2015 Recommended Components Fall Edition Signal Processors

Signal Processors

A

BSG qøl Signal Completion Stage: $2395
The qøl Signal Completion Stage is a remote-controlled, solid-state signal processor with four pairs each of RCA and XLR analog inputs and two pairs each of RCA and XLR outputs. With the qøl activated, JA invariably noted a larger overall sound, with a greater impression of the ambience surrounding performers, increased image depth, and better layering within that depth. From JA's measurements, it appeared the qøl process is basically a variant of the well-known Blumlein Shuffler technique. "You must audition the effects of qøl yourself," he cautioned. Sold direct with a 30-day, money-back guarantee. (Vol.36 No.2 WWW)

DEQX PreMate D/A preamplifier/equalizer: $5995
In a field where, as KR puts it, "all automatic EQ systems conflate speaker correction with room correction," the DEQX PreMate stands out: In use, this DSP engine begins by measuring and analyzing the speakers—in exclusion of the listening room, to the greatest extent possible—then generates filters to correct frequency response, optimize time alignment, and, if desired, create a customized active crossover for that speaker. After that, the user can, if he or she wishes, completely discard the speakers' internal passive crossover components (although that's not required). Bass management and, ultimately, room correction can also be implemented with the PreMate: icing on the cake. The PreMate Incorporates a volume control and switches for choosing—or not—from three preprogrammed configurations. The usual variety of connectors provide S/PDIF, AES/EBU, TosLink, and USB inputs; there is also an XLR input for a calibrated mike (included), plus a variety of analog outputs, to use for the main stereo channels and subwoofers. Apart from noting that "the learning curve is steep," KR was unequivocal in his praise for the DEQX PreMate: "It made my very good speakers undeniably better, smoother and cleaner." (Vol.37 No.12 WWW)

Dirac room correction system: $430
Of course, the sound quality is dependent on the hardware in the system, says KR, but the acoustic transformation capabilities of DLRC are well beyond what is found built into most processors. (Vol.37 No.5 WWW)

DSPeaker Anti-Mode 2.0 Dual Core digital room equalizer: $999
DSPeaker's Anti-Mode 2.0 Dual Core is a highly versatile, remote-controllable, two-channel room/system equalizer for full-range loudspeakers. It has two VS8053 IceDragon processor chips, a small color display, XLR and RCA analog inputs and outputs, a datalink connector for linking multiple Anti-Mode 2.0 units, and a USB connector for USB audio mode, firmware updates, and data downloads. By default, the Anti-Mode 2.0 measures and automatically corrects from 16 to 150Hz, but can be configured to work from 16Hz to an upper limit ranging from 80 to 500Hz. In addition, it provides a large array of filter and configuration options, and can store up to four different sound profiles. "The DSPeaker Anti-Mode 2.0 may be a small and unprepossessing black box, but its performance and power are huge," summed up KR. (Vol.35 No.11 WWW)

Paradigm PBK: $99 ★
An adaption of the formidable Anthem Room Correction system used in Anthem's Statement D2 processor, the PBK includes USB cables and a microphone, and will work with up to four Paradigm subwoofers. While easier to use and considerably less expensive than either the SVSound or Audyssey devices, the PBK's subjective results were "no better or worse," said Kal. The PBK provided "a huge improvement" in the bass performance of the Paradigm Reference SUB 15, however. "The PBK, the SUB 15's obvious mate, is a bargain," KR concluded. (Vol.33 No.1 WWW)

Trinnov Magnitude Processor: $13,599 as reviewed
This digital audio processor includes Trinnov's powerful Optimizer room-correction software and has a modular architecture for customized arrays of inputs and outputs. The review sample was configured so that KR could feed it eight channels of balanced analog input and three S/PDIF digital inputs, and get from it eight channels of balanced analog output. The Optimizer measures each speaker's responses of frequency, phase, and impulse, and its relative volume level and distance from the calibration microphone; computes a digital filter set to correct for the frequency response, distance, and level of each speaker; and provides a 31-band graphic equalizer and level and delay controls for on-the-fly adjustments. Expensive but worth it, concluded Kal: "The superior abilities of Trinnov Audio's Optimizer to measure and equalize my surround system and correct for imperfect speaker placements were revelations." Replaced since review by basically identical Magnitude 32: 8 channels in/out (digital/analog), with calibrated microphone. (Vol.36 No.9 WWW)

B

DSPeaker Anti-Mode 8033C bass equalizer: $349 single-channel, $449, stereo $$$ ★
The Anti-Mode 8033C is a plug-and-play, DSP-based, single-channel bass equalizer with up to 24 Infinite Impulse Response digital filters. Its tiny chassis is powered by a 9V wall wart and has an RCA input jack and two RCA outputs. Kal noted tighter, cleaner low-end performance. "The DSPeaker Anti-Mode 8033 is a dandy little device for taking care of the major influences of room modes." Price includes shipping. The S version operate on stereo signals. (Vol.32 No.1 WWW)

miniDSP 10x10Hd: $599 $$$
Made in Hong Kong, the 10x10Hd has eight analog inputs and outputs (both balanced and unbalanced), and a stereo digital input and output (TosLink, S/PDIF, AES/EBU). It allows the user to set high- and low-pass filters for each output channel in increments of 1Hz; control gain, phase, delay, and compression for each channel; implement up to six parametric EQ filters per input and/or output channel; and select and store all options in up to four independent configuration presets. A simple front-panel push knob selects inputs and allows for nearly instantaneous A/B comparisons. Setup was simple and operation flawless. "The miniDSP 10x10Hd gave me the tools to do what I want in order to get the sound that I want," praised Kal. (Vol.37 No.1 WWW)

miniDSP nanoAVR 8x8 HDMI audio processor: $249
Taken to task by KR for its ungainly bass-management configuration—but nonetheless praised for offering real hands-on room EQ, like the miniDSP 10x10hd—the nanoAVR 8x8 now features reworked software and DSP firmware to allow standard bass management. (Registered owners of the previous version can download the update from the miniDSP website.) KR confirms that the changes address his criticisms: "I can now highly recommend the miniDSP nanoAVR 8x8 for use with high-end pre-pros that lack EQ or have limited or inadequate EQ." (Vol.37 Nos. 7 & 11 WWW)

C

Behringer DEQ2496: $524.99 $$$
Behringer's professional, rack-mount DEQ2496 offers a suite of signal-processing functions, including dynamic EQ, reverb, and digital room correction. It has AES/EBU and TosLink inputs but lacks a USB input. The sound was clear, fast, and lean, with good bass and dynamics, said JM. "If the idea of digital EQ doesn't make you run screaming from the room, the DEQ2496 is an amazing bargain, and might very well be the cheapest way to solve some problems in system matching or room acoustics," he decided. (Vol.35 No.4 WWW)

COMMENTS
corrective_unconscious's picture

Is meant to summon 1960s LP album covers - the record company banners on them. Of course the "stereophile" logo is of a different style, but still a nice touch if I'm correct.

Venere 2's picture

Too funny to see the 1499$ KEF LS50 still in Class A with the Magico Q5 at 65 000$

That is one of a good handful of aberrations. Stereophile gets a lot of things right. But when they don't, they really don't!

z24069's picture

Under Disc Players, Transports, etc...there are some fine choices in all the categories and they all definitely belong on the list IMHO.

HOWEVER, you've completely left Esoteric products off the list; this begs the question as to how at least one of the myriad SOTA products (1box as well as multi-box) from Esoteric including the K-01x, K-03x, P-02/D-02, P-1/D-1s/etc...cannot be found on this list.

Their products did receive nominations from TAS and Stereophile for best-of categories for many years and have been bettered in terms of sound quality in more recent product releases; it leaves one wondering how they could be conspicuous by their complete absence from this year's and last year's lists???

John Atkinson's picture
z24069 wrote:
it leaves one wondering how they could be conspicuous by their complete absence from this year's and last year's lists???

This is because we haven't reviewed any Esoteric products for a couple of years. (I favorably reviewed the D-07 D/A processor in 2011 - see www.stereophile.com/content/esoteric-d-07-da-processor.) The company has gone through major changes in its management and distribution and we are waiting for things to settle down before investing our resources in a review.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

z24069's picture

John,

Thank you for the reply...there has been high praise on various forums for K01, K01X, K03X, P1/D1, P2/D2 and C02/C02X products from them. It is true with the buy of Esoteric away from Teac and Onkyo/Integra now providing support and sales things have changed and a number of us had to dig a bit to get contacts at the new company for everything from sales to support. It may be time to review them again however as the level of playback achieved by the P1/D1, P2/D2 and K01X is nothing short of stunning, certainly in line with many products that did make the list over the last couple of years. If you are interested in those contacts or talking directly with some Esoteric owners of multi-generations including the current ones, please let me know and I'll get you in touch.... There are other brands and products missing as well (check out Legacy "V" and "Aeris" for example) and the industry has grown,...perhaps the 500 number as a cut-off should be revisited and raised!

z24069's picture

BTW...if there is a way to reach you via email, I'd be happy to pass on the contacts that some of us have found work for getting in touch with the Sales and Support side of the new Esoteric and to talk about some great music that is currently spinning....Have a great weekend!

yuvalg9's picture

Hello,

1. In the CD players category, I think you should have mentioned the Naim CD5si and the Cyrus CD i. Both are great value for money.

2. In the Turntables category, I think you should have mentioned at least one of the Pro-Ject models. Pro-Ject is, as you may know, the largest TT Manufacturer in the world.

3. GoldenEar's Triton 5 under the "K" category? Maybe I misunderstood what the "K" category is?

Regards,

Yuval

blingbass's picture

Hello,
I am in the quest of a good noise-cancelling pair of headphones and I came across this bose quietcomfort 25 review.
They are far cheaper than the PSB M4U 2 but I don't know how they compare... Have you tried them ?

X