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Unique selling points


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Basic DAC's are available in abundance, so isn't it about time to start reaping some of the (other) benefits of going digital?

 

So what unique selling points could there be that would provide real customer value?

 

Well, a lot of bits and solutions are dabbled with and discussed here on CA, but few manufacturers seem interested in providing a solution integrating many or all of the benefits.

 

I am thinking along the lines of:

 

- Digital X-over

- DAC/amplifier at each loudspeaker removing all cable coloration & cost

- Amplification: bi- or tri-amp monos inside or just next to the loud speakers

- Loudspeaker cable as short as possible or non-exiting

- Distributed memory play with central clock

- DSP - EQ & phase correction of speaker

- Real-time loud speaker feed back

- Room correction

- Active voicing speakers dependent on music and recording venue

 

Higher emphasis can be put on low distortion and higher transparency of the analogue components, if linearity is controlled in the digital domain.

 

Manufacturers can provide real customer value by re-think and re-optimize concepts and components for the digital domain.

 

Innovate or die.

 

 

Manufactures comments invited!

 

 

Promise Pegasus2 R6 12TB -> Thunderbolt2 ->
MacBook Pro M1 Pro -> Motu 8D -> AES/EBU ->
Genelec 5 x 8260A + 7271A sub
Genelec 8010 + 5040 sub

iPhone SE 2 ->  Sennheiser PXC 550 II
Blog: “Confessions of a DigiPhile”

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Well, thanks to DSP and high quality A/D and D/A converters, everything you've listed has been done for the past 10-15 years or more in the pro audio world, either as standalone processors or active speakers (both studio monitors and sound reinforcement). My Mackie HR824 monitors are totally active. I use various dBx Driverack processors which do digital crossover, speaker optimization, room correction, feedback suppression, etc. Processors by Sabine do room correction (or more like adjusting for audience filling the venue) in real time. Powered speakers by EAW (NT series) have built-in DSPs to optimize sound. Roland has distributed memory play units that has central clock/sync. Meyer Sound speakers are nearly all tri-amped with built-in amps. Many fixed-install amps like Crown use CobraNet for digital audio transmission (DAC is in the amp).

 

I don't why it hasn't caught on with the home audio market as feverishly. In the past there's been active loudspeakers that incorporate such technology (e.g. NHT xD). These days you don't see many. I think in this market, people like to mix and match components rather have a do-it-all box.

 

With class-D amps becoming so damn fine, I think it's just a matter of time before we start seeing them equipped with digital inputs (S/PDIF, Toslink, USB, etc.) It's a natural fit.

 

Oppo UDP-205/Topping D90 MQA/eBay HDMI->I2S/Gallo Reference 3.5/Hsu Research VTF-3HO/APB Pro Rack House/LEA C352 amp/laser printer 14AWG power cords/good but cheap pro audio XLR cables.

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A distributed memory player / DSP / Room Correction / X-over / DAC unit would allow everyone to mix and match components as they prefer.

 

Any combination of amps, speakers and sub's - and ultra high-end (ultra short) speaker cables as a special bonus.

 

And they would automatically sound their best through DSP and calibrated microphone. Nothing to f*** up!

 

What is there not to love?

 

Promise Pegasus2 R6 12TB -> Thunderbolt2 ->
MacBook Pro M1 Pro -> Motu 8D -> AES/EBU ->
Genelec 5 x 8260A + 7271A sub
Genelec 8010 + 5040 sub

iPhone SE 2 ->  Sennheiser PXC 550 II
Blog: “Confessions of a DigiPhile”

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From some of the threads you have started, I gather you seem to think that digital music is a panacea of cheap high performance stuff that negates the physics of the analog realm. The idea that you can connect this stuff up willy nilly and then equalize it via calibrated microphone is simply wrong IME. From what I have seen and heard, one needs to get it right and keep it right, not fix it post facto. For starters, you need 4 or 6 good DAC channels at the speakers. That is at least doubling the price of admission for the D>A conversions

 

Just my opinion...

 

Oh, and you spelled Audirvana wrong on your signature, or is your DSP correcting that too?

 

Sorry to be a buzz kill, but you keep bringing this sort of stuff up.

 

Forrest:

Win10 i9 9900KS/GTX1060 HQPlayer4>Win10 NAA

DSD>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>"Naked" Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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With class-D amps becoming so damn fine, I think it's just a matter of time before we start seeing them equipped with digital inputs (S/PDIF, Toslink, USB, etc.) It's a natural fit.

 

This already exists. Check out the NAD M2. It's not a DAC and amp in the same box, it's actualy a digital amplifier. It sounds better than any traditional system I auditioned. Not sure why there is such little interest on this forum.

 

nigel[br]ALAC stored on Drobo -> Mac Mini -> iTunes -> Airport Express (1st gen) -> Monoprice toslink -> NAD M2 Direct Digital Amplifier -> Wilson Benesch Curve

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I like this box, and for some reason, it slips out of my thinking when I think of amps and DACs. Partly I guess because at this level, the DAC and source play pretty big parts in what your music sounds like. Partly because the cost of the M2 is in that no-mans-land of over $5K and under $10K.

 

I think that at $2500, the M2 would be the hottest selling thing around. At $15,000, it would be the darling of the overfunded set, and inspire many copycat versions in the $2500 range. ;)

 

-Paul

 

 

 

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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I think that at $2500, the M2 would be the hottest selling thing around

 

The NAD M2 contains a lot of discrete components, which is one of the reasons why it costs as much as it does. However, I did read a rumour that the company behind the technology in the M2, Diodes Zetex, was working on integrating the technology into a smaller number of chips. If so, I'm sure it will find it's way into cheaper NAD equipment eventually.

 

nigel[br]ALAC stored on Drobo -> Mac Mini -> iTunes -> Airport Express (1st gen) -> Monoprice toslink -> NAD M2 Direct Digital Amplifier -> Wilson Benesch Curve

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Genelec, supplier of Active Studio Monitors has a solution that I think sound quite - well Professional, but at a price.

 

So who would pay USD 5500 for a single 2' cast aluminum monitor with little repour in the audiophile community? Let's see what's in the 8260a box:

 

- 3 way: 3/4" - 5" - 10"

- coaxial driver: 490hz - 21khz

- Digital X-over DAC's

- tri-amped: 120w / 120w / 150w

- AES/EBU input up to 24bit / 192khz

- DSP - EQ & phase correction of speaker

- Room correction

- Active voicing

 

Actually quite a bit of my dream package.

 

No wonder the speakers sound good - at any SPL - any music - anywhere!

OK, that may be a little over-stated, but you get the drift.

 

Someone here set up two Genelec 8260 for stereo and initially sounded quite happy with it.

Care to share the long term experience?

And do you have AutoCal - active room correction?

 

I'm trying to talk myself into a 5.2 setup with 2 x 12" DSP subs, but boy that is a chunk of money.

 

Discrete DAC/DSP/X-over combined with suitable amps and speakers would have been a nice way to get started.

I suppose that will not be in the near audiophile future unless one settles for another pro audio unit solution like the one offered by Spatial Computer / Prism Orpheus.

 

I have voiced my opinion about taking audiophile DAC's down this route before.

The proposed move is not presumed to be a walk in the park.

I think it would be a great way to provide customer value and to earn the right of future survival.

 

Promise Pegasus2 R6 12TB -> Thunderbolt2 ->
MacBook Pro M1 Pro -> Motu 8D -> AES/EBU ->
Genelec 5 x 8260A + 7271A sub
Genelec 8010 + 5040 sub

iPhone SE 2 ->  Sennheiser PXC 550 II
Blog: “Confessions of a DigiPhile”

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Thanks for offering your opinion.

I'll try to clarify. I'm sure we can find some common ground.

 

I do NOT think that:

"digital music is a panacea of cheap high performance stuff that negates the physics of the analog realm."

 

I do think that:

Some technical virtues will always stay virtues.

The digital domain has much more potential than we are offered.

It may be beneficial to challenge some of the dogma from the analogue era.

It may be beneficial to challenge some past experiences.

 

I propose that we continue to pursue:

- low distortion

- high S/N

- micro dynamics

in amps and speakers

and listening room with the best possible acoustics (subject to WAF and other constraints)

 

I propose that we actively pursue new optimum price/performance sweet spots in the areas of:

- bi/tri-amp rather than big mono blocks

- loudspeaker cables: digital rather than analogue

- loudspeaker X-over: digital active rather than passive analogue

- loudspeaker voicing/EQ: less linear build more DSP

- loudspeaker efficiency: split in mains and stereo subs with DSP phase correction rather than large speakers.

- (gentle) DSP room correction rather than not doing anything

 

The total price/performance synergy of all these improvements should be quite significant if they are offered integrated in one mass produced system.

 

Personal taste and persuasion will always influence our choices.

Optimal price/performance sweet spots should however continue to change towards more active control, driven by equipment price range and quality + cost of DAC and DSP units.

 

I am sure that puristic 'old school' analogue systems will always be around.

I would expect such systems to be driven by tape or a (pre 1978) non digital tampered LP rather than a DAC.

 

Sorry to dizz 'old school', but I love more for less.

 

I hope that offered some clarity and revealed some common ground.

 

PEACE - and great music.

 

Promise Pegasus2 R6 12TB -> Thunderbolt2 ->
MacBook Pro M1 Pro -> Motu 8D -> AES/EBU ->
Genelec 5 x 8260A + 7271A sub
Genelec 8010 + 5040 sub

iPhone SE 2 ->  Sennheiser PXC 550 II
Blog: “Confessions of a DigiPhile”

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DigiPete,

 

It sounds like you are reading from the Meridian-Audio website.

 

Greg

 

\'08 MacMini/OS X 10.7/4G/160G SSD - iomega 1TB - Pure Music 1.82 /Amarra 2.3.1 - Weiss DAC202 - Kimber Select KS1120 XLR 1M - Bel Canto REF1000 MKII - Audience AU24 2.5M - Magnepan 1.7[br]\'08 iMac 24\"/4G/500G - Sony CRU_840A - G_Drive 2TB - DroboFS 3TB - Pure Vinyl 3.0 - Metric Halo LI0 8/4 - VPI Classic - Van den Hul Frog - S300iu - Kimber 8TC - KEF Ref 201/2

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"I propose that we actively pursue new optimum price/performance sweet spots in the areas of:

- bi/tri-amp rather than big mono blocks

- loudspeaker cables: digital rather than analogue

- loudspeaker X-over: digital active rather than passive analogue

- loudspeaker voicing/EQ: less linear build more DSP

- loudspeaker efficiency: split in mains and stereo subs with DSP phase correction rather than large speakers.

- (gentle) DSP room correction rather than not doing anything

 

The total price/performance synergy of all these improvements should be quite significant if they are offered integrated in one mass produced system."

 

My point was that digital is not as straight forward and easy as you made it out to be:

From the top-

a&c-Bi/tri amp is harder than it sounds, and as I mentioned multiple DACs(AMPS) would be required.

b-digital cable aren't cheap, and far from "not effecting" things. Jitter is a big deal.

d-digital voicing via DSP? I do not want things voiced. I want them dynamic and accurate as I can get.

e-How is four speakers more efficient than 2? Size is irrelevant as the quality of sound is often inline with the size of drivers and/or boxes.

f- I am not sold on the ability for room correction to be "fast enough" to not have issues. I could be wrong.

 

My point is that this all may work, but it is not cheap or easy. We live in an analog world- it is inescapable. At some point the air needs to move.

 

Forrest:

Win10 i9 9900KS/GTX1060 HQPlayer4>Win10 NAA

DSD>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>"Naked" Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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My point was that digital is not as straight forward and easy as you made it out to be:?

From the top

-?a&c-Bi/tri amp is harder than it sounds, and as I mentioned multiple DACs(AMPS) would be required.?

- b-digital cable aren't cheap, and far from "not effecting" things. Jitter is a big deal.?

- d-digital voicing via DSP? I do not want things voiced. I want them dynamic and accurate as I can get.

- ?e-How is four speakers more efficient than 2? Size is irrelevant as the quality of sound is often inline with the size of drivers and/or boxes.

- ?f- I am not sold on the ability for room correction to be "fast enough" to not have issues. I could be wrong.

 

My point is that this all may work, but it is not cheap or easy. We live in an analog world- it is inescapable. At some point the air needs to move.

 

Comment:

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

- a&c: there is nothing complicated by Bi/tri amp, not with DSP attenuation build into the system.

See below for cost issues.

- b: jitter is removed by having a large local buffer and clock

- d: nothing has ever been linear, it is an impossible dream. DSP is a real and repeatable way to get us close. Should be done at way higher resolution than source signal and before the local memory buffer. Also, show me a passive X-over that does not influence phase - there is no free lunch.

- e: the sub is four times as energy efficient if it is placed on the floor up against the back wall. This is a good way to get the energy we need to be linear below 40hz. Multible subs reduces low freq room notes and thus the need for room correction. Phase correction is needed to make this solution sound its best.

- f: I only expect to be able to DSP correct the room according to a measurement made before playing the music, not during. DSP can only do so much. Again do DSP before the memory buffer.

Reverb should as always be taken care of by careful room treatment.

 

Cost issues:

This is really a drive to convey an understanding that increasingly cheaper and better DSP and DAC hardware brings us the possibility of a whole new optimum price/performance sweet spot.

In short: we should be able to build a system sounding way better today in the price ranges down to USD 25-50.000.

This price tag will go down as DSP and DAC HW becomes even better and cheaper.

 

Promise Pegasus2 R6 12TB -> Thunderbolt2 ->
MacBook Pro M1 Pro -> Motu 8D -> AES/EBU ->
Genelec 5 x 8260A + 7271A sub
Genelec 8010 + 5040 sub

iPhone SE 2 ->  Sennheiser PXC 550 II
Blog: “Confessions of a DigiPhile”

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