Music in the Round #57 Page 2

Using the Anti-Mode 2.0 mostly as a room equalizer with a pair of full-range loudspeakers, the Bowers & Wilkins 800 Diamonds, I tried a number of ways of inserting it into the system. Most obvious and useful was to put it between preamp and power amp, using the XLR ins/outs and full A/D/A conversions. I also tried it between the Oppo BDP-95 universal Blu-ray player's TosLink S/PDIF output and the Meridian 861's TosLink input. This meant no A/D conversions, but confined the EQ's effect to the Oppo. I also tried, briefly, the Anti-Mode 2.0's digital input and analog XLR outputs, thereby inserting no additional conversions but relying on the Anti-Mode's own D/A converter. All those options made no difference in how I operated the DSPeaker, but I preferred the sound with the XLR in/out—it seemed marginally more transparent. It also let me place the Anti-Mode 2.0 where it would process all the signals fed through the system, at least for the L/R channels. I used a similar arrangement with the DSPeaker running the two subs in my weekend system, where it did the job of integrating their outputs with the main loudspeakers/into as well as any other add-on sub EQ I've tried.

On initial power-up, the Anti-Mode 2.0 asks for your speaker configuration. I chose 2.0: plain-vanilla stereo. It then invited me to do a Typical room calibration, to which I agreed. I placed the provided calibration microphone at the listening position, adjusted the output to an acceptable level according to the display, and let 'er rip. The Anti-Mode 2.0 performed several slow sweeps up to few hundred hertz; following the first sweep, it displayed the raw room response as a red trace. After another 10–20 minutes of generating signals, measuring the response, and correcting for it, the DSPeaker displayed the overall corrected response in black, overlaid on the raw response. I hit "OK" to accept the correction, the display reverted to the home screen, and I sat down to enjoy the results (see fig.1).

Fig.1 Response in KR's room, 10Hz–200Hz, before (red) and after (blue) correction with the DSPeaker Anti-Mode 2.0. Note the elimination of the peaks at 32Hz, 55Hz, and 72Hz (5dB/vertical div.)

This automatic, single-mike-position, "Look, Ma, no hands!" correction made a significant improvement in the sound of my system. I'm guessing that most users won't need anything more. More, in the case of the Anti-Mode 2.0, can be more mike positions and/or more advanced options in measurement and correction parameters. DSPeaker says that the Anti-Mode 2.0 can "add as many points as you want to the calibration," but recommends a maximum of seven additional points, the results of which are automatically weighted "by comparing them to the main calibration data." Interestingly, these really are "added" measurement points—you can do the single-point measurement/correction, evaluate the results as you wish, then do more measurements post hoc. I like this, and found that adding five or six more points around my personal main listening position smoothed the system's sonic signature. It changed the measured response a bit, but of course that depended on where I placed the measurement mike.

To address room-EQ challenges that don't easily succumb to a Typical calibration, the Anti-Mode 2.0's Advanced calibration offers three more tools. First, one can adjust the bass-level compensation from Off—which provides no dip compensation, and allows more headroom for those who'll be applying custom "house" curves—to Max, which adds about 2dB gain for the filters, but with the reminder that one "can not, will not, and should not" attempt to correct true nulls, which will require infinite amplifier power. Between Off and Max is Norm, which provides a mild dip compensation, and is the default setting in a Typical calibration.

The second Advanced calibration tool is the time-alignment options. These include Auto Detect, which is most useful for subwoofers and corrects for different arrival times at the listening position, and Manual, which is, well, a manual adjustment. The third tool is the ability to set the upper limit of automatic correction anywhere from 80 to 500Hz. Notably, the Anti-Mode 2.0's firmware corrects the two channels monophonically at low frequencies; the correction becomes channel-specific as the frequency rises. Details aren't provided, and I didn't test these parameters, but this seems appropriate.

On top of all this, the Anti-Mode 2.0 can also measure, but not correct, the frequency response in ranges of 16–200Hz (Bass), 16–500Hz (Mid), and 20Hz–24kHz (Full). The results, like those of all the other functions, can be displayed on the DSPeaker's own screen without the need for any additional hardware or computer. Of course, you can plug the Anti-Mode 2.0 into a USB port of a PC, which will recognize it as a simple storage device, with all of the data of the configuration currently selected available for download as text files.

The DSPeaker Anti-Mode 2.0 Dual Core is a remarkable product. It may not display or describe time-decay information, and it's not entirely unique as a two-channel digital room equalizer. However, aside from products aimed at musicians or commercial applications, it's significantly less expensive than other, similar stereo products such as those from McIntosh, Trinnov, DEQX, or TacT (none of which I have tried). It's similar in operation to the all-analog Rives PARC parametric equalizer (see my review in the July 2003 Stereophile), which offers only three bands of correction, is not automatic, lacks all the DSPeaker's bells and whistles, and costs more than three times as much as the Anti-Mode 2.0—though the PARC may have the edge in transparency. As a subwoofer room equalizer, the Anti-Mode 2.0 is as potent as the SVSound AS-EQ1 ($799, now discontinued; see my September 2009 column, or its sister under the skin, Audyssey's Sub Equalizer ($799; see my January 2010 column), but provides infinitely more tweakability. The DSPeaker Anti-Mode 2.0 may be a small and unprepossessing black box, but for $1099, its performance and power are huge.

MSR Dimension4 SpringTrap Bass Absorber
I want to clear up any confusion I may have caused in the September installment of "Music in the Round," in which I quoted two different prices for MSR's Dimension4 SpringTrap Bass Absorber. Actually, I mentioned only a single price, $909, but first stated it as the price per pair, and later as the price for each. Unfortunately, the latter is correct, which means that the SpringTrap costs twice as much as I thought it did. However, after living with a pair of SpringTraps for another two months, I have no doubt that it's worth its actual price of $909 apiece. The SpringTraps have made more of an impact on my room/system acoustics than any other passive acoustic product I have tried. The magnitude of improvement in bass clarity and impact is the equivalent of that of a few of the best electronic equalizers, but with none of the complications, such as the introduction of additional circuitry to the signal path or the restriction of the improvement to a small part of the room around the primary listening position. My enthusiasm for the Dimension4 SpringTrap continues unabated, even at $1818/pair.

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COMMENTS
ssimon's picture

Hi Kal,

Could you comment on the anti-mode 2.0's quality as a preamp?

Thanks

S

Kal Rubinson's picture

I did not use it without another preamp in the system for an significant time.  So, I can only infer that it would work from the observations that it performed very well in its A/D/A mode and that the VC was smooth and unnoticeable.  In addition, one can adjust the input sensitivity of the A/D input to optimize resolution, SNR and, logically, the range over which you would use the VC.

Kal

Naveb's picture

Hi Kal,

I'm curious that you say you found XLR in/out to be the more transparent configuration. Running it this way the Ant-Modes dac does the final D to A conversion, and compared to sending the unit a digital signal the only differnce is that another redundant D to A stage is being added further upstream. I'm curious how, thinking logically, as extra DA conversion could make the sound more tranparent? That updstream dac could add some colour, which might be prefered, but how it could make it more transparent....

Cheers

 

N.

Kal Rubinson's picture

That is the subjective impression but, you are right, such a statement is, as Spock would say, illogical.    Guilty.

The unfortunate concommitant of using it with digital i/o in my system is that it would then only apply to the one source to which it was connected.

Kal 

Naveb's picture

Thanks for the reply. 

 

Reading through there litrature it seems one can connect USB, Toslink and anlague inputs all at the same time, while outputting analogue or digital, the only thing that cant be done is connect two analogue inputs at once. If I havent misread. Hopefully not as I'm thinking of buying one. Cheers

Kal Rubinson's picture

That is correct and, if that array of options suits your needs (only one of each type of input), the 2.0 can be a system controller or precede a digital processor.  It does not suit my needs and, therefore, I could not use it in such a way.

Sir Robert's picture

Hi,

 

Please note that Creative Sound Solutions is the authorized Canadian supplier for the DSPeaker products.

 

Thanks

Bob

Tarjin22's picture

Your observations and excellent descriptions are mostly an expansion on a user manual telling us the range of ways to set up this gizmo. You really did not report on how it sounds, which is a remarkable omission. Can you expand on its affect on music reproduction, both good and bad, in its various configurations?

Thanks!

Kal Rubinson's picture

Sorry for that and for the delay in responding.  For the review, I used it only in the auto mode. The EQ definitely cleaned up the bass from about 200Hz down with all of the speakers I tried.  In practice, it lets you set up the speakers for imaging and not bother (much) about bass optimization.   It was quite transparent so there was negligible effect on the rest of the spectrum.  

It even cleaned up the midbass bulge of the Anthem amps!

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