The Dynaco Tube Audio Forum

Dedicated to the restoration and preservation of all original Dynaco tube audio equipment - Customer support for Dynaco VTA tube amp kits, all Tubes4hifi.com products and all Dynakitparts.com products


    Agood digital sound card with flexibility

    Share

    baddog1946

    Posts : 304
    Join date : 2010-02-03
    Location : Costa Rica

    Agood digital sound card with flexibility

    Post by baddog1946 on Fri Apr 05, 2013 8:43 am

    I have been thinking of building a dedicated Linux based system from scratch and this sound card is a candidate for it. Anyone have experience with it or any other suggestiions like motherboards etc.?

    http://www.esi-audio.com/products/julia/

    Baddog

    DarthBubba

    Posts : 81
    Join date : 2012-05-05

    Re: Agood digital sound card with flexibility

    Post by DarthBubba on Fri Apr 05, 2013 3:48 pm

    baddog1946 wrote:I have been thinking of building a dedicated Linux based system from scratch and this sound card is a candidate for it. Anyone have experience with it or any other suggestions like motherboards etc.?

    http://www.esi-audio.com/products/julia/

    Some general ideas:

    Not that you could find any FCC Class A mother boards anymore (for business environments where electronic noise is NOT an issue), make sure your mother board has an FCC Class B rating - they're for home use and electrically quieter so as not to interfere w/TV, radio, etc. Disable the on-board sound chip too. A home-made mu-metal shell to further shield the card might be useful - you wouldn't be able to build a Faraday shield around it.

    Just my 2 cents... Smile

    TorontoDave

    Posts : 24
    Join date : 2013-03-18

    Re: Agood digital sound card with flexibility

    Post by TorontoDave on Fri Apr 05, 2013 4:58 pm

    Having recently completed a good linux server build for audio playback and serving I can share some insights.

    1) The best sound cards are unlikely to have the right utilities and drivers to really shine in linux.
    2) The PC is electrically noisy to begin with - performing Digital Audio Conversion on-top of that is just asking for trouble.

    What I did:
    1) Used a onboard TOSLINK (Optical) cable for audio output. My motherboard had audio supported by alsa (most do).
    2) TOSLink outputs a digital signal (it doesn't convert to analog) - so it matches your source file (MP3/FLAC what have) for your Frequency and quality. With lossless FLAC this is typically 24 bit and 96 HZ or 24 BIT and 192HZ.
    3) Take that TOSLInk and put into an External Digital-To-Analog Converter (DAC). In my case this was an old Home Theatre Receiver (Yamaha HTR-5960) but there are several vendors of decent DACS both on ebay and the usual suspects (TigerDirect/NewEgg Etc.). The key with an external DAC is it must support a TOSLink input and 24 bit/192HZ material.

    The following are examples:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=82-804-040&ParentOnly=1&IsVirtualParent=1 (medium quality)
    http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=3429784&CatId=466 (medium quality)

    4) Take the Analog output of your DAC - and plug it into your ST-120. You now have a very clean signal path from Linux->Digital->DAC->Analog->Tube Amplifier.

    In my experiments FLAC playback is indiscernible from the original medium.

    If your looking for software I recommend MPD (music playing Daemon), MPC (Music Playing Command Line), and phpmpreloaded (for web control).

    David

    pigface

    Posts : 72
    Join date : 2011-04-10
    Location : pittsburgh

    Re: Agood digital sound card with flexibility

    Post by pigface on Fri Apr 05, 2013 6:24 pm

    I bought that same sound card a year ago and I could not get it to work right . I had it in a windows 7 and XP machines and it would not work right in either . It would work for a few minutes then distort and hum real bad .I read that they have had driver problems . I Don't know if they figured them out or not . It might work in a linux machine though . It looks like a impressive card though .

    sKiZo

    Posts : 1312
    Join date : 2013-04-01
    Location : Michigan USA

    Re: Agood digital sound card with flexibility

    Post by sKiZo on Fri Apr 05, 2013 7:48 pm

    Linux? Not surprising that someone who frequents tube forums is off the beaten path ... Smile

    Drivers may be an issue - so how about driverless? I'm wondering how Linux would deal with something like the Behringer UCA202. WindOHs! installs that driverless, and it shows up as a generic USB audio device. Also gets around all the RF crap floating around inside a computer case. They're especially useful for replacing onboard sound on laptops, which generally ain't worth the powder to blow them to hell and gone ...

    Real nice lil box with performance that goes well above the price point. Bidirectional - both DAC and ADC - so it's right handy for ripping vinyl too. I upgraded to a Maverick TubeMagic DAC here, but I still use the UCA202 for ripping.



    sKiZo

    Posts : 1312
    Join date : 2013-04-01
    Location : Michigan USA

    Re: Agood digital sound card with flexibility

    Post by sKiZo on Fri Apr 05, 2013 8:10 pm

    The key with an external DAC is it must support a TOSLink input and 24 bit/192HZ material.
    Not necessarily true ... I got pretty good ears and am right happy playing CD Redbook (44.1/16). Supposedly, you get improvement in headroom if you convert to higher res, but I've never heard it. Big caveat there is whether you're working with an existing (read: older) library of music or starting fresh with digital downloads. Also, TosLink isn't always all it's cracked up to be. Depends on your motherboard. Mine has a RealTek HD chipset, and the Tenor USB interface on the Maverick TubeMagic DAC I use runs rings around it. The S/PDIF may be technically better, but I don't listen to technical.

    Take the Analog output of your DAC - and plug it into your ST-120. You now have a very clean signal path from Linux->Digital->DAC->Analog->Tube Amplifier.

    Big +1 there. Be one of my first experiments here. There again, the Maverick should add some interesting variety as I roll tubes thru it. What's the flavor of the day?

    In my experiments FLAC playback is indiscernible from the original medium.

    Yup ... bit perfect lossless - hard to beat.

    If your looking for software I recommend MPD (music playing Daemon), MPC (Music Playing Command Line), and phpmpreloaded (for web control).

    Or most any of the popular programs, like jRiver Media Center, using Crossover ... or so I hear ... they got a step by step on their wiki on how to make it happen.

    Then again, might want to consider crossing over to the dark side and setting up a dual boot with Windows 8 for audio. The WASAPI and DirectSound engines have been completely re-written for this release and are, if not bit-perfect, the next best thing. I just did that going from XP MCE and the difference is astounding. Of course, I cheated ... I also went dual boot so I didn't have to play the reinstall/upgrade game with other applications I had installed on the HTPC. Only complaint I had about W8 is the whole tiles and metro thing, but there's lots of ways to get around that.

    Zimmer64

    Posts : 113
    Join date : 2013-01-29
    Age : 52
    Location : Switzerland

    Re: Agood digital sound card with flexibility

    Post by Zimmer64 on Sat Apr 06, 2013 1:38 am

    I tend to agree with TorontoDave, but would not useaToslink connection. I'd go for the M2Tech Hiface: http://www.m2tech.biz/hiface2.html

    I use the older version of it. Brought noticeable improvement in clarity and imageing.

    Best

    Michael

    baddog1946

    Posts : 304
    Join date : 2010-02-03
    Location : Costa Rica

    Re: Agood digital sound card with flexibility

    Post by baddog1946 on Sat Apr 06, 2013 10:57 am

    All good feedback and points of view. Getting good drivers and a good dashboard to run it is the challenge. Both the optical and coaxial methods can be made to work satisfacorly so getting good drivers is the first step.
    The Win drivers for this card are good but getting a copy them fully functional for Linux may be possible but so far not easy. There is a MAC/Linux version of this card out called the "Julia XTE"
    I guess if we don't ask we may not find out so if anyone has driver info, wbesites etc. I for one would like to see it.
    WASAPI seems to do the best job on my current setup. But in a dedicated system better than the default application drivers are necessary.
    Good observations about the FLAC format I too consider it a nearly perfect copy with vinyl and HD CD recordings. I will focus on this format in my system.
    I avoid the USB connection as much as possible so the ME-2 is not an option for me although they do perform well and a newer version is available with great specs.Hope this thread continues and gives up some good info.
    Baddog

    sKiZo

    Posts : 1312
    Join date : 2013-04-01
    Location : Michigan USA

    Re: Agood digital sound card with flexibility

    Post by sKiZo on Sat Apr 06, 2013 1:07 pm

    Don't close yourself off completely from experimenting with USB ... it's come a long way in the last couple years. Speed isn't an issue anymore since USB2, and the hardware has improved tremendously.

    I've got both Toslink optical and coaxial on my HTPC, and can't really hear any difference. Wouldn't expect to. They both run thru the same S/PDIF interface on the average motherboard. Only when you get into seriously highend gear do they get handled in separate streams, and maybe not even then. Toslink has the extra step of converting to light, and is known to have jitter issues. Maybe another thing that's changed recently - haven't really kept up with it. Given a choice, the coaxial tends to be more jitter free. Then again, that may have changed when I wasn't looking also.

    Main thing seems to be separation. The more isolated the audio signal is from all the other ... whatever ... that's going on in a computer, the better off your are. First time I tried the USB out on my Maverick TubeMagic, it ... wasn't horrible. I was getting some annoying ticking and weirdness. Uninstalled all the audio software and reinstalled stripped drivers, played around with this and that, and still had it. Final solution was to install a dedicated USB card that has plugs right into the power supply. Cleaned it right up. Only thing I plugged into that card is the Maverick and the UCA202 - all the other crap like wireless keyboards, thumb drives and such, gets plugged into the built in USB busses.

    PS ... been down the road you're on, windows version anyway. Tried a couple supposedly good soundcards (among them, Creative EMU and Asus Xonar) and although they worked, they just didn't cut it in my world. I had high hopes for the EMU especially, as that's the complete I/O package, but the software suffered severe suckage. Had to drive several digital stakes thru it's silicon heart to purge it from my system too ... it just didn't want to let go.

    Oh. Asio4All is another one of those vampiric driver sets. Once installed, it keeps coming back to life and trying to hijack your system when you least expect it. If you try it and go another direction, be sure to do a full uninstall ... yet another advantage to the new W8 WASAPI - you can trash all those bandaid approaches to making hardware work as there's not a lot it doesn't recognize and work with natively.

    baddog1946

    Posts : 304
    Join date : 2010-02-03
    Location : Costa Rica

    Re: Agood digital sound card with flexibility

    Post by baddog1946 on Sat Apr 06, 2013 5:16 pm

    Toslink? Yeah!
    Using stand alone components for CD, DAC,turntable, external hard drives CPU's with no fans cuts out a huge amount of noise both when recording or transcripting files.
    This guy has some good ideas:http://www.lampizator.eu/NEWDAC/Lampizator/Digital_Music_Systems.html

    I found a series of Intel CPU's that are cooled with out a fan even quieter than with the fan mod he uses for Foxxcom computers in his outline.

    With a bit of shielding on the audio card like the ASUS Xonar card has, stand alone TT,CD, HDD and no CPU fans neither recording or play back on this type of system should not be affected much at all by noise. You really only need a very simple CPU with a good clock in there. USB 2.0 may be OK and most motherboards have plenty of USB. matching and selecting the right Motherboard and CPU, data storage on external drives, isolated CD transport and no fans is drawing me into fairly cheap as well. Plenty of room to hear about what migt go into it as we go. Right now I need Linux drivers audio drivers.

    The motherboard comments bear considering, Eliminating the electronically generated noise from within the system architecture is just as important as mechanical noise but that should also be minimal here.It would be nice to use a simplified disk operating system. Since there would only be the operating system and a couple of programs on the computer,the operating system itself could possibly be stored in memory without a HDD copy of the system present like cell smart phones (no HDD delay).

    sKiZo

    Posts : 1312
    Join date : 2013-04-01
    Location : Michigan USA

    Re: Agood digital sound card with flexibility

    Post by sKiZo on Sat Apr 06, 2013 5:45 pm

    Noise abatement has come a long way in the recent past ... evidenced in my humble HTPC. Last build, I had five fans churning away and that was barely enough to keep the box from melting come August. Solution? I cut a great honking hole in the top of the case and installed a lil helper fan ... AKA, laptop cooler.



    A bit gonzo, but it worked. Has a smart sensor that only lets it run as fast as it needs to. I was able to disconnect all the case fans except for the power supply and CPU.

    You could still hear it though. Last build, I went with an ITX board with a 60 watt GPU with integrated graphics. A quarter the power draw of my old CPU, so very little waste heat. Top end fan on the processor, and that's it, other than the one on my new "green" power supply. Both fans just barely tick over under normal load - You got to get your ear right to the case to hear them at all.

    For your OS ... think about going with a solid state hard drive. No moving parts, so nary a peep out of it. Also minimal load on the power supply, so that doesn't run as hard (or as hot) either. Win win.

    Here's a pic ...



    Fun fact ... an ITX board fits right into an old ATX case using the original mount points. I did not know that myself until I started rooting around for a new system. I wanted to reuse the old case, because it looks slick and looks like it belongs in the audio rack. Also lots of breathing room. That lil black rectangle is the SSD drive velcroed to the cabinet. $80 for 80gb ... perfect for OS and programs. I've also got a 2tb drive tucked away for data - that's a WD green, and rated about as quiet as they get.

    All in all, working quite well. And I don't need the BIG fan anymore - except to cover that great honking hole ... Razz

    baddog1946

    Posts : 304
    Join date : 2010-02-03
    Location : Costa Rica

    Re: Agood digital sound card with flexibility

    Post by baddog1946 on Sun Apr 07, 2013 11:44 am

    its big!

    baddog1946

    Posts : 304
    Join date : 2010-02-03
    Location : Costa Rica

    Re: Agood digital sound card with flexibility

    Post by baddog1946 on Sun Apr 14, 2013 3:10 pm

    Hi all:
    Still working on getting my Linux based server system configured and I could use some feedback on my theory so far. Here goes:
    So if it takes 70 minutes for a high quality CD transport like the Philips CDM2-Pro mechanism to read all data from CD disk, 2 minutes for a DVD drive, 30 seconds for a Blue Ray, 4 seconds for a PC- HDD and a RAM buffer reads it in less than a second then a system using a RAM chip as a buffer to load an entire CD/playlist would eliminate laser tracking errors, corrections due to CD physical damage, missing bits, servo deviations by the CD motor and demodulation errors from the laser to the DAC. With a solid state ram buffer or perhaps even a solid state HDD during payback the DAC is being fed 100% error free data.
    Combined with good quality SPDIF connections this seems to me would be the way to get about as clean a signal as possible.
    By eliminating any physical contact errors and moving the data digitally as it passes through the system topology it remains in accurate error free digital format. A quality DAC with a true clock would complete the digital signal chain to the amp. This should yield a very clean signal only limited by the original source media. Feed back is welcomed here on both the software and hardware sides of the equation.

    TorontoDave

    Posts : 24
    Join date : 2013-03-18

    Re: Agood digital sound card with flexibility

    Post by TorontoDave on Sun Apr 14, 2013 3:19 pm

    baddog1946 wrote:Hi all:
    Still working on getting my Linux based server system configured and I could use some feedback on my theory so far. Here goes:
    So if it takes 70 minutes for a high quality CD transport like the Philips CDM2-Pro mechanism to read all data from CD disk, 2 minutes for a DVD drive, 30 seconds for a Blue Ray, 4 seconds for a PC- HDD and a RAM buffer reads it in less than a second then a system using a RAM chip as a buffer to load an entire CD/playlist would eliminate laser tracking errors, corrections due to CD physical damage, missing bits, servo deviations by the CD motor and demodulation errors from the laser to the DAC. With a solid state ram buffer or perhaps even a solid state HDD during payback the DAC is being fed 100% error free data.
    Combined with good quality SPDIF connections this seems to me would be the way to get about as clean a signal as possible.
    By eliminating any physical contact errors and moving the data digitally as it passes through the system topology it remains in accurate error free digital format. A quality DAC with a true clock would complete the digital signal chain to the amp. This should yield a very clean signal only limited by the original source media. Feed back is welcomed here on both the software and hardware sides of the equation.

    I recently changed my web front end to rompr (http://mpd.wikia.com/wiki/Client:RompR) which is amazing for control (it shows information on the artist from Wikipedia - album art - etc, all with zero setup).

    Regarding your signal path - once you get to digital you want as short a signal path as possible - without "enhancement" till you hit the preamp or amp. I was able to accomplish this using a old Yamaha HTR 5960 with pre-outs and "pure-direct" mode. Honestly you've got the basics - just choose your DAC carefully.

    D

    Sponsored content

    Re: Agood digital sound card with flexibility

    Post by Sponsored content Today at 2:28 pm


      Current date/time is Sat Dec 10, 2016 2:28 pm