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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Perhaps you’re aware that a number of manufacturers cruise this site as a form of market research. Some of them even participate and occasionally we get star guests like Jim Fosgate and Roger Dressler. The other, more Peeping Tom-like manufacturers (wimps!) do read this stuff and your (carefully considered) opinions may have some effect on their products.

Since processors are the heart of the modern audio system (and near and dear to my heart after over a dozen years of designing them), I though I’d start a thread about what is important in a processor.

http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/cool.gif What’s important:

Adequate inputs (both number and quality)

Enough for YOUR system and good quality ones that won’t short out and blow up your amp (oh I know some NASTY stories).


Eight channels of output

EX and ES are cool, but even if you don’t care about them, if the system is to do double duty (film and music) you need sides and rears.


Easy upgradability

I don’t wan to disconnect everything and pull it out of the system.


THX certification

You may not use the THX modes, but be very clear, even the best DSP engineering will have mistakes. These is a lot of code in these beasts and without the rigorous certification program, I can guarantee you that your processor has all sorts of little gremlins hiding in there.


Communication bus

Systems are getting more and more complicated, you’re gonna want your “brain†to communicate with other parts of the system.


Easy menu navigation

Replacing a trashed screen after throwing your remote into it really cuts into the software fund.


Backlit remote

I’m not turning the lights back on just to make a small adjustment

Analog and digital record out

Some day I might have the time to record again…

http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/eek.gif What’s not important:


5.1 analog pass through

Do you seriously think you’re going to get a decent replication of the 5.1 mix when your speakers are out of alignment. Ever heard a two channel system with one speaker 8 feet away and the other 9 feet away? And mix down systems vary widely in their monitor setup. If you can’t manage the bass at home, well, maybe a few of those expensive discs will sound OK…


Component video switching

You have to switch your display anyhow. If you have multiple true hi-def video sources, get ye to Extron.com and get serious.


192k processing

And how pray tell are you going to get a 192k signal into your precious processor?


Balanced outputs

Nothing bad about them, other then size. You either end up with a refrigerator sized processor and hope to gain a couple of dB S/N or you go single ended and wind up making custom cables that get you most of the S/N improvement anyhow. Of course this assumes your amp even has balanced ins…


25 “DSP†modes

By DSP modes I mean concert hall simulators. There are good ambience extraction programs (Pro Logic II and Logic 7 for example) and with multi-channel music available (DTS) and more on the way, I can live without the back wall slap of Anaheim Stadium. And I know I wasn’t the only one who never used them in my Lexicon processors and those were the best sounding ones on the market.



OK. So let’s add more. IF you want to argue any of these points, well go pour yourself a big glass then breath deeply for a few minutes. If that doesn’t clear the urge, go to the Audio Video Improvement and Special Guests Forum and thrash me there, I’m a guest for the remainder of the week Let’s keep this thread to a wish list.



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Buzz Goddard www.tagmclarenaudio.com


[This message has been edited by Buzz Goddard (edited 11-16-2000).]
 

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I think an interesting "high-end" feature would to have a built-in digital crossover for bi or tri amping. This would allow for selecting cross-over frequencies, slopes, and phase/time delays.


This feature, in a way, already exists in many processors with their bass management features. What would be required would be some code, and an extra set(s) of outputs.


- Andy
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by Andy Lammer:
I think an interesting "high-end" feature would to have a built-in digital crossover for bi or tri amping. This would allow for selecting cross-over frequencies, slopes, and phase/time delays.


This feature, in a way, already exists in many processors with their bass management features. What would be required would be some code, and an extra set(s) of outputs.


- Andy
Good point, although you would need more then you realize. You might have to add another DSP engine (many don't have enough MIPS not outputs to handle all this), more DAC's, volume controllers and I can just see the engineers now http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/rolleyes.gif with that "some code" bit




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mmh, :


AC3 RF input (still some ld owners http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif )


individual crossovers for each channels (30hz-40hz-50hz-60hz up to 100hz),with selectable slopes like on the THETA DIGITAL


individual subsonic filters for each channels too (15hz to 30hz, by 2.5hz increments maybe) with selectable type of filter (like on the THETA DIGITAL), very useful when using mains in large or for the passive subwoofers (though there is often subsonic filters available on pro amps)


accurate delay system ( something that could take into account the the lenght of the cables also ? )


good point on the balanced outputs: more and more people use professional power amps (and they are right ! http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif )


price: $3000-4000. http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/biggrin.gif
 

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7.1 analog inputs. I know you said no but the DVD-Audio players that have come do have bass management, although not as good as I would prefer.


The Panasonic player allows you to select speaker distances and hence delays for all speakers. It also lets you select small/large/none.


The JVC player lets you select delays for center and rear speakers, and also to select small/large/none and to where you want bass redirected.


The management for both is rudimentary, but hopefully would be improved in the future. I'd actually like to see Sony make a DVD-Audio/SACD player that has the same bass management they incorporate into their receivers and prepros, ie 40Hz and up crossovers, selectable for any speaker, LFE cutoff selectable, distance adjustment for all speakers.


There is an advantage to do doing it this way in that you can select different bass management for music than movies.


To your list I would add the ability to assign sources (both audio and video) to any input.



Steve
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by John Beavers:
Analog bypass for two channel/SACD http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif or a pre-amp section that makes that unnecessary.


10db increment crossover selection for each speaker, including sub.


Refinement of the "all in the digital domain processing" to where it sounds as "musical" as straight analog.


Methinks you mean 10Hz increments, as 10dB would likely make you unhappy http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/tongue.gif

Analog through for SACD is possible (although doing it really well ain't cheap as we've seen with high quality preamps in days of yore).

A preamp section which makes that unnecessary? Well that's up to Sony to put a digital out on the player and if mutton heads like you buy the current players they will be disincentivized to do so. OK, so I'm jealous you'll have one before me. http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/tongue.gif http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/tongue.gif Wow, the rare double razz!


Internal DSP code refinement continues. Believe it or not more mips be needed.


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Buzz Goddard www.tagmclarenaudio.com


[This message has been edited by Buzz Goddard (edited 11-14-2000).]
 

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- Balanced outputs, as I fail to see, how a single ended to balanced connection can give me the S/N increase of a true balanced connection. I have active speakers (ME-Geithain RL906) with balanced inputs that I would like to put to their intended use.


- Truly flexible bass management with fine tuning of crossover frequency and slope.


- Precise setup options for channel delays with enough range for compensating the delay an external digital eq in the subwoofer path might induce. Speaking of which...


- Digital parametric eq with 4 or more bands for each of the 7+1 channels. Don't say that would be to expensive: Just look at what the Behringer Ultracurve http://www.behringer.de/eng/products...rs/dsp8024.htm can do. The ADCs and DACs might not be the greatest, but if a complete 2 channel unit with that DSP power can be sold for $500, adding 8 channels of just the eq functionality with all the A/D D/A infrastructure already present should be economically feasible.


- A nice 7.1 channel music mode. We'll see how far a derivative of DPL2 might get us there...


- an Ethernet connection for software upgrades and setup from a PC through a web frontend.


Eric


 

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Buzz:


Good luck in your quest, it's sure wishfull thinking I'll say that. Nothing will ever give you everything, but it's always nice to dream. Anyway, I wanted to address the THX part of your topic. I don't want to turn this into a THX VS. non THX but it really isn't as important as you state. Normally, I would fill up at least several typed pages on the whole THX issues but will spare everyone from falling asleep. http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif


THX in no way brings anything to the table that a good company doesn't already do. They are now put on everything but toasters these days and even junk equipment can get the little sticker if they pay for it. Go to a Best Buy type of store and just look at all the stuff that passes these days. It's become a nice "sticker" that's nothing more than a good house keeping seal. The high-end companies don't need it nor do they desire their input. They do things their way and it works as good or in most cases better than anything THX can offer. Krell and Theta are two perfect examples that could care less about that THX logo seal and they are at the top of anyone out there. As far as the quality control and tests by using THX, there are just two words - "forget it". These guys do tests and write their own code better than most anyone and having THX production specs means nothing to the high-end guys. They do it right to begin with because that's what is expected from their name. THX may have brought some control, design and specs to the table a LONG time ago but now it's usefullness is all but gone. Anyone that tries to get you to buy something because of that little "logo" is just plain nuts. Now, pass my THX certified pop corn please... http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/biggrin.gif


Regards,


Jeff


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Fire wire, RS232, ethernet....couple maybe three 12v triggers.


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Hmmm, one more thing. The new TACT processor has built-in room correction for all eight channels. I think I'd like that for our processor too.


Oh, and three sub outs that I can assign in any fashion I like, ie 1 LFE, two stereo etc etc.



Steve
 

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How about an affordable processor for us audiophile wannabees. I cannot afford a $5000 processor but I can swing a $800 - $1000 one. There are power amps around the $1000 mark, why not more $1000 HT preamps?


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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by Theater:
Buzz:


Good luck in your quest, it's sure wishfull thinking I'll say that. Nothing will ever give you everything, but it's always nice to dream. Anyway, I wanted to address the THX part of your topic. I don't want to turn this into a THX VS. non THX but it really isn't as important as you state. Normally, I would fill up at least several typed pages on the whole THX issues but will spare everyone from falling asleep. http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif


THX in no way brings anything to the table that a good company doesn't already do. They are now put on everything but toasters these days and even junk equipment can get the little sticker if they pay for it. Go to a Best Buy type of store and just look at all the stuff that passes these days. It's become a nice "sticker" that's nothing more than a good house keeping seal. The high-end companies don't need it nor do they desire their input. They do things their way and it works as good or in most cases better than anything THX can offer. Krell and Theta are two perfect examples that could care less about that THX logo seal and they are at the top of anyone out there. As far as the quality control and tests by using THX, there are just two words - "forget it". These guys do tests and write their own code better than most anyone and having THX production specs means nothing to the high-end guys. They do it right to begin with because that's what is expected from their name. THX may have brought some control, design and specs to the table a LONG time ago but now it's usefullness is all but gone. Anyone that tries to get you to buy something because of that little "logo" is just plain nuts. Now, pass my THX certified pop corn please... http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/biggrin.gif


Regards,


Jeff



Respectfully Jeff, you are out of your league here.

I have been through THX certification on quite a few products.

The first serious THX processor (the Lexicon CP-3), amplifiers, EQ, the Lexicon DC-1, DC-2, MC-1, a whole bunch of Citation product (processor, amp and speakers) and am now dealing with the TAG McLaren AV32R processor and DVD32R transport.

I am also quite familiar with the engineering capabilities of the companies you talk about and the accuracy with which they operate. I appreciate your passionate support of them (and I'm sure they do too).

But I've brought more surround products to market then both those companies put together and I KNOW what the THX Ultra certification program is all about. It ain't perfect, neither are the products that it certifies. But I can tell you that in the case of the processors, I am 110 percent positive that the products are better and more accurate then they would be without the certification.

Please do not try and tell me that Krell and Theta have superior digital engineering compared to Lexicon, Madrigal or TAG McLaren Audio. They make fine products that sound quite nice. But they could be even better if they had an outside engineering group probing for mistakes and helping correct them.

Again, I am not speaking of the speaker specs, nor the amps, this is about processors. And I do not use the THX modes (I do use the RE-EQ feature and I usually end up using the standard THX crossover in most rooms).

The certification program is no fun to go through as a manufacturer; it is time consuming, frustrating and expensive. But it works.




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Buzz:


I certainly have respect for your opinions, but I guess we will have to just disagree in this area. There are a few of your comments though that I must address:


1. "Respectfully Jeff, you are out of your league here."


Actually, that statment sounds a little rude but it may not have been ment that way. You do not know what my background is or the staff I am putting together for our new site. While I value your opinion, that is not a statment I would have made to you without knowing your education background or the products you make. Personally, I do feel fully qualified given the resources at my disposal. But, I certainly respect yours as well too.


2. "Please do not try and tell me that Krell and Theta have superior digital engineering compared to Lexicon, Madrigal or TAG McLaren Audio. They make fine products that sound quite nice. But they could be even better if they had an outside engineering group probing for mistakes and helping correct them."


We are going to have to differ in opinion here yet again. Yes, that was my statement and I do stand by it. I never stated your products were not good or derserving of praise. But, I know both Krell and Theta quite well and I strongly disagree they would do better by some outside group or the issues involving THX. I do think in some areas they are indeed superior, but other processors may be just as good strictly from a manufacturing standpoint.



I continue to stand by my original statment in the THX matters and the post. Certainly, I understand you think otherwise but that's a subject we will most likely continue to disagree on. One thing I wanted to make clear, I wasn't saying anyone selling THX gear is bad or any company was. Just that if you encounter a sellsperson at any shop that tries to get you to buy a THX piece of gear over a Non-THX piece of gear just because it has been "certified" is someone you shouldn't do business with. I'm sure you make wonderful products rather they are THX or not.


Jeff


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I think the THX issue is a very important one that needs to be well thrashed out. I will definitely admit that I am well out of my league when it comes to such a technical issues, however maybe we layman need to get a better understanding of how the certification process works. There seems to be quite a bit of mis-information flying around and I personally have read in some posts that it is just a license fee you pay to THX for the privilege of sticking their badge on (a purely marketing tool with no sonic benefits) . However Buzz seems to think otherwise and he states his reasons why. What are the requirements and what is involved in the process of certification? I have also read somewhere, that THX certification is of more importance with Processors than Power Amps as most Power amp manufacturers in producing a decent sounding product already meet the THX requirements!! Is this true?


Does the THX certification carry more weight with certain product types i.e. Processors and less weight with say Screens & Power Amps?


Buzz as your colleague "Dr Udo Zucker" would say "so many questions........"

I for one really appreciate what you guys at Tag are doing in terms of your customer focus wrt to product development. I wish a few more manufacturers in particular a giant Japanese manufacturer with a name beginning with S would follow your sterling examples. I in particular was sold on your AV32R purely on the fact that unlike most manufacturers you have tackled the issue of customer satisfaction head on. You are not afraid to defend your product and your strategy in public forums and even have a forum on your website for Tag owners. This coupled with your well defined upgrade path leads me to believe that Tag Mclaren is one of the most progressive hi-fi manufacturing companies out there. I suppose now you can put the free AV32R in the post to me.


Regards
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by sheggsl:
I think the THX issue is a very important one that needs to be well thrashed out. I will definitely admit that I am well out of my league when it comes to such a technical issues, however maybe we layman need to get a better understanding of how the certification process works. There seems to be quite a bit of mis-information flying around and I personally have read in some posts that it is just a license fee you pay to THX for the privilege of sticking their badge on (a purely marketing tool with no sonic benefits) . However Buzz seems to think otherwise and he states his reasons why. What are the requirements and what is involved in the process of certification? I have also read somewhere, that THX certification is of more importance with Processors than Power Amps as most Power amp manufacturers in producing a decent sounding product already meet the THX requirements!! Is this true?


Does the THX certification carry more weight with certain product types i.e. Processors and less weight with say Screens & Power Amps?


Regards


You are getting to the root of this. This discussion regards processors, not amps nor speakers.

I am tired of people who do not really know what the certification program is about condemning it. I know what it is about. I have been through the certification many times. It is not easy. And in every case, THX found mistakes as well as suggesting other improvements (in things like user interface).

As a manufacturer it is a time consuming, expensive, frustrating and frankly humbling experience. But in EVERY case, the end result has been a better product.

This is not an opinion based on what I like, what I sell, or what has been sold to me.

I have suffered many product delays and frustration over the past ten years because of the THX certification program.

It is not pleasant to be ready to ship, and send off your new baby to California and then have a report come back detailing numerous mistakes and problems. This was true of even iterative products, newer versions of products that had previously been certified. Products produced by the same teams that had created the most popular high end processors (THX or non-THX) for a decade. We thought they were perfect. And believe me after building a great team then spending 2 years of blood sweat and tears developing, testing and retesting a product with this team, we believed we had a great product. Every time.

But you know what? The mistakes were there, THX was right. We took more time, corrected the problems, re-submitted them and ended up with a better product as a result.

Let's be clear. I do not work for THX, never have. The certification process has cost me and the companies I have worked for money, time and frustration. I should be all rights hate them!

I am intimately involved with this process. I have no axe to grind. I just hate to see peoples work misunderstood and personal opinions stated as facts.

Again, these statements apply to the Ultra certification process for processors (and I think DVD players as well). I am not discussing the efficacy of the THX enhancements. I am not discussing the historical improvements the THX program has wrought over the past 15 years. I am not discussing the speaker spec, not the amplifier spec. And I am not hyping my products not denigrating other companies. I am simply trying to clear up common misconceptions that I KNOW to be false.


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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by TheaterJeff:
Buzz:


1. "Respectfully Jeff, you are out of your league here."


Actually, that statment sounds a little rude but it may not have been ment that way. You do not know what my background is or the staff I am putting together for our new site. While I value your opinion, that is not a statment I would have made to you without knowing your education background or the products you make. Personally, I do feel fully qualified given the resources at my disposal. But, I certainly respect yours as well too.


2. "Please do not try and tell me that Krell and Theta have superior digital engineering compared to Lexicon, Madrigal or TAG McLaren Audio. They make fine products that sound quite nice. But they could be even better if they had an outside engineering group probing for mistakes and helping correct them."


We are going to have to differ in opinion here yet again. Yes, that was my statement and I do stand by it. I never stated your products were not good or derserving of praise. But, I know both Krell and Theta quite well and I strongly disagree they would do better by some outside group or the issues involving THX. I do think in some areas they are indeed superior, but other processors may be just as good strictly from a manufacturing standpoint.



I continue to stand by my original statment in the THX matters and the post. Certainly, I understand you think otherwise but that's a subject we will most likely continue to disagree on. One thing I wanted to make clear, I wasn't saying anyone selling THX gear is bad or any company was. Just that if you encounter a sellsperson at any shop that tries to get you to buy a THX piece of gear over a Non-THX piece of gear just because it has been "certified" is someone you shouldn't do business with. I'm sure you make wonderful products rather they are THX or not.


Jeff

You made some bold statements;

"THX in no way brings anything to the table that a good company doesn't already do. They are now put on everything but toasters these days and even junk equipment can get the little sticker if they pay for it. Go to a Best Buy type of store and just look at all the stuff that passes these days. It's become a nice "sticker" that's nothing more than a good house keeping seal."

" As far as the quality control and tests by using THX, there are just two words - "forget it".

"Anyone that tries to get you to buy something because of that little "logo" is just plain nuts"


Sorry if it sounds rude, but you are out of your league. You're right, I don't know anything about you or your business. And I'm certainly not trying to attack you. But now you're talking about things I am intimately familiar with, and I am pretty comfortable guessing that I know a bit more about the certification program then you do. Can we agree on that? Your welcome to your opinions, but you should be aware that they verge on slanderous and they are, well, sorry, wrong.

This is audio, a subjective hobby and vocation. Disagreements are healthy, strongly held opinions foster debate and innovation. Lets get back to what would make the "perfect" processor, whether it is THX certified or not (it is likely to be more perfect it it is Ultra certified
http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/tongue.gif sorry, I couldn't resist).

We now resume our regularly scheduled thread.





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Buzz Goddard
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
"even junk equipment can get the little sticker if they pay for it."

Is where the slanderous comment came from. I infered your statement to mean something that I doubt you really believe (that I sub-spec unit could buy certification). In hindsight I doubt you meant that.

One of the problems with internet communication is that sometimes things are taken too literally.

I didn't take it personally, but obviously I have spent alot of time on THX certification and feel pretty qualified to talk about what it is and what it isn't. I guess this whole thing has blown out of control. I rarely see anyone convince anyone else to change their minds in things audio anyhow. I understand your feeling that a product can be very good without THX certification. I agree.

One of the beautiful things about the free marketplace is choice. There is enough of that for all of us (some might think too much choice).

So, we agree to disagree and perhaps some of the readers here will give both positions a little more thought and be better informed as a result.

Likely though, we've confused them more http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/wink.gif

OK, we move on...


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Buzz:


Well stated and I too have respect for you and your company. Things can be taken out of context and that's why the written word has to be carefully conveyed. Something that is, at times, not that easy to do. I think we are both well educated people and do hope it will give others insight on both sides of the fence without being too confusing. http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif


Regards,


Jeff


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Buzz, I agree w/ many of your sentiments. However, on the subject of balanced outputs, I wish to clarify something, that I may not agree with.


I think far too often, balanced outputs are used when the internals are not of a balanced design. Notably center/rear/sub woofer channels. Balancing these channels is expensive and not very beneficial. However, if you use the 'extra' DACs in stereo mode to create push-pull circuitry, now you're talking. But if you amp doesn't have balanced inputs, or balanced circuitry so what?


Many amps w/ balanced inputs aren't fully balanced anyway. My amp has a balanced 1st and 2nd stage, but to balance the 3rd stage would be quite costly. So does it not make an improvment to still run balanced? My feeling is yes.


But don't get carried away http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif


I do think more pre-pro's should have balanced digital inputs for high-end transports. Many audiophiles agree that this is the best connection.


Rob


PS: Not a fan of a 100 channel system, nor THX.


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Migliore Theater
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I thnk there is some confusion here about what "balanced" means, but rather then go into that, let's just put you in as voting for balanced.

I'd rather see a BNC digital connector then an AES-EBU XLR (I assume that's what you mean by balanced digital cable).

But I'm happy with a well executed coax and a decent connector that keeps things at 75 Ohms.


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