Computer-Based Audio/Video System Evaluator

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The images below show our computer-based, audio/video hardware and software evaluators. A description of our home-based evaluator system is here.

Our computers:

  • Self-built Pentium IV 2.8MHz/ RAM 1.0 GB. Using an Antec Sonata Tower w/380 watt power supply, isolated with Dynamat insulation. Additional cooling via internal 80 mm Papst 8412NGL Quiet-Case Fan. Tower rests on Audioquest Sorbothane feet with two VPI Bricks on top of tower to further damp and curtail power-supply-based electromagnetic distortion. Video card: ATI Radeon 9600 with 256 MB video RAM. Sound card: M-Audio 24/96 Audiophile. Motherboard: Asus P4800 Deluxe. Hard-drives: Two Hitachi 160 GB Deskstar drives in VIA Raid 0 configuration. Drives currently used: BenQ DW1640; Sony DRU-530A; Lite-On LTC-48161H.

  • "Souped up" Quantex 800MHz/Win 98SE system: Video Card: ATI All-in-Wonder 64 MB video RAM. Ultra 400 watt power supply. Sound card: Creative SoundBlaster Audigy 2 ZS. DVD/RW drive: Sony DRU-530. Other DVD and CD-R/RW drives by Toshiba and Sony.

Audio system comprised of:

  • Headphone System 1: Sennheiser HD 650 driven by a Meier Audio Headamp 2
  • Headphone System 2: Sennheiser HD 600 driven by a HeadRoom Little (using premium processor) w/More Power (power supply)
  • Speaker System 1: Monsoon Audio Sonigistix MM-1000 Speakers
  • Speaker System 2: Cambridge SoundWorks MicroWorks II Amplified Multimedia/Computer Speaker System
  • Speaker System 3: Cambridge SoundWorks PC Works

Video Display:

  • Samsung SyncMaster 1100DF 19" CRT monitor
  • Samsung SyncMaster 900DF 17" CRT monitor
  • EIZO FlexScan L367 14" LCD monitor
  • ViewSonic VP191b 19" LCD monitor

Software:

  • InterVideo WinDVD
  • CyberLink PowerDVD
  • Adobe Audition (for audio analysis)

Other equipment and accessories used with the PC-based system:

  • Musical Fidelity A324 192 KHz Upsampling Digital-to-Analog Converter
  • Pioneer Elite DV-59AVi CD/DVD-A/DVD-V/SACD player (connected up to computer monitor via HDMI to DVI cable adapter from RAMelectronics)
  • Meier Audio CORDA Headamp 2 (headphone amplifier)
  • Sennheiser HD-650 with Cardas Cable
  • Marigo Stealth 3-D Ultra Thin DVD / CD Mat
  • Panasonic PV-GS200 MiniDV camcorder
  • Pantone ColorVision SpyderPRO color analyzer
  • ADS Tech Pyro A/V Link

Notes:

All monitors' gray scale, among other parameters, were calibrated to D6500 using the ColorVision SpyderPRO color analyzer and the Digital Video Essentials and Avia DVDs.

The self-built computer is our main video-quality-assessing evaluator. Why did we build it ourselves? Quite simply, there was nothing available on the market that could come anywhere near the performance level we wanted...well, nothing less than $5,000. High-performance is a critical issue when it comes to playing back PC-based high-definition programming, such as Microsoft's WMV-HD in 1080p mode. On this PC, we have deliberately installed a minimum of software -- i.e. only the essentials -- to keep the video applications (software DVD players) running smooth. This includes the non-usage of virus protection (the unit is almost always "un-networked").

The PC drives are defragmented regularly, and all components' drivers and firmware are updated when a new/improved versions become available. This PC is almost exclusively used for audio and video tests.

Dell 5100 laptop 2.4 MHz using separate EIZO 14 inch LCD monitor; Self-built 2.8 MHz with Samsung Syncmaster 1100DF 19 inch
Above: Command and control! On the right: the self-built, high-performance multimedia/video PC (the PC tower is on bottom shelf under left keyboard-mouse slide-out tray); it is coupled to the Samsung 19 inch monitor. On the right: Dell Inspirion 5100, coupled to an EIZO 14" LCD monitor (the laptop's own display panel is not used).

Quantex 800 MHz -- excellent for DVDs but cannot do WMV HD
Above: "Souped Up" Quantex 800 MHz with 17" Samsung SyncMaster 900DF monitor. ATI All-in-Wonder graphics card; Antec processor cooler; Ultra 400 watt power supply. Operating system: Windows 98SE.

image of Khurram building multimedia PC
Above: Building the "ultimate" video/multimedia PC. Notice the side cover in the back (sitting upright on the chair): The aluminum-foil-looking stuff stuck to it is Dynamat -- a superb, acoustical damper.

Self-built Antec Sonata based computer: 2.8 Mhz
Above: Self-built PC; The finished product: 2.8 MHz / 1.0 GB RAM "video computer" in an ultra-quiet Antec Sonata tower. The tower was further damped with Dynamat. The Meier Audio CORDA 2 headphone amplifier, on top of the tower, is being used to test the audio card.

Self-built computer -- the tower rests upon four Audioquest Sorbothane feet
Above: Rear view of the self-built PC, showing the tower resting on Audioquest Sorbothane foot pads. One pad is placed under each corner of the tower. The pads absorb the vibrational energy generated in the tower. Vibrations are caused by myriad sources: the 60-hz "buzz" from the transformer, the vibrations from the high-velocity hard-disk drives, CD/DVD drives, and the cooling fans.



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