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Comparison of DRCs: Dirac Live for Studio, IK Multimedia ARC System 3 and Sonarworks Reference 4 Studio edition

Snarfie

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I am using KRK Ergo room correction system (Lyngdorf based) 4096 points, both frequency and time domain 20-400 Hz.
In comparison with Sonarworks it is heaven and hell. Sonarworks bottom end is weird (definitely something wrong with phase). BTW Sonarworks sounds weird with Sennheiser HD650 in comparison with other software like Morphit or Realphones.

Ergo hardware is not in production anymore and it's Firewire which is unhandy.
Looks like I need to try Dirac Live.

As far as I like external processing for room correction looks like I need DSP with Dirac inside.
Can you point me on good value/money product?
Ideally it must contain both analog and digital in/out since I am using RME UFX II and Adam S3H studio monitors.
As far as I understand hardware solutions has less resolution in comparison with software. Am I right?
Are you using Windows or a Apple platform. If so why not trying for free Mathaudio room EQ in combinatie with Foobar. If you like the result you can buy the systemwide solution.
 

andivax

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Are you using Windows or a Apple platform. If so why not trying for free Mathaudio room EQ in combinatie with Foobar. If you like the result you can buy the systemwide solution.

I am on Windows10 x64.
As far as I understand RoomEQ doesn't solve phase issues.
Also preferably hardware solution.
 

Snarfie

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I am on Windows10 x64.
As far as I understand RoomEQ doesn't solve phase issues.
Also preferably hardware solution.
Did asked this question regarding adressing phase issiues directly to mathaudio, because they descibe it at their website. Their respons was they do. However they were reluctant to explain how.
Still you can try it for free if the results are not what you aspect no harm is done. The setup is easy. Results that i get compared to lyngdorf is more ore less the same also measured diffrences in this topic are small compared with other solutions. Hope Amirm will do a test in the nearby future regarding Mathaudio Room EQ. I'm running Mathaudio also on Windows 10 with excellent results.

When using Mathaudio room eq place you mic verticale for optimal measuring.
 
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andivax

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Did asked this question regarding adressing phase issiues directly to mathaudio, because they descibe it at their website. Their respons was they do. However they were reluctant to explain how.
Still you can try it for free if the results are not what you aspect no harm is done. The setup is easy. Results that i get compared to lyngdorf is more ore less the same also measured diffrences in this topic are small compared with other solutions. Hope Amirm will do a test in the nearby future regarding Mathaudio Room EQ. I'm running Mathaudio also on Windows 10 with excellent results.

When using Mathaudio room eq place you mic verticale for optimal measuring.

Will try MatchAudio for sure!
And thank you very much for mentioning mic directivity!
With KRK Ergo I measure room in horizontal position tho.
 
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dominikz

dominikz

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I am using KRK Ergo room correction system (Lyngdorf based) 4096 points, both frequency and time domain 20-400 Hz.
In comparison with Sonarworks it is heaven and hell. Sonarworks bottom end is weird (definitely something wrong with phase). BTW Sonarworks sounds weird with Sennheiser HD650 in comparison with other software like Morphit or Realphones.

Ergo hardware is not in production anymore and it's Firewire which is unhandy.
Looks like I need to try Dirac Live.

As far as I like external processing for room correction looks like I need DSP with Dirac inside.
Can you point me on good value/money product?
Ideally it must contain both analog and digital in/out since I am using RME UFX II and Adam S3H studio monitors.
As far as I understand hardware solutions has less resolution in comparison with software. Am I right?
Hi there!

HW FIR-based solutions will have limited resolution in the low frequencies due to their usually pretty low FIR tap count. IIR-based HW solution should still allow for sharp LF filters (depending on supported Q-range) - but they will not allow you to create linear phase filters or to manipulate phase in the same way as FIR-based solutions (which can support non-causal filters even by adding delay). E.g. this is probably why Dirac Live uses a hybrid FIR+IIR approach. Note that depending on the amount of phase correction applied, FIR filters can create significant delay/latency - which could be an important consideration if you're using your system to record music and require low-latency monitoring.

From the DRCs I tested only Dirac Live and Audiolense actually did any kind of phase correction - the rest (IK Multimedia ARC3, Mathaudio Room EQ, Sonarworks Reference...) only dealt the amplitude response. Note that some DRCs had the option to select linear vs minimum phase filters - but this is not the same as loudspeaker/room phase response linearization.

However I should also note that personally I see no benefit to doing phase corrections, at least not for now - I played with this for quite a while and most of the time I couldn't notice any improvement, and in some extreme cases it was even pretty detrimental - creating audible pre-ringing artefacts.

As far as recommendations go, if you already have a measurement microphone, I'd suggest to download the free REW SW (actually donationware), measure L+R speaker response with moving microphone method (MMM) and use the built-in 3-band PEQ DSP in your RME UFX II to do room correction below 300Hz. 3-band PEQ should be enough to cut the most offending peaks in the response and will IMO in most cases bring you reasonably close to more complicated solutions. It is not ideal and more PEQ bands may be required, but it is worth trying.
This is what I am doing with my RME Babyface on my desktop system and it works pretty well IMHO - even if the response doesn't look as pretty as more complicated solutions :)
1633941993813.png

Neumann KH 120A - LR combined response with and without 3-band PEQ.png

Neumann KH 120A - LR combined response with and without 3-band PEQ - Psychoacoustic smoothing.png

My room (bedroom) has no acoustic treatment and loudspeaker position is bad as well, but the 3-band PEQ shown above solves most of the worst issues and the resulting sound is quite nice and balanced after this simple correction.
Note that the EQ target is a flat line with a +3 dB boost in the LF below ~100Hz. This is to account for the response summation that happens at LF with flat-measuring speakers in nearfield.

Anyway, hope this helps and good luck!
 

andivax

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Hi there!

HW FIR-based solutions will have limited resolution in the low frequencies due to their usually pretty low FIR tap count. IIR-based HW solution should still allow for sharp LF filters (depending on supported Q-range) - but they will not allow you to create linear phase filters or to manipulate phase in the same way as FIR-based solutions (which can support non-causal filters even by adding delay). E.g. this is probably why Dirac Live uses a hybrid FIR+IIR approach. Note that depending on the amount of phase correction applied, FIR filters can create significant delay/latency - which could be an important consideration if you're using your system to record music and require low-latency monitoring.

From the DRCs I tested only Dirac Live and Audiolense actually did any kind of phase correction - the rest (IK Multimedia ARC3, Mathaudio Room EQ, Sonarworks Reference...) only dealt the amplitude response. Note that some DRCs had the option to select linear vs minimum phase filters - but this is not the same as loudspeaker/room phase response linearization.

However I should also note that personally I see no benefit to doing phase corrections, at least not for now - I played with this for quite a while and most of the time I couldn't notice any improvement, and in some extreme cases it was even pretty detrimental - creating audible pre-ringing artefacts.

As far as recommendations go, if you already have a measurement microphone, I'd suggest to download the free REW SW (actually donationware), measure L+R speaker response with moving microphone method (MMM) and use the built-in 3-band PEQ DSP in your RME UFX II to do room correction below 300Hz. 3-band PEQ should be enough to cut the most offending peaks in the response and will IMO in most cases bring you reasonably close to more complicated solutions. It is not ideal and more PEQ bands may be required, but it is worth trying.
This is what I am doing with my RME Babyface on my desktop system and it works pretty well IMHO - even if the response doesn't look as pretty as more complicated solutions :)
View attachment 158398
View attachment 158397
View attachment 158399
My room (bedroom) has no acoustic treatment and loudspeaker position is bad as well, but the 3-band PEQ shown above solves most of the worst issues and the resulting sound is quite nice and balanced after this simple correction.
Note that the EQ target is a flat line with a +3 dB boost in the LF below ~100Hz. This is to account for the response summation that happens at LF with flat-measuring speakers in nearfield.

Anyway, hope this helps and good luck!

thank you, this was very helpfull!
Since Dirac is most recomended here I consider MiniDSP DDRC-24 just for trying the technology.
Also will try Mathaudio and Dirac.
 
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dominikz

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thank you, this was very helpfull!
Since Dirac is most recomended here I consider MiniDSP DDRC-24 just for trying the technology.
Also will try Mathaudio and Dirac.
Dirac was IMHO very nice sounding, configurable and not too difficult to setup - which are all pluses for sure!

However in the end I personally decided to just use REW to measure and create filters myself, as I love the customizability and near zero playback latency of simple IIR PEQ correction. On my desktop system I apply the filters with RME TotalMix FX 3-band PEQ, and in my living room HiFi I apply more detailed IIR filters with a miniDSP OpenDRC-DI (using miniSHARC plugin so I have 10-band per channel IIR PEQ instead of OpenDRC 7-band).

Once you get a hang of it, IMHO such manual PEQ correction can sound as good as any good automated DRC.

Anyway, good luck and have fun!
 

Snarfie

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thank you, this was very helpfull!
Since Dirac is most recomended here I consider MiniDSP DDRC-24 just for trying the technology.
Also will try Mathaudio and Dirac.
your findings would be helphul/interesting let us know.
 

andivax

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Dirac was IMHO very nice sounding, configurable and not too difficult to setup - which are all pluses for sure!

However in the end I personally decided to just use REW to measure and create filters myself, as I love the customizability and near zero playback latency of simple IIR PEQ correction. On my desktop system I apply the filters with RME TotalMix FX 3-band PEQ, and in my living room HiFi I apply more detailed IIR filters with a miniDSP OpenDRC-DI (using miniSHARC plugin so I have 10-band per channel IIR PEQ instead of OpenDRC 7-band).

Once you get a hang of it, IMHO such manual PEQ correction can sound as good as any good automated DRC.

Anyway, good luck and have fun!

RME's 3-bands EQ's are shame.
I've spoke with them and they do not want to "waste time and money" for adding extra FPGA/SHARC power for plugins processing (like Antelope and UAD).
3 band is barely ok for my headphones (currently HD 650 and Verum 1).
So... looks like it's time to try something outside the RME ecosystem )
 

thewas

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IIR-based HW solution should still allow for sharp LF filters (depending on supported Q-range) - but they will not allow you to create linear phase filters or to manipulate phase in the same way as FIR-based solutions (which can support non-causal filters even by adding delay). E.g. this is probably why Dirac Live uses a hybrid FIR+IIR approach.
Also we shouldn't forget that room mode peaks (which according to many is the only thing someone should correct in the modal region) are mainly minimum phase phenomena, so EQing them with an exact inverse IIR filter also corrects/compensates automatically their phase shifts.

However I should also note that personally I see no benefit to doing phase corrections, at least not for now - I played with this for quite a while and most of the time I couldn't notice any improvement, and in some extreme cases it was even pretty detrimental - creating audible pre-ringing artefacts.
So do I, have being testing many DRC options for now over 10 years including sophisticated FIR based ones like Acourate but keep returning to a minimal IIR correction in the modal region, somehow like the GLM (best the current one) which I used to "make fun of" as I thought its corrections were too few nd basic and the measurements after looked not so nice, but our perception is quite different than what we see in steady state measurements at the listeners position so its always important to compare by (also long time) listening and not just by looking at FR plots.
 

tecnogadget

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So do I, have being testing many DRC options for now over 10 years including sophisticated FIR based ones like Acourate but keep returning to a minimal IIR correction in the modal region, somehow like the GLM (best the current one) which I used to "make fun of" as I thought its corrections were too few nd basic and the measurements after looked not so nice, but our perception is quite different than what we see in steady state measurements at the listeners position so its always important to compare by (also long time) listening and not just by looking at FR plots.
Ohh, this isn’t very hopeful for me lol.
I already have extensive experience with REW PEQ filters, specially when you use 10 or more to make subwoofer absolutely flat or within +/-1dB of Target curve. But now I want to experiment with Audiolense or similar software that applies true time domain corrections, to every channel of my Home Theater. I hope the investment in hardware and soft licensing is worth it. I mean really audible, as it is for when applying PEQ vs not.
 

thewas

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Ohh, this isn’t very hopeful for me lol.
I already have extensive experience with REW PEQ filters, specially when you use 10 or more to make subwoofer absolutely flat or within +/-1dB of Target curve. But now I want to experiment with Audiolense or similar software that applies true time domain corrections, to every channel of my Home Theater. I hope the investment in hardware and soft licensing is worth it. I mean really audible, as it is for when applying PEQ vs not.
Almost every change is audible :D, the import thing though is which you enjoy more on the long listening. Maybe better to try first with a limited test version, Acourate, Dirac offer such options and I think Audiolense did too in the past.
 

Olli

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dominikz

dominikz

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RME's 3-bands EQ's are shame.
I've spoke with them and they do not want to "waste time and money" for adding extra FPGA/SHARC power for plugins processing (like Antelope and UAD).
3 band is barely ok for my headphones (currently HD 650 and Verum 1).
So... looks like it's time to try something outside the RME ecosystem )
It is a shame - I agree. :)

If one could apply e.g. 6 band PEQ per individual channel in the main stereo output bus, that would be pretty much all that is needed for 95% of situations for (stereo) room EQ. Personally, I'd be willing to sacrifice the whole (or most) available DSP capacity of the unit for this :D Though it seems to me this probably wouldn't eat the entire DSP chip capacity, since on the Babyface I can apply 3-band PEQ to 21 individual channels simultaneously before running out of DSP capacity.

However, even the combined (L+R) 3-band PEQ can still solve many of the worst offending room issues, and IMHO it is nice to have it integrated in the soundcard mixer directly for various usability reasons. Especially since this EQ applies regardless of type of device driver used (e.g. still works even with ASIO) and doesn't require an additional device. I also love having the option to apply room EQ on my main output, to have a different headphone EQ on the secondary output ("Speaker B"), and being able to instantly switch between both with a physical "Select" button on the Babyface. It's just a nice and simple, set-and-forget, workflow feature. This simplicity of setup (without additional boxes) + great usability is the main reason why I haven't jumped to some more capable HW solution for room EQ in this system already. But I digress :)
 

alexe

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I'm not sure if this has already been asked or discussed on the last 12 pages of this thread, but:

It looks to me as if Dirac Live is the only one of the three tested solutions that does impulse response correction. As far as I can tell from the Sonarworks and IK Multimedia product pages, their solutions only correct the frequency response, but they don't account for any phase alignment issues.

Does anybody know whether my guess is correct?

If it is, then Dirac Live should surely yield better results than the other two, because I would think impulse response correction to be a crucial part of the overall correction process in any room.
 
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dominikz

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I'm not sure if this has already been asked or discussed on the last 12 pages of this thread, but:

It looks to me as if Dirac Live is the only one of the three tested solutions that does impulse response correction. As far as I can tell from the Sonarworks and IK Multimedia product pages, their solutions only correct the frequency response, but they don't account for any phase alignment issues.

Does anybody know whether my guess is correct?

If it is, then Dirac Live should surely yield better results than the other two, because I would think impulse response correction to be a crucial part of the overall correction process in any room.
Based on my testing Dirac Live and Audiolense can both do some phase/impulse response correction (I think Acourate can as well), while the others I tested (IK Multimedia ARC3, Sonarworks Reference 4, MathAudio Room EQ) only did magnitude frequency response corrections.

However I have to say that personally I haven't experienced any audible benefit of magnitude+phase frequency response correction versus well executed magnitude-only frequency response correction. Therefore after extensively testing all these DRCs my current preferred strategy for room EQ is based on simple subtractive IIR PEQs calculated in REW.
 

alexe

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Based on my testing Dirac Live and Audiolense can both do some phase/impulse response correction (I think Acourate can as well), while the others I tested (IK Multimedia ARC3, Sonarworks Reference 4, MathAudio Room EQ) only did magnitude frequency response corrections.

However I have to say that personally I haven't experienced any audible benefit of magnitude+phase frequency response correction versus well executed magnitude-only frequency response correction. Therefore after extensively testing all these DRCs my current preferred strategy for room EQ is based on simple subtractive IIR PEQs calculated in REW.
Thanks, that's very helpful! Thanks a lot for sharing your test results!
 

ernestcarl

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Based on my testing Dirac Live and Audiolense can both do some phase/impulse response correction (I think Acourate can as well), while the others I tested (IK Multimedia ARC3, Sonarworks Reference 4, MathAudio Room EQ) only did magnitude frequency response corrections.

However I have to say that personally I haven't experienced any audible benefit of magnitude+phase frequency response correction versus well executed magnitude-only frequency response correction. Therefore after extensively testing all these DRCs my current preferred strategy for room EQ is based on simple subtractive IIR PEQs calculated in REW.

Yes, but IIR EQ does correct the phase as well. ;) Just not independently...

In REW's equalizer window, there is a phase graph where you can see how even simple PEQ's does improve the phase response -- even if it's only by a small amount.

Where phase correction is most useful would be for advanced bass management in multichannel systems that employ different speakers and subs having varying phase slopes. It would maximize xo summation and prevent potentially unnecessary bass cancellations and unevenness due to the different speakers being used. Some of the more advanced automated correction software already do this like Dirac's full bass management optimization. We also see this phase "harmonization" or matching performed regularly in the digital amplifier systems of large installations and venues:


If one is a speaker designer, and is creating a multi-way speaker system with (esp. digital active) xo in mind, adjusting the phase between one's chosen xo points is just simply part of the job.

In most cases, though, we as regular home audio consumers do not have to worry about these things.
 
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