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  1. #31

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    For 300 you're in that price range where you can probably find a used Mac mini.

    I can't say if it's better than what you're looking at because I don't know that gear, but I can tell you it would make an excellent choice for what you're wanting to do and that's what a lot of people buy them for.

    If you went that route you could just use your existing iTunes setup and you could use the remote app on your phone to control the playback, super easy.

  2. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by AsSiMiLaTeD View Post
    For 300 you're in that price range where you can probably find a used Mac mini. If you went that route you could just use your existing iTunes setup and you could use the remote app on your phone to control the playback, super easy.
    As in Mac Mini laptop or Mac Mini desktop?

    Quote Originally Posted by AsSiMiLaTeD View Post
    I can't say if it's better than what you're looking at because I don't know that gear, but I can tell you it would make an excellent choice for what you're wanting to do and that's what a lot of people buy them for.
    Yeah, the Sandy Bridge thing is new, I am willing to be a Mac Mini will have better graphics. This is Intels responds to AMD's APU processor as the Sandy Bridge has onboard graphics from what I understand.

    I hadnt thought about the Mac Mini. Will have to do some research, only thing with that is you cant just upgrade the HDD later on and keep it in the same enclosure. Thats one nice thing about that build above, I can just buy a really big 2.5 HDD later on and replace the 3.5mm one with it, or keep it as extra storage.
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  3. #33

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    The Mac Mini is a desktop computer, small form factor using laptop parts. It's a great option for your purpose. The hard drive doesn't pop right out but it's not too bad. I'd say if you're capable of building that machine then you'll be able to replace the hard drive in a Mini.

    Anyway, just a thought
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  4. #34

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    Yeah I looked at a couple on CL didn't realize you could pop the HDD out and replace it.
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  5. #35

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    A few notes on the the Mac Mini route given a few questions I've received via PM.

    First, when it comes to Apple computers there are basically two categories, the good and the suck. For the most part, the Intel machines are good and the PowerPC machines not so much. There may be some exceptions in each category, but for the most part that's a good rule of thumb. Apple quit using PPC processors in all their machines several years ago, though which year precisely depends on what machine you're looking at - anything with a G in the name (G4, G5, etc) is a PPC machine. Whilw a PPC machine might work for a music server I personally wouldn't recommend it because alot of programs are only for Intel Macs, the PPC machines just aren't worth the trouble.

    When you hear people say something like "Macs are underpowered and overpriced" they're usually referring to the PowerPC models.

    I mentioned using your iPhone as a remote for the computer, this works over Wifi. So your phone needs to connect to the same network your computer is on (your computer can be hard-wired or on wifi). I don't believe the Remote app works via bluetooth.

    Swapping the hard drive isn't too bad in the Mac Mini. It's not designed to be a user replaceable part, but if you can build a PC it shouldn't be a problem for you. It will vary by model, but you should be able to find instructions for your model online.
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  6. #36

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    I thought I'd posted this previously but I don't see it, but I'd like to share an alternative approach to what you're doing. I've spent the last year trying to accomplish what I believe you're trying to do, get a decent sounding headphone rig for use in the workplace that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. I feel like I'm qualified to speak given the amount I've time and effort I've invested into getting the setup I want, but obviously YMMV.

    I"m not sure if your requirements are aligned with mine, so I should start with my needs that way you can stop reading here if we're not looking for the same things. My list is pretty simple though

    1 - I want good sound. I know I"m not going to be able to re-create my proper headphone rig from home at the office, but I do need good sound.
    2 - I doin't need all 4500 CDs loaded, but I need at least all the stuff I listen to on a regular basis, around 400 albums or so.
    3 - Must have ability to play lossless files, kinda goes hand in hand with #1
    4 - Headphones need to have a sealed design, such that I don't have sound leakage into the surrounding environment. I"m at work, and other people don't want to hear my music.

    I've tried lots of setups (using my work PC with an external hard drive with a DAC/HeadAmp, using the Macbook with a Dac/HeadAmp, driving headphones directly from the Macbook, and alot of configurations of the 3 with different headphone gear). After many permutations of different gear and computers to drive things I've ultimately decided on a much simpler solution, I use an iPod Classic and the PSB M4U 2 headphones.

    That's it, iPod and Headphones, nothing more.

    It's a very simple setup that sound absolutely superb. The PSB have an 'amped w/o noise cancelling' mode that sounds superb coming straight out of an iPod. No DAC or anything, just playing lossless files coming straight from the headphone out of the iPod. The PSB use two AAA batteries and get about 60 hours of playback, this is for the amped mode that I use, they also work without batteries in the passive mode.

    Does it sound as good as my proper headphone rig at home? Well, actually it's closer that I expected and than you'd think, but ultimately the headphone rig does outperform it, but certainly not by a mile and I'd argue that the PSB are even better for music where impact is more important. That's not a fair comparison though, the real question is 'Does it perform better than the other rigs I've tried at work?'.

    The answer to that is a bit more complicated. I will say that the setup I have now sounds better than any of the setups I've tried previously at work, but I attribute that mostly to the headphones. So if I were to take these headphones and hook them up to one of the setups I'd tried previously it may outperform the combo I'm using now, but certainly not by much, if even at all. I hooked the PSB into the headphone rig at home and while they did sound a tad better, it was a very small improvement and not something I'd ever hear at work while doing other things.

    Let me put it another way, I have the Macbook Air and a couple DAC/HeadAmp combos that I already own and could use at work, and I still choose to use the iPod setup.

    I did upgrade the hard drive in the iPod from the 160 to a 250 GB drive, but now that I've got all the music I need loaded I'm not even using up all of the 160. It's nice to have the extra space and know that I can load up more of my music if I want but in retrospect if I were doing it over again I'd save the coin on the 250GB drive and not worry about the upgrade.

    What's important though is that I'm 100% completely satisfied with the sound and the setup overall. It's what I'd call fairly inexpensive, $225 for the iPod and $400 for the headphones (both bought new could be had for less used), and about a buck per week in batteries for the PSB.

    What's funny is that I also this setup around the house, I can get away with this because they sound so good and yet are also portable. Before, whenever I wanted to listen to music on my headphone rig I'd go into the office, warm up the tube amp and sit at the computer or in the recliner and listen. Now I can sit in the living room with the wife, watch what's on the TV or read a book and get my music fix for the day. I've spent the last two weeks in the recliner in the living room 'watching' the olympics, reading Jurassic Park and listening to my music. It's nice not to be restricted to the office when I want to listen to music. I only crank up the headphone rig now when I"m going to be at the computer for a while or when I'm in the mood for some serious listening, funny thing is that with the tablet I'm spending less and less time in front of the computer these days.

    So there's my $.02, fwiw
    Last edited by AsSiMiLaTeD; 08-13-2012 at 11:48 AM.
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  7. #37

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    Thanks for that input. In looking over your requirements mine are similar, however I am looking for a great sounding rig that I can listen to both at home and at work. I will transport it as need be so its got to be somewhat portable (as in briefcase carry able). I like you need closed can’s so the Grado SR2’s I listened to and loved are out both for price and because they are open cans.

    I think for me with my Windows knowledge level and computer building skills the Windows based system paired with something like a Audio GD NFB-12, NFB-5 or Compass unit and headphones is going to be my ticket for right now. All these are both USB DAC's as well as headphone amps so they cut down on the total number of boxes on my desk. Eventually I will probably move up to something better both DAC and headphone wise, but the Audio GD combo products seem like a good compromise for now.

    I need this system to be totally self sufficient for playback so using wifi isnt an option but Bluetooth is. I believe the Windows system I have in the works along with the case will allow me to use my iPhone (via Media Monkey app) to control playback for now. If not I have spare mice and monitors to use till I find a better solution.

    So for me the 300 dollar computer build + 250 DAC/Headphone amp + headphones is probably my starting point. I may progress like you and slowly go to a much more portable rig, but I think this is the best for what I need right now.

    I do welcome any thoughts folks have on those Audio GD products listed above (Compass, NFB-16, NFB-5)
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  8. #38

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    Well, after looking through all of the posts, and since computer audio is horribly subjective, here is where I would look for anything regarding computer-based audio... the CAPS v2.0. http://www.computeraudiophile.com/co...rver-caps-v20/. It is a pricey solution, but the research is exhaustive on this product. Just another option for what it is worth. I looked through the thread and did not think I saw this mentioned, so if i missed it my apologies.

    I built one of these about 3 months ago... took a bit to find all the parts, but it is well worth the effort if you have computer-based audio as part of your system. I was using a combination of AppleTV (with iTunes) to external DAC and a SONOS unit with their interface software, all stored on a LaCie 2big network 2. The CAPS v2.0 allowed me centralize my media and have dramatically better sound quality, all in one unit. I have about 4500 CD's worth of audio ripped down as .WAV.
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  9. #39

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    So to break it down for everyone here is what I am needing opinions/thoughts on

    1. Audio GD Compass
    2. Audio GD NFB-16
    3. Audio GD NFB-5
    4. Matrix mini-i

    My main source will be lossless files either in iTunes (AIFF) or MediaMonkey (FLAC). More than likely iTunes will be the main source.
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  10. #40

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    In that list of 4 the Matrix mini-i seems to be at a disadvantage. The Audio GD stuff is solid, it's just a matter of the level of performance and features you want between the 3 you have listed. If buying new, be aware of the 4% paypal fee and the shipping charges.

    H9
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

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  11. #41

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    I'm not gonna sit here and say that the portable setup I use now will sound better or as good as the setup you're looking at, but I'll say it will sound damn close. You're going to run into the same issue that myself and everyone else in this situation faces though, the effect that closed headphones have on the sound

    Closed headphones have a materially different sound than open headphones, and nothing you do upstream with your gear is going to change that. It's physics, plain and simple. I know because I've spent the last year trying to get the sound of my open cans with closed cans and lots of different gear, trust me it just ain't gonna happen.

    If you want the ultimate sound you're going to have to spend more money and maybe go with open cans depending on what you're looking for. My point here is that in your budget I don't think you're going to get much better sound by going with the setup you're considering vs a more portable setup like I've got, I know I didn't.

    It sounds like you're already set on your next movie, and I know everyone doesn't have the same needs as I do, but I'd suggest that you at least consider the following:

    I would consider two rigs. If you don't need closed headphones at home and want the absolute best sound quality at home then I would look into building a headphone rig that is specific for home and the ultimate sound. And for work or on the road I would at least look into a setup like mine, PSB cans driven from something like an iPod or Cowon. It means ultimately spending more money, but you could start with a portable rig for now and get 99% of the sound you'd get from the setup you're looking at and ultimately have more flexibility and buil;d the high end rig as funds allow.

    If you don't want to go that route AT LEAST try the setup I'm proposing. You already have an iPhone, and though not identical to the iPod its close enough to try it out. Load up some lossless files on there and give these PSB headphones a listen. See if there's a dealer near you that will let you listen (I bet there is) or worst case get a pair from somewhere like Crutchfield were you can return them if you don't like them.

    I don't guarantee that everyone will like the sound because we're all different, but I'm convinced everyone should at least listen to the combo and decide for themselves, and you can essentially try it out for free since you already have half the setup.
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  12. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by heiney9 View Post
    In that list of 4 the Matrix mini-i seems to be at a disadvantage. The Audio GD stuff is solid, it's just a matter of the level of performance and features you want between the 3 you have listed. If buying new, be aware of the 4% paypal fee and the shipping charges.

    H9
    Yeah the NFB-5 honestly is probably out of my reach. The Compass is used but shipping from Germany and the NFB-16 would be new so I would have to pay those fee's but I think even then its under budget.

    The Compass intrigues me as it can be used as a pre-amp later on if I were to purchase another headphone amp. That and its allows you to swap out OP amps as well.

    The NFB-16 I like due mostly to cost and it can be run off battery most of the time for lower noise floor. I dont need to run off battery's since this will be a 24/7 connected to wall setup, but it would be nice to not have lots of cables.

    The Matrix Mini-i I threw in because its another nice unit as well. I ruled out (so didnt post) the Youlong U100.
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  13. #43

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  14. #44

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    Thanks for that face. Thankfully I can just use one of the 50 computer power cables I have already in place and later on maybe a pepster cable.

    Thought on the NFB-5? H9 and ZingoNFB already weighed in via PM.

    Basically how big a deal is asynchronous USB v standard USB?
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  15. #45

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    The post that Face linked to on the Audio GD is interesting, especially given the fact that the DAC I received from them (for the DAC shootout) was defective and had to be replaced. I"m not making an overall statement about their quality, but the two seemingly unrelated items do raise some questions about their QC.
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  16. #46

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    The importance of asynchronous USB depends on the design of the DAC. With some its less important because they reclock the signal anyway. I'd argue it carries about the same importance as a chip used in a DAC - it can impact the sound but a DAC overall is about more than just the chip, it's about overall design.

    The same applies to asynch USB. It's easy to get hung up on that aspect, and I did for a long time. But ultimately the DAC that won my shootout and is my favorite is a PeachTree that doesn't have asynch USB.
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    I too bought a used Audio GD product and it had a defective DIR 9001 reciever chipset. I swapped power cables between the dac and tube integrated because the one Trey made for me is longer and the dac sits farther away.

    I am wondering if the bad Audio GD cord (assuming it is in fact a mis-wired one) I have been using on my expensive tube integrated could damage it in some way. Last time I used it, I smelled something and it seemed one channel went out. I shut it down and tore it apart to see if I could see any brown/black parts, nothing. Closed everything up and haven't run it since.

    Could a defect if that kind ruin the output tranny of tube integrated or some other parts, or is it just saftey/shock potential hazard type thing?

    Sorry if this veering off course.

    H9
    Last edited by heiney9; 08-13-2012 at 04:44 PM.
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

    Pass Aleph 30; Eastern Electric Mini Max; Adcom GDA600; MIT S3/Z Pc; SDA 1C; Squeezebox; Tubes add soul!

  18. #48

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    Did anyone bring up the Keces DAC/HeadAmp combo? That's another option I would check into and based on my experience with each company would recommend over the Audio GD, although in fairness have not heard the combo from either company.
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  19. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by AsSiMiLaTeD View Post
    Did anyone bring up the Keces DAC/HeadAmp combo? That's another option I would check into and based on my experience with each company would recommend over the Audio GD, although in fairness have not heard the combo from either company.
    That's the one I recommended when he first started asking questions, but I think it's out of his price range. That is still one I would recommend over the Audio GD NFB-5. That said, I enjoy both my Audio GD NFB-3 and Keces DA-151, with the Keces getting the nod because it's a bit more organic, has a better soundstage and better bass delineation.

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    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

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    Quote Originally Posted by AsSiMiLaTeD View Post
    I'm not gonna sit here and say that the portable setup I use now will sound better or as good as the setup you're looking at, but I'll say it will sound damn close. You're going to run into the same issue that myself and everyone else in this situation faces though, the effect that closed headphones have on the sound

    Closed headphones have a materially different sound than open headphones, and nothing you do upstream with your gear is going to change that. It's physics, plain and simple. I know because I've spent the last year trying to get the sound of my open cans with closed cans and lots of different gear, trust me it just ain't gonna happen.

    If you want the ultimate sound you're going to have to spend more money and maybe go with open cans depending on what you're looking for. My point here is that in your budget I don't think you're going to get much better sound by going with the setup you're considering vs a more portable setup like I've got, I know I didn't.

    It sounds like you're already set on your next movie, and I know everyone doesn't have the same needs as I do, but I'd suggest that you at least consider the following:

    I would consider two rigs. If you don't need closed headphones at home and want the absolute best sound quality at home then I would look into building a headphone rig that is specific for home and the ultimate sound. And for work or on the road I would at least look into a setup like mine, PSB cans driven from something like an iPod or Cowon. It means ultimately spending more money, but you could start with a portable rig for now and get 99% of the sound you'd get from the setup you're looking at and ultimately have more flexibility and buil;d the high end rig as funds allow.

    If you don't want to go that route AT LEAST try the setup I'm proposing. You already have an iPhone, and though not identical to the iPod its close enough to try it out. Load up some lossless files on there and give these PSB headphones a listen. See if there's a dealer near you that will let you listen (I bet there is) or worst case get a pair from somewhere like Crutchfield were you can return them if you don't like them.

    I don't guarantee that everyone will like the sound because we're all different, but I'm convinced everyone should at least listen to the combo and decide for themselves, and you can essentially try it out for free since you already have half the setup.
    I just saw this.

    Here I guess is what I am thinking. Rather than two setups, one at home, one at work, why not just put it all into one rig with 2 different headphones. Yes I have an iPhone but its only 16 gig's and I cant even load it fully with all the music I like to listen to a a decent bitrate as it is. That and those PSB headphones are just a bit too pricey for me to get without that being the ONLY thing I get.

    I figured I would build a really good rig (amp, source, etc) that allows me to listen with different cans but the same source. That saves me from having to have 2 different sources to carry around, update, etc. Honestly at home if I am going to listen to anything its through my rig downstairs. The computer will allow me to either go direct via HDMI to my Integra for its DAC's or use the same USB DAC if I want in that system allowing me both a work & home setup with headphones as well as with my main rig. That saves me buying something like a Squeezebox as well as setting up a portable work rig.

    I plan on getting a nice set of closed headphones for work for now. If/When I start really listening via headphones at home often enough then I will look into open cans.

    Until then I think this setup gives me a lot of flexibility in my setup with regards to connecting it to different systems without compromising audio quality.
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    Quote Originally Posted by AsSiMiLaTeD View Post
    Did anyone bring up the Keces DAC/HeadAmp combo? That's another option I would check into and based on my experience with each company would recommend over the Audio GD, although in fairness have not heard the combo from either company.
    Quote Originally Posted by heiney9 View Post
    That's the one I recommended when he first started asking questions, but I think it's out of his price range. That is still one I would recommend over the Audio GD NFB-5. That said, I enjoy both my Audio GD NFB-3 and Keces DA-151, with the Keces getting the nod because it's a bit more organic, has a better soundstage and better bass delineation.
    I tried looking for it but Acoustic Fun pulled all the Keces stuff from their site so the only place I can see things is their non english site: http://www.keces.com.tw/
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    Hmmm....I was there the other day, last week or so.

    H9
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

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    This next question will be subjective but is there enough of a difference between 24/192 via coaxial and optical and 24/96 via USB only to warrant switching motherboards to one that has all three options?

    It appears some of the older Audio GD stuff has limitations on the inputs: "supporting up to 24Bit/96KHz via USB and 24Bit/192KHz via Coaxial and Optical inputs"
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    Quote Originally Posted by EndersShadow View Post
    This next question will be subjective but is there enough of a difference between 24/192 via coaxial and optical and 24/96 via USB only to warrant switching motherboards to one that has all three options?

    It appears some of the older Audio GD stuff has limitations on the inputs: "supporting up to 24Bit/96KHz via USB and 24Bit/192KHz via Coaxial and Optical inputs"
    hmm there might be, but i dont think it is cost efficient. i mean, at this point you have to ask yourselve whether the difference in sound is THAT much different to justify the cost of changing boards.

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    Quote Originally Posted by whitecamaross View Post
    hmm there might be, but i dont think it is cost efficient. i mean, at this point you have to ask yourselve whether the difference in sound is THAT much different to justify the cost of changing boards.
    lol, the computer hasnt been built yet, there is another board that has a optical out all the same options as what I was looking at and is all of 5 dollars more
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    I actually found a refurb board that is better than what I was looking at and is cheaper .

    Optical, HDMI, 4 SATA, USB 3
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    Generally speaking, USB is going to be better than optical out on most motherboards
    Main HT
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    Quote Originally Posted by AsSiMiLaTeD View Post
    Generally speaking, USB is going to be better than optical out on most motherboards
    Cool I will stick with the board I was looking at originally then. It doesnt have optical out, but does have HDMI just in case as well as 3 SATA ports and a eSATA. Otherwise the other choice I have has DVI and VGA and only 2 SATA, with no external one but its 20 bucks cheaper.

    Option 1 Foxconn H67S
    Option 2 Foxconn H61S

    Then its down to figuring out if I go with the Audio GD Compass or the NFB-5. On paper I like that the Compass has a line in so I can use it as a pre-amp for another source as well as for USB from a computer, but that doesnt mean it sounds as good as the NFB-5 does. The Compass is about 20 cheaper than the NFB-5.
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    So I found what I believe to be the best solution for my system that allows me to control media playback without using a monitor at all. Its called the Mobile Mouse Pro (Remote / Trackpad) By R.P.A. Tech. According to their demo here you can customize buttons to start programs on your computer. The then allows you to skip pause, ect just like a regular program. It doesnt however show you your library on screen.

    I looked and there is a Remote app for iTunes that shows you your library, ect but I cant find out if it works if your connected to an ad hoc network which is what I really want to know as I could just install a cheap network card into the computer create an ad hoc network and then use the Remote app to control everything from my iPhone which would be MUCH preferred.

    I started an additional thread here since this is a different topic but ties into this discussion
    Last edited by EndersShadow; 08-17-2012 at 01:07 AM.
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    Just a brief update:

    Ordered the ITX-6 case, and have the NFB-5 on its way to me. Dialing in the motherboard choice now, and have the CPU and memory I want dialed in. Also have some ideas on a good aftermarket heatsink to replace the stock Intel one, but want to see how it performs both noise and size wise before spending more. Also will be replacing the stock 80mm fan on the case most likely, however I want to try and undervolt it first to see if I can save a couple bucks for now and get the case fan later in the year.

    Its been a bit since I looked at components and PCI Express slots so I apologize that this is a pretty dumb question. All the motherboards have a PCI Express 2.0 x 16. Can I put a wireless card in that slot even if its NOT a x 16 slotted card? I think the slots are backward compatible so I could put a wireless PCI x4 card in it and have it work, but am not sure
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