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chrapladm

How do I achieve a flat ULF signal chain?

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Ok I have been wondering this for many years and time just keeps flying by. I am going to have sealed subs again and want to have a full  BW subwoofer system. I know the biggest problem will be the signal chain. I dont have the money to just go out and buy everything to try. I also dont would like to find out what every one in the forums is using.

 

I currently have a Denon AVR1509, PS3 for BR and thats about it. I use my computer to play most things with the output going to the LCD. Then from there I just use audio outs to the AVR. My PS3 has a HDMI straight to the AVR and audio out from the AVR to the LCD.

 

So with all the bass threads I am wanting to see what I will need to have the flattest to DC signal chain I can. Or 2/3hz would be good. :D I looked at getting a NanoAVR between the PS3 but dont think the PS3 outputs linear. Also looked at getting a Oppo 103 and a 10x10 or DDRC-88A but that is quite costly. And I am pretty sure Dirac is only useable to 10hz although I am not sure about the Mini version.

 

So the other options that popped up were to purchase Jriver for my computer. Not sure what all that software can do but I know it can do a LOT.

 

I dont watch many movies with the PS3 anymore. I have a small collection of BR's but since sold off most of my speakers except my first DIY line arrays. I am slowly building my speaker channels again but have to build within my small space limits. I will most likely just be going with a 5.2 system. Dont have the room for larger right now. BUT maybe towards the end of the year I will be expanding to a 7.2 system. So if I buy anything I would like to buy for a 7 channel system.

 

Also my AVR is 5 channels now but it will be replaced at some time in the future.

 

So what is everyone using or suggest using for the flattest signal chain to 3hz?

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I would stick with getting JRiver and upgrade the receiver. I don't know how much of a learning curve there is, but it's worth a shot. If you go the new receiver route, the only hurdle is it's roll off.

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I was going to get a new receiver that had very little roll off but that preamp doesnt have HDMI inputs :( Then there was the option of another Denon also but the ones I was looking at are going to cost about $1000. No accessories 4 less like store here. So for me there are the expensive options which would work but not happening anytime soon. Then there are the options using Jriver and hoping my Denon is ok for now. Which is most likely going to be the immediate I can do.

 

I also have a Motu MK3 Hybridlite interface on my computer. I could try and use Jriver and output the signals through the 8 channel outputs on the Motu. BUT I would have to measure the FR of the Motu also. Not sure the FR would be better using the interface as compared to the Denon.

 

So many unkowns

 

 

So far after reading Jriver and other forums it looks like my cheapest option is to get the Jriver software. Then audio out to my current Denon until I can replace that. Other option is to buy a NanoAVR between my computer and Denon. Not sure what the MiniDSP would offer over the Jriver DSP. Either way I will be looking at getting a better graphics card and preamp. Then I can output HDMI audio only to a preamp or AVR and HDMI video to my LCD from the graphics card. 

 

Seems convenient to have the signal stay digital until preamp. So I might buy Jriver and then down the road upgrade the preamp. I will have to work out the PEQ setting though so I can apply them to movies from Max's suggestions.

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The Jriver dsp engine is more flexible/powerful than the minidsp. Your rolloff is then just the DAC and the amp. Obviously you then limit the system to the PC only which can be quite limiting, you have to spend many 000s to get similar sq and pq though.

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Limiting how?

 

Inputs?

 

If so I dont mind. I was looking at the maybe adding a Focusrite 18i20 possibly in the future. They have always had a great reputation but the 18i is an unknown for FR. I think that will cost me about 700 dollars. The other option was a preamp that does have a FR posted to show it is very flat but would cost me about 1400 dollars. All would have the signal digital until the external DAC or preamp. So I need to find if anyone has tested the Focusrite.

 

Another cheaper option could be the Behringer FIREPOWER FCA1616 or even possibly there 8 channel version. Never been a big fan of Berry though. SO who knows. I will try and configure my computer to do a loop back with REW and see my Motu is that I have already. I have had to do a reboot for my computer so I have to reload a few things.

 

All of this being said I have seen quite a few things I can do to keep everything inside my computer and external DAC for outputs to amps. I just have to search and ask some OEM's and others what the full FR is of the cheaper units. And for inputs I only have a PS3 and I can just use the input to my LCD for that.

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Yes inputs, HDCP basically, not a problem for music and not really a problem for films but more annoying for things like tv series. JRiver doesn't support bluray menus so you have to extract the tracks out using one of various methods & there is often no rhyme or reason to the layout of (mpls) tracks on a BD. It's not a major deal, just time consuming every now and again. The upside more than makes up for it imv. A BD drive in the pc & anydvd hd and you're all set.

 

FWIW I use an RME FireFace 800, I've measured it as ~0.5dB down at 5Hz though it is specified to be -0.1dB down at 1Hz so not sure if that spec is slightly inflated or whether something on my input side was rolling off. These are about £500 2nd hand in the UK. I would definitely recommend something that has a mixer app & loopback, it makes channel routing & measuring things that have passed through jriver much easier. I don't think the FCA1616 has such capability, the focusrite 18i20 does (I think it uses mixcontrol which I used to use when I had saffire pro 24, this works well enough for this use).

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Hmmm that sounds pretty good for the RME 800. The suggestion to be so far has been the Steinberg UR824. Has no clicking at all and when turned off wont make the power amps pop because of the mute function inside. Dont know the FR. BUT I have heard a few other lower cost interfaces have at least a flat to 10hz audio outs but the inputs have a 20hz roll off.

 

That being said I have heard of a few that have tried lots of these interfaces and then end up with a uber expensive interface which does have almost flat to 2hz FR. BUT I am not spending 3500 for that. My cutoff will be 1400. I know that preamp is good to go.

 

Not really liking the idea of jumping through hoops to play a BR with Jriver. If it is a simple find the large file and play it then thats fine. I have been watching most movies like that from downloads. Lots and lots of subtitled movies as of lately and using VLC.

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jriver bd support is basically defaulting to playing the largest file in the BD, I haven't come across a film for which this doesn't work but for TV there is some effort involved. However the upside is madvr + a video aware audio engine (i.e. no matter what you do in the DSP, it syncs the video to the audio). If you rip everything to a file server and keep a library then it makes a lot of sense, it would get a bit tedious as a disc spinner (I use the BD for ripping only, HDD space is pretty cheap after all).

 

a 20Hz HPF (roughly) on a microphone input is not uncommon as far as I know but you only use the DA side for playback so whether that is a big problem is another question.

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I dont rip movies yet. I usually just buy new BR's(hardly ever) and watch them via disc. Although I will start ripping discs again when I finally have my subwoofers. I will probably have to buy some software to rip also so the list goes on for things to buy. Probably have to buy another HDD also.

 

Didnt see the RME 800 used but I do see the RME 802 new. lol Deep pockets.The used 800 for around 500 would be ok but that would end up being about 1000aud delivered to my door in the end. The Focusrite is about 680 delivered.

 

I will keep looking through Ebay over the coming months. Cant believe how expensive these things can get. Looked at a few that were 3500 dollars before I realized the price.:D

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yeah some of the models you can buy are just crazy expensive  :)

 

I think I'd be slightly suspicious about the 18i20 for full bandwidth use as they don't quote a response spec for the DAC side of things & the inputs are only quoted as 20Hz-20kHz. The other possible downside is that it doesn't look like you can link multiple instances to get >8 channel output (not sure if that is important but thought it worth mentioning).

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Hmmm I will definitely need to get some specs from Focusrite. I dont have any reason to do more than 8 outputs for now. And not sure but I am going to either do build a multi channel amp or possibly just use plate amps for my mains and surrounds. I think I like the sound of a multi channel amps instead.

 

I need to send Motu an email to ask what my outputs frequency responses are also. If they are ok then I will just wait and save to get the much better DAC. Either way its not as exciting as subwoofer builds for me but I really should have been focusing on signal chain a long time ago.

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