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Old 27th May 2010, 22:31   #1
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Default An Audiophile Computer in the making: frankmehta's Fiesta S

A big hello to everyone on team-bhp! As an active member of the ICE section of this wonderful forum over the last few years, I have learnt and experimented with a lot of stuff. Gone through a fair amount of equipment and finally attained the combination I found best.

I have been running an Eclipse CD7200 MKII, paired with a DLS, Clarion and JBL Amps to power the Alpine SPX-17PRO components, JBL W12GTI subwoofer and Morel Tempo coaxials respectively. I am VERY happy with my setup and feel the speakers and amplifiers are doing a FABULOUS job of handling what the source is throwing at them.

The source too, deserves special mention. The HALLOWED, Eclipse CD7200MKii, which till recently held the throne amongst the BEST sounding (and fully specced with USB, Bluetooth, 8V preouts, copper chassis etc) audiophile head units in the business. It still IS the best head unit I have ever heard and reproduces sources with a clinical honesty never seen before, in a car head unit. This basically means that it makes good stuff sound good, but sadly, also brings out the worst in bad quality recordings due to it's 'eagerness' to bring out the true colours of every track that you throw at it.

Which brings us to the main question: SOURCE. What do we mean by source?
By source, I mean the data being thrown at a head unit. I find it HIGHLY cumbersome to carry Audio CDs with me wherever I go. By Audio CD, I don't mean MP3/WMA/AAC cds. I mean good quality stuff. I am through with MP3s. *******ized, corrupt, noisy, lossy. Call them what you want. It's like playing a 128*128 pixel video in the HIGHEST of high end projectors. The resolution offered by even 320 kbps MP3s cannot stand up to a good recording on a good quality CD. Imagine compressing a 56-60 mb file into a 12 mb file. What do you get? A mess!
Rubbish in, Rubbish out. Everyone knows the rule, don't they?
As far as I see it, my equipment BEGS for a good quality source. And MP3s are definitely not the way to go.My head unit doesn't play FLACs and only does WAV in the form of Audio CDs.

Which brings us to the crux of the matter!
Why a CARputer?
I want to throw the BEST quality source at my equipment to really make it shine. I intend NOT to lose the sparkle of good, well recorded music at the very beginning, that is at the source stage itself.

What else do I want to do with my carputer?
I actually didn't want to do anything other than music, but since I was getting one, I thought I would spec it to do EVERYTHING that a carputer can do, within my means. I promise you, this is going to be ONE massive project. I am pulling all stops (resources, finances and time) to include maximum functionality into this project.

The idea is to keep the computer hardware itself very simple, but adding the right ancillaries and devices that go into making the carputer a special one.

Let's go through a review of what all is happening:

1. CarPuter (Processor + Motherboard +RAM + Hard disk drive) is nothing special, but I will need your advice for the same. More on that later

2. Sound and Video: NOW this is where I thought I shouldn't compromise. (BUT, being a Gujju that I am,) I didn't want to spend a bomb and I wanted to get the best within my budget. I wanted a card that did EVERYTHING with finesse and sounded good, beating others twice it's budget with elan.
The Asus Xonar D2X has been chosen for the mind boggling wizardry built into it.
The video will be handled by the Intel HD graphics that come built into the processor (in the 2010 range of Intel processors) through a DVi/DSub output. I can easily do 720P videos with this, and I don't intend to play FULL HD on the minute screen as I don't see ANY reason to do this. This is not a 42 inch screen that discerns small details like HD movies throw out.


3. GPS: Not too much research on this one, and the choice is obvious: It's the GlobalSat BU-353, which was chosen due to it's tried and trusted behaviour with car pc's world over.

4. OBD Scanner: My car supports a reasonably common protocol over the world: PWM and hence decided on a generic OBDII to USB scanner that is compatible with ELM327 and CANBUS protocols too. Most softwares support this scanner and the best part is it's ability to 'fuse' with my Front-End software.

5. Front End: By now, everyone might have guessed that my Front-end is going to be the latest version of Centrafuse (3.1.xxx. something) with navigation.

6. LCD: This is in the pipeline and I shall be updating this as I go ahead with it. I am in contact with a Team-Bhp member to get a screen for a decent rate. If not, then I am going to go ALL OUT and get the Xenarc 700TSV high contrast screen. More on that soon.

7. Keyboard and Mouse: The Lenovo N5910 is the best choice according to me for this application. Good aesthetics and portability is the main feature that enticed me to buy this.

8. Bluetooth: I intend to use something that is controlled by Bluesoleil (that is well known to Centrafuse) and will help in good communication with mobile phones.

9. USB Hub: A Logitech USB hub (4 port) will do duty for the devices in the front.

10. Reversing Camera: I need help in choosing this, as I have not done too much research in this regard. I intend to have something that does GOOD quality video even in low light conditions. Also, the reversing camera will be used as a DVR which is always on and will record constant road proceedings (maybe for accident investigations, evidence etc.) I might incorporate another camera through a TV tuner card and have it record the proceedings in front (at a later stage)

11. Microphone: I need a simple microphone to do it's duty to ensure that phone conversations are echo free and sound good to the listener on the other side.

12. Power Supply: An M4-ATX power supply has been chosen for the same. It gives out 250 W of power and is enough to suffice for all the devices I intend to power with it.

My questions:
CPU + MoBo: I intend to use a Core i3 530 processor with a Gigabyte USB3, DDR3 LGA1156 motherboard, with 2 GB of DDR3 RAM from Crucial/Corsair/Transcend etc, coupled with a healthy 500 gb 2.5 inch laptop hard drive to store all the data. An SSD is in mind, but that will be done as we move on, and if I feel the need to install it. Please suggest some options for a power efficient mini iTX motherboard if you can.

Cabinet: I intend to use the SMALLEST of cabinets possible, but I do need space for all the components. Please suggest if I should get something like the Zebronics/iBall ITX cabinets.


I have done A LOT OF research on Audio Processing and I think I will be able to get my system to do basic stuff like crossover settings, phase control, dsp of some order, eq (if needed) and time alignment. But I do need a lot of you DIY'ers help in making all of this possible. The keywords here are Console, VST, Audiomulch, Ozone etc.! So those who know what I am talking about, please help!
Once again, this entire project is meant to help make a simple 'load it, play it and enjoy it' carputer. I don't intend to get into technical intricacies of sound and video processing, that occurred a long time back in another carputer thread, where everything went haywire and made the OP look like an idiot.

Where can I get maps for Centrafuse?
I have heard that Satguide and Mapymyindia do maps for India, well. I can buy their yearly package if need be. Which one does them better? I intend to drive across Mumbai alone, and might use it for occasional (read: Once a year) road trips to outside Mumbai.

More on that as we move ahead with the installation and eventual powering on of the CARputer.
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Old 27th May 2010, 22:34   #2
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Some photos of the sound card that arrived in it's mail this week:
Attached Thumbnails
An Audiophile Computer in the making: frankmehta's Fiesta S-p1060045-desktop-resolution.jpg  

An Audiophile Computer in the making: frankmehta's Fiesta S-p1060046-desktop-resolution.jpg  

An Audiophile Computer in the making: frankmehta's Fiesta S-p1060047-desktop-resolution.jpg  

An Audiophile Computer in the making: frankmehta's Fiesta S-p1060048-desktop-resolution.jpg  

An Audiophile Computer in the making: frankmehta's Fiesta S-p1060049-desktop-resolution.jpg  

An Audiophile Computer in the making: frankmehta's Fiesta S-p1060050-desktop-resolution.jpg  

An Audiophile Computer in the making: frankmehta's Fiesta S-p1060051-desktop-resolution.jpg  

An Audiophile Computer in the making: frankmehta's Fiesta S-p1060052-desktop-resolution.jpg  

An Audiophile Computer in the making: frankmehta's Fiesta S-p1060053-desktop-resolution.jpg  

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Old 27th May 2010, 23:17   #3
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Another install!!??!!??! You Crazy Crazy Dentist!! :P
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Old 27th May 2010, 23:18   #4
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I do not know anything about carputers so I'll just wish you good luck
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Old 27th May 2010, 23:25   #5
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Wow. The sound card is absolutely drool stuff. This is one thread I'll be closely watching.
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Old 27th May 2010, 23:27   #6
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Being an audiophile, Why didn't you get the Asus Essence ST/STX?
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Old 27th May 2010, 23:36   #7
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Nice new project Franky. Can't wait to see the final product.

Well may I be the first to ask what is the next step? I'm sure this will satisfy you for what 6 months?
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Old 27th May 2010, 23:39   #8
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Thanks guys!

@ Nitrous: Here's a screenshot of the processors on the STX and D2X.
The D2X has a better processor as well as the ALL IMPORTANT TI Burr-Brown PCM1796 *4 DACS, the same ones in the holy grail of Car audio head units: The Clarion HXD2/DRZ9255
An Audiophile Computer in the making: frankmehta's Fiesta S-asus-xonar-d2x-vs-essence.jpg


Also, the STX dedicates a bit of it's precious VRMS (preout voltage) to the headphone amplifier built into it. I don't need something like that in the car. ALL the preout voltage MUST be dedicated to the RCA outputs
I would have chosen the Essence for it's astounding SNR hands down, but these 2 factors compelled me to get the D2X
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Old 27th May 2010, 23:39   #9
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Very interesting and good to read post. Best of luck FrankM
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Old 28th May 2010, 00:13   #10
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Finally the thread is up. All the best with the installation Frank.

Thinking of making another Mumbai Trip soon
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Old 28th May 2010, 10:56   #11
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All the best Frank.

Quote:
Originally Posted by frankmehta View Post
I have done A LOT OF research on Audio Processing and I think I will be able to get my system to do basic stuff like crossover settings, phase control, dsp of some order, eq (if needed) and time alignment.
How do you plan to do time alignment?
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Old 28th May 2010, 12:32   #12
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Way to go Frank, A Carputer the Fiesta, this going to be interesting. I know it will be a detailed writeup as always and am waiting to read it all.
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Old 28th May 2010, 14:28   #13
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What a fantastic list of components, Frank. I see you have put a lot of effort into the research. The D2X is a very good choice. I have heard lots of good things about it. Now coming to Centrafuse. Are you buying it or getting a cracked one?

Last edited by Gilead : 28th May 2010 at 14:30.
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Old 28th May 2010, 15:34   #14
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Frank Bhai.I was waiting for this thread.Its finally here.. Great choice of Equipment

As i am a Computer Hardware/Software guy.

I would suggest you to go for a Lower Config machine than this one if it is to be used only in Car.

You can save nearly 10k on the config alone.

Please let me know so that i can give u a detailed configuration of the same
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Old 28th May 2010, 15:58   #15
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How much have you kept aside for this computer?
Another question:-Will you use external crossovers?If not, then how will segregation of High, mid and low take place?
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