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Why aren't we pushing for more 4-8 channel DACS for a quality Stereo setup

B&WTube

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AS MY TITLE CAUSED CONFUSION- THIS IS FOR A STEREO SETUP (NOT THEATER OR SURROUND)
It seems that the optimal way forward with sound quality is to get everything refined in the digital world, before sending it to great amps. In my opinion, this means using software to set active crossovers and DSP, then sending it through a great reclocking and DAC setup, and then having separate amps/amp modules for their respective driver(s). Not having the expense of passive crossover components, better signal preservation, more efficiently, and the ability to easily do steep roll offs is a big deal, IMO. However, it seems that there is not really a big push for this, in that there aren't really any great measuring DAC's for 4-8 channels.

MiniDSP has good software, but products don't really measure well. Motu has some workable things but they tend to be more professional use, so they are often huge with way more stuff than you need (because it is recording studio stuff). Allo has the Piano DAC, which is fine for what it is, but nothing stellar.

I looked at just taking something like 2 Topping DAC's, but apparently there are issues with not having a master clock to synch them together.

So, I am just wondering, why more people aren't wanting to do this type of setup, and if people do want this- how can we lobby to get Topping/SMSL/Etc. to make a DAC so we can start ditching our passive crossovers and get everything dialed in better than ever.
 
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mdsimon2

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I have the opposite take, I think free software DSP on cheap hardware (RPi4) has changed the game. It is now easier than ever to implement an active system using high performance USB DACs. Besides the usual multichannel DACs (Okto, MOTU, Focusrite, RME, etc) things like the miniDSP U-DIO8 or the RME Digiface also allow you to sync multiple stereo DACs.

Michael
 

ElNino

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I agree with you... I'd like to see more low-cost options in this space. But it's a very niche area, with a narrow pricing window. The solution would have to have higher DAC performance than a used MOTU 828mk3, but also cost less than an RME Digiface USB + two Topping D10s.
 

abdo123

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I looked at just taking something like 2 Topping DAC's, but apparently there are issues with not having a master clock to synch them together.

that's just an issue with USB.

as @mdsimon2 mentioned above some digital interfaces can provide SPDIF inputs to DAC thus acting as the 'master' clock.

However i would really not recommend it just because the economic and physical effort required to get it working (not the individual gear, but the gear interacting with each other) is just not worth it. When AVRs are launching below 2000$ with Dirac Live and Dirac Live bass control.

Specially knowing that the best speakers in the world are active designs with digital inputs. so what's the point of going the extra mile?

Unless we're talking about Revel Salon 2 level of money here... then please hire me! :p
 

abdo123

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I agree with you... I'd like to see more low-cost options in this space. But it's a very niche area, with a narrow pricing window. The solution would have to have higher DAC performance than a used MOTU 828mk3, but also cost less than an RME Digiface USB + two Topping D10s.

D10 only has USB input, the SPDIF terminals are outputs.
 

charleski

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um...don't we have lots of these already....in AVRs?
For surround (rather than active crossovers), but even expensive processor-only units are barely able to manage 16bit performance.

I think the real issue is that the market for a bare-bones multichannel DAC is tiny, as it would require customers who are skilled in integrating the rest of the system. The only way to sell such a thing is as a complete setup, like the Dutch&Dutch 8c and similar active speakers.
 

mdsimon2

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Agree with others that this is a niche market and other than something like the JBL M2 is a completely DIY space. So I think the effort to get it working is in line with the difficulty of designing / building DIY speakers which is not trivial. Considering that prior to cheap DSP folks were DIYing active analog filters we are so much better off today.

Michael
 

Robin L

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First off, what does the pushing is demand. While tweaky audiophiles might be in search of ultimate SINAD, the real demand for surround sound is in home theater. And I would gather the requirements of home theater differ from the usual audiophile concerns in that more attention goes to image quality than sound quality. "Good enough" for home theater looks like your typical AVR. And surround sound never really caught on with "audiophiles". The LP is the current market success. Blu-Ray Audio is yet another surround failure, along with SACD and DVD-Audio. There really isn't that much of a demand for surround music.
 

ElNino

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First off, what does the pushing is demand. While tweaky audiophiles might be in search of ultimate SINAD, the real demand for surround sound is in home theater.

It's not just surround though... there's three separate groups who would benefit from this type of gear: (1) surround enthusiasts, (2) multi-way DIY speaker builders wanting to do crossovers in the digital domain, and (3) stereo listeners doing 2.1 or 2.2 crossovers in the digital domain. I wouldn't be surprised if the third group is the largest, and they are somewhat underserved right now.
 
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B&WTube

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I have the opposite take, I think free software DSP on cheap hardware (RPi4) has changed the game. It is now easier than ever to implement an active system using high performance USB DACs. Besides the usual multichannel DACs (Okto, MOTU, Focusrite, RME, etc) things like the miniDSP U-DIO8 or the RME Digiface also allow you to sync multiple stereo DACs.

Michael
I don't think that is the opposite take at all- it is what I am trying to do. I am using RPi4 with Camilla for both DSP and Active crossover control. This is great, BUT I can't just throw a Topping Dxxxx 6x out on it for $500 bucks and call it good- that is the issue.
 
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B&WTube

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um...don't we have lots of these already....in AVRs?
I think my title caused confusion. This is for a quality stereo setup, NOT surround sound.

First off, what does the pushing is demand. While tweaky audiophiles might be in search of ultimate SINAD, the real demand for surround sound is in home theater. And I would gather the requirements of home theater differ from the usual audiophile concerns in that more attention goes to image quality than sound quality. "Good enough" for home theater looks like your typical AVR. And surround sound never really caught on with "audiophiles". The LP is the current market success. Blu-Ray Audio is yet another surround failure, along with SACD and DVD-Audio. There really isn't that much of a demand for surround music.
I agree the pushing is the demand. To be clear- this has nothing to do with surround sound. This is for stereo use, so that you can process and power every driver in each of the two speakers separately. This makes designing speakers much easier, as you can roll off however you want. It also benefits pretty much every speaker to gut the passive crossovers and run this style. This is the ultimate in separation, clarity, and tunability.
 
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gene_stl

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In addition to a shortage of multi channel capable DACs , another shortage is small power amps that are reasonable for driving multi amped arrays.
Tom Christiansen's NeuroChrome amps come to mind but most power amps these days are bigger than you might want to connect directly to a tweeter or midrange.
One thing a three way high level passive crossover does, is that while it might eat half or more of your amplifier power, it does often protect drivers against turn on thumps and bumps.
 
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Robin L

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It's not just surround though... there's three separate groups who would benefit from this type of gear: (1) surround enthusiasts, (2) multi-way DIY speaker builders wanting to do crossovers in the digital domain, and (3) stereo listeners doing 2.1 or 2.2 crossovers in the digital domain. I wouldn't be surprised if the third group is the largest, and they are somewhat underserved right now.
Still sounds more like a small group of hobbyists than a market force.
 

AdamG

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I think my title caused confusion. This is for a quality stereo setup, NOT surround sound.
Updated the thread title for you. ;)
 
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B&WTube

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In addition to a shortage of multi channel capable DACs , another shortage is small power amps that are reasonable for driving multi amped arrays.
Tom Christiansen's NeuroChrome amps come to mind but most power amps these days are bigger than you might want to connect directly to a tweeter or midrange.
One thing a three way high level passive crossover does is that while it might eat half or more of your amplifier power, it does often protect drivers against turn on thumps and bumps.
Actually, I have been studying these largely under the tutelage of ASR member daniboun. There are finally some good options in the form of Class D, such as the TPA3255, MA12070, and the new GaN amps. With a good power supply and op amp, like the OPA 1656 these things are very good. I am doing a 2.1 budget build with a pair of these little guys https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005001623757092.html?spm=a2g0s.9042311.0.0.4eac4c4d1QCtNR . One will run L&R (80 each), and the other will run the sub at 160watts. Their sound quality will diminish beyond 70-80% max output (like most Class D), but that still leaves more than enough power for drivers I am using.
Check out some fully built chassis if you don't want to build your own, like the Aiyima A07 ( upgrade the opamp), Sabaj A20, and new Mini GaN (there are many more good ones).

Also, I am probably going to passive crossover my tweeters. I would love not to, but any noise bleeds through them (issue with the base minidsp), and the passive xover for tweeters are easily the cheapest and easiest to build. I hope to one day run them active, but I can't handle any HF noise.
 

mdsimon2

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I don't think that is the opposite take at all- it is what I am trying to do. I am using RPi4 with Camilla for both DSP and Active crossover control. This is great, BUT I can't just throw a Topping Dxxxx 6x out on it for $500 bucks and call it good- that is the issue.

What is wrong with the MOTU Ultralite Mk5? Right about your price range and good performance. Sure it probably has more inputs / outputs than you currently need but gives you plenty of options in the future, is pretty good for measuring electronics and is really quite compact (1U half rack).

Michael
 
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B&WTube

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Still sounds more like a small group of hobbyists than a market force.
Come on over the hobbyist pool- the water is fine! In all seriousness, anyone who is really pursuing great sound and isn't afraid of computer programs should be moving towards this setup.

I have been interested in it, ever since this guy took his brand new Bowers & Wilkins 801 D3's, ynaked the crossovers, and went active. According to him and others, the sound was much improved (I was more in shock from someone gutting brand new $30k speakers). However, now seems to be the perfect time for normal people to be able to get into this, because we finally have great DAC's that are affordable, as well as great affordable amps. A co-owner of a well known parts and kit supplier (who I hesitate to name without permission) has started to play with active crossovers for their custom speaker designs. He said that even a MiniDSP HD with mediocre amps tends to sound better than more expensive passive crossovers with great components powered by top of the line amps.

My final point would be (hopefully this is less controversial here than other forums), but Streaming music is now the unrivaled king. With Apple streaming things at over 2,200 kpbs, and Amazon HD music- its over. Sorry CD's and vinyl- we still love you and your sexy ambiance, but I have better quality and convenience at my fingertips. Since we already have it digital, lets go ahead and tune it to our room, and get every driver's signal separated out to go our speakers in the fashion everyone knows is best- horizontally and vertically bi-amped (or tri or quad).

Sorry for the long unsolicited diatribe, but I am trying to create the demand and I want you on board! :D
 
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