Poll: Do you use "pure direct" on AVRs for 2-channel music? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
View Poll Results: For 2-channel music on an AVR, do you use “pure direct” mode or DSP mode?
For 2-channel music, I use “pure direct” mode all the time 24 30.00%
For 2-channel music, I use DSP mode all the time 39 48.75%
For 2-channel music, I use both, but use “pure direct” most of the time 6 7.50%
For 2-channel music, I use both, but use DSP most of the time 3 3.75%
For 2-channel music, I use DSP and “pure direct” about equally 8 10.00%
Voters: 80. You may not vote on this poll

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post #1 of 116 Old 01-09-2020, 03:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Poll: Do you use "pure direct" on AVRs for 2-channel music?

Please participate in this poll only if you have actively evaluated “pure direct” mode (DSP bypassed) against standard (DSP enabled) mode when listening to 2-channel music on an AVR.

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post #2 of 116 Old 01-09-2020, 03:41 PM
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Short answer: No

I have done quite a bit of tinkering and comparison of the Pure Direct mode on my Denon AVR, with 4 different sets of speakers over the past year plus. I always end up finding a better overall sound in my listening space by utilizing Audyssey. Specifically, I find using the 'Flat' setting with Dynamic EQ turned on, but with an offset of -10 usually. I sometimes run a -15 offset if listening really loud, and sometimes only -5 at lower volumes. IMO the bass is noticably better overall with Audyssey running, feeding two SVS subs.
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post #3 of 116 Old 01-09-2020, 04:54 PM
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I compared Pure Direct to my non-room corrected settings and it was identical. All Pure Direct does is turn off room correction (and a few other little things that I couldn't tell any effect from).


So the more pertinent question is :



Do you listen to stereo with room correction on or off ?



So if you run room correction to improve the sound why would stereo sound better with it off ? Maybe because room correction is correcting for all speakers and when playing stereo there are (obviously) only 2 speakers. Maybe there should be 2 room correction modes - one for surround and one for stereo - do any AVR/Processors ahve this ability ?



FYI - I listen to everything with room correction off and stereo sounds so good that it is almost indiscernible from surround. When I first listened to stereo I had to go to each surround and centre speaker and place my ear right next to them to confirm they weren't actually playing.
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post #4 of 116 Old 01-09-2020, 04:58 PM
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There is no pure direct mode on my pre pro. pure and direct modes are separate.
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post #5 of 116 Old 01-09-2020, 05:12 PM
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Like previously mentioned, "Pure Direct" (at least on my Marantz AVR) turns of Room Correction. Room Correction is also the only EQ I use for the speakers. I don't use dynamic EQ, nor do I artificially boost anything. The flatter the better above 100Hz imo. Below 100Hz I run two shelves which basically run +10db from 60Hz and below.


I don't see why anyone would use the Pure Direct mode at all, unless they prefer whatever their room makes of the sound. You can get away with not having room correction down to like 100Hz. Below that point, your room will butcher the frequency response unless you're running a special setup with 4 or more subs or something like a double bass array. If your room has no parallel surfaces it might be decent. But a typical living room (unless it's humongous) will be the biggest influence on bass response. Far bigger than any sub could be.
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post #6 of 116 Old 01-09-2020, 06:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peniku8 View Post
I don't see why anyone would use the Pure Direct mode at all, unless they prefer whatever their room makes of the sound. You can get away with not having room correction down to like 100Hz. Below that point, your room will butcher the frequency response unless you're running a special setup with 4 or more subs or something like a double bass array. If your room has no parallel surfaces it might be decent. But a typical living room (unless it's humongous) will be the biggest influence on bass response. Far bigger than any sub could be.

I am assuming my room and speaker setup is (by sheer fluke) an exception as it sounds much better without room correction (pure direct) than with, which is why I run it without. And I have 5 subs to cover the bass EQ (or lack thereof).
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post #7 of 116 Old 01-09-2020, 06:19 PM
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Pure direct means different things to different manufacturers, so the sonic implications, if any, will be different between them.


Oh, yes I have compared, but I don't use an AVR anymore.
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post #8 of 116 Old 01-09-2020, 06:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rysa_105 View Post
There is no pure direct mode on my pre pro. pure and direct modes are separate.
Unfortunately, there is no industry standard for terminology, but generally "pure" means shutting off all DSP and "direct" means bypassing most processing except for bass management. The "pure" mode on your unit is likely the equivalent of "pure direct".

Quote:
Originally Posted by peniku8 View Post
Like previously mentioned, "Pure Direct" (at least on my Marantz AVR) turns of Room Correction. Room Correction is also the only EQ I use for the speakers. I don't use dynamic EQ, nor do I artificially boost anything. The flatter the better above 100Hz imo. Below 100Hz I run two shelves which basically run +10db from 60Hz and below.

I don't see why anyone would use the Pure Direct mode at all, unless they prefer whatever their room makes of the sound. You can get away with not having room correction down to like 100Hz. Below that point, your room will butcher the frequency response unless you're running a special setup with 4 or more subs or something like a double bass array. If your room has no parallel surfaces it might be decent. But a typical living room (unless it's humongous) will be the biggest influence on bass response. Far bigger than any sub could be.
There is no question that optimized room eq should theoretically beat "pure direct" every time because the DSP has been optimized for specifically for the room/speaker placement/speaker type/... , but the poll question is really about which one sounds better to you when you listen to both modes. Have you tried bouncing back and forth between pure direct and DSP? If so, which did you prefer?
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post #9 of 116 Old 01-09-2020, 06:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pjp View Post
There is no question that optimized room eq should theoretically beat "pure direct" every time because the DSP has been optimized for specifically for the room/speaker placement/speaker type/... , but the poll question is really about which one sounds better to you when you listen to both modes. Have you tried bouncing back and forth between pure direct and DSP? If so, which did you prefer?

Yes, DSP always sounded like a whole new world. My speakers are only budget speakers at ~600$ a pair (Klipsch mains), so their native frequency response might not be the best to start with anyways. I tried Pure Direct when I was setting up the system to do an album mastering at home, before I knew what it was actually doing. My ears have been accustomed to the flat frequency response of my monitors at the studio over the years and I EQ every system and headphones I listen on to be as flat as possible.
I then add the same bass boost to all systems to have the same sound everywhere. I have a miniDsp in the sub chain of my home system, which I'm using for RoomEQ and shaping. I like being in control, as my amp doesn't have Audyssey XT32.
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post #10 of 116 Old 01-10-2020, 03:56 AM
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I like DSP (Anthem ARC) for my music. I also activate Dolby Volume, which is similar to Dynamic EQ for Audyssey. It corrects for the fletcher-munson curve. As I listen to a lot of jazz and classical music at low volume levels dolby volume or dynamic eq helps a lot. It's like a 21st century loudness button.
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post #11 of 116 Old 01-10-2020, 12:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A9X-308 View Post
Pure direct means different things to different manufacturers, so the sonic implications, if any, will be different between them.
Excellent point. On top of that it means extremely different things in use, in different scenarios.

For some people it means turning off their sub and this will impact the ear very differently if their front speakers are little ones vs. big ones, how they setup bass management, the bass content of the current music, etc. For instance, I can get by listening to solo flute music without any sub, no problem, but not so much for listening to Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor.
---

I've never understood why so many people tie the use of DSP functions to 2ch music over say 5.1 content, or the way they usually more simply describe it "music vs. movies".
Has the room changed? No.
Has the L/R speaker distances changed? No.
Has the front L and R placement changed? No.
Do the level trims to the front L and R change? No.
Does the corrective EQ needs for the front L and R change? No.
Do content providers change something for the L and R channels if they are or aren't accompanied by the extra channels? Well, other than the center sound stage content changing channels from being split equally into the L and R channels to the Center channel, not really.

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post #12 of 116 Old 01-10-2020, 12:27 PM - Thread Starter
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For me, I love DSP for theater use, but "pure direct" has always sounded much better for 2-channel music. The biggest difference is that most of the high frequency sparkle and airiness is lost when DSP is enabled. I mostly use analog sources for 2-channel music (e.g. phono or CD or external DAC connected to the AV processor via RCA cables) -- which means it stays analog in "pure direct" versus getting converted to digital and back to analog in DSP mode. I haven't evaluated 2-channel music with digital inputs because I currently don't have a digital source on that system. In theory, digital inputs shouldn't behave differently, but I haven't tried it on my system.

If I get time, I might try to do a recording in the room with a Zoom field recorder to see if it captures the pure direct/DSP difference.
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post #13 of 116 Old 01-10-2020, 12:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pjp View Post
If I get time, I might try to do a recording in the room with a Zoom field recorder to see if it captures the pure direct/DSP difference.
For evaluating by measurement how 2ch. music changes from electrical/digital processing in an AVR or prepro, it is best to not add the gross distortions introduced by speakers, their placement, room acoustics, microphones, and microphone placement, which can swamp the results, and to instead record the electrical output of the device in question directly before all that added junk. For instance, by recording your system's preamp level outs into a recorder (a Zoom would do) or a computer directly with inputs, say on a sound card or USB interface. [A free software program like Audacity could be used as your recording program should you not already own one.]

I have done this myself, years ago, and will now attempt to see if I have any of the files still on my hard drive to post.

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post #14 of 116 Old 01-10-2020, 01:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
For evaluating by measurement how 2ch. music changes from electrical/digital processing in an AVR or prepro, it is best to not add the gross distortions introduced by speakers, their placement, room acoustics, microphones, and microphone placement, which can swamp the results, and to instead record the electrical output of the device in question directly before all that added junk. For instance, by recording your system's preamp level outs into a recorder (a Zoom would do) or a computer directly with inputs, say on a sound card or USB interface. [A free software program like Audacity could be used as your recording program should you not already own one.]

I have done this myself, years ago, and will now attempt to see if I have any of the files still on my hard drive to post.
I've done preamp recordings many times to digitize LP's and to digitize live cassette recordings from back in the day. Although I have some academic interest in hearing a comparison from preamp outputs, for evaluating sound quality, the only thing I care about is capturing what comes out of the speakers in the room where it is playing. Yes, speakers introduce all kinds of "stuff" that make the recording far less scientifically perfect, but that speaker "stuff" exists in real life when we are listening to our system whether we like it or not, so that's the only sound that is relevant to me. The recorder mics are far from perfect also in comparison to feeding it with preamp inputs, but capturing how it sounds in the room is a million times more important to me than a more scientifically perfect sample that doesn't capture how the system sounds.

Actually, now that I think about it some more -- preamp capture of left/right outputs for comparing DSP vs analog (pure direct) is heavily flawed. The recording for the "pure direct" sample should be fine, but the DSP recording would be skewed a lot because the AVR is applying delays for speaker placement and EQ for individual speaker deficiency and room compensation that aren't relevant or appropriate when you are capturing it from the preamp output (because the speakers and the room they were tuned for are removed from the recording).
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post #15 of 116 Old 01-10-2020, 01:29 PM
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On my A/V Processor, “Direct” mode uses the Processor’s internal built-in DAC. “Pure Direct” mode bypasses the Processor’s internal DAC and allows me to use my external DAC.
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post #16 of 116 Old 01-10-2020, 01:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spleen View Post
On my A/V Processor, “Direct” mode uses the Processor’s internal built-in DAC. “Pure Direct” mode bypasses the Processor’s internal DAC and allows me to use my external DAC.
There is no industry standard for the terminology used or what those names mean, but I think what you described is accurate for most equipment. Anything labeled "pure" is likely to be bypassing the digitization and anything labeled "direct" (without pure) is usually bypassing some processing, but it is likely still being digitized. It's best to consult owners manual to be sure for individual components, but what you described is as close to being "universal" as is possible absent any industry standards to define those modes.
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post #17 of 116 Old 01-10-2020, 01:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pjp View Post

Actually, now that I think about it some more -- preamp capture of left/right outputs for comparing DSP vs analog (pure direct) is heavily flawed. The recording for the "pure direct" sample should be fine, but the DSP recording would be skewed a lot because the AVR is applying delays for speaker placement and EQ for individual speaker deficiency and room compensation that aren't relevant or appropriate when you are capturing it from the preamp output (because the speakers and the room they were tuned for are removed from the recording).
First off individual level trims, distance delays, and EQ can all be turned off for testing purposes and secondly they all happen in the preamp stage, before the power amplification stage, so all of them alter the preamp outs of an AVR just like they do the eventual amplified results through the speakers.

When wanting to test what a circuit does and if it audibly degrades the sound to the ear, you want to give your ears the best possible opportunity to hear the distinction because it may be subtle and easily obscured by other distortions. This means you should record the signal only with a state-of-the-art mic, when using state-of-the-art speakers, in a state-of-the-art room, or even better than that: zero mic distortions, zero speaker distortions, and zero room distortions. They introduce the least obscuring "fog" to your recording of all, and conveniently they are free.

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post #18 of 116 Old 01-10-2020, 02:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pjp View Post
It's best to consult owners manual
Unfortunately even that can't be trusted 100%. You really need to test (or have tested for you) what it does. My Marantz prepro*, for example, treats incoming analog and digital signals differently when using Pure Direct yet there is zero mention of this in any of their literature, including the manual. Here's what I found by testing:

Digital: don't bypass front L vs. R distance compensation
Analog: bypass front L vs. R distance compensation

Not sure about level trims but they may work the same odd way.
I think, but am not 100% sure, that EQ is properly bypassed for both types of inputs.


* Later confirmed by another forum member to be the same on his (sister company) Denon AVR, of a later year's production.

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post #19 of 116 Old 01-10-2020, 02:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
First off individual level trims, distance delays, and EQ can all be turned off for testing purposes and secondly they all happen in the preamp stage, before the power amplification stage, so all of them alter the preamp outs of an AVR just like they do the eventual amplified results through the speakers.
We've had this discussion before. When you turn off all trims/delays/EQ, you are creating a test case that (virtually) nobody uses in real life. It has nothing to do with how anyone uses their system, so it is an irrelevant test by definition. Virtually everybody tunes the DSP with the AVR's supplied mic/software, or with REW, to optimize sound for the room/speakers/placement. That's the only valid test case to compare to because that's the only way people listen to their system when DSP is enabled in their AVR's. When you turn off all of that trim/delay/EQ processing, you are reducing what is unquestionably huge amounts of digital manipulation to perform the trim/delay/EQ processing, down to a simple analog-digital-analog cycle. That test means nothing because it doesn't reflect how the equipment is used, and there will be no audible difference at all because the simple analog-digital-analog process you artificially reduced the test to will be audibly transparent at any decent bit rate. The test you propose is a "scientifically perfect" test of nothing.

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post #20 of 116 Old 01-10-2020, 02:15 PM
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So unlike me, what you want to test is:

Does level trim make an audible difference?
Does distance trim make an audible difference?
Does EQ make an audible difference?

However rather than testing them all individually you want to tie them together and switch them all at once, on and off, via the Pure Direct button, yes?

[And we'll assume for sake of argument the subwoofer sound, and speakers "small"/"large" does not change]

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post #21 of 116 Old 01-10-2020, 02:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
So unlike me, what you want to test is:

Does level trim make an audible difference?
Does distance trim make an audible difference?
Does EQ make an audible difference?

However rather than testing them all individually you want to tie them together and switch them all at once, on and off, via the Pure Direct button, yes?

[And we'll assume for sake of argument the subwoofer sound, and speakers "small"/"large" does not change]
Absent DSP presets, there are only two operational modes people use in the real world -- DSP on (all DSP) or DSP off (pure direct) (ok, some AVR's have "direct", which is in between). Those are the only modes that are relevant to test because those are the only modes that are available when they listen to their system. If you want to test artificial modes that people never, ever, ever use, you can have at it, but those tests are meaningless because have nothing to do with anything in the real-world.

(this is my last post on the subject because I know we are going to go around in circles)


.

Last edited by pjp; 01-10-2020 at 07:17 PM. Reason: Added quoted text I was responding to for context clarity
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post #22 of 116 Old 01-10-2020, 03:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
So unlike me, what you want to test is:

Does level trim make an audible difference?
Does distance trim make an audible difference?
Does EQ make an audible difference?

However rather than testing them all individually you want to tie them together and switch them all at once, on and off, via the Pure Direct button, yes?

[And we'll assume for sake of argument the subwoofer sound, and speakers "small"/"large" does not change]
By my read, I guess his answer is "yes".

I use PD for all sorts of other things.
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post #23 of 116 Old 01-10-2020, 07:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
However rather than testing them all individually you want to tie them together and switch them all at once, on and off, via the Pure Direct button, yes?
Quote:
Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
By my read, I guess his answer is "yes".
For clarity, that test (all DSP vs Pure Direct) is what the entire thread and poll is about (in other words, your question was already answered in post #1 ).




.

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post #24 of 116 Old 01-10-2020, 08:31 PM
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Pure Direct for me.

My Elite 504Tx sucks the life out of my beloved MMGs with all the gee-whiz turned on for stereo music. Sounds dull, liefeless, and quite frankly like some regular box speaker.

Slap it over to "pure direct" however, and they come back to life, and sound like they are supposed to.

Oddly, I only notice the dull and lifeless bit in stereo. Multichannel stuff sounds better with all the gee-whiz turned on.

Before you tell me I'm daft for driving MMGs with a receiver, I don't. It's a preamp for the front 3 speakers and 2 surround back speakers. It only powers the 4 atmos speakers and side surrounds.

MiniDSP 2x4HD, UMIK-1, REW... The holy trinity for running multiple subs.
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post #25 of 116 Old 01-10-2020, 08:38 PM
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I do not use pure direct mode on my Yamaha RX-A2060. It sounds awful...weak, hollow, etc. I use Straight setting on DSP for 2-channel music and it sounds much, much better. No comparison. I'm sure it's the room more than anything.

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post #26 of 116 Old 01-10-2020, 09:47 PM
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Please don't take this the wrong way but I believe there is a category missing. I listen in Pure Direct mode when playing vinyl or cassette, straight mode with DSP off when listening to my digital files and straight plus sub, (bass management only) when wanting to use my sub for music. I couldn't vote as I did not see these selections. To me DSP means using the artificial sound fields like hall or stadium. Please let me know what you think.
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AVR Yamaha RX-V 1800/1900/1500
TT/Cassette ProJect Xpression III/Yamaha KX1200/KX800
BR Yam. BD-S681/Sony X800/Pan. BD30 DPL Sam. 65"/ 55"/50"
Speakers PSB T-45,8C,1B/ PSB 500,200C,RBH A600/Alphas
Subs Rythmic LV12-R/PSB Subsonic 6/5
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post #27 of 116 Old 01-11-2020, 09:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by 3db View Post
Please don't take this the wrong way but I believe there is a category missing. I listen in Pure Direct mode when playing vinyl or cassette, straight mode with DSP off when listening to my digital files and straight plus sub, (bass management only) when wanting to use my sub for music. I couldn't vote as I did not see these selections. To me DSP means using the artificial sound fields like hall or stadium. Please let me know what you think.
I probably should been more clear about "DSP mode" -- what I meant by "DSP" was leaving the room eq/time delays/level adjustments to optimize the sound enabled (basically all the stuff settings you get with Audyssey or REW). I wasn't referring to Hall/Stadium/Jazz club type modes -- just listening in 2-channel mode with DSP on or off (pure direct).

I'm guessing your "straight" mode is like "direct" mode (digitizing but no digital effects applied). For the poll, I think straight mode aligns with pure direct because (if I'm interpreting straight mode correctly) it's bypassing the room/speaker optimization/eq. I did think about having a "direct" option in addition to "pure direct", but there would have been too many poll options. If I had the chance to do it again, I would have said "direct or pure direct" versus DSP.
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post #28 of 116 Old 01-11-2020, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by pjp View Post
I think straight mode aligns with pure direct because (if I'm interpreting straight mode correctly) it's bypassing the room/speaker optimization/eq. I did think about having a "direct" option in addition to "pure direct", but there would have been too many poll options. If I had the chance to do it again, I would have said "direct or pure direct" versus DSP.
Straight on Yamahas means "pass the signal straight through the surround mode circuits; no added "Hall," "Stadium", "Chamber" for you!" Room optimization circuits, however, including independent channel level trims, distance (digital dealy correction), and digital EQ are maintained". [not a real quote] 2ch incoming sources produces 2ch out, Dolby 5.1 incoming sources produces Dolby 5.1 out.
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post #29 of 116 Old 01-11-2020, 11:03 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
Straight on Yamahas means "pass the signal straight through the surround mode circuits; no added "Hall," "Stadium", "Chamber" for you!" Room optimization circuits, however, including independent channel level trims, distance (digital dealy correction), and digital EQ are maintained". [not a real quote] 2ch incoming sources produces 2ch out, Dolby 5.1 incoming sources produces Dolby 5.1 out.

Thanks for clarifying. In that case, straight mode would fit under DSP.
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post #30 of 116 Old 01-11-2020, 11:15 AM
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Nope.

Sounds like poop on my Integra DTR 6.5
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