Further on this, mainly for Shai and Mark, plus whomever else is intersted ...
The document you want to read is this one:
That gives you a step-by-step on how to take an ordinary Toshiba Windows 7 laptop, optimize the
system and software selection for a portable music server, and replace the hard drive with a
solid-state drive (which, as noted, would cost almost as much as the computer itself).
My 2 cents -- you can also do this with a desktop Windows computer, and have unlimited music storage
in the process. The way I'd do it is track down a CardDeluxe or other PCI audio card that has
AES/EBU output. For the CardDeluxe, you'd need to track down the AES/optical daughter-card, which
the manufacturer may still have in stock (they do not make the 2-channel PCI card anymore). Then you
can keep the noisy but rock-solid desktop hardware separate from your listening room, running
AES/EBU to your DAC. That's how I get audio from my studio up to my living room and it works very
well. If your cable run is short, for instance if the computer is in an equipment closet or on the
other side of a wall), you're fine using SPDIF 75-ohm cable.
My one nit-pick with the article is that I'm not sure you gain anything running the laptop on
batteries vs. keeping it plugged in. As I understand it, laptops ALWAYS run off the battery and the
power is equally clean and stable whether the battery is plugged into the charger or not. If someone
has science that refutes this, please present it because I would like more facts.
The advantage to a laptop setup is portability and self-contained-ness. The disadvantage is limited
music storage unless you are OK with a noisy external drive sitting right next to your silent
Another way to do this, which works well (and tests well, according to John Atkinson at Stereophile)
is use an external USB drive with a Logitech Squeezebox and then SPDIF to your DAC. You need a DAC
with good jitter-rejection like a Benchmark for this, but Atkinson's tests indicated that the
Logitech (which is a total bargain audio component, so much more than a file-streamer) does a good
job of USB-to-SPDIF conversion. You can also run Squeezebox server software on your computer with
alll your audio files and then they stream over your wifi or wired ethernet. My 2 cents on that is,
if you want high quality uninterrupted playback, you need to have a computer dedicated to being the
server and you need to streamline the Windows install. I have done both methods and prefer a hard
drive hooked up directly to the Squeezebox. The Squeezebox is OK with a Window-format drive, so I
can unplug occasionally to add or remove files using my computers.
Finally, if you have a good robust ethernet in your house, streaming music really doesn't use much
bandwidth. So you could have a network-attached drive in another room holding your music library and
stream to the foobar on the silent-running laptop.
I remember back about 15 years ago when I made a Linux-based music server that was controlled by my
Handspring-branded PalmPilot. Now THAT was a kludge! In comparison, the Windows 7 install described
in the newsletter link is a walk in the park.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Tom Fine" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 9:04 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Audio on computers
> Hey! Sorry about that. I got my answer. See below ...
> I can't vouch for everything in the white paper, but years of hard-learned lessons taught me long
> ago that everything you can do to streamline a Windows box, running as few processes at a time as
> possible, greatly improves audio performance. There's some interaction between audio, the CPU, the
> memory and the video circuitry. I'm not 100% clear on it all, but the less complex the computer's
> operating environemt can be made, the better the audio playback (and recording). This is why I
> stick with Windows XP in the studio -- it's a devil I know and I have both computers optimized to
> run it.
> Dear Tom,
> The white paper can be found on our website:
> Building an Absolute Fidelity Music Server is the latest paper.
> If you go to our newsletters: http://www.genesisloudspeakers.com/support_newsletters.html
> There are a couple of news letters with the older versions which may be on interest.
> Discussion about components and the process can be found here:
> Genesis Customer Service
> Genesis Customer Service
> Genesis Advanced Technologies, Inc.
> 654 S Lucile St
> Seattle, WA 98108
> Tel: 206-762-8383
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Mark Durenberger Mobile" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 8:15 AM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Audio on computers
>> Eagerly awaiting this follow-up. Meanwhile, pasted below is interesting information from the
>> Orban folks.
>> Mark Durenberger
>> On the Road
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Tom Fine
>> I forgot to mention that there is a "how to" page that came out of one of the audiophile forums,
>> including a recommendation of specific Toshiba laptop, how to disable all the crap in Windows 7
>> interferes with playback, how to tweek Foobar for best usability, etc.
>> I'll ask my friend who mentioned it for the specific link and report back if I get it.
>> FROM: Greg Ogonowski at Orban:
>> Just because audio is in the digital domain, you cannot assume that
>> digital-domain audio processors such as sample rate converters and
>> equalizers provide excellent performance. The Windows 7 and Windows Server
>> 2008 R2 Audio Kernel has a bug that can degrade its record sample rate
>> converter performance. I strongly urge any users of these operating systems
>> to update the Windows Audio Kernel with the Microsoft Hotfix that is
>> described and explained here:
>> In summary, the bug affects all audio record/capture/encoder applications
>> that use the Microsoft MME API. These applications include Audacity,
>> SoundForge, CoolEdit, older versions of Adobe Audition, and all streaming
>> encoders that do not include their own resampling. This problem appears when
>> the destination audio sample rate does not match the hardware sample rate.
>> This can be confusing because these parameters are set in the Windows 7
>> Sound Control Panel, under Device Properties/Advanced, and unless you know
>> to look there (which many production personnel will not), audio quality can
>> be compromised.
>> Testing sample rate converters requires paying attention to many details,
>> including what the audio hardware supports. Many do not know that the new
>> Microsoft WASAPI Audio API does not provide sample rate conversion, so
>> developers are required to include their own sample rate converters within
>> each application. Not all sample rate converter designs preserve the signal
>> to noise ratio of their input signals; some add nasty-sounding aliasing or
>> other junk. Choose your audio software wisely!
>> Here is an informative and revealing link to SRC Comparisons
>> After viewing this, you are likely to look at digital audio software much
>> more critically. I urge everyone to learn how to analyze and edit audio in
>> the spectral domain. Most audio editor packages offer this mode and some
>> amazing things can be done there.
>> I have worked with Microsoft to make this Hotfix available. This was a huge
>> effort. This is not a problem with Windows 8, but good luck with that for a
>> multitude of other reasons. We thank Microsoft for making this Hotfix
>> Greg Ogonowski