Warning long ass post about my old crashed PC, a new Laptop, JRiver, and BEQ!
I suffered a PC failure, or what I thought was a failure, last week. This was an old i3 Asus laptop that was retired by my mother because of a broken screen but since I only use it through HDMI it was not a problem for me in the HT. I use several external HD's and a WD MyCloud totalling 15TB's to store my media in MKV. and AVC files that I had been playing back through VLC Player. So thursday of last week I closed everything and proceeded to reboot the Asus and the HDMI suddenly failed to output anything and with the broken screen I was unable to see what the computer was up to. I left it in that state for the better part of half a day before powering it off and trying again. Same thing, so I unplugged the charger and left it sit for the whole next day and jumped on CL to see what I could find local to replace the admittedly slow (USB 2.0) aging ASUS.
I have been wanting to build a desktop for the HT for a while to allow for a GPU and crap ton of RAM but having only been moved in to the new (to us) place for 6 months plus with almost the whole house needing remodeled and the theater still needing finished as well as the rest of the acoustic treatments I've recently been working on, the funds just aren't quite ready for that to happen so a used CL bargain would have to do for now. I started looking for a desktop only to find nothing that fit the bill so I turned my focus to laptops though I really didn't want another one having 3 others dedicated to other tasks already and the upgrade path on a laptop is minimal. It is easy to find cheap laptops today with what was 5 years ago stellar performance but these 2-5yr old laptops don't benefit from the latest and fastest USB tech making file transfers slow and many don't have ethernet ports either and the ones that do, aren't Gig-a-bit. I wanted to get both because I recently also doubled my internet speed (from 100Mb to 200Mb with 1Gig scheduled for fall) through my provider and upgraded both of my routers to dual channel quad core Asus units that combined to nearly tripled my throughput. Now my slowest link was all of my old PC's network cards and this unexpected crash was a real chance to upgrade.
I found several laptops that looked like candidates but one HP 17.3" stood out because it was literally new, never even been named by an owner and was being sold at $300 obo. I sent a text and got an immediate answer from a very nice young lady who was about to start college this semester at ETSU but instead accepted a job with the Border Patrol in south Texas and no longer needed her new laptop. I made an offer for which she accepted. Final price settled on was $200 and we scheduled a meeting. She couldn't tell me anything about the processor or any of the internals and she didn't have time to follow my instructions to look them up so I went in a little blind when we meet but ended up getting fairly lucky to score an HP w/ AMD A9 and Radeon R5 GPU with 8G RAM and 1 TB HD. A lot of people have had issues with these AMD laptops but this one seems to be working perfectly so far (knock on wood). The file transfer speed is light years faster than any of my other PC's with the USB 3.1 and the Gig-a-bit ethernet made a huge difference in speed also. Complex multitasking is possible now as well making life much easier. The R5 certainly helped the look of my also aging Panasonic pt-ae4000 PJ on the video side as a bonus. I'm still going to build a powerful desktop that will be my permanent HTPC and be a gaming rig too in the future.
I tell all of this to lead up to this:
I decided to change my playback software from VLC which has served me fairly well but has no real abilities that I have been wanting to leverage for file playback like DSP for BEQ. I have been wanting to try BEQ for sometime but the way I am set up now I had no "good" way to implement the correction. This lead me to JRiver Media Center 24.
It does cost for a subscription, but I can tell you after only a few days with it that I don't think I could ever be without it again. JRiver can play anything, analize anything it can play, and also allow you to manipulate the signal/response of anything it can play ( it does have to be converted to PCM though). This is so game changing if you can use a PC for your playback because BEQ becomes super easy and works surprisingly well with no ill side effects I can find other than the lack of bitstream support when applying BEQ.
Now to BEQ any movie you have to set JRiver to convert the bitstream to PCM which takes away Atmos and DTS:X or any of the bitstream codecs for that matter, but with Dolby Surround and DTS upmixing I honestly haven't missed it a single bit and with the bass tonal balance so much improved from the BEQ, the height effects have improved as has the panning detail in the surrounds. All of the audio spectrum gets a solid quality increase when the bass tonal balance is improved allowing for better detail retrieval from all speakers.
Of course Jriver can play the bitstream for a codec like Atmos if you want and for films that don't need any BEQ like say Hurricane Heist, you can leave the bitstream entact, which is what I do to retain the Atmos processing. The DSP in JRiver is 64bit Lossless and it has the ability to eq and filter into the single digits as well as convert any bit depth and sample rate to any bit depth and sample rate you wish for output (for instance 16/44 can be converted to the highest depth and rate your receiver can handle, for me that is 24/192 but the software goes higher).
The software also allows DSP filters to be applied before of after the bass mgt. built into the software and more importantly Jriver makes all of it's DSP correction before the bass mgt. in your receiver/pre-amp since you are correcting the file itself before it ever gets to your front end gear. This makes for a better correction and allows you to un-filter all of the channels ULF content (that was filtered during mixing) before they are summed to your sub out by your receiver/pre-amp. This is important because the ULF that gets filtered from many soundtracks is spread throughout all the channels, even the surrounds in many cases. BEQ is best when tailored to the soundtrack on a channel to channel basis to "bring back the filtered content" in each channel. This is important because you simply can't un-filter or bring back what is not there to begin with and any attempt to do so will only amplify the noise floor instead of bringing back the ULF we so desire.
JRiver makes this simple by allowing you to DSP(eq, filter, delay, level) each channel as well as control the output level of each channel for the Eq'd track which is super important to be sure you don't clip any big effects. JRiver even has clipping protection built in but it is still best to be certain not to clip the level of any of the channels. Almost all the BEQ corrections on Databass have a level reduction adjustment for all the channels that accompanies the corrections so be sure to input the level reductions on all channels as instructed for each BEQ you do.
The sound quality beats VLC hands down even without the DSP features JRiver provides but once you factor in that any app on your computer can be played back through Jriver and the fact that it has room correction, bass mgt., DSP, clipping protection, audio track analisis, and much more built in, it really is a steal at the price they ask.
So far I have BEQ'd 6 movies from the BEQ thread on Databass which include Battleship, Pacific Rim 1 & 2, Avatar, Guardians of the Galaxy and Godzilla. What a freakin transformation! To say I'm thrilled with the outcome would be an understatement and a half. In everyone of these movies the tonal balance took a major step in the right direction but it is really hard to believe how transformative these corrections can be to the mid and upper bass being they are only in the ULF frequencies. Kvalsvoll and maxmercy over at Databass did a great job with all the corrections I have tried and the care they have taken with choosing the correction filters is evident once played back.
The Pac Rims taking the honors for most improved then Guardians of the Galaxy and Godzilla are close runner-ups. The first Pac Rim becomes a 5* bass movie with the Ultra ULF goods the BEQ brings. Completely different track with BEQ as the entire bass range sounds so much more even and the bass detail is very much improved.
Guardians has the bass track it should have had with BEQ and the Muto's in Godzilla sound incredible once BEQ's as does Mr. Zilla himself. (A little something I didn't put together on first watch is, the Monarch from Kong is the Monarch from Godzilla. Quite the DUH moment for me.)
I'm planning to correct all the Transformers next, this afternoon. I'm gonna do the entire Databass BEQ list a few per day.
NOW BE WARNED: THESE BEQ CORRECTIONS ARE NOT FOR EVERY SYSTEM OR EVEN MOST SYSTEMS! IF YOU HAVE TO ASK YOURSELF IF YOU SHOULD TRY IT OR IF YOUR SYSTEM CAN HANDLE IT, IT PROBABLY CAN'T. SO EXERCISE EXTREME CAUTION AND BE SURE TO READ THE ENTIRE BEQ INSTRUCTIONS IN THE FIRST FEW POST OF THE BEQ THREAD AT DATABASS BEFORE TRYING THEM. ANYONE WITH A PORTED SYSTEM THAT TRIES BEQ SHOULD BE VERY CONFIDENT IN THEIR HIGHPASS FILTERS. SAME WITH IB SYSTEMS OR SEALED SYSTEMS RIDING THE EXCURSION LIMIT. SOME OF THE BEQ FILTERS RESTORE UP TO AS MUCH AS +36DB IN THE ULF FREQUENCIES AND REQUIRE THE REQUISITE GEAR AND SYSTEM HEADROOM(dsp, amp, AND subs) TO HANDLE THEM. CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED AS I UNFORTUNATELY WILL NOT BE RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DAMAGED AMPS, SUBS OR HOUSES/ROOMS IF YOU DON'T HEED THESE WORDS!
That out of the way, for any with the system to handle the ULF and the ability to playback on a PC should really give JRiver a shot and also BEQ. There is a free 30day trial on the complete software that doesn't even require a CC so you really have no excuse. The DSP settings can be "tagged" to each individual movie, for each individual movie you play and BEQ, so that the movie specific BEQ file loads every time you play the movie again. I betting that any who try it won't be able to go without just like me, it's honestly a game changing simply incredible media software.
I'm still pretty new to all the capabilities of JRiver and BEQ but already I completely taken with it and it's abilities. Try the free trial yourself if you have ever wanted to try BEQ like I did or if you just want a stellar media software for your PC playback. I'm hooked, especially on BEQ.
Here be da BEQ thread. Follow instructions closely AT YOUR OWN RISK! It takes some careful analyzation of a track to create a BEQ correction and many a hour went into the work in this thread. You cannot simply look at the PVA and throw some filters on and call it BEQ. You can simply add filters post bass mgt. once everything is summed in your receiver/pre-amp with something like a Mindsp but the correction will not be as good for the reasons I outlined above not to mention the high chance of clipping the Minidsp due to the output voltage limitations so be very careful if you attempt the Minidsp method.
I'm still learning but I can help anyone get started with JRiver and BEQ if needed so just shoot me a PM if interested.
Sorry for the wall of text post but this really is a bass game changer I felt need mentioning having seen another member or 2 in this thread already playing with BEQ in one form or another.
Shouts out to all the BASS brethren, hope everyone in this hemisphere is having a killer summer and enjoying the recent rash of good bass tracks from RP1, AQP, Rampage. I'm looking forward to giving them the BEQ treatment very soon and will be glad to share them with any who wants the corrections.
P.s. By the way for those that made through the whole post, the old ASUS laptop I replaced started working again the day after I brought the new to me HP home, Lol ain't that the way it goes. Oh well the change has been more than worth it for the new speed and certainly JRiver.