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Old 08-05-2008   #39
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 68
Default Re: High end pre/pro's. Are they worth it???

Originally Posted by wes View Post
Well thank you I don't hate Audyssey I just have heard that it still is not that great I have not experienced myself and should definitively do that. I just believe that one should use minimum equalization to get the sound that is recorded on SACD. I am a big fan of SACD and don't have any more Vinyl!! Is there a big difference between Audyssey MultEQ XT and Pro?

I don't need video processing, I watch primarily Blu Ray and my Oppo player does a great job at upscaling older DVDs which I avoid like the plague as they look grainy on a 10 feet wide 2:35 screen

Yes I love the look of the Classť but I am not sure that it is worth $5500 more!!!
If you have been through the huge Official Audyssey Forum - it's on AVS, I think - you will note quite a few loud Audyssey blasters, who got it and then were deeply dissatisfied. As you continue through the thread, you find that they all did something stupid during or after the calibration. They did not use enough mike positions. They did not eliminate noise in the room from refrigerators, projector fans, etc. They held the Audyssey mike in their hand and did not use a tripod. They expected Audyssey to correctly set the speaker to large or small automatically. They did not set their subwoofer correctly before the calibration. They set the mike too close to a wall. They set the mike below the top of their listening chair. Etc., etc. Over and over the same stupid things. Or, they expected their single point hand-held Radio Shack meter readings to be perfectly flat after the calibration. And, so it goes. Although, in several cases, the Audyssey calibration revealed a busted speaker driver the owner was unaware of, but the complainer had blamed the sonic problems on Audyssey, anyway.

I have seen no case where one of these whiners was not turned into an Audyssey lover by Chris Kyriakakis himself, the Audyssey CTO and a principal designer. This is rather unprecedented for an audio product to have someone like this to personally respond to problems and complaints. He has patiently fielded the same questions over and over as well as many deeper technical questions. When the complainers eventually did a correct calibration - it's not hard, but you have to be careful - they completely changed their tune from haters to lovers. Bottom line: it's easy to do, but it's just as easy to screw it up, too. Once they do it right, they love it.

I think the technology is incredibly sophisticated. I do not know if you really know the difference between the digital , mathematical filtering done in Digital Signal Processing engines and traditional EQ - graphic or parametric. The DSP filtering done by Audyssey covers hundreds of points across the frequency spectrum, a number to which traditional EQ cannot get remotely close. And, DSP filtering as practiced by Audyssey does not have the phase shift side effects that traditional EQ does. Plus, Audyssey has a remarkably sophisticated multi-point "averaging" scheme to dramatically increase the sweet spot where EQ has made the sound much better than before. So, Audyssey EQ is a very advanced new animal with little in common with traditional EQ that dovetails extremely well with todayís DSP-based AVR's and pre-pros. The DSP is already there in these units for other reasons, so why not just have Audyssey do its process on the signal while it's there. There is no comparison between Audyssey and traditional EQ. Itís like night and day.

Yes, Audyssey cannot handle chronic room reflection based response issues. It handles modes and nulls (within limits) fairly well, but not serious decay-time issues like ringing or slap echo. But, I do not think these are issues for an amateur like you or me to tackle. The perfect room requires both careful measurement and treatment by a knowledgeable expert plus EQ. But, room treatments, no matter how expensively done, are not going to provide the flattest response. Treatments are typically a blunt instrument operating over a wide frequency range that is not really precise. They affect frequencies where there is a problem the same as they do frequencies where there is no problem. I believe proper EQ, like Audyssey, can always make the room response smoother within the listening area, because it is very precise about level, frequency and Q in its filtering in achieving the target curve.

There is another aspect of Audyssey that is not talked about, but which is extremely important. Audyssey EQ corrects speaker response in the room adjusting each channel to the same target curve. Even identical speakers placed in different locations in the room (including a well treated room) can sound very different. Assuming good speakers, Audyssey virtually eliminates this, so that each channel has nearly identical voicing above the subwoofer crossover point. This is extremely helpful to those who have committed the no-no of mixing and matching different manufacturersí speakers in their systems. But, it helps even those with identical speakers on each channel. The result is a sonic integration that simply cannot be achieved in any other way. You have to hear this to believe it.

At this point, I respect the credentials of only two approaches to home theater EQ. First is Audyssey, backed by the extensive research of Drs. Tomlinson Holman and Chris Kyriakakis at THX and USC. Second, is the Anthem D-2 approach backed by years of research done by Dr. Floyd Toole at the Canadian Research Council. The two have similarities, but many big and important differences. No one else Ė not Yamaha, not Krell, not Bob Stuart at Meridian, and not Classe Ė has the extent of research and experience backing up their EQ capability. They are choosing a different, proprietary route to EQ not because they have something better; they donít. They are trying to achieve something very important in marketing called product differentiation. Krell or Classe or Meridian does not want to be just a more expensive Denon pre/pro. They need to be different to try to justify their higher prices. On the other hand, I have no idea what Yamaha, Pioneer or Sony are thinking. You will note, though, that Wisdom Audio had the wisdom to use Audyssey MultEQ XT, the same as on the stock DTC 9.8/9.9, on their $35,000 and up new speaker/electronics system.

As a sidelight, I keep seeing references to this new Neptune EQ here in this forum. My take from their terrible website is itís an automated fixed- frequency- interval, graphic EQ, with an order of magnitude fewer frequency bands than Audyssey can handle. With mike calibration in 4 minutes, it must be single point, not 8 like MultEQ XT or 32 like Audyssey Pro. Itís a new expensive wrapper for old-style EQ. My prediction is that this overpriced product, and, if there is any justice, the company will fail fairly quickly. I would not get near it with a 10-foot pole.

You wanted to know about Audyssey Pro. It works with the Integra DTC 9.8/9.9 and itís Onkyo siblings, plus the Denon pre/pro and some of the better Denon AVRís. You get a nice kit with all you need in a nice carry-bag. The mike is individually calibrated, not batch calibrated like the one that comes with Integra, Onkyo, Denon or Marantz. You get a decent tripod with mike boom, cables, mike preamp, usb/serial converter, etc. plus the all-important Pro software for your PC. You can get a good review of it in Kal Rubinsonís Music-in-the-Round column in Stereophile. Itís on line. But, bear in mind, that Kal understates everything and is very savy technically, but is somewhat non-committal about sonic, listening virtues. But, heís great. I like him anyway.

Pro is more precise, not only because of the better mike, but also because the calculations of the filters are done on the PC, not in the pre/proís DSP. I did 15 calibration points in Pro for my 3-seat wide listening area. MultEQ XT is limited to 8. You get to audition a few modifications to the standard target curve and sub crossover points. You save the one configuration you like to the pre/pro and you are done. Everybody wishes there were, but, no, there is no saved copy of the calibration on the PC.

I gave you my take on it before in this forum. Itís a winner. I hear more natural detail, more space, more depth. For some it might be a little subtle, but there is no sonic downside whatsoever. MultEQ XT was fabulous; this is even more so. To me, itís easily worth the $600 including license Audyssey currently charges audiophiles for it. You can always repeat the calibration if you change the room or components. For some, it might be too technical to do, but I had no serious problems with it.
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