than the 3100.

One mod:
Cut some of the hard drive bay like in this mod.
Image
I would go ahead and cleanly cut out all but the two support trays needed.
I would not worry about cutting out other parts like the rear fan grill, but you could if you like

I am not stuck on any suggestion. Just to give you an idea to get started with…
Good luck and have fun with your build.

Trunks
Posts: 219
Joined: Sat Mar 04, 2006 1:58 am
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Post by Trunks » Sun Apr 16, 2006 12:52 am

Devonavar wrote:The cheapest AMD Sempron will play music just fine.
This is a great point. The OP mentioned dual core, so I thought he might like that on his upgrade path, but its just extra cost right now..some reason in my mind only DVI video is acceptable, so a 754 board and some form of DVI would be great.

jaganath
Posts: 5085
Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2005 6:55 am
Location: UK

Post by jaganath » Sun Apr 16, 2006 1:39 am

The cheapest AMD Sempron will play music just fine.
Problem is, anything less than 3000+ doesn't have C'nQ, which really helps with temps, and the OP does say "I would be happy to trade off some speed to save money and to make the job of keeping the system cool and quiet easier".
some reason in my mind only DVI video is acceptable, so a 754 board and some form of DVI would be great.
A 754 board with inbuilt DVI output is hard to find (and probably expensive). I believe Albatron does one.

IsaacKuo
Posts: 1705
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2004 7:50 am
Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Post by IsaacKuo » Sun Apr 16, 2006 3:25 am

The easiest cheapest option is to buy/acquire a cheap used Pentium 3 system like this one. Even a Pentium 2 can play music just fine. You'll need a SATA card for an older system like this, of course.
I'm looking for a system with standard components I can buy, install and get working. I don't want to undeclock or to immediately replace the fans with quieter units.
Fan noise may be dramatically reduced from stock with undervolting the fans. This can be done with "stock" parts with a fanmate or other fan controller--but this will not work with a PSU fan without special DIY modifications. If you're not up for a PSU fan mod, then the alternative is to buy an SPCR recommended quiet PSU. Naturally, make sure that your system takes a standard ATX PSU.

By far the most important noise reduction modification for your system will be something that is really best done yourself--some form of DIY hard drive suspension. It's hard to overemphasize how easy it is to do this and how much it's worth doing no matter how afraid you may be of it.

A hard drive suspension can be as simple as mounting the drives in a drive cage and placing the drive cage on an upside-down mouse pad. Place this in the airflow path behind the main intake and it'll be cool, quiet, and reliable.

NamJangNamJa
Posts: 79
Joined: Sat Dec 13, 2003 11:22 pm
Location: Central Florida

Post by NamJangNamJa » Sun Apr 16, 2006 5:25 am

I have a FLAC library which is about 100G. I use MediaMonkey for organizing/playback. I think you want simple straightfoward answers/simple assembly. I will make suggestions of parts that will be enough for your music library.

1. AMD Athlon64 Socket 939 CPU. Any single core 939 CPU should be sufficient enough with 1 Gig(512MB x 2) DDR400 RAM. RAM with lower latency may produce more heat and cost more. Zalman Coolers are the most popular solution for quiet CPU cooling for now.

http://www.newegg.com/ProductSort/Subca ... tegory=343
http://www.newegg.com/ProductSort/SubCa ... tegory=147
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6835118112

2. I listed some of popular fanless motherboards that supports dual core AMDs with PCI Express. I think all of them support Cool and Quiet, but make sure before you buy one. Some support SLI for gamers, and some have video on board. Today's onboard videos are not too bad, and as far as my logic goes, a system with onboard video should produce less heat than the same system with a separate video card.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6813131540
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6813131568
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6813128301
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6813138264
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6813131570

3. Buy a case from Antec, and replace or buy PSU with Seasonic if you think it is necessary. I still put P180 on the list for you because it may cool your precious HDDs better than other cases. I think 1TB of FLAC library deserves P180.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6811129154
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6811129166 (This one may have a PSU problem)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6811129012

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6817151023
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6817151022

4. SATA DVD / Seagate 500GB?

I might be wrong, but I don't think that there is something that expensive SATA DVD+-RW can do better than regular ATA DVD+-RW except the size of the cable. Also, there might be better 500G drives than Seagate 500G HDD. Do not limit yourself. Research/ask. You may wanna ask about these again in storage sides in SPCR forum or somewhere else.

IsaacKuo
Posts: 1705
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2004 7:50 am
Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Post by IsaacKuo » Sun Apr 16, 2006 6:22 am

I think the Antec P150 is better for him than the Antec P180. The stock P180 has very restrictive front intakes, while the P150's stock intakes aren't restrictive. Also, the P180 doesn't have the P150's unusual stock option of hard drive suspension.

The P150 also features a traditional layout where the PSU isn't separated in it's own air chamber. This means it can assist in providing main case airflow along with any rear case fans. In a medium/high power system this can be a disadvantage because the PSU may receive warm air. However, in a low power system the air won't be so warmed up. In the P180, hard drives are cooled by either main case airflow OR PSU airflow. In the P150, hard drives are cooled by both working together.

diver
Posts: 327
Joined: Fri Dec 30, 2005 12:27 pm

Post by diver » Sun Apr 16, 2006 9:52 am

The new 500G Seagate is known to be noisy. From what I have noticed the 500G drives are a bit pricey per Gigabyte. 300's seem about the cheapest.

You appear to have your heart set on using Flac, no doubt because it is lossless. With a lossy format (MP3, Musepac, Vorbis, AAC) you can easily cut your storage requirements by 75%. Except for people who have trained their hearing to identify artifacts like pre-echo, and the entire audio chain is first class, it is not possible to hear the difference, and then only on a very few tracks.

You might want to do some A/B testing, using Foobar2000. Additionally, you ought to go over to Hydrogenaudio to do some research on digital music. They are to digital music what SPCR is to building quiet PC's. Even if it does not change your opinion on Flac vs lossy, they HA has a lot of interesting material.

klankymen
Patron of SPCR
Posts: 1069
Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2005 3:31 pm
Location: Munich, Bavaria, Europe

Post by klankymen » Sun Apr 16, 2006 10:20 am

Well, considering the amount of storage you want, the hard drives will probably be the noisiest thing in there, without too much effort.

Antec p150 for good looks, quiet psu, and hard drive suspension.

Slap a Scythe Ninja on for a CPU heatsink, and run it passive with the case fan. You may consider a quieter case fan (scythe, yate loon, nexus), but from my experience my 4 HDDs are a good bit noisier than the Antec Fan on low, allthough these do include 1 old IBM deathstar along with the samsungs.

As for the actual system, I'd say just go with the cheapest thing, I can't really speak for the quality of the boards, but AGP boards usually have more PCI slots, whereas the PCI-e boards tend to have a few PCI-e x1 slots instead of PCI, although (Disclaimer: I know nothing about sound cards) I assume there are sound cards available for that also. Just use the newegg search to find a board with 4 sATA sockets, these are usually nForce4, which are often active-cooled, but you can find SiS's also.

The cheapest of cheap video cards should be enough for you, or onboard is great if you are content with the amount of PCI slots those boards have (they are usualy µATX).

CPU depends on which socket motherboard you get, I'd recommend an AMD. But 754 or 939 should both work fine, with a 754 you can get the cheaper option of the Sempron, at the cost of no CnQ, or for 939 the cheapest Athlon64 should do, but it is more expensive.

Don't think you need to shove in much RAM, get a stick of OCZ value RAM, or value RAM by any good company.

As for the access time, you probably don't want too slow a CPU, if I try to enqueue my entire media library of 26000 mp3s in winamp it takes 8 seconds on my a64 3200+, though this might be dependant on the fact that the files are on NAS. I don't think FLAC should be slower since it's just the amount of filenames that matter, and not so much the size. (I think. Just an unfounded guess though)

stupid
Posts: 544
Joined: Tue Nov 29, 2005 2:21 pm
Location: NYC, NY

Post by stupid » Sun Apr 16, 2006 10:39 am

No one mentioned the sound card so...

Since audio is your primary concern I would go with M-Audio over Soundblaster or the cheap integrated audio which really is crap. M-Audio is better for music than it is for gaming, where as Soundblaster are the opposite. You may also want to consider a card from Terratec which also are also geared more towards music. Here's a reivew of their Aureon 7.1 Space SoundSystem. I really don't see the point of having music compressed with FLAC if you are just using the cheap onboard audio for playback.

As far as the CPU is concerned, I would simply get the fastest socket 754 Sempron 64 that you can afford that is at least the 3000+ model. You will want to have Cool 'n Quiet capabilities, because most of the times your CPU will not be stressed. Thus, C'nQ will slow down the CPU (even during playback) and it'll produce less heat. Others have mentioned a socket 939 Athlon 64, but they consume more power and it probably more powerful than what you need. After all FLAC is only a 2:1 compression codec so it shouldn't need that much processing power. Here's a little graph showing the power consumption of a Sempron 64 3000+, note that C'nQ is disabled so idle power is higher than it would nortmally be. Also not that S939 Sempron 64s are not available for sale as far as I know. They are basically sold to system builders.

Based on reviews I would opt for the Antec P150 over the P180 because you suspend your hard drives, thus reducing noise. And it is supposed to have good airflow. The only bad thing about the P150 is that the older version came with a flakey PSU, but the revised version is out and should be much better. I an Antec Aria for my HTPC, it's a nice litle case for my music and videos, but I don't think I would want to stick 2 500GB hard drives in it due to somewhat weak airflow.

Going for an integrated video card typically means the motherboard you will be buying is going to be a m-ATX with only 2 PCI slots. The one exception that I can think of is ECS RS482-M754 (1.0), but they are geared more towards the budget end of the market. Motherboards with nVidia integrated video is typically more hotter than their ATI counterparts.

I started out my reply about getting a soundcard specifically for music, but I neglected to say anything about speakers. If you are an audiophile, then you really need good speakers to playback your music. Having a high-end audio system (about $6,000 for the entire system, speakers, amp, pre-amp, pre-pro, etc) that you coneect your PC to is best, but I'm guessing you do not have an audiophile system. Therefore, you should get a et of really good computer speakers. If I were to replace my Logitec Z-680 speakers, I would probably get the Logitech Z-5500.

Keep in mind that if audio quality is your priority then you'll need to choose the right combination of audio codec, soundcard, and speakers. Otherwise your music may just sound bad with terrible hi's, med's, and distorted bass, not to mention lack of "stagefront" and sound separation.

Listener
Posts: 45
Joined: Sat Apr 15, 2006 7:26 pm

a second round of questions

Post by Listener » Sun Apr 16, 2006 10:56 am

I appreciate the quick and detailed replies from all of you. I have a few comments to clarify my requirements and a couple of additional questions.

I intend to run Windows XP and have at least 1 GB of RAM.

I am willing to pay for a premium DVD player. The Plextor Plextools s/w and the 716SA has value to me for ripping 1600+ CDs. A Plextor 716SA is no more expensive than the PATA version.

I would prefer passive cooling where possible: the on-board video, chipset and maybe even the processor chip.

Other users of J. River Media Center 11 say that it performs well with very large music collections. (It has its own library database.) My main reason for considering a dual core CPU was that it might reduce the likelihood of skips and glitches during playback. I've reduced the occurrence greatly but it still happens rarely when I'm using other s/w during playback. (Turning off Norton Anti-Virus Auto-Protect helped greatly.)

---
So a few questions:

1. I'm struggling to understand the AMD product lines, and individual models and . Are there performance and power differences between the Athlon FX and Athlon 64 lines? What is the difference between Venice and the other names? Do the 3000+ , 3200+ just refer to clock speeds? newegg.com sometimes list two CPUs with the same model but different stepping numbers. I think an Athlon 64 Venice 3000+ or 3200+ might be a good choice for me.

2. I went through the socket types trying to see which were relevant. There seem to be some Socket 939 motherboards with the right features. Socket 754 seems a possibility but the choices seem a bit more low end. The Athlon 64 Venice 3000+ seems to come in a version for socket 939 and for Socket 754!

3. I'm looking for a CPU / motherboard combination that will work with standard settings out of the box. (no overclocking, no undervolting.) The customer reviews at newegg.com suggest BIOS problems for some ASUS boards. Can I count on that with ASUS boards for my plain vanilla use out of the box? If not, is there another brand that is more reliable.

Bill

jaganath
Posts: 5085
Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2005 6:55 am
Location: UK

Post by jaganath » Sun Apr 16, 2006 11:44 am

Are there performance and power differences between the Athlon FX and Athlon 64 lines?
wiki
The Athlon 64 FX is positioned as a hardware enthusiast product, always one speed step above the fastest Athlon 64. Although its clock rates are usually higher, all Athlon 64 FX processors are a single-core design with the exception of the Athlon 64 FX-60, which was released on January 10th of 2006. It is currently available on Socket 939, with Socket AM2 support promised in the future. This release is analogous to that of the Athlon 64 FX-53, which was initially available at a time when Socket 939 had not yet been introduced; as such it was only made for the higher end Socket 940 platform, but saw a Socket 939 model at a later date. All of the Athlon 64 FX processors have their multipliers completely unlocked, whereas normal Athlon 64s have their multipliers unlocked downward only (meaning that users can select any multipliers up to and including the factory-set default one).
What is the difference between Venice and the other names?
Generally, power consumption; also some memory controller bugs were fixed with the latest revisions. In order of coolest to hottest:

Venice
San Diego
Winchester (all 90nm process)
=======================
Newcastle
Clawhammer (130nm process)
Do the 3000+ , 3200+ just refer to clock speeds?
No. They are based on some internal AMD benchmark which compares them to one of their previous processors (Athlon XP?).
newegg.com sometimes list two CPUs with the same model but different stepping numbers.
CPU Stepping-wiki

The latest E6 stepping of the Athlon 64 and Sempron 64 run very cool indeed.
Can I count on that with ASUS boards for my plain vanilla use out of the box?
I have had no problems with Asus boards. However there are problems between Asus boards and certain PSU's, namely Antec's Neo HE PSU's. These problems are supposedly resolved now. :?

Trunks
Posts: 219
Joined: Sat Mar 04, 2006 1:58 am
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: a second round of questions

Post by Trunks » Sun Apr 16, 2006 11:57 am

Listener wrote: ---
So a few questions:

1. I'm struggling to understand the AMD product lines, and individual models and . Are there performance and power differences between the Athlon FX and Athlon 64 lines? What is the difference between Venice and the other names? Do the 3000+ , 3200+ just refer to clock speeds? newegg.com sometimes list two CPUs with the same model but different stepping numbers. I think an Athlon 64 Venice 3000+ or 3200+ might be a good choice for me.
The FX line is intended for over clockers and people willing to pay a premium for “extra” performance. I don’t think this is you.
The number 3000+ … is ment to be clock speed equivalent to a P4. This is not very accurate but it is the way they chose to market. The stepping numbers are more of a concern of the OC community.
I agree a socket 939 Athlon 64 3000+ or 3200+ should be fine for you.

good CPU comparisons...
http://www23.tomshardware.com/cpu.html
Listener wrote: 2. I went through the socket types trying to see which were relevant. There seem to be some Socket 939 motherboards with the right features. Socket 754 seems a possibility but the choices seem a bit more low end. The Athlon 64 Venice 3000+ seems to come in a version for socket 939 and for Socket 754!
the 754 line has great chips. But your correct, the AMD road map lists it as a value line.
Listener wrote: 3. I'm looking for a CPU / motherboard combination that will work with standard settings out of the box. (no overclocking, no undervolting.) The customer reviews at newegg.com suggest BIOS problems for some ASUS boards. Can I count on that with ASUS boards for my plain vanilla use out of the box? If not, is there another brand that is more reliable.
This is a sensitive issue. Asus represents quality to most people. Updating the bios is not a big deal. If you buy a motherboard all bets are off, expect to upgrade the bios at some time. I have not had a new board in the past 3 years that I was satisfied with the original bios.

jackylman
Posts: 784
Joined: Sun May 22, 2005 8:13 am
Location: Pennsylvania, USA

Post by jackylman » Sun Apr 16, 2006 7:16 pm

The Plextor Plextools s/w and the 716SA has value to me for ripping 1600+ CDs. A Plextor 716SA is no more expensive than the PATA version.
More modern SATA controllers should support an optical SATA drive, but some don't:PX-716SA Compatibility List.
I have this drive and it works fine with my NForce4 mobo.

-I'm very pleased with my M-Audio Revolution soundcard. The biggest difference in audio quality comes with using ASIO to bypass Windows' kmixer. I'll take VBR MP3 over FLAC because it takes up less space and FLAC tends to skip (not too often, but enough to annoy a neurotic like me) on my system. I'm not sure why FLAC skips, but I suspect my slow notebook hard disk rather than processing power (I have an Athlon 3200 with 2GB RAM). I can't really hear the difference between the formats, though I can hear it over lower bitrate MP3.

-A Sempron 3300 should do the job, but I can only find one S754 mobo with 4 SATA ports + onboard video - ECS RS482-M754

Devonavar
SPCR Reviewer
Posts: 1850
Joined: Sun Sep 21, 2003 11:23 am
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada

Post by Devonavar » Sun Apr 16, 2006 9:56 pm

A few more comments.

IIRC, the Plextor 716 is mechanically identical to BenQ's much cheaper optical drives. You may want to look into this, since the BenQ drives are quite highly reputed but are much cheaper. Plextor is playing on it's name these days.

You don't need a fast processor to avoid skips/glitches. You'll always get a few glitches anyway, no matter what speed of processor you use. It's usually other parts of the system that cause the glitches. I've been told that Windows KMixer is responsible for most of the glitches, but I haven't really had better luck with ASIO drivers. Maybe I need to upgrade the 7 year old box that serves as my A/V system!

Regardless, you'll want to use a program that supports ASIO playback if you're into high end, or Windows' resampling of everything will get you.

Lastly, there is no performance difference between Socket 754 and Socket 939 unless you use more than one stick of RAM. The only functional difference is the ability to use dual channel memory, which is not really a relevant to simple music playback.

Listener
Posts: 45
Joined: Sat Apr 15, 2006 7:26 pm

Post by Listener » Mon Apr 17, 2006 12:34 am

(Devonavar)
> IIRC, the Plextor 716 is mechanically identical to BenQ's much cheaper
> optical drives. You may want to look into this, since the BenQ drives are
> quite highly reputed but are much cheaper. Plextor is playing on it's name
> these days

Plextor sells other models, the 740UF and 750UF without the Plextools s/w. I think these may be sourced from another manufacturer. They may or may not have the special features that the 716 has and that Plextools uses.

(Stupid)
> ... but I'm guessing you do not have an audiophile system.

I've been an audiophile for about 40years. The system in my library has a 3 way active crossover with 6 channels of amplification for the two 3-way speakers. I'm not a tweaker but I like good sound. My office speakers are not fancy - a 8-9year old Cambridge Soundworks Microworks system that looses a channel and then recovers before I get around to replacing it. For a $ 200 system, they aren't bad. Henry Kloss knew what he was doing!

As I indicated in my first post, I need space in the PC for one or two high-quality soundcards. (I've followed forum discussions of USB audio. I've been in the USB audio sausage factory. Nobody has done it right yet to my knowledge.)

I've written audio device drivers, spent a lot of time writing kernel mode s/w and designed and implemented compression methods so I understand the theory behind PC music players. I've heard researchers describe the results of double blind tests and I've heard other researchers say that if you know what to listen for, you can easily hear the difference between an MP3 stream and the original uncompressed stream. I haven't done any double blind tests myself but I made my own decision to get a lossless copy of my CDs on hard disks for long term use.

When I mentioned glitches, I meant interruptions in the sound. Windows doesn't do a very good job of scheduling processes to provide real-time performance. I usually see a big spike in CPU and I/O activity by another program just as the glitch occurs. The ultimate soluntion may be to run only the player software when I'm dpoing serious listening.

I appreciate all the advice and the links. I've done a lot of reading using the information you all provided and the links and feel I am reasonably up to speed.

Bill

jb_
Posts: 65
Joined: Sun Dec 04, 2005 11:16 pm
Location: Sydney, Australia

Post by jb_ » Mon Apr 17, 2006 4:38 am

I'd avoid an nVidia board and suggest a CnQ Sempron64 (ie. 3000+ at least) and a s754 board with a Via or SiS chipset. As criticised as they are by enthusiasts, you can't get much cooler running than these. Quietness is your priority, not mind-blowing performance ;)

jackylman
Posts: 784
Joined: Sun May 22, 2005 8:13 am
Location: Pennsylvania, USA

Post by jackylman » Mon Apr 17, 2006 2:19 pm

Good Luck. Let us know what you end up with.

CA_Steve
Moderator
Posts: 7521
Joined: Thu Oct 06, 2005 4:36 am
Location: St. Louis, MO

Post by CA_Steve » Tue Apr 18, 2006 7:03 am

You mentioned playback in 3 different rooms...the method you use may help determine the horsepower required...

one zone -> external amp -> speaker distribution to 3 rooms (lowest hp_

multizone (multiple soundcards driving different tunes to ea room) (highest hp)

I'd also lean toward dual core to separate the music process from all the other stuff going on. Maybe the lowest speed dual is the way to go. You could always underclock it :D

Plus, it'll lessen the time required to rip those 1000 CDs. I don't know where the bottleneck will be for you...your processor speed, DVD speed, or the HDD transfer rate....but if you go with a 800MHz CPU, it won't be the DVD or HDD.

steef
Posts: 26
Joined: Mon Aug 09, 2004 5:49 am

Post by steef » Tue Apr 18, 2006 7:55 am

I have not read all posts in detail ... but here is what I would do if I were you.

General considerations:
* fairly light applications, but multitasking
* reasonable availability of components
* digital out

The following components are potentially loud: PSU, Harddrives, Fans.

1. PSU
A Passive noiseless PSU seems better suited to a case with a seperate PSU compartment or bottom PSU position.

2. HDD
For the harddrives to be silenced the best option is a harddrive silencer like the ones from silentmaxx or scythe.

3. Case
You need plenty of 5,25 inch bays if you go with harddrive silencers.

4. Motherboard
For the motherboard your best option seems a motherboard that will support dualcore processors. If you find performance is lacking, you can get a dualcore to cover the gap. Initially you can go with a simple setup with a Athlon 64 3000+ or something akin (socket 939!).
The Intel route includes the Pentium D805 solution which is cheap but hot. A better solution is the AMD route at the moment (nforce4 motherboards!). As far as CPU HSF goes, Scythe offers some good solutions, as does Thermalright. Of course you should get a motherboard with passive chipset cooling - which are pretty scarce when it comes to nforce4 solutions.

5. No soundcard
A digital out solution seems most appropriate - i.e. streaming over LAN or SPDIF (i.e. Philips Streamium, ....). Of course for the Library a high-end solution is more appropriate than a streaming client. You can use a dedicated external DAC with SPDIF, Firewire or Ethernet input (i.e. M-audio, RME, or typical audiophile solutions, ...).

Good luck!
Last edited by steef on Tue Apr 18, 2006 8:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

tango charlie
Posts: 35
Joined: Sun Sep 18, 2005 2:39 pm

Post by tango charlie » Tue Apr 18, 2006 8:03 am

I also haven't read all the posts in detail, but when I think of what I would like to fill the role you've described (and I'm not being cheeky here), I think a Mac Mini would fit the bill. Especially now with Boot Camp.

Of course, you may need an external HDD for that, but I believe LaCie makes some that match the appearance. The only concern I would have is that I don't know what the audio output quality is like. But then, I'm not that much of an audiophile.

Good luck!

Svartberg
Posts: 43
Joined: Fri Dec 10, 2004 12:49 am
Location: OZ

Post by Svartberg » Wed Apr 19, 2006 11:37 pm

I would hearly recommend a machine that support "cool n' quiet" (athlon 64 processors), because it allows you to set the cpu fans on minimum when doing just the things you're planning to do with your comp.

Post Reply