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Help: DRX-8.4 or AV 10 for integrating with a Benchmark AHB2

BlackAdder

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I am tempted to pull the trigger on an Integra DRX-8.4 (Roon Ready, Dirac built in, XLR outs) to replace a Yamaha Aventage R-X3070 that has very weak RCA pre-outs, but I do not fully understand how to mate an AVR and an external amp and worried that it will not fix my problem. Can anyone help?

Currently running a MiniDSP SHD (for DIRAC and Roon Ready) into a Benchmark AHB2 as a 2-channel system driving some Tannoy XT-8F floor stander speakers. I am very happy with the sound quality, but integration into my home theater system has been a problem.

My AVR is a Yamaha Aventage R-X3070 (currently running Atmos 5.1.4, likely moving to 7.1.4 at some point). It struggled to get good sound out of the Tannoy XT-8Fs, even when I added a A-S801 to serve as a dedicated power amp for the two fronts. It has pre-outs but they are very low voltage (<1V). Should I be worried that the same problem will occur with the DRX-8.4, such that I should look for very high powered pre-outs (e.g., AV 10 + Wiim Pro for Roon Ready + an inexpensive multichannel amp for my center & surround channels)?

I tried using a profile on the MiniDSP SHD that tries to equalize the levels by heavily boosting the signal coming from the AVR. This works, but is very cludgy and has lead to problems (e.g., ear splitting volume for my wife or young child if someone tries to play music without switching profiles). My plan would be to use the MiniDSP for room correction / streaming in another room, replacing a Wiim Pro.

I have also tried an ART CleanBox Pro Channel Level Converter to get the RCA out from the R-X3070 into the MiniDSP SHD as XLR at a higher level but whatever boost it is applying (it is powered and has a volume switch) does not seem to make much of a difference.

Many thanks for any help or advice folks can offer.
 

ban25

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There shouldn't be any issue with gain matching the Benchmark to the Integra. You will just need to adjust the trims to get the SPL you want, which Dirac should do for you automatically. I would not mess with the minidsp, just run XLR from the AVR to the amp out of the FR/FL outputs.
 
OP
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BlackAdder

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Thank you for your thoughts. I think my concern stems from (1) absence of measurements in the reviews that I have seen to date, (2) low gain of AHB2 and low voltage pre outs plus inability to adjust trim enough via either the AVR / MiniDSP / external line boosters has been a big PITA -- I think the fact Dirac is currently doing its thing, including lowering level to create headroom for adjustment, only on the LR and Sub channel has also exacerbated the problem, (3) my own limited understanding of gain matching / this stuff.

In theory, the cost difference between DRX 8.4 and next solution up (AV 10 + Multichannel Amp) is big enough that I could just find a better line level amp to sit between the DRX and the AHB2 if it were really a problem and I would still save money.
 

Dougey_Jones

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OP, unfortunately I think most of your problem here is the Yamaha AVR. I know people love the Aventage line, but switching to a DRX-8.4 should fix your problem. You'll have balanced outputs, and the AVR will be handling Dirac for all of your HT channels rather than having the SHD sandwiched in the middle.
 
OP
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BlackAdder

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Thanks for the response. I think my desire to solve the problem is beating my patience to wait for test results, so I am going to order the DRX-8.4. I probably will not receive it until mid-September, however.
 
OP
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BlackAdder

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I ended up getting the DRX-8.4. No problem with using the XLR preamp outs (but I have not measured them) with the AHB at medium gain (i.e., expecting 4 Vrms) sensitivity.

I am using Dirac Live Bass Control with 5.2.4. Very, very noticeable improvement in vocal clarity from when surrounds were not getting benefit of Dirac. Bass sounds more dialed in and impactful as well, but I added a 2nd subwoofer so unclear how much of that was DLBC and how much was the benefit of the 2nd subwoofer. This thing really cranks for home theater.

For stereo listening, it is supposed to be Roon Ready soon, but for now I am using Airplay. You can control the volume. It sounds good (again, very clear) but not sure whether I prefer it to MiniDSP straight into the AHB2. I think next step is to spend more time measuring / messing with the target curve it is adjusting to (so far, I just left the Dirac curve unmodified) with a list of favorite songs to try to dial it in a bit further.

Negatives: It is a bit slow to change sources, and can get a bit confused if you change sources (e.g., cable to Apple TV to Tidal) without turning one off and then the other on. I have had that problem with every HDMI eArc piece of gear, however, so at this point, I just think it is not a great technology. I would buy the receiver again. Hope this is helpful.
 

ban25

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You may want to try switching the protocol in Roon from AirPlay to Chromecast, as this will enable transmission of lossless audio up to 24-bit/96 kHz (AirPlay 2 is limited to 256 Kbps AAC). Looking in Audio under Settings in Roon, you will see the DRX-8.4 listed twice, once for AirPlay and once for Chromecast.
 
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