Inexpensive Dirac Live excellence.

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by Paul7777x, Oct 18, 2017.

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  1. Paul7777x

    Paul7777x
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    I’ve had my MiniDSP for ten or so weeks now.

    Dirac Series : DDRC-24

    I thought I’d start a thread about what it is and can do, especially for those of us with budget constraints.

    The DDRC-24 is a three input preamp and DiracLive processor. (There are different configuration, all of which are about £200 more expensive).

    The main point is that it makes top class, quality music soooo much easier to achieve with inexpensive hifi. That’s what this post is about.

    What it doesn’t do is change the sound of your speakers. They remain as you like them, but the room contribution is substantially lessened.

    At the moment I’m using mine with a pair of (not cheap) active Adams, but bear with me.

    The Adams are impressive, as they bloody should be at nearly three grand new.

    But, as with all hifi, the limiting factor is the room. Perhaps Americans with their three acre front rooms have few issues, but your average British living room does have issues, usually big ones.

    The worst, to my ears, is bloated bass. It doesn’t have to be a monster sub causing it, even £100 standmounters can and do bloom. It may not even be very noticeable until it’s gone. But when it has gone... :clap::clap:

    Next up are reflections from around the room, and from hard furniture, muffling the sound. Again, no ones home doesn’t have plenty of these. And whilst judicious use of damping materials can work very well, it sometimes causes strife, and it’s hard to hide a whole wife’s body.

    The DiracLive MiniDSP has solved all of those issues for me. In forty minutes, including a cup of tea, the sound is transformed.

    Bass is tight, no flab here. That means funky bass lines actually are funky... the whip of bows across a splendidly played cello makes joyously distinct notes... whacked drums do not blur.

    Voices gain appreciably more timbre.

    And stray high frequencies are cleaned up to sound tighter and therefore don’t smother each other. The extra detail thereby available makes just about every recording more enjoyable and, obviously, more like the original recording without the extra instrument of the room.

    I’ve also taken the MiniDSP to my nephews who has a pair of Adam Artist 6 centres as a stereo pair. His room is smaller than mine and yet the MiniDSP makes his speakers sound as though they cost plenty more.

    And, just to satisfy myself that it would be as good with cheapish passive stuff I took it to my my friends house. He uses a pair of Q acoustic 1030s and an old Yamaha av amp. I’ve always disliked them. Flabby and indistinct.

    However! The DiracLive cleaned them up very well. Details I didn’t think them capable of retrieving were suddenly there and the bass, whilst not awesome at least held a decent rhythm.

    I’ve drivelled on here for a while so I’ll hit the point.

    If you have less than say, a grand, then a pair of active speakers and a MiniDSP ddrc-24 will astonish you for the cash. (DDRC-24 and a pair of JBL 305s for instance @ £730). If you have £2000 and you fancy something special the the same MiniDSP and more expensive actives will utterly delight.

    If you want a standard passive amp, speaker and dac set up then, for instance, an excellent, bargain s/h speaker and power amp from the likes of eBay will be an even bigger bargain.

    There are literally hundreds of combinations that would benefit.

    Just something to consider. Modern DSP it seems is bloody impressive. There is no miracle here in case I’ve overstated the point. The removal of so much mush is simply very worthwhile.

    Finished now. Cheers.
     
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  2. pixelpidgeon

    pixelpidgeon
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    Hi Paul
    Did you buy yours from the link you provided or UK? Cheers
     
  3. muljao

    muljao
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    Sounds like your are a happy customer, enjoy
     
  4. lmccauley

    lmccauley
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    Great thread :)

    I've been considering this for a while, but other priorities for my money and time have meant I have held off for now.

    So, the other two things that you may need are:
    1) a UMIK-1 USB microphone - you need one of these to do the measurements. They are around £105 from the likes of Igloo Audio;
    2) an optical switch. The DDRC-24 has a single analogue input, a single optical input, and a single USB input, so there is a good chance that you will need some kind of switch if you have multiple sources. Do you have any recommendations for reliable switches?

    The most cost-effective way to buy a DDRC-24 may be to buy a 2X4 HD in this country (around £240), then buy the 2x4HD to DDRC-24 upgrade from miniDSP for $245.
     
  5. Paul7777x

    Paul7777x
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    I bought it from the Hong Kong manufacturers including the remote and mic. But I think it might be cheaper to buy it as Imccauley Suggests.

    You need to add a hundred quid to the price from the website for duty and fees.
     
  6. Paul7777x

    Paul7777x
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    I bought mine as a package with the mic and remote control included.

    All told, including the import costs it came to £503.

    I don’t need extra inputs at the moment; my MacBook provides my iTunes library and Spotify to the usb input, and my tv/Blu-ray uses the optical input. If I ever decide to get a streamer other than the Chromecast then I’d probably go for this one and use the analogue input on the MiniDSP.

    Yamaha WXAD-10 MusicCast Wireless Streaming Adapter - Electronics - AudioVisual Online - UK Home Cinema and Hifi Specialists

    Should I end up needing more digital inputs I’d use one of these, I still have one somewhere from years ago.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Portta-Tos...d=1508415571&sr=8-6&keywords=optical+splitter

    Also, any multi input dac can be used by plugging it into the analogue input too.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2017
  7. Paul7777x

    Paul7777x
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    I forgot to add that a single sub or a pair thereof can also be added.

    It’s very simple to set low and high pass filters in the DSP then run the DiracLive.

    I’m looking forward to trying that as soon as I get another BK 200.
     
  8. Rambles

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    @Paul7777x thanks for sharing this info, it does look interesting.

    Am I right in describing it as a DAC with DIRAC for approx £250. But you also need a mic for £100 in order to configure it? Does it come with it's own software, or does it use REW, and how easy / complicated is it to set-up. Also, is it user customisable, so can you edit the curves, or select cut off frequencies for the Room EQ?
     
  9. lmccauley

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    1) £240 for the 2x4HD unit, which is a DSP that can do digital room correction, crossover, and DAC. You can use a number of free or paid for (including Dirac) software tools to design filters for the DRC. The miniDSP site has a number of articles and a support forum to help you.
    2) £105 for the UMIK-1 microphone that you need to do measurements (although if you were just using it as a digital crossover, then you wouldn't need this).
    3) $245 for the Dirac license, and firmware upgrade that turns the 2x4HD into a DDRC-24

    Paul ordered it all together from Hong Kong for £503. That would be a DDRC-24 that already has the Dirac firmware installed, I presume.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2017
  10. lmccauley

    lmccauley
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    I'd be looking to use it in a passive 2.1 system. I'm very happy with my power amp (Arcam Alpha 10P), speakers (M&K S85), and sub (SVS 20-39 PC+).
     
  11. Paul7777x

    Paul7777x
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    It is user configurable. And I add a bass lift for films that like such things.

    At the mo’ I’m also experimenting with a 2dB lift from around 70hz. I think I’ll keep it for a week till I’m accustomed to it then swap back to the flatter curve.

    But I must say the tiny lift in the bass is enticing. And as it’s a clean lift, with little room addition, all I’m hearing is a slightly more defined bass.

    I’ll not need or want it when I get the sub though.

    And yes, it is possible to select cut off points for the corrections.

    The miniDSP uses REW but I haven’t got around to even measuring with it yet.

    I found it simply best, and easiest, to make the Dirac mic measurements and let it do the calculations.
     
  12. Paul7777x

    Paul7777x
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    It seems that at least the impulse response might be even more useful for a passive set up.

    Good actives already have pretty good driver control. So the impulse response whilst usefully corrected on my Adams, wasn’t as big a correction as it was with my Trio’s.

    And the Trios are no slouch.

    As a general PS to the thread, I do hope I haven’t painted this thing as the holy grail of hifi?

    What it does is remove as much of the room influence as it can, so you’ll hear your gear as best as it can sound in any given room. The extra detail, separation and better controlled bass, sometimes subtle, sometimes anything but, make it well worth the cash for me.

    So much so in fact that if asked to to recommend a hifi for those interested in music more than the hifi, I’d start with MiniDSP and work from there.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2017
  13. Paul7777x

    Paul7777x
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  14. RBZ5416

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    It's been suggested that they are in fact boxed, new & only described as seconds to spare Arcam's blushes. Well overpriced at RRP IMO & this seems to be confirmation that they just aren't selling.

    I have one & they have many shortcomings.
     
  15. craig808

    craig808
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    Great thread Paul. I've been looking at both the Dirac and the Anti Mode DSPeaker. At the moment the Dirac is looking favourable.
     
  16. lmccauley

    lmccauley
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    I have seen the same seller listing them regularly - sometimes with "make an offer". Not sure if it's the same unit unsold, or a new unit each time the previous one sells. On paper, it is almost the perfect product for me, but I already have a decent Arcam amp (built in Britain), and have been put off by things like the bass management, and iOS-only control app (which is crazy, because my current amp is pre-apps!).
     
  17. Paul7777x

    Paul7777x
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    Craig, I found this on my moochings about in eBay.

    Dspeaker Anti-Mode 2.0 Dual Core with MCRU Linear Power Supply | eBay

    It easily sorts out bass issues and I wish I hadn’t sold mine. A great preamp too, but I think digital out to your amp would be best for you.

    If you don’t like it for some reason I think you’ll get at least most of your money back.

    And if you keep it you could sell the silly power supply to recoup some of the cash.
     
  18. lmccauley

    lmccauley
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    I found the Anti Mode worked really well with my sub in my room. By taming the massive, low frequency room modes, I have a much better sounding bass. I would go as far as to say that I would now always use some form of DSP with a sub.
     
  19. lmccauley

    lmccauley
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    Interesting - I assumed that Dirac would replace the need for one.
     
  20. Paul7777x

    Paul7777x
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    I’m not a review fan in any sense but this one does point out some of the oddities with the SR. It might help.

    Arcam SR250 integrated amplifier
     
  21. Paul7777x

    Paul7777x
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    The Dirac does replace all the functions of the AntiMode. But I could have used it in listening room number two.

    Also, whilst the Dirac is awesome, I’m not entirely convinced that frequencies above about 300Hz really need much doing to them in a ‘soft’ room.

    Having said that... I do love what the Dirac does :thumbsup:
     
  22. RBZ5416

    RBZ5416
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    That glosses over the shortcomings somewhat IMO. If I'd had the opportunity to home demo I wouldn't have bought it. Others will (& do) disagree.
     
  23. craig808

    craig808
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    Still on the fence between the Dirac and the DSPeaker. The Dirac obviously does more but as you have said, is it needed?

    I am guessing that these are on another level entirely compared to Audyssey. I ask this because I've used Ausyssey in the past and I didn't particularly rate it - I ended up turning it off and sorting out the settings myself.
     
  24. Paul7777x

    Paul7777x
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    I’ve only ever used audyssey once on a Marantz receiver.

    I wasn’t impressed. It seemed flat and insipid to me.

    Both the Dirac and the AntiMode were appreciably better.

    I might also add that I have bookshelves and foam panels on my walls so it’s quite tame in the high frequencies anyway.

    Having said that the graph from the Dirac does show a few peaks that it has cancelled and it does always sound better than with it off.

    Female vocals and massed strings are especially more nuanced, but everything gets a boost in intelligibility.

    The lower bass modes are the real nasties though and they are taken care of very well by both the Dirac and the AntiMode.
     
  25. craig808

    craig808
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    @paul777 Its such a hard decision. I think I've made up my mind on the Dirac then something changes and its the DSPeaker....then it's the Dirac.....then it's the DSPeaker. Haha, I've no idea!!

    I might just do some digging on Ebay etc and see what deals I can find, if any, and that may be thing that sways me.
     
  26. Paul7777x

    Paul7777x
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    It’s a nightmare this music thing isn’t it?

    I’ve been trying for a while to find a second hand Dirac for my nephew, but they are scarce. Presumably because they are generally kept once bought.

    The DualCores are also rare. Hence my surprise at the one I listed. Last time I saw one was about a year ago on eBay.

    This is how much the Dirac MiniDSPs cost in the UK including the mic. And I don’t think they do a returns policy except as an exchange.

    miniDSP DDRC-22D Room Correction Hardware

    That’s also why I mentioned the s/h DualCore. As if you find it useful it’s about Half the price of a digital to digital Dirac and, should you decide to splurge on the Dirac later then at least you’ll get most of the cash back for the DualCore.

    For anyone thinking of Active speakers the DualCore is also a very fine preamp/dac too. It was first class into both my Adams and AVI DM10s.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2017
  27. Paul7777x

    Paul7777x
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    The MiniDSP DDRC 22D (and both the analogue and digital/anague versions) are around £845 including the mic and remote control from the manufacturers in Hong Kong.

    This also includes the fees on arrival in the UK which are paid by the courier, who, a week later, sends you the invoice.

    The UK sellers seem to charge £1200 for the DDRC and the mic. Plus about a tenner I think for the remote control.

    EDIT.

    (WRONG WRONG.

    My bad entirely. The retailer sells the DDRC for £1095 INCLUDING the microphone.

    I didn’t read the blurb properly. My apologies gentlemen.)



    However, there is nothing to stop anyone buying the DDRC-24 and using it as a dac/analogue input Dirac machine whilst simply setting the output to max and using it into a preamp or integrated.

    Then the total outlay is £505 including the mic and remote.

    All subject to our bouncy currencies playful highs and lows naturally.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2017
  28. craig808

    craig808
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    @Paul7777x Didn't you get yours for nearly half the price by buying it direct from HK. Even with the duty it'll come in far cheaper than buying from the UK

    I think I'd prefer the Dirac as it covers the full range whereas tje DSPeaker is mainly wow 3 to 400 Hz. I think the Dirac looks nicer on the rack as well.

    Saying that, from what I'm reading the DPD is more plug and play as opposed to the Dirac which requires more tweaking. As I don't fully understand them I guess I may be better with the DSP

    God knows....mayne I should just toss a coin :)
     
  29. craig808

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    You beat me too it!!
     
  30. Paul7777x

    Paul7777x
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    Neither of them require much in the way of tweaking Craig.

    Both are simply plug in, measure and play.

    The MiniDSPs do require a computer for initial setup and measuring, but it’s not difficult.

    The AntiMode doesn’t require a computer, although you can use one for storing and manipulating the data.

    Both have four ‘slots’ in which to play with the output.

    Some people I had round weren’t impressed initially by the bass response from the AntiMode.

    But that was entirely because it had lost all of the rooms added bloat that people get used to and think is what bass should sound like. After a few hours listening they were convinced that it was much cleaner and better all round.

    Some though weren’t convinced entirely because they just love bass.

    So a 2 minute tweak with the filter raised the bass in a curve from 90hz to the 28hz I could get then, by 4dB at the 30hz point, and they were all gleefully happy.

    I thought it a tad much though so I retweaked it to 2dB uplift from 60hz to 30hz in a gentle curve and left it there for the nine months I had it.

    A bit of time spent with either can improve the results to just about exactly your particular preference.
     

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