Audyssey XT/32 + Pro vs. Dirac Live/HTPC + ExaSound e28 vs. Prepro - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 44 Old 09-07-2014, 03:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Audyssey XT/32 + Pro vs. Dirac Live/HTPC + ExaSound e28 vs. Prepro

I am conducting some in-home comparisons to decide whether or not to make a major and somewhat radical change to my system (link below). My listening has evolved to increasingly rely on playback from a PC for music, and it likely will do the same for Blu-ray, TV and video streaming. I am primarily a Mch classical music listener from SACD, hi rez Mch downloads and BD-A. For nearly a year, my PC has been my primary music source using JRiver and many TBs of NAS storage for my music library. I listen to very little in stereo or from CD, and when I do, I do not augment it with fake Mch. Video is secondary, but I do care about both video and audio quality with it, just not to the same degree as Mch music.

So, the question arises, why not just use the PC as my prepro, eliminating my Integra prepro altogether? To do that, I am evaluating Dirac Live as a replacement in the PC for Audyssey XT/32 in the prepro with an ExaSound e28 to do what the prepro DACS do. It is clear that JRiver can do playback and most control functions quite well without a prepro.

The whole motivation for this would be to seek even better sound quality than I now have, which is very good, and it has satisfied me for years. The main give-up from this approach is the lack of input flexibility, since the PC does not handle HDMI/HDCP inputs at all. Analog or other inputs are not a consideration; I have not used those for many years.

So, this is a pick up and new thread from my initial postings in The Audyssey Pro Installer Kit thread and refocusing them starting about here:

The Audyssey Pro Installer Kit Thread (FAQ in post #1)

For background, here are some other threads that might prove useful, including those linked to by the following:

How to replace your home theater pre-pro with a HTPC!

Also, here is a definitive review by Kal Rubinson, who is about the most knowledgable and trustworthy reviewer on the planet, about Dirac Live and the ExaSound:

http://www.stereophile.com/content/music-round-66

Here is a link to my system description:

http://cgi.audioasylum.com/systems/10014.html

I recently posted an interim sonic assessment here, post 5:

http://www.sa-cd.net/showthread/122523/122551#122551

I am happy to answer any questions, and I will report any progress or final decisions in this thread.
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post #2 of 44 Old 09-07-2014, 04:26 PM
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post #3 of 44 Old 09-07-2014, 04:32 PM
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Hi, sounds like the beginning of a great thread.

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post #4 of 44 Old 09-07-2014, 05:30 PM
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I have been eagerly searching the web recently, looking for comparisons between Audyssey XT32 and Dirac Live. I have so far found nothing worthwhile. I have always been (slightly) disappointed to hear what XT32 does for my nicely treated room, most of the time preferring the Pure Direct mode, bypassing any Audyssey processing. I will be reading your observations with a lot of interest!

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post #5 of 44 Old 09-07-2014, 06:46 PM
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post #6 of 44 Old 09-07-2014, 07:19 PM
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Thanks for pursuing this project, Fitz! I picked up a Sherwood R-972 with DSP Trinnov last year to compare that version of REQ as an alternative to a Denon 4311 with Audyssey XT32, but while I did some REW testing and found areas were I felt the Trinnov solution was superior to Audyssey (notably some REW Impulse Response charts), between a lack of data on the best practice way to run the IR charts, changing my speaker setup from DefTech to PSB, and real-life distractions with a new baby, I didn't pursue the comparison critically for a peer audience. Plus I decided that the comparison could wait until I get a full Trinnov processor later this year (either the Magnitude with a Denon AVR as a pre/pro for Atmos, or the bleeding edge Altitude). Glad you're doing this!

Having said that, from reading the SA-CD link, I see you've got a UMIK-1 mic for Dirac room measurement. With your JRiver/Dirac setup, is there a way you can use a tool like REW (preferred) or OmniMic to run a sine sweep for a single or a pair of channels, and point the audio out to your JRiver/Dirac audio chain? If that's technically possible, you'd find an audience that would be quite interested in comparing the resulting correction of pre-EQ response for Dirac vs. XT32.

Not to kill the fun, since your ears are ultimately the test of satisfaction rather than comparing graphs, but if you do wind up preferring Dirac over Audyssey, it might be fascinating to determine if there's specific corrections to your frequency response, bass decay, etc. that are manifesting themselves with a more pleasing sound relative to what you've heard in your years with Audyssey.

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+1

Thanks, Fitz.
+1 Thank you, Fitz...
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post #8 of 44 Old 09-08-2014, 04:28 AM
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Originally Posted by fitzcaraldo215 View Post
So, the question arises, why not just use the PC as my prepro, eliminating my Integra prepro altogether? To do that, I am evaluating Dirac Live as a replacement in the PC for Audyssey XT/32 in the prepro with an ExaSound e28 to do what the prepro DACS do. It is clear that JRiver can do playback and most control functions quite well without a prepro.
do you plan to compare dirac vs audyssey by routing through the integra as well or just comparing the 2 different systems as a whole? If you do, it would be even more interesting to draw the audyssey target curve in dirac and then compare dirac's rendition of the audyssey target curve against audyssey.

Since you're planning on going PC only then you do also have the option of acourate or audiolense XO, both of which will deal with bass management/delays as well (as they are used to create filters which run in jriver's convolution engine). There are some threads on the issues some people encounter using dirac in such a setup, for example http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f2...-or-not-20809/ and the linked thread on interact http://yabb.jriver.com/interact/index.php?topic=89581.0

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Originally Posted by stef2 View Post
I have been eagerly searching the web recently, looking for comparisons between Audyssey XT32 and Dirac Live. I have so far found nothing worthwhile. I have always been (slightly) disappointed to hear what XT32 does for my nicely treated room, most of the time preferring the Pure Direct mode, bypassing any Audyssey processing. I will be reading your observations with a lot of interest!
there was a conversation on computeraudiophile recently which included some comments from someone who switched from audyssey xt32 pro to dirac - http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f2...tml#post347903

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Having said that, from reading the SA-CD link, I see you've got a UMIK-1 mic for Dirac room measurement. With your JRiver/Dirac setup, is there a way you can use a tool like REW (preferred) or OmniMic to run a sine sweep for a single or a pair of channels, and point the audio out to your JRiver/Dirac audio chain? If that's technically possible, you'd find an audience that would be quite interested in comparing the resulting correction of pre-EQ response for Dirac vs. XT32.

Not to kill the fun, since your ears are ultimately the test of satisfaction rather than comparing graphs, but if you do wind up preferring Dirac over Audyssey, it might be fascinating to determine if there's specific corrections to your frequency response, bass decay, etc. that are manifesting themselves with a more pleasing sound relative to what you've heard in your years with Audyssey.
I think you'll need to get wasapi loopback working to do this with a USB mic, i.e. something like

configure the mobo audio as the default audio output device
set REW in java mode to output to that default device and record from the UMIK-1
configure jriver to output to the dirac output device & apply bass management etc
open wasapi loopback in jriver
play sweep

I suspect asio line in will only work in REW in this setup via an asio multiclient wrapper as REW is limited, in ASIO mode, to using a single ASIO interface. All seems doable (probably) though.
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post #9 of 44 Old 09-08-2014, 05:34 AM
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Fitz, thanks for putting this thread up.

That exaSound DAC looks really nice. It supports an amazing number of formats. For those on a beer budget who want to experiment, there are pro audio alternatives that look promising too. JRiver developers Matt and Hendrik both use the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20, which has 10 balanced analog output channels and 8 mic preamps, allowing it to be used for REW measurements with its native ASIO interface. Maximum sample rate is 96 kHz.
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Originally Posted by stef2 View Post
I have been eagerly searching the web recently, looking for comparisons between Audyssey XT32 and Dirac Live. I have so far found nothing worthwhile. I have always been (slightly) disappointed to hear what XT32 does for my nicely treated room, most of the time preferring the Pure Direct mode, bypassing any Audyssey processing. I will be reading your observations with a lot of interest!
Unlike your experience, I have been enthusiastically happy with Audyssey since I first heard it 7 years ago. In two rooms, before and since moving, it has become essential to me for best sound. I just have not listened without it (except the occasional demo for friends). I have also calibrated a few friends' rooms with similar results. They are hooked, too.

So, I am not really here to knock it. I think it was and is a breakthrough product. I am more interested in seeing if the bar has been raised by newer takes on EQ, particularly now that it can be done in the PC with perhaps fewer constraints. If Audyssey had a Mch product for PC playback, I would likely want to evaluate that too.

I am not sure what your issues are with Audyssey. One interesting feature of Dirac Live that might be of interest to you is that you can edit the target curve channel by channel designating some frequency ranges as unchanged by the EQ if you like them as they are. Superficially, that has no appeal to me, but it might to others. Audyssey Pro lacks that capability.

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...

Having said that, from reading the SA-CD link, I see you've got a UMIK-1 mic for Dirac room measurement. With your JRiver/Dirac setup, is there a way you can use a tool like REW (preferred) or OmniMic to run a sine sweep for a single or a pair of channels, and point the audio out to your JRiver/Dirac audio chain? If that's technically possible, you'd find an audience that would be quite interested in comparing the resulting correction of pre-EQ response for Dirac vs. XT32.

Not to kill the fun, since your ears are ultimately the test of satisfaction rather than comparing graphs, but if you do wind up preferring Dirac over Audyssey, it might be fascinating to determine if there's specific corrections to your frequency response, bass decay, etc. that are manifesting themselves with a more pleasing sound relative to what you've heard in your years with Audyssey.
Ideally, if I had the time, I would make and publish the measurements. But, I will probably not have the time during my 30-day evaluation period with Dirac/ExaSound. I do plan to experiment with REW later, now that I have a suitable mike. I have not used REW or similar to date. So, my decision for now will have to come from my ears and my evaluation of features. Sorry to disappoint, but those already familiar with REW who are really interested in making measurements with Dirac can download it to try for 30-day trial with full money back if not satisfied. There is currently through 9/15 a 20% off promo as advertised in Stereophile. You can PM me if you need the promo code.

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Originally Posted by 3ll3d00d View Post
do you plan to compare dirac vs audyssey by routing through the integra as well or just comparing the 2 different systems as a whole? If you do, it would be even more interesting to draw the audyssey target curve in dirac and then compare dirac's rendition of the audyssey target curve against audyssey.

Since you're planning on going PC only then you do also have the option of acourate or audiolense XO, both of which will deal with bass management/delays as well (as they are used to create filters which run in jriver's convolution engine). There are some threads on the issues some people encounter using dirac in such a setup, for example http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f2...-or-not-20809/ and the linked thread on interact http://yabb.jriver.com/interact/index.php?topic=89581.0

...
Yes, I have done comparisons of 3 setups all with the same hi rez Mch music played by JRiver at 88k from DSD files:

Integra/Audyssey via HDMI - 48k frequency limit - my base system
Integra w. Dirac on the PC via HDMI
ExaSound w. Dirac on the PC via USB

Preliminarily, their sonic ranking so far is 3, 2, 1, respectively. That ranking is unanimously agreed with two other listeners so far. But, more listening is required. I expect some more friends to do some listening.

Again, preliminarily, I said I thought Dirac alone into the prepro was something like the improvement I recall in upgrading from an Integra 80.1 to an 80.2, involving an Audyssey XT to XT/32 upgrade. The differences were not earth-shatteringly huge, but they were noticeable, particularly in terms of better imaging. But, other factors may have been at work in all these comparisons, starting with the differences in the calibrations, the mike positions or the mikes themselves, etc.

When I say imaging, remember I am a classical music listener guy with a lot of live concert experience in good halls here in Philly. So, I am not talking about helicopters flying around the room or cannon fire. I am talking about better resolution of hall ambience and sense of space in music, where the instruments or vocalists are better and more realistically separated from the hall reflections. That is a subtler distinction perhaps than movie viewers might make. But, it is important to me in seeking a sound truer to my sense of live performance.

Also, so far, the ExaSound with Dirac makes a bigger positive impression that is even several steps more natural in terms of placement of the performers in the sound stage, among other things like more a smoother, more relaxed, less "granular" HF range. That is not unreasonable given that the ExaSound/Dirac combo costs about twice the Integra's price, not that higher price guarantees anything.

The only essential difference in standard target curves, as I use them, is in the deep bass. Dirac allows for a slight amount of room gain in its target with decreasing frequency, whereas Audyssey is flat in the bass. I hear some slight differences in the deep bass, but I have not yet evaluated that fully or fiddled with the Dirac target in that region.

The HF roll offs are quite similar. I do not use the MRC dip with Audyssey. My electrostats have no xover anywhere near that region (except my ML Stage center channel). It sounds noticeably better to me with no MRC, even with movie dialog. There is no fixed-frequency MRC feature in Dirac, and I have never felt the need to modify the stock Audyssey curve. But, Dirac seems to have much better ability for target curve modification.

Thanks for the links. I am aware of those two alternative tools. Acourate looks like a really difficult challenge in terms of learning curve and ease of use, but it may be the ultimate in features/capabilities, perhaps. I am less familiar with Audiolense. But, both are not as well established or as widely used and talked about as Dirac. Both are also FIR only, as is Audyssey. Dirac is mixed IIR/FIR, which intrigues me. I felt I could try only one of the three, so Dirac got the nod.
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post #13 of 44 Old 09-08-2014, 08:01 AM
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Quote:
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Acourate looks like a really difficult challenge in terms of learning curve and ease of use, but it may be the ultimate in features/capabilities, perhaps. I am less familiar with Audiolense. But, both are not as well established or as widely used and talked about as Dirac. Both are also FIR only, as is Audyssey. Dirac is mixed IIR/FIR, which intrigues me. I felt I could try only one of the three, so Dirac got the nod.
FWIW the final output of acourate is an FIR filter but it allows you to embed IIR filters (or pre filters as it calls them) within the final filter, the effects of the filter it designs then accommodate, and correct the effects of where necessary, those user entered IIR filters. Ultimately I don't think that makes any difference though as acourate doesn't really care about fitting in a small latency budget (as Dirac does) and i would think the key difference is what the filter does rather than how it is implemented.

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FWIW the final output of acourate is an FIR filter but it allows you to embed IIR filters (or pre filters as it calls them) within the final filter, the effects of the filter it designs then accommodate, and correct the effects of where necessary, those user entered IIR filters. Ultimately I don't think that makes any difference though as acourate doesn't really care about fitting in a small latency budget (as Dirac does) and i would think the key difference is what the filter does rather than how it is implemented.
EQ is definitely a great thing, in spite of quibbles as to how to do it best. It is still an evolving thing, too. I do not know what the "best" answer is, and maybe there will never be a true best. But, whatever. Competent EQ sure beats the hell out of no EQ.

I have read some of the threads you provided links to. Thanks very much, again. I also note that you are a convert to Acourate, and that you really like the results. I am very happy for you, seriously and with no irony or patronizing intent. Others in the links provided are just as sold on Audiolense or Dirac.

I think the real bottom line might be that Audyssey, ground breaking as they might have been, is losing ground to new developments. I am already leaning toward the conclusion that Dirac is better, at least for me in my room with my system. The PC opens up great new opportunities in audio, including possibly better EQ methods and software, that forever changes our sound for the better.

I will say that, coming from an Audyssey background and not, frankly, knowing all I should know about room acoustics, I have real conceptual trouble with single point measurements. Yes, I have read Uli's arguments in favor of single-point with Acourate. Someday, Acourate's or Audiolense's or somebody else's viewpoint on this might be vindicated, more than just anecdotally. I also note that many REW fans are equally as lax on this point. Call me tradition-bound or whatever, but I still think multi-point measurement, intelligently weighted (not just arithmetically), is the way to go.

So, for me for now, Dirac Live seems a better conceptual fit, and, anecdotally, it is doing a very nice job in improving my music listening enjoyment. Hey, my choice is not forever. It's just for now, the short run. As they say in economics, the long run is just a succession of short runs.
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EQ is definitely a great thing, in spite of quibbles as to how to do it best. It is still an evolving thing, too. I do not know what the "best" answer is, and maybe there will never be a true best. But, whatever. Competent EQ sure beats the hell out of no EQ.

I have read some of the threads you provided links to. Thanks very much, again. I also note that you are a convert to Acourate, and that you really like the results. I am very happy for you, seriously and with no irony or patronizing intent. Others in the links provided are just as sold on Audiolense or Dirac.

I think the real bottom line might be that Audyssey, ground breaking as they might have been, is losing ground to new developments. I am already leaning toward the conclusion that Dirac is better, at least for me in my room with my system. The PC opens up great new opportunities in audio, including possibly better EQ methods and software, that forever changes our sound for the better.
yes I am definitely a convert to acourate and to high quality EQ in general. It's a good thing there are a few options available to fit different requirements.

I think the problem with audyssey is the hardware platform they run on, i.e. AVRs & processors that still use the same hardware (DSP) they've used for years. The only company doing something different is Trinnov (who use intel CPUs) but sadly their kit is rather pricey. As a result, all the innovation is on the PC where there is actually the processing power & storage available to do something more involved.
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yes I am definitely a convert to acourate and to high quality EQ in general. It's a good thing there are a few options available to fit different requirements.

I think the problem with audyssey is the hardware platform they run on, i.e. AVRs & processors that still use the same hardware (DSP) they've used for years. The only company doing something different is Trinnov (who use intel CPUs) but sadly their kit is rather pricey. As a result, all the innovation is on the PC where there is actually the processing power & storage available to do something more involved.
Yup, it is fast moving technology now that the PC has opened it up in terms of computing resources. Kal has pointed out that he has seen some sort of super-duper PC version of Audyssey for sound professionals, beyond Audyssey Pro, which is not available to ordinary consumers. I would think they should push that, possibly modified for the growing HTPC community. It's not because they will necessarily sell a ton of them. It just creates a "prestige" flagship product that shows Audyssey is an advanced technology leader. That would help their image and might help spur sales of other, more ordinary consumer versions in quantity.

There is, of course, the question of whether the 48k sampling limit imposed by the big processor makers on Audyssey has any effect on sonics. (NAD appears to be an exception on at least one model.) Obviously, for now, the big consumer market is for Blu-ray and CD support. Since most BD videos only go up to 48k, and CDs to 44k, the question is moot for most. But, hi rez music oriented guys, like me, are definitely interested in higher sampling rates. High rez music might be emerging more from the shadows, and a new BD standard for 4k video next year might better support and start to stimulate the release of higher rez audio on BD-Vs.

As I said elsewhere, I do not believe we can hear above 20k, and usually less than that. But, I do think that the filters necessary for PCM-analog conversion just above 20k Hz for the 44/48k sample rates might indeed have audible artifacts that ripple down into audibility. Higher sampling rates lessen the likelihood of that by shifting the filters up by an octave or more into the ultrasonic region. Audyssey now also typically requires downrezzing of hi rez input streams, which might itself also have subtle effects.

I cannot say for sure, but that 48k sampling limit might be one of the things I am hearing with Audyssey. There is a slightly greater "transparency" to the sound using Dirac, notable in the highs, even into my Integra prepro. But, there might be other reasons, as well.

In any case, I would rather not have my EQ downrezzing anything. And, all the PC based packages seem to avoid the need for that up to 96k or higher.
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Although I'm truthfully disappointed you won't be providing measurements, I am quite interested in your findings nonetheless. Subscribed.
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Although I'm truthfully disappointed you won't be providing measurements, I am quite interested in your findings nonetheless. Subscribed.
Thanks, and sorry to disappoint on the measurement front. But, I have still got a lot on my plate for my evaluation. My own listening is well underway, including with some trusted friends. And, listening is still número uno to me. And, it is extremely positive so far, especially with the ExaSound.

I am not against measurements. They are crucial as part of any successful EQ process. But, correctly making and, more importantly, interpreting independent measurements for their sonic impact and significance is not yet part of my skill set.

But, I still have a fair bit to do on other fronts to verify a few other important things. Remember, the game plan here is really complete prepro, player and cable box replacement with an HTPC. So, I also still need get PC video playback working successfully from BD and cable tuner.

Things like lip synch might be a concern, especially as Exasound's ASIO driver introduces considerable latency delay. (That might also make independent measurements difficult.) However, I have seen postings indicating success with JRiver/Dirac/ExaSound on video, except 3D, which is not a concern. I will try some BDs, then I will also try to get my HD Homerun Prime box working with a Comcast cable card. Everything should work from what I read, I just need to do it and see myself if there are any issues. I hope to get through most of that in the coming days.
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post #19 of 44 Old 09-12-2014, 08:04 AM
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Things like lip synch might be a concern, especially as Exasound's ASIO driver introduces considerable latency delay. (That might also make independent measurements difficult.) However, I have seen postings indicating success with JRiver/Dirac/ExaSound on video, except 3D, which is not a concern. I will try some BDs, then I will also try to get my HD Homerun Prime box working with a Comcast cable card. Everything should work from what I read, I just need to do it and see myself if there are any issues. I hope to get through most of that in the coming days.
I believe the maximum lipsync adjustment that is possible in JRiver is 2.5s so you should have no problem dialling it in. My setup requires an offset of -450ms for example (due to the long filter length).
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post #20 of 44 Old 09-16-2014, 04:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Sonic Report Card

My sonic evaluations are pretty much done. I think Dirac Live is a worthwhile sonic upgrade over Audyssey XT/32, but the substitution of the Exasound e28 DAC for my Integra prepro makes an even bigger improvement. If I were to grade them on a curve, it would go something like this:

Dirac Live/E28/USB - A
Dirac Live/Integra/HDMI - B
Audyssey XT32/Integra/HDMI - B minus

My trusted listening friends, except one, all agree and are as deeply impressed with my sound. The one exception liked Dirac very much and is now doing a trial with his Marantz 8801. He felt the sound via the E28 " lacked a certain amount of warmth", though he conceded it was more detailed with better imaging. But, I think that was likely a rationale under subliminal pressure because his 8801 was just a year old, the E28 pricey and the prepro more convenient and flexible. (Or, perhaps, I am the one doing the rationalizing.) Also, he is not a bass freak like some, but he is known to be a "warmth freak", frequently using graphic EQ, etc. to "sweeten" his own sound at home in the mid/upper bass warmth region. Blind or double blind testing likely would have yielded a different result for him, but that was near impossible to do.

Another friend with extraordinary listening credentials and a system with about a $100k MSRP thought my system now sounded better than his Anthem D2V/Baetis/Wilson/Pass Labs-based setup. He was very enthusiastic, raving to others in fact, about the improvement.

In summary, the consensus character of the Grade A setup was first and foremost about better imaging. Greater soundstage depth, more of a sense of hall ambience and air, a more precise sense of on stage placement, a proper sense of size and 3D solidity of the singers or instruments were all apparent by comparison. At times, the imaging is almost holographic in terms of how soloists stand out from the mass of reflections on the stage and in the hall.

There was also a smoothness with even less occasional "glare" and a more relaxed sense to the flow of the music revealed by comparison. Massed strings were more beautifully convincing and the size of the first vs. second violin sections much better defined.
No one felt there were any issues with bass integration. I noticed especially on some large scale orchestral music how well the tuba, basses and tympani were reproduced with realistic tonality and that exceptional spatial placement and solidity again.

That tuba in particular caught my attention on the RCO Live SACD from PC hard drive of the Mahler Symphony No. 3 with the Concertgebouw Orchestra under Jansons. As we go from the B minus to the A rated alternatives, it sounds increasingly like a flesh and blood big column of air vibrating at a focused point in space rather than bass tones more vaguely coming from stage right. Other instruments in all tonal registers exhibit similar focus with good recordings.

So far, spoken dialog on video material, also sounds more pleasingly natural by comparison. Yes, it is a bit lighter in tone with a bit less "chestiness", some might call that a lack of warmth, but I think it more realistic and more articulate.

Dirac's predicted frequency response graphs are, of course, near perfect relative to the target curve. The impulse response graphs for my 3 front channels are absolutely beautiful. Those for my surround channels are much more discombulated. But, for ambience on classical recordings, that might be OK. My dipole electrostat hybrids are 5 ft. or so from the front wall, whereas the similar surrounds are only about 1 ft. from the wall behind. So, the graphs make sense. I might want to do some experimenting - treatments behind the surrounds, perhaps - to see if I can achieve a better measured, but more importantly, a better perceived sonic result.

So, sonically, my opinion is now firm. Kal was dead right, again as always, about the sound quality. I do not see how I could part with Dirac or ExaSound now that I have heard what they can do. My sound before was very good, to be sure. Many, like my wife - bless her, she is out of the evaluation loop - would not perceive the differences or value them as worthwhile. But, I very much like the differences I have been hearing and they elevate my enjoyment of the music considerably.

Unfortunately, the video side of the prepro, player, cable box replacement with HTPC strategy is not going as well, though it is in the earliest stages. Lip synch is not a problem, but my Oppo player does a better job of video rendering at this point. Unfortunately, there is no easy digital way into the PC for audio from the Oppo, cable box, etc. Blu-ray video playback is just not as smooth, especially on scene/camera changes. Motion artifacts are annoying even with Netflix streaming via the PC, with or without JRiver. Plus my otherwise stable system is crashing after a few minutes of Red October HQ playback of Blu-rays, a very uncommon complaint. I have begun what will likely be a lengthy investigation of why - drivers, a bad video card (Radeon R9 270) thermal overload, power supply, HDMI cable, etc. But, I doubt it has much, probably nothing, to do with JRiver/MadVR software.

I will also try an upgrade to JRMC 20. I am trying plain, non HQ Red October at the moment, and that does not crash, but video is still not as smooth. This is where the HTPC idea turns ugly and time consuming, although it has gone surprisingly well on the audio side. Worst case, I would insert a Whirlwind 8 channel XLR switch box to be able to toggle via remote activation between the E28 and prepro audio outputs to the amps. Video can continue to use the prepro, player, etc. directly using Audyssey on the sound, while music from the PC employs the ExaSound with Dirac Live. I could live with that. I do not think I could live without the ExaSound and Dirac knowing what I know now.
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Curious, for XT32 were you using the Music/Flat Audyssey curve or the Movie/Reference curve in your comparisons?
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Curious, for XT32 were you using the Music/Flat Audyssey curve or the Movie/Reference curve in your comparisons?
I always use the standard Audyssey target curve (w/o the MRC dip), including for music. The Dirac target is very similar, and they provide no flat option. And, it sounds best to me that way, music or movies.

I think Audyssey and the mfrs. have misled people, especially by naming the other curve "music". The HF rolloff in the standard curve is consistent with all the independent acoustic theory for rooms that I have read, although it is a psychoacoustic guesstimate to achieve perceptually flat response.

The only time flat would be more correct is for near field listening, where room reflections play an insignificant role.

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I always use the standard Audyssey target curve (w/o the MRC dip), including for music. The Dirac target is very similar, and they provide no flat option. And, it sounds best to me that way, music or movies.

I think Audyssey and the mfrs. have misled people, especially by naming the other curve "music". The HF rolloff in the standard curve is consistent with all the independent acoustic theory for rooms that I have read, although it is a psychoacoustic guesstimate to achieve perceptually flat response.

The only time flat would be more correct is for near field listening, where room reflections play an insignificant role.
Your comments about "chestiness" in vocals got me to assume you were using the reference curve which has the midrange compensation droop around 2khz. My guess is that is the main difference you are hearing. I find having the midrange compensation off does make vocals more clear.
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Your comments about "chestiness" in vocals got me to assume you were using the reference curve which has the midrange compensation droop around 2khz. My guess is that is the main difference you are hearing. I find having the midrange compensation off does make vocals more clear.
Yes, well, I do not use MRC at all, and that would not be in the "chestiness" range either, which would be lower in frequency, if that is indeed an accurate characterization. But, it is a slight difference, in any case, more of a gut reaction from not much comparative listening.

I am comfortable with the theory of MRC = the BBC dip, and many prefer it on in their systems. It is just that all my Martin Logans have no crossover in that frequency range. They all are 2-way with crossovers in the approx. 200-400 Hz region. No dip is necessary there as the sound is more omnidirectional.

The theory advocating the dip is based on differing driver directivity above and below the xover for dynamic monopoles, resulting in a discontinuity in room reflections and therefore perceived frequency and impulse response, as between typical mid and tweeter drivers. My MLs do not do that (except my Stage center channel), one of their strengths. I have not played with the center channel target curve, however.

I have also found subjectively in the past that the dip removes some air and lifelike sparkle from music. So, I have not used it. But, it might be a good choice with more typical speakers. Dirac has no automatic dip, but I think it can be incorporated via target curve edits, which seem very good in Dirac, where needed.
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Yes, well, I do not use MRC at all, and that would not be in the "chestiness" range either, which would be lower in frequency, if that is indeed an accurate characterization. But, it is a slight difference, in any case, more of a gut reaction from not much comparative listening.

I am comfortable with the theory of MRC = the BBC dip, and many prefer it on in their systems. It is just that all my Martin Logans have no crossover in that frequency range. They all are 2-way with crossovers in the approx. 200-400 Hz region. No dip is necessary there as the sound is more omnidirectional.

The theory advocating the dip is based on differing driver directivity above and below the xover for dynamic monopoles, resulting in a discontinuity in room reflections and therefore perceived frequency and impulse response, as between typical mid and tweeter drivers. My MLs do not do that (except my Stage center channel), one of their strengths. I have not played with the center channel target curve, however.

I have also found subjectively in the past that the dip removes some air and lifelike sparkle from music. So, I have not used it. But, it might be a good choice with more typical speakers. Dirac has no automatic dip, but I think it can be incorporated via target curve edits, which seem very good in Dirac, where needed.
So you used the Audyssey Pro Kit to turn off MRC?
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So you used the Audyssey Pro Kit to turn off MRC?
Yes, I have been using Pro for about 6 years on my 3 prepros since then. Turning MRC off is the only target curve customization I have done in my own system, aside from one-time experiments. I have liked my sound with Pro that way very much, and overall Pro was a worthwhile investment for that and other reasons. Incidentally, a friend with 2/3 way monopole speakers prefered MRC on when I Pro calibrated his room.

Dirac has more similarities to Pro than it does differences, MRC with a single click being one of those Dirac lacks. But, Dirac is much more user friendly. I gladly would have tried Pro if the resulting filters could have been loaded into the PC and used in conjunction with the ExaSound DAC. Preferably, that would be at an 88k sampling rate, which my prepro does not support with Audyssey on. But, Pro only works in conjunction with installer ready prepros and AVRs. Even there, my friends and I all thought Dirac sounded somewhat better into the prepro. I do not know for sure if the sampling rate issue was a part of that.

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post #27 of 44 Old 09-17-2014, 09:50 AM
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I have been searching for years for some decent "listening credentials" but I have yet to find any, lol. That said, I would be wildly interested to partake in an ABX of these REQ's in a decent room, with some solid equipment.

The vast majority of "after-graphs" I've seen- coupled with others experiences- have really led me to believe the differences between them would be all-but indecipherable- or at the very least would yield extremely volatile results, depending upon the media being played back. Hopefully this is something that can happen sometime sooner than later so we can start putting some meat with these potatoes. After awhile reading what people "think" sounds better really starts to align with "what wine tastes the best".

YMMV.

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post #28 of 44 Old 09-17-2014, 10:06 AM
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I have been searching for years for some decent "listening credentials" but I have yet to find any, lol. That said, I would be wildly interested to partake in an ABX of these REQ's in a decent room, with some solid equipment.

The vast majority of "after-graphs" I've seen- coupled with others experiences- have really led me to believe the differences between them would be all-but indecipherable- or at the very least would yield extremely volatile results, depending upon the media being played back. Hopefully this is something that can happen sometime sooner than later so we can start putting some meat with these potatoes. After awhile reading what people "think" sounds better really starts to align with "what wine tastes the best".

YMMV.

James
the only study I've seen on that subject is http://seanolive.blogspot.co.uk/2009...uation-of.html where RC1/RC2 = JBL Synthesis ARCOS, RC3 = RoomPerfect, RC5 = Anthem ARC, RC6 = Audyssey (though I imagine that is multeq xt)
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post #29 of 44 Old 09-17-2014, 10:29 AM
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the only study I've seen on that subject is http://seanolive.blogspot.co.uk/2009...uation-of.html where RC1/RC2 = JBL Synthesis ARCOS, RC3 = RoomPerfect, RC5 = Anthem ARC, RC6 = Audyssey (though I imagine that is multeq xt)
Which is a good indicator of general FR preferences - extended bass, linear, downward-sloping FR - but which omits other factors e.g. phase/impulse correction, etc. Also, there are new and better RC products which didn't exist when the study was done. Trinnov's probably the ultimate example as it provides the user with considerable flexibility well beyond anything available then. Or in other products now, for that matter.

As much as I'd like to see a properly done, objective comparison of modern RC products, I don't see anyone with the motivation and resources to get it done.
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Which is a good indicator of general FR preferences - extended bass, linear, downward-sloping FR - but which omits other factors e.g. phase/impulse correction, etc. Also, there are new and better RC products which didn't exist when the study was done. Trinnov's probably the ultimate example as it provides the user with considerable flexibility well beyond anything available then. Or in other products now, for that matter.

As much as I'd like to see a properly done, objective comparison of modern RC products, I don't see anyone with the motivation and resources to get it done.
yes that's true. I think it would be more interesting to see a comparison with the target curve held constant.
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