NanoAVR 8x8 HDMI Audio Processor "Official" Thread - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 184 Old 04-20-2014, 11:31 AM - Thread Starter
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MiniDSP's nanoAVR 8x8 is a $300, 8-channel, floating-point audio processor with a PC/Mac-based software interface. The processor features programmable 10-band parametric EQ, bass management (crossover), channel routing, compression, and delay/time-alignment controls for each of its eight channels.

 

I'm really excited about adding a nanoAVR to my AV system; it represents a significant upgrade when compared with the EQ capabilities of my Pioneer Elite SC-55 AVR. Specifically, it allows me to set custom crossover points for my front and rear speakers. It also vastly improves upon my Pioneer's built-in EQ capabilities.

 

The nanoAVR 8x8 measures a mere 6.5 inches wide, 1.25 inches high, and 4.35 inches deep

 

The nanoAVR is fully compatible with Room EQ Wizard (REW) software, a freeware application that makes it possible to take highly accurate frequency-response measurements and use them to compensate for a room's EQ. In other words, it allows you to accurately measure the in-room response of each individual speaker and create a new EQ curve that compensates for peaks and dips in frequency response.

 

Many higher-end AVRs feature sophisticated room-correction algorithms that include EQ compensation. Even so, I really like that the nanoAVR is a separate component that comes before the AVR in the signal chain, which means my Pioneer no longer plays the role of room correction. If, in the future, I decide to swap my current AVR out for something else, my room EQ settings will remain intact.

 

However, this also means the Pioneer can no longer decode surround bitstreams—the nanoAVR can only accept and output eight channels of uncompressed PCM, which means that the audio source must have that capability built-in. For now, I'm going to use a PC configured for 7.1-channel full-range output as my source; I hope to buy an Oppo BDP-103 in the near future, since it provides dual HDMI inputs and numerous surround-sound decoding modes.

 

I took a peek under the hood of the nanoAVR

 

I first ran into miniDSP a year and a half ago when I brought my DIY Sump Basin subwoofers to an AVS get-together. At that event, I dialed in my subs using miniDSP software and a calibration mic—I was impressed by how granular the controls were. I've had miniDSP on my wish list since then. When I saw the nanoAVR 8x8 on display at CES 2104, I knew it was time to take the plunge.

 

A view of the nanoAVR's rear panel

 

While I am enthusiastically jumping into the world of miniDSP/REW EQ and bass management, I am not—by any means—an expert on using miniDSP software with REW. I know that a good-quality calibration mic is a must-have accessory in order to get the most out of the nanoAVR, which is why I just ordered a Umik-1 omnidirectional measurement microphone. For now, I'm going to set speaker levels with a Dayton iMM6 and wait for the Umik-1 to arrive before I tackle room EQ.

 

I welcome your questions and your input; I want this to be a first-class "official" thread that helps people get the most out of their nanoAVRs. I will update this post on regular basis, as I gain experience with this neat little box. 

 

Front view of the nanoAVR

 

Here's a view of the parametric EQ adjustment window

 


Specifications

 

 

Here's a video showing the nanoAVR's software in action

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post #2 of 184 Old 04-20-2014, 01:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Day One

 

I just finished my initial setup. I put my AVR into pure/direct mode set up channel routing in the nanAVR. I used physical measurements to add delay to my mains and surrounds because my subs are farther away than any of the speakers.

 

After that initial setup, I launched REW and used my Dayton IMM-6 calibration mic to set speaker levels and take some basic frequency response readings. For now, I'm sticking with very rudimentary manual EQ adjustments—I'm still waiting for my Umik-1 to arrive before I start getting into some serious EQ tweaking. Even with my simple adjustments, I'm surprised at how close I can get to a flat in-room response.

 

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post #3 of 184 Old 04-21-2014, 12:15 PM
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Looks like a cool toy. Really like the looks of that software.

James Reid:D
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post #4 of 184 Old 04-21-2014, 12:33 PM
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One thing I am confused about is that this seems to be able of doing everything a dedicated receiver does except for amplification and things like DTS decoding. Is there any way to use something like this to skip the AVR middleman and pass signals to a dedicated amplifier? Is there even hope for something like this? I would love to be able to use my home theater PC as the receiver to the speakers in the room.

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post #5 of 184 Old 04-21-2014, 12:58 PM
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What is the advantage of having this? Isn't this simply a DSP? Why tack on the AVR?
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post #6 of 184 Old 04-21-2014, 01:01 PM
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Good post Mark.

I have a basic question. The screen with the 8 sliders for each channel. Is that using software that ships with the unit? If so, what OS's does it work with and does it come free with the unit?

I can't view the video. There' something wrong with my IE 11 and everything looks green. So if the video answers my questions, I apologize for asking.
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post #7 of 184 Old 04-21-2014, 01:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by P-Worm View Post

One thing I am confused about is that this seems to be able of doing everything a dedicated receiver does except for amplification and things like DTS decoding. Is there any way to use something like this to skip the AVR middleman and pass signals to a dedicated amplifier? Is there even hope for something like this? I would love to be able to use my home theater PC as the receiver to the speakers in the room.

P-Worm

 

The main thing you'd need is an eight-channel DAC with HDMI input. My AVR's amps are all my speakers need. AVRs are also the most affordable way to get the pre/pro functions you'd need with that arrangement, but not a necessity. One way or another, the nanoAVR requires some sort of HDMI-capable processor/DAC/preamp to function.


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post #8 of 184 Old 04-21-2014, 01:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by KidHorn View Post

Good post Mark.

I have a basic question. The screen with the 8 sliders for each channel. Is that using software that ships with the unit? If so, what OS's does it work with and does it come free with the unit?

I can't view the video. There' something wrong with my IE 11 and everything looks green. So if the video answers my questions, I apologize for asking.

 

Yes it is software that comes with the unit. It is available for Mac and PC platforms. The software is really nice and quite deep. I'll post much more about using the software soon.


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post #9 of 184 Old 04-21-2014, 01:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by avsform1 View Post

What is the advantage of having this? Isn't this simply a DSP? Why tack on the AVR?

 

I use my AVR in the chain because the nanoAVR still needs a DAC to render the audio, and a gain control. Plus, I'm using the amps in my AVR to run my speakers—the Pioneer Elite SC-55 is no slouch in that department.

 

The advantage is the incredibly fine control it offers, compared to many AVRs built-in room correction, EQ and bass management capabilities. 


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post #10 of 184 Old 04-21-2014, 03:18 PM
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Would be interesting to see how this compares to the ARC room correction that comes with Anthem AVRs and Pre/Pros.
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post #11 of 184 Old 04-21-2014, 03:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Apgood View Post

Would be interesting to see how this compares to the ARC room correction that comes with Anthem AVRs and Pre/Pros.

 

Taking full advantage of the nanoAVRs capabilities is a manual process that comes with a bit of a learning curve, as compared to using an automated—or even semi-automated—system. However, the software that comes with the nanoAVR makes it really easy to set things up exactly the way you want. Both systems allow you to work with each channel independently, which I think is key to getting the best results.

I have no practical experience with Anthem Room Correction, I've heard some demos but I'm not familiar with the interface.

 

What I do know is it took me minutes to get a superior response curve with the nanoAVR, versus using Pioneer's MCACC and the DSP in my Crown amp. It's very easy to be very accurate with the nanoAVR and REW combo.


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post #12 of 184 Old 04-21-2014, 03:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

Taking full advantage of the nanoAVRs capabilities is a manual process that comes with a bit of a learning curve, as compared to using an automated—or even semi-automated—system. However, the software that comes with the nanoAVR makes it really easy to set things up exactly the way you want. Both systems allow you to work with each channel independently, which I think is key to getting the best results.


I have no practical experience with Anthem Room Correction, I've heard some demos but I'm not familiar with the interface.

What I do know is it took me minutes to get a superior response curve with the nanoAVR, versus using Pioneer's MCACC and the DSP in my Crown amp. It's very easy to be very accurate with the nanoAVR and REW combo.

Thanks for the quick reply. When you do your proper eq after you get your new mic are you aiming for a flat response or will you building in a bit of room gain.

I ask this because while in speaker design and audio engineering you may normally aim for a flat response, room correction is a bit different since your are trying to create the ideal listening room, which from what I've read is not totally flat, but has a bit of gain in the bass. Otherwise it sounds a bit sterile and flat, bit like when a room has had too much treatment.
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post #13 of 184 Old 04-21-2014, 04:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Apgood View Post


Thanks for the quick reply. When you do your proper eq after you get your new mic are you aiming for a flat response or will you building in a bit of room gain.

I ask this because while in speaker design and audio engineering you may normally aim for a flat response, room correction is a bit different since your are trying to create the ideal listening room, which from what I've read is not totally flat, but has a bit of gain in the bass. Otherwise it sounds a bit sterile and flat, bit like when a room has had too much treatment.

 

I plan to have a "house curve," not a ruler-flat in-room response. I'll tweak that to taste when I finally get there; it'll probably be pretty mild, a few dB hot in the subwoofer zone.

 

Here's where I am now...


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post #14 of 184 Old 04-21-2014, 04:37 PM
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Mark

I'm curious if you also considered their 2 ch Dirac (presumably Dirac-lite) unit. that could make an interesting combination smile.gif

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post #15 of 184 Old 04-21-2014, 04:47 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ss9001 View Post

Mark

I'm curious if you also considered their 2 ch Dirac (presumably Dirac-lite) unit. that could make an interesting combination smile.gif

 

I had not considered it, the concept is intriguing but the price is a bit high (for me) for a 2-channel solution. If I get a chance to demo one, I will.


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post #16 of 184 Old 04-21-2014, 09:10 PM
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Does the AVR have to be in Pure Direct mode for this?

Also, is this Dirac based at all?

Trying to enjoy the simple things in life.

 

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post #17 of 184 Old 04-21-2014, 10:48 PM
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Did you look at using the miniDSP 10x10 Hd and how it compares to the nanoAVR?

http://www.minidsp.com/products/minidsp-in-a-box/minidsp-10x10-hd
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Something like this would be right up my alley, as I want something that would (hopefully) be as good as, if not better than Audessey XT32, and I want to purchase a marrantz 7701 so I can use separate amps, but I don't want to be shackled to MultiEQ XT. The 8801 is too far outside my comfort zone for a pre-amp, even if it does have XT32. I am not aware of another pre-amp in the 7701 price range that will give me similar performance and features, so this DSP unit sounds like a great option. I would love to see a comparison of this with a preamp or receiver running in pure direct mode compared to the same unit using XT32.
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post #19 of 184 Old 04-22-2014, 04:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

I plan to have a "house curve," not a ruler-flat in-room response. I'll tweak that to taste when I finally get there; it'll probably be pretty mild, a few dB hot in the subwoofer zone.

Here's where I am now...



OK that sounds like a good plan. Your current graph looks pretty good as it is. No major peaks, just a couple of dips.

Which channel is it for?
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post #20 of 184 Old 04-22-2014, 06:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Apgood View Post


OK that sounds like a good plan. Your current graph looks pretty good as it is. No major peaks, just a couple of dips.

Which channel is it for?

 

That's actually stereo. I'm waiting for the new mic before I take any more measurements.


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post #21 of 184 Old 04-22-2014, 07:25 AM
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Will this beat Audyssey XT32? More filter and resolution?
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post #22 of 184 Old 04-22-2014, 07:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Will this beat Audyssey XT32? More filter and resolution?

 

It's not the same thing as Audyssey, XT32 does more "stuff." You can actually use a nanoAVR with Audyssey, bades on what I've read. I need to read up on the similarities and differences between the two systems, so thank you for bringing it up. Since my receiver is a Pioneer Elite, I don't have immediate access to an AVR with Audyssey. 


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post #23 of 184 Old 04-22-2014, 09:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by avsform1 View Post

Isn't this simply a DSP? Why tack on the AVR?
Indeed, bizarre naming decision. Would have been less confusing to call it a nanoDSP rather than tack on "AVR" to the name.
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Also, is this Dirac based at all?
No, this is manual PEQ, Dirac is automated EQ.

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post #24 of 184 Old 04-22-2014, 09:44 AM
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the miniDSP Dirac products:

http://www.minidsp.com/products/dirac-series

2 ch only, one version has ADC's & analog inputs, the other version is digital (non-HDMI) only inputs. $899 for either one.

there is currently no Dirac HDMI solution from miniDSP. I have no idea if they intend to build one but hope they will in the future. I'd strongly consider buying. it would go a long way to making receiver or prepro purchases close to brand neutral wink.gif take the room correction system out of the buying decision for advanced users.

as it is, the nanoAVR HDMI looks like a good step in that direction and with no down-sampling!

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post #25 of 184 Old 04-22-2014, 10:52 AM
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So, pardon the ignorance on my part, but here we go...

I get how the nano works to manage LFE content after reading a bit on their site yesterday, but where i'm lost is when more than one sub is used... since you can control pretty much all aspects of each of the 8 channels (LFE being one of them), including blending channels... how do you deal with time/phase alignment issues arising when multiple subs are used in different parts of the room? like 2 front / 2 rear? Can the nano address that, or do I need another component in the mix?

Thanks,
-j


btw, if this is covered elsewhere, point me to the right thread to do some more reading... : )
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kimeran View Post

Does the AVR have to be in Pure Direct mode for this?

...

 

It doesn't have to be, but if you want the miniDSP to be the only DSP in your setup then you would want the receiver to be in Pure Direct so that it isn't altering the EQ levels.  On the other hand, it might be interesting to see what the combination of the miniDSP's processing and an AVR's different "sound fields" can produce.

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The biggest issue I see with this product is that the EQ is tied to the source rather than speakers/amps as it should be. A better way to go would be to have a similar product with analog inputs and analog outputs that can be placed between a pre-amp and the main amplifiers. But that solution would probably shoot the price out of reach of most people.

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post #28 of 184 Old 04-22-2014, 11:02 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcr159 View Post

So, pardon the ignorance on my part, but here we go...

I get how the nano works to manage LFE content after reading a bit on their site yesterday, but where i'm lost is when more than one sub is used... since you can control pretty much all aspects of each of the 8 channels (LFE being one of them), including blending channels... how do you deal with time/phase alignment issues arising when multiple subs are used in different parts of the room? like 2 front / 2 rear? Can the nano address that, or do I need another component in the mix?

Thanks,
-j


btw, if this is covered elsewhere, point me to the right thread to do some more reading... : )

 

Each channel has a time delay adjustment. I just set it up for 5.2 channel operation—I'm using the surround-rear channels instead of the subwoofer channel. You could just as easily assign one channel to a rear pair and another channel to a front pair of subs, and still have the original sub channel to work with if you want to use it for LFE or for a third sub. As long as you're cool with 5.2 or 5.3 channels instead of 7.1, you can do it that way. Signal routing is a piece of cake.


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post #29 of 184 Old 04-22-2014, 11:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post

Each channel has a time delay adjustment. I just set it up for 5.2 channel operation—I'm using the surround-rear channels instead of the subwoofer channel. You could just as easily assign one channel to a rear pair and another channel to a front pair of subs, and still have the original sub channel to work with if you want to use it for LFE or for a third sub. As long as you're cool with 5.2 or 5.3 channels instead of 7.1, you can do it that way. Signal routing is a piece of cake.

Ok, that makes sense, and would fit my space well actually... Question then is... how does the avr separate those channels out to feed the subs? I'm guessing you need an AVR that can pass through the signal on all channels to an analog pre-out, then run that to the amp powering the subs in question? (i think i remember you mentioning you use a crown amp somewhere for subs...)

thanks again Mark, I love reading your take on things around here. : )

-j
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post #30 of 184 Old 04-22-2014, 11:16 AM
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Be aware that if you go this route, you're constrained to having the crossover frequencies of all full-range speakers be the same* to the sub, which is also constrained be the same frequency as the LPF of LFE. See this post for more details.

*Unless for some bizarre reason you want the high-pass of the mains to be at a different frequency from the low-pass of the sub. The summation of the full-range channels is done before bass management instead of after - a flawed implementation.
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