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Offline Mr.Fantasy

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Audiophile PC Build
« on: July 05, 2017, 01:36:49 PM »
I have a relative who can build PCs...and it is WAY PAST time to get a new PC.

Just wanted to throw a line out and see if anyone has a nice audio/video focused PC build they really like.....or any tips on components. Soundcards, etc.?

Probably throwing a grand or so at the project....we mainly some basic audio and video processing...nothing super intense.

This deal from Dell caught my eye... http://deals.dell.com/mpp/productdetail/f98
"I read somewhere that 77 percent of all the mentally ill live in poverty. Actually, I'm more intrigued by the 23 percent who are apparently doing quite well for themselves" ---Jerry Garcia

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Offline heathen

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Re: Audiophile PC Build
« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2017, 02:20:27 PM »
Is the PC going to be in the same room as your stereo, hooked directly up to the stereo?  Or can you have the PC in a different room acting as a server to send music to something hooked up to your stereo?

Edit to add: Either way, I think you can do this for well under $1,000.  Need more details though.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2017, 02:22:32 PM by heathen »
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Offline morst

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Re: Audiophile PC Build
« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2017, 02:35:57 PM »
  Or can you have the PC in a different room acting as a server to send music to something hooked up to your stereo?
Great question. In the same room, you'll want a quiet machine. Think low power, no fans, no moving parts...
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Offline heathen

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Re: Audiophile PC Build
« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2017, 02:40:18 PM »
You can have fans in a quiet machine, it's just that you'll probably need aftermarket fans like Noctuas.

If the actual data isn't going to be stored in the listening room, it's MUCH easier to make an "audiophile" PC for the listening room.  It can be as simple as a Raspberry Pi + HiFiBerry board, which has zero moving parts and takes up virtually no space.
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Offline voltronic

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Re: Audiophile PC Build
« Reply #4 on: July 05, 2017, 03:40:55 PM »
I agree with heathen.  If you just want high quality audio / video in your living room / home theater with all of the files on another system or NAS box, then there's no need to build a "home theater PC" as you would in the past.  That Dell you linked is way beyond what you need based on your description.

The Pi with aftermarket DAC board as suggested is a great route.  Even less expensive is the Chromecast + Foobar setup posted here - keep in mind this is for audio only.
You also might have a home theater receiver that does remote streaming.  I prefer to stream all of my media through my smart TV using Plex, which in turn streams lossless audio to my home theater via HDMI.  Incredibly easy to set up, and this works with audio, video, pictures, whatever.

If you really want a new full-out PC that is quiet, you'll be looking into aftermarket CPU coolers, fans, and power supplies made for high efficiency and low noise.  Back when I was working as a computer repair tech 15-20 years ago and building my own systems, I started my obsession with this and it has continued to this day. 

Though rarely updated, Silent PC Review is a huge wealth of info on this topic.  It's what started me on the path years ago.

Either way, I would put said new PC (no matter how quiet it is) in another room and use one of the above methods to stream your media elsewhere.
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Offline heathen

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Offline Mr.Fantasy

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Re: Audiophile PC Build
« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2017, 05:04:23 PM »
Thanks for the replies so far...good ideas and things to consider.

My current goal looks like this:

This is for my dad's "man cave" (read: mom has put up with dead shows since 78 and wants Dad to contain his sprawling hobby into a single room). So everything is going to be in the same room (bedroom, so I could stick the actual CPU in the closet for noise concerns???)

We do the following things:
-Digitize cassettes and vinyl (Nakamichi deck or turntable > a (yet to be received) SD MixPre3
-Record live streams online and then produce (for immediate family use only) nice little Blu-ray discs of the shows we "couch tour". Simple setup, but I do some amount of video editing and DVD/BluRay menu creation. And the BluRay burns themselves.
-I use Audition to play with my live recordings, but Dad usually uses simpler programs and does less editing than I do.
-Playback
-Internet, Word, Excel, etc.

We have a lot of old equipment, but mainly I want this PC to run out to a DAC (benchmark maybe) and then out to Dad's Silver-face Pioneer Receiver into his JBL L-100s for his playback.

I really want to get this computer outfitted, hardware-wise, to where it will last him for several years....so yeah, I realize that the specs of that Dell are much more than we really "need"...I just figured it might help this machine "last" longer. On the same page, I like having the extra expansion slots so I could change/upgrade later on.

One thing I thought of today....I keep an eye on craigslist a lot, and I see lots of these kids that spend 3K on a "gaming PC" and then they lose interest and sell it for like $500 bucks.....there are a few of these in my area right now.....seems like these have much more attention to fans, cooling, etc....but I don't know if they are supposed to be "quiet" or not.

Now to read that article Heathen shared...
"I read somewhere that 77 percent of all the mentally ill live in poverty. Actually, I'm more intrigued by the 23 percent who are apparently doing quite well for themselves" ---Jerry Garcia

Modified Nak 300's -> PS2 -> R-09 (looking for a pre-amp but am very indecisive)

Offline heathen

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Re: Audiophile PC Build
« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2017, 06:00:31 PM »
There is a lot I can say on this, but a quick thought regarding how powerful of a machine you use is that some of the gaming rigs you mention will be overkill for your purposes, which is a problem because they will probably have things like beefy graphics cards (which means more fans). To give you a comparison, in my living room I have a very small PC running Windows 10. It has a Pentium CPU and no graphics card, with a wall wart power supply. The only fan in the entire thing is the CPU fan. That PC has plenty of power for audio playback (24/96 flac is no sweat), streaming HD video,  etc. Because it doesn't have unnecessary bells and whistles, it stays lean and quiet. Now, in my case all the actual data is stored in another room.

Anyway, I will probably have more to add when I'm at an actual computer instead of on my phone.
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Offline anr

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Re: Audiophile PC Build
« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2017, 02:03:26 AM »
An interesting subject, as I was thinking of an upgrade.  But...

I have a Phenom X4 965 BE based system (AM3 socket) on an Asus board, 8GB DDR3 RAM.  That's the bit that's getting old.  I have two SSDs (OS, plus files).  A new Zalman case (most models are fine, important thing is they provide excellent, silent cooling fans).  I have a 600W power supply, which the Zalman allows to be mounted at the bottom, which helps stability and airflow.  Nearly 20 years ago I spent a lot of money on an M-Audio sound card.  Superb, but the PCI interface limits motherboard selection these days.  I have a pair of KRK R6 monitors.  The loudest noise in my "office" is the desktop fan when I'm too hot.

This is for audio editing, browsing, e-mail, and general office work; but nothing else.  I thought it was getting a bit sluggish, or perhaps my expectations were raised simply by the Phenom being about 8 years old.  I was about to press buy on a new AMD Ryzen set up but decided to give overclocking a go; my theory being if I screw up I was prepared to upgrade anyway.  The 965 is a 3.4GHz CPU, RAM 1600Hz; and the whole feel became suddenly snappier at 3.7/1480. 

I'll probably still go for the upgrade sometime this year, but I hope that's given you a few things to consider.  I won't be buying an Asus board - very poor support and awful USB3 implementation; although admittedly I have one of the first USB3 boards. 
« Last Edit: July 06, 2017, 02:04:58 AM by anr »

Offline rocksuitcase

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Re: Audiophile PC Build
« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2017, 10:43:23 AM »
OK, kindms is my PC guru, being he taught/coerced me into becoming a Windows IT person for my income; BUT I will add to the OP regarding the Dell:
I buy a few Dells each year, managing about 50 or so PC's at my job. That Dell XPS is high quality, they do not put the crap parts in those builds. IMO, in your (Dad's) situation You would buy Dell for the warranty. Purchase the 3 year warranty to start with and XPS' are able to be extended for 2 more years (5 years total).

OTH, I agree with volt, even though I do not go this route, go the Raspberry Pi style set up for pure playback only (assuming you have a NAS or storage drives).

Finally, MY opinion for your dad- Seems like I am about his age, have been taping since 1982, with many cassette masters, and have been slowly taking them off the cassettes in various ways since 2000:
Buy a NAS box for storage, place it in the closet (with ventilation) out of the listening room with the PC, Raspberry Pi, or other.
I talked myself into buying a Synology DSM1515+ 5 bay with 5 x 4 TB drives. I feel this has been an incredible evolution in my transferring and processing capabilities in that I no longer have to worry about juggling external drives for space and it allows me to store many versions of edits from same filesets- truly expands the concept of what we do. For sharing, it is even cooler. it can run Plex, and has so many of its own playback and conversion tools. For instance, I received a video of the Col Bruce Bday and had no software on my PC which would play it. The Synology has internal software (video station is one) which handled it seamlessly and allowed me to playback and watch on my laptop which would have not been able to play it with my current playback software. (full disclosure- I RARELY watch video, I'm an audio guy)   
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Offline Mr.Fantasy

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Re: Audiophile PC Build
« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2017, 11:15:16 AM »
Man...this has gotten pretty deep pretty quick. I love it! Using technology is cool!

The article that Heathen posted (which I am just a few pages into) has revealed that I am more out of touch with some of this stuff that I thought. Example: I just googled what an NAS box is (network attached storage) - that makes sense, I just wasn't hip to the term.

Not being an IT professional, the idea of setting up a network is a bit foreign to me. I might have to find some resources to "spoon feed" some of this stuff. But I am totally confident that I can get it going if I decide that is the best bet. Now, at dad's house I could network with actual cable, but I am very interested in the idea of a remotely accessible network.

The idea of having a Server computer at dad's house, and being able to have all of our (my dad, brother, and I) audio, video, and pictures in a form that is 1. together and 2. accessible remotely.......is very cool.

So I need to get the new PC, then I imagine the first thing to do is establish the network and NAS and start filling it up with content. After than I can work on getting some streamer PCs setup at my house and my brother's house so we can all access the network. Is this were this Plex comes into play?

One thing I am completely missing (one of many I should say) is the concept of this Raspberry Pi deal. WTF? So this is like a very small computer? What does it run? How do you control it? Set it up? I think, as far as I understand, that once I establish the network (which I understand the consensus is that the main server PC needs to be either silent or in a different room) that you are saying that all I need to "access" the network and play music is this Raspberry and some other bit? Not an actual computer?

Sorry for all the questions. I really appreciate the help. I am not an idiot, I just need to do some catching up....I feel like I can figure this all out.
"I read somewhere that 77 percent of all the mentally ill live in poverty. Actually, I'm more intrigued by the 23 percent who are apparently doing quite well for themselves" ---Jerry Garcia

Modified Nak 300's -> PS2 -> R-09 (looking for a pre-amp but am very indecisive)

Offline heathen

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Re: Audiophile PC Build
« Reply #11 on: July 06, 2017, 11:16:25 AM »
To add to what rocksuitcase said, if you already have storage drives, a Synology NAS would be an excellent choice.  A quick Amazon search shows a 4 bay Synology box (without drives) for $600.  You could then put your existing drive(s) in it and add drives over time as you need them.

You could then get an Intel NUC, RAM, and SSD for about $250, and have that hooked up to your stereo (and monitor, keyboard, and mouse).  The one I'm looking at right now (Intel NUC NUC5CPYH) is more than capable for what you'd want to do with it.  Hook that up via USB to your DAC and you're in business.

A note about overclocking: generally when you overclock a CPU you'll need more cooling than the stock fan.  This can be water cooling, or an aftermarket fan.  I don't have any experience with water cooling but the radiators need fans, so it's not a completely fanless option.  That said, some aftermarket fans can actually be quieter than stock fans while still providing better cooling.  To be honest, though, I don't think overclocking is the way to go for you in the situation you described.

Ultimately there are so many variables at play here that it's hard to say definitively what is the one right answer for you (assuming there even is only one right answer).  I've experimented with a lot of different arrangements, and I'll tell you what I've settled on and am happy with.

In a spare bedroom I have my main PC that houses all my data, and that I use for things like audio editing and torrenting.  It's just running Windows 7, and I share the folders that have my music.  I have it connected via ethernet cable to the router.  Then I have a Raspberry Pi in the basement that serves as my headphone listening station, running Volumio.  That is also connected via ethernet cable to the router.  In the living room, connected to my stereo, I have a small PC (again connected via ethernet cable to the router).  This PC runs Windows 10, and I use foobar2000 for audio playback.  If I wanted to, I could use this PC for word processing.  I do use it for streaming video (HBO Go, YouTube).  It's also capable enough to do audio editing.  Here are the specs: Intel Pentium G3258 CPU, 8 GB RAM, SSD, ASRock H97M-ITX/AC motherboard, Mini-Box M350 case, wall wart power supply.  The main reason I have a PC hooked up to the stereo is because it's easier for my ol lady to use.  If it were just me, I'd have a Raspberry Pi hooked up to the stereo rather than an actual PC.  A Raspberry Pi is more than sufficient for audio playback, and I'd just use my PS4 for all my video streaming.

Anyway, I hope this hasn't just muddied the waters more for you.  If you can narrow down your specifics even more it will be possible to make more pointed recommendations about what may be good for your situation.
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Offline heathen

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Re: Audiophile PC Build
« Reply #12 on: July 06, 2017, 11:27:32 AM »
Not being an IT professional, the idea of setting up a network is a bit foreign to me. I might have to find some resources to "spoon feed" some of this stuff. But I am totally confident that I can get it going if I decide that is the best bet. Now, at dad's house I could network with actual cable, but I am very interested in the idea of a remotely accessible network.

You don't NEED an NAS or any special networking knowledge to have a remotely accessible system.  For example, on my main computer that houses all my data, I just do the Windows built-in sharing, which is literally just a matter of a few mouse clicks.  Now, I don't have the ability to do fancy things like Plex, but I also don't need that in my situation.

Quote
The idea of having a Server computer at dad's house, and being able to have all of our (my dad, brother, and I) audio, video, and pictures in a form that is 1. together and 2. accessible remotely.......is very cool.

If you like that idea I think you should pursue it.  You may be surprised at how accessible it can be.  One word of warning, though, is that I would avoid streaming over wireless.  You might not have issues, but I and many others have.  For example, trying to play a high resolution flac file can get choppy.  That's why I have everything connected via ethernet cables.

Quote
So I need to get the new PC, then I imagine the first thing to do is establish the network and NAS and start filling it up with content. After than I can work on getting some streamer PCs setup at my house and my brother's house so we can all access the network. Is this were this Plex comes into play?

If you're talking about a network accessible outside your own house, I'm out of my depth.  Within your own house, at least, you can go the NAS route but I don't think it's absolutely necessary.

Quote
One thing I am completely missing (one of many I should say) is the concept of this Raspberry Pi deal. WTF? So this is like a very small computer? What does it run? How do you control it? Set it up?

It's just a very small computer.  It is not compatible with Windows, though, so you'll be running some form of Linux.  I run Volumio, which is incredibly easy.  I have my Pi plugged into a power strip, and I just flip the power strip on when I want to use the Pi.  I then do everything to control the Pi through my phone (or another computer on the network).  I literally just open a browser, go to volumio.local, and I'm in business.  The Pi doesn't need a monitor or keyboard...in fact I keep it tucked away in a cabinet.  Setting it up is very easy.  I use a HiFiBerry DAC board that literally just plugs into the Pi board (and the Pi board itself comes as a one-piece thing).  The whole thing is in a case that just snaps together.  Then you just plug in the wall wart power supply, ethernet cable, and run RCA cables to your amp/preamp.  I've also used a HiFiBerry Digi board that sends a digital signal to a DAC.  Also extremely easy.

Quote
I think, as far as I understand, that once I establish the network (which I understand the consensus is that the main server PC needs to be either silent or in a different room) that you are saying that all I need to "access" the network and play music is this Raspberry and some other bit? Not an actual computer?

Well, the Pi is an actual computer, but I think I know what you mean.  And yes, you can use the Pi on its own for all your music playback.  It can even handle HD video, though I haven't used mine for that so I can't speak to it.  I imagine it can do word processing stuff as well with something like OpenOffice, though I also haven't tried that.

Quote
Sorry for all the questions. I really appreciate the help. I am not an idiot, I just need to do some catching up....I feel like I can figure this all out.

I'm enjoying this because it's the one thing I feel like I can actually add some knowledge about on this board, where on most other topics I'm pretty much just soaking in what everyone else has to offer.
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Offline Fried Chicken Boy

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Re: Audiophile PC Build
« Reply #13 on: July 06, 2017, 11:53:53 AM »
... but mainly I want this PC to run out to a DAC (benchmark maybe) and then out to ...

Good idea.  I've been building/repairing computers for about 15 years or so as a hobby and washed my hands of internal, aftermarket soundcards years ago.  The good ones are expensive and for the money you can purchase a very good outboard unit that connects via USB.  No more worrying if your pricey and beloved soundcard will become obsolete with the newest iteration of motherboards or operating systems. 


BUT I will add to the OP regarding the Dell: I buy a few Dells each year, managing about 50 or so PC's at my job. That Dell XPS is high quality, they do not put the crap parts in those builds.

Realizing everyone has preferences and opinions, I respectfully disagree regarding Dell.  I've had some bad experiences with that brand in the past (notably with proprietary and outdated parts), and it was reaffirmed last year when I took on repairing a friend's 4-year-old Dell XPS tower.  At the time, it hadn't worked in about a year (by his estimation) and running a few tests we narrowed it down to a faulty motherboard.  Doing a little research it became apparent very quickly that was a common problem with this model due to the no-name microATX board they were using.  The combination of socket type, RAM type, and board type made it very challenging to replace.  I wound up sourcing a NOS Gigabyte mb from Japan.  The upside is that my friend tells me it's been running like a champ, no issues to speak of. 

Offline Mr.Fantasy

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Re: Audiophile PC Build
« Reply #14 on: July 06, 2017, 03:58:25 PM »
Ok, I have the following questions (for now):

1. Regarding the Intel NUC units. First off...wow these are cool. Second, so I need to add RAM and hard drive, correct? Will that go inside the NUC box, or will in be external?

2. Can I use an NUC for his primary PC and run the network off of it? You plug in Monitor, it looks like it could Bluetooth a mouse, keyboard, and printer

3. On the Synology NAS units....it seems to me that a two bay unit with 4 TB drives would cover us for a LOOONG time. (don't have anywhere near a single TB filled yet)

4. Let's talk about PLEX baby... (lol)....but really, PLEX allows you to...what? Access your "stuff" from any device in the world? I looked at their site and step 2 is "add your media"...so do you have to load everything onto PLEX's system somehow? Does PLEX not access my NAS? PLEX seems promising.
"I read somewhere that 77 percent of all the mentally ill live in poverty. Actually, I'm more intrigued by the 23 percent who are apparently doing quite well for themselves" ---Jerry Garcia

Modified Nak 300's -> PS2 -> R-09 (looking for a pre-amp but am very indecisive)

Offline heathen

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Re: Audiophile PC Build
« Reply #15 on: July 06, 2017, 04:19:29 PM »
Ok, I have the following questions (for now):

1. Regarding the Intel NUC units. First off...wow these are cool. Second, so I need to add RAM and hard drive, correct? Will that go inside the NUC box, or will in be external?

Generally, yes you'll need to supply the RAM, storage (SSD is the way to go with these, at least for the drive that the operating system is installed on), and an operating system.  Those all go inside the NUC box.  I don't think any of the NUCs will fit an actual hard drive (meaning the bigger drives that have actual moving parts) inside.

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2. Can I use an NUC for his primary PC and run the network off of it? You plug in Monitor, it looks like it could Bluetooth a mouse, keyboard, and printer

Sure.  You'll likely need more storage than just the SSD in the NUC though.  External hard drive(s) can solve that problem, depending on how much storage you need.  (A very high quality 4 TB HDD can be had for under $150 these days.  That's a lot of storage.)  You can get a good drive like a WD Red, a $20 enclosure, and you've got a very capable external hard drive with a boatload of storage space.

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3. On the Synology NAS units....it seems to me that a two bay unit with 4 TB drives would cover us for a LOOONG time. (don't have anywhere near a single TB filled yet)

That's probably true.  For those of us who remember the days before PCs became common, it's incredible how much storage hard drives have now.  Anyway, the reason to get something like a Synology NAS is not necessarily the storage capacity but what the machine can do with it.  I haven't used them but I understand they're very handy.

I do think that backup should be part of your planning from the start.  It should go without saying around here how important backing up data can be.  An external drive dedicated solely to backup of your main drive is a good start.

Quote
4. Let's talk about PLEX baby... (lol)....but really, PLEX allows you to...what? Access your "stuff" from any device in the world? I looked at their site and step 2 is "add your media"...so do you have to load everything onto PLEX's system somehow? Does PLEX not access my NAS? PLEX seems promising.

I think Plex is installed on the NAS, and it lets the NAS machine handle things like transcoding of video/audio to then be streamed to other devices.  I haven't used Plex, though, so hopefully someone can give you more information about that.
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Offline Mr.Fantasy

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Re: Audiophile PC Build
« Reply #16 on: July 06, 2017, 05:04:47 PM »
Heathen you get the gold star for dealing with dummies!! Thank you so much for your help so far.

I am strongly considering the NUC road. I don't really see many disadvantages. I guess I could always just plug in whatever I need via USB. I think I can Bluetooth everything but the DAC and a optical drive.

Looking back on a post by Voltronic "I prefer to stream all of my media through my smart TV using Plex, which in turn streams lossless audio to my home theater via HDMI.  Incredibly easy to set up, and this works with audio, video, pictures, whatever."   So he has PLEX on his Smart TV, which is then HDMI into his living room sound setup. So if I had PLEX running on the NAS setup then I could run PLEX on a smart TV at my house, or my brother's house, or the White House...or so it seems. I'd still like to know if it just reads your stuff, or if you have to load all your files into some PLEX Cloud...

Now...I am still missing benefit of the Raspberry Pi deal....I guess it just allows me to access my network without a full-blown PC. That is neat too....if a bit different from the PLEX idea in that it is only accessible at your house. But that would be better than buying another NUC or something I guess.

I really appreciate all the advice so far...I feel like I am in better shape than I was. Still feels weird not dropping a grand on a new PC....but I am all for it!
"I read somewhere that 77 percent of all the mentally ill live in poverty. Actually, I'm more intrigued by the 23 percent who are apparently doing quite well for themselves" ---Jerry Garcia

Modified Nak 300's -> PS2 -> R-09 (looking for a pre-amp but am very indecisive)

Offline rocksuitcase

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Re: Audiophile PC Build
« Reply #17 on: July 06, 2017, 07:05:07 PM »
Well, if you go with a Synology NAS you will drop a whole lot more than a grand! (eventually, as you upgrade with new drives, etc). So I will put in some answer to your Synology questions:
1] Heath is correct in that the main reason to own a Synology as opposed to Qnap or build your own is the incredible flexibility of it. Once on your network properly set up, you, or anyone you give access to, from any internet connection,  will be able to access, playback, download, upload and use services such as plex to stream all that content to any connected device on that network. (I don't use plex yet as my wife can't wrap her head around sending content from the NAS to our TV- but kindms and a few others on here do use it- hopefully they can throw down some, info)

So, its sort of like you have the Synology located at Dad's house, anyone in house via WiFi or ethernet should be able to access it and anyone with account access can do so via internet. Just a for instance, I have uploaded shows and then kindms has tagged or tracked them and they wind up back in the same place (you still want to download then upload given most workstations but collaboration can be done easier with something such as the Synology interface. Think of it as a server, not just a storage box.

kindms owns a NUC, this will be my next choice for a PC which will mainly serve to be the Windows interface to the NAS and maybe a bit of editing etc. I think he bought a spendy one, but they are all based on the Intel NUC technology (Next Unit of Computing) and seems the way to go for the needs we are discussing. https://www.howtogeek.com/231978/htg-explains-what-is-a-nuc-pc-and-should-you-get-one/

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Offline voltronic

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Re: Audiophile PC Build
« Reply #18 on: July 07, 2017, 09:47:18 AM »
Looking back on a post by Voltronic "I prefer to stream all of my media through my smart TV using Plex, which in turn streams lossless audio to my home theater via HDMI.  Incredibly easy to set up, and this works with audio, video, pictures, whatever."   So he has PLEX on his Smart TV, which is then HDMI into his living room sound setup. So if I had PLEX running on the NAS setup then I could run PLEX on a smart TV at my house, or my brother's house, or the White House...or so it seems. I'd still like to know if it just reads your stuff, or if you have to load all your files into some PLEX Cloud...

No, you don't have to upload your files to an online cloud service.  On your media server (which can just be whatever computer has your media files) you add music, videos, photos to the Plex library.  Then on the client side, you open the Plex app and log in, and all of your library can be accessed.  It's not any more difficult than setting up Netflix on a new device.  The difference is that the repository of media is on your own computer / NAS box.

My setup is - main PC in downstairs office, Smart TV upstairs hardwired to network and running Plex app.  TV connected to home theater receiver via HDMI, and TV sending audio to receiver using ARC on the same HDMI cable. 

The great thing about it being locally stored media is that Plex will stream lossless audio without transcoding, so long as the destination device supports the file format.  In other words, I can stream 24bit FLACs from my PC (Plex server) to my Samsung TV which supports FLAC, as does my Denon home theater receiver.  So everything stays in its original format until it hits the DAC in the Denon receiver.  In contrast, if an Apple device were receiving the Plex stream of FLAC files, Plex would recognize that the device does not support FLAC, and would transcode on the fly to a lossy format that the device supports.  (I suppose they could have set it up to transcode to a supported lossless format like ALAC, but that is not the case.)
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Offline Mr.Fantasy

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Re: Audiophile PC Build
« Reply #19 on: July 07, 2017, 01:36:42 PM »
Comes a time....when the blind man....takes your hand....and says, "Don't you see?"

I SEE! I think I have finally got my arms around how this would all work.

I am going to get a big piece of paper and draw this all out to make a list of items needed, etc. But I think what I am going to do, basically is:

1. Setup dad with new PC (NUC of some sort I think, and he may get headstrong and buy a larger PC...but whatever, I am definitely getting an NUC)
2. Establish home network.
3. Synology is exactly what I am looking for, and I agree it will take a bit of cash to make that happen, but I don't have multiple TBs of data...I will be hard pressed to fill up a single as of right now...so 3 or 4 TB will last me until this is all obsolete more than likely. Probably buy a two bay and install a 4 TB and then add another later on.
4. Setup the PLEX system.

That way anything I add to the NAS will be accessible by all parties, regardless of location...

...any holes in this plan that are obvious?

Thank you very much to all of you...especially Heathen, Rocksuitcase, Voltronic, and Fried Chicken Boy!!!
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Re: Audiophile PC Build
« Reply #20 on: July 07, 2017, 02:05:50 PM »

...any holes in this plan that are obvious?

I do think backups are important enough that they should be part of the plan from the start.  At a minimum, I'd suggest either an external hard drive devoted solely to backup, or some kind of cloud-based backup solution. 

Sounds like you have a pretty good plan though.  Have fun!
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Re: Audiophile PC Build
« Reply #21 on: July 07, 2017, 08:44:00 PM »
3. Synology is exactly what I am looking for, and I agree it will take a bit of cash to make that happen, but I don't have multiple TBs of data...I will be hard pressed to fill up a single as of right now...so 3 or 4 TB will last me until this is all obsolete more than likely. Probably buy a two bay and install a 4 TB and then add another later on.

(snip)

...any holes in this plan that are obvious?

Well if you want maximum data protection, you'll want to install more than one drive in that NAS box. I don't have one, but I would think that with less than 1 TB of data in your collection right now, you could get a pair of 3TB drives for under $100 each, and then you have increased reliability. I like WD Red or HGST NAS-Star drives. Seagate will work and it might behoove you to mix and match brands if the Synology is happy to do that.

Just remember there are only two kinds of hard drives... those that have failed... and those that will!!!
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Re: Audiophile PC Build
« Reply #22 on: July 10, 2017, 12:24:50 PM »
Me again!

I have been looking at NUC devices....and I am seeing lots of complaints about their loud fans. Also, I have found few options for fan replacements/upgrades.

Can anyone running an NUC comment? Are their other brands that are worth checking out with a similar product?
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Re: Audiophile PC Build
« Reply #23 on: July 10, 2017, 12:50:38 PM »
You may want to just build your own.  For example, you could do something like this:

Case: Mini-Box M350 with power supply $69
CPU Cooler: Available from Mini-Box $35
CPU: Intel G4560 $79
Mobo: MSI B250I Pro $79
RAM: G Skill 2x8 GB $110 (memory is pretty expensive right now...you could get away with only 1x8 GB)
SSD: Samsung 850 EVO 250 GB $105 (you could save money here if you wanted to)

Total: $477

This is just something I threw together quickly, but I think it would be more than sufficient for your needs.  The only fan is the CPU fan, and no fan is completely silent, but my experience with this fan is that from my listening position I can't hear it.

You'll still need an OS (Windows 10 is around $100 I think), and a keyboard/mouse.  Something like a Logitech K400 only runs about $40 and I use something similar with my media PC.
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Offline voltronic

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Re: Audiophile PC Build
« Reply #24 on: July 10, 2017, 04:55:51 PM »
3. Synology is exactly what I am looking for, and I agree it will take a bit of cash to make that happen, but I don't have multiple TBs of data...I will be hard pressed to fill up a single as of right now...so 3 or 4 TB will last me until this is all obsolete more than likely. Probably buy a two bay and install a 4 TB and then add another later on.

(snip)

...any holes in this plan that are obvious?

Well if you want maximum data protection, you'll want to install more than one drive in that NAS box. I don't have one, but I would think that with less than 1 TB of data in your collection right now, you could get a pair of 3TB drives for under $100 each, and then you have increased reliability. I like WD Red or HGST NAS-Star drives. Seagate will work and it might behoove you to mix and match brands if the Synology is happy to do that.

Just remember there are only two kinds of hard drives... those that have failed... and those that will!!!

Agree with all of this, aside from mixing different drives in a RAID array.  It will only be as fast as the slowest drive, and store as much as the smallest drive.  The advantage though is that when a drive does fail, it's unlikely the other one will close to the same time.  You're best bet is probably two or more drives of the same make and model, but from different production batches.
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Re: Audiophile PC Build
« Reply #25 on: July 10, 2017, 07:52:42 PM »
Agree with all of this, aside from mixing different drives in a RAID array.  It will only be as fast as the slowest drive, and store as much as the smallest drive.  The advantage though is that when a drive does fail, it's unlikely the other one will close to the same time.  You're best bet is probably two or more drives of the same make and model, but from different production batches.
Very true, and good points about RAID systems. Now, if you have everything backed up elsewhere, and this is just for availability, you'll get more capacity from a JBOD array (just a bunch of disks) -- but that won't have the reliability and read-speed bonus that mirroring offers.

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Offline voltronic

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Re: Audiophile PC Build
« Reply #26 on: July 10, 2017, 09:20:35 PM »
Agree with all of this, aside from mixing different drives in a RAID array.  It will only be as fast as the slowest drive, and store as much as the smallest drive.  The advantage though is that when a drive does fail, it's unlikely the other one will close to the same time.  You're best bet is probably two or more drives of the same make and model, but from different production batches.
Very true, and good points about RAID systems. Now, if you have everything backed up elsewhere, and this is just for availability, you'll get more capacity from a JBOD array (just a bunch of disks) -- but that won't have the reliability and read-speed bonus that mirroring offers.

There have been many times I thought I was going to build a NAS box and/or a RAID array of some sort, but every time I think it's going to happen, my time or money gets otherwise occupied in doing a full computer upgrade.  Or, you know, buying recording equipment.  ::)

The last time I invested what I consider a lot of money in data storage was when I bought an Adaptec Ultra Wide-SCSI controller and a Micropolis server-class drive.  (Let's see how many people here remember those!)  That drive was an absolute brick, and I thought I was really hot stuff with my enterprise-class storage... and then it promptly bit the dust faster than any drive I've owned before or since then.  My only solace was that the company went under soon afterwards.

Instead, I have a dedicated backup HDD that does nightly mirrors of everything I care about, and periodically I copy all of that to optical discs (now BD the last couple years) and that goes in a safe.  I know it's not the best plan, but it is one that has worked for me for many years.
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