Best shielded, most stable (quiet) PSU with active PFC

PSUs: The source of DC power for all components in the PC & often a big noise source.

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EasyRaider
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Best shielded, most stable (quiet) PSU with active PFC

Post by EasyRaider » Fri Sep 24, 2004 7:50 am

I am thinking this is the Enermax Noisetaker, but I'm not sure.

It must be somewhat quiet by SPCR standards, but low EMI and clean, stable power is more important to me. (I'm a freak about system stability, and I'm using my computer as a source for hi-fi headphones.) Active PFC is also a must because, unless I am mistaken, it will draw less current from my UPS.

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Post by MikeC » Fri Sep 24, 2004 9:09 am

For low EMI, I'd go with a minimum of holes in the case. This rules out dual fan or 120mm fan PSUs: The fan holes are much bigger than for a 80mm fan. Among the 80mm fan devices, the most easily available for you would be the Nexus 4000 or maybe the Zalman 400 -- both of which are made by Fortron. They test well, have APFC, pretty high efficiency (75% or a bit better at high power load), and are built pretty solid. The Seasonic Super Silencer 400 or 460 would also be good choices, but I gather Rev.A3 availability in EU is not assured at this point.

I recommended higher power models only because if you want ultimate stability, you want the PSu to coast rather than work hard. The higher power models (of good makes) usually have higher temp rated parts as well, which is a plus for longevity and stability under load.

Having said all that, if you're a real audiophile, chances are you will not be happy with the sound from any PC-based audio system. It's nowhere up to the level of a real stand-alone high end audio system.

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Post by sthayashi » Fri Sep 24, 2004 9:31 am

An external soundcard will go a LONG ways into reducing soundcard noise.

EasyRaider
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Post by EasyRaider » Fri Sep 24, 2004 10:45 am

Thanks, I'll keep those recommendations in mind. Problem is, most PSUs are quite hard to find for sale here in Norway.
MikeC wrote:For low EMI, I'd go with a minimum of holes in the case. This rules out dual fan or 120mm fan PSUs: The fan holes are much bigger than for a 80mm fan.
I have already ruled out 120mm fan PSUs, but I'm not so sure if I should limit the search to single 80mm. Factors like cable shielding, dual 12V rails, etc. must also be considered. Anyway, what I would really like is some hard data. I wish SPCR did some interference testing in their reviews.
Having said all that, if you're a real audiophile, chances are you will not be happy with the sound from any PC-based audio system. It's nowhere up to the level of a real stand-alone high end audio system.
I'm more of a music lover (as well as a gamer) than an audiophile, and I'm on a student budget. Besides, the convenience of having my music easily available on a hard drive outweighs the sonic improvement of a high end system to me. Moreover, if you look beyond integrated audio and the crappy Creative consumer cards, you can get sound quality that most real audiophiles could live with. Even the $25 Chaintech AV-710 supposedly sounds quite good for stereo.
Last edited by EasyRaider on Fri Sep 24, 2004 10:49 am, edited 2 times in total.

EasyRaider
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Post by EasyRaider » Fri Sep 24, 2004 10:47 am

sthayashi wrote:An external soundcard will go a LONG ways into reducing soundcard noise.
Yes. Unfortunately, I don't know about any good value external sound cards.

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Post by cyberjoe » Fri Sep 24, 2004 11:12 am

About soundquality, i have a external D/A converter (they are pretty cheap used) and a real amp and speakers. And the quality of audio is pretty high. And yes i'm a audiphile and no it is not my main audiosystem, but it really sounds good. And i use onboard digital out.

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Post by icancam » Fri Sep 24, 2004 11:26 am

EasyRaider, you might consider something like the Griffin PowerWave. It powers both headphones and speakers and uses USB which is essentially "jitter-free" (an important determinant of audio quality). I don't know if it, or a similar product, is available in Norway.

Here in the US, it's widely available. For example: http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDe ... 104&depa=0
A review from a European source: http://www.powerbookcentral.com/columns ... wave.shtml

(Edit 1 to add review - Edit 2 to describe Edit 1)
Last edited by icancam on Fri Sep 24, 2004 11:50 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by sthayashi » Fri Sep 24, 2004 11:37 am

I would have suggested something like the M-Audio Transit, but it's a little pricey to be considered a Value.

Plus, I had a mixed experience utilizing outputing Dolby Digital on its' S/PDIF line. I wonder if the USB bandwidth was not enough.

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Post by Ralf Hutter » Fri Sep 24, 2004 12:13 pm

cyberjoe wrote:About soundquality, i have a external D/A converter (they are pretty cheap used) and a real amp and speakers. And the quality of audio is pretty high..
Preach it, homes!!

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Post by lenny » Fri Sep 24, 2004 12:15 pm

EasyRaider wrote:
sthayashi wrote:An external soundcard will go a LONG ways into reducing soundcard noise.
Yes. Unfortunately, I don't know about any good value external sound cards.
Ah, what impeccable timing (ExtremeTech.com).

I can't add any personal experience unfortunately. Never tried any external sound adapter myself.

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Post by johanp » Fri Sep 24, 2004 12:35 pm

EasyRaider wrote:Thanks, I'll keep those recommendations in mind. Problem is, most PSUs are quite hard to find for sale here in Norway.
I bought my Seasonic from www.excaliberpc.com. Shipping charges for USPS express mail with tracking was $47, took about a week. Money to be sure, but considering that everything is much cheaper on the other side of the pond, not too painful.

EasyRaider
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Post by EasyRaider » Mon Sep 27, 2004 5:38 am

cyberjoe wrote:About soundquality, i have a external D/A converter (they are pretty cheap used) and a real amp and speakers. And the quality of audio is pretty high. And yes i'm a audiphile and no it is not my main audiosystem, but it really sounds good. And i use onboard digital out.
And jitter is not a problem? I would not expect onboard digital out to be good enough, unless the DAC is jitter insensitive. Also, onboard output is rarely, if ever, bit-perfect. I don't doubt it sounds far better than typical PC audio, however.

If I felt I could afford it, I'd probably buy the Benchmark DAC1, featuring reclocking of the digital signal and a nice headphone amp. I just can't spend ~$1000 on it.

EasyRaider
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Post by EasyRaider » Mon Sep 27, 2004 5:52 am

The Griffin PowerWave is interesting, but none of the reviews I found seemed to have a useful point of reference. Anyway, for that price it seems to be doing a bit too much. Sound quality probably isn't anything to call home about.
lenny wrote: Ah, what impeccable timing (ExtremeTech.com).

I can't add any personal experience unfortunately. Never tried any external sound adapter myself.
According to experienced users at head-fi.org, the best products in that roundup won't beat the $25 AV-710.
Last edited by EasyRaider on Mon Sep 27, 2004 6:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

EasyRaider
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Post by EasyRaider » Mon Sep 27, 2004 6:00 am

johanp wrote: I bought my Seasonic from www.excaliberpc.com. Shipping charges for USPS express mail with tracking was $47, took about a week. Money to be sure, but considering that everything is much cheaper on the other side of the pond, not too painful.
Thanks, but I'll rather not buy hardware from abroad in case I have to return it, at least not when I can get similar, reasonably priced products here.

EasyRaider
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Post by EasyRaider » Mon Sep 27, 2004 6:02 am

BTW, I get a nasty pop in the sound whenever I turn off the light, in addition to random pops now and then. I would really like to not be dependant on the quality of the mains power, but I'm not sure whether to get a power conditioner (good ones are very expensive) or a portable, battery-driven setup (a laptop with USB sound?). I think I'll try to get a cheaper conditioner first and return it if it doesn't help.

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I don't understand why a 120mm fanned PS lets out EMI

Post by NeilBlanchard » Mon Sep 27, 2004 6:18 pm

Hello:

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't the little hex-holes on the back of a 120mm fanned PS like the Super Tornado block more EMI than does the grill on the inside of an 80mm fanned PS?

Or are you talking about EMI getting into the PS, itself? (And not EMI getting out of the computer case?)

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Re: I don't understand why a 120mm fanned PS lets out EMI

Post by MikeC » Mon Sep 27, 2004 7:52 pm

NeilBlanchard wrote:Hello:

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't the little hex-holes on the back of a 120mm fanned PS like the Super Tornado block more EMI than does the grill on the inside of an 80mm fanned PS?

Or are you talking about EMI getting into the PS, itself? (And not EMI getting out of the computer case?)
Probably right. I forgot that the 120mm fan is inside the case! :oops:

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Post by tha_lode » Mon Sep 27, 2004 11:06 pm

M-Audio produce some inexpensive outboard equipment (both USB and firewire). They aim at lowbudget musicproduction, and procom.no sell them fairly cheap.

Should keep any EMInoise away from your listening experiences.

As for PSUs I do a freetextsearch on hardware.no in their product guides and usually find a lot that way.

Good luck.

Frode, Oslo

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Re: I don't understand why a 120mm fanned PS lets out EMI

Post by EasyRaider » Tue Sep 28, 2004 3:19 am

MikeC wrote:
NeilBlanchard wrote:Hello:

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't the little hex-holes on the back of a 120mm fanned PS like the Super Tornado block more EMI than does the grill on the inside of an 80mm fanned PS?

Or are you talking about EMI getting into the PS, itself? (And not EMI getting out of the computer case?)
Probably right. I forgot that the 120mm fan is inside the case! :oops:
I'm mostly concerned about interferences getting to the memory chips (can flip bits) and the sound card (increases noise). Of course, I don't want too much EMI to escape the case either, but I think that usually is a non-issue with any approved PSU, at least when the case is standing on the floor beside my desk.

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Post by EasyRaider » Tue Sep 28, 2004 3:42 am

tha_lode wrote:M-Audio produce some inexpensive outboard equipment (both USB and firewire). They aim at lowbudget musicproduction, and procom.no sell them fairly cheap.

Should keep any EMInoise away from your listening experiences.

As for PSUs I do a freetextsearch on hardware.no in their product guides and usually find a lot that way.

Good luck.

Frode, Oslo
Perhaps considered cheap for music production, but AFAIK, those M-Audio products are ridiculously overpriced as a source for music listening. I'd rather buy the internal M-Audio Revolution 5.1. It should be decent for gaming, at least.

I didn't find any recommended Seasonic, Nexus or Zalman PSUs in free text searches, either.

I think I'll just get a Noisetaker when I build my next system. I'm sure it's no worse than most.

Thanks again.

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Re: I don't understand why a 120mm fanned PS lets out EMI

Post by NeilBlanchard » Tue Sep 28, 2004 8:28 am

Hello:
EasyRaider wrote:I'm mostly concerned about interferences getting to the memory chips (can flip bits) and the sound card (increases noise). Of course, I don't want too much EMI to escape the case either, but I think that usually is a non-issue with any approved PSU, at least when the case is standing on the floor beside my desk.
I could be wrong, but most of the EMI coming from the computer is from the CPU and it's clock. RFI too -- the PS works at much lower frequencies, IIANM.

Also, if bits were getting flipped in the RAM, it would be noticeable in almost all programs; not just for sound issues. As someone wrote earlier, I bet that you will get much better quality results using an external DAC/ADC.

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Post by tynopik » Thu Sep 30, 2004 8:47 pm

if you're concerned about flipping bits, get ecc memory and be done with it

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Re: I don't understand why a 120mm fanned PS lets out EMI

Post by lenny » Thu Sep 30, 2004 9:16 pm

NeilBlanchard wrote:Also, if bits were getting flipped in the RAM, it would be noticeable in almost all programs; not just for sound issues. As someone wrote earlier, I bet that you will get much better quality results using an external DAC/ADC.
I think he meant them as two separate issues affected by EMI, not that sound issues is a result of bits getting flipped in memory.

By the way, wouldn't using external amps / decoders with optical out solve the noise from sound card issue?

Edit : googled around and found this article : http://www.winnetmag.com/Article/Articl ... 39024.html

Apparently heat can cause bits in memory to flip.

Maybe heat spreaders are not such a bad thing after all. Don't they provide some extra shielding as well? :-)

EasyRaider
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Re: I don't understand why a 120mm fanned PS lets out EMI

Post by EasyRaider » Fri Oct 01, 2004 10:01 am

lenny wrote:I think he meant them as two separate issues affected by EMI, not that sound issues is a result of bits getting flipped in memory.
Indeed.
By the way, wouldn't using external amps / decoders with optical out solve the noise from sound card issue?
Yes. It would introduce jitter, but that is solvable. The real problems are cost and my apparently dirty mains power. Anyway, I'll just use an iRiver SlimX 450 MP3 CD player until I figure out what to buy. Maybe I decide I can't afford better sound. I can live with it.
Edit : googled around and found this article : http://www.winnetmag.com/Article/Articl ... 39024.html

Apparently heat can cause bits in memory to flip.

Maybe heat spreaders are not such a bad thing after all. Don't they provide some extra shielding as well? :-)
Interesting, but I don't think that is a likely source of error at normal case temps. Not that I'm having memory problems, I'm just paranoid about stability.

EasyRaider
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Post by EasyRaider » Fri Oct 01, 2004 10:04 am

tynopik wrote:if you're concerned about flipping bits, get ecc memory and be done with it
I would, if it wasn't expensive and slow (only CL3).

However, as memory sizes keep going up, I think ECC eventually will become standard, since the amount of errors is roughly proportional to capacity. Or maybe new and better memory is also more resistant to cosmic rays and whatnot?

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Post by land » Fri Oct 01, 2004 10:14 am

The irony is that my external USB soundcard (M-Audio Sonica Theater) is more sensitive to the house's electrical grid than the internal sound card (Terratec Aureon Space), which however is more sensitive to EMI.

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Post by icancam » Fri Oct 01, 2004 10:50 am

EasyRaider wrote:The Griffin PowerWave is interesting, but none of the reviews I found seemed to have a useful point of reference. Anyway, for that price it seems to be doing a bit too much. Sound quality probably isn't anything to call home about.
Supposedly, the sound quality is amazingly good because the amplifier section is the same Tripath digital module used in multi thousand dollar super high fidelity amplifiers made by prestige manufacturers such as Bel Canto and Audio Research. There's a ridiculously cheap battery powered amplifier made by Sonic Impact using the Tripath module that was recently reviewed at:

http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/sonicimpact/t.htm

You could also look in the Letters section at 6moons.com for the comments of Bel Canto's chief designer after he read the Sonic Impact review. :)

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Post by EasyRaider » Fri Oct 01, 2004 12:39 pm

OK, it's probably a great speaker amplifier for the price. But from what I have picked up it's not very good for headphones. I bet the EMU 0404 internal sound card ($99) would sound better.

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Re: I don't understand why a 120mm fanned PS lets out EMI

Post by lenny » Fri Oct 01, 2004 1:32 pm

EasyRaider wrote:The real problems are cost and my apparently dirty mains power.
Why not use a UPS to clean up the power? Some insurance against lightning strikes, power failures as well.

EasyRaider
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Post by EasyRaider » Mon Oct 04, 2004 4:09 am

I have a UPS. (MGE Pulsar Ellipse 800 VA. The alternative was an APC unit, but it required special power cables.)

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