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Active vs Room Correction?

AnthonyS

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Hello! Long time reader, first time poster.

I'm looking to 'upgrade' my existing streaming/TV (via HDMI) 2.1 channel set up and have narrowed down two options. I'm moving from a Sonos AMP with KEF Q350s and KEF Kube 10" Sub (will keep the sub and maybe upgrade to an SVS or KEF KC62 later). I listen in a 3.5m x 4m x 2.2m sized room. I've looking for something with the same simplicity and set of features. The speakers sit either side of a 65" TV on ISO acoustic stands, close the a wall.
  • Option one (active speakers): Dynaudio Focus XD with Bluesound Node N130
  • Option two (room correction set up): Sonus Faber Sonetto 1 with Lyngdorf TDAI 1120
I've read so much about active cross overs and perfectly matched amps, but also how good Room Perfect is. Combining the Dynaudio speakers with the Lyngdorf makes it about twice as expensive and out of budget, and also means I couldn't run a sub.

My questions are:
  • Are one of these options clearly a better direction – eg. does it make more sense to go with the active speakers and their DSP and add better room correction at a later point if needed?
  • If I go the passive route is the Lyngdorf powerful enough to drive my existing speakers, or even something like the KEF LS50 Metas if I upgrade later on? I've been recommended the Sonetto by the dealer because they are easy to drive (and he sells them).
For reference, I've dismissed the KEF LS50 Wireless 2s due to mixed reviews of their app and relatively closed off upgrade paths but they do work out cheaper and might be comparable/worth considering? I've also dismissed the NAD M10 due to mixed reviews on this forum and understanding that Dirac is second to Room Perfect. It does have more power on the spec sheet than the Lyngdorf but seems this doesn't make much different in reality?

Appreciate any advice as I'm really stuck making the final decision!
 

NTK

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Welcome to ASR!

Option 1: I don't think the Bluesound Node has any room EQ or bass management capability. You can apply EQ using software upstream of the Node, e.g. Roon, but you will still be missing bass management*.

Option 2: I scan through the Lyndorf manual. It also doesn't seem to have bass management.

I think the NAD M10 is a better choice than the Lyndorf. The M10 has proper bass management. I also think Dirac Live is actually more capable than Room Perfect. Our longtime ASR major contributor/technical expert @SIY got himself an M10 and is happy with it and with Dirac Live. Here is his review for AudioXpress. I think (but am not 100% sure) the digital input problems were fixed.

Pairing the Dynaudio Focus XD with a miniDSP SHD studio is an alternative choice.

* Note: Bass management is to direct the low frequency signals only to the subwoofer(s). It filters out the very low frequency signals from the main speakers, thus relieving the main speakers from having to reproducing them. This enables the main speakers to reproduce the higher frequencies cleaner (i.e. less distortions), and with higher maximum output. The subwoofer(s) are designed to reproduce low bass, and can do a much better job at it than the vast majority of full range speakers.
 

SIY

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Our longtime ASR major contributor/technical expert @SIY got himself an M10 and is happy with it and with Dirac Live. Here is his review for AudioXpress. I think (but am not 100% sure) the digital input problems were fixed.
Those have indeed been fixed. Likewise, when I set it up on the network in our new home using my iPhone, AirPlay took over and had it up and running in seconds. It's very rare for me to buy any electronics, but this time I did so happily, and after over a year of daily use, I'm still delighted.
 

abdo123

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Invest as much as you can in linear speakers with lots of headroom, once there even the cheapest AVR on the market would sound divine, the newest Onyko and Pioneer AVRs have Dirac Live and Dirac live bass control. Which I think is the best affordable auto room EQ option (if you limit it to your room's transition frequency).

it's just speakers and room (treatment) honestly, everything else is an unnecessary temptation / illusion.
 
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AnthonyS

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Welcome to ASR!

Option 1: I don't think the Bluesound Node has any room EQ or bass management capability. You can apply EQ using software upstream of the Node, e.g. Roon, but you will still be missing bass management*.

Option 2: I scan through the Lyndorf manual. It also doesn't seem to have bass management.

I think the NAD M10 is a better choice than the Lyndorf. The M10 has proper bass management. I also think Dirac Live is actually more capable than Room Perfect. Our longtime ASR major contributor/technical expert @SIY got himself an M10 and is happy with it and with Dirac Live. Here is his review for AudioXpress. I think (but am not 100% sure) the digital input problems were fixed.

Pairing the Dynaudio Focus XD with a miniDSP SHD studio is an alternative choice.

* Note: Bass management is to direct the low frequency signals only to the subwoofer(s). It filters out the very low frequency signals from the main speakers, thus relieving the main speakers from having to reproducing them. This enables the main speakers to reproduce the higher frequencies cleaner (i.e. less distortions), and with higher maximum output. The subwoofer(s) are designed to reproduce low bass, and can do a much better job at it than the vast majority of full range speakers.

Thank you! Good call, bass management was something I had on my list as a must have. I assume the NODE had it as it lists it as a feature in Bluesound OS – maybe it's just on the POWERNODE and M10 though? I guess I can do limited bass management on the subwoofer but that will never include a high pass filter?

I also assumed room perfect would do some magic with bass management and automatically apply a low and high pass filter based on the room?
 
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AnthonyS

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Invest as much as you can in linear speakers with lots of headroom, once there even the cheapest AVR on the market would sound divine, the newest Onyko and Pioneer AVRs have Dirac Live and Dirac live bass control. Which I think is the best affordable auto room EQ option (if you limit it to your room's transition frequency).

it's just speakers and room (treatment) honestly, everything else is an unnecessary temptation / illusion.

Forgive my lack of knowledge in this space but I haven't come across linear speakers, yet. I'm assuming an active speaker can never be linear then? I have read a lot about how well the KEF LS50 Meta scales up to sound better with more power but I guess this is the opposite to a linear speaker too?
 
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AnthonyS

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Option 2: I scan through the Lyndorf manual. It also doesn't seem to have bass management.

Just reading through it myself and on page 31 it mentions cross overs, is this their bass management?

Main speaker output available settings:
  • Crossover
    • High pass removes the frequencies below the crossover frequency.
    • Low pass removes the frequencies above the crossover frequency.
  • Full range allows the signal to pass unfiltered.
Analog output available settings:
  • Crossover
    • High pass removes the frequencies below the crossover frequency.
    • Low pass removes the frequencies above the crossover frequency.
  • Full range allows the signal to pass unfiltered to a separate amplifier, bypassing the internal amplifier.
  • Tape Out disables RoomPerfectTM, voicings and volume control.
  • Off – mutes the output.

They also have different crossover filters for high and low pass it seems, but not really sure what the differences are

The available types of crossover filters are named after the inventors of these filter designs:
  • LR: (Linkwitz Riley) 2nd, 4th or 8th order.
  • BW: (Butterworth) 1st, 2nd or 4th order.
 
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NTK

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Just reading through it myself and on page 31 it mentions cross overs, is this their bass management?

Main speaker output available settings:
  • Crossover
    • High pass removes the frequencies below the crossover frequency.
    • Low pass removes the frequencies above the crossover frequency.
  • Full range allows the signal to pass unfiltered.
Analog output available settings:
  • Crossover
    • High pass removes the frequencies below the crossover frequency.
    • Low pass removes the frequencies above the crossover frequency.
  • Full range allows the signal to pass unfiltered to a separate amplifier, bypassing the internal amplifier.
  • Tape Out disables RoomPerfectTM, voicings and volume control.
  • Off – mutes the output.

They also have different crossover filters for high and low pass it seems, but not really sure what the differences are

The available types of crossover filters are named after the inventors of these filter designs:
  • LR: (Linkwitz Riley) 2nd, 4th or 8th order.
  • BW: (Butterworth) 1st, 2nd or 4th order.
Yes. The Lyngdorf does have proper bass management. I stand corrected :)
 
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AnthonyS

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Yes. The Lyngdorf does have proper bass management. I stand corrected :)

Nice. I think you're right about the M10 being another comparable option too, just reading through the review! The good thing about the M10 is it seems to have more power.

It does look like I can't set a high pass filter with the NODE (only control low pass on the subwoofer itself), so lack of bass management and room correction seems to lead me to finally dismiss the NODE + active speakers. :D
 

NTK

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Nice. I think you're right about the M10 being another comparable option too, just reading through the review! The good thing about the M10 is it seems to have more power.

It does look like I can't set a high pass filter with the NODE (only control low pass on the subwoofer itself), so lack of bass management and room correction seems to lead me to finally dismiss the NODE + active speakers. :D
Here is the THD+N vs power curve for the TDAI-1120. Purple/green is 4 ohm left/right; blue/red is 8 ohm left/right.
(source: SoundStageNetwork)
tdai1120_4_8_ohms.png


Here is the 8 ohm THD+N vs power curve for the NAD M10. The M-10 has a little more than twice the power of the TDAI-1120 (at least at 8 ohm).
(source: AudioXPress)
NADM10-THD-NvsPower.png
 
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AnthonyS

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Here is the 8 ohm THD+N vs power curve for the NAD M10. The M-10 has a little more than twice the power of the TDAI-1120 (at least at 8 ohm).

Thanks. I'm still a novice at reading these graphs but my take away is that the TDAI-1120 would pair ok with a pair of 4 ohm speakers like the ones the dealer suggested: Sonus Faber Sonetto 1 – 87dB, impedance: 4ohms. In the specs it says the TDAI-1120 goes to 120W at 4 ohms.

While the NAD M10 would be a much better pairing to something harder to drive like the KEF LS50 Metas – 85dB, impedance 8ohms?

Putting the LS50 Metas with the TDAI-1120 would mean less volume and grunt?
 

Chrispy

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Thanks. I'm still a novice at reading these graphs but my take away is that the TDAI-1120 would pair ok with a pair of 4 ohm speakers like the ones the dealer suggested: Sonus Faber Sonetto 1 – 87dB, impedance: 4ohms. In the specs it says the TDAI-1120 goes to 120W at 4 ohms.

While the NAD M10 would be a much better pairing to something harder to drive like the KEF LS50 Metas – 85dB, impedance 8ohms?

Putting the LS50 Metas with the TDAI-1120 would mean less volume and grunt?

Why would the LS50M be harder to drive than the SF Sonettos?
 
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AnthonyS

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Why would the LS50M be harder to drive than the SF Sonettos?
You can probably tell me (again I'm a novice in this space). I've read that the LS50M needs a lot of power and given the M10 has twice as much as the TDAI-1120 suspect it's the better match. Plus I'm looking at the sensitivity at 85 instead of 87? Also, the Sonettos give their rating at 4ohms while the Metas give their rating at 8ohms, if that means the Sonettos can draw more power from the amp?
 

Chrispy

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You can probably tell me (again I'm a novice in this space). I've read that the LS50M needs a lot of power and given the M10 has twice as much as the TDAI-1120 suspect it's the better match. Plus I'm looking at the sensitivity at 85 instead of 87? Also, the Sonettos give their rating at 4ohms while the Metas give their rating at 8ohms, if that means the Sonettos can draw more power from the amp?
The speaker draws the power you require for the desired spl (sound pressure level) for the most part. Yes, most amps have a higher output at 4 ohms than 8 ohms but speakers aren't strictly 4 or 8 ohms, those are nominal ratings, the actual impedance varies with frequency. Many nominal impedance ratings aren't very good either, but if someone rates a speaker at 4 ohm I'd suspect it may actually need a 2 ohm capable amp to cover bases....the 8 ohm speaker could also spend quite a bit of time near 4 ohms OTOH. Phase angle comes into it a bit, too. Many people claim certain speakers do well with tons of power without relating it to actual use, which is not helpful.

ps Might play around with an spl calculator to get an idea of the relationships of power/distance/sensitivity http://myhometheater.homestead.com/splcalculator.html
 
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AnthonyS

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The speaker draws the power you require for the desired spl (sound pressure level) for the most part. Yes, most amps have a higher output at 4 ohms than 8 ohms but speakers aren't strictly 4 or 8 ohms, those are nominal ratings, the actual impedance varies with frequency. Many nominal impedance ratings aren't very good either, but if someone rates a speaker at 4 ohm I'd suspect it may actually need a 2 ohm capable amp to cover bases....the 8 ohm speaker could also spend quite a bit of time near 4 ohms OTOH. Phase angle comes into it a bit, too. Many people claim certain speakers do well with tons of power without relating it to actual use, which is not helpful.

ps Might play around with an spl calculator to get an idea of the relationships of power/distance/sensitivity http://myhometheater.homestead.com/splcalculator.html

So are those two speakers comparable even though one manufacture lists the sensitivity at 4ohms (Sonus Faber) and the other at 8ohms (KEF)? With the calculator it seems either would work with the 60W amp as I get 102 or 104dB at the listening position.
 

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So are those two speakers comparable even though one manufacture lists the sensitivity at 4ohms (Sonus Faber) and the other at 8ohms (KEF)? With the calculator it seems either would work with the 60W amp as I get 102 or 104dB at the listening position.

I'm more saying there's just more to it than just looking at an amp rating or speaker rating. What's your use? How loud do you listen at what distance from the speakers? The KEFs are a bit misleading being rated at 8 ohm IMO especially with their own rating indicating they dip to 3.5ohms (and perhaps this would help too https://www.stereophile.com/content/kef-ls50-meta-loudspeaker-measurements ). Having more power than you "need" at the moment isn't a bad thing either, but can get expensive :)
 
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abdo123

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Forgive my lack of knowledge in this space but I haven't come across linear speakers, yet. I'm assuming an active speaker can never be linear then? I have read a lot about how well the KEF LS50 Meta scales up to sound better with more power but I guess this is the opposite to a linear speaker too?

What i mean with a linear speaker is a speaker that performs consistently good over the entire frequency range, the KEF LS50 Meta is a great example of that, not much headroom on tap though.
 

SIY

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So are those two speakers comparable even though one manufacture lists the sensitivity at 4ohms (Sonus Faber) and the other at 8ohms (KEF)? With the calculator it seems either would work with the 60W amp as I get 102 or 104dB at the listening position.
Those aren't sensitivity, they're nominal impedance. And nominal impedance is a fairly useless number (it's a sales term, not really a technical one) because speaker impedances change wildly with frequency.
 
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