Recommended Components: Fall 2016 Edition Signal Processors

Signal Processors

A

DEQX PreMate D/A preamplifier/equalizer: $4995
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: Full version: $720.85, Stereo version: $431.40
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)

B

DSPeaker Anti-Mode 8033C/Cinema /subwoofer equalizer: $349; DSPeaker 8033S/Stereo 2.1-system subwoofer equalizer: $449 ★
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)

Deletions BSG qøl Signal Completion Stage no longer available; Behringer DEQ2496 and Trinnov Magnitude Processor not auditioned in a long time.

 Signal Processors

A

DEQX PreMate D/A preamplifier/equalizer: $4995
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: Full version: $720.85, Stereo version: $431.40
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)

B

DSPeaker Anti-Mode 8033C/Cinema /subwoofer equalizer: $349; DSPeaker 8033S/Stereo 2.1-system subwoofer equalizer: $449 ★
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)

Deletions BSG qøl Signal Completion Stage no longer available; Behringer DEQ2496 and Trinnov Magnitude Processor not auditioned in a long time.

COMMENTS
germay0653's picture

For the past three years not one Pro-ject turntable has been in the recommended list but there is always some number of Music Hall models recommended. I believe they're made at the same factory, some even share the same arms. I'm not trying to take away anything from Music Hall because they're fine turntables but this just seems a little biased maybe.

jdaddabbo's picture

Having read and re-read many times over reviews for such speakers as the KEF R700, Monitor Audio Silver 8, B&W 683 S2, GoldenEar Triton One and Triton Five... I am finding it quite confusing to see the Triton Five listed under Class C. So I re-read all of them yet again, and then immediately doubled back to the R700, Silver 8, and Triton One... and still I'm expecting to see the Triton Five also listed under Class B. Can someone please help me understand what I am missing? Is it that I am not taking away strong enough some things stated about the Triton Five, or is it maybe that I am taking away to strongly comments made of all the others, which in either case is having me feel that all 5 speakers belong under Class B (or simply under the same Class). Thank you very much for any guidance you can give me! Ps. I'm currently in the market for 3 pairs of speakers for use in my new Home Theater setup and therefore both the Silver 8 and Triton 5 were looking quite good at their respective price points.

John Atkinson's picture
jdaddabbo wrote:
I am finding it quite confusing to see the Triton Five listed under Class C. . . Can someone please help me understand what I am missing?

When I polled the writers for their recommendations, the balance of opinion was that the Triton Five didn't quite reach the standard set by the other speakers. But it was a close call. If you like the sound of the Triton Five, don't worry about the rating - as it says in the introduction, we still recommend it.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

George Napalm's picture

I noticed that Music Hall MMF-7.3 is listed as Class B component. But despite being the cheapest turntable in this category it doesn't have a "$$$" mark...

User5910's picture

Re: "The SubSeries 125 (originally called SubSeries 1)"

It looks like the predecessor was the SubSeries 100 based on your 2014 Recommended Components article. The SubSeries 1 is ported, unlike the 100 and 125.

http://www.stereophile.com/content/2014-recommended-components-subwoofers

Marc210's picture

Are measurements correlated with listening experience(s) ?!

sophie1511's picture

That power amp showed in the picture looks more like over the range microwave...Lol. Jokes aside, i have been using Gemini XGA-2000 Power Amplifier and its been over a year since I purchased it.

I still have no problem or concern with it. It is highly recommended from my side.

ww85's picture

2016 was the worst. So it should have been no surprise to me that the Sonos Connect (aka ZP80/ZP90) finally fell off this list. Back in 2006, I had already been looking for years for something that seemed it should have been common sense simple. A way to take my entire cd collection and play it it all through my stereo without compression or having to leave the couch. After all, the files are digital and digital is digital… Once you get past the cost (and labor) of storing them on an external hard drive, it should just be a matter of getting the files to play on your system. What seemed like something that should be pretty straight forward turned out to be a major undertaking for the "industry"... Then along came Sonos with aspirations for a simple way to put music in every room of a house digitally. Speakers were built into amps, they marketed to people who used to love those cool looking B&O systems of the 80’s and 90’s. Fair enough... But when reading John Atkinson’s review of this new system, the proverbial lightbulb went off in my head. With regards to the ZP80, the processor that could be dropped into an existing system, it was exactly the answer I had been looking for. On top of that, it was cheap, sounded great if you used the digital out to a good Dac, (and measured well too) and once purchased, revealed a great interface from my ever present lap top that made it the most life changing component I ever owned. That is not just nostalgia talking. The Sonos ZP80 made listening to anything you wanted listen to, any song that ever popped into you or your kids head, just one click away. The music was CD quality and it was playing on my modest (but beloved) system. The queue feature let you add songs to your playlist as you thought of them. All of that for $349 in a box that is still available, and apparently, still looked down upon by high enders… When I read that review in 2006, not only did I see the interface I had always wanted, but what seemed like an apparent conundrum for the audiophile community. If you can take a cd and burn it to any hard drive, well, there goes the need for high end transports (and who knows what other components) And sure enough, after JA’s review, there seemed to be lots of backlash. The parts in the ZP80 were crap for God’s sake! Mods were out almost instantaneously. I was attracted to them of course, but in retrospect, I think everyone (me included) missed a salient point from JA’s review- “The Sonos can take the digital output from the NAS drive and convert it for you, or send it unmolested to your favorite DAC.” Unmolested! That was and is the beauty to the whole thing and what I think was and is being missed by a whole generation of audiophiles on a budget. With a simple setup, the Sonos Connect/ZP80/ZP90 can make the most modest stereo sound better than anything an mp3 weened music lover could imagine. I know, I did it in my NYC loft for family and friends for years. They always wanted to know where that music was coming from. Why was that song we were just talking about playing all of a sudden…
Of course, the system is not perfect and I’m always looking for better. Especially after visiting a local high end store and listening to them giggle when they find out what my front end is. (Not that they have any idea how I have it configured.) They hear the word Sonos and assume I’m listening to compressed files on powered speakers. “No” I protest. “I listen to lossless files…” They smirk and say ok, but the parts on that thing are a joke… I try to add that I just pass the signal digitally through it to a Bel Canto Dac, but no, he’s tuned out… He just wants me to hear that 5K music server that will blow me away. And that suggestion on his part was earnest. I did listen. I have looked. And overall, I find the same difficulty now in shopping for a new front end as I did back then. In addition to the sound, the way you access that sound, the interface, the playlists, the streaming services that work on the equipment are all major factors in how you use it on a day to day basis. Sonos has that stuff figured out to a large degree and I see nothing out there that does all that at anywhere near the price… I would say the way I use it almost constitutes a hack, because it’s not really what Sonos as a company is about. It’s also not how I’ve seen any other reviewer talk about it in ten years. Which is a shame, because it works really well and sounds better than it has a right to….

John Atkinson's picture
ww85 wrote:
2016 was the worst. So it should have been no surprise to me that the Sonos Connect (aka ZP80/ZP90) finally fell off this list.

As my original review was 10 years ago and the product has been changed since then, I didn't think appropriate to keep it on the list. But if the Sonos is still working well for you, that's what matters.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

ww85's picture

Thanks for the reply. It wasn't intended as a criticism for leaving it off the list and hope it doesn't read that way. Maybe it was more of a eulogy for an over performing old favorite and a thanks for reviewing it in the first place...

GustavoS's picture

I have been reading and reading for 100 times the Recommended Component Lists and am counting the days for the update in March. It is a tremendous help for some of us who have not the product offer available in the US or Europe. After reading extensively many, many reviews of different speakers, I have found that rock music is not always present (a site dedicated to vintage audio, fan of Tannoy Gold 15, has expressed that one the best track tests is the Anarchy in the UK single, 45 rpm, as it says that the track is very well recorded but only a very good speaker can manage the complexity of the track). Then, I would like to know what the "best" speakers below the 3 kusd line are:

- Kef R300
- ATC SMC 11 with subwoofer?
- MA Gold 50
- Polk LSim 703
- W. Jade 3
- Sonus Faber Venere 1.5 (auditioned it against the Paradigm Studio 20 vs, and I liked a litlle more the Paradigm)
- Dynaudio x14
- Dynaudio Emit M20
- Revel m106
- Others?

Your help will be very, very much appreciated.

Best regards from Argentina,
Gustavo

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