Dirac Live 3 room-correction software Associated Equipment

Sidebar 3: Associated Equipment

Digital sources: Oppo Digital UDP-105 universal disc player, custom Baetis Prodigy-X4i music server running JRiver Media Center v28 and Roon 1.8, exaSound s88 streaming DAC and Okto DAC8 Pro D/A processors. QNAP TVS-873 NAS.
Preamplifiers: 3 Topping Pre90 for gain/buffer. Coleman Audio 7.1SW for source switching.
Power amplifiers: Benchmark AHB2, NAD C 298.
Loudspeakers: Revel Ultima2 Studio with IsoAcoustics Gaia I isolation feet. Revel Performa3 f206 for surrounds. Two SVS SB-3000 and one SVS SB-2000 Pro subwoofers.
Cables: Digital cables: AudioQuest Coffee (USB). Analog interconnects: AudioQuest Earth/DBS balanced, Kubala-Sosna Anticipation (RCA and XLR). Speaker cables: Benchmark Studio&Stage, Canare 4S11 (Blue Jeans Cable). AC cables: Kubala-Sosna Emotion, SignalCable MagicPower 20A.
Accessories: AudioQuest Niagara 5000 and Brick-Wall BrickWall 8RAUD power conditioners, Teddy Pardo 12V PS (for exaSound s88), HDPLEX 400W ATX Linear Power Supply and CyberPower 850PFCLCD AC filter (for the Baetis server).
Listening room: 24' L × 14' W × 8' H, furnished with 2 MSR Acoustics Dimension4 SpringTraps in the front corners, 2 Ready Acoustics Chameleon Super Sub Bass Traps to the sides, and moderately sound-absorbing furniture. Front wall has large windows partly covered by fabric drapes and 4" thick 2' × 4' OC 705 panels. Rear of room opens into 10' × 7' foyer and a 12' × 8' dining area.—Kalman Rubinson

Dirac Research AB
Stationsgatan 23-25
753 40 Uppsala, Sweden
+46 18 4108210

Mike-48's picture

Kal, I enjoyed the review and am thankful for your continued interest in DSP applied to audio. To clarify what you wrote about DLBC, my impression is that it sums bass to mono?

Kal Rubinson's picture

EDIT:Ah. DLBC is a bass management system and it will take the bass from each channel and distribute the sum to all the subs. If you want to control what signal goes to each sub (e.g., stereo subs), you need to do that yourself (e.g., in JRiver) and use an alternative mode of DL.

It treats as many subs as you have channels for as independent sources. Note that each sub must have its own channel independent designation and wire connection.

For example, I am using 5 main channels (L,R,C,Ls,Rs) and three subs, so I use an 8 channel layout L,R,C,Sub1,Ls,Rs,Sub2,Sub3).

Mike-48's picture

Thanks for the reply, Kal. I have been running 2 subs in stereo, on the theory that if the bass on a recording is in mono, it will be reproduced fine, and if in stereo, any added ambiance will be nice. If I had to bet, I'd guess they are very hard to distinguish. Indeed, a recently added 3rd sub is run in mono with no decrease in ambiance to my (ageing) ears.

Bob Loblaw's picture

I wish there was more hardware on the market that could be placed between a source and a DAC to provide room correction. I have a Paradigm PW Link which uses Anthem's ARC room correction, but it has some idiosyncrasies to the way it works.
MiniDSP makes the DDRC-24, but it only has analog outputs, and they also have the DDRC-22D, which is exactly what I'm looking for, but expensive in Canada at $1,170 for just room correction. Hopefully more hardware will come to market to fill this niche.

Mike-48's picture

If you mean digital only, stereo only (including 2.1 or 2.2), the miniDSP SHD Studio is a little cheaper than the unit you mentioned and runs Dirac.

Bob Loblaw's picture

That's interesting. I use Squeezeboxes around the house still, but it looks like you can run Squeezelite on the SHD Studio which could eliminate an extra box. Thanks for the heads up.

thatguy's picture

That PW Link could be great if they could fix the little bugs to it.

I would also like a quality 2 channel hardware option that was a bit more affordable for adding Dirac Live3 to my signal chain.

thatguy's picture

I think room correction is the next frontier in 2 channel audio. Articles like this are very helpful; especially the tips on the Harmon curve.

How do the hardware based options (miniDSP) with it built in compare to the PC setup?

Mike-48's picture

One audiophile's opinion: Both hardware systems and systems run on a PC have their advantages. For stereo, dedicated hardware can be easier to set up in terms of connections and abilitites. For example, the miniDSP SHD or Anthem STR have four outputs, 2 for mains and 2 for subs. That can be tricky to configure on a PC (not impossible by any means). Hardware solutions might be incorporated into a preamp with source switching, ADC, volume control, and possibly tone controls for quick adjustments. (When I was looking into a PC-based solution years ago, source selection was a stumbling block.) Finally, dedicated audio units don't require having a PC in the listening room, which some find a distraction.

I think PC-based solutions have the advantage in maximum flexibility and configurability and the ability to add more processing power in the future. You can even change DSP system, if you want, without changing hardware. I suspect also they can be more cost-effective. But to my mind, they are a little more towards the DIY end of the spectrum.

partain's picture

I've been chasing "flat" response for 50 years , and now I find a little bass and treble boost is good ? Back when tone controls existed I used a bit of boost on both ends but I was soon educated out of that nonsense . If I stray too far from flat now I'm afraid I'll feel guilty . Old habits .
Will you get the bass thingie later for free if you buy in now ?
And what about Tidal ?

Kal Rubinson's picture

I've been chasing "flat" response for 50 years , and now I find a little bass and treble boost is good ? Back when tone controls existed I used a bit of boost on both ends but I was soon educated out of that nonsense.

Time marches on but it is a little bass boost and a little treble roll-off.


Will you get the bass thingie later for free if you buy in now ?

Possible but I doubt it.


And what about Tidal ?

Tidal (which I do not use) is just another app. I am guessing that it will work with DL3 the same way that Qobuz does.

doxsoundlv@gmail.com's picture

Running a 2.2 system in my office control room style. Elac Unifi UB5's and Klipsch RPW10 subs fed from my near 20 year old Denon 3802, via a Parasound ZDDAC and J River. With Dirac installed the focus and imaging is much better, and the bass is not so boomy (these are inexpensive subs after all). I think it's a kickass system for very little money and probably about as good as it's going to get in my tiny room. I did the calibration with a DBX RTA mic I had from my pro days, and an ART mic pre to USB, but have a Focusrite on the way that might make a difference...we'll see.

luh3417's picture

For several months, Dirac has been developing a new version for the Mac, that doesn’t use plugins, and instead simply works as a kind of virtual sound card, for all audio output. I’ll buy it then, since I want to use it with Amazon Music, which doesn’t support plugins.

(There’s probably a complicated poorly documented rain dance I could undertake, to make the current version work with Amazon Music, but I’m thinking to just wait for the new version.)

(I think the Windows version is already there and doesn’t need this new architecture).

Here’s instructions for installing the Mac beta https://confluence.dirac.services/display/DLS/macOS%3A+Standalone+Beta

They are updating regularly, latest version is here

Kal Rubinson's picture

Yes, the Windows version is already there and the new Mac version (which I cannot test) has been announced.

luh3417's picture

Is the new Mac version for sale yet? Have they announced a target date? I don’t see it on their website. I have to say I still find their product offerings beyond confusing. OK I see “Plugin and Standalone for Windows and I see Plugin for Mac” so yes what I’m waiting for will be called “Standalone for Mac”.

Some of the new Onkyo AVRs will come with Dirac. Saw that announced somewhere. Ought to give Denon with Audyssey a run for its money. I don’t see this on their website either though.

nuitamericain's picture

Thanks so much for this very informative and useful review. I can't run Dirac from software, due to a need to play movies and DVDs from my Bluray player rather than my Mac. Are there decent options for hardware playback in a high-end 2-channel setup (with subs), please - ideally with Roon endpoint capability and HDMI input? Also, could I ask is there any benefit in such a hardware solution sitting before my current DAC and outputting room-corrected digital for further processing? Lastly, I'm not sure if this is mentioned, but is any extra headroom demanded of power amps with house curves (bass boost), or is this actually done by taking down the relative level of the treble?