Linear power supply for NUC running as an audio server = ultimate snake oil?

Psilonaught

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I'm currently enjoying the best front end sound I've ever had thanks to my new Aqua LinQ UPNP and the use of Audirvana Studio.

Naturally I want to continue to further optimise everything upstream of my DAC.

I'm investigating a ocxo switch and also a dedicated NUC with LPSU to replace the basic home office PC that currently runs Audirvana.

It seems to me however that a linear power supply cannot possibly make any improvement to Roon or Audirvana Studio or indeed any server platform where the PC isn't directly plugged into the DAC.

Yet a lot of people claim it can improve performance?

Anyone got any direct experience??
 

bencat

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Never had an NUC and would presume they would have half decent power supply regulation on its boards . SMPS can sound good if properly designed and made for this read expensive . I have a strong feeling that the run of the mill wallwarts and PC supplies are not ideal . LPSU can be designed and made very quiet for relatively little money and bought used. I use an LPSU with a Raspberry Pi 4 working as my music server and this made a difference and made much of the hash in the background go away . I would expect this as the Pi is a very cheap computer and has very little in the way of power regulation so giving it a nice clean supply can only help .

There may well be an improvement with the NUC but I would expect the effect to be less than what I heard with a Pi that does not mean it is not worth having just it is likely to be small gain rather than large gain .
 

Camverton

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I used to use an IntelNUC outputting via USB into a Benchmark DAC1HDR which does not have galvanic isolation. The noise was like inter channel noise on a radio and drowned out the music. I swapped the NUC power supply for an old and heavy “brick” power supply from a long deceased laptop. Problem solved, which seemed to indicate that the power supply which came with the NUC was pretty horrendous from the noise point of view.

The same supplied NUC power supply into a DAC with galvanic isolation wasn’t a problem, so it depends on what the NUC is being plugged in to, but even then there could be noise creeping in for those whose listening is critical to the effects of noise, and given that I forked out for Wave cables that probably includes me!

As a side note I now use a Mac Mini (M1 chip) and there is no obvious noise when playing into the Benchmark DAC 1.
 
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Psilonaught

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Thanks guys.

I guess the difference is that you are talking about direct connection to a DAC or streamer whereas I'd only be connected turn via ethernet.

It occurs to me that the other option is to keen my Lenovo MiniPC that currently runs Audirvana Studio and just add a LPSU to that!

It is connected to my streamer's network via WiFi.
 

bencat

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James my set up is a stand alone Logitech Media Server on Pi4 with LPSU and that is connected to a Cisco Network switch which is isolated by an optical connection from the router to the switch . All the players in various rooms are wired connection so in theory there should not be noise but there was and once I changed the power supply it was obvious on all the various system around the house even on the quite modest one in the Kitchen . Aside from your using an NUC and I am using a Pi I think the network is pretty much the same .
 
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zeta4

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The problem with most if not all standard switched mode power supply wall warts even those from reputable makers is that while they
have to meet the CISPR standards for noise emissions ( both radiated and conducted back down the mains) these standards only cover the
range 150khz to 33mhz. These standards are intended to stop PC's interfering with each other for example but do nothing for audio devices.

So its no wonder that replacing them with even a standard LPSU in any audio system can have sonic benefits

Its perfectly possible to design a switched mode supply to be good enough ( and dare I say it superior to a linear supply in some ways ) for audio devices as people like Chord and Benchmark have done but the market is small so inevitably they will be expensive
 

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I found the LPSU did make a difference on my streamer, SMPSwhen using ethernet connection, even a modest Allo Shanti which is not as good a Sbooster etc. It depends how good the SMPS is in your device. Adding a Zyxel switch also seemed to lift the performance. I was sceptical before trying any of these.
 

bencat

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ok thanks guys I will buy a basic i5 NUC and try a decent LPSU and see what's what.
James if you have an LPSU that would work try the NUC with the supplied power supply and then see if there is a difference with the LPSU if you can hear the difference then you can look out for decent used one . If not then save yourself the money and just use the supplied psu .
 

Psilonaught

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Guys am I right in saying that I need a 19v 100w+ LPSU for any NUC I go for?

I only need DSD128 so think an i5 is sufficient.
 

TheFlash

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I'm currently enjoying the best front end sound I've ever had thanks to my new Aqua LinQ UPNP and the use of Audirvana Studio.

Naturally I want to continue to further optimise everything upstream of my DAC.

I'm investigating a ocxo switch and also a dedicated NUC with LPSU to replace the basic home office PC that currently runs Audirvana.

It seems to me however that a linear power supply cannot possibly make any improvement to Roon or Audirvana Studio or indeed any server platform where the PC isn't directly plugged into the DAC.

Yet a lot of people claim it can improve performance?

Anyone got any direct experience??

Thanks guys.

I guess the difference is that you are talking about direct connection to a DAC or streamer whereas I'd only be connected turn via ethernet.

It occurs to me that the other option is to keen my Lenovo MiniPC that currently runs Audirvana Studio and just add a LPSU to that!

It is connected to my streamer's network via WiFi.
I think you may (forgive me if not) be missing something in how an LPSU can/will make its sonic difference. I have very good LPSU's on my streamers and they make asignificant difference; but part of this is not about the direct impact being powered by it, it's how much less crud is being injected into the mains now you've replaced something else with it.

Viewed through this lens, it's therefore quite possible for an LPSU anywhere in your system to make a positive contribution to sound quality and this would include on an NUC. Personally, I've only gone as far as adding an iFi iPower 2 to my NAS which sits 8m from my hifi system.

Why do I mention distance? Well, I'm convinced there is something about proximity here but some wag will be along in a minute to tell me why that's tosh! Everything on this side of the consumer unit might be sharing the same power supply but I have an inkling that an LPSU replacing something lesser just behind your kit is going to have a bigger impact than the same LPSU installed on device X 3 rooms and 15m away.

Hope this give food for thought. Let us know where you land.

Nigel
 
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Psilonaught

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So I managed to bag a fanless i5 NUC on eBay for a frankly ridiculous price, so that's sorted.

I also had a good chat with the owner of Temple Audio who builds the supercharger LPSU. He thinks his unit will be fine to power the NUC. The unit is a large super capacitor.

I've previously compared a supercharger to a Sbooster with the former being superior.

I am also going to follow an online guide that walks you through shutting down non-residential windows resources too, allowing for a more dedicated audio platform.

Should be a fun little project, and I'll order a decent switch too, then my front and is fully sorted!
 

tuga

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I think you may (forgive me if not) be missing something in how an LPSU can/will make its sonic difference. I have very good LPSU's on my streamers and they make asignificant difference; but part of this is not about the direct impact being powered by it, it's how much less crud is being injected into the mains now you've replaced something else with it.

Viewed through this lens, it's therefore quite possible for an LPSU anywhere in your system to make a positive contribution to sound quality and this would include on an NUC. Personally, I've only gone as far as adding an iFi iPower 2 to my NAS which sits 8m from my hifi system.

Why do I mention distance? Well, I'm convinced there is something about proximity here but some wag will be along in a minute to tell me why that's tosh! Everything on this side of the consumer unit might be sharing the same power supply but I have an inkling that an LPSU replacing something lesser just behind your kit is going to have a bigger impact than the same LPSU installed on device X 3 rooms and 15m away.

Hope this give food for thought. Let us know where you land.

Nigel

Since @Psilonaught is using a network bridge it is less likely that a linear power supply on his processing computer will make a difference.

I have had 3 network bridges running HQPlayer's NAA – RPi3, Cubox and currently a microRendu – and in my experience they produce a worthy improvement vs. connecting the computer straight into the DAC.
The power supply powering the network bridges did make an audible difference.
 
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Patu

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My experience is that if the PSU is connected in the same power strip as the rest of the system, its quality matters. Crappy SMPS's can have high ripple & noise going back to the power grid. But if the NUC is in another room no way near the rest of the hifi system, it doesn't matter if you use the regular PSU.

For my QNAP NAS server (Roon Core) I bought Mean Well medical grade SMPS (minimal ripple & noise) when I first intended to place it on the hifi rack. Later on I moved the QNAP in another room so I would've managed with the stock PSU I think.
 

Cable Monkey

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interesting thread out this exact topic, Nucleus users reports power supply audible improvements!
I’m on there arguing in favour of them and trying to explain the mechanisms of noise. I use a Farad Super 3 bought here and think it was worthwhile. I’ve an older i7 NUC so it doesn’t need the 100watt supply. What I will say is the effects are subtle for me and with my newest DAC possibly not even necessary. I’ll have to take it out and do a comparison again.
 
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Greenmac

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So I managed to bag a fanless i5 NUC on eBay for a frankly ridiculous price, so that's sorted.

I also had a good chat with the owner of Temple Audio who builds the supercharger LPSU. He thinks his unit will be fine to power the NUC. The unit is a large super capacitor.

I've previously compared a supercharger to a Sbooster with the former being superior.

I am also going to follow an online guide that walks you through shutting down non-residential windows resources too, allowing for a more dedicated audio platform.

Should be a fun little project, and I'll order a decent switch too, then my front and is fully sorted!
Did you get a supercharger in the end ?

Feedback ?
 

Psilonaught

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Did you get a supercharger in the end ?

Feedback ?
I bought a good quality 5a @ 19v power supply off AliExpress, the supercharger was only 2a @ 19v which I was concerned wasn't enough.

My power supply arrives tomorrow so will report back. I also bought fidelizer pro for the NUC.
 

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