Originally Posted by enricoclaudio
Hey Don, I have a question not related with Rythmik. I would like to know your opinion on the XMC-1. I have been looking to update my Marantz SR7008 for something better (audio wise). I don't use Audyssey at all for stereo music (only for multichannel concerts and movies) because I hate how it change the sound on my speakers. For 2 ch music I have a Parasound Halo P5 + Oppo 105D. But if Dirac does a better job than Audyssey I'm IN for sure. Also, I read that the new XMC-2 Gen 3 in coming any time this year so most probably I will wait for it instead of jumping into the XMC-1 Gen 2. The RMC-1 is out of the question because is too expensive and overkill in my 5.2 setup. Any input from you or any other members would be really appreciated
Enrico, I've been using Dirac Live for PC for years, and I love it. Previously, I was using Audyssey XT32 Pro.
I felt that Dirac was a huge improvement over Audyssey.
These were the main differences:
1) While the Audyssey Pro package allows you to disable the awful "midrange compensation" and select a preset curve, it is buggy, and the target curve tuning is impractical to use, due to a 20 minute iteration time. You can't dial it in, and audio memory just isn't good enough for a 20 minute comparison. By contrast, Dirac has a better UI, allows a 1-2 minute iteration time, and allows instant A/B comparison of target curves on some versions (although not XMC-1.). You can shorted the iteration time by starting with 2.1 channels and unchecking sampling rates you aren't using to compare. Then, when you find the right curve, you can extend to surround and all sample rates.
2) Overall, I felt that Audyssey sounded more processed, adding a bit of muddiness to the sound, while Dirac sounded more pure/less processed.
I felt that 1+2 combined to be a big difference, on par with upgrading speakers.
Before spending money on it, though, I'd recommend testing the free PC trial to see if you find it to be worth the money. A lot of people love Dirac, but not everyone. You should get a calibrated mic and boom mic stand before starting the clock on the demo. Also, since the PC demo supports 4 target curve presets with instant switching, it can be useful for finding your perfect target curve, then using that with the XMC-1.
A few more tips with Dirac:
1) Avoid boosting your speakers' high and low frequency extension, since this can boost distortion.
2) Pay attention to the impulse response graph as you tune the target curve. It sounds best if you balance good frequency response and good impulse response. The difference between the measured curve and the target can influence that impulse graph.
3) Pay attention to the clipping indicator, and adjust gains and/or the overall curve height to avoid clipping. The clipping is soft, so it's easy to overlook it and not notice, but of course you can get much better results without clipping.
4) Fine tune the target curve with multiple listening sessions, since your perception inevitably shifts so much for each session. It took me 3 sessions before I settled on a target curve that sounded best with fresh ears.
The main Dirac options these days are:
1) I use JRiver + Dirac PC & HDMI out to my XT32 receiver (with MultiEQ disabled.) Downsides: This limits me to Dirac with the PC source, and JRiver doesn't have an Atmos decoder.
2) MiniDSP downsides: Fixed 48khz sample rate on the DDRC88 version, with extra AD/DA.
3) XMC-1 downsides: No Atmos, single preset (no A/B switching)
4) Arcam downsides: single preset, some controversy on the implementation
5) Datasat downsides: $$$$$
If you don't care about Atmos or other sources, the JRiver + Dirac PC option is fantastic and cost effective.
No additional AD/DA, no sample rate conversions, support for hires sample rates (if you care - I don't), and more computing resources available (possibly a higher quality implementation, although Dirac hasn't confirmed or denied that).
JRiver does a lot of things right. Focus on audio/video quality, great library management, great 64-bit DSP options (including flexible bass mgmt!), can output audio in exclusive mode rather than going through Windows' lower quality resampler/mixer.
If you can live without Atmos or other sources, JRiver + Dirac PC is hard to beat.