Small Green Computer (SGC) i5 server

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JLM

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Small Green Computer (SGC) i5 server
« on: 27 Dec 2018, 12:55 pm »
Background: been at this roughly 50 years, a "certified" computer dummy, have a very nice dedicated room with mid-field setup and recently have done a system upgrade to JBL 708P active reference studio monitors ($4000/pair MSRP, controlled directivity tweeter, 8" ported woofer) and PS Audio DirectStream Junior (DSJ) DAC/preamp/streamer.  Still using a MacBook Air/iTunes/10ft USB cable setup for my source.  Although very satisfied with the sound, felt like the MacBook/etc. was the weak link based on all the reviews that inferred that servers are at least a couple of sonic steps up from a PC.

After several emails back and forth I purchased an i5 sonic transport (STi5) with 1 TB SSD and Roon trial from Andrew on their Black Friday sale ($917 shipped plus future cost of Roon).  Received it the following Wednesday but needed help to get it to work.  Andrew led me by the hand including remote takeover of my MacBook, transferring my ALAC ripped CDs on iTunes and Tidal favorites via my wireless network (which included a HomePage/ethernet connection to the SGC).  (Somehow my 153 GB library only took up 6% of the SSD.)  Unfortunately never learned how to transfer additional library files over.

Used my MacBook to control the STi5/Roon and it worked well (able to disconnect my 10ft USB cable).  But after 2 weeks it didn't sound any different than the MacBook setup.  Then Andrew told me that was to be expected and to get better sound would require spending $1399 more (at holiday pricing) for ultraRendu, converter box to allow I2S input to the DSJ, and 2 power supplies.  Felt like a bait and switch scheme as I'd clearly told him I was after improved sound quality, low cost, and simple ownership.  5 boxes, 6 cables, and $2800 total cost was definitely not what I'd signed up for, so I returned the STi5.  Andrew processed the refund promptly.

I'll keep an eye open for my ideal solution, but have lost much of my interest in music servers, and frankly enjoy having a simpler, cheaper source and the long USB cable doesn't bother me.

nc42acc

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Re: Small Green Computer (SGC) i5 server
« Reply #1 on: 27 Dec 2018, 01:11 pm »
Wow sorry to hear about your disappointment with your SGC i5 purchase. My experience was just the opposite which is not uncommon in audiophile land. I purchased the sonicTransporter i7 and use a NAS drive to hold my music files and use a microRendu. This has been one of the biggest audio improvements I have made. This replaced a Aurender N10.

JLM

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Re: Small Green Computer (SGC) i5 server
« Reply #2 on: 27 Dec 2018, 02:19 pm »
Gee, wish you'd posted a review of the STi7.  What power supply did you use with the microRendu?

Perhaps Andrew aimed too high for my budget by suggesting the bundled ultraRendu, converter, and 2 power supplies. 

As a "speaker guy" I'm a believer that source only provides a small percentage of the overall system sound quality.

Delta77

Re: Small Green Computer (SGC) i5 server
« Reply #3 on: 27 Dec 2018, 03:25 pm »
Following..
Needing to upgrade from a simple Apple TV4 .. But don't want to waste money, and or be FRUSTRATED with my purchase..

lokie

Re: Small Green Computer (SGC) i5 server
« Reply #4 on: 27 Dec 2018, 03:40 pm »
I don't see any fouls here. Andrew is in the business to sell his computers. Its a good product but is kind of a "premium" solution. If you were emphasizing better sound quality, then Small Green Computer is a proven and solid choice... but it comes at a price.

If you want to value engineer this, then, you kind of went about this backwards. You should buy the renderer/microrendu (ultra or otherwise) and then worry about the "premium" storage/ computer. If you don't have an unlimited budget , then your going to have to make some decisions besides the highest end stuff... its kind of like buying a $1000 power cord and then complaining about the $8000 preamp that you have to buy to make the power cord work right.

Since you have a PS Audio direct stream... does that have dsd and corresponding I2S connections??... I think. If that's the case and you want to stream DSD... that will dictate what kind of hardware you need.  To get ROON working on that correctly, your going to need a pretty strong compooder. 

I could go into what I do (which is valued engineered and sounding marvelous... and waay above the Mac Mini/Itunes I used to roll with)  but it so different from powered speaker and the  PS Audio sound, I'm not sure its relevant. I can tell you that streaming w microrendu and roon/tidal is pure joy and the most fun I've had listening to music.

 



nc42acc

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Re: Small Green Computer (SGC) i5 server
« Reply #5 on: 27 Dec 2018, 04:01 pm »
The only reason I went with the i7 is to have the ability to upsample HQplayer but have yet to get the settings right. I am using the Ifi power supply, I posted elsewhere it is as good or better than most of the super high price LPS you see for sell. Since you already have Roon you could try a Allo or SoTM bridge for less than a SGC microRendu. I am also using a Curious Cable regen link USB cable so it is super short. I am perfectly satisfied with the results I have achieved.

Gee, wish you'd posted a review of the STi7.  What power supply did you use with the microRendu?

Perhaps Andrew aimed too high for my budget by suggesting the bundled ultraRendu, converter, and 2 power supplies. 

As a "speaker guy" I'm a believer that source only provides a small percentage of the overall system sound quality.

Peter J

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Re: Small Green Computer (SGC) i5 server
« Reply #6 on: 27 Dec 2018, 04:12 pm »
I don't see any fouls here. Andrew is in the business to sell his computers. Its a good product but is kind of a "premium" solution. If you were emphasizing better sound quality, then Small Green Computer is a proven and solid choice... but it comes at a price.

If you want to value engineer this, then, you kind of went about this backwards. You should buy the renderer/microrendu (ultra or otherwise) and then worry about the "premium" storage/ computer. If you don't have an unlimited budget , then your going to have to make some decisions besides the highest end stuff... its kind of like buying a $1000 power cord and then complaining about the $8000 preamp that you have to buy to make the power cord work right.

Since you have a PS Audio direct stream... does that have dsd and corresponding I2S connections??... I think. If that's the case and you want to stream DSD... that will dictate what kind of hardware you need.  To get ROON working on that correctly, your going to need a pretty strong compooder. 

I could go into what I do (which is valued engineered and sounding marvelous... and waay above the Mac Mini/Itunes I used to roll with)  but it so different from powered speaker and the  PS Audio sound, I'm not sure its relevant. I can tell you that streaming w microrendu and roon/tidal is pure joy and the most fun I've had listening to music.

 


Lokie, I'd be interested in reading more about your solution.

 I think there are many here who are looking for the "next step" with their own computer based music system and other's analysis and experience is always helpful.



Tomy2Tone

Re: Small Green Computer (SGC) i5 server
« Reply #7 on: 27 Dec 2018, 04:26 pm »
I’m currently using a 2012 Mac mini i7 quad core with an ultraRendu and would love to move the Mac to a more dedicated computer use and go with the SGC i7 as I upsample with roon. The price increase with going with SGC is what keeps holding me back, for $2k I would hope it would be a great improvement over the mini.

nc42acc

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Re: Small Green Computer (SGC) i5 server
« Reply #8 on: 27 Dec 2018, 04:43 pm »
Personally I think breaking the USB link from PC to DAC makes the biggest difference. You already have that with the ultraRendu. Maybe borrow a fellow audiophiles server to see if there is an improvement.

I’m currently using a 2012 Mac mini i7 quad core with an ultraRendu and would love to move the Mac to a more dedicated computer use and go with the SGC i7 as I upsample with roon. The price increase with going with SGC is what keeps holding me back, for $2k I would hope it would be a great improvement over the mini.

ricmon

Re: Small Green Computer (SGC) i5 server
« Reply #9 on: 27 Dec 2018, 07:10 pm »
Ok I know I'm BADH  :deadhorse:  but being a bit of a DIY computer guy I must offer up my same old solution.  Get a low cost PC like one of these:

https://www.newegg.com/Chromebox-Desktops-Mini-PCs/PromotionStore/ID-2047763

Get a copy of Daphile for FREE!!!

https://www.daphile.com/

Don't get to caught up in audio-foolery about power supplies, vibration and such.

Next get something like the ISOREGEN from Uptone:

https://uptoneaudio.com/products/iso-regen

Play around with Daphile a bit and you'll find a lot more features then are listed on the web site.

Ric  :thumb:

lokie

Re: Small Green Computer (SGC) i5 server
« Reply #10 on: 27 Dec 2018, 07:25 pm »
Ok I know I'm BADH  :deadhorse:  but being a bit of a DIY computer guy I must offer up my same old solution.  Get a low cost PC like one of these:

https://www.newegg.com/Chromebox-Desktops-Mini-PCs/PromotionStore/ID-2047763

Get a copy of Daphile for FREE!!!

https://www.daphile.com/

Don't get to caught up in audio-foolery about power supplies, vibration and such.

Next get something like the ISOREGEN from Uptone:

https://uptoneaudio.com/products/iso-regen

Play around with Daphile a bit and you'll find a lot more features then are listed on the web site.

Ric  :thumb:
The problem w your suggestion is.... the OP has to tell us if he plans to stream hi rez. If he is into hi rez, then by the time you price out I7's and ram and etc that will allow DSD streaming, then you are at the same price as a ROON ROCK or even getting close to Green Computers.
The power supply is important but you dont have to go w the most expensive.

My system is in my profile here. I don't do hi rez and have optimized my digital playback accordingly. Hi Rez dictates a whole different set of decisions... from computer processing power, to the chip in the DAC, to the SPDIF/USB converter and on and on. It really is two different animals and whole nudder subject.


JohnR

Re: Small Green Computer (SGC) i5 server
« Reply #12 on: 27 Dec 2018, 07:29 pm »
The problem w your suggestion is.... the OP has to tell us if he plans to stream hi rez. If he is into hi rez, then by the time you price out I7's and ram and etc that will allow DSD streaming, then you are at the same price as a ROON ROCK or even getting close to Green Computers.

Um, you don't need an i7 to stream hi-rez (or DSD).
:)

ricmon

Re: Small Green Computer (SGC) i5 server
« Reply #13 on: 27 Dec 2018, 07:40 pm »
The problem w your suggestion is.... the OP has to tell us if he plans to stream hi rez. If he is into hi rez, then by the time you price out I7's and ram and etc that will allow DSD streaming, then you are at the same price as a ROON ROCK or even getting close to Green Computers.
The power supply is important but you dont have to go w the most expensive.

My system is in my profile here. I don't do hi rez and have optimized my digital playback accordingly. Hi Rez dictates a whole different set of decisions... from computer processing power, to the chip in the DAC, to the SPDIF/USB converter and on and on. It really is two different animals and whole nudder subject.

I'm running a AMD A4-6300 Richland Dual-Core 3.7 GHz with  8 gig of RAM using 4 GIG as a playback buffer with no performance problems...although I plan to add 8 more gig....just for headroom.  BTW I stream DSD128 as well.

Meant to post this link originally.

https://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=100019096%20600337533%20600373488%20600337532%20600337530%204814%20600014654&IsNodeId=1

Ric

Rusty Jefferson

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Re: Small Green Computer (SGC) i5 server
« Reply #14 on: 27 Dec 2018, 10:13 pm »
JLM, is there a reason you haven't simply networked the PSA Jr with the installed bridge II? 

You would place your music on a small dedicated NAS, install the Roon software on your laptop (or any computer on the network) , and connect the dac via ethernet. Done.

You'd be ready to pull music from the NAS, stream Tidal, whatever.  The network connectivity is the primary advantage of the PSA dacs.


WGH

Re: Small Green Computer (SGC) i5 server
« Reply #15 on: 28 Dec 2018, 12:02 am »
Unfortunately, achieving excellent, almost analog quality sound using a computer in neither cheap or easy.

I started with a cheap Intel Pine Trail Mini-ITX motherboard with an Atom D525 (1.8GHz, dual core) processor, a Samsung solid state drive and 4GB ram.
Install Windows 10 and JRiver and it will play even hi-rez files flawlessly (never tried DSD, don't have any). The sound is good, probably comparable to a Mac mini or a Small Green Computer.

Now the hard, complicated part is achieving excellent sound.
First you need a dedicated audiophile USB card with a separate linear regulated power supply like the Paul Pang USB;
Second the solid state drive also needs it's own linear regulated power supply, another power supply for the MB is optional.
Third is a quality USB cable like the JMaxwell

All my music is stored on another computer and the two computers are connected by ethernet. I don't stream off the internet, I like to keep my monthly payments as low as possible.

The sound quality is sublime, great dynamics, tight bass, clean and clear mids and highs through my Salk HT2-TL speakers. The numerous separate power supplies keep electronic noise to a minimum and lets the music breath.

Another discovery is the popular USB filters like the Audioquest Jitterbug and the Uptone Audio USB Regen are no longer needed and actually make the sound worse, which my buddies in our Tucson Audiophile group found out after they upgraded their computers too.

I realize this is a lot, lot more involved than JLM wants to get into but anything less is just a sideways move. Keeping what you have and making it work is probably the best option.

Or, if you are itching for a change and know nothing about computers, want ease of use along with plug-and play and great support call Jim Salk and talk about this Streamplayers.



lokie

Re: Small Green Computer (SGC) i5 server
« Reply #16 on: 28 Dec 2018, 12:14 am »
Um, you don't need an i7 to stream hi-rez (or DSD).
 :)
Right.  I see now the OP has a 153 GB in music.

My situation is much different and I shouldn't impose my problems on someone else. Let me just say, with a large catalog and running ROON, and streaming DSD, I would use an I7.
 
I'm running a AMD A4-6300 Richland Dual-Core 3.7 GHz with  8 gig of RAM using 4 GIG as a playback buffer with no performance problems...although I plan to add 8 more gig....just for headroom.  BTW I stream DSD128 as well.

Meant to post this link originally.

https://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=100019096%20600337533%20600373488%20600337532%20600337530%204814%20600014654&IsNodeId=1

Ric
OK whats the summary here? That linear power supplies aren't necessary? Thats great. Save more money. That would be the first time I've seen anyone with that conclusion. I always thought the expensive ones were nonsense but I thought the cheaper ones were probably a good thing and at least keep noise out of the lines for the other components. .

audio.bill

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Re: Small Green Computer (SGC) i5 server
« Reply #17 on: 28 Dec 2018, 12:32 am »
While it's true that you don't need the latest high speed i7 processor with additional memory to be able to stream DSD, to run HQPlayer converting all files to high rate DSD with the best filters in real time is a very processor intensive task which does require such resources. So if you have a DAC which is optimized for best performance with high rate DSD and you wish to run HQPlayer to maximize its performance your processor requirements are at a completely different level than if you just want to stream PCM and DSD in their native resolutions.

JLM

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Re: Small Green Computer (SGC) i5 server
« Reply #18 on: 28 Dec 2018, 11:11 am »
JLM, is there a reason you haven't simply networked the PSA Jr with the installed bridge II? 

You would place your music on a small dedicated NAS, install the Roon software on your laptop (or any computer on the network) , and connect the dac via ethernet. Done.

You'd be ready to pull music from the NAS, stream Tidal, whatever.  The network connectivity is the primary advantage of the PSA dacs.

Answer: ignorance, wanting a super simple system, and being a 'certified' computer dummy (so I have no idea how to setup/maintain a NAS).  I thought the ethernet input/streaming function built into the DSJ would provide SQ improvements with a 'plain' server.  Now I'm confused at all the options and reviews out there. 

vortecjr

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Re: Small Green Computer (SGC) i5 server
« Reply #19 on: 28 Dec 2018, 01:08 pm »
Answer: ignorance, wanting a super simple system, and being a 'certified' computer dummy (so I have no idea how to setup/maintain a NAS).  I thought the ethernet input/streaming function built into the DSJ would provide SQ improvements with a 'plain' server.  Now I'm confused at all the options and reviews out there.
sonicTransporter is a network storage device with server software for local playback and streaming. The great thing about it is that Andrew manages the software for you and when updated come along you just press a button to get them. You still need to move your content into the unit via the network. Even though it plays music locally its not optimized for sound quality. Andrew recommended streaming to a Rendu because its optimized for local playback via it's USB output. If the network storage device concept is not good for you to manage then stick with a standard computer and player software running on it. Your DAC will accept USB input or streaming via it's network input both from Roon or JRiver. However, its computer audio after all so you need to learn the basics.