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Decky

XMC-1 experiences, anyone?

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Just arrived at the office. Another box I will need to explain..........

 

Print up a nice repaired sticker and tape it to the box.

Look honey my XMC-1 has come back all repaired. I think they sent me a new one!

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From my experience, DSD direct (from my oppo) was better than PCM with Dirac, but that was until I got the full Dirac kit and dialled the system in. IMO the curve supplied with Dirac LE is too flat to be pleasant, but once I'd fixed that, PCM with Dirac is better than DSD.

 

At least, it is in my system and to my ears and of course IMO.

Yes, I guess I am not factoring the benefits of EQ, I am looking forward to playing with that. The UMC eq is a cludge, in comparison to Dirac.

Also, not all pcm conversions are equal. I am assuming you can still stream dsd into the xmc, and then let it convert to pcm. With the UMC, i have to convert at the source, and I know the oppo dsd2pcm conversion isnt ideal.

Edited by ozmillsy

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Yes, I guess I am not factoring the benefits of EQ, I am looking forward to playing with that. The UMC eq is a cludge, in comparison to Dirac.

Also, not all pcm conversions are equal. I am assuming you can still stream dsd into the xmc, and then let it convert to pcm. With the UMC, i have to convert at the source, and I know the oppo dsd2pcm conversion isnt ideal.

 

As far as I can tell the XMC won't convert DSD to PCM - if you feed it DSD it will default to a mode called DSD Direct, and it definitely doesn't get any digital processing. I think the analogue trims still work but have no real information on exactly what goes in in that mode. I have an Oppo 103 and haven't had any problems with the PCM conversion, but maybe Dirac is covering for that. Or maybe the DAC in the XMC - which blows the one in the UMC away - means that any conversion issues don't hit your speakers.

 

Or something. Either way (DSD or PCM) sounds good to me, I just like the flexibility of having bass management and room correction available. 

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No worries, thanks for clarifying.

The issue with all Oppos is (and hardware chip dsd2pcn converters in general) is they do fixed gain conversions. This results in some dsd titles clipping after pcm conversion (not all). My earlier Oppo gave frequent clips after conversion, maybe newer models are better with more headroom on the gain setting? (i dont have a newer model, but plan to get 1 in due course).

My front sound stage doesnt need alot of EQ on the UMC, but my rear channels do.

Look forward to playing with all these features, and comparing pure dsd with no eq, to room corrected pcm. Fun, fun. :)

Edited by ozmillsy

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Didnt have to wait too long, shipping notice received. :)

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It's worth the wait. I am listening to Tidal just through reference stereo mode so using it as a pre and am so far impressed. I actually prefer it to their XSP-1 although that is based on my memory and not direct compare. So many ways to use this, just taking my time.

 

The internal DAC is very good too. I am just ignoring it for the moment cause I have the new Geek Pulse but there is not much between them.

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[Duplicate removed]

Edited by ozmillsy

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It arrived during the week.

Put it in the system today, cabled up and dialled in manually (no dirac eq yet).

The SQ is very good, even without EQ.

But, I am having issues with my macmini. I initially cabled it into the XMC with a USB, to test the USB input. Macmini would only send audio up to 16/48 to the USB. So then i try a HDMI, and it worked fine for PCM, but streaming out DSD from Audirvana didnt work at all.

So, am having some minor issues with the Macmini. Anyone else use a mac source with their XMC ?

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I've been researching this, and am finding some uncomfortable bits of information on the Emotiva Lounge.

Firstly, most users seem quite dismissive of dsd playback, stating the benefits of room EQ outweighs the benefits of the format (i cant argue with that). But then this clanger,,,,,

Dirac processes in 24/48. If converting to PCM in a HTPC, it's better to convert to 24/48, to avoid multiple SRC's.

I'll keep researching, and asking questions about this.

I have a bit of a problem with that.

If its correct (??) then genuine hires content is being knobbled by Dirac, when EQ is in play.

Edited by ozmillsy

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I've been researching this, and am finding some uncomfortable bits of information on the Emotiva Lounge.

Firstly, most users seem quite dismissive of dsd playback, and the benefits of EQ outweighs the benefits of the format (i cant argue with that). But then this clanger,,,,,

Dirac processes in 24/48. If converting to PCM in a HTPC, it's better to convert to 24/48, to avoid multiple SRC's.

I'll keep researching, and asking questions about this.

I have a problem with this. If its correct (??) then genuine hires PCM content is being knobbled by Dirac.

 

It's definitely correct, there has been substantial discussion at Fanboy Central which I occasionally read but don't actively engage with because I've already broken one monitor.

 

I don't have any hi-res PCM sources, but with connect an Oppo via HDMI. The Oppo can send either DSD or PCM @88.2kHz. With DSD Direct vs PCM with Dirac, I initially found that DSD was better, but getting Dirac dialled in changed my opinion on that. As my system stands at the moment, PCM with Dirac > DSD Direct >  88.2kHz PCM without Dirac, which is interesting in that it suggests that in my system at least the downsampling effect is outweighed by the room correction. I suspect part of the reason is that the resampling implementation on the XMC is really good.

 

However, your mileage will almost certainly vary. There's also an 11-band PEQ for each channel and a REW interface, so you can EQ your system separately to Dirac if you need to avoid the downsampling. One of the the good/bad things about the XMC is that there are lots of things to play with!

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It's definitely correct, there has been substantial discussion at Fanboy Central which I occasionally read but don't actively engage with because I've already broken one monitor.

:) ,,,,,, my time on forums is very limited these days. I'm interested purely in fact finding, and weeding through the noise, there is a fair amount of fact over there. Such as support for DoP (DSD over PCM), for some reason the XMC doesnt support this protocol (via HDMI or USB inputs), and has no plans to. DoP is pretty critical to users with PC sources, that want to playback DSD music without conversions.

I don't have any hi-res PCM sources, but with connect an Oppo via HDMI.

What is the reality with Bluray movies and Bluray music concerts? How much audio content is actually >48k ?

I'll have to double check my library, but I reckon I have a fair proportion of 96k content in my "video concert" library. Not sure about movies.

Everything will be downsampled to 48k when I leverage Dirac EQ. That's not ideal. I would have preferred to see at least support for 96k.

Ah well, no choice but to test the reality of this limitation, with the XMC (and in my room). Based on my measurements thus far, there are definitely EQ gains to be had in my room.

 

However, your mileage will almost certainly vary. There's also an 11-band PEQ for each channel and a REW interface, so you can EQ your system separately to Dirac if you need to avoid the downsampling. One of the the good/bad things about the XMC is that there are lots of things to play with!

I've played with the 11-band PEQ in the UMC, and am looking to move forward from that, to a smarter/more granular solution.

I'll probably still end up loving the improvement Dirac gives me, but just wish it supported higher samples rates.

96k is a nice sweet spot, and really should be the minimum standard for any equipment purporting to be high resolution. IMHO

Edited by ozmillsy

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My assumption then is any digital stream will need to be up- or downsampled before the filters are applied unless they are the same rate as the filters operate at, but given the ASRC is really very good I don't understand why they went with 48k. Maybe there's a hardware or toolset limitation there? Or maybe they thought that leaving the majority of what most people stream untouched is better?

 

Dunno.

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It has to be a limitation imposed in the XMC design by Emotiva, because the software vendor clearly states their licensable solution can handle up to 192k.

 

The room correction software supports up to 24 bit resolution at 192 kHz sample rate.

http://www.dirac.se/en/online-store.aspx

There is no reason why a SRC must be imposed for EQ reasons. My understanding is these EQ software solutions will take what you give it, and apply their filters (as long as you feed in PCM, in the usual varieties).

Edited by ozmillsy

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You're probably right, I'm just guessing really. 

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When it comes to device limitations, we all are (guessing).

But I do think the 48k limit is something that Emotiva has imposed, for their own reasons (probably very valid reasons too).

They do proudly design to achieve an attractive price point, and i think they have some customised hardware processor boards that have incorporated the Dirac software capabilities.

Grumbles aside, I do think theyve done well to deliver a product with this level of EQ capability, at the price offered. It can pretty much do what a deqx can for room correction (without the deqx crossover smarts).

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Some more info. The 16/48 limit on the USB appears to be a macmini thing, that I need to fix by changing Audirvana settings.

Other confirmed XMC-1 limitations I hsve discovered.

* Dirac EQ will downsample hi-res sources to 24/48.

* The XMC-1 is a 7.2 processor, but Dirac will only EQ 7.1 . To get 2 subs EQ'd via Dirac, it is recommended to use a Y cable splitter (not ideal).

* XMC-1 can decode DSD audio, but it doesnt handle DoP (DSD over PCM), which means you cant use it as a DSD dac for a computer source.

* DSD decoding *always* bypasses processing and bass management.

* DSD64 is supported (standard on sacds), double or quad speed dsd is not supported.

Just reading through the PEQ section of the manual, it is quite impressive what it can do ! Very configurable.

Edited by ozmillsy

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Ran Dirac LE EQ for the first time last night. The results were quite impressive.

While i thought i did a half decent job manually dialling things in with PEQ on the UMC, Dirac analysis and filters produced a better result. Much more coherency from top to bottom, it sounded very natural, but also better information retrieval (there were subtleties on my "DK in Paris" dvd i hadnt heard before (running 5.1 dts).

The phase filters Dirac has, must pull it all together.

Very impressed. I've ordered the full version, as i wouldnt mind fiddling with the target curve.

Edited by ozmillsy

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@ whats your multi channel speaker/amp set up ?

 

I am only really using 2 channel at the moment but and following with interest as I have subs on the way and will start to tinker.

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Hey Steve, I am using SGR actives for my multi channel system (which is totally seperate from my 2 ch system).

The front sound stage are 3 x ribbon based speakers produced by SGR that I refer to as Bob & The Beechies.

They are supported by 2 x 15" tempest-x subs, and 1 x 18" maelstrom-x sub for the LFE.

20150127_230214.jpg

I have 2 further tempest-x corner subs at the rear corners, integrated with some active JBL LSR308's for the rear channels.

Edited by ozmillsy

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Guest Sime

I think you have enough bass ;)@ I'd love to hear it.

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Hey Sime, yeah I guess it is overkill.

5 subs in 1 room. The smaller sub on the right is not in play, it's just filling a hole.

4 of the subs are team'd with the active speakers on the L/R channels, and the idea was to get true 20hz performance in those channels without redirecting the bass that is supposed to be there to another part of the room.

In listening to the system, especially after EQ, it's not like the bass jumps out and slaps you in the face (at every turn). It sounds natural, and every now and then there is a scene with alot of bass activity in all chanels, and bass fills the room from all angles. :)

Edited by ozmillsy

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Watched Avatar last night, and the surround experience was sounding very good. Also spent time listening to the XMC-1 play some 2ch music, that I know has bass heavy content, and it wasnt lacking in any area (using a stock Squeezebox Touch as the transport mechanism).

You know what they say about curiosity killing the cat.

I'm kind of curious to put the XMC-1 into my 2ch rig, just to get a feel for potential gains Dirac EQ may bring on that rig. This is dangerous territory, as it would be challenging alot of my preconceptions and system choices to this point. Hmmmm,,,,

Edited by ozmillsy

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Ran Dirac LE EQ for the first time last night. The results were quite impressive.

While i thought i did a half decent job manually dialling things in with PEQ on the UMC, Dirac analysis and filters produced a better result. Much more coherency from top to bottom, it sounded very natural, but also better information retrieval (there were subtleties on my "DK in Paris" dvd i hadnt heard before (running 5.1 dts).

The phase filters Dirac has, must pull it all together.

Very impressed. I've ordered the full version, as i wouldnt mind fiddling with the target curve.

 

For me, the full version of Dirac was undoubtedly the best gain I've ever had in a system for a mere $100. So much so that I don't even use any of the non-Dirac presets any more, not even for stereo SACD.  My (latest) target curve is +4.5db @20Hz, flat from 120 to 3K, -3 at 15K and -6 @ 20K. I us a separate sub target (+3db @20hz, +6 @ 30, flat at 80 and -2 at 120), and crossover at 80hz.

 

Sounds very very good to my ears, although that isn't going to stop me playing around with it.

 

 

(I created an equivalent curve in my Android phone using Poweramp and am loving it to bits as well).

 

 

 

 

 

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