Digital sound enhancement

March 27, 2021
 by Paul McGowan

10 comments on “Digital sound enhancement”

  1. Paul,
    Why did you call it “enhancement”? It is correction and not enhancement. Unless you think that all plastic surgeries are enhancements…

    I agree that if the speakers are producing adequate frequency response and good “spinorama”, you don’t need much correction in the middle and upper frequencies. But if after room control you have problems, you can still achieve a lot in the lower frequencies with some “measured controlled” DSP or other software based algorithms like Dirac. I still think that if you ever issue your streamer you should offer a DSP EQ in it. Or make it easy to sync with REW.

    Easier to start with better speakers.

    I also don’t understand your point of the miniDSP. You are doing an analog to digital conversion, so what is the problem? Most new recording are digital to begin with and crossovers in the digital domain are much more transparent. They are not DSD, but that is your issue with PCM.

    Most AD conversion is already of sufficient quality that a phono to digital conversion would be transparent. You get much more “artifacts” (noise and distortion) from the cartridge itself and phono preamp than the conversion. You used to sell a phono preamp with USB output (I missed it!). My biggest mistake was getting the RME without the AtoD, but maybe I spared myself the headaches of record playing searching for a phono preamp and AtoD device.

  2. Isn’t it true that any extra processing or “enhancement” within the digital domain theoretically adds to already-existent timing and jitter issues? More internal calculations mean digital rounding of binary digital words might be taking place [with consequent degradation], or isn’t it so?

    1. With proper devices jitters is almost unmeasurable and very unlikely to be heard. The rest of your statements appears as old mythology. Be careful!

  3. It’s neither.
    That is, if you have a good to grate digital sound processor in the first place.
    And yes, you can do this in two channel stereo and get it right the first time too.
    If you don’t believe me, just call up someone at Mcintosh and or Carry Audio, and ask them.
    I’m willing to bet, they’ll tell you the same thing, that I just told you.
    I know this because, I’ve had that conversation with them already.

  4. Paul, I do watch you videos whenever they come out. I watched you latest about digital enhancement programs. You said your latest system was an Emotiva. I recently bought the Emotive XMC2 to pair with an Emotiva XPR5 I bought used a couple of years ago. I was using a Marantz AV7702 before I got the XMC2. What a difference.

    You mentioned something about the detriment of going from analog to digital and back to analog as being a bad idea for the best sound, hence you didn’t think it was a good idea to do that so as to use the digital enhancements. I was surprised when I got my XMC2 to discover that unless you use Direct or Reference Mode, the analog inputs are all converted to 24 bit digital before going through any processing. The only time there is any processing, and that is for Bass Management only, is in Reference Mode. So under most listening conditions, the analog signal is converted to digital and back after processing. And I tell you I can’t tell much of a difference, if there even is a difference other than my bass and treble desired settings.

    Would like to hear your thoughts on this and to know if you were aware of the conversion being done under most conditions.

    All my best,
    Allen Boogaard (Pronounced Bogaurd)

    1. Thanks, Allen. I was not aware of that but it makes perfect sense. There would be no other way to get the DSP inside to work if they didn’t. I don’t use the analog inputs so it’s of little concern to me.

      I will say that it’s not the worst thing in the world and, if done with care and skill, can be almost transpoarent.

  5. Why would we spend a lot of money on a fancy DAC and then add digital signal processing between the DAC and the power amplifier? If the DSP device is transparent, then we wasted money on the DAC. If not, we ruined the great sound of the DAC.

    The same is true of active speakers with DSP crossovers and an analogue input.

  6. Coincidentally, I’ve been considering a Lyngdorf 2170 because of it’s Room Perfect system to help with my hellish room. Anyone have experience with their stuff?

    1. Hi Secretguy. I can tell you that I use RoomPerfect in the form of the McIntosh MEN220. McIntosh licensed RoomPerfect from Lyngdorf and put it into a system that sits between pre and power amplifier. It works all the wonders associated with RoomPerfect and solves a particularly nasty 40Hz Room node that no end of passive room treatment failed to correct. It also has another couple of tricks up its sleeve and can be used to seamlessly integrate a sub into the system with excellent results.
      Yes, I was worried about A-D-A conversion (I have a very nice TT set up), but can honestly say that the Room node issue caused more concerns for me than anything the MEN220 might introduce that could be considered to be “undesirable” by some. We don’t all live with perfect rooms, but the RoomPerfect system can help those of us with compromised listening spaces to get great sound out of our systems. The other thing that I should say is that the MEN220 doesn’t alter the basic character of speakers or whatever electronics and cabling is upstream of the unit, you still hear changes you make elsewhere in the system.

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