It sounds like you've probably
already seen the lengthy "Is DEQX A Game-Changer" thread.
I haven't used the streaming
function or the Ethernet interface of my HDP-5, so I can't comment on those
The speaker and room
"calibration" (i.e., correction) functions do indeed entail a
substantial learning curve, and can take a lot of time to fully optimize, if
you do it yourself. Which is what I did,
with my experiences having been recounted in some detail in the Game-Changer
thread. However, as you've probably seen at the DEQX site one or two paid
sessions of a few hours each with a "DEQXpert," conducted via the
Internet, can apparently get you there much more quickly. Also, the numerous
other functions the unit provides, including DAC and A/D converter functionality among others, can of course
be utilized without the speaker and/or room corrections.
A laptop or other computer running
Windows will have to be connected to the unit to perform the speaker and room
calibrations, and to introduce frequency response equalizations that may be
desired (which is done "on the fly," with its effects being heard
instantly), and to set up different “profiles.” When those things have
been accomplished to the user's satisfaction the computer can be disconnected
and removed if it isn't needed for streaming.
Depending on the inputs and outputs
that are provided in the various models, a DEQX can be inserted into the system
either before, after, or in place of the line stage. My HDP-5 can be used
in any of those ways, and I use it as my line stage, providing it with analog
and digital inputs from several sources.
Finally, keep in mind that
performing the speaker calibration process, which can bring any speaker that is
not "time coherent" (which means most speakers, including yours) much
closer to being so, requires that the speakers be moved to a position that is
as far away as possible from reflective surfaces such as walls, so that the
measurement microphone (which is placed 2 or 3 feet or so in front of the
speaker that is being measured) will pick up room reflections to as small a
degree as possible during that process. That figures to be problematical
with your 410 pound speakers. Room
correction, though, is performed subsequently and separately, with the speakers
in their normal position.
So was the time, effort, and expense
of my HDP-5 worth it to me in the end?
Absolutely. And as I described in
the Game-Changer thread, with my speakers (Daedalus Ulysses), and in my living
room/listening room, probably the most notable benefit was that recordings
having mediocre or poor sonics became significantly more listenable, while the
sonics of great recordings were not compromised and in some cases became
Almarg would be the resident expert on DEQX. Consider his feedback as reference grade material. You can take his advice to the bank.
It seems that your question should be divided into two parts:
Each one alone has a steep learning curve to ’get it right’ for High Fidelity. To get it just ’up & running’, no so much. Once they’re both tuned in, it definitely will be worth the effort. Plan on it taking several months, if not more. Most likely, your son would be instrumental in helping you navigate the IT part. Patience is the key.
Since I started streaming Tidal, I haven’t purchased a CD in 3 years. With millions of titles in their library, unlimited selections are instantly available within a split-second. It’s especially great for discovering new music.
It seemed in the posts, it mattered a great deal, which speaker you’re using.
Not really. Obviously, you have a very nice rig. To get streaming to sound comparable to your other sources, will require determination. The quality of my streaming now exceeds that of my CD transport/DAC combo. But, a lot of work went into making that happen. Most of that effort and expense went into clean power for the digital data flow. It was worth it.
@almarg: Thanks for your response. I did read what seemed like the “War and Peace” lengthy discussion on Deqx. I’m running strictly analog and am not sure this is for me. Guess I’m a dinosaur. I still have plans to make a couple of QRD 7’s for the back of my room. I think my system sounds sweet, but always looking for improvement, as we all are. I’m also considering a high-end EQ, that matches my systems quality. According to Dennis Foley, eq’s won’t help in frequency difficiencies that much.
@Almarg: Thinking once again, about getting the PreMate plus. I read you use your “5” unit as a line stage. Are you happy without a traditional line stage? I have an Aesthetix Calypso Signature I really like. I like the tube sound it gives, when playing both CDs, as well as my vinyl. I do have a Kora Hermès II dac I could incorporate into my system, for my CDs. Just need some added assurance and advice. I’ve spoken to Larry a few times by email and only need a laptop and microphone stand, before getting the unit on their 21 day trial. He claims that time will be sufficient, for me to decide to go, or no go. Pls render your advice.
This is technology and a subject that has intrigued myself as well.
However at present using an integrated amp it really is not going to work.
If I ever consider going to a pre/power amp combo again then the 5 would be of great interest.
Tech that I am definitely keeping a weather eye on!
My experience and opinions just represent one data point, of course, and certainly there are those who would prefer to use a DEQX in conjunction with a traditional line stage.
But FWIW my bias, generally speaking, is to place the burden of proof on adding anything to the signal path that isn’t necessary in terms of functionality. And I’ve been sufficiently happy with the sound of my system that I don’t have any desire to consider adding a separate line stage. Also, finding a place to physically put one in my system, which is in my living room, would be problematical from a practical and aesthetic standpoint.
In addition to numerous other system and listener dependencies that would enter into a preamp/no preamp decision it wouldn’t surprise me if in some cases the tradeoff would hinge on whether the DEQX’s balanced or unbalanced analog inputs and outputs are used. I’ve never tried the balanced analog i/o’s in conjunction with critical sources, as my power amp, headphone amp, and my one critical analog source (a Herron phono stage) have only unbalanced interfaces.
Another thing that may be relevant to that decision, depending on the particular system, is that a DEQX doesn’t provide much in the way of gain. See pages 165 and 166 of the manual
. And in fact the default/as delivered positions of the internal jumpers which affect that produce a **negative** gain (-6 db) from the unbalanced inputs to the unbalanced outputs. As you’ll see at the bottom of page 165 of the manual that is done to provide headroom for equalization (and for speaker and room corrections, although that isn’t explicitly stated). Although changing the position of an internal jumper can raise the -6 db to approximately 0 db, while retaining the same amount of headroom (which I’ve done, btw).
Finally, regarding the possible use of your DAC in conjunction with a DEQX and/or your Calypso preamp for listening to CDs: I’ll mention FWIW that while I found connecting the AES/EBU output of my Bryston BCD-1 CD player to the AES/EBU input of the DEQX to be preferable to using the BCD-1’s internal DAC in conjunction with the DEQX’s A/D converter stage, the difference wasn’t huge, and in fact was smaller than I was expecting.
@handymann Larry is a wizard. During your test period Larry can allow you to hear the DEQX in different configurations so you can figure out which one best suits you. I will be surprised if you don't end up keeping the unit when the 21 days is over. Larry setup my system and I use both an external DAC and an external preamp. It works like a charm.
@astewart8944 , Steakster, Uberwaltz, and Almarg: Thanks so much for your continued advice. I was a little concerned about the output voltage of the PreMate+, but was glad to read no problem with putting it in series with my linestage. I will probably wait till after the holidays, so I can devote more attention to it.
Thx for the mention but not much advice from myself I am afraid. I am pretty much in the dark on this but very interested party for a later reincarnation of my system.
Pretty sure Almarg is the resident authority on this tech right now.
@astewart8944: How did your combo with your external DAC and preamp work out? U said it’s good. Pls expand on your experience. Steve
@handymann Hi Steve: FWIW I wouldn't run my system in any other way. The chain goes like this: Antipodes DX3 music server=>via Purist Audio Design 25th Ann. 1.5M USB=>DEQX Premate =>via Stealth Vardig 16T Sextet 1.5M SPDIF=>Jeff Rowland Aeris DAC=>via Cardas Clear Beyond XLR=>Jeff Rowland Corus Pre=>via Cardas Clear Beyond XLR=>Jeff Rowland M925 mono amps=>via 3.5M Cardas Clear Beyond speaker cables=>Joseph Audio Perspectives. All Cardas Clear Beyond and Beyond XL power cords. Three Shunyata Denali 6000S power conditioners (one each for the monos) and one for the digital chain. The 6000S units are plugged into the wall with Shunyata Sigma NR PCs. The PSU (JR's DC power supply for Aeris+Corus) plugs straight into the wall. It acts as its own power conditioner. I also have the DEQX directly feed stereo REL R-328 subwoofers. Bottom line is that the DEQX internal Pre and DAC can't compete with the Rowland Aeris+Corus+PSU combination. So, I basically use the DEQX to properly cross-over my subwoofers and, most importantly, to provide room correction and time correction of the signal to the principal listening position. Before I had the DEQX, I considered my SQ to be very good. After the DEQX addition, I attended AXPONA, listened to lots of rooms and didn't enter one of them that was near my system's price point that I thought came close to the synergy in my music room. The DEQX (and Larry) made a substantial positive difference. I consider it one of the most important contributions to my system's SQ, and it is one of the least expensive pieces in the chain. As I said earlier, I doubt you will be disappointed. I hope I have completely answered your question.
Evening Al. I’m planning on getting a PreMATE Plus at the first of the year. I’m presently running my Theta Miles through my Aesthtix linestage, but am wondering which would sound best. Miles directly to my Deqx, or Miles through a Kora Hermès II, then the Deqx. Do you have an opinion on this? I currently have my Kora up for sale, but am thinking about taking it off the market, until I have a chance to try it with my Deqx.
Hi Steve: I haven't heard any of your equipment so I'm not a good sounding board on that front. But, I wouldn't sell anything until you give Larry a shot at running some setups for you. He can run a profile with the Miles straight into the DEQX and then one inserting whatever equipment you want in the chain. You will have to switch out the cabling for him since he does it remotely, but you get a free setup and Larry will take all the time it takes to get you to the sound you prefer. He will have an educated opinion on your options and best combinations. He has set up thousands of systems using the DEQX in many combinations. In some instances the DEQX is the premium piece of equipment going into the system. In others, it is not. Larry doesn't care one way or the other. He will set it up so that the curve is correct and then let you hear the setups and compare them to each other. Once you do that, I'll bet you will know exactly what you want to sell and what you want to keep.
Hope this helps
Thanks for your reply. I took my Kora off the for sale site. I will try it in the chain, before making any decisions.
@handymann My pleasure, Steve. I will be interested in hearing how it turns out for you. I watched my computer screen as Larry did his magic for me. He let me ask him any question I wanted while he worked. It was a great learning experience and he made my system sound much better than I did on my own.
I “ talked”to Larry yesterday and it looks like I’m going to have to wait until around the first of February, due to him being out of town till Jan 15th and he said it takes about two weeks to receive, after my order:(. I’m going to take the time, to become more familiar with the Deqx. What are you thoughts on my running about a 20’ spdif cable to the Deqx? Right now I running two balanced cables analog out of my Miles player, tomylinestage. If I decide to keep the Kora , I’ll run 20’ balanced cables from it to the Deqx. Conventional wisdom tells me, the shorter the cable the better, but I’ve read where 20’ will be ok.
@handymann I'm a big proponent of running what you already own and taking stock of how it sounds before spending more money. Several A'goners strictly adhere to 1.5 meter SPDIF cables. And I confess that I only buy 1.5 meter SPDIF cables. But, I have run a long (I think it was 10 feet but I could be mistaken) SPDIF cable that came with my Jeff Rowland Aeris DAC. I thought it sounded really good. When I decided to try and move the system up a notch, I went with a new 1.5 meter SPDIF cable. I think it made a lot of positive difference--my sound wasn't broken before at all. But, the specific SPDIF mattered to my ears. And BTW not every change I have tried has made a material difference to me.
Thanks for your expertise Al. I have a very good Premium Transparent digital cable I purchased, when I bought my Miles CD player. I will use it, to set up the Deqx unit when it arrives. I spoke with Larry and he’s going to fix it where I receive my unit, about the time he gets back to the states. I’m very anxious to get involved with it.