Digital Tone Controls - Roon and Others, really not bad
A very long time ago ( mid-1980’s’? ) Stereophile introduced me to the first commercial digital only equalizer I ever heard of. I believe it was from Apogee Digital ( I think ). At around the same time I was fantasizing about DSP and room correction and what the future could bring to audiophiles.
Of course, I also fantasized about the Technics 1/3 octave equalizers and a perfectly flat speaker response, not knowing much, but coming from a theater background where such were required. So as an enthusiast, this area has been one I’ve wanted to explore, beyond HT.
Recently I’ve played around with DSP for the center, sub and surround channels, but never really got into DSP being always on, afraid of it being in my oh so clean DAC--> Amplifier chain. What was the point of $800 in crossover caps if I’m going to put a $199 DSP in the middle, said I?
My previous preamp, a Parasound P7, had good but not great tone controls. Meaning, I could hear them engaged, even when set to neutral. My new unit, a Luxman integrated, has fantastic sounding tone controls. They sound like nothing except better music.
Of course, the promise of DSP based tone controls is mathematically perfect, and noise free, alteration of the sound with sushi-knife like precision. With something like Roon and the use of time gated measurements (I use OmniMic, others REW) I can adjust the parametric EQ in real time, even at my listening chair. That's another thing that's stepped up remarkably. Being able to get time-gated measurements in kit affordable for every audiophile. In the mid 1980s the only way to get this kind of analysis was from $10k+ gear.
I’m kind of in my happy place. A happy place that’s taken me decades to get to.
What about you, have you been living with digital tone controls, and what do you think??