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Why bass management makes my life tedious

Chromatischism

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Lazy? That is arrogant of you.
Well I'm sorry, but if someone buys this kind of gear and has these tools available and doesn't use them, then complains about the result and gives the gear a bad name, then yeah, that is laziness. And maybe more arrogant than me.
 

Soundmixer

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You don't actually need powerful onboard processing at all anymore, no. Dirac and Genelec both use the cloud for computing their filters. Once the filters for every channel are calculated, the hardware for implementing those filters is quite cheap.

Dirac and Genelec are as expensive as Storm/Trinnov to most consumers. It does not matter if the processing power is in the cloud, or in the processor, the cost of highly customized BM is expensive to most folks.


Dirac seems to be waking up to the fact that they can eat everybody else's lunch by trickling their solutions down to low/mid range consumer AVRs. Because everyone else in the business including Denon/Audyssey has been stagnant for over a decade.

I agree that Denon's implementation of Audyssey has been stagnant, but please show me where Dirac has been trickling down to low/midrange AVR's. I know that Onkyo has announced support of Dirac, but where is the product? Another question I have is if these low/midrange-cost AVR's will have the processing power to get the best results from Dirac?

I am not sure "eating everyone's lunch" is assured here. It all depends on the processing power, and therefore the end result. The devil is in the details, and it is in short supply at this point.
 

Chromatischism

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I don't agree with Denon being stagnant for a decade, in fact the development of the app from 2016 to date has brought great improvements.

Not to turn this into a room eq discussion, but you know how they say "you get what you pay for"? I believe with Audyssey we are getting more than we pay for, and with Dirac we are paying for more than we get. We want more, though. Something in-between. I think Audyssey should be further developed taking into account all of the fixes and features it deserves even if it raised the price of Sound United AVR's a little bit. Or, just make the changes app-only and put the extra cost on the app so it's an optional upgrade.
 

Soundmixer

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I don't agree with Denon being stagnant for a decade, in fact the development of the app from 2016 to date has brought great improvements

I agree to a point the app has brought great improvements, but it has its limitations, and certainly more than Dirac has. The first limitation of the app is not being able to generate a flat frequency response, and being able to alter it. You are stuck with the reference curve, and there is no way around the high-frequency roll-off which I think is a bit severe. The second is the cumbersome curve editor.


Not to turn this into a room eq discussion, but you know how they say "you get what you pay for"? I believe with Audyssey we are getting more than we pay for, and with Dirac we are paying for more than we get

I've worked with both, and I disagree. Audyssey has not done a single improvement to its software implementation since XT32 came out. While the app certainly has given it more flexibility, the overall program remains unchanged for years. That cannot be said about Dirac, which has gone through quite a few intenerations since it was introduced. Third, Dirac Bass management allows for EQ of more than two subs. Audyssey does not offer that. Dirac also does bass blending, and measures each sub individually then measures and corrects the response of all of the subs together. Audyssey does not do this. Based on this, you are right. You get what you pay for, and Dirac is worth the price based on these processes alone.


I think Audyssey should be further developed taking into account all of the fixes and features it deserves even if it raised the price of Sound United AVR's a little bit.

According to Chris Audyssey is no longer doing updates to Audyssey. So there is no chance this is going to happen.
 

Trell

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Third, Dirac Bass management allows for EQ of more than two subs. Audyssey does not offer that. Dirac also does bass blending, and measures each sub individually then measures and corrects the response of all of the subs together. Audyssey does not do this.

Audyssey can EQ more than two independent subwoofers but no AVR manufacturer has yet offered more than two. Sad to see that development of Audyssey is stopped.

https://audyssey.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/212343803-SubEQ-HT-vs-MultEQ-XT32?sort_by=created_at

"Audyssey Labs July 10, 2012 16:23
Hi Jay, this is already available from Audyssey. However no AVR maker has yet allowed control of 4 independent subs."
 

Chromatischism

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I've worked with both, and I disagree. Audyssey has not done a single improvement to its software implementation since XT32 came out. While the app certainly has given it more flexibility, the overall program remains unchanged for years. That cannot be said about Dirac, which has gone through quite a few intenerations since it was introduced. Third, Dirac Bass management allows for EQ of more than two subs. Audyssey does not offer that. Dirac also does bass blending, and measures each sub individually then measures and corrects the response of all of the subs together. Audyssey does not do this. Based on this, you are right. You get what you pay for, and Dirac is worth the price based on these processes alone.
I'm aware of what each is capable of, but the price disparity in my opinion is not worth it. Dirac is a $3-4k investment to get multi-sub capability that seems to be a prettier version of MSO. Top tier Audyssey is only a $1k investment. I am simply saying there is a huge disparity in price and consumers don't have options in between.
 

Soundmixer

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I'm aware of what each is capable of, but the price disparity in my opinion is not worth it. Dirac is a $3-4k investment to get multi-sub capability that seems to be a prettier version of MSO. Top tier Audyssey is only a $1k investment. I am simply saying there is a huge disparity in price and consumers don't have options in between.

I use Audyssey AND Dirac, and I assure you the price you pay for Dirac is worth it. I have four subs in both my studio and HT and the ability to EQ each sub, apply separate delays, and the bass blending is most certainly worth the price. There is no way in hell I could achieve the bass performance I get in either room with Audyssey XT32. Now if you only use one sub, I can see your point.
 

Soundmixer

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Audyssey can EQ more than two independent subwoofers but no AVR manufacturer has yet offered more than two. Sad to see that development of Audyssey is stopped.

https://audyssey.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/212343803-SubEQ-HT-vs-MultEQ-XT32?sort_by=created_at

"Audyssey Labs July 10, 2012 16:23
Hi Jay, this is already available from Audyssey. However no AVR maker has yet allowed control of 4 independent subs."

The ability may be there, but if no one offers it, then it is not really there.
 

Chromatischism

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I use Audyssey AND Dirac, and I assure you the price you pay for Dirac is worth it. I have four subs in both my studio and HT and the ability to EQ each sub, apply separate delays, and the bass blending is most certainly worth the price. There is no way in hell I could achieve the bass performance I get in either room with Audyssey XT32. Now if you only use one sub, I can see your point.
Audyssey/Denon/Marantz handles 2 subs very well, but a MiniDSP will get you to 4 for far less money than Dirac. Even better if you use MSO.
 

Soundmixer

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Audyssey/Denon/Marantz handles 2 subs very well, but a MiniDSP will get you to 4 for far less money than Dirac. Even better if you use MSO.

I guess if your focus is on the coin, then you are right. I am looking for performance and ease of use - and having previously used the Audyssey/MiniDSP combo, it is not its strong suit. I would rather use an integrated product like a processor with Dirac built-in.
 
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Chromatischism

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Performance is splendid. In fact, Audyssey (even without a MiniDSP) handles dual subs better than Dirac until you spend $3-4k. I understand wanting something that lets you push a button and not have to do more tweaking, though. I don't mind it.
 

Soundmixer

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Performance is splendid. In fact, Audyssey (even without a MiniDSP) handles dual subs better than Dirac until you spend $3-4k. I understand wanting something that lets you push a button and not have to do more tweaking, though. I don't mind it.

Everyone has their priorities. Your focus is on cost, mine is on performance and ease of use. I am willing to spend the $3-4 for the latter, and I am not interested in paying less for more tedium and complexity. The idea that you can just push a button and not have to do any tweaking shows you have never used Dirac. You are totally overselling your point here, and I am not buying what you are selling.
 

Chromatischism

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Everyone has their priorities. Your focus is on cost, mine is on performance and ease of use. I am willing to spend the $3-4 for the latter, and I am not interested in paying less for more tedium and complexity. The idea that you can just push a button and not have to do any tweaking shows you have never used Dirac. You are totally overselling your point here, and I am not buying what you are selling.
I have used Dirac v1 and v2 (v3 did not make major changes to results except to enable DLBC, a $ addon) and Audyssey XT32.

My results with Audyssey for my subs was better, and with less effort. Dirac required a lot of messing with phase on the subs and I could never get it sounding as good even though measurements were close. And, it lacked Dynamic EQ for when my volume levels were lower.

Full-range correction with Dirac was better, but my current speakers and room don't need it.

The ease of use I was speaking of with Dirac was with regard to DLBC's genetic bass algorithm. It takes much of the complexity of setting up multiple subs away from the user and there is value in that. If you want to do that with Audyssey (that is, 3 or more subs) then you need a MiniDSP and ideally MSO, and there is a learning curve.
 

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I have used Dirac v1 and v2 (v3 did not make major changes to results except to enable DLBC, a $ addon) and Audyssey XT32.

My results with Audyssey for my subs was better, and with less effort. Dirac required a lot of messing with phase on the subs and I could never get it sounding as good even though measurements were close. And, it lacked Dynamic EQ for when my volume levels were lower.

If Dirac required a lot of messing around with the phase on your sub, you were obviously missing something on how to work with it. I had no problem whatsoever aligning 4 subs using SFM. It was easy as heck. As far as the pile of shitake called dynamic EQ, you can have it. I have never had a need for it, and it sounds like crap anyway.


Full-range correction with Dirac was better, but my current speakers and room don't need it.

The ease of use I was speaking of with Dirac was with regard to DLBC's genetic bass algorithm. It takes much of the complexity of setting up multiple subs away from the user and there is value in that. If you want to do that with Audyssey (that is, 3 or more subs) then you need a MiniDSP and ideally MSO, and there is a learning curve.

I guess if you want to spend all of your time tinkering away, then Audyssey is your baby. I would rather be watching movies and listening to music than spending countless hours tweaking away trying to achieve that impossible perfection. I already know how to set up multiple subs, so there is no value in using a system that is overly complex and tedious. Dirac does take away the complexity, which means it is doing its job.
 
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audio2920

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I wouldn't quite say it's not as good scientifically. To smooth bass out you want multiple sources, and the typical BM -> one sub setup actually does the opposite. I would expect in a typical mix the LCR low bass is somewhat spread out among all 3 channels. But this is exclusively a 1 sub problem.

You're absolutely right, and that was a slightly off the cuff comment on my behalf - I should clarify what I meant by non-BM not being as good "scientifically" - I should have used the word "mathematically": All I was referring to is that obviously in BM the signals essentially sum mathematically without error, whereas summing in-room is "imperfect" in the sense that two signals 180 degrees out of phase do not totally cancel out, even in systems with good time/phase alignment, but instead give you wide stereo.

It could be debated until the cows come home which is the "correct" presentation for bass content. Indeed, it pretty much has been on every internet forum...! However, ignoring room issues [which I have to when mixing] then to say BM is "better" is actually just like saying mono is better than surround sound... :D

Regardless, the reality is we largely mix HE with BM because it's common. Like @Soundmixer often says, we can't mix for ALL systems, but I do like to consider as wide a variety as possible by spotting around the film and checking with and without BM and in different speaker configs etc in case there's something I can do in any given mix to help "compatibility" across the different playback formats, while not too heavily detracting from our primary listening config of 7.1.4.

But, given a time limited schedule, I have to take in to consideration that the while summing/presentation discrepancies we're talking about sometimes amount to several decibels at LF, they're often a long way from being the biggest fish we have to fry in a nearfield mix.
 

Trell

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As far as the pile of shitake called dynamic EQ, you can have it. I have never had a need for it, and it sounds like crap anyway.

Defensive? If you only listen at reference level you have no need for dynamic EQ or similar, but that Dirac does not have it is one major reason for not switching to it. Since I only have two subs XT32 works pretty well, especially considering the price compared to an equivalent Dirac version. For sure there are features that I would like to have in XT32 and that Audyssey have stopped developing it is discouraging.
 

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But, given a time limited schedule, I have to take in to consideration that the while summing/presentation discrepancies we're talking about sometimes amount to several decibels at LF, they're often a long way from being the biggest fish we have to fry in a nearfield mix.
As a possible segue to another thread (Thank you for your generous responses here BTW) if you're open to it because of your experience mixing for the theater release, your nearfield mix comment brings up a question I've always had: when determining Atmos overhead effects during your nearfield mix, the current complaint among consumers is the lack of these effects in HE action movies like Aquaman. I'm just a bit confused why some action movies like MI: Fallout can have such amazing Atmos objects while other action movies literally have nothing from the Atmos overhead speakers. In a conversation I had with @Soundmixer it appears that the HE disc release is simply converting the theater release mix but he's not removing overhead effects of they were already there to begin with. So this takes us to the theater mix - is it the creator's sincere belief that overhead Atmos effects should be absent or is their absence more a function of (1) budget/time constraints, (2) studio ambivalence (do it this way, no exceptions), or (3) mixer's inexperience?
 

Chromatischism

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If Dirac required a lot of messing around with the phase on your sub, you were obviously missing something on how to work with it. I had no problem whatsoever aligning 4 subs using SFM.
SFM is a Harman technology - I thought we were talking about Dirac? If you're using Bass Control (Dirac's multi-sub genetic algorithm) see my comment above.
As far as the pile of shitake called dynamic EQ, you can have it. I have never had a need for it, and it sounds like crap anyway.
IME over many years and systems, DEQ is a great feature and I actually stuck with Audyssey because Dirac does not have an answer for loudness compensation. There are several reasons someone could get bad results using DEQ and if you understand them you can avoid those issues.
I guess if you want to spend all of your time tinkering away, then Audyssey is your baby. I would rather be watching movies and listening to music than spending countless hours tweaking away trying to achieve that impossible perfection. I already know how to set up multiple subs, so there is no value in using a system that is overly complex and tedious.
There's really not much to it (for 2 subs). You run the measurements, it will align and EQ the subs, then the only "tedious" part is adjusting the distance of both subs to smooth the crossover to your speakers. Which, by the way, is also required with Dirac Live.

As I said, you only get into multi-sub capability that does all of this for you with Dirac after spending 3-4x as much. There's nothing wrong with it now that they finally seem to have addressed the bugs but (my opinion) I'd never spring for it unless the cost is cut in half (we're getting closer with new AVRs coming but we'll see how their quality and feature set is) and they develop a loudness compensation algorithm since I do not listen at reference level. Otherwise it seems incomplete to me.
 
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audio2920

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... is it the creator's sincere belief that overhead Atmos effects should be absent or is their absence more a function of (1) budget/time constraints, (2) studio ambivalence (do it this way, no exceptions), or (3) mixer's inexperience?

I don't think there's likely a straight answer for this I'm afraid. To those three points though, I think point (1) may carry some weight. If you're working in Atmos, in many ways it's just as easy to put FX in the overheads as anywhere else, but since working in Atmos is slower than 7.1 (despite what Dolby may tell you, or me) a view is still sometimes taken to effectively prep, tracklay and maybe even do some premixing in 7.1 and treat the "Atmos" element as an upmix in the final mix (i.e. at the end of the sound post process). I don't like this way of working, but sometimes it's just what happens. This workflow obviously lends itself less to overhead use, as once you've got something working in 7.1, picking up some FX and throwing them around the overheads can quite quickly break the integration of the mix, so there is more chances things will be left at Z=0 (i.e. ear level).

As Atmos becomes more commonplace, more and more films are being done "properly". That is to say, we're doing ever more in Atmos from the get-go. So I think, over time, things may settle down a bit in regard to overhead use.

I'm not sure studios (2) dictate this; certainly I've never been asked by a studio to do anything specific in this regard, although some studios do tend towards quite a small pool of mixers who may lean towards less overhead use, giving the impression it's at the studio's request?

To (3) inexperience; I don't think so. If anything, I suspect inexperienced mixers are more likely to throw sound around than the more experienced ones. I say this because I've worked alongside both (I still consider myself somewhere in the middle!) and generally the inexperienced treat it like it's their job to create ear candy, whereas the more experienced have the confidence to craft something that, while sonically pleasing, is simpler and more biased towards delivering emotion and support to the story than short term wow factor.

Some of my own thoughts on this are along these lines:

I think a big factor often overlooked is the cut of the picture, which we really have to follow because it's weird to put stuff overhead without visual reference to it. To break that down: (1) in the first instance, obviously some films (your MI example being a good one) have lots of opportunity for overhead use, whereas a lot of films happen at ground level and apart from the odd forest or rain scene in a metal roofed building etc, nothing really happens overhead in picture. Even in an action movie, if the camera follows everything that happens and keeps it centre frame, rather than things happening around us, we don't have as much opportunity for [obvious] surround/overhead use (2) That aside, little things, like whether the editor/director cut away as soon as something goes out of frame or hold on that shot for a half a second or so afterwards, make a big difference. Take a helicopter flying overhead; if it flies to camera but they cut away as soon as it reaches towards the top of the frame, there may not be much opportunity to put it's sound in the overheads, depending on where we go on the B side of that cut. If they hold the A side of that cut for another 12 frames (or more, whatever!) of course the sound can track it's movement out of vision. Or maybe, using the same example, the camera moves to follow the helicopter and it never actually goes properly overhead. We still might cheat a bit of overhead in, but it won't go full tilt. (3) If the film is 98% happening in frame, then even if there is a brief moment of action [for example] 40 minutes in where the overheads could be used, we may shy away from it more than if the film had established itself like that earlier on. Otherwise, it's a sudden moment of "Oh, we've got overhead speakers" followed by "oh, they've gone again"

Also the director (or whoever's at the helm at the time of the mix!) may be afraid of sound effects in general... They've become used to hearing their film in stereo in the cutting copy, where they've just got some commercial music instead of their score, a few crappy sound fx put in by the picture editor, and the dialog. Suddenly, they're sitting in a cinema sized room, we're throwing new stuff at them, and they can get freaked out if we're not careful. FX playing from the overheads is likely more separated from the rest of the mix to them, and they're more likely to ask us to remove it because they're not used to it. My suspicion is, when you've got a director like this, more fx will survive elsewhere, not because they specifically like it, but because it doesn't grab their attention so much - or at the very least - it's a more difficult note for them to give us because they don't know what to say!! I'm actually unsure, even on my mixes, how much of an overall effect this has. (I will add though, I don't mind a director culling sound effects, regardless of panning, if it makes the story telling better!)

Lastly, there's bound to be an element of personal preference; be it the mixer's, the supervising sound editor's or the director's, and there's probably little standardisation of personal preference possible... I think overheads can be perceived as distraction unless the picture specifically shows us what's going on, so outside of that scenario, there's quite a fine line of density vs detail that has to be walked. I.e. the more sounds you have going on, the less "focused" the mix is. And it's a preference that has always existed in all formats, I guess it's just more obvious to talk about it in terms of overhead use than LCR or surround. If someone's pre-disposed to a less dense mix, that will translate to less overhead use of course.
 

Soundmixer

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SFM is a Harman technology - I thought we were talking about Dirac? If you're using Bass Control (Dirac's multi-sub genetic algorithm) see my comment above.

SFM can be used with any equalization technology that allows you separate control of multiple subwoofers.....preferably four. SFM is nothing more than distributing subwoofers in a way to reduce seat-to-seat frequency variables. Dirac gives you full individual control over 4 subs, Audyssey does not without some assistance from MiniDSP, hence why I don't use Audyssey for this set up.

IME over many years and systems, DEQ is a great feature and I actually stuck with Audyssey because Dirac does not have an answer for loudness compensation. There are several reasons someone could get bad results using DEQ and if you understand them you can avoid those issues.

If you have a dedicated theater, there is no need for DEQ. If you don't have any need to play your system at low volume levels, there is no need for DEQ. DEQ works in situations where the optimum listening volume is unachievable for various reasons. Just because one does not listen at reference levels does not mean you actually need it. I don't listen at reference levels, and I have never needed it. My rooms are quiet enough that there is no need for DEQ or Dynamic volume to keep the sound above the ambient level of the room or to correct the falling bass and highs at any volume I listen to.

There's really not much to it (for 2 subs). You run the measurements, it will align and EQ the subs, then the only "tedious" part is adjusting the distance of both subs to smooth the crossover to your speakers. Which, by the way, is also required with Dirac Live.

I have four subs, and Audyssey in its current incarnation cannot deal with 4 subs....hence why I use Dirac.

As I said, you only get into multi-sub capability that does all of this for you with Dirac after spending 3-4x as much. There's nothing wrong with it now that they finally seem to have addressed the bugs but (my opinion) I'd never spring for it unless the cost is cut in half (we're getting closer with new AVRs coming but we'll see how their quality and feature set is) and they develop a loudness compensation algorithm since I do not listen at reference level. Otherwise it seems incomplete to me.

I have said this multiple times, cost is your issue, it is not mine. Cost is not a selling point for me, performance, ease of use, full integration in the processor, and the ability to control the parameters of 4 separate subs without additional equipment are mine Our listening environments are obviously not the same, and it is clear neither is our setups. We both have very different goals and budgets, so I am not sure there is anything left to add to this discussion.
 
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