Item T1 Kit Maximize

Item T1 Kit

The new 2016 T1 Phase IV Kit has revised power supply, USB and case options for greater flexibility and transparency. Build your own Silver or Black edition, or something in between, using our turnkey optimised OS: Linux and/or Windows.

More details

  • Standard
  • Zetta
  • Zetta +
  • Celeron
  • i5
  • Fractal Node
  • HD Plex H5
  • Isobus / USB3
  • Isobus / JCAT
  • Isobus* / JCAT

£ 699.00

The T1 is available in kit form, including everything you need to build your own  audio-optimised computer player. No previous experience is necessary. No soldering is required. All instructions – and completely audio-optimised, builds of Windows 8.1 or  OpenElec – are provided.

The most versatile digital source
• Converts and plays CDs, studio master downloads and internet streams
• Plays all file formats, gaplessly
• Universally compatible with all internet audio: including Spotify, Mog, iPlayer, etc
• Airplay compatible for 2016
• Compatible with every external DAC currently available
• Compatible with Sonos and Squeezebox systems up to 32/384
• Onboard storage – up to 6000 losslessly converted CDs
• Remote control with tablet or smartphone
• Plays files from SD cards or memory sticks
• Future-proof and upgradeable
• Fully HD capable - plays all video content up to 1080p

Features:
• Completely silent operation
• Choice of low-ripple, silent power supplies
• Choice of cases
• Choice of audio-optimised Windows or Linux operating system
• Choice of USB, SPDIF, Firewire and AES/EBU digital output stages

The Phase IV T1 is our fourth generation computer player - with new revisions for 2016. It's a CD-converter, music 'server', Spotify / iPlayer / web-radio / network streamer et al, but it's primarily an audiophile computer for playback of every known type of music file at all sample rates – from MP3 to Studio Masters.Despite the price tag, the T1 has been developed with specific intent for high-end audio systems – deploying linear power supplies, vibration damping, EM shielding and bespoke DC cabling. Inside, you'll find carefully chosen computer components: precisely no more powerful or energy consumptive than they have to be: streamlined for minimal galvanic noise and maximum efficiency.

Technical Specification:
• Upgradeable dual-core Haswell 22nm processor (five times more powerful than Atom-based machines)
• Silent high-end copper heatsink for low CPU temperature
• 2/4Gb dual channel 1600MHz memory for wide bandwidth audio playback
• 120GB solid-state storage as standard, expandable to 4Tb
• Dedicated USB output stage (PCIe card) electrically isolated from motherboard
• Total system draw: 12-18W typical
• Analog headphone output
• SoTM SATA filter installed
• DIMM power filter - new for 2016
• Cryo-treated shielded SATA cabling
• Vibration-damped, power-filtered, whisper-quiet 2.5" drives optional
• Ultra low-ripple (7mV) power supply with extensive linear/battery upgrade path
• Highly streamlined Windows 8.1 or OpenElec/Kodi Linux build with single-figure DPC latency
• Windows version includes XBMC, Foobar, VNC and full licence of JRiver Media Centre
• Dimensions (Fractal Node 605 case): 440mm (W) x 341mm (D) x 162mm (H).
• Dimensions (Streacom FC10 case): 440mm (W) x 351mm (D) x 96mm (H)

Options:

• New for 2016
The Phase IV is the first T1 to come as standard with a switching PSU, breaking a tradition almost ten years in the making. For the first time, in mid-2014, ultra-low-ripple ATX SMPS's became a reality. The real-world noise levels of this supply are better than the combination of a linear bench supply + DC-DC switcher like the PicoPSU – never rising above 10mV P-P and typically running closer to 5mV – figures comparable to an unstressed linear supply, and better in some cases than running a basic linear PSU hot, or in the upper half of its output.

Having pioneered the use of low-noise PSUs for computer audio since 2006, a decade later our simplified power supply options list remains at the heart of the T1's performance. The base kit now combines a superb, hugely overrated Leadex Superflower PSU with  inline power filters dedicated to key components. The Silver upgrade moves linear AC-DC rectification offboard and deploys the excellent new HDPlex DC-DC converter for ATX inputs. The Black upgrade features the HDPlex three-rail linear external supply - extending the tradition of all-linear ATX supplies for which the T1 has become renowned. Also new for 2016 is the option to install an effective in-slot DIMM power filter, raising the bar a little higher for transparent-sounding low-noise operation.

Developed during 2015, and now available for the first time as a standalone option, the new Isobus is considered fundamental to the T1 kit. It electrically isolates the DAC from the PC motherboard and enables a secondary linear PSU or battery to deliver the crucial 3.3V supply to the USB output card, providing the perfect foundation for installation of a JCAT, SoTM, Pink Faun or Adnaco card.

Also offered for the first time in the UK is a brand new I2S output option, using the dedicated Pink Faun card. If you have a DAC with an I2S input - such as the Wyred 4 Sound DAC2 - this is likely to bring a previously unavailable level of performance to your digital source.

Case
All basic T1 are now built in the Fractal Node 605 which has proven to be one of the most versatile cases for audio PCs: high quality construction, ample space for passive cooling, ventilation and uprated power and filtering components - plus simple, common sense layout and fixings - make this an ideal chassis for novice and experienced builders alike. The 2016 Phase IV T1 Kit comes with the most advanced passive CPU cooler available at this price point. Silver and Black Editions are built in a new aircraft-grade chassis featuring passive heatpipe cooling. For professional installations, a 4U Rack Mount case is available at no extra charge.

Software
The new default OS for all T1 machines is OpenElec Kodi - a complete media playback environment running out of a lightweight Linux shell. It's equally at home managing video, photo and music libraries with numerous remote control options via tablet, handheld devices or remotes. A heavily optimised build of Windows 8.1 + JRiver remains available as an option.

Processor
The standard T1 is supplied with a Haswell Pentium CPU which is well able to cope with the demands of delivering 24/192 and native DSD to a DAC via PCIe/USB. However, there seems to be a modest improvement with all source material when using a faster processor. This is hard to account for beyond the general principle of lowering jitter by improving response times, but our customers are almost unanimous on this point. In our view there are two clear-cut cases when a CPU upgrade is required for audio: first, when the machine is also intended for use as a multimedia player. The on-die Integrated HD graphics of the Haswell CPU will (nominally) play 1080p content via VLC - but the frame rate is poor. Complex scenes are choppily rendered. However, the current i3 processors feature the HD4600 graphics standard which is much better suited to this application. The second case relates to DSD resampling. If your DAC is capable of true DSD over USB, we strongly recommend you configure your machine with JRiver or HQPlayer to upsample your PCM to the highest DSD bitrate possible. This is actually rather demanding, and will expose the shortcomings of entry-level processors. We currently recommend a quad-core processor for this application and usually install a modestly-clocked i5 for DSD-resampling T1s.

Storage:
Thanks to reductions in pricing, the base specification for the T1 is now 120Gb SSD: fast, silent and big enough for around 300 albums in FLAC. If your library is no larger than 1Tbb, we strongly recommend a single solid state drive for best audio performance. We also install single or dual, quiet running, 2.5" drives for up to 5.5Gb internal storage. If the T1 is to be configured as a single-point player, we strongly recommend installing all your library in it, and NOT using network-attached storage (NAS drive/servers) unless you intend to share media around the home in multiple zones. We currently only supply and install Synoloogy NAS drives. Call for details. 

Optical drives
The T1 can be fitted with an internal or external optical drive. We generally recommend a USB external device that can be unplugged when not in use. Although the T1 is perfectly functional as a CD ripper, there's no advantage to ripping your music library with it: as far as we can tell, all bit-perfect CD rips are identical, fragmentation permitting. An optical drive is not included in the basic T1 spec.

Digital output stages (USB and SPDIF):
Because dedicated USB cards usually give better results than motherboard output (including the power-filtered Gigabyte DAC-UP equipped models) the standard Phase IV T1 features a carefully selected USB3.0 PCIe card ideal for dual-conduit output and a PCIe isolation system (Isobus) that provides an excellent environment for further upgrades. In standard form, USB output from the T1 draws zero power from the motherboard: data only is sent via the PCIe bus via a high bandwidth screened breakout cable.This permits precise plug-and-play control over how the USB stage is powered.

Addressing the supply and grounding of the 5V and 3.3V rails in operation during playback and commonly 'seen' by the DAC is the first priority for a computer audio transport. However it's important to understand that DAC and DDCs vary widely with regard to how they deploy the incoming 5V on a USB cable: some are entirely powered by it, many use it only to power the USB transceiver, and a minority dead-end it entirely. However, the inherent properties of USB make it difficult to escape the computer as a ground reference. Some DACs will therefore work intermittently, worse, or not at all when their incoming 5V rail is floating (ie, drawn from a battery). It recently became evident that (among other factors) the 25MHz clock and 3.3V > 1.5V supply of the USB chipset is influential on the behaviour of the DAC. This has given rise to a number of first generation products like the PPA, SoTM and JCAT USB cards - and bespoke-built stages in products like the Aurender W20 - aimed at providing optimised stages for low noise, low-jitter USB transfer. The T1 uniquely allows you to swap and upgrade - independently - the fundamental 5V and 3.3V supplies, as well as the PCIe card itself.

The Isobus containing the USB output card is powered via a filtered 12V feed and a wide-input switching regulator in standard form. This can be upgraded to a linear PSU with regulator bypass (Isobus+). Into this bus, a carefully selected USB 3.0 card is installed for audio output. Optionally, an SoTM or JCAT card can be specified.

If your DAC doesn't have a state-of-the-art USB input, you may benefit from an SPDIF converter - many of which are available in our home loan programme, ranging from £50 to £1300. The better the T1, the better the SPDIF converter will perform. But again the choice of SPDIF converter is a completely modular, plug-and-play decision - it's extremely simple to downgrade or upgrade down the line if/when you change DAC. Among similar top flight converters like the Audiophilleo, SoTM and Audiobyte Hydra - with their own various upgrade paths - the right SPDIF stage will probably depend on the connectivity of your DAC: the Audiophilleo is preferred for BNC connection, the SoTM for AES/EBU and the Hydra for DACs with I2S over HDMI. Rather like comparing a top-spec T1 with another top-spec component, it's reassuring to discover that the best digital transports and SPDIF converters converge on sounding identicaly 'not there'.

Kit build and optimisation service
Each DAC has differing requirements for USB setup, and it's just not possible to build a 'generic' USB transport. We've tried, and we just ended up spending more time with customers after-sale than the entry level machine could justify. However, we do still offer a pre-built T1 at an additional cost of £150. We usually ask that the customer sends us his DAC so we can optimise it, and load on their music library for a turnkey experience.

Feedback for Phase IV T1:

Setup was very easy (with a little help from yourself) . . . even a rookie like myself got to grips with it very quickly.”

The first thing that strikes you regarding the T1 is how eerily quiet it is. How was the T1 going to compete against the Mac/ Amarra combination? Particularly in the context of the Chord Hugo Dac – many users on "head-fi" show a preference for that combination. I attached the T1 to the Hugo via a Vertere UAB and Hugo > Naim 52 via Ar Lunar. Usually the initial few notes indicate how much you are going to like or dislike a product . . .  The T1/Hugo sounded very natural, detailed, warm and involving. It drew me in. I have home demoed various other DAC/ streamers that sounded clinical and uninvolving . . . not this combo. I had a smile on my face. I honestly did not think it would be considerably better than the Mac/ Amarra combo, but it was. And this was just the basic T1 configuration.”  – SS


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Item T1 Kit

Item T1 Kit

The new 2016 T1 Phase IV Kit has revised power supply, USB and case options for greater flexibility and transparency. Build your own Silver or Black edition, or something in between, using our turnkey optimised OS: Linux and/or Windows.

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