I'm sending along some listening notes comparing DSX versus Neo:X on the TX-NR3009. I couldn't resist close-out pricing on the 3009, but sadly and disappointingly, I ultimately was not happy with current implementation of DSX or Neo:X and ended up returning the unit.
(1) Notes on my setup (see attached figure).
a. figure is not to scale
b. room dimensions: 13'x11' with 8' ceiling
c. LF and RF at 30 degrees off-center (Infinity Primus 362)
d. LH and RH at 35 degrees off-center, mounted at ceiling & pointing down toward listener, but not toed-in
(Infinity Primus 153). Audyssey suggests LH and RH at 45 degrees. DTS Neo:X suggests LH and RH
directly above LF and RF, respectively. On Audyssey.com Chris Kyriakakis suggested that positioning LH
and RH at 45 degrees off-center was not critical—the most important matter was to mount the speakers at
the ceiling. Not knowing whether I would prefer DSX or Neo:X, I chose an aesthetically pleasing location for
the LH and RH speakers between 30 and 45 degrees.
e. LW and RW at 55 degrees off-center (Infinity Primus 363). I could have moved them down the wall some
more to obtain a 60 degree position, but that would have 'crowded' the room.
f. LS and RS mounted at ceiling, pointing down toward listener (Infinity Primus 152). LS and RS have to be
mounted at ceiling because there are doors below them.
g. center channel speaker Infinity Primus PC350.
h. MultEQ positions in red circles. Back wall is a hard surface, but upholstered chair backs were behind
Audyssey mic for positions 2 and 3 (as they would be for the listener). For position 1, I temporarily placed an
upholstered cushion about 6" behind the Audyssey mic during calibration. Distance from, e.g., position 2 to
position 6 approximately 4 feet. Optimally, positions 7 and 8 would be to the rear of positions 1-3: the
chosen positioning was suggested by Chris Kyriakakis at Audyssey.com for this type of room configuration.
i. this is a room used both for HT and music listening
a. DSX soundstage in music and movie settings was too wide. Don't get me wrong, I love a wide soundstage. but not this wide; essentially the soundstage image was discontinuous. Fortunately, the Onkyo has a DSX Soundstage setting under the Audio Adjust menu. When setting Soundstage to -3dB, I was much happier. I also noted that when DSX Soundstage was set to -3dB in cinema/movie modes the width of the DSX soundstage seemed equivalent to the width of the Neo:X cinema soundstage.
b. DSX has a more exciting sound whereas Neo:X is more restrained (to me, DTS Neo:6 also has a more restrained sound). Not that 'restrained' is a bad thing; it's all personal preference.
c. To my ear, DSX in music mode was lacking in upper midrange; I had trouble hearing, e.g., small bells. This was a real deal-breaker for me. Neo:X did not present this issue at all.
d. In Neo:X music modes the surround speaker output was notably 'too loud.' It was distracting and fatiguing--and again, excessive levels led to a discontinuous sound image. This was especially the case with electronic music that was mastered with surround sound processing in mind. However, in Neo:X cinema modes the volume of the surround speakers seemed just fine. If this room was only used for music listening, then I could have manually lowered the output level of the surround speakers and I would have been happy using Neo:X. However, doing that would compromise the surround levels when using Neo:X cinema mode. A conundrum. The surround speaker volume level in DSX modes seemed fine to me.
e. For movie watching, I tended to use Neo:X. I was going back and forth between THX and non-THX Neo:X.
f. At its best, Neo:X for music listening can be a very interesting experience. In some circumstances multiple and distinct sound images are present, e.g., an image plane above the listener as well as a spheroid image at the listening level. Very nice.
(3) Bottom line.
If DSX did not compromise midrange, then I would have kept the 3009; I probably would have preferred its more 'exciting' sound to that of Neo:X. If Neo:X in music mode did not produce 'exaggerated' surround speaker volume, or if there was a setting to adjust surround speaker levels that was specific to Neo:X music modes, then I would have kept the 3009. Either way, I would have been really happy. Instead, I am really bummed; close but no cigar! I have gone back to using my old Fosgate Model 4 for music listening; a bit of a let down going from 9.1 to 5.1, but I have always been happy using the Model 4 in 'Popular' mode for music.Major Edit: Jan 30, 2013
Soon after returning my 3009, I had RMA-remorse. I started to dwell on the fact that receivers with 6/8 channel inputs were being phased out, e.g., the 3010 doesn't have 'em. I really wanted those inputs for SACD and, occasionally, listening to a Fosgate Model 4. So, sheepishly, I grabbed another 3009. My wife thought that I was crazy and I don't blame her, but I am glad that I decided to go back to the 3009.
Initially, I set-up the new 3009 just as before. I had previously given-up on DSX for up-scaling 2-channel music sources because of the poor mid-range response; I still had the same gripe about that. And, with up-scaling 2-channel music sources with Neo:X, I still found that the surround channel levels were too pronounced. In my book, surround channel sound should be almost imperceptible.
Next, I decided to do away with Audyssey MultEQ. I grabbed my ruler and sound pressure meter. I manually measured speaker distance to a central seating position (position #1 in the attached figure) and I adjusted the speaker levels to 75dB, from that same position. This produced a much more appealing auditory result. Perhaps a problem with my MutlEQ experience was that my room did not allow me to use MultEQ positions #7 and #8 that were to the rear of positions #1, #2, and #3; given my room configuration Chris K. suggested using #7 and #8 positions forward of positions #1, #2, and #3. Even so, I could have tried MultEQ with only positions #1 through #6 (as shown in the figure). However, I never got around to trying that. So at the moment, given my room set-up, I vote for manual adjustment of speaker levels.
Under Speaker Configuration, I entered the manufacturer specs for each of my speakers.
After experimenting with various settings, I decided to turn off some of the additional processing: THX Loudness Plus (off); Audyssey Sound Target (off); Audyssey Dynamic EQ (off); Audyssey Dynamic Volume (off); Equalizer (off).
Even with manually adjusted speaker levels, I sometimes thought that Neo:X Music had pronounced surround channel output. This was corrected for the most part when using THX Neo:X Music. Of course, this requires that Preserve THX Settings is set to YES. Also, I still prefer the Neo:X Center Image setting at 2.
Next, I spent some time comparing Neo:X 9.1 with heights and wides to 5.1 PLII. I played around with various PLII settings, trying to find something that best approximated Neo:X. To my ear, the PLII settings that best provided this were Panorama(on); Dimension(-3); and Center Width(5). Again, this is comparing to Neo:X with Center Image set to 2. For up-scaling particular 2 channel music sources the difference between PLII and Neo:X is pretty subtle; for other 2 channel music sources the difference can be more appreciable. I also have some suspicion that PLII may have an advantage (to my subjective ear) over Neo:X when playing 2 channel audio sources that were recorded and mastered in the 1990's whereas Neo:X has an advantage with 2 channel sources mastered in the late 2000s or later. That is just a hunch at this point, but it would make some sense: in the late 1990s Jim Fosgate was attempting to optimize PLII based upon audio sources available at that time; around 2010 DTS was likely doing the same wrt Neo:X. I do prefer Neo:X over PLII, but, really, what you get for the extra expense of a Neo:X receiver plus 9.1 speakers over something with 'only' PLII or PLIIx plus 5.1 speakers will not impress the masses. And, I have to say that with respect to wideness of sound stage in my particular room, PLII in Panorama (wide) mode is a very close approximation to Neo:X with wides. I attribute the main advantage of Neo:X with heights+wides over PLII 5.1 (configured as described) to the heights. Unfortunately, PLIIz does not offer the same settings as PLII/PLIIx; if it did, then it may be possible to approximate Neo:X with heights and wides even better with a 7.1 PLIIz system.
For further context, given a 5.1 system and the goal of up-scaling 2 channel audio sources, I believe that a Fosgate Model 4 out-performs PLII by a wide margin. I was always a little disappointed in PLII when making that comparison. The Model 4 simply did a better job at imaging. In contrast, I believe that the difference between 9.1 Neo:X with heights+wides and a 5.1 PLII system is less substantial. Still, because my Fosgate Model 4 is getting very long in the tooth, it is time to move on, and I personally prefer Neo:X over PLII. So, I am happy to have the 3009.
Finally, for movies with 5.1 audio I use a straight decode. I do not upscale with Neo:X or DSX. Movie soundtracks typically have a relatively wide sound stage and making it even wider through the addition of wide channels begins to make things sound artificial and strange to me. Still, I do sometimes use Neo:X or DSX when watching sports and may do so when watching the Super Bowl this weekend.
121014a setup.jpg 53k .jpg file
Edited by SEGSEG - 1/30/13 at 5:27pm