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Room Correction Hardware/Software Issues, Options. Please Advise.

dped90

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Please excuse this lengthy post but I didn't want to forget asking every question I had about this complex topic, and if I'm going about solving my problems in the best sounding way.

Media players like roon rightly have their adherents especially if it may offer seamless solutions for room correction.
https://community.roonlabs.com/t/so...face-and-xo-in-a-f-a-s-t-configuration/139931

However, I don't like being tied to one particular player-be it Foobar, JRiver, VLC or my old version of Samplitude DAW.

Presently, my bigger problem is that my custom designed main speakers are still away from being built, I haven't time yet to shop for and settle on a DAC (s) and have no hands on experience using Camilla, DIRAC Live, REW or any other room correction software.

And based on the following questions I won't yet know which if any RC software can best help me correct any glaring room mode problems, beyond what I will first need learn to correct acoustically (as all experts advise).

Then how to compensate for however much gain loss the software may cause, where the DACs' output voltages might be inadequate to cleanly drive my main speakers power amp and/or the plate amps of my four Rythmik F12 subs.

Additionally, while these MCH DACs likely sound amazing at least for the price https://www.oktoresearch.com/dac8pro.htm https://motu.com/products/avb/8a https://beta.prismsound.com/products/titan/ , how good will their tonality and other subjective sound quality metrics (e.g. soundstage size, imaging) be for use in the entire system? That is, should I instead use one of these MCH DACs for my subs only and use a perhaps better sounding stereo DAC for the main speakers? https://www.kitsunehifi.com/product/holo-audio-may-dac/

I'm thinking that this may be advantageous because my main speakers and subs are passively crossed and because DACs chips (AKM) used in some stereo DACs may be easier to configure and also use with output stages to help reduce intersample overs distortion, which unfortunately is often a direct consequence of the "loudness wars" between competing record producers and/or artists. https://benchmarkmedia.com/blogs/ap...-in-cd-recordings?_pos=1&_sid=0eeb1f150&_ss=r

Much discussion about that ongoing tragedy here https://gearspace.com/board/mastering-forum/1401406-intersample-clipping-audible.html

At the same time at least some of those RC software and/or DAC choices may also depend on the following

First, my passively crossed mains only play down to 70Hz, though I suspect that any of those three MCH DACs-perhaps especially the Okto (a good choice even though unlike the other two it has no ADCs??) will reproduce that range from ~ 65Hz on down quite faithfully. Yes?

Second, would there be audible or disastrous timing issues if two USB ports from my pc (music source) each feed the USB input on the stereo DAC and MCH DAC? If yes, can it be solved by simply connecting one of the PC's USB ports to a USB hub to thereby feeding both DACs from the same USB port? If neither of those fixes work then what might?

Third, would there be any benefit to using the "better" sounding stereo DAC for the main speakers and the MCH DAC for the subs but to only have the subs' DAC in the "convolving" filter loop, since it's the subs which mostly interact with the room's mode (e.g. standing waves). Yes?

Fourth, as most MCH DACs are made for the pro audio community they include an ADC for each channel, where consumer DACs like the Okto don't have any built in ADCs. Obviously, this would require that a separate ADC would needed be used between the PC's USB input and the test signal recording microphone (and if need be a mic preamp) for the live recording of each test tone playback by a speaker and sub. So what model ADC and mic to use?

Fifth, which if any RC software flavor might likely impose the least amount of gain loss to avoid needing line stages between the DACs' outputs and the mains power amps or subs' plate amps?

Ultimately, what worries me is that using two different DACs will make part of what's heard sound colored, but I can't know for sure. And then how problematic are the other questions. Please advise.
 
Here is my simple advice:
- get a Topping DM7 (it is the best available multichannel DAC, was also measured here on ASR)
- get a UMIK-1 microphone
- get Dirac Live
- use your PC as the source
- connect any amps you like to the DM7 (either a multichannel amp or multiple stereo amps) My recommendation would be the Topping PA5/PA7 series

You will have SOTA performance in every regard
 
Additionally, while these MCH DACs likely sound amazing at least for the price https://www.oktoresearch.com/dac8pro.htm https://motu.com/products/avb/8a https://beta.prismsound.com/products/titan/ , how good will their tonality and other subjective sound quality metrics (e.g. soundstage size, imaging) be for use in the entire system? That is, should I instead use one of these MCH DACs for my subs only and use a perhaps better sounding stereo DAC for the main speakers? https://www.kitsunehifi.com/product/holo-audio-may-dac/
I doubt if there are DACs that are audibly superior to the Okto.
 
I doubt if there are DACs that are audibly superior to the Okto.
But please describe any differences in sounding quality or character between the Okto DAC 8 Pro and the Hapi.

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...or-12-16-channel-power-amplifier.41498/page-2

Didn't you have a 5.3 system? If yes, why need more than eight DAC/ADC channels?

With the Hapi installed, what solution do you use for master volume control?

If you have the Anubis in your system with the Hapi what's it used for?

Do you still use DIRAC Live 3? If not, which room correction software?

Any more of these kinds of gain loss problems with Hapi?

https://www.stereophile.com/content/topping-pre90-line-preamplifier

So, no need for the Topping or any preamps?

If yes or no, please explain why.
 
@dualazmak is running a system like this. I have tagged in so that he can weigh in. To answer your questions:

1. Multichannel DAC's are not inferior to 2 channel DAC's if they measurably perform the same. It is not worth the inconvenience of using a "higher quality" 2 channel DAC for your mains and a separate DAC for your bass, you will likely hear no difference.

2. Running two DAC's from one PC simultaneously is possible, but it is not easy. The problem is that all programs on Windows needs to output to ONE audio device. In my system, I use a Merging DAC with 8 channels via ASIO with JRiver. JRiver is able to work as a virtual sound card, so I can route all Windows sounds (from Youtube, Chrome browser, etc) to JRiver as my output device. JRiver then performs the convolution, and sends bass to Merging Channels 1 and 2, and the rest (woofers, mids, tweets) to Channels 3-8. It is important that all these channels are on the same device. There is no convolver I am aware of that can send bass to DAC 1 and other channels to DAC 2.

There are two ways around this and both involve additional hardware and inconvenience.

Method 1: use a DDC (digital-digital converter) like the RME Digiface USB (also available in AES, AVB, Dante, and Ravenna flavours). The DDC will report itself to Windows as a multichannel DAC. You then configure your DDC to send the inputs to the appropriate outputs. You can also use a MiniDSP as a DDC, in fact I know someone who is doing that because he, like you, believes that his third party two channel DAC's are superior to multichannel DAC's. Note, I do not support this practice because I think it adds additional complexity without much additional benefit, but it's hard to convince an audiophile that there is minimal difference between DAC's besides features.

Method 2: use an RME HDSPE AIO sound card. It works the same as a DDC but it is installed on a PCI-E slot in your PC. It has a D25 connector for digital output, meaning that you need to order an extra cable from RME for the application that you want.

IMO there is no good reason to run multiple dissimilar DAC's on your home audio setup unless you need more DAC channels than what a multichannel DAC can provide. For example, it is possible to configure a Merging Hapi with up to 16 DAC channels, and a Merging Horus with up to 24 (I may be wrong on this point, I haven't had a good look). Admittedly both solutions are expensive. If you need 8 DAC channels or less, then nearly all the multichannel DAC's on the market will work.

I am myself investigating whether I would benefit from more than 8 channels. At the moment, I have 2 subwoofers, and a pair of 3 way speakers so I am using all 8 channels. I am thinking of implementing bass shakers in my sofa, adding additional subs, and adding surround speakers, so I might "need" an additional 6 channels (center, rear L+R, 2 subs, 1 bass shaker). What is dissuading me is the expense and inconvenience involved vs. the benefit which I think is minimal because the music I listen to probably won't benefit from it.

3. Timing issues if you use multiple DAC's: yes, it is possible. This is why pro audio gear have a clock input, to synchronize the clocks between multiple DAC's. If all the DAC's run off the same clock (as you would find in a multichannel DAC), this gets rid of the problem.

4. If you need an ADC, buy a multichannel DAC with a built-in ADC. Examples: RME Fireface UCX, Motu M4, Merging Anubis/Hapi/Horus.

5. What model of mic to use: any condenser mic with 48V Phantom power that these models support. This can be as cheap as a Behringer ECM8000 (USD$60) or an Earthworks M25/M30 (>$1000). The benefit of more expensive mics is that they come with calibration files and are able to record higher frequencies, e.g. my Earthworks M30 can record up to 30kHz. You don't need this kind of performance, so I would go for a calibrated Behringer ECM8000.

6. Which RC software imposes the least gain loss: ALL of them are the same when it comes to gain loss. It is not the software that produces gain loss, it is the user and the system. And by "system", I mean your individual drivers - if your woofer is massively less efficient than your tweeter, and you are not driving your woofer adequately, your system will be volume limited by the woofer, especially if you cut the volume further with correction. If you do not use the software properly, you will end up cutting too much volume because all of them sacrifice volume for linearity. If you are worried about gain loss, you need to find out which driver is limiting your system's overall gain and make sure it is amplified properly.

Options for RC software: Acourate, Audiolense, Dirac Live, rePhase, etc. I use Acourate because it has the most tools and it is the most versatile, but it is not easy to use.

After saying all this, you have two options when it comes to crossover generation / DRC - software based, or hardware based. Hardware based (e.g. MiniDSP, DEQX) is simpler, more convenient, and has an easier learning curve. However it is limited by computing power and the features are constrained by software, which is usually designed for ease of use rather than flexibility. Software based offers much more computing power, much more flexibility (e.g. if you want 32 channels of DAC, you can do it), and more features than you could possibly use or understand. The downside is the learning curve and inconvenience.

In the end, all of us place different weightings on acceptable sound, cost, convenience, learning curve, and so on. The problem with forums like ASR and posts like mine is that we all speak with our own biases on how WE place the weightings which is the source of a lot of disagreements (for example, I don't think differences between DAC's is that important). You need to weigh up your priorities first.
 
But please describe any differences in sounding quality or character between the Okto DAC 8 Pro and the Hapi.
I have not used the Okto in some months but a review of the Hapi is in the works.
Didn't you have a 5.3 system? If yes, why need more than eight DAC/ADC channels?
I did but, at times, I added 4 height channels. At the moment, my apartment is being renovated and all I have are headphones.
With the Hapi installed, what solution do you use for master volume control?
The Hapi or the USB-VC.
If you have the Anubis in your system with the Hapi what's it used for?
I do not have an Anubis, atm.
Do you still use DIRAC Live 3? If not, which room correction software?
Dirac Live ART.
Any more of these kinds of gain loss problems with Hapi?
Nope.
So, no need for the Topping or any preamps?
Not needed with the gain/output abilities of the Hapi.
 
I did but, at times, I added 4 height channels. At the moment, my apartment is being renovated and all I have are headphones.
What height channels did you choose? In-ceiling, on-ceiling or those ceiling bounce speakers like the Kef R8?
 
What height channels did you choose? In-ceiling, on-ceiling or those ceiling bounce speakers like the Kef R8?
The latter. Choices limited with reinforced concrete construction.
 
I have not used the Okto in some months but a review of the Hapi is in the works.

I did but, at times, I added 4 height channels. At the moment, my apartment is being renovated and all I have are headphones.

The Hapi or the USB-VC.

I do not have an Anubis, atm.

Dirac Live ART.

Nope.

Not needed with the gain/output abilities of the Hapi.

Happy for the forthcoming Hapi review!

Will Dirac Live ART run on Windows?

Don't understand how you do master volume control/mute for the Hapi's outputs. Via a JRiver keyboard command or mouse drag?

Why would you add https://www.merging.com/products/interfaces/merging+anubis/music ?

Please describe the ways it would benefit use of your system.
 
@dualazmak In the end, all of us place different weightings on acceptable sound, cost, convenience, learning curve, and so on. The problem with forums like ASR and posts like mine is that we all speak with our own biases on how WE place the weightings which is the source of a lot of disagreements (for example, I don't think differences between DAC's is that important). You need to weigh up your priorities first.
Thanks for this detailed reply. Regarding the use of two DACs, unlike Kal's source material (high res classical music recordings he once said), a considerable percentage of my recordings may be less than pristine sound quality; and some might have some degree of intersample overs distortion

Thus, I theorized that any such distortion might be more audible in frequencies above 70Hz, below which my subs take over. And so that if a stereo DAC for the mains speakers employed chips other than the popular ESS types (e.g. AKM) they might be more likely to be configured-along with the output stage design-to reduce IS distortion.

However, as Porcus and/or others in the above hydrogenaudio thread said that this scheme may be unnecessary-at least if the IS distortion is not excessive-as solutions like Replay/Gain (implemented in VLC, JRiver , et al) may help to reduce it, if perhaps at some minimal cost of resolution. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ReplayGain
https://wiki.hydrogenaud.io/index.php?title=ReplayGain_2.0_specification
https://beets.readthedocs.io/en/v1.3.4/plugins/replaygain.html

Furthermore, using two nonidentical DACs I could run the risk of them making my mains and the subs display a different sonic signature.
Finally, many of my favorite recordings were made from the early 60s through the late 70s, long before the loudness wars occurred.
https://www.hdtracks.com/#/album/5df1427d0bee25c09bc163fd , though apparently such content can still contain high intersample overs.
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/lets-develop-an-asr-inter-

In any case, since my system won't have any low end without my subs, I need to use the best sounding 8 channel DAC I can afford-and the RC software without the steepest learning curve while imposing the least gain loss.

But what do you mean by "IF I need an ADC”? Doesn't everybody if they’re doing room correction? Most likely, you thought I meant some standalone ADC. No, it would be what you probably use: a single mic/preamp/ADC combo to take measurements for each channel, store the store the recording in a file for that channel and repeat with the next file for the next DAC channel, and so on. Yes?

And when done use all of those recordings to create and save a convolved waveform through which all audio content will pass through, yes?

Thanks for the mic/preamp/ADC combo info!

What MCH DAC do you use?

Thanks for explaining how gain loss can happen after you create the convolved signal and apply it to the (JRiver, VLC) player to pass the audio data through; but that the cause can be as much induced by speaker inefficiency, not just the RC software-though that some software can be more apt to cause gain loss than others.

My main speakers have ~ 97db/w/meter sensitivity and my subs operate like this https://www.rythmikaudio.com/servosurvey.html

How likely then would they be too efficient to where I need to worry about gain loss from the software?

Regarding use of https://www.deqx.com/products/#features , it’s apparently not for passively crossed like mine. MiniDSP does now have an eight channel box https://www.minidsp.com/products/ht-series/flex-htx and while it may give good performance at that price point https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/minidsp-flex-htx.49512/page-7 there’s likely to be substantial sonic disparities between it and the HAPI (or Horus?)

https://www.whatsbestforum.com/threads/merging-horus-hapi-update.22534/

https://gearspace.com/board/music-computers/1388426-high-end-interfaces-2022-a-2 .html

I just hope that I’d be able to scale the learning curves of DIRAC Live. Would https://www.roomeqwizard.com/ or be much harder and worth using instead?

Speaking of convolvers (not that I yet have any experience creating them), I searched [ JRiver convolution vs ] and found

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...ds/a-comparison-of-convolution-engines.43290/

While still too ignorant to pass any judgements on them, but unlike your speakers, as my main speakers are passively crossed, is there any reason not to use the convolver in JRiver?

But would the convolver engine in Acourate, Audiolense, Dirac Live, rePhase, etc be incompatible with any JRiver, VLC and/or Foobar functionality, like audio pitch shift and time rate playback of uncompressed WAV or FLAC files?

OTOH, perhaps DIRAC Live ART will be the right fit for me?

 
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In any case, since my system won't have any low end without my subs, I need to use the best sounding 8 channel DAC I can afford-and the RC software without the steepest learning curve while imposing the least gain loss.

Again, it is not the software that causes gain loss, it is how you use it. ALL room correction software will cause gain loss, that is how they work. You can avoid excessive gain loss by knowing what to correct and what not to correct. However, if you have 97dB/W/m mains, it seems as if you have a lot of headroom so it should be less of a concern for you than it is for many of us, myself included.

But what do you mean by "IF I need an ADC”? Doesn't everybody if they’re doing room correction? Most likely, you thought I meant some standalone ADC. No, it would be what you probably use: a single mic/preamp/ADC combo to take measurements for each channel, store the store the recording in a file for that channel and repeat with the next file for the next DAC channel, and so on. Yes?

What I meant is that you might need an ADC if you are using an analog source, e.g. turntable, R2R, etc. You can take measurements without a dedicated ADC, e.g. with a USB microphone like the UMIK-1. Basically there are two options when taking measurements - you can either use a condenser microphone, in which case you will need a mic preamp with built-in ADC and 48V Phantom power. The other alternative is a USB microphone.

And when done use all of those recordings to create and save a convolved waveform through which all audio content will pass through, yes?

Yes.

What MCH DAC do you use?

I have two 8 channel DAC's - RME Fireface UC, and Merging NADAC.

How likely then would they be too efficient to where I need to worry about gain loss from the software?

High efficiency speakers like yours have more headroom and you are less likely to need to worry about gain loss from DSP/DRC.

Regarding use of https://www.deqx.com/products/#features , it’s apparently not for passively crossed like mine. MiniDSP does now have an eight channel box https://www.minidsp.com/products/ht-series/flex-htx and while it may give good performance at that price point https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/minidsp-flex-htx.49512/page-7 there’s likely to be substantial sonic disparities between it and the HAPI (or Horus?)

That is true, DEQX and MiniDSP are more aimed towards people who wish to replace their passive crossovers with digital. However, they can be used in your scenario.

If you are asking about the sonic difference between the DAC's in DEQX/MiniDSP vs. Merging Hapi/Horus, and if you are asking for my opinion - then I will say that the difference is minimal. Verrrrrrrrry marginal when compared to the difference a well designed filter will make to the extent that it is not worth worrying about. However, I know full well the anxieties of audiophiles and I can even guess what other people would tell you on other forums. They are likely to say that Merging Hapi/Horus will sound better because it's what the pros use and because they have DSD. I think that Merging Hapi/Horus should be chosen because of the extra features they offer, not so much on sound quality. I have a longstanding policy not to tell people what to think, I give you information and you decide.

I just hope that I’d be able to scale the learning curves of DIRAC Live. Would https://www.roomeqwizard.com/ or be much harder and worth using instead?

I have not used Dirac so I don't know what features it has, or how easy it is to use. I am unable to compare it to REW, sorry. However, I have heard that Dirac is easy to use as far as DRC is concerned. The downsides of Dirac (for me) is that it is expensive, and it outputs proprietary filters which must be hosted on Dirac's own convolver.

REW is free and nearly everybody on ASR uses it. I don't think it is difficult to use at all, but that's because I know it so well. There is a minor learning curve involved.

Speaking of convolvers (not that I yet have any experience creating them), I searched [ JRiver convolution vs ] and found

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...ds/a-comparison-of-convolution-engines.43290/

While still too ignorant to pass any judgements on them, but unlike your speakers, as my main speakers are passively crossed, is there any reason not to use the convolver in JRiver?

That's my thread that you linked to! Yes, there are reasons not to use JRiver's convolver. It lacks some features found on other convolvers, e.g. only one filter bank, no individual channel gain, no ABX comparator. But if those do not apply to you, then it works just as well as any other convolver on that list.

But would the convolver engine in Acourate, Audiolense, Dirac Live, rePhase, etc be incompatible with any JRiver, VLC and/or Foobar functionality, like audio pitch shift and time rate playback of uncompressed WAV or FLAC files?

Not at all. You can pass signal from any music playback program (including JRiver and Roon) to any convolver.

OTOH, perhaps DIRAC Live ART will be the right fit for me?

You can decide what's best for you :) As mentioned, I do not have experience with Dirac so I have no comment.
 
Will Dirac Live ART run on Windows?
It does if you can get it.
Don't understand how you do master volume control/mute for the Hapi's outputs. Via a JRiver keyboard command or mouse drag?
The Hapi has a VC but I also control it from its web page with a mouse. Mostly, I use the DROK for Jriver VC.


61a9wzv6VnL._AC_SX679_.jpg


Possibly but not likely.
 
I did but, at times, I added 4 height channels. At the moment, my apartment is being renovated and all I have are headphones.
So, you installed two of these cards?https://www.merging.com/products/interfaces/option-cards#d-a8-d-a8-p
What do you use for a mic/pre/ADC for doing measurements?

No apparent truncated resolution? Nice.
Not needed with the gain/output abilities of the Hapi.
Yes, these unbalanced/balanced outputs are the highest I've yet to see in any consumer or pro audio model 8 channel DAC. Though I don't expect any gain loss problems with my main speakers and by using the right RC software correctly, it's reassuring to have this output capability.


Are all of your speakers passively crossed?

Btw, could I feed my Oppo 95 BD player's optical or coax SPDIF output to the Hapi?

As Hapi has no USB input and the main pc input is obviously via CAT cable, can I feed my pc directly to the Hapi without using a router? I don't do any in-house networking and my only internet connection is via Wi-Fi hotspot from my iPhone.
 
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In the end, all of us place different weightings on acceptable sound, cost, convenience, learning curve, and so on. The problem with forums like ASR and posts like mine is that we all speak with our own biases on how WE place the weightings which is the source of a lot of disagreements (for example, I don't think differences between DAC's is that important). You need to weigh up your priorities first.

Yes, I would agree that most 8 channel DACs probably likely sound virtually the same. Certainly, Exasound, Prism, Motu and Merging use the same or very similar ESS DAC chips, and their implementation of same may be nearly identical. But there may be not so subtle audible differences between any of those MCH DACs https://www.stereophile.com/content/okto-research-dac8-pro-da-processor and stereo versions from the same brand. https://www.stereophile.com/content/okto-dac8-stereo-da-processor . Why else would NADAC have a feature allowing its 8 DAC channels to be folded into two if its designers didn't know that doing so it would enhance sound quality for straight stereo use?

Furthermore, in any one year there are 10 or more stereo DACs priced from $5K and up. At those price points more can be put into design and parts quality, and listening tests by multiple users and reviewers do tend to qualify these efforts. Likewise, discrete output stage circuitry and separate power supply chassis likely further improve sound quality. In any game, we usually get what we pay for; that a brand's 8 channel DAC would sound as good as their stereo DAC version when the latter is twice the price would exceedingly defy any sensible business logic.

Were it not for the much higher cost and potential clocking problems I'd be tempted to use three higher end stereo DACs to obtain my need six DAC channels. But I had Jim Salk clone Gary Dahl's Altec ultra-low distortion midwoofers https://galibierdesign.com/wp-content/uploads/wa-trip_gary-d.jpg (though not the rest of his speaker system). https://www.diyaudio.com/community/threads/beyond-the-ariel.100392/page-360 And they only play done to 70Hz, so subs were unavoidable. On the bright side, Geddes, Toole and Welti showed that "distributed bass arrays", even without room correction, tend to yield natural sounding concert like bass in less than ideal rooms So I seemed obliged to spend a bundle on four of these subs. https://www.salksound.com/model.php?model=Rythmik+12+Subwoofer

This makes a single 8 channel DAC box the only practical option. But it's too bad that they didn't consider revamping the Hapi for the MK2 model, including the chassis.

Rather than revamping the headphone amp, I wish Merging could have found some way to further increase the sonic qualities of the DAC channel output stages, even though that would certainly have resulted in a very big price increase. The trouble is there's only so much space on those cards-and in the Hapi chassis-to implement any such circuit improvements. And as described in the above video, even more obnoxious is having to pay for loads and loads of "pro audio" signal routing and networking capabilities all of which I will NEVER have reason to use! Had the Okto DAC 8 Pro, Prism Titan or other 8 channel DAC delivered the Hapi's higher balanced and unbalanced output voltages at lower distortion numbers I'd have gone for one of them instead, but I wanted to err on the side of caution.

I do have little doubt that I will be thrilled by what the Hapi, a properly convolved filter, my passively crossed mains and subs can do for my best recordings, and even for those troubled ones which may be able to benefit from some first aid. https://www.izotope.com/en/products/rx.html

BUT the least that Merging and/or its sales reps should have done by now is to create a HAPI FOR AUDIOPHILES video that ignores what for us is so much useless Hapi bloatware and instead streamlines the steps for setting up a 2.x+ stereo/multi-subwoofer system or 5.3 surround system. I don't think that's asking for much in the way of more relevant tutorials considering that more audiophiles are looking to those like Merging for a straight MCH DAC solution, yes?? There certainly are no such videos to be found on youtube.

And as you mentioned, another issue that definitely needs coverage in that video is the DS-25 connectivity for wiring balanced (XLR) and unbalanced (RCA) cables to the Hapi's DAC card outputs-though I suppose that will be up to users to strip and solder their own RCA/XLR unbalanced/balanced DS-25 cables in appropriate lengths. What make/model cable to use typically use?

Also, I don't plan on subscribing to any movie streaming service anytime soon, so will usually use JRiver and my pc's internal BD drive to play BDs and DVDs. But could I feed my Oppo 95 BD player's optical or coax SPDIF stereo outputs to the Hapi?

And can I feed my pc directly to the Hapi via CAT cable without using a router? I don't do any in-house networking and my only internet connection is via Wi-Fi hotspot from my iPhone.
 
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Also, about the Hapi's optional DA8P DSD card, is that only for playback of DSD content like SACDs, or can it upsample CDs?
 
Also, about the Hapi's optional DA8P DSD card, is that only for playback of DSD content like SACDs, or can it upsample CDs?
No upsampling in the Hapi. Do it upstream, if you need to.
 
Were it not for the much higher cost and potential clocking problems I'd be tempted to use three higher end stereo DACs to obtain my need six DAC channels.

My Merging NADAC has a claimed SINAD of -118dB, a claim that I have verified with an E1DA. That is more than good enough and I feel no need to upgrade for sound quality reasons. The only reason to upgrade for me is to gain more functionality - more DAC channels, and a mic input would be nice.

But I had Jim Salk clone Gary Dahl's Altec ultra-low distortion midwoofers https://galibierdesign.com/wp-content/uploads/wa-trip_gary-d.jpg (though not the rest of his speaker system). https://www.diyaudio.com/community/threads/beyond-the-ariel.100392/page-360 And they only play done to 70Hz, so subs were unavoidable. On the bright side, Geddes, Toole and Welti showed that "distributed bass arrays", even without room correction, tend to yield natural sounding concert like bass in less than ideal rooms So I seemed obliged to spend a bundle on four of these subs. https://www.salksound.com/model.php?model=Rythmik+12+Subwoofer

Yes, there are good reasons for using multiple subwoofers so no argument from me there. Having said that, I have two subwoofers in a relatively large room (6m x 8m x 3m) and I achieve good results, but I do optimize the subs for a relatively small listening position. I think the main benefits of multiple subs are more even distribution of bass around the room, as well as less excursion for each sub to achieve the same SPL (meaning less distortion). Even distribution of bass is less important if you are optimizing for a small listening area, and 2 subs is enough volume for me. In fact it is a bit too much.
https://www.salksound.com/model.php?model=Rythmik+12+Subwoofer
Rather than revamping the headphone amp, I wish Merging could have found some way to further increase the sonic qualities of the DAC channel output stages, even though that would certainly have resulted in a very big price increase. The trouble is there's only so much space on those cards-and in the Hapi chassis-to implement any such circuit improvements. And as described in the above video, even more obnoxious is having to pay for loads and loads of "pro audio" signal routing and networking capabilities all of which I will NEVER have reason to use!

I hear you. It also increases complexity, negatively affects ease of use, and increases potential for routing errors for us non-pro audio folk. Your suggestion for "Merging for Audiophiles" is a good one, they could implement a "Basic" and "Advanced" mode on their DAC's which hides some functions from the end user to make it less intimidating. Maybe something for Merging to consider.

And as you mentioned, another issue that definitely needs coverage in that video is the DS-25 connectivity for wiring balanced (XLR) and unbalanced (RCA) cables to the Hapi's DAC card outputs-though I suppose that will be up to users to strip and solder their own RCA/XLR unbalanced/balanced DS-25 cables in appropriate lengths. What make/model cable to use typically use?

You could buy a cable from Merging or construct one yourself. You will need the pinout diagram.

I have an RME HDSPE AIO card which uses a similar D25 output. Close reading of the manual shows different wiring methods for different applications. In the end, I selected the pinout diagram I needed, and got the pro audio shop I bought the card from to construct a cable for me.

Also, I don't plan on subscribing to any movie streaming service anytime soon, so will usually use JRiver and my pc's internal BD drive to play BDs and DVDs. But could I feed my Oppo 95 BD player's optical or coax SPDIF stereo outputs to the Hapi?

The Hapi has an ADAT (optical) input, so yes. It also has 8x AES/EBU inputs via D-sub, so you will need an appropriate cable constructed for that.

And can I feed my pc directly to the Hapi via CAT cable without using a router? I don't do any in-house networking and my only internet connection is via Wi-Fi hotspot from my iPhone.

Yes.

No upsampling in the Hapi. Do it upstream, if you need to.

Correct me if I am wrong, but all ESS DAC's convert PCM to DSD internally.
 
You could buy a cable from Merging or construct one yourself. You will need the pinout diagram.

The Hapi has an ADAT (optical) input, so yes. It also has 8x AES/EBU inputs via D-sub, so you will need an appropriate cable constructed for that.
Hateful thing about DS-25 connectivity from DAC output channels for my situation is that makes buying a premade (and probably far from cheap) unbalanced/mostly balanced cable improbable, since I wouldn't be reasonably certain of required the cable length + slack for the subs-or even the mains-during the room correction and speaker placement phase. So that pretty much forces me to get that pin out diagram and make my own cables. Any particular cable make/model suggestions for home made? Belden? Mogami?
 
Hateful thing about DS-25 connectivity from DAC output channels for my situation is that makes buying a premade (and probably far from cheap) unbalanced/mostly balanced cable improbable, since I wouldn't be reasonably certain of required the cable length + slack for the subs-or even the mains-during the room correction and speaker placement phase. So that pretty much forces me to get that pin out diagram and make my own cables. Any particular cable make/model suggestions for home made? Belden? Mogami?

Belden/Mogami don't make the correct D25 cable as far as I am aware. You need a breakout cable that looks like this:

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You need one with the correct pinout and wiring. I don't know what the Hapi requires since I don't own one, and even if I did I wouldn't know unless I delved into the manual. These cables can cost anywhere from $30 to $300 depending on length and other requirements. I suggest you order a short cable and connect the length of cable that you need to it, this allows you to be flexible with cable lengths and not have it baked in.

The only problem with these cables is that they are not widely available, it is unlikely you can pop into your corner store and pick one up. However they are easily available from Amazon, AliExpress, and the like. And if all else fails, they can be constructed. That the Hapi uses this cable is not a dealbreaker, it is an inconvenience. I suggest that you don't worry about the cable, it should not be a factor for your purchase decision.
 
You need one with the correct pinout and wiring. I don't know what the Hapi requires since I don't own one, and even if I did I wouldn't know unless I delved into the manual. These cables can cost anywhere from $30 to $300 depending on length and other requirements. I suggest you order a short cable and connect the length of cable that you need to it, this allows you to be flexible with cable lengths and not have it baked in.
Duh, I had nightmares about having to strip and crimp wires on the DS plug end! Just wire the end of one cable unbalanced for my mains amp, leave the rest balanced (default?) for my subs and do the same with the lengths of "extension" cables with XLR connectors which mate with those on the breakout cable.
 
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