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#373137 - 04/12/12 02:23 PM Cplay & cMP2 custom computer music player
b7fLuid Offline
frequent flier

Registered: 02/18/11
Posts: 19
Hey guys,

didn't find a post for this in Axiom's forum so I thought I'd ask and see if anybody's in the Cplay/cMP2 community or has created a custom computer for playing music using their guide.

Essentially the idea is to create a dedicated audiophile grade music player/transport out of a PC. Audiophile purists rejoice!

The documentation is interesting and since I'd like to get the best out of my flac files (and besides being the nerd and amateur PC audiophile that I am) will start building one in short order. It looks promising in theory, although I don't quite understand any of the electrical stuff they talk about.

Here's a couple of links to the community and I'll keep y'all posted on my setup.

http://cicsmemoryplayer.com/index.php?n=Main.HomePage#cPlay

http://www.audioasylum.com/forums/pcaudio/messages/2/27041.html

fLuid


Edited by b7fLuid (04/12/12 02:34 PM)
Edit Reason: clarity
_________________________
M80 v2
EP 350 v3
Emotiva USP-1
2x Outlaw Audio M2200 (vertical bi-amp)

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#373186 - 04/13/12 12:02 AM Re: Cplay & cMP2 custom computer music player [Re: b7fLuid]
CV Offline
Founder, Axiom Upgrade Club
shareholder in the making

Registered: 07/20/06
Posts: 11200
Loc: Richland, WA, USA
That looks like a great project. I look forward to your updates!

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#373209 - 04/13/12 11:09 AM Re: Cplay & cMP2 custom computer music player [Re: b7fLuid]
dakkon Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 02/08/04
Posts: 1846
I don't understand this part...
from the parts list on audioasylum link they list this


"Only use a single RAM module."


They also didn't really list any high end audio cards, not that i saw anyhow....

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#373216 - 04/13/12 12:32 PM Re: Cplay & cMP2 custom computer music player [Re: b7fLuid]
ClubNeon Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 02/06/09
Posts: 3448
Loc: Western Maryland, USA
It doesn't use a sound card, but (I'm assuming from the pic of a wire exiting through an expansion slot) the onboard S/PDIF interface to send the bits to an external DAC.
_________________________
Pioneer VSX-1018AH-K, PDP-5020FD, DV-79AVi
Axiom M22s, VP150, QS8s
Sony PS3, surround backs
-Chris

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#373222 - 04/13/12 01:01 PM Re: Cplay & cMP2 custom computer music player [Re: b7fLuid]
Murph Offline
axiomite

Registered: 10/05/06
Posts: 6820
Loc: PEI, Canada
So tempted to get into the whole 'but if it's sending binary all the way to an outside DAC, how does it make it sound like all those fluffy words' discussion.......

But I won't. But I will provoke someone else to. muhuhhahahahahaha
_________________________
With great power comes Awesome irresponsibility.

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#373271 - 04/13/12 05:57 PM Re: Cplay & cMP2 custom computer music player [Re: dakkon]
b7fLuid Offline
frequent flier

Registered: 02/18/11
Posts: 19
Originally Posted By: dakkon
I don't understand this part...
from the parts list on audioasylum link they list this


"Only use a single RAM module."


They also didn't really list any high end audio cards, not that i saw anyhow....


Hey Dakkon,

good questions. First, the "single ram module" refers to the number of sticks of ram you place in the computer. Most computers have at least two. The intention of using just one module is to limit the number of components in the computer therefore eliminating any additional "noise" or electrical interference that may be caused by that extra piece - just like you would with electrical components attached to your audio system. The fewer the better correct? A module can also be referred to as a channel and most modern computers use dual module/channel ram with the exception of some intel cpu's which can handle triple and quad channel ram. The more channels, theoretically, the more work can be done in less amount of time. But because we want quality over speed and efficiency, we sacrifice any additional modules/channels by eliminating those components.

As for the sound card, I presume that as long as the specifications include ASIO driver support then it's ok. I've decided on using the Asus Essence STX as it's probably the most well received sound card in the ~$200 range (my current budget). I checked the link below and it does indeed include ASIO support.

http://usa.asus.com/Multimedia/Audio_Cards/Xonar_Essence_STX/

Hope this helps!

fLuid
_________________________
M80 v2
EP 350 v3
Emotiva USP-1
2x Outlaw Audio M2200 (vertical bi-amp)

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#373272 - 04/13/12 06:02 PM Re: Cplay & cMP2 custom computer music player [Re: ClubNeon]
b7fLuid Offline
frequent flier

Registered: 02/18/11
Posts: 19
Originally Posted By: ClubNeon
It doesn't use a sound card, but (I'm assuming from the pic of a wire exiting through an expansion slot) the onboard S/PDIF interface to send the bits to an external DAC.


ClubNeon,

this is the part I'm most confused with. If I'm sending the signal to my Emotiva USP-1 preamp, do I really need a sound card other than for the ASIO support? Why would I then need an Essence STX, when I could go for the Asus Xonar DS at a quarter of the cost?

I'm going to pose the question to the cMP2/Cplay forumers (is that even a word?) and see what they think.

Geez, I wish there were an easier way to search through and view forums! The internet has changed so much, yet forum structure and design is still archaic!

fLuid


Edited by b7fLuid (04/13/12 06:10 PM)
_________________________
M80 v2
EP 350 v3
Emotiva USP-1
2x Outlaw Audio M2200 (vertical bi-amp)

Top
#373305 - 04/14/12 12:40 AM Re: Cplay & cMP2 custom computer music player [Re: b7fLuid]
ClubNeon Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 02/06/09
Posts: 3448
Loc: Western Maryland, USA
If you think having more than one DIMM is going to have an effect on the sound, then surely a lower end card assembling the S/PDIF stream is going to have a massive impact.

Honestly, beyond the nice interface, I think this whole build is a waste. If you have a nice external DAC that can reclock the stream, it doesn't matter how much jitter enters before there.

I have a small project studio in my bedroom. I have an external Focusrite sound interface. I can't imagine anything sounding better than it. Or more precisely, I highly doubt I would ever be able to hear any improvement above it (heck, I could probably go down a couple levels and not hear any change, but this one had all the actually useful features I needed). This goes for any very well designed audio interface.
_________________________
Pioneer VSX-1018AH-K, PDP-5020FD, DV-79AVi
Axiom M22s, VP150, QS8s
Sony PS3, surround backs
-Chris

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#373498 - 04/16/12 03:41 PM Re: Cplay & cMP2 custom computer music player [Re: b7fLuid]
b7fLuid Offline
frequent flier

Registered: 02/18/11
Posts: 19
Originally Posted By: ClubNeon
If you think having more than one DIMM is going to have an effect on the sound, then surely a lower end card assembling the S/PDIF stream is going to have a massive impact.

Honestly, beyond the nice interface, I think this whole build is a waste. If you have a nice external DAC that can reclock the stream, it doesn't matter how much jitter enters before there.

I have a small project studio in my bedroom. I have an external Focusrite sound interface. I can't imagine anything sounding better than it. Or more precisely, I highly doubt I would ever be able to hear any improvement above it (heck, I could probably go down a couple levels and not hear any change, but this one had all the actually useful features I needed). This goes for any very well designed audio interface.


Hey ClubNeon,

maybe I should’ve clarified the intent of my project in my initial post to give a better idea of what I wanted to achieve in the end. The main reason for exploring the project is to eventually have my computer become the central piece of a total tv/home office/audio/home theatre solution.

I don't believe the traditional setup that includes a dvd player, cd player, blu-ray player, Xbox or any number of other media devices is the most efficient and ideal way of setting up things. At the very least, I feel a computer can be much more competent media source and player, but maintain a high enough standard of quality in its output as to be imperceptible in a double blind test scenario.

Now, I realize the instructions for the Cplay/CICs build is specific to a computer as an audio player, but the lessons learned in that build can be used and applied to developing the complete system.

I definitely don’t intend to follow all the instructions to the letter because I agree that some of the info is dated and may be incorrect, but there are definitely things that I can take from their guide.

I've read many articles trashing PC audio as subpar, but I disagree that it can never be good, and this build will either support this belief or give credence to the "PC is a bad way to go" approach. Either way, it'll be a good learning experience, and one which I already find very enjoyable. Maybe I’ll even convince some other people to go my route once my system is complete.

To me, the project is just like any other hobbyist build, but I think an automobile analogy will help summarize why I don’t believe it will be a waste. I could buy a BMW M3 and be very content with the performance and features, or I could buy a Mustang at half the cost and modify it the way I want to and get similar performance. Now, I like bimmers, but I know I’d be more interested in building up that Mustang.

Stay tuned for more updates!

b7fLuid
_________________________
M80 v2
EP 350 v3
Emotiva USP-1
2x Outlaw Audio M2200 (vertical bi-amp)

Top
#373522 - 04/16/12 10:39 PM Re: Cplay & cMP2 custom computer music player [Re: b7fLuid]
ClubNeon Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 02/06/09
Posts: 3448
Loc: Western Maryland, USA
In my experience the worst things about using a PC for media playback are:

1. The fan noise.
2. The optical drive noise.
3. The hard drive noise.
and way down the list
4. The quality of the internal soundcard.

Solutions:
1. Build a fanless computer. It's possible to get enough processing power to decode 1080p video with 7.1 lossless audio, that does not require any active cooling.

2. The easiest solution is to only use the optical drive for initial ripping, and play back from the hard drive instead. But in some cases (e.g. Blu-ray discs), it is difficult to rip and preserve enough quality. So secondly make sure the drive has a quiet mode for streaming playback.

3. The ideal solution solid state drives. But that can get expensive when backing up movies. So make sure the drives are quiet. Or you can locate them in another room, and access the larger stuff via network, with a small SSD for the OS.

4. I've never splurged on a "hi-fi" internal soundcard. By the time I started messing with the idea of having a small studio, just jumped to a card with an external interface. The problems with the internal cards, is they almost always have tiny 3.5mm phone jack. I find those to be noisy, or to get noisy if left to oxidize (the contact point is just too small). Also a lot of the internal stuff isn't shielded very well, but I see the hi-end cards do offer that protection. My solution been to get the bits out of the computer in digital form, and turn them to analog with a dedicated device. The easiest way to do this with a modern setup is via HDMI, and you're done. If you're mostly interested in audio, which you've said you're not, then an audio interface connected by USB or Firewire, with XLR jacks is ideal (and not that expensive).

So to reiterate: Build a quiet PC, and connect it via HDMI to a receiver. Or you can get an external audio interface with at least 8 output channels and connect them directly to power amps. Add a network server as an option.

PCs can't be bad for audio, because every CD/DVD/BD released these days is mixed and mastered on a PC (or Mac).
_________________________
Pioneer VSX-1018AH-K, PDP-5020FD, DV-79AVi
Axiom M22s, VP150, QS8s
Sony PS3, surround backs
-Chris

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