DEQX Final Config and impressions...


I had been living with the DEQX Premate for about 2 weeks now and recently went through a DEQXpert configuration session.  I had worked through the setup/config first, then scheduled the session.  The units are pricey and in this audio world, sometimes it is worth it, sometimes it’s not.  I’ll share my opinions and attempt to be unbiased.  

My setup:
PS Audio BHK 300 monos
PS Audio Direct Stream Junior
McIntosh C2500
Dynaudio Confidence C4 Signatures
DEQX Premate
Shunyata Hydra
Nordost QX4
REL R-528SE
GIK Acoustics room treatment
Audioquest IC/Speaker cables
Shunyata power cables
Room size: 26 x 18

The initial setup was a little challenging, not so much from a “technical” perspective, but rather the verbose nature of the DEQX documentation.  The only “gotcha” I struggled with was that the EQ’ing process is out of band.  Essentially, you take your speaker and room measurements, create the correction filters in a different window; which isn’t immediately clear while going through it.  I would say anyone that’s able to follow directions, would be able to get the unit to about 97% on their own.  The last 3%, that’s where the DEQXpert comes in.

I connected with Larry Owens out of Denver.  Larry ran through the process, but shed light on a few things I had no clue regarding; checking phase with various sweeps, aligning time delay between the 3 speakers (important to note, as the documentation says that the front stage should always be the same delay) and sharing his personal insights into how the unit operates.  His insights did diverge from the documentation and he articulated why.  After explaining, it all came together.  

Per Larry, the speakers behave quite flat at about 2Khz and above, below that they get a little messy.  There were various phase cancellations occurring due to the speaker and room interactions, but nothing too noisey.  Interesting to note, during this process, Larry shared how to best approach leveraging the EQ to assist in mitigating against phase cancellation.  Again, super insightful and something that’s not in the documentation.

The unit does take some getting used to, not that without it a system can’t sound good, as many do.  Mine does and without the DEQX, I would know no difference.  What I have noticed most, it really cleared up busy mixes.  Some recordings, say Mumford & Sons, to me their mixes sound cluttered on busier tunes.  The  main vocals often sound congested by what is happening on the right and left pans of the mix.  The DEQX has brought clear definition in those mixes.  Instruments lay better in the overall mix, having more definition as to where they are supposed to be sitting on the soundstage.  Though, it won’t bring up Jason Newsted’s bass mix on ...And Justice For All.  In various passages on different songs, it does make it more audible.  On the song “Blackened”, at about 2:50 in, you finally hear Jason’s bass, clearly.  I had not heard this before.  For those not familiar with the history of that album, Metallica cut the bass to about -6db vs. the rest of the mix, rendering it nearly inaudible.  Same holds true for many of the Lamb of God mixes, there’s so much going on, definition of the instruments can sound mushed in all one spot.  The DEQX creates separation in everything, allowing for specific instruments to be identified and heard.

Recordings that I have been listening to for years are now wider in soundstage, with clear definition.  Tracks from Radiohead’s Ok Computer come off as being more definitive with instrument pans.  Things like taking the recorded guitar track, panning it to the opposite side, bringing it way down in the mix and using heavy chorus are clearly heard, prior to the DEQX, it was not as pronounced.  Led Zepplin’s Physical Graffitti, it adds more punch to the midrange.  Many of us know Jon Paul Jones was a studio musician, prior to LZ; which may not be entirely evident on many of their recordings.  I can hear him, lock step, with Bonham, bringing even more delight to their recordings.  

In short, the unit, for me, has been worth the investment.  I do believe that going through and working to improve the room acoustics with treatment is paramount, prior to adding a DEQX.  Understandably, for some that may not be feasible.  Larry noted that my room was void of many room errors, due to the treatment; which really allows for the DEQX performance to shine.  I did find having a DEQXpert go through the process with me to be very helpful.  Like with anything, as soon as we were done, I did repeat the process, making slight tweaks to what was laid down.  Will it make miracles happen, nah, I don’t think so.  Nonetheless, my music library has been transformed for the better, which is always worth it.
toddcowles
Glad you got your money's worth sir! That's all we're really after.
Great writeup, Todd! And of course I’m glad the DEQX has worked out well for you!

Everything you said in your post is consistent with the experiences I’ve had with the DEQX HDP-5 that I’ve had for about two years now.

Regarding your statement that...
What I have noticed most, it really cleared up busy mixes. Some recordings, say Mumford & Sons, to me their mixes sound cluttered on busier tunes. The main vocals often sound congested by what is happening on the right and left pans of the mix. The DEQX has brought clear definition in those mixes. Instruments lay better in the overall mix, having more definition as to where they are supposed to be sitting on the soundstage.
While my listening is mainly to classical music, that is again very consistent with my experiences. And I believe it results primarily from the improvements the DEQX provides with respect to time coherence. In my experience, that improvement has particularly benefited recordings that are of mediocre or poor quality. As I said on 8-16-2015 in the "Is DEQX A Game-Changer" thread:
Perhaps most notable among the differences that I and my wife perceived were on some recordings having overly bright string sound, including some string quartets as well as symphonic recordings. Those became much more enjoyable with the filters engaged. Not because the sound was dulled down, but because there seemed to be increased detail and improved definition in the upper midrange and lower treble, as opposed to a more homogenized presentation of those notes, which in turn resulted in the brightness being less objectionable. I recall that some time ago, either in this thread or in the sloped baffle thread, Bombaywalla had commented that time coherence will provide benefits along those lines. Both this experience and many previous experiences I have had comparing sonics between my speakers and my Stax electrostatic headphones have me convinced that he was right.
Enjoy! Best regards,
-- Al

Ahhh, I do believe I recall those reading those sentiments.  I will continue to enjoy and thanks for all your help!
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Has anyone used a DEQX unit with the Sanders 10e speaker system? (Replacing it with the supplied dbx unit)
Has anyone used a DEQX unit with the Sanders 10e speaker system? (Replacing it with the supplied dbx unit)
I didn't see an answer in the other post, when you posed it.  Possibly contact a DEQX dealer to find out and see if you can get an in home demo; which I believe they do.
@toddcowles I had my expert session with Larry Owens earlier this month to help maximize my new DQX Premate's performance in my room. First, I did so under the home audition program, which is great. Second, when I set it up myself I was pretty underwhelmed and considered returning it. I talked to the pleasant folks at DEQX and they nicely insisted my opinion would change if I gave Larry a chance to get involved. Larry is a master at dialing the DEQX in! After he was done, I could hear a dramatic improvement in the clarity of my system. It turns out, according to Larry, that my room is acoustically pretty good with the exception of a particular bass dip in the 40Hz region. After Larry was done with his painstaking work that dip was gone. We are setting up the final session in the near future to fine tune the system further now that I made some additional changes in some cabling, platforms and equipment locations that Larry recommended, and which were all DIY (small dollars--big difference). Anyone who owns a DEQX and isn't using Larry Owens to help them out is missing out on getting every ounce of potential from the DEQX in their system. 
Since I bought mine used, I couldn’t get the expert help.

ozzy
@ozzy Hi Ozzy, Larry is an independent consultant and is outside of the support provided by DEQX.  Used or new, he can help you configure it properly.
Nice to know. 
How can I contact him?

ozzy
@ozzy I don’t believe he’d have a problem with it being posted, but I sent him a text to verify.
Larry Owens is wonderful. 
@ozzy contact him larry@deqx.com