Optimizing your DS

Hardware and software, modifications and DIY

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ThomasOK
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Optimizing your DS

Post by ThomasOK » 2009-09-23 18:14

As several have felt it was a good idea I have combed the forum and brought together the recommendations of the members on the different items that feed a Linn DS. This listing it meant to collect the highest recommendations among the group in one easy to access place (my hope is that it will be made a sticky). As additional items are tested and found worthwhile I will edit the posts to add that information.

It is safe to say that the majority of members who have experimented with these items have found that they DO make a musical difference in the output of the DS despite what any theory about digital data transmission may have you believe. Therefore a number of forum members have spent time comparing various components that feed the DS and have been generous enough to share their findings. These items include: NAS devices, HDDs, Network Switches, RJ45 Cables, Ripping software and others.

In order to make this more concise and readable, I have gathered together information on different devices by various members and grouped that info by device, each of which will be in a separate post. In each post I have started with the member who appears to have done the most work in comparing devices and have added the findings and comments of others. I have tried to minimize editing so as not to change the statements of the members, but I have made a few spelling corrections and have sometimes condensed the findings by eliminating other off-topic info. If anyone feels I have not presented their statements accurately please PM me and I will be glad to edit it to your satisfaction.
Last edited by ThomasOK on 2009-09-23 18:25, edited 1 time in total.

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Collected Recommendations

Post by ThomasOK » 2009-09-23 18:15

Collected Recommendations


NAS units and HDDs

The highest recommendation is now the Linnofil Super NAS, the construction of which is described in this thread:

Link for Linnofil Super NAS:

http://www.lejonklou.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1596

Previous recommendations are for the Netgear ReadyNAS NV+ with the ReadyNAS Duo being a less expensive option. But the Linnofil Super NAS is reported to be substantially better.

The best drives are now felt to be the Intel 320 series SSD units from 120GB to 600GB. On hard drives the Seagate Constellation ES.2 series are felt to be the best but are not as musical as the Intel SSDs. More information is found in the above thread.

Link for SSD vs. HDD:

http://www.lejonklou.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=902

Network Switches

The highest recommendations are for Netgear switches with the GS108T coming in as the top performer.

Link for Routers and Switches:

http://www.lejonklou.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1440

Ripping software

EAC has consistently received the highest recommendations from most members.

ThomasOK recently (6-2013) compared EAC, dbpoweramp and iTunes for ripping on his newly constructed LS-NAS and feels that iTunes provides the best RIPs and ALAC was more musical than FLAC. These findings have not been corroborated by anyone else yet.

Link for Optimum Ripping Solutions:

http://www.lejonklou.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1600

RJ45 Cables

It has generally been found that shielded cables are better with SFTP/SSTP outperforming FTP which in turn outperforms UTP.

Two cables have received high recommendation:

Music Lover recommends: Micro Connect Cable SSTP 3meter, CAT6 WHITE LSZH Batch_ID; 100001

Text on cable: Type CM 24AWG 60 deg C (UL) E188630 CSA LL81295 CMG ETL VERIFIED TIA/E1A-568-B.2-1 CAT6 Patch Cable S-FTP LSZH EVERNEW 8108JH020 - see below for newer MicroConnect cable recommendation.

ThomasOK compared the above 3m MicroConnect White SSTP cable and 1m of the APC SFTP listed below and felt that the MicroConnect was more musical. It is now his reference cable. His cable had the same text except the last number after EVERNEW which is 9I020902721. (The last number is 7K09KC888 on his 10m Blue cable.)

Sommerfee recommends: APC enhanced CAT.6 SFTP patch cable:
"RJ-45M to RJ-45M with mold snagless boots 568B wired, 4 pair, 24AWG stranded wire blue PVC jacket, 50" gold contacts, UL verified category 6 components."

ThomasOK ordered some more MicroConnect cables and found they had changed the design. Thankfully the new MicroConnect turned out to be even better. It has different RJ45 connectors and cabling with this writing on it: CAT6 SSTP PIMF PATCH CORD CABLE TEST TO EIA/TIA 568B 0801. 3m was most musical but 2m, 5m and 10m are also better than any other cable tried. This is now his highest recommendation for a network cable.

Some have found using fiber optic links, such as the DLink DMC-300SC, removes many variables and improves the music, others feel it is detrimental. More info is in the RJ45 cable post.

Link for RJ445 cables:
http://www.lejonklou.com/forum/viewtopi ... sc&start=0

Etc.

Members have found that the stand a NAS and switch sits on has a musical effect. The Harmonihylan Yggdrasil was designed specifically for this purpose and has been found very worthwhile by some. Cable directionality is important on RJ45 cables and that the power cable and power supply for the switch and NAS are also musically audible.

More information is in the individual item posts.
Last edited by ThomasOK on 2015-12-04 19:39, edited 5 times in total.

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NAS and HDDs

Post by ThomasOK » 2009-09-23 18:17

NAS and HDDs per linnofil:

New information as of January 2013:

The Linnofil Super NAS has been developed and the components and construction described in this thread:

http://www.lejonklou.com/forum/viewtopi ... sc&start=0

Linnofil, Music Lover and Lejonklou all feel this is easily the most musical storage solution for DS playback. The information covers all aspects of the NAS including recommended SSD drives, software, power supply, case, etc.

I (Thomasok) have built an LS-NAS using a custom case but otherwise all the recommended components form the Linnofil list. Even though it doesn't have the last degree of tweaking yet (still a few torques to optimize, etc.) I find that it gives more of the true flavor of music than any digital system I have heard and definitely outperforms servers such as the ReadyNAS NV+ and Western Digital MyBook units.

I have also found the recommended Intel 320 series SSDs more musical than the Seagate Constellation ES2 drive I have although the Seagate is not bad.

The recommended drives are Intel 320 series SSD drives in 600, 300 160 or 120GB sizes. The best hard drive is the Seagate Constellation ES.2 which will not harm he musicality of the NAS when it is in sleep mode but is not as musical as the Intel SSDs are. No problem, however, using it for backup or for storage of less important music. More info on the thread above.

Linnofil, in an older post before the design of the LS-NAS stated:
Performance of NAS's I've tested is as follows:

1: Netgear ReadyNAS NV+
+ performance, easy config, X-RAID with 4 HDD, front display, robust design
- high level of noice, expensive, easy install of Twonky, but not preinstalled

2: Netgear ReadyNAS Duo
+ performance, easy config, raid (mirror only) with 2 HDD, moderate level of noice, cheap, robust design
+ uppgraded performance may be possible with better PS (separate) and earthed chassis?
- still some noice (small fan noice, less than half of NV+), easy install of Twonky, but not preinstalled,

3: D-Link DNS-323
+ performance, RAID with 2 HDD (mirror only), very low fan noice (almost 109 level, definetly "keep in the in system room level" ), reasonably cheap
- Very difficult to install and update Twonky, lean on processing power, plastic feel

4: Qnap 109/119
+ relatively easy config, no fan => silent. Twonky preinstalled, solid construction
- cost, performance, only one HDD, no RAID

5: Lacie 500 gb (Unsure about model)
+ very low fan noice, Twonky preinstalled, cheap
- low performance, only one HDD, no RAID, difficult to update, lean on processing power

I have not tested these at the same time "all against all" with the same HDD's. But I have tested same NAS with different HDD's and same HDD's with different NAS etc. so I think it's reasonably accurate. It's a first post that we can keep working on. Please correct anything thats wrong. What I'm unsure about is what can be done by trying to improve the ReadyNAS Duo and how good a D-link can sound with the best HDD's, I have only heard it with WD. May it become even better than the Duo? Places 1-3 are close, much closer than the step from 3-4 and biggest step is 4-5. Comments on non performance issues are my personal opinions.

Music Lover adds:

Linnofil, I agree your ranking of NV+, Qnap 109 and LaCie. Compared many different NV+ and 109 in different locations so the ranking should be correct. The model is called LaCie Ethernet Mini Home Edition 500GB and the one you/me tested had Seagate Barracuda 500G HDD.

As I own both NV+ and 109 I like to add that 109 is not as stable as the NV+. NV+ is like a tank in all aspects, heavy duty and built to last. Very stable performance and no bugs. The 109 is a budget model in all aspects. As a general advice I suggest a NAS reboot each quarter.

Best HDD's are Seagate Barracuda.

Music Lover tested:

Here is a list of NAS/HDD's:
- ReadyNAS #1 ST3500830NS 500GB (ES)
- ReadyNAS #2 ST3250620AS 250GB (7200.10)
- LaCie ST3500630AS 500GB (7200.10)
- Qnap #1 ST3500320NS 500GB (ES2)
- Qnap #2 ST31000340NS 1TB (ES2)

Before comparing - each unit was warmed up, connected to same port in the switch, using same (identical) ethernet cable, connected to same power outlet and if possible using same power cable. (We also tried rotating the power plug 180 deg to be able using the most musical phase on each NAS.)
Only one NAS was connected to the system/power network at same time. The test music was uploaded using same USB memory & procedure. All this to make NAS the ONLY difference.

fyi, you have the Seagate HDD model number in the list below

- ReadyNAS #1 ST3500830NS 500GB (ES) not tested yet

best - ReadyNAS #2 ST3250620AS 250GB (7200.10)
a lot worse- ReadyNAS #3 Western Digital HDD
slightly worse Qnap #2 ST31000340NS 1TB (ES2)
VERY close to the other Qnap - Qnap #1 ST3500320NS 500GB (ES2)
by far worst - LaCie ST3500630AS 500GB (7200.10)

All NAS models are to be found on this page
http://www.linnrecords.com/artist-vario ... sical.aspx

Conclusions:
Seagate HDD's are most musical (yet)
Netgear ReadyNAS NV+ is the best NAS I heard (yet)
Dont buy LaCie. These on a budget get QNap 109 that is just slightly costlier but WAY better.

Rowlandhills adds:

The one issue to be aware of is that the ReadyNAS implementation of Twonky can sometimes have problems, particularly if you have a lot of artwork linked to files. It's particularly a problem with v5 of Twonky, but has also occurred on v4.1.11.

A link to some more information/discussion can be found here:

http://forums.linn.co.uk/bb/showthread.php?tid=2514

The key things to be aware of are:
Netgear support are really very good indeed, and happy to remote access your NV+ to help diagnose problems etc.
It's worth installing the "EnableRootSSH" and "ToggleSSH" plugins from http://www.readynas.com/?page_id=617
Backup your music. RAID is not backup, RAID only protects against a drive failing, not against the NAS failing!

All of the above said, I still think the ReadyNAS NV+ is a great NAS device. It's built like a tank, it's well supported, and it's upgradeable.

paolo finds:

Intuitively (but still not easy to rationally explain), switches and NASes (HDDs?) have the most musically significant influence to the sound. Network cables' impact on tune is less important (but still quite easily audible). Different ports on the same switch sound often not the same, so choosing the best two for NAS and DS it's surely worthwhile.

I've tried two NASes so far: Netgear Readynas NV+ and Qnap TS-109. First result was that Netgear was better. Then I did go a bit further, and compared two HDDs with the same NAS (see next point). I've not anymore the Readynas at my place to compare again but my strong suspicion now is that the bigger difference is between HDDs than between NASes.

Comparison between 2 HDDs: Western Digital 750 GB GP series (WD7500AACS) and Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 (ST3750640AS) installed onto 2 identical Qnaps TS-109. Seagate is better, by a margin! Considerably more defined and articulate expecially in the bass, easier to follow instruments. This is quite the same kind of difference I remember between a Readynas NV+ (Readynas NV+ has by default Seagate Barracuda ES drives) and my Qnap with WD7500AACS HDD. In the end I can't be sure, but maybe the difference I had experienced on first between ReadyNas and Qnap TS-109 was (at least mainly) due to the different HDDs and not to the NAs itself.

As for the use, both ReadyNAs and Qnap work very well. The former can accommodate until 4 HDDs but is quite noisy cause of its vent, while the latter accommodate only 1 HDD and has no vents, so it is as noisy as the HDD itself (WD GP HDD is very silent, Seagate HDDs generally less so).

*The latest reports from Erik and Paolo are that the Seagate Constellation ES drives in 1TB and 2TB are musically superior to the previous Seagate Barracuda ES drives. These are now the top HDD recommendation.

Also note that the implementation of Twonky can be quite complicated in terms of what versions work well and how to implement the tree structure. There are vast quantities of information on the Linn forums on this so that is the best source for getting it set up properly.

In a related matter, ReadyNAS units no longer come with Twonky and Netgear isn't promoting that capability (I would assume due to all the support headaches it has caused). Instead the ReadyNAS units come with Netgear's own UPnP server called ReadyDLNA. We are using it at the store and it seems to work OK but it does not appear to have the configuration capabilities of Twonky. Has anybody compared the musical quality of different UPnP server software?
Last edited by ThomasOK on 2013-11-13 23:38, edited 4 times in total.

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Network Switches

Post by ThomasOK » 2009-09-23 18:19

Network Switches per sommerfee:

Here they are, from best to worst:

GS108T
GS105
GS108
FS105
GS105v3
GS108v2
FS108v2
FS105v2
FS108P

Some notes:

1. The comparison tests were done on two different Linn systems, but both had a QNAP 109 NAS. The results were the same. So hopefully they are reproducible on other Linn systems, too!?

2. The size of the differences is IMHO comparable to the ones between different firmware versions, e.g. the one between GS105 and GS105v3 reminded me on the one between Bute 0.6 and Bute 0.9. But in the end all of the above Netgear switches are ok. So if you don't care about the firmware version inside your DS, you don't have to care on the switch, too, but I recommend to buy one of the blue Netgear ones anyway.

3. All of the GS switches offer more details in sound than the FS ones. Which is strange since the Linn DS does not have a Gigabit Ethernet adapter inside. But since all these differences are strange I don't care

4. The differences between 5-port and 8-port variants are not consistent. The FS108v2 is clearly better than the FS105v2, but the GS108 was clearly worse than the GS105. Maybe this is because of unexpected fluctuations between same switches? To test this I added an additional test with three GS108T with the same hardware and software version. The worst one was even a little worse than the GS105, the best one was clearly better, so yes, there are fluctuations, but I (still) don't know if this explains the differences between 5-port and 8-port variants. But since there isn't a GS105T available I don't care.

5. The GS108T's were tested with firmware version 3.0.3.2 and factory default settings.


Music Lover concurs that GS108T is “just a little better” than old F(S)108

paolo states:

It seems that what really matters with network devices is more how they're built than the number of functions they implement. Infact the USRobotics switch/router/Wifi device I'm actually using has proved to be better than several pure switches I've tried so far (Netgear, 3com). The only switch I've tried that's better than said USRobotics is a Netgear FS105 (good, but probably can still be bettered by a margin).

ThomasOK said:

The GS108T was indeed better than the GS108v2 although both are good. As others have found it did sound more musical with the two prong AC adapter plugged in one way rather than the other and that different ports sounded different so it is worth checking which sound best in your system/switch. In addition he found a small musical difference between two similar spec power supplies so if you have more than one Netgear switch it is worth trying the different power supplies.
Last edited by ThomasOK on 2013-11-13 23:47, edited 2 times in total.

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Ripping Software

Post by ThomasOK » 2009-09-23 18:21

Ripping Software per paolo:

About ripping, I've compared some flac files ripped with both Ripsattion and EAC (Linn profile). The files ripped with EAC sound better by a good margin. Moreover, I've tried ripping with EAC using two different PCs (and consequently CD drivers). The result is not the same, infact the flac files created are different by a bit-to-bit comparison. They sound different too, though the difference is smaller than that between EAC and Ripstation. The CD driver which behaves better seems to be the older one, it is both faster and rips better sounding files.

Yes, of course there could be differences ripping different discs with these two softwares, anyway I've found the sound quality from EAC to be better regardless of the disc ripped - I've compared several discs infact. I've spoken today with a friend who has made a similar test and he is reporting the same result about sound quality - EAC (flac) files sound consistently better. The difference is very small as for the SOUND but is IMO quite significant musically.

So where's the reason? I've not really an answer. The only thing that comes to my mind is that there could be differences in the way the two softwares create the FLAC files. Given the same song infact, Ripstation always makes bigger FLAC files than EAC - considerably bigger. I doubt the lenght difference between EAC-flacs and RS-flacs are only due the silent part at the beginning of the song - it seems too big infact.

Being flac an "open" format, I suppose that the algorithms used by the two softwares to generate flacs from the extracted wav-files are different. The end result should be identical, i.e. IF for a specific song both EAC and RS generate the same wav file, then converting back from the subsequently produced EAC-flac-file and RS-flac-file will give the same identical initial Wav-file. I understand you've successfully verified this is true. So, if a sound difference between EAC-flacs and RS-flacs can still be detected, the only explanation is that the DS manages differently the two flac types. I know it is hard to believe this but I cannot think any other reason at the moment. In other words this would mean that the digital data processing before the DA conversion (also relatively simple as the decompression from flac to wav) has an effect on the sound quality. Just to add on this matter, I've heard comments from a trusty person who has compared wav-files with the corresponding flacs with the DS: he says the flacs sound better!

I'll stop here cause I've not by far enough knowledge of this matter to get into details, take my comments as pure speculations infact. I'll just add that I find all this both interesting and hard to believe indeed!

As for EAC, I've found that I get the best sound with the Dell laptop drive I'm using (BPDS DVD+-RW DS-8W1P) with "Secure mode" drive options like these:

1) Drive has Accurate Stream feature: not flagged
2) Drive caches audio data: flagged
3) Drive is capable of retrieving C2 error information: not flagged

Music Lover finds:

Started at the source comparing EAC vs. Ripstation by ripping same tune using both SW's. EAC is clearly better. Especially when things get messy the EAC excel! Apart from being a good bit more musical, the EAC rip sound also better. Bad luck as RS is a pleasure to use; fast and the Linn pre-configuration works perfect so the Linn GUI display the correct artist/album/track info.

Tested again and EAC is ripping more musical FLAC files than Ripstation. With some custom settings, EAC is even better.

EAC using Linn's config with the following changes.(thanks Paolo)
Drive options> Extraction Method>Secure mode:
- Drive has Accurate Stream feature: not selected
- Drive caches audio data: selected
- Drive is capable of retrieving C2 error information: not selected

The CD-drive have effect on the ripping results. Some CD-drives produce more musical FLAC-files.

jrob states:

I have also done the Ripstation/ EAC comparison (Akurate DS) and I would agree EAC is clearly better. I must admit that I am slightly confused why Linn are recommending Ripstation over EAC as I would have thought Linn would favor sonic performance over usability. I have also compared the two resulting (uncompressed) flac files in foobar 2000 using the bit comparator plugin and there are differences although they are very small. One observation I have made however, is that the flac file produced by EAC is smaller than with Ripstation meaning EAC is producing a more tightly packed flac file. It did occur to me that a more compacted file will mean more data in the DS buffers and therefore a less frequent need to fetch data from the network. Is it possible that activity from the network circuitry inside the DS has some effect on the playback performance?

ThomasOK reports:

I recently (6-2013) compared EAC, dbpoweramp and iTunes for ripping on my newly constructed LS-NAS and I feel that iTunes provides the best RIPs and ALAC was more musical than FLAC. These RIPs were done with an external Samsung drive that has been recommended by others here connected through eSATA. I should also note that ALAC, also known as Apple Lossless, is now also open source. I did find EAC was more musical than dbpoweramp but also felt EAC was a royal pain to use, as some others have commented.
Last edited by ThomasOK on 2013-06-27 23:43, edited 1 time in total.

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RJ45 Cables

Post by ThomasOK » 2009-09-23 18:22

RJ45 Cables per Music Lover:

I have tested close to 30 cables and my top list has been same in two different setups/environments/locations. The best cable is also best between switch - DS as well as between switch - NAS. (text on cable should be from switch --> DS/NAS)

This is the best cable I found:

From Micro Connect
Cable SSTP 3meter, CAT6 WHITE LSZH
Batch_ID; 100001

Text on cable
Type CM 24AWG 60 deg C (UL) E188630 CSA LL81295 CMG ETL VERIFIED TIA/E1A-568-B.2-1 CAT6 Patch Cable S-FTP LSZH EVERNEW 8108JH020

Tried "same" cable in different lengths as well, 0.5m, 1m, 5m and 10m. Trouble is that Micro Connect use more than one cable making them so each batch differs. But some of the other lengths (i.e. 0.5m) have identical cable and the 3m is still the best.
All have same direction though.

After adding the new GS108T switch, retested cables (also a few new ones) and the 3m described above is still best. Have now tested different lengths; 0.5, 1, 2, 3, 5 10 and 15meter and the best are 2 and 3m. The others are not far behind.

ThomasOK did a comparison test of the above 3m MicroConnect White SSTP cable and the APC SFTP Sommerfee likes below and felt that the MicroConnect was more musical. It is now his reference cable.

Jrob states:

I have also compared UTP/ SFTP cable and found SFTP cable to be better.

Sommerfee finds:

I bought some more no-name patch cables from the electronic shop just around the corner, so in total I have now 7 cables as possible connection between WLAN router (a Netgear FWG114v2) and DS. These are the cables:

1. 1.5m Cat5 UTP 24AWG (was shipped with the Netgear router, I have used this as connection so far)
2. 2m Cat5e S-STP 26AWG (new, no-name)
3. 2m Cat5 SFTP 26AWG (old & used, from "lanpro")
4. 3m Cat5 FTP 26AWG (very little used, no-name)
5. 3m Cat5e SFTP 26AWG (old & used, from "e'quip")
6. 5m Cat5e SFTP 26AWG (new, no-name)
7. 10m Cat5 FTP 26AWG (little used, no-name)

No.1 is definitely the worst of them. It sounds "cloudy" and "undecided"/"non-rocking", so I planned to complain about my unit after some weeks of burn-in and not getting better.

No.2 and 3 are the best ones and quite on par regarding tune-dem. No.2 sounds a little bit less colorful than No.3, but maybe this is because cable No.2 is brand new?

No. 4 and 7 where quite on par, and worse than 2+3.

Since until now "short" was better than "longer" I expected that No.6 would be worse than No.5, but is was the opposite. Funny. And both (5+6) seems to be better than 4+7.

Also from sommerfee:

I'm really enthusiastic about this particular cable and it gives me the strong feeling the search is finally over. It's performing excellent regarding tune-dem, and gives a quiet & colourful sound, full of details never heard before. The cable is:

APC enhanced CAT.6 SFTP patch cable:
"RJ-45M to RJ-45M with mold snagless boots 568B wired, 4 pair, 24AWG stranded wire blue PVC jacket, 50" gold contacts, UL verified category 6 components."

It's available in different colours and lengths and costs about 10 Euros. The product code of the blue variant, 2m, is 47322BL-2M-E.
It should be connected with print direction "NAS to DS", and should be used for both, NAS to switch and switch to DS.

Conclusion:
It seems that short cabled tend to be better than longer ones. (But not always.) Furthermore good shielded ones (SFTP) seems to be better than less shielded ones (FTP), and unshielded (UTP) seems to be the worst. Shielding seems to be more important than the length of the cable.

paolo comments:

I've bought also a couple more ftp cables and I can confirm what Axel has found: I have 3 ftp cabes now and they all sound better than any utp cable I've tried so far. Seems it could become a good rule, shielding is better! I've still not tried any SFTP/SSTP at now.

JohnS recommends a different solution:

I’ve managed to completely isolate the DS so the network/NAS configuration makes absolutely no difference at all, and I get my best sounding results yet. I got hold of 2 Ethernet to fibre media converters and 10m of fibre connecter, all for about £125, reasonable considering the cost of the DS.

So I now have my DS connected through 0.5m of shielded cable (non crossover) to a DLink DMC-300SC which converts the Ethernet to fibre optic and makes a 100M connection over fibre. This seems to have resolved the issues of variable sound quality and I can now link the DS into my home network in any network structure I desire which is what I originally expected. I guess I could have just 1m of fibre to disconnect the two electrically, although I’ve not tried it.

However Music Lover comments:

2*Dlink "opto to ethernet" converters between the switch and DS killing the tune.

Munro finds:

Following the post by JohnS (2008-04-16) and after some initial doubts I eventually purchased 2 D-Link DMC-300SC Ethernet to Optic converters (Now around £40 each + carriage from Amazon) and a 10m SC/SC Duplex Optic Patchcord from RS and linked my DS at home (Klimax DS, Kairn, Akiv 'Bariks). Results are generally very positive. Timing and pitch of the music is undoubtedly better and this was a worry before with the ethernet connections. If there is a downside it is that the music can harden up slightly and perhaps there is slightly less dynamic range but this is more than compensated for by the improvement in clarity and believability of the music.

lejonklou states:

I have tried opto isolators in one system with an Akurate DS, where it was an improvement. Soundwise the difference was small, but musically it was less confused and easier to understand with the isolators. Not sure if they were of the same model as you mention.

I know, however, than many others have tried them and found them to reduce quality. It seems to depend on what NAS and switch you are using, where you place them and how all the mains connections are arranged.

It seems to me that those who have experimented a lot and optimised their DS systems without opto isolators, find that the system performs worse when opto isolators are later added.

ThomasOK tested a large number of cables and sizes and this is what he found:

Ranking of the cables listened to are as follows (1 is best 9 is worst):

1 MicroConnect new style 3m White SSTP
2 MicroConnect new style 2m White SSTP *basically a tie (but see full report for 10m vs. 2m)
2 MicroConnect new style 10m White SSTP *basically a tie"
4 MicroConnect old style 3m White SFTP
5 APC 3m Blue SSTP
6 MicroConnect old style 3m White STP
7 Generic 3m CAT5e UTP?
8 AudioQuest Vodka 3m CAT7
9 AudioQuest Cinnamon 3m CAT7

The new MicroConnect cable has less text on it with these markings: CAT6 SSTP PIMF PATCH CORD CABLE TEST TO EIA/TIA 568B 0801 - it also has different connectors. One other person on the forum also found the newer MicroConnect to sound better than the older version.

In additional testing he found 3m definitely the best in both the NAS to switch and switch to DS positions and most musical direction was with text in both positions. He also tested a 5m length of the new MicroConnect and found it to be less musical than the 2m but still pretty good. It should be pretty similar to the 10m and OK when longer runs are needed.
Last edited by ThomasOK on 2013-11-14 17:37, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by ThomasOK » 2009-09-23 18:24

CD Drives per paolo:

About the CD drives, here is a list of the ones I have tested together with my friend Nicolav, from best to worse:

1) Plextor PX-716A
2) PBDS DVD+-RW DS8W 1P (laptop cd drive)
3) Nec ND-3540A
4) Plextor Ultraplex 40TS (scsi with scsi-usb adapter)

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Items for additional investigation

Post by ThomasOK » 2009-09-23 18:25

Items for additional investigation

These are some items I feel would warrant additional investigation.

It would be great to see more exploration of how the Macintosh works in the DS world, especially as the CARA software will finally make the Mac a fully fledged participant in a DS system with the imminent arrival of Kinsky Desktop for Mac and the new web based Konfig. Questions to be answered: Can a Mac do as good a job of serving the DS data as a separate NAS? Which ripping software is best for Mac and does it compete musically with EAC?

There are other items such as hard drives, CD-ROM drives, power supplies for the switch and NAS, etc. that haven’t had as much investigation as the items above that would be interesting to know more about too. And the idea of using the optical isolators would merit additional testing.

It would also be great if the top cable recommendations from Music Lover and sommerfee were compared.


This concludes the item categories I have culled from the forum. Let me know if I missed anything.
Last edited by ThomasOK on 2013-11-14 17:23, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Charlie1 » 2009-09-25 21:02

A great resource Thomas. Contemplating a Sneaky myself, I'd already had that sinking feeling thinking about all the dozens of threads on both Lejonklou and Linn forums I'd need to trial through to find out what's best for sound. Now I know just where to start so many thanks indeed.

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Post by springwood64 » 2009-09-26 19:21

Very handy indeed Thomas for those of us still thinking about DS
Pete

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Post by ThomasOK » 2010-12-08 17:44

Updates have been added to the end of the post on NAS and HDDs. These deal with a new model recommended hard drive and some info on UPnP server software.

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Post by ThomasOK » 2011-01-26 20:13

This isn't an update but an interesting addendum. It appears that Rega, or their US importer The Sound Organisation, or both are definitely NOT part of the "bits is bits" brigade. In a newsletter explaining the technology of their new USB DAC they state the following:

"For the best rip consider using an external CD or DVD burner. Dedicated power supply and a bigger memory buffer make for better sound."

"Use an external HD to store your music files. You get a bigger memory buffer and an external power supply."

"Try using a passive power conditioner to see if it makes things sound better. Even see if your computer takes an upgraded C15 power cable. You might be surprised."

Interesting thoughts from another company capable of making musically enjoyable equipment. Certainly in line with some of the findings made here.

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Post by hcl » 2013-01-02 18:20

There are, I think, a couple of things left out in this (otherwise excellent) thread. I would also like to add that it would be interesting if others could confirm if my findings (as stated below) is generally valid or if they are only applicable in my system. Also; Before making any non recoverable alterations to the network cables please read the note below.

1. I have found that using the recommended cables makes a clear difference, but (at least in my system) breaking the earth shield from the TP-cable connector in the DS end makes a clear improvement.

2. I have also had the earth connection broken at the switch end of the cable connecting the NAS to the switch. This makes for a minor improvement, but not totally insignifcant.

3. We use an old FS108 switch and have been happy with it ever since we added a DS to the hifi-system. The thing is, I found that connecting the earth connector of the switch to the mains earth (made a dedicated cable for this) made an improvement and the GS10x switches does not have an earth connection. The other day I bought two more switches (a FS105 and a GS108) and just for fun I tested if they could improve on my current FS108. I found that the GS108 was slightly better, but not by a large margin. Both the new FS105 and the GS108 have switch mode PSU:s and my old FS108 a bulky conventional PSU (same voltage specification as the FS105) I tried the switch-mode PSU of the FS105 to drive the FS108. The result, in my system, is that the best combination is the FS108 (earth connected to mains earth) with the new switch-mode PSU (of the new FS105).

*) Note! Before ruining the TP-cable connector by removing the earth/shield connector it is adviceable to have doubled up the number of cables and begin by ruining the worse of the cables. Begin by comparing the two cables and also in which direction each cable shall be connected. If removing the earth connection makes the vorse cable better than the original cable it is safe to continue and destroy also the other cable. If it turns out it is not better to remove the earth connection it is allways possible to go back to the better cable.

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Post by Spannko » 2013-01-03 18:19

Dear hcl,

I notice on the melodik forum you make reference to the WD My Book NAS. I don't speak swedish so I had to use an online translator. Because some words were not recognised, I wasn't sure if you were giving it a recommendation or just using it as an example. Would it be possible for you to clarify what you meant please?

Thank you

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Post by hcl » 2013-01-03 22:23

Spannko wrote:Dear hcl,

I notice on the melodik forum you make reference to the WD My Book NAS. I don't speak swedish so I had to use an online translator. Because some words were not recognised, I wasn't sure if you were giving it a recommendation or just using it as an example. Would it be possible for you to clarify what you meant please?

Thank you
I could not find the post about the WD NAS and I do not remember exactly what I wrote. Maybe you could post or PM a link?

I have an old 1 TB WD MyBook and all I can say is that it was cheap and not that bad, but the old style ReadyNAS NV+ with good disks are clearly better, although also more expensive. The WD disk is also very slow, but it came with Twonky pre-installed which made it even better bargain. I would go for a QNAP if I would shopping for a new NAS today. It seems though that it not that difficult to put together a not that expensive PC-based NAS with even better performance compared to the best NAS:es. Linnofil (also over at Melodik) have written alot on that route.

@ThomasOK; I suggest the last posts to be removed after we have concluded what is a common understanding of the best recommendation.

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Post by Nicolav » 2013-01-03 22:53

Hi hcl,
can you describe how make a cut of insulation of the lan cable?
Maybe some picture can help us.
I'm really curious to try.

Thanks ;)
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Post by hcl » 2013-01-04 18:32

I have found that using the recommended cables makes a clear difference, but (at least in my system) breaking the earth shield from the TP-cable connector in the DS end makes a clear improvement.

The cable connector looks like in the figures below (to be attached soon...).

Before:
[img]before_2.jpg[/img]

Use a (very) small screwdriver andd bend between the two metal tounges.
[img]before_1.jpg[/img]

After:
[img]after_2.jpg[/img]

[img]after_1.jpg[/img]

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Post by Nicolav » 2013-01-09 20:03

hcl wrote:I have found that using the recommended cables makes a clear difference, but (at least in my system) breaking the earth shield from the TP-cable connector in the DS end makes a clear improvement.

The cable connector looks like in the figures below (to be attached soon...).

Before:
[img]before_2.jpg[/img]

Use a (very) small screwdriver andd bend between the two metal tounges.
[img]before_1.jpg[/img]

After:
[img]after_2.jpg[/img]

[img]after_1.jpg[/img]
Hi hcl, not seen the pictures!
Even though I knew more or less... ;)

Thanks!
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Post by WIJI » 2013-01-17 09:40

Following on from ThomasOKs recommendations for switches, I decided to try an old FS108 I had lying around. I concluded that the switch in my Netgear DGN1000 performs much better, but it was an interesting and simple experiment.

I will now get a SMPS for the 108 and try again.

EDIT. SMPS improves the FS108 to make it at least as good as the switch in the router. I also tried a Netgear DGND3700 router, but was unable to detect any musical difference.
Last edited by WIJI on 2013-02-22 11:39, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by hcl » 2013-01-17 19:58

I noticed that also the GS108T Pro Safe have an earth connector. Anybody having tested one?

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Post by WIJI » 2013-02-22 11:44

I ordered some MicroConnect Cat6 cables to replace my £3 budget items. As best as I could I ordered (from Amazon) the cables recommended above, but the text on the cables is different to Music Lover's examples. However I am happy to report that they have provided a small but welcome improvement.

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Post by bugi666 » 2013-02-22 17:57

Not trying to be rude, but rather understand where these discrepancies in sound can potentially come from... Everything below is just my understanding of things and can be far away from the truth, so feel free to correct me!

My understanding is (I'm by no means expert, not even a novice when it comes to IT) that the music is stored on nas in forms of files, which essentially are a long stream of 0 and 1 logic signals.

Now, the NAS sends (or rather DS pulls) the data in that format - 0,1,0,0 etc. My understanding is that singal is based on some small DC voltage - i.e signal "1" being +5V and signal "0" being -5V. Therefore differences in the voltage could maybe cause the 0s and 1s mis-interpreted by the ADS, if they arrive as a stream of +2,-3,+5,-5 v signals.
This however, assumes that there is an awful lot of "misinterpreted" signals, which then change the sound. But is it possible? If you assume this, copying 1 file between 2 disks 100 times would degrade the file to extent that the file would be not recognizable...

Again... just trying to understand these things...

On a side note, tested the influence of ferrite in ADS - as my ads didn't have one for some time. I am absolutely stunned what difference it makes, with the ferrite in the sound coming from the speakers is just soooo much more fluid and analogue-like... the thing is, I can understand it (again, my way of understanding it) - the ferrite core stops an unwanted noise/harmonics being transmitted back to the 240V network. As both ADS and speakers are fed from the socket, it's possible that the 350A are getting "better" voltage when the ferrite core is in the DS, and therefore play nicer.... Whether it's true or not, I don't know, but it works! (and I didn't believe it just 3 days ago :D).
ADSM3> Tundra 2.5> A242 Mk2

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Post by kct » 2013-02-22 18:06

bugi666 wrote:Not trying to be rude, but rather understand where these discrepancies in sound can potentially come from... Everything below is just my understanding of things and can be far away from the truth, so feel free to correct me!

My understanding is (I'm by no means expert, not even a novice when it comes to IT) that the music is stored on nas in forms of files, which essentially are a long stream of 0 and 1 logic signals.

Now, the NAS sends (or rather DS pulls) the data in that format - 0,1,0,0 etc. My understanding is that singal is based on some small DC voltage - i.e signal "1" being +5V and signal "0" being -5V. Therefore differences in the voltage could maybe cause the 0s and 1s mis-interpreted by the ADS, if they arrive as a stream of +2,-3,+5,-5 v signals.
This however, assumes that there is an awful lot of "misinterpreted" signals, which then change the sound. But is it possible? If you assume this, copying 1 file between 2 disks 100 times would degrade the file to extent that the file would be not recognizable...

Again... just trying to understand these things...

On a side note, tested the influence of ferrite in ADS - as my ads didn't have one for some time. I am absolutely stunned what difference it makes, with the ferrite in the sound coming from the speakers is just soooo much more fluid and analogue-like... the thing is, I can understand it (again, my way of understanding it) - the ferrite core stops an unwanted noise/harmonics being transmitted back to the 240V network. As both ADS and speakers are fed from the socket, it's possible that the 350A are getting "better" voltage when the ferrite core is in the DS, and therefore play nicer.... Whether it's true or not, I don't know, but it works! (and I didn't believe it just 3 days ago :D).
where abouts is the ferrite core fitted and is it a linn mod?

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Post by Spannko » 2013-02-22 18:42

bugi666 wrote:Not trying to be rude, but rather understand where these discrepancies in sound can potentially come from... Everything below is just my understanding of things and can be far away from the truth, so feel free to correct me!

My understanding is (I'm by no means expert, not even a novice when it comes to IT) that the music is stored on nas in forms of files, which essentially are a long stream of 0 and 1 logic signals.

Now, the NAS sends (or rather DS pulls) the data in that format - 0,1,0,0 etc. My understanding is that singal is based on some small DC voltage - i.e signal "1" being +5V and signal "0" being -5V. Therefore differences in the voltage could maybe cause the 0s and 1s mis-interpreted by the ADS, if they arrive as a stream of +2,-3,+5,-5 v signals.
This however, assumes that there is an awful lot of "misinterpreted" signals, which then change the sound. But is it possible? If you assume this, copying 1 file between 2 disks 100 times would degrade the file to extent that the file would be not recognizable...

Again... just trying to understand these things...

On a side note, tested the influence of ferrite in ADS - as my ads didn't have one for some time. I am absolutely stunned what difference it makes, with the ferrite in the sound coming from the speakers is just soooo much more fluid and analogue-like... the thing is, I can understand it (again, my way of understanding it) - the ferrite core stops an unwanted noise/harmonics being transmitted back to the 240V network. As both ADS and speakers are fed from the socket, it's possible that the 350A are getting "better" voltage when the ferrite core is in the DS, and therefore play nicer.... Whether it's true or not, I don't know, but it works! (and I didn't believe it just 3 days ago :D).
Nobody has ever been able to answer your question. I know it sounds illogical, but don't let that stop you from striving to get the best out of your DS! Also, don't let your prejudice and beliefs prevent you from experimenting for yourself and feeding back your results.

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Post by lejonklou » 2013-02-22 20:21

bugi666 wrote:My understanding is (I'm by no means expert, not even a novice when it comes to IT) that the music is stored on nas in forms of files, which essentially are a long stream of 0 and 1 logic signals.

Now, the NAS sends (or rather DS pulls) the data in that format - 0,1,0,0 etc. My understanding is that singal is based on some small DC voltage - i.e signal "1" being +5V and signal "0" being -5V. Therefore differences in the voltage could maybe cause the 0s and 1s mis-interpreted by the ADS, if they arrive as a stream of +2,-3,+5,-5 v signals.
This however, assumes that there is an awful lot of "misinterpreted" signals, which then change the sound. But is it possible? If you assume this, copying 1 file between 2 disks 100 times would degrade the file to extent that the file would be not recognizable...
No, the differences we're experiencing and discussing are not data errors. Data stored and transported digitally remains intact to an extremely high degree.

When the data is converted to an analogue signal, however, the conversion process (done by the DA converter) is not perfect. If you add, for instance, noise to the digital signal feeding the DA converter, the analogue signal coming out of the converter will be more noisy. Simply put: No DA converter is perfect at rejecting imperfections in the digital signal. And no digital signal is perfect when seen from an analogue viewpoint.
bugi666 wrote:On a side note, tested the influence of ferrite in ADS - as my ads didn't have one for some time. I am absolutely stunned what difference it makes, with the ferrite in the sound coming from the speakers is just soooo much more fluid and analogue-like... the thing is, I can understand it (again, my way of understanding it) - the ferrite core stops an unwanted noise/harmonics being transmitted back to the 240V network. As both ADS and speakers are fed from the socket, it's possible that the 350A are getting "better" voltage when the ferrite core is in the DS, and therefore play nicer.... Whether it's true or not, I don't know, but it works! (and I didn't believe it just 3 days ago :D).
I agree that the difference is massive. And in all units I have tried (four different ones), the musical performance has suffered badly by the removal of the large mains ferrite. The sound becomes more dynamic but makes less sense.
bugi666 wrote:where abouts is the ferrite core fitted and is it a linn mod?
All switch mode power supplies are filtered at the mains input end. On many of Linn's products, there is a large ferrite directly behind the mains inlet. This is part of the power supply filtering, so can't be called a mod.

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