My new CAPS V2+ build; best digital I've heard

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ted_b

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My new CAPS V2+ build; best digital I've heard
« on: 11 Oct 2012, 05:57 pm »
As i stated in another thread, I just completed a CAPS V2+ build, with the help of Chris Connaker (ComputerAudiophile.com founder), fellow CAPS builder Terry (TJHub) and Jesus (Sonore US). I could not have done it without them.

I made a bold statement that this thing is not only the best digital I've heard (and I've heard a lot) but only cost me $743. Well, it can be slightly more or less than that depending on the info below. I did not add in any VNC remote desktop prices, nor the cost of jremote ($10). I also assume that users will pick a linear power supply (possibly one they already use; the mobo requires a 2.5mm/5.5mm dc plug and runs 8v-19v) over the included wallwart, but since Chris did not include that extraneous upgrade cost neither am I. And Windows 8 will cost you a $69 intro price by the time the preview expires in January. And if you go mSATA with the SSD you don't use the SATA filter, subsequent cabling, or upper bracket.

Here is my Bill of Material






Here is a rough build process:

1) Order above products (Note: the motherboard has what is called mSATA support. This means you can order, instead of the Samsung 830, a Mushkin 60 GB mSATA pcie SSD and install it directly to the motherboard. It then does not need the $65 SOtM SATA filter, nor need the SATA cabling, nor need the upper bracket that comes with the ITX6 case. Chris ok’d this approach (theoretically) but I do not have experience with it, however. Gotta assume it is dead quiet, though.
2) while waiting for delivery, download 64 bit Windows8 preview (choose 64 BIT ISO image) from here: Download Windows 8 Release Preview
3) To prepare your 8GB USB thumb drive use something like WinUSB Maker Josh Cell Softwares: WinUSB Maker - The Windows Setup to USB Solution then attach Windows ISO file
4) Install memory on mobo, plug in SSD SATA and power cables, install mobo and output shield on case, and attach upper bracket, SOtM SATA filter and SSD. Plug in cables, leaving molex connector for later SOtM USB card install. Leave case open (or at least do not anchor top on permanently) for later SOtM install.

Steps 5 and 6 require a local keyboard, mouse and monitor temporarily

5) Update Intel mobo bios from IntelDn2800mt website (mine wouldn’t boot up right until I did). File is called “MT0159P.bio”
6) Install Windows from USB thumbdrive
7) Reboot to make sure all is well
8) Open up case and install SOtM USB pcie card, attach molex connector (molex to SSD adapter in original design not needed) and reboot.
9) Install VNC of choice or use remote desktop to allow for headless maintenance activities
10) Install JRMC Media Center 18 and run as Media Server (options_> startup->media server only).i.e no need to see Media Center screens since you will be browsing remotely. It is always available, but is background as default.  iPad apps like Jremote (my fave) or any other headless operation requires the CAPS connected to the home network, of course (ethernet cable)
11) Enjoy!!!!

The next step would be to tune Windows8. Terry (tjhub) has helped me tremendously here. I will later post his initial stab at a Windows8 version of a process list (i.e turn off a bunch of unnecessary noisy processes). Until then just unpin all the goofy apps from the main start screen and then, on your desktop, simply download Fidelizer and run it (Audiophile mode for me cuz Extremist turns off the network, and I need my network for ipad, NAS file serving, and VNC (splashtop). Fidelizer is an optimizer script for reducing or re-prioritizing processes for clean audio, and does a wonderful job. The app is a bit kludgy in that it does not allow auto-run, so any reboot requires you to re-run it. And in talking with Terry, Chris, etc I'd rather just optimize Windows8 myself. But I haven't gone there yet.

My system is set up with JRMC Media Center 18 running WASAPI-Event style (DoP V 1.0), and a Wireworld Platinum USB cable from the SOtM card to my Meitner MA-1. It is playing flawlessly, both native DSD and PCM (to 24/192).


UPDATE: I have on reputable sources that the Mushkin mSATA SSD drive, installed directly onto the motherboard's pcie slot reserved for such things, is very very good.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820226319&Tpk=MKNSSDAT60GB-DX


This is what I would have done if feeling more pioneering. And saves cabling mess, upper bracket mess and a $65 SOtM SATA filter. In fact now all you need is a simple SATA power to molex power connector to the SOtM USb board, period. (Note: when I say "mess" I'm being somewhat facetious as this build is pretty darn clean and simplistic anyway).

My next project is to take Terry's (tjhub) process list and pare mine down to it. But since Fidelizer is working fine I am gonna just listen to more music for awhile. I'm in re-discover mode.
« Last Edit: 21 Oct 2012, 08:08 pm by ted_b »

jhm731

Re: My new CAPS V2+ build; best digital I've heard
« Reply #1 on: 11 Oct 2012, 06:14 pm »
Ted,

I saw this quote from your post on CA:

"The Auraliti is nice, too, and shares the SOtM USB technology (different card of course). It has some of the same attributes but not the heft/weight of either the Mini (which is nowhere as background quiet as Auraliti) nor the CAPS."

I can understand how improving a music server can reduce noise, I don't understand how the "heft/weight" can be altered unless the playback software or OS is adding something to the bass response.

Have you taken any measurements to confirm this added "heft/weight?"

ted_b

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Re: My new CAPS V2+ build; best digital I've heard
« Reply #2 on: 11 Oct 2012, 06:20 pm »
No I haven't.  Clearly there are some things (like music players that all claim bit-perfect status but sound different) in computer audio that we are either not measuring, not not measuring the right things.

jtwrace

Re: My new CAPS V2+ build; best digital I've heard
« Reply #3 on: 11 Oct 2012, 09:06 pm »
My case & motherboard have arrived.   :thumb:

Looking forward to getting it all together.

chip

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Re: My new CAPS V2+ build; best digital I've heard
« Reply #4 on: 11 Oct 2012, 09:45 pm »
Why that case if you didn't put a cd rom drive in it?

BPT

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Re: My new CAPS V2+ build; best digital I've heard
« Reply #5 on: 11 Oct 2012, 09:48 pm »
Ted:
This is interesting as I was considering something similar using an Asus E45M1-M Pro board. You controlling this remotely, with what- iPad? I don't see any Wifi connection.
Chris H.

ted_b

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Re: My new CAPS V2+ build; best digital I've heard
« Reply #6 on: 11 Oct 2012, 10:16 pm »
Why that case if you didn't put a cd rom drive in it?

Chip,
That was the case recommended at CA (when the Origin was no longer needed).  but I agree; heck, with the mSata drive all there is now is a mobo and vertical PCIe USB card, period.  Anyway, the case isn't expensive.

ted_b

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Re: My new CAPS V2+ build; best digital I've heard
« Reply #7 on: 11 Oct 2012, 10:20 pm »
Ted:
This is interesting as I was considering something similar using an Asus E45M1-M Pro board. You controlling this remotely, with what- iPad? I don't see any Wifi connection.
Chris H.

Chris,
The CAPS is connected to my home LAN via ethernet cable.  I use an iPad with jremote for day to day music playing (best remote app I know of; better than mPad for Linux or Apple Remote for iTunes, etc).  I have created a couple special views like DSD and 24 bit, and with a simple "ok" on the J River options they show up on the jremote menu.

And use the Splashtop app (on the iPad or my desktop) to do any servicing.

chip

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Re: My new CAPS V2+ build; best digital I've heard
« Reply #8 on: 11 Oct 2012, 10:39 pm »
Chip,
That was the case recommended at CA (when the Origin was no longer needed).  but I agree; heck, with the mSata drive all there is now is a mobo and vertical PCIe USB card, period.  Anyway, the case isn't expensive.

Yeah I was just looking at there website to see what is different about ITX1 - ITX7.

JDUBS

Re: My new CAPS V2+ build; best digital I've heard
« Reply #9 on: 11 Oct 2012, 10:46 pm »
 :lol:  Looks familiar.

ted_b

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Re: My new CAPS V2+ build; best digital I've heard
« Reply #10 on: 11 Oct 2012, 11:14 pm »

TJHUB

Re: My new CAPS V2+ build; best digital I've heard
« Reply #11 on: 12 Oct 2012, 12:55 am »
Yeah I was just looking at there website to see what is different about ITX1 - ITX7.

You need a case that allows for the PCI or PCIe SOtM USB card.  The ITX-1 does not have that.

Atlplasma

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Re: My new CAPS V2+ build; best digital I've heard
« Reply #12 on: 12 Oct 2012, 01:43 pm »
Hi Ted:

The CAPS seems similar in configuration to the Hal MS-1. Have you compared the two? I'm a Mac person, but your statements on the sonic improvements possible with this build and Windows (ugh) 8 are intriguing. I might have to dip a toe into the dark side.

ted_b

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Re: My new CAPS V2+ build; best digital I've heard
« Reply #13 on: 12 Oct 2012, 01:51 pm »
No I haven't (compared to Hal's).  I would say go for it...$750 is nothing to sneeze at, but in relation to where a music server is in the whole critical path, it's really almost risk free (i.e. easily sold for little loss, as there are many more folks interested who dare not try the "build" thing).

ted_b

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Re: My new CAPS V2+ build; best digital I've heard
« Reply #14 on: 12 Oct 2012, 04:40 pm »
I was asked if, using an external power supply, was anything else needed?  The case has a power button on the front, who's cable attaches to pins on the mobo.  Then the mobo has a dc output plug, which measures 2.5MM (tip positive) (aka 2.5/5.5 since 5.5mm is the outside diameter).  And the motherboard power is rated 8V-19V; I have my Hynes set to 12V (as per Paul Hynes recommendation) and all is well.  I also have a Hynes SR3-12 (on loan right now) and all I needed for it was a 2.1MM to 2.5MM plug adapter ($3).

Jazz and Baroque

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Re: My new CAPS V2+ build; best digital I've heard
« Reply #15 on: 14 Oct 2012, 08:49 pm »
Hi Ted,

I'm glad you are having such a great time with your CAPS V2.  I am trying to catch up.  But I'm a little stuck on step 6.  Maybe you can give me a hint. 

2) while waiting for delivery, download 64 bit Windows8 preview (choose 64 BIT ISO image) from here: Download Windows 8 Release Preview
DONE!
3) To prepare your 8GB USB thumb drive use something like WinUSB Maker Josh Cell Softwares: WinUSB Maker - The Windows Setup to USB Solution then attach Windows ISO file
DONE!  WinUSB Maker claims a successful transfer and the USB has 3.3 gig of data.
4) Install memory on mobo, plug in SSD SATA and power cables, install mobo and output shield on case, and attach upper bracket, SOtM SATA filter and SSD. Plug in cables, leaving molex connector for later SOtM USB card install. Leave case open (or at least do not anchor top on permanently) for later SOtM install.
DONE!
5) Update Intel mobo bios from IntelDn2800mt website (mine wouldn’t boot up right until I did). File is called “MT0159P.bio”
DONE!  No problems with bios. 
6) Install Windows from USB thumbdrive
Problems, problems, problems.   

The bios required the USB to be mounted at turn-on, or else it would not recognize it.  The setup process started.  I put in the product key.  Then the setup program began insisting that I provide a *driver*.   I could browse the SSD and the USB.  I tried many subdirectories with an *okay* click, but the program said no driver found. 

Could you please provide the details of how you got the USB to make the SSD into a Win8 boot-drive???

I was able to go into DOS mode.  There were two drives available: C (the USB) and X.  X-drive had 32 gig of space showing on the dir command, so I assume it is my 60-gig SSD.  Not sure what to try next.  The SSD seems to be formatted already, which is a surprise.  I guess I could load the ISO onto a DVD and try that. 

Anyway, on another direction.....   We have SATA power filters.  And, as you say, everything matters.  So when do you think we will get silver audiophile SATA III data cables??

Thanks,
Mike (in MD)

ted_b

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Re: My new CAPS V2+ build; best digital I've heard
« Reply #16 on: 14 Oct 2012, 08:56 pm »
Hmmm, WinUSB should have set up the USb to be a bootable USB.  And Iw as never asked for a "driver"; i.e once passed the product key allw as smooth sailing.  it just installed (progress bar, etc).  When you say "bios was no problem" did you actually do the bios update by doing f7, etc?  If not, that might be the issue.  My stock bios would not allow Windows 8 to be installed (however, i also never got as far as the product key with the stock bios too).   By the way, I did my install without he SATA filter; added it later.

Russtafarian

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Re: My new CAPS V2+ build; best digital I've heard
« Reply #17 on: 15 Oct 2012, 01:36 am »
Hey Ted,

What is the Jriver benchmark score for the CAPS V2+?  Is the CAPS V2+ robust enough for Jriver to convert DSF to PCM (stereo and multi-channel) without buffering mid-track?  I know you don't need to do this in your setup, but if you could test it I'd sure appreciate it.   Thanks.

Russ

Peter J

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Re: My new CAPS V2+ build; best digital I've heard
« Reply #18 on: 15 Oct 2012, 09:00 pm »
I will soon build something like this, but I'd like to get a leg up now and start ripping discs and eventually LPs onto external hard drives, which I'll do a little at a time on existing computer.

 Any recs as to hard drive brand, size and external enclosures to get me started? I've never owned one and I see fans and fanless on enclosures, but fans have got to be noisy, right? They will eventually live on rack with other gear, probably not accessed remotely.

Thanks, Peter

ted_b

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Re: My new CAPS V2+ build; best digital I've heard
« Reply #19 on: 15 Oct 2012, 09:14 pm »
Hey Ted,

What is the Jriver benchmark score for the CAPS V2+?  Is the CAPS V2+ robust enough for Jriver to convert DSF to PCM (stereo and multi-channel) without buffering mid-track?  I know you don't need to do this in your setup, but if you could test it I'd sure appreciate it.   Thanks.

Russ

My desktop MC 18 runs math 1534, image 1896, database 2026 for an overall score of 1819.  In reading up on this they tell you to turn off things like Fidelizer so I will get back with the CAPS results when I reboot.
Edit:  CAPS is paultry!!  Math 335, image 430, db 449, overall 405.  ??  wonder if Splashtop VNC has anything to do with it (which doesn't run during music playback) 

CAPs handles DSD just fine, as well as 24/192....I will set it for conversion and let you know.