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Author Topic: Audiophile PC Build  (Read 1409 times)

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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.

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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!
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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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Offline heathen

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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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Offline morst

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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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Offline Mr.Fantasy

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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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Offline heathen

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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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Offline morst

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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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