Is my computer a weak link?
Aug 30, 2020 at 6:12 AM Post #3 of 13

castleofargh

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The digital part of the playback chain shouldn't come close to the loss in fidelity caused by the analog part. And it usually doesn't. You'll find people who make a mountain of everything, but if you actually go and measure what happens to the signal at different points along the chain, most of the time you'll freak out about the results from the headphone itself and also from the noises in your room. The rest, if you don't have something defective, some serious ground loop issue, or some really bad settings, should end up in a far away third place.

So my answer to your question is another question and in line with what @ProtegeManiac is saying: are you bothered by the noise from the computer fans when you listen to music? That should tell you if you want to look for a quieter source or not.
 
Aug 30, 2020 at 6:39 AM Post #4 of 13

gimmeheadroom

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Is running my computer into my DAC/Amp affecting the overall sound quality of my system? Is it better to get a dedicated streamer? Thanks

What computer, what soundcard, what kind of connection to the dac? (usb, optical, coax)

Streamers are not about sound quality, they're about convenience and not having to use a PC or multiple players.
 
Aug 30, 2020 at 8:26 AM Post #5 of 13

vaduz488

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The digital part of the playback chain shouldn't come close to the loss in fidelity caused by the analog part. And it usually doesn't. You'll find people who make a mountain of everything, but if you actually go and measure what happens to the signal at different points along the chain, most of the time you'll freak out about the results from the headphone itself and also from the noises in your room. The rest, if you don't have something defective, some serious ground loop issue, or some really bad settings, should end up in a far away third place.

So my answer to your question is another question and in line with what @ProtegeManiac is saying: are you bothered by the noise from the computer fans when you listen to music? That should tell you if you want to look for a quieter source or not.
Thanks for the information. No, the fan doesn't bother me.
 
Aug 30, 2020 at 8:31 AM Post #7 of 13

gimmeheadroom

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Should not be a problem.
 
Aug 30, 2020 at 1:50 PM Post #8 of 13

Arniesb

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The digital part of the playback chain shouldn't come close to the loss in fidelity caused by the analog part. And it usually doesn't. You'll find people who make a mountain of everything, but if you actually go and measure what happens to the signal at different points along the chain, most of the time you'll freak out about the results from the headphone itself and also from the noises in your room. The rest, if you don't have something defective, some serious ground loop issue, or some really bad settings, should end up in a far away third place.

So my answer to your question is another question and in line with what @ProtegeManiac is saying: are you bothered by the noise from the computer fans when you listen to music? That should tell you if you want to look for a quieter source or not.
Shoulda coulda woulda... Lets just believe in theory whitout practice! I can run my laptop of battery and it still didnt sound anywhere near as clean my S9+.
With Ifi Reclocker it sound a lot cleaner like on my phone.
Always was wondering why usb sound terrible even on very good dacs.
 
Aug 30, 2020 at 10:38 PM Post #9 of 13

ProtegeManiac

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Thanks for the information. No, the fan doesn't bother me.
I have a late model Dell. Running USB A to USB B.

If you have a dB meter, or even just the phone app version, go to your seat and look at what it shows before running the computer, then look at it again with the computer running at idle.

If it goes any higher (ignore huge peaks, that can be some extraneous noise like a car driving past), then you may not hear the cooling system as a distinct noise source, but it's definitely there getting in the way of the music, especially the bass. Depending on how much processing power you need you could build a completely passive computer using the chassis as a heatsink, or an ultra low noise active cooling system in a BeQuiet or Fractal Design case with a door (so at idle and only listening ie low power mode, you can shut the door and use a custom fan curve), use a huge CPU cooler from BeQuiet or Noctua and keep the fans at minimum RPM (if you're using a Dell I assume you won't overclock anyway, although you might have a use for eight cores or more), and very generally the fattest graphics card you can get with 92mm fans (eg something like an ROG Strix cooler) and let it run at default fan curve or even a silent fan curve where even on video playback the fans don't suddenly ramp up and otherwise likely don't run.

This assumes of course that you actually just sit down to listen. If you're typing while listening there's no amount of silent cooling that will make that keyboard and mouse quiet, nor make you put 100% of your attention span on listening.
 
Aug 31, 2020 at 6:50 AM Post #11 of 13

ProtegeManiac

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Thanks so much for the reply but I'm afraid you lost me after the first few words.

Basically I'm saying you might want to build your own computer, either

I. A low processing power, low power consumption computer built in a case like this https://streacom.com/products/db4-fanless-chassis/. Those patterns on the case increase the surface area without affecting the case footprint, like the heatsinks on the flanks of a power amp chassis, and goes all the way around that case. On the inside of the case is a copper pipe with some fluid inside that will evaporate as it gets hot then goes back the tube and so on and so forth to make heat transfer from the CPU and the graphics chip to the chassis. If you won't need processing power of a CPU that goes over 65watts, like on an AMD R5 3600 (no "X" suffix), then as long as your room isn't left to be a sweaty hot box in summer then this should run most applications well enough. That CPU already has six cores. Pair it with something like an NVidia GTX 1650, which as long as it doesn't boost will only use 75watts (it won't boost any farther depending on how hot it runs), and you'd have enough graphics processing power.

There are AMD APUs with the CPU and GPU cores in the same die but they're only sold to OEMs like Dell and Lenovo, and chances are they'd put a bargain basement CPU cooler with a tiny fan on it that isn't good even for a fan that size. If you can get a desktop with such a chip for cheap, you could transfer the motherboard to any case with at least two 120mm intake fans and put a larger cooler on the APU.


II. A high performance computer with a beefy cooling system in case you actually need more processing power, like this thing here.
FB_30.png


1. That case has a closed off front panel with the front lined with sound deadening material so you won't hear the fans as the dampening absorbs most of the soundwaves, plus three 120mm fan slots (fans not included on this one) that draw air from those side slots. The problem with this particular case is that front panel is fixed, as this is more of a gaming-focused compact case at a lower price tier, but the higher tier cases from this brand and at least one other has a door. If you're running an app that really hammers your computer then you can open the door so the fans can pull in more air; if you're just listening, use the silent fan profile (that you need to set on the motherboard's fan controller software) that maxes out at just above the minimum speed the fans can run at and keep the door closed.

Here's the higher tier case with a door on the front. You can see the open door and the sound dampening. Not in pic: the default config side panel isn't glass but a steel panel with sound dampening material.
1598868288314.png


These cases can also fit 140mm fans, and generally the larger the fan the higher the air volume it can move at lower rpm, so given a similar fan design, will move more air, though in some instances it may decrease pressure. Either way these are better than the 92mm intake fans on OEM computers, if they even have one on the chassis to pull air from outside (and if they do it's usually just one below the graphics card, which then leaves the CPU cooler less air or hotter air to work with. The fans he uses in this case are about as quiet as you can get but there are fans out there that can move more air for not much more noise though.

Not visible due to that shroud on the bottom: if you build your own PC you can get a power supply that has better components that can run more efficiently and so give off less waste heat; when they do need active cooling, they're not using 80mm fans as on OEMs, they'll use 120mm fans that at low loads won't even run (like Corsair RMx power supplies).

2. That massive CPU cooler has all those nickel-plated copper pipes (you can see the tops peeking through the top plate) for transferring heat from the CPU to the massive fins, with all that surface area so you can use the sheer mass more than easily saturating it then blowing away the heat with air, and even with the best fans the higher the volume of air being moved (more so if you also need to pressurize it so it moves at a higher velocity) the higher the noise level. If the dissipation area can absorb more heat then it won't be as dependent on air flow (this cooler is probably past the limit of this being effective though).

Also it's right up against the rear exhaust fan so it's more likely to suck air not just from the case but the hot air that has gone through the CPU cooler. I'd personally use the alternate version of this case with a mesh front panel and full open up top and put another fan there, but I use my Android as a fanless music server so I don't need my PC to be as close to totally silent as possible (it just needs to be quiet enough for me to not hear it above the background music on some games, though my case has a door that I can close when I'm watching a movie, even with two exhaust fans on it).

3. This graphics card isn't even using a huge cooler on there by default; he ripped out the stock cooler and put on an aftermarket cooler with six of those copper pipes like the ones on the CPU cooler (the better cards might have six but not as long so they may not be connected to as many dissipation fins) and can fit two 120mm case fans on the cooler. And larger fans = more air for less noise, and whenever you have enough space for something like this the 120mm GPU cooler fans would likely barely spin if you don't crank up the limits on the graphics card and let its own software actually crank things down.

This might be too complex an operation for you on your first computer though so feel free to just go with something like this:
1598870895038.png

1598870909297.png


One sort of issue though: these are using AMD graphics chips and their software has too many issues. Might want to look into a similar NVidia-based product.


Also, when I'm listening on my PC should I turn the volume on the computer and on Qobuz to 100% or is something like 50% ok? Thanks again!

If you have an external amplifier use that to control output and leave Windows all other software at 100%.
 
Aug 31, 2020 at 2:20 PM Post #12 of 13

buke9

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Thanks so much for the reply but I'm afraid you lost me after the first few words. Also, when I'm listening on my PC should I turn the volume on the computer and on Qobuz to 100% or is something like 50% ok? Thanks again!
I always run my computer volume on max and adjust my volume on my amp.
 

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