I have been assigned a task; to create a very quiet computer for an intense audiophile. He has the most discerning ear I have ever heard of! The requirements are as follows:
Very, very quiet
Highest quality sound card, something along the line of This Sound Card. He said something about needing a coaxial output (whatever that is...)
One small hard drive for the OS and all essential system files / programs.
Two huge (1tb or more) hard drives to store his immense music collection (redundant; one would maintain a carbon-copy backup of the other)
It would always be on, so it has to be able to support that.
Preferably a small case
No screen, keyboard, speakers, mouse, or cd player needed. He has his own.
He would do just about nothing on it but play music, so nothing else needs to be high quality. I know some boards have built in graphics cards, so we don't need to buy a new one; the processor only needs to be good enough to rip music off a CD (which just about any CPU can do). You get the idea. Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't lower performance parts generate less heat / noise, which would be perfect for his needs anyway?
Any suggestions on a good build would be well taken. Also, I've heard only rumors about this, but isn't it possible to hook the two hard drives up so that they automatically duplicate each other rather than needing a software solution?
As a side note, the price is partially irrelevant. The only thing that matters is that we have the absolute best parts we can get where it matters, and then the cheapest (but still acceptable) parts everywhere else.
I actually spec out and build HTPCs for peeps but for the audio portion: drop down to AVS Forums to get the most up to date/best solution to eek out the best sound from your existing/proposed audio set up ^^
I have a question tho, what file format is he using for storage ?
If it's MP3 ..... mp3 and audiophile are mutually exclusive. If he's using a lossless format such as SHN, then he gonna eat up file storage fast. I'd suggest an NAS .... my son is using about 3/4 of my NAS storage space now and he's (not an audiophile) using MP3 format.
He's not at all opposed to building his own case / padding an existing one; We're just worried about heat or space problems with a case not designed for it. And I think he'd like an internal storage solution for this. I know this will make a little noise, but I don't think that it can be avoided. Also, does anyone know of a super-small monitor to use for this kind of project? This computer will basically be stored in a closet right next to all of his other audio equipment and all it needs is a small screen.
There is no decent reason for buying a PCI sound card these days unless you want more outputs/inputs (some of the creative sound cards have external I/O boxes with RCA, s/PDIF, etc). 99% of motherboards on the market have 6 analog 3.5mm jack plugs, a s/PDIF output, and an optical audio output. If you buy a good quality motherboard, you'll get a good quality sound card with a variety of audio interfaces.
IMO, sound cards are just a product that used to be necessary, but are now just a money maker. You can't get any "better quality" or higher sample rates from a PCI sound card than from an onboard sound card.
What is your friend's room and amp/speaker setup? That's the really key part to perfect sound.