How to replace your home theater pre-pro with a HTPC! - Page 7 - AVS Forum
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post #181 of 217 Old 05-19-2014, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by edorr View Post

Good call. If you don't need the flexibility of a SSP or the last bit of 2 channel performance that can be squeezed out of a five figure DAC, running a PC or Mac (with Dirac Live) straight into the exasound is probably the best price performance achievable in MCH audio at this moment.

Yup, that is exactly my game plan for this setup. I only hope I am not bitten in the butt if some new format comes out with more than 8ch.
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post #182 of 217 Old 05-19-2014, 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by HFGuy View Post

Yup, that is exactly my game plan for this setup. I only hope I am not bitten in the butt if some new format comes out with more than 8ch.

I would not worry about it. I have my room wired for 7.1 but only use 5.0. Sounds just fine to me. If you're a music guy (as opposed to movies) it is a completely moot point anyway.
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post #183 of 217 Old 05-19-2014, 02:29 PM
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My current system I bought back in high school (13 years ago) and it was 5.1 .... so I guess I can live with 7.1 for a few years.
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post #184 of 217 Old 06-07-2014, 05:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Nyal Mellor View Post

I'm using the ExaSound E28 in our showroom setup on and off since we signed on as a dealer. We have a demo unit too if anyone wants to try it out. Lip sync you can deal with in JRiver, there is a setting for it. The ExaSound is great, and IMO better than the pro audio interfaces such as the Metric Halo LIO8 in terms of ease of use and ergonomics. If you want a pre-built server we have one that you can add a video card to: MS1.
How do you do room / speaker measurements once an Exasound is in place? Is it possible to use this route audio out to E28 via USB whilst audio in (to the computer) is done via a USB mic-pre-amp? Or is there some other complete solution?
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post #185 of 217 Old 06-07-2014, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Zydeco67 View Post

How do you do room / speaker measurements once an Exasound is in place? Is it possible to use this route audio out to E28 via USB whilst audio in (to the computer) is done via a USB mic-pre-amp? Or is there some other complete solution?

In the Dirac calibration tool, you simply specify the exasound DAC as audio output device and the USB mic preamp as the input device.
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post #186 of 217 Old 06-07-2014, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by edorr View Post


In the Dirac calibration tool, you simply specify the exasound DAC as audio output device and the USB mic preamp as the input device.

In theory, that is how you do it.  In practice, however, the exaSound (or its ASIO drivers) appears to have significant latency/buffering issues that preclude this.  The workaround is to feed the output of the HTPC through another device for the measurements/calibrations and then reinsert the e28 for playback.  I used the HDMI output to one of the following:  HDMI input on my Meridian 621/861 or an HDMI input on my Oppo BDP-105.  I have not tried it but it should also work with one of those inexpensive HDMI breakout boxes since the calibration signals are plain-vanilla multichannel PCM without any encoding. http://www.atlona.com/HD570.html or http://www.allaboutadapters.com/hddodtsdihdo.html

 

I understand that exaSound is working with DIRAC to resolve this issue.  If anyone has a better solution, please post it.


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post #187 of 217 Old 06-07-2014, 10:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Kal Rubinson View Post

In theory, that is how you do it.  In practice, however, the exaSound (or its ASIO drivers) appears to have significant latency/buffering issues that preclude this.  The workaround is to feed the output of the HTPC through another device for the measurements/calibrations and then reinsert the e28 for playback.  I used the HDMI output to one of the following:  HDMI input on my Meridian 621/861 or an HDMI input on my Oppo BDP-105.  I have not tried it but it should also work with one of those inexpensive HDMI breakout boxes since the calibration signals are plain-vanilla multichannel PCM without any encoding.

I understand that exaSound is working with DIRAC to resolve this issue.  If anyone has a better solution, please post it.

Well. I stand corrected. Most people won't have the hardware to do a MCH calibration using this type of workaround, so this issue seriously limits the usability of HTPC/Dirac/Exasound as a viable SSP alternative for those that want DRC.
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post #188 of 217 Old 06-07-2014, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by edorr View Post

Well. I stand corrected. Most people won't have the hardware to do a MCH calibration using this type of workaround, so this issue seriously limits the usability of HTPC/Dirac/Exasound as a viable SSP alternative for those that want DRC.
I know acourate can work around this sort of problem so high quality DRC is still an option for an exasound user.
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post #189 of 217 Old 06-07-2014, 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by edorr View Post

Well. I stand corrected. Most people won't have the hardware to do a MCH calibration using this type of workaround, so this issue seriously limits the usability of HTPC/Dirac/Exasound as a viable SSP alternative for those that want DRC.
Granted. However, this should be a temporary bump in the road.

Another feature/use for the Oppo.smile.gif

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post #190 of 217 Old 06-09-2014, 03:26 AM
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Originally Posted by 3ll3d00d View Post

I know acourate can work around this sort of problem so high quality DRC is still an option for an exasound user.
How does Accourate work around this problem? It'd be great to get a pointer to instructions.
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post #191 of 217 Old 06-09-2014, 06:00 AM
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How does Accourate work around this problem? It'd be great to get a pointer to instructions.

I believe you set an option in the logsweep recorder that surrounds the sweep with dirac clicks, you then measure the no of samples between the clicks and use this info to "fix up" the logsweep (some further details on what "fix up" means in this topic in the user group)

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post #192 of 217 Old 06-09-2014, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by 3ll3d00d View Post
 

I believe you set an option in the logsweep recorder that surrounds the sweep with dirac clicks, you then measure the no of samples between the clicks and use this info to "fix up" the logsweep (some further details on what "fix up" means in this topic in the user group)

Is that solving the same problem?


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post #193 of 217 Old 06-09-2014, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Kal Rubinson View Post

Is that solving the same problem?
It is solving the problem of the playback device using a different clock to the recording device (which is what i understood the problem to be).
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post #194 of 217 Old 06-09-2014, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by 3ll3d00d View Post

It is solving the problem of the playback device using a different clock to the recording device (which is what i understood the problem to be).

I believe the problem with the exasound is simply the processing delay of the DAC (including the processing taking place on the computer), which throws off Dirac. If the delay (which Dirac interprets as distance) is too long, the calibration probably does not work. I did a calibration with a PS Audio perfectwave DAC which also has a processing delay which worked OK. I believe I even calibrated my MSB for 2 channel with reclokcing on (0.5 sec delay) with no problem.
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post #195 of 217 Old 06-09-2014, 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by edorr View Post


I believe the problem with the exasound is simply the processing delay of the DAC (including the processing taking place on the computer), which throws off Dirac. If the delay (which Dirac interprets as distance) is too long, the calibration probably does not work. I did a calibration with a PS Audio perfectwave DAC which also has a processing delay which worked OK. I believe I even calibrated my MSB for 2 channel with reclokcing on (0.5 sec delay) with no problem.

fundamentally that seems the same problem; the system no longer accurately knows how long it actually takes to get from A to B and hence it no longer has an accurate view on time. By inserting such clicks before and after, you now have a reference for how long it really takes and can regain that accurate view of time. Obviously I can't say that with any certainty so take with an appropriately sized pinch of salt, it would be interesting to know for sure one way or the other.

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post #196 of 217 Old 06-09-2014, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by 3ll3d00d View Post

fundamentally that seems the same problem; the system no longer accurately knows how long it actually takes to get from A to B and hence it no longer has an accurate view on time. By inserting such clicks before and after, you now have a reference for how long it really takes and can regain that accurate view of time. Obviously I can't say that with any certainty so take with an appropriately sized pinch of salt, it would be interesting to know for sure one way or the other.

System delay issues are measured in milliseconds. Not sure how counting clicks would get you that level of accuracy...
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post #197 of 217 Old 06-09-2014, 02:04 PM
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Originally Posted by edorr View Post

System delay issues are measured in milliseconds. Not sure how counting clicks would get you that level of accuracy...
Sure and a single sample is way less than a milli smile.gif

They are just markers for the start and end of the actual sweep anyway, as long as you can distinguish that then you can see the delay.

To elaborate a little more, this is how i understand the mic alignment tool to work; high frequency Dirac emitted from each speaker and the offset (in samples) of the measurement tells you how far to move the mic (or delay the channel in the MC case)
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post #198 of 217 Old 06-09-2014, 03:44 PM
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Originally Posted by 3ll3d00d View Post
 

fundamentally that seems the same problem; the system no longer accurately knows how long it actually takes to get from A to B and hence it no longer has an accurate view on time. By inserting such clicks before and after, you now have a reference for how long it really takes and can regain that accurate view of time. Obviously I can't say that with any certainty so take with an appropriately sized pinch of salt, it would be interesting to know for sure one way or the other.

 

Ah.  I wondered if it was a  workaround for using DL but now I understand.

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System delay issues are measured in milliseconds. Not sure how counting clicks would get you that level of accuracy...

Milliseconds are easy.


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post #199 of 217 Old 06-09-2014, 05:24 PM
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Originally Posted by 3ll3d00d View Post


To elaborate a little more, this is how i understand the mic alignment tool to work; high frequency Dirac emitted from each speaker and the offset (in samples) of the measurement tells you how far to move the mic (or delay the channel in the MC case)

That makes sense to me since the wavelength at 5k is about 2.7" (would this also be the margin of error?). However, I have always wondered how the delay in a subwoofer is determined since the wavelengths are many feet long. I mean, which part of the wave is measured to calculate the delay?
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post #200 of 217 Old 06-10-2014, 01:18 AM
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That makes sense to me since the wavelength at 5k is about 2.7" (would this also be the margin of error?). However, I have always wondered how the delay in a subwoofer is determined since the wavelengths are many feet long. I mean, which part of the wave is measured to calculate the delay?
Offsets are reported in no of samples so this is about 0.357cm when using 96kHz.

Acourate aligns to the peak of the impulse, the workflow is described here but basically involves generating a crossover with delays built-in to separate the impulse from each driver, you then compare the actual recorded impulse against the theoretical impulse (of the XO) and then apply delays to your xo accordingly to align them. In other words, you never need to align a HF impulse against a LF impulse (that can be quite hard to do accurately).

Fwiw when I have done that then I have aligned against the initial rise of each impulse as a first step and then refined that by checking phase tracking through the XO frequency range. There are some notes on that process here (albeit this is for aligning 2 subs, same principles though)
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post #201 of 217 Old 06-12-2014, 03:26 PM
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So here is why HTPCs continue to be at the bleeding edge. After 6 months of trying to get a stable machine to run MCH and 2 channel and audio and video I threw in the towel and bought a dedicated MCH / video server and locked it down. It works OK. So now an automatic update of Jriver failed to install (some dll error). I tried uninstalling Jriver to reinstall it and I got another windows dll error. Cannot uninstall Jriver. I have no patience for this crap. Dropping it off to a local PC repair shop and let them figure it.

So don't be fooled - this stuff is extremely prone to breakage (for no apparent reason, or through no user error). The software is is just not robust enough for mainstream consumer use.
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post #202 of 217 Old 06-12-2014, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by edorr View Post
So here is why HTPCs continue to be at the bleeding edge. After 6 months of trying to get a stable machine to run MCH and 2 channel and audio and video I threw in the towel and bought a dedicated MCH / video server and locked it down. It works OK. So now an automatic update of Jriver failed to install (some dll error). I tried uninstalling Jriver to reinstall it and I got another windows dll error. Cannot uninstall Jriver. I have no patience for this crap. Dropping it off to a local PC repair shop and let them figure it.

So don't be fooled - this stuff is extremely prone to breakage (for no apparent reason, or through no user error). The software is is just not robust enough for mainstream consumer use.
Hmmm. I've got 2 running at the moment without any bumps. Even made updates. I will admit that I do not do any video (yet) but they seem to accommodate all my fiddling.

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post #203 of 217 Old 06-12-2014, 03:45 PM
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Originally Posted by edorr View Post
So here is why HTPCs continue to be at the bleeding edge. After 6 months of trying to get a stable machine to run MCH and 2 channel and audio and video I threw in the towel and bought a dedicated MCH / video server and locked it down. It works OK. So now an automatic update of Jriver failed to install (some dll error). I tried uninstalling Jriver to reinstall it and I got another windows dll error. Cannot uninstall Jriver. I have no patience for this crap. Dropping it off to a local PC repair shop and let them figure it.

So don't be fooled - this stuff is extremely prone to breakage (for no apparent reason, or through no user error). The software is is just not robust enough for mainstream consumer use.
Sorry, can't agree with you here. I've run HTPC's for years and have had few, if any, problems.
Maybe I'm just lucky..
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post #204 of 217 Old 06-12-2014, 04:04 PM
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Sorry, can't agree with you here. I've run HTPC's for years and have had few, if any, problems.
Maybe I'm just lucky..
That is the whole point. I have bought this PC configured by pros - installed Jriver and Dirac, never touched anything and an upgrade just failed. Either I'm a total idiot or whether or not your HTPC will work is a matter of luck.
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post #205 of 217 Old 06-12-2014, 04:58 PM
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Dropping it off to a local PC repair shop and let them figure it.
That's an even bigger mistake! Especially with a complex niche application like JRiver. Why not troubleshoot it here with the experienced JRiver users. Or try the HTPC forum.

Missing DLLs and runtime libraries are quite common with software upgrades. The fix can usually be downloaded from reputable sites.

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Sorry, can't agree with you here. I've run HTPC's for years and have had few, if any, problems.
Maybe I'm just lucky..
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That's an even bigger mistake! Especially with a complex niche application like JRiver. Why not troubleshoot it here with the experienced JRiver users. Or try the HTPC forum.

Missing DLLs and runtime libraries are quite common with software upgrades. The fix can usually be downloaded from reputable sites.
It started as a Jriver dll error, and trying to deinstall Jriver I am now getting a windows dll error. I agree the local repair shop could be making things worse before they get better. I just don't have the time and patience to troubleshoot this myself.
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post #207 of 217 Old 06-12-2014, 07:46 PM
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Two hours of fiddling, trying to uninstall and reinstall stuff Jriver magically came back alive. First thing I did when back into the app was disable automatic updates, which started the whole problem. Dodged a windows bullet. Fingers crossed it won't happen again....
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post #208 of 217 Old 06-13-2014, 07:03 AM
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A most interesting thread and thanks to all for your contributions and insights. Like most of you, I am interested in a solution that would be a complete, higher quality placement for my prepro, currently an Integra 80.2.

My take on all this is that we are not quite all the way there at this point. The output side of the equation seems to be addressed. I would likely opt for an ExaSound Mch DAC via USB right now, but my mind is still open to AES/EBU out, though that approach is no less pricey with decent DACS.

JRiver, which I use now via HDMI into my prepro, would seem to have all the settings for speaker distance, sub xover, etc.

Room EQ, check, via Dirac Live, Acourate, etc. They are likely to be better than the Audyssey XT/32 I now use, plus they offer higher upper limits than 48k on sampling frequency.

Video processing is something of a question mark, unless an expensive external video processor is used. But, my understanding is that this is not a big issue with Blu-ray, which is usually just a pass through. I hardly ever watch DVDs, and my top priority is Mch music, anyway. I would not be too keen about messing with that mind boggling plethora of gamer video cards. (These guys are killing themselves with an outrageous, mind numbing proliferation of stuff that is so similar in specs. ) I am not at all sure that they have what it takes to bring out the best in movies, either. But, I would go there if I had to. Worst case, JRiver plus my monitor do the video processing, which is probably going to be more than adequate.

Apparently, and here is where it gets foggy for me, the big remaining issue is getting the input side to work for external devices. HDMI input to the PC would be ideal, but DHCP prevents that. De-embeders seem to compromise what gets through by too much. And, I doubt we will see DHCP support in a PC Card. So, this would seem to preclude the functionality I need to get my cable box, Netflix streaming, and SACD player to work into the HTPC. Yes, SACD could possibly be done via an Oppo 93 Vanity board (I have heard it and it sounds great) with multi coax, but it seems difficult to find an easy to use Mch coax input card and get that to work into JRiver for real time playback. I am also uneasy about TV capture cards or anysee to handle broadcast video at this point. Am I wrong about this?

So, it would appear that the HTPC dream would work well and fairly straightforwardly, but only with media already captured in the PC and playable with JRiver or a similar software tool at this point. That seems like it can work well with quality above most prepros. But, playing or viewing external media with full resolution are the stumbling blocks that prevent me from embarking on a full HTPC project.

I might just have to wait for a better prepro to appear. The ESS Sabre DAC idea appears to be gaining some momentum there per the latest Yamaha and Krell. But, they both appear to lack top quality room EQ at present. Perhaps Onkyo/Integra or Denon/Marantz will move in that direction and provide the step up in audio quality I am seeking using a less DSP sampling rate limited Audyssey. For obvious cost reasons, a Datasat is out of the question.
As far as cable and Netflix go - I watch all of my cable tv through a HDHOMERUN Prime no problems at all with that. Netflix through JRiver itself. The only issue I see is your SACD player.
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post #209 of 217 Old 06-13-2014, 07:14 AM
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Two hours of fiddling, trying to uninstall and reinstall stuff Jriver magically came back alive. First thing I did when back into the app was disable automatic updates, which started the whole problem. Dodged a windows bullet. Fingers crossed it won't happen again....
Next time you have a .dll error, pm me on this forum or the other one that we participate in. Also copy the .dll error and if you can - send me your error log.
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post #210 of 217 Old 06-13-2014, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by prerich View Post
As far as cable and Netflix go - I watch all of my cable tv through a HDHOMERUN Prime no problems at all with that. Netflix through JRiver itself. The only issue I see is your SACD player.
Thanks. I agree from web research that HD Homerun Prime seems the best way to go for cable TV, as opposed to Ceton and others. I have not tried it yet, but all indications are positive, except the likely hassles of cable card setup with Comcast. To me, the expected new 2 card, 6 stream version of HD Homerun seems not worth waiting for. I realize I likely will have to give up Comcast On Demand, which I only use occasionally.

Yup, hi rez input from an SACD player seems impossible due to copy protection. I am now resigned to that. I will just have to rip every SACD to JRiver. Not a show stopper.

BD/DVD playback should be no problem from my BD player using JRiver. And, video quality via a Radeon R9 270 using JRiver Red October HQ is plenty good enough for me based on limited testing. I am looking into potential issues with Netflix streaming and Vudu.

So, the only major thing really holding me back at this point is the ExaSound/Dirac calibration issue described by Kal, above and in his Stereophile review of Dirac. Hopefully, that will be corrected soon.
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