XXHighEnd - The Ultra HighEnd Audio Player
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Author Topic: General Description of the XXHighEnd PC  (Read 9515 times)
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PeterSt
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« on: October 09, 2013, 10:49:43 am »



Edit, May 2016 :

Although at the moment of this writing still a handful of these PC's is left, it is to be regarded obsolete and replaced by the XXHighEnd PC MachII LPS.



Edit, March 2016 :

At this moment, and for the time being, the XXHighEnd PC will be shipped with :

- a 2.5" hdd with Windows 8 Pro, Windows 10 Pro Build 10074, Windows 10 Pro Build 10565, Windows 10 Pro Build 10586.0.
In general terms this is named the RAM OS Disk; all mentioned OSes boot from RAM (at your choice, otherwise normally from disk).

The 500GB hdd as well as the 2.5" SSD will not be part of the shipment any more.

The (still silent) dedicated (and analog rev-controlled) chassis fans will not be electrically connected (hence won't be operative by default), but they can be connected when wanted.

Reason for this strategy change :

At first the XXHighEnd PC was meant to cover for all the needs for Audio Playback, including the housing of the music itself, by means of hdd or by means of USB connections. This strategy has changed (for the better SQ of course) into :

a. Connect as few as possible to the Audio PC (which means totally nothing);
b. Have the music somewhere behind the LAN (another PC or a NAS etc.).

Ad a.
The provided hdd, by default boots the Operating System into RAM. After that, the hdd can be removed from its removable (and hot-pluggable) bay.
Do notice that all the provisions are there to apply changes - now performed in RAM - to permanent storage (re-mount the W10 hdd and let XXHighEnd apply the changes).

The XXHighEnd PC will be shipped with XXHighEnd 2.05 (or higher) - needed to support the "Windows 10 from RAM";
You don't need to do anything to let this all work and booting will automatically be to/from RAM. Tutorials to let all work seamlessly with the music behind the LAN somewhere, are available.

Please take into account the (over-ruling) above, while reading the below.


All,

This is the first topic in the today new XXHighEnd PC Board. It sort of announces the availability of the XXHighEnd PC for purchase, although it is sold for a year and a half already. Price is 2045 euros including the Windows 8 Pro Operating System (in the language to your likings). NOS1 customers pay 1975 euros. All ex VAT and shipping.

The XXHighEnd PC was first "designed" February 2012 for local 6Moons reviewers who liked to have very best PC for audio playback under windows. The "XXHighEnd PC" came from that.
Actually because of all the work involved (took months) I decided to commercialize it, or better put : to make it available since we are all hunting for such a PC anyway, and this is just it, regarding my own specs for audio playback.

It is not to the most extreme, like it could have a linear PSU and much more, but I wanted to keep it affordable and "crazy" at the same time. And so I think it is. It is for its processing power (about the fastest available), combined with the "audio rack form factor" (hence fairly small) and totally silent in the mean time. Quite some tricks provide the latter, not the least through XXHighEnd itself (XTweaks settings).

Besides maybe the lack of time, I only today created this sheer "commercial" topic about the PC because I merely liked to have it hidden, knowing that this is not our core business and possibly too many people wanting it. This is related to its price which is way on the low side, against all the work to do to get it up and running. To summarize this, for something I myself call a lousy 660 euros we build this PC from the ground up, install the OS, configure that with more than 300 items (Windows 8 400) for XXHighEnd, configure XXHighEnd to match the Phasure NOS1 DAC, and play some music through it.
And purchase the always changing components which need to be on (same !) spec at all times.

So yes, actually we commercialized it for Phasure NOS1 new owners who don't know a thing about Windows PCs, or for those owning a NOS1 who found that their beloved Mac + playback software lacks more than what is needed for the ultimate joy in music reproduction (and again are new to Windows).

Meanwhile, it has been proven sufficiently enough by now that people who indeed are unfamilar with Windows, can obtain this PC, connect a few cables, press the power button, click an icon saying "XXHighEnd" and press the play button in there. Do notice that it really works like this once there's a NOS1 connected to it, and we thus could prepare all exactly to your usage.
And in a 18 months of time we saw no complaints or difficulties anywhere.

Please notice : The XXHighEnc PC comes as described. Of course, all sorts of combinations with other HDDs etc. etc. are possible, but for the time involved we can not do this. So for example, when you'd like a larger SSD, all you'd do is throw out 60 euros or so for the one provided, while you take all the necessary time to find that one you want.

High Resolution link XXHighEnd PC 25

The maybe mere reason to open a dedicated board for this PC is because by now many people use this exact PC. But because it's actually over 18 months in "evolution", tweaks start to emerge which can benefit all. And now the forum is useful as always, not only to share found tweaks, but also to just ask questions. No difference with the XXHighEnd software, and no difference with the Phasure NOS1 DAC.
Thus, where people already tweak their own (to the others unknown !) PC for the better sound which can be "vague" for the general solution, I foresee that people with the exact same PC will be able to make progression faster. Again no difference with the software.

We think the XXHigEnd PC is special because of its build which fully anticipates XXHighEnd's SQ features. And this goes way beyond what a random PC can do (although they could exist by chance of course). You will learn about this more below.

High Resolution link XXHighEnd PC 23

Here it is. Our super workhorse for the 12 core hyperthreaded) i7 / 3930K processor.
16 core processor available as (expensive) option.

With this and the above picture in mind, we might right away think "oh, so we need a crazy processor for this all ?". Well, actually yes. But not for the reasons you might expect. So, even when XXHighEnd plays at a rate of 32/768 the cpu usage is virtually zero. But all is about how fast things can be done in between audio playback, which is several and related to that playback itself, while in the mean time SQ must be sustained, let alone ticks and such should happen. This merely is about the whole (processor) architecture than about speed. And to give an example right away : all plays perfectly well with this PC underclocked to a processor clock frequency of 500Mhz (which is 0.5GHz). Still a virtual 0% cpu usage during playback. But the fact that this works implies a lot to audio SQ. This is about less noise and all the many things we try to tweak for the better.
In the mean time you can overclock to well over 4GHz just the same, and not to say the least : in real time (outside of the BIOS). Aha ...



High Resolution link XXHighEnd PC 11

Front cover opens nicely by pushing the little arrow at the bottom-right.

High Resolution link XXHighEnd PC 10

High Resolution link XXHighEnd PC 15


Below a few pictures in normal light and with some further explanation.


High Resolution link XXHighEnd PC 06

Here we see the 3 removable HDD (hot-pluggable) bays. 2 for 3.5" disks (can each be 4TB today) and one for 2.5".
At delivery, the top 3.5" bay is filled with a fast 500GB or 1TB "Playback Drive" (SATAIII / 64MB cache) disk, and the 2.5" bay contains the fastest 60GB SSD available (550MB read / 520MB Write).
Internally there's the 2.5" OS disk 320GB (7200rpm), partitioned with 90GB for the Operating System, the remainder being free.

Notice that the didks in the removable bays must always be ejected like USB before they are removed.

Above the 2.5" bay there's a DVD ROM reader/burner.

You see 2 USB2 connectors plus 2 USB3 connectors as well.

There's a headphone and microphone connection for the internal (Realtek) audio device.

The power button is the the blue one underneath the cover.


High Resolution link XXHighEnd PC 14

Let's go from left to right;

First there's the PS2 connections for Keyboard and Mouse (Keyboard and Mouse are not part of the delivery). These are to avoid USB interaction - better for SQ. So, get yourself a Keyboard and Mouse with these connections (USB-PS2 converters are not always compatible !).

Next to that is a reset button (CLR CMOS) to flash a few things never to flash (but see manual).

Under that we find a Toslink connection for the internal audio device. You won't need it.
Same for SPDIF out above it.

Next 2 USB3 ports, then 2 USB2 ports, and from bottom to top another 2 USB2 ports, and Ethernet.

The red connections are from bottom to top eSata, Firewire and again 2 USB2 ports.

The next section are the outputs of the 7.1 (Realtek) internal audio device. There's microphone connections as well. Can all be used, but if all is right you won't.

Next we see the outputs of the passively cooled video card (Asus G210 1024MB DDR3 low power extremely well "HTCP" capable). At the top there's a VGA connector for any analog monitor. Under that a HDMI output for a digital display / beamer etc., with the notice that through this output another multi channel audio device is available (don't use).
At the bottom there's a DVI connector for digital displays / projectors.

In the next slot we see knobs to analogly (no noise impeding pulse width modulation) control the 3 chassis fans. If all is right they can always be to the complete left setting, since no heat builds up in there anyway, so the fans operate completely silent at 200-300rpm.

At the right side there's the actively cooled power supply, but this too is totally silent. Watching closely you see the blue silicon washers to take out vibration of the supply, would it vibrate. More of these are used in the inside.
The power supply is 530W with the notice this is way oversized, but necessary to fulfill the amount of supply cables needed.

High Resolution link XXHighEnd PC 20

This is what you get when all the needed parts / boxes are spread on the floor.

High Resolution link XXHighEnd PC 00

Our Micro ATX work horse with the standard i7 / 3930K processor hidden under the cooler.

High Resolution link XXHighEnd PC 24

Under the cooler there's one half of the Noctua cooling fan (the other half comes on top).
In front 2 of the matched 4GB 2400 memory modules (totalling 16GB).


High Resolution link XXHighEnd PC 22

Nice top view.
The capacitors are special long-life ones. Here extremely long-life, because all runs so cool.

High Resolution link XXHighEnd PC 21

Here you see the "Extreme Tuning Facility" from the ASRock Extreme 4-M motherboard, which allows for overclocking / underclocking in real time. The screenshot shows how even at a continuous 4GHz clockspeed the temperature is 37 degrees Celcius / 98 degrees Fahrenheit only. Mind you, all totally silent (under 19dBA).


General applications, XXHighEnd dedicated

The Playback Drive feature can be exploited by means of the 3.5" and 2.5" swappable hot-plug drive bays. So, very easy to try different brands/types of HDDs or SSDs. One HDD and one SSD are in there for the purpose. Of course USB2/3 can be used for Playback Drive just the same.

The fastest Gallery access comes through the provided SSD.

The swappable bays can again be used to stuff in different Operating System disks.

The USB3 ports can be used to utilize the OS from bootable USB(3).

The USB3 ports can be used to rather infinitely extend your music collection (when needed through USB3 hubs).

When the drive bays are not used for other purposes, the internal additional storage for music can be 9TB (2x 4TB and 1x 1TB for the 2.5" bay).

The PC is totally silent in all circumstances even when overclocked to over 4GHz; when more overclocking is needed and things start to heat up, there's a sheer infinite headroom on the fans (in normal operation they are all at their lowest revs possible).

The PC can be severely underclocked for better electrical noise and SQ behaviour. All runs hands in pockets at 500MHz (instead of the standard 3200MHz).
A large deal of this fashion can be done in real time.
On top of this are the XXHighEnd XTweaks settings, which are all CPU related.

At this moment of writing (October 2013), the PC and due XXHighEnd version can be setup for seemless connection to NAS or other (PC) means for music storage, anticipating a minimalist setup in the XXHighEnd PC itself. Today this is the OS disk for the best SQ (USB3 pen does not imply the best SQ). The LAN connection needed for this is actively shut down and put up by the XXHighEnd software, so that during Playback no connection is there at all (you could pull the cable if you like).

The 16GB supplied matched memory modules (4x4GB) easily allows for RAMDisk applications for the XXHighEnd programs on one side and the Playback Drive feature on the other - all in sufficient amount while the Straight Contiguous Memory feature (with max of SFS= ~470) of XXHighEnd is in use.

The BIOS allows for tweaking the C1, C2 and C3 power saving states, where each combination is possible except all of them being active together (notice we're talking about when Playback is in order). To have C1 (only) active is not advised - C2 only is.

« Last Edit: May 15, 2016, 10:17:04 am by PeterSt » Logged

For the Stealth III LPS PC :
W10-14393.0 - April 1, 2020 (2.11)
XXHighEnd Mach III Stealth LPS PC -> Xeon Scalable 14/28 core with Hyperthreading On (set to *14/28* cores in BIOS and set to 10/20 cores via Boot Menu) @~660MHz, 48GB, Windows 10 Pro 64 bit build 14393.0 from RAM, music on LAN / Engine#4 Adaptive Mode / Q1/-/3/4/5 = *14*/-/1/1/1/ Q1Factor = *1* / Dev.Buffer = 4096 / ClockRes = 15ms / Memory = Straight Contiguous / Include Garbage Collect / SFS = *10.19*  (max *10.19*) / not Invert / Phase Alignment Off / Playerprio = Low / ThreadPrio = Realtime / Scheme = Core 3-5 / Not Switch Processors during Playback = Off/ Playback Drive none (see OS from RAM) / UnAttended (Just Start) / Always Copy to XX Drive (see OS from RAM) / Stop Desktop, Remaining, WASAPI and W10 services / Use Remote Desktop / Keep LAN - Not Persist / WallPaper On / OSD Off (!) / Running Time Off / Minimize OS / XTweaks : Balanced Load = *52* / Nervous Rate = 10 / Cool when Idle = n.a / Provide Stable Power = 0 / Utilize Cores always = 1 / Time Performance Index = Optimal / Time Stability = Stable / *Arc Prediction Filtering (16x)* / Always Clear Proxy before Playback = On -> USB3 from MoBo -> Lush^2*A:B-W-Y-R, B:B-W-R* USB 1m00 -> Phisolator 24/768 Phasure NOS1a/G3 75B (BNC Out) async USB DAC, Driver v1.0.4b (16ms) -> B'ASS Current Amplifier -> *Blaxius^2 A:B-R, B:B-R* Interlink -> Orelo MKII Active Open Baffle Horn Speakers. *ET^2* Ethernet from Mach III to Music Server PC (RDC Control).
Removed Switching Supplies from everywhere (also from the PC).

For a general PC :
W10-10586.0 - May 2016 (2.05+)
*XXHighEnd PC -> I7 3930k with Hyperthreading On (12 cores)* @~500MHz, 16GB, Windows 10 Pro 64 bit build 10586.0 from RAM, music on LAN / Engine#4 Adaptive Mode / Q1/-/3/4/5 = 14/-/1/1/1 / Q1Factor = 1 / Dev.Buffer = 4096 / ClockRes = 1ms / Memory = Straight Contiguous / Include Garbage Collect / SFS = 0.10  (max 60) / not Invert / Phase Alignment Off / Playerprio = Low / ThreadPrio = Realtime / Scheme = Core 3-5 / Not Switch Processors during Playback = Off/ Playback Drive none (see OS from RAM) / UnAttended (Just Start) / Always Copy to XX Drive (see OS from RAM) / All Services Off / Keep LAN - Not Persist / WallPaper On / OSD On / Running Time Off / Minimize OS / XTweaks : Balanced Load = *43* / Nervous Rate = 1 / Cool when Idle = 1 / Provide Stable Power = 1 / Utilize Cores always = 1 / Time Performance Index = *Optimal* / Time Stability = *Stable* / Custom Filter *Low* 705600 / -> USB3 *from MoBo* -> Clairixa USB 15cm -> Intona Isolator -> Clairixa USB 1m80 -> 24/768 Phasure NOS1a 75B (BNC Out) async USB DAC, Driver v1.0.4b (4ms) -> Blaxius BNC interlink *-> B'ASS Current Amplifier /w Level4 -> Blaxius Interlink* -> Orelo MKII Active Open Baffle Horn Speakers.
Removed Switching Supplies from everywhere.

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