Mark Henninger checks out the latest nanoAVR processors from miniDSP, which offer a way to add Dirac Live multi-channel room correction to a wide variety of AV systems.
When I first used the nanoAVR HD
last year, I particularly liked depth and ease of use of its built-in software. I appreciated how it offered very fine control over bass management and EQ. In April, 2014 miniDSP debuted its first products running Dirac Live. At CES 2015, I had a chance to check out a nanoAVR DL as well as several other devices that run Dirac's highly capable room correction software.
Tony Rouget, the Managing Director at MiniDSP, showed me the company's lineup of Dirac Live-compatible devices, including the brand-new nanoAVR DLA. It features eight (unbalanced RCA) analog outputs in addition to HDMI connectivity. The result is a compact device that acts as a multi-channel DAC incorporating highly sophisticated DSP processing—Dirac Live. It accepts up to 24-bit/192 kHz audio, which it processes at 24-bit/96 kHz resolution. The nanoAVR DLA passes 4K/UHD video. It has a learning remote feature, plus there's an Android app for control over volume, mute, and presets. You gain full control of the nanoAVR DLA's functions when its connected by USB or Ethernet.
I also checked out the nanoAVR DL, which lacks the analog outputs of the DLA version. Otherwise it shares the same features and costs $620 in a package with the (required) UMIK-1 measurement mic. I costs $550 if you already have a UMIK-1, and thanks to the analog outputs you can use it in lieu of a pre/pro or AVR if its connected to active speakers or a multi-channel amp.
While I was there I also looked at the $1000 DDRC-88A, a Dirac Live-capable unit with 8-channel analog input and output. It's been out for over a month now, and AVS already a very popular thread dedicated to it, which you can check out here
. The DDRC-88A includes both balanced and unbalanced connections and performs its processing at 24-bit/48 kHz resolution.
The backside of a DDCR-88A.
The nanoAVR approach to room correction is appealing because it's a separate component—with it, you can add Dirac Live to almost any HDMI-compatible system. And with analog outputs on the nanoAVR DLA, you only need an HDMI-compatible source!
I have several pre/pros and integrated amps slated for review that do not include any room correction. I plan to create room correction profiles for my reference speaker systems and using them with "zeroed out" AVRs, integrated amps, and pre/pros. Doing so levels the playing field between different devices from different manufacturers while providing the benefits of highly customizable room correction. Furthermore, it'll be interesting to find out how Audyssey, MCACC, YPAO, and other room correction systems compare to Dirac Live.
The nanoAVR DL and the DDRC-88A are already available. The nanoAVR DLA is coming soon but its release is still a couple of months away. When there's a firm shipping date or new pricing info, I'll update this post.
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