HAL's thread for the MS-2 PC Music Server

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HAL

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HAL's thread for the MS-2 PC Music Server
« on: 27 Nov 2012, 08:28 pm »
Since folks seem to be interested in the possibility of the replacement to the MS-1, I am starting a thread to gauge interest in to what people want.

Here is a list of specs that I have investigated so far:

Intel Atom N2800 dual core processor with Intel graphics and chipset
Use of mSATA 60GB SSD drive
8GB of DDR3 memory
Internal DVD drive for ripping CD's to an external user drive
Internal 802.11N WiFi
Gigabit Ethernet connection
HDMI and SVGA video connections
Foobar2000 preloaded
Exact Audio Copy preloaded
Fanless system
All aluminum chassis with black brushed anodized finish
Windows 8 OS

Price is $799.00 + shipping.  PayPal fee of 4% if used for payment.

I have found a system that fits those specs.  I still have some questions in to the MFG about some of the specs, but should have answers shortly.

There will only be one configuration to make it simple for logistics. 

Please post feedback in this thread about ideas. 


« Last Edit: 28 Feb 2013, 01:00 am by HAL »

Early B.

Re: HAL's ideas thread for the MS-2 PC Music Server
« Reply #1 on: 27 Nov 2012, 09:09 pm »
Will the cost be about the same as the MS-1?

Will this unit run on a 12VDC battery, as well? If so, for how long?


HAL

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Re: HAL's ideas thread for the MS-2 PC Music Server
« Reply #2 on: 27 Nov 2012, 09:22 pm »
The cost would go up as the basic units are more expensive. 

I have asked the question about having 12VDC power.  That is an answer that I am waiting for from the mfg.

One unit that I am looking at has a power requirement of 16 watts, 12VDC @ 1.33 amps.   The Amp-hour rating of the battery will dictate the life in hours.

HAL

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Re: HAL's ideas thread for the MS-2 PC Music Server
« Reply #3 on: 27 Nov 2012, 10:00 pm »
Here is a picture of one of the possibilities for the MS-2. 





Phil A

Re: HAL's ideas thread for the MS-2 PC Music Server
« Reply #4 on: 27 Nov 2012, 10:11 pm »
HAL, looks great.  I'll throw some ideas out there.  Many of the things out there (e.g. Sonore Music Server) do offer upgrades above and beyond the basic unit.

- Linear PS upgrade
- Battery Power upgrade
- Blu-Ray Drive over the standard DVD as an upgrade

How about DoP (and I'm not talking about me :green:) http://dsd-guide.com/dop-open-standard

HAL

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Re: HAL's ideas thread for the MS-2 PC Music Server
« Reply #5 on: 27 Nov 2012, 10:30 pm »
Phil,
The graphics system for low power operation in the machines I have seen are not fast enough for Blu-Ray.  There were very few requests by people that purchased them for Music Servers for HTPC operation.  That is why I am looking at this machine as a pure music server.

At this power level a linear power supply option is easy.  Problem is that all PC's these days have internal switching power supplies to drop the voltage from either 19VDC or 12VDC to the 5VDC and lower supplies needed.  This is what I have seen in the measurements I made recently.

One way to solve that for USB DAC devices is what I posted in the PI Audio Group thread today.  Dave's DISCREET USB cables can reduce the issue of USB power supply noise on external devices.  The external 5VDC powered DISCREET is for USB powered devices.  The standard DISCREET USB cable is for externally powered USB DAC's.   

DoP is not a problem.  The HQ Player software and a DSD compatible DAC work well.  Tried it here with a DIY DAC I built and workes just fine with the MS-1 hardware.  I had a problem with Foobar2000 doing this and it was reported.  Hopefully they correct the issue.  In the mean time, Foobar2000 does very well playing back DSD data as 24bit/176.4KHz PCM.  Getting the files from SACD is the issue and you have that issue under control.

Battery power is also not a problem.  Dave's BatteryBUSS with a large AGM battery works well.  Tried it with the MS-1.  Waiting on feedback about the unit I posted a picture about.  The MB is supposed to run on 12VDC as an option.

Phil A

Re: HAL's ideas thread for the MS-2 PC Music Server
« Reply #6 on: 28 Nov 2012, 12:39 am »
Thanks, did not notice the product (DISCREET USB cables) on their website, unless I missed it.  Is their a particular thread with more info?  Does it use a particular 5V power supply (I have 3 linear 5V ones already)?  I'm fine with it as a music server only.  I was actually thinking more about file playback/back-up of files (storage capacity) with a Blu-Ray drive as I didn't expect it to be optimized for video quality.  I like the idea of a drive to some extent but could not one just rip them to the external drive or a USB thumb drive just as easily (and not deal with moving drive parts) and would not the standard clock in a DVD drive be 48k vs 44.1k (I know with DVD/universal players not in a computer that is an issue as most manufacturers feel 48k is close enough)?  If it comes that way, that is fine as I'm looking forward to the product.  I guess I have to catch up on some other stuff too

HAL

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Re: HAL's ideas thread for the MS-2 PC Music Server
« Reply #7 on: 28 Nov 2012, 12:49 am »
Phil,
Dave did discuss it in one of thread.  Not sure if it was on the PI Audio Group.  He brought one to RMAF.  I bought that one from him.  Also had him make one that works with my BatteryBUSS later.  They are not on his website that I know of.

I have purposely stayed away from optical media as backup.  The external hard drives are more robust.  Getting another 1TB USB drive for data backup runs about $100.  They are also faster than the optical media for copying.  With six external USB parts, with two being high power USB ports no problem adding extra drives for backup. 

I have recommended an extra 1TB USB hard drive as backup to all the folks that own a MS-1.  This way they always have two copied incase something happens to one.  To much work to loose!   

Phil A

Re: HAL's ideas thread for the MS-2 PC Music Server
« Reply #8 on: 28 Nov 2012, 02:33 am »

I have recommended an extra 1TB USB hard drive as backup to all the folks that own a MS-1.  This way they always have two copied incase something happens to one.  To much work to loose!

I'll be backing up two 3TB drives with others sometime in the next month or so and I'm in the process (about a third thru) of backing up SACD ISO files on another 3TB onto Blu-Rays.  Then, I'm going to get really quiet fanless 3TB hard drives to use.  Way to much work to risk losing.  I got my PS3 back from laser replacement last Friday but have not even tried it yet.  Still have about 100 more SACDs to get to.

saisunil

Re: HAL's ideas thread for the MS-2 PC Music Server
« Reply #9 on: 28 Nov 2012, 04:23 pm »
I would not want an internal drive ... I will be connecting to an external NAS NTFS formatted.
I would also prefer a faster processor for more money unless there is a sonic reason for going with this processor ...

JLM

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Re: HAL's ideas thread for the MS-2 PC Music Server
« Reply #10 on: 28 Nov 2012, 05:13 pm »
I'll throw out some "dumb as a bag of rocks" questions:

How do I input?  (Assume I need some sort of iGadget or smart phone.)

Don't I need a screen? 

Would it come ready to go?

Will it ever need a "full reboot"?

Can it simply/easily pickup audio web streams?

How does this compare to a Dune (other than the superior personal service)?


Phil A

Re: HAL's ideas thread for the MS-2 PC Music Server
« Reply #11 on: 28 Nov 2012, 05:15 pm »
I'll throw out some "dumb as a bag of rocks" questions:

How do I input?  (Assume I need some sort of iGadget or smart phone.)

Don't I need a screen? 

Would it come ready to go?

Will it ever need a "full reboot"?

Can it simply/easily pickup audio web streams?

How does this compare to a Dune (other than the superior personal service)?

If it is like the previous version it will have a wireless keyboard.  Yes, you need a screen if it is like the previous version.  It is a PC which will run on Windows 8.

HAL

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Re: HAL's ideas thread for the MS-2 PC Music Server
« Reply #12 on: 28 Nov 2012, 05:29 pm »
I would not want an internal drive ... I will be connecting to an external NAS NTFS formatted.
I would also prefer a faster processor for more money unless there is a sonic reason for going with this processor ...

Sunil,
My philosophy of Music Server design is to have the lowest power processor that works well.   The lower power supply draw, the lower the electrical noise level inside the system.  This is why I choose low power processors.  This usually also means less computing power.  The Atom processors are very capable and easily handle the Music Server task.  One machine has a power draw of 16 watts, 1/3 less than the MS-1.  Mostly due to the graphics processor being a low power design.   

HAL

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Re: HAL's ideas thread for the MS-2 PC Music Server
« Reply #13 on: 28 Nov 2012, 05:33 pm »
JLM, Phil's response if pretty close.

It needs a keyboard and mouse for setup.  You can use a WiFi device for remote control.  The one with the most flexibility so far as far as random file access has been PC's running IE9 or IE10.

If you loose power the system will need to be rebooted.  I have not run the latest ideas in units for weeks on end since one is not selected.  The MS-1 was running Windows 7 and very stable.  I never had to reboot it when playing music, or between. 

Does that answer your questions?

Phil A

Re: HAL's ideas thread for the MS-2 PC Music Server
« Reply #14 on: 28 Nov 2012, 05:49 pm »
The MS-1 was easy to use and optimized for music.  I bought a PC with lots of processing power with the intent of doing a music server.  HAL's box is a much better solution from all aspects.  I can still use my PC for hi-rez downloads or surf the web.  We had a meet over someone's house not that long ago and luckily HAL came over too to resolve an issue.  It is much better to have something optimized for music playback rather than a PC used for everything else.

Early B.

Re: HAL's ideas thread for the MS-2 PC Music Server
« Reply #15 on: 28 Nov 2012, 06:43 pm »
JLM is asking some great questions because many of us are very new to the music server trend and we really don't know how all of the pieces of the puzzle fit together. It would be very helpful if someone could briefly explain what to do once you have an MS-2 in hand. For instance, I assume I would need a USB DAC, but I'm not sure. What else do I need? What software do I need to purchase and why? Can I use my phone or a tablet to control the music server? If so, how? Can I connect my TV to the server via HDMI and use it as my monitor or does that create excessive noise or some other problem? Even before the MS-2 is available, should I begin ripping my CDs to an external hard drive? If so, what's the best way to do that? 

Can someone dumb it down for us or send us a link where this stuff is clearly explained? Thanks.




HAL

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Re: HAL's ideas thread for the MS-2 PC Music Server
« Reply #16 on: 28 Nov 2012, 07:24 pm »
Early B,
The MS-2 would come pre installed with Exact Audio Copy to allow the user to rip CD's to WAV or FLAC files.  I integrated it into the system to make it easy for the user to get started building their music library.

To setup the Music Server, the user just needs a Monitor that is HDMI or SVGA compatible, USB Keyboard and USB Mouse.  The Logitech K400 wireless keyboard trackpad combo is my favorite.  Makes it easy to use remotely.

It is designed to work with a user's external USB DAC of choice.  The issue is not all DAC's are created equal, and I consult with the user to try and pre-install the USB software driver before shipping.

If you want to access the library remotely there are also options for that.  Depends on what the user wants to do. One example is using the system to drive an external Squeezebox Touch for music replay from one library in multiple locations.

I recommend that any user has a separate drive for data backup.  Ripping CD's takes a long time and you do not want to have to start over again if the only drive goes bad.

Hopefully this is a start to the explanations you are looking for.

Early B.

Re: HAL's ideas thread for the MS-2 PC Music Server
« Reply #17 on: 28 Nov 2012, 07:44 pm »
Early B,
The MS-2 would come pre installed with Exact Audio Copy to allow the user to rip CD's to WAV or FLAC files.  I integrated it into the system to make it easy for the user to get started building their music library.

To setup the Music Server, the user just needs a Monitor that is HDMI or SVGA compatible, USB Keyboard and USB Mouse.  The Logitech K400 wireless keyboard trackpad combo is my favorite.  Makes it easy to use remotely.

It is designed to work with a user's external USB DAC of choice.  The issue is not all DAC's are created equal, and I consult with the user to try and pre-install the USB software driver before shipping.

If you want to access the library remotely there are also options for that.  Depends on what the user wants to do. One example is using the system to drive an external Squeezebox Touch for music replay from one library in multiple locations.

I recommend that any user has a separate drive for data backup.  Ripping CD's takes a long time and you do not want to have to start over again if the only drive goes bad.

Hopefully this is a start to the explanations you are looking for.

This is a great start. Thanks.

What does the simplest setup look like? Once the files have been stored on the MS-2, I assume it's MS-2 to USB DAC to preamp to amp. And the control of playback and volume is from a phone or tablet via bluetooth???? Do I need something like a Squeezebox for wireless connectivity? Is there a way to get around having a need for a keyboard, mouse, and monitor for song selection?

Can you describe your setup?

HAL

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Re: HAL's ideas thread for the MS-2 PC Music Server
« Reply #18 on: 28 Nov 2012, 08:04 pm »
Early B,
The way I use the MS-1 at this time, which will be true for the MS-2, is to place the MS-1 next to my listening position to use a 24" LED monitor to control playback via wireless keyboard and track pad.  a 15' USB cable goes from the MS-1 to a M2Tech Evo via I2S Bus to my DIY DAC.  The 1TB drive is with the MS-1 beside my location.

To make is easier I have also used a PC Netbook running Windows 7 and IE9 to remotely run the MS-1 and have random access to the music library.  This remote capability comes setup on Foobar2000 and just needs the MS-1 IP address to talk to the network.  It comes up as a webpage on the PC for remote control.

There is also an app for Android that allows remote control via an Android phone via playlists.  This is not random file selection.  Works if you like playlists.

Foobar2000 does support Apple products as remotes, but I have no way to verify the operation, so I do not install it.

I run Squeezebox Media Server on the MS-1 downstairs to remotely access the same music folder on my Touch in the upstairs system via my WiFi network.

The simplest setup is a MS-1/MS-2 with monitor, keyboard and mouse.  A USB DAC connected to the MS-1/MS-2 and to your preamp and system.     




HAL

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Re: HAL's ideas thread for the MS-2 PC Music Server
« Reply #19 on: 29 Nov 2012, 02:57 pm »
Had feedback from the mfg and did a test of the prototype unit I have for trials.   The system will accept 12VDC and 19VDC from the two switching supplies that I have.   Looks like 12VDC AGM battery power and some other battery chemistries should be possible.