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Do any DACs apart from RME have equal-loudness features?

Sir Sanders Zingmore

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Hi all,
hopefully the title is self explanatory. One of the features that attracts me to the RME-ADI2 DAC is the loudness feature, but I'm hoping there exists another DAC that also has this at a lower price.
Does anyone know if such a device exists?
 

March Audio

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Not specifically. How about a feature in playback software?

Roon doesnt appear to have it but I seem to remember J River might. I will have to check.
 

Cahudson42

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Amazon Music HD Settings has a checkbox:

Loudness Normalization
Play all songs at the same loudness level....O
 

BillG

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I think JRiver has it but I'm wedded to Roon which has their own (well thought out) reasons...


It's easy to do within Roon: Just configure a Equal-loudness contour in the Parametric Eq section of the DSP Engine and save it for later use. As for Roon not having the function on tap, I suspect it was a marketing decision to exclude it ("audiophile" purists frown upon it) because it's certainly very easy to implement in software.
 
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digicidal

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I can't count the number of ways I've experienced greater enjoyment in listening to music since I abandoned any concern over "audiophile purity" in the signal chain. So many people (who ironically favor tubes, vinyl, and often horridly colored speakers) will strongly condemn the use of DSP or hardware tone controls due to their 'damage to the sound'. :facepalm:
 
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Sir Sanders Zingmore

Sir Sanders Zingmore

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It's easy to do within Roon: Just configure a Equal-loudness contour in the Parametric Eq section of the DSP Engine and save it for later use. As for Roon not having the function on tap, I suspect it was a marketing decision to exclude it ("audiophile" purists frown upon it) because it's certainly very easy to implement in software.
As far as I know, the parametric Eq implementation in Roon is not volume-dependent. The way RME does it adjusts the contour for volume (so that it remains equal loudness).

In other words, using parametric eq in Roon would only be equal loudness at a fixed volume
 

MC_RME

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> Amazon Music HD Settings has a checkbox:

Which is something different...automatic volume (level) control. The OP asked for a volume based sound control.
 

digicidal

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I'd guess it's more a matter of perceived loudness as opposed to boost/cut to specified levels or peak-to-peak measurements? @MC_RME could you enlighten us as to the methods? If that's the case, what curve is used as a baseline?
 

RayDunzl

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How does the RME accomplish this? Does it have the ability to measure the in room reference volume?

8.5 Loudness

Another legacy of HiFi amplifiers: there has not been a single one missing a feature called Loudness. It tries to address the changes in frequency-dependent hearing sensitivity over different volume levels. If one listens to music loud, then drops the level by at least 20 dB, sound loses punch and glitter. HiFi amps tried to fight this effect by adding more bass and treble the lower the volume was set.

Unfortunately that never worked as intended, and just became an additional bass/treble booster. Reason: the manufacturer of the HiFi amp could not know what volume any position of the volume knob equals at the customer’s home. Room size, room dampening and efficiency of the used speakers are all unknown.

But the effect of loss in perceived sound exists (read about the Fletcher-Munson curves), and can be easily reproduced with any serious gear by comparing normal volume and DIM state (usually -20 dB).

The ADI-2 Pro offers Loudness for both analog stereo outputs, and probably is the first time that Loudness works as intended. The user can decide how much maximum gain in Bass and Treble should occur at lower volume settings.

The user also sets the Low Vol Reference, where maximum gain is achieved. After extensive tests a 20 dB range has been defined as range for maximum gain to no gain while increasing volume. That seemed to be the perfect definition of the range that needs to be addressed by Loudness.

Here is an example on how it works: the user’s typical lowest level listening volume is at -35 dB at the unit. This value is now set by the user as Low Vol Ref in the Loudness menu.

Then Bass and Treble Gain can be set between 0 and +10 dB. Default is +7 dB for both. Increasing the volume by turning the Volume knob causes the gain in Bass and Treble to be lowered smoothly over a range of 20 dB.

So when Volume is set to -15 dB, the music is not only quite loud, but Loudness’ Bass and Treble are then at 0 dB gain. See chapter 34.12 for graphs.

No matter how sensitive the connected phones or speakers are, no matter how much increase in Bass and Treble are desired – with the ADI-2 Pro one can finally adjust it to meet the personal hearing and taste. Loudness finally works as it should have worked from the start - another unique feature in the ADI-2 Pro.

https://archiv.rme-audio.de/download/adi2pro_e.pdf
 

BillG

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As far as I know, the parametric Eq implementation in Roon is not volume-dependent.

My idea would be a crude implementation of the function, but that's all Roon is giving you at the moment from what I can gather. Perhaps some the of DSP experts here, that happen to be more familiar with the package, have another idea.
 

astr0b0y

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digicidal

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So using Fletcher-Munson curves to drive the amount of gain in each of several bands you could define a much more "natural" loudness via DSP. Well, someone with much more experience than I could, I presume. ;) What would be cool about that would be "age-appropriate" loudness curves as well.
 
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Sir Sanders Zingmore

Sir Sanders Zingmore

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So it seems there is no alternative to the RME. Or at least none that implements it as well as they do.
Time to start saving I guess
 

RayDunzl

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Perhaps oddly, I don't feel a need to alter the frequency response for lower level listening.

Another instance of being an outlier, I guess.
 

BillG

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As far as I know, the parametric Eq implementation in Roon is not volume-dependent. The way RME does it adjusts the contour for volume (so that it remains equal loudness).

In other words, using parametric eq in Roon would only be equal loudness at a fixed volume

That's exactly how the original Loudness function worked - it wasn't adaptive. So, if you can live with selecting an EQ preset tuned for a loudness curve when listening at low volume, then you have a Loudness function.

Any number of personal computer based music players include an EQ preset just for the above usage case. The typical curve used is like the following...

Screenshot_Poweramp_20191208-003551~2.png
 
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