Since my discovery of JPLAY FEMTO running on regular Windows 10, I can never go back to any Linux-based players. There is too much compromise. While Euphony remains as one of the best Linux-based software which provides capability for Roon integration and streaming with Tidal and Qobuz, the sound quality (SQ) is a few classes below Windows 10 + JPLAY FEMTO.
In Audiophile Style Euphony discussions, all agree that using Euphony Stylus as renderer is much better than Roon. This was confirmed by the second reviewer, Shahril El Hefe. I know there are many who like Roon so much. However, the setup of AA Music Streamer will be for the best sound quality without any compromise.
Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC 2021 ENTRY LEVEL
Right now, the best operating system and playback software combination I have for Build 01 and 02 streamers (not with the reviewers yet) is Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2019 and JPLAY FEMTO. I am eagerly waiting for the release of Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC 2021 – Build 21H2. I have registered with a reseller. Initial release date was Oct 2021 but delayed to Nov 2021. Estimated OEM license price for Pentium Silver SoC J5040 target machine is very reasonable. It is called Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC 2021 ENTRY LEVEL. I need to download and test the trial version before finalizing on this. Unfortunately the trial version is only available after official release in Nov 2021.
Preview of Final Configuration
Those who are not PC-literate may prefer Linux-based system due to ease of use for systems and feature updates. Windows 10 systems need keyboard, mouse, and monitor. Luckily, any Windows 10 client can be accessed remotely if Remote Desktop is enabled. For Android tablets/phones, RD Client from Microsoft will allow connection to the music streamer without the need for keyboard, mouse, and monitor. User name and password only need to be setup once.
RD Client will only be used for systems maintenance or quick settings. For example, if the owner of AA Music Streamer purchased a new stand-alone DAC with USB input, then the USB DAC driver needs to be downloaded and installed. This can be done with RD Client. JPLAY FEMTO settings such as DAC selection and other parameters can be done with RD Client too. After the setup done, RD Client needs to be disconnected, otherwise SQ will suffer due to extra CPU load and network traffic when remote desktop is active.
The best playback software, JPLAY FEMTO, will be used. The OEM license is slightly cheaper. I am still waiting response from Marcin on the differences in license agreement for OEM versus regular license.
For playback control, Android’s BubbleUPnP is the app to use. The free version is limited to 16 songs in the playlist. I highly recommend buying the full version for RM15, can be used across multiple devices under the same email registration. Unfortunately, for IOS users, mConnect does not have full functionality. JPLAY is developing their own app for IOS, right now in Beta.
BubbleUPnP is a very capable app. First time users may struggle initially, but it will not take long before getting used to it. I like the look and feel of BubbleUPnP, especially when used with a tablet.
What About Streaming?
For streaming online music, it can be done through BubbleUPnP. For TIDAL, in BubbleUPnP’s settings goto ‘Local and Cloud’ > ‘TIDAL’ and enter your Tidal creds, exit settings. Then, select the ‘Local and cloud’ library, navigate to Tidal. JPLAY FEMTO should be used as the renderer. I have not done this myself since I am a purist who prefer local SSD playback, but the second reviewer Shahril El Hefe has tested TIDAL with JPLAY FEMTO renderer.
The AA Music Streamer is indeed a regular PC with audio-grade multi-rail linear power supply. However, it should not be treated as a regular PC. The apps installed should only be related to audio playback and USB DAC drivers. The streamer ships with the bare necessities with some tweaks to get the best SQ. I will not be able to control what the end user wants to install, but no other apps should be installed. If the user makes unnecessary app installations and changes, there will be no support to restore it.
Differences between Flagship and Entry-Level Models
Note: Both models will have custom toroidal transformers with switchable 115/230 VAC line voltage.
AA Music Streamer Release Date
It seems this will be at the mercy of Microsoft release date for Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC 2021 – Build 21H2. For those who cannot wait, I can also setup the streamer with highly-tweaked Windows 10 Client and JPLAY FEMTO.
But why buy? Better make my own music server…..
Everyone can build their own music server / streamer. There are some who prefer the most powerful CPU including XEON, or at least Core i7. To power such powerful CPU, the CPU EPS 12V Rail must have plenty of current. The cheapest true ATX linear PSU for that purpose is HDPLEX 500W ATX Linear Power Supply which retails for USD858 but it has been out of stock for a while. There will be messy cabling between the LPSU case and computer case. Some ‘purist’ may choose to buy another 5V LPSU for USB regen card and network card, even though HDPLEX 500W has 2 independent adjustable rails to do the same.
Most other power supplies like the lower-end HDPLEX with the phrase “DC-ATX” are actually based on DC-DC converters (aka SMPS) despite being fed by linear PSU. There are many offerings of DC-DC based ATX power supply, including from Taiko Audio DC DC-ATX which costs 1,250 Euro and is very low noise with 0.1mV ripple, very good indeed for DC-DC power supply. It needs to be fed with high-quality unregulated linear power supply which can cost a lot.
Some may choose the cheaper option which is using LPSU which is not true ATX power supply. This means there is no power supervisor which monitors the 12V, 5V and 3.3V rails. Instead, the DC rails are fed into motherboard all the time, typically combining 5V ATX and 5V Standby rails. In such situation, the motherboard’s Power Good (PGO) is pulled up to 5V using resistor so that motherboard sees that the power supply is good and ready to go.
Only after a person has attempted to build their own music server, he/she will realize it may not be that easy. If not done properly, expensive motherboard can get damaged. I am a bit lucky since I have damaged only 1 motherboard so far. I do have ATX power supply tester which is used to test newly built LPSU before it is connected to motherboard. Those attempting to build music server as one-off effort may even have to buy special tools including crimping tools and special connectors which will be used only once.