Thursday, May 21, 2009

Audiophile HTPC (Multimedia PC) Project

One of my colleagues, Chow has just bought Cambridge Audio Amplifiers with Polk Audio speakers. After using the WD TV HD Media Player for a week, he got a better idea - HTPC (Home Theater PC) ! 

As defined by Wiki's site, a Home Theater PC (HTPC) or media PC is a convergence device that combines the functions of a personal computer and a media center software which feature video and music playback, and usually but not always also digital video recorder functionality. 

It usually has a 10-foot user interface and is connected to a television or a television-sized computer display, and is often used as a digital photo, music, video player, TV receiver and digital video recorder, and normally controlled with a remote control. 

After going through some specs, we finally came to the conclusion that SilverStone LC 20 enclosure ( will be the appropriate audiophile PC for Chow's requirement.

I went with Chow to Low Yat during lunch break and we quickly settled for the enclosure together with Win-tel setup hardware. Another two main components of the HTPC are the SilverStone's Silent 440w True Power Supply and Asus Xonar Essence STX high-end audiophiles sound card.

Some of the defining features of the new Asus Xonar Essence STX card are:
- Burr Brown 1792A DACs 
- LM4562 and JRC 2114D’s stock build opamps 
- Swappable opamps 
- Discrete power source motherboard bypass 
- Nichicon caps 
- EMI shielding 
- Separate power sources for line, and headphone output

Once the time passed office hour, Praga, Donald, Chow, Lee and myself got busy assembling the HTPC. It was quite difficult at first with the front panel cabling... there are so many of them!

The system was up and running without OS after two tiring hours. After a quick setup with Windows 7 Release Candidate 2 DVD plus all the drivers and applications for HTPC... the cool multimedia remote control works perfectly.

That's a completely new experience for me and other colleagues. Perhaps one day, I could build mine too!

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