By Todd Anderson on Jan 17, 2018 at 11:02 AM
  1. Todd Anderson

    Todd Anderson News Editor / Reviewer/ Senior Admin
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    Dirac Research Officially Launches Major Update at CES 2018

    [​IMG]
    (Dirac Research)

    Editor’s Note: The following article has been updated since its original December 2017 release. AV NIRVANA had an opportunity to sit down with Dirac’s Jakob Ågren at CES 2018 and review a prototype version of Dirac’s new software platform. The room’s demo system performed as one would expect, delivering a wider and more focused soundstage.

    (January 17, 2018) Dirac Research landed at CES 2018 with a next-generation version of its vaunted Dirac Live platform in tow. The new release contains a refreshed and simplified user interface, a new correction algorithm, and multi-language support. The company says that changes are largely based on user input and newly available technical advances, but also allows for a new platform that’s easier to update as new advances are created and made available.

    “Dirac Live has been delivering the world’s best room correction for many years,” said Niklas Thorin (Dirac’s General Manager of High Performance Audio). “These updates broaden the market and deliver user-requested features including support for Spanish, French, Mandarin and Japanese languages, a new, more user-friendly interface and configuration process, and an even more advanced algorithm.”

    From a technical perspective, Dirac’s new algorithm further improves the software’s ability to create more defined sound stage and imaging. The current version of Dirac Live measures the phase of each individual stereo speaker, while the new version also analyzes speakers in stereo pairs. This inclusion ensures that paired speakers have a matched phase response, which (according to Dirac) will “deliver an immediate and obvious improvement to all users.”

    Usability wise, the software’s new interface is designed to eliminate confusion. Dirac’s CES 2018 demo revealed an intuitive app based environment (due to be available for Android/iOS and Windows/OSX) designed to guide the next-gen software’s correction process, with oversite that confirms optimal settings have been implemented. This is fantastic news, making a complex process easier for less technically inclined audio fans. For those Dirac users that prefer more backend control over the correction process, the original software’s look and feel will be selectable and available for use.

    “With our refreshed interface and configuration, users don’t need to be technical experts to gain optimal benefits from the platform,” Thorin added. “And an equally important change is the move toward a more mobile-friendly UI. The Dirac Live interface is now as accessible on a midsize tablet as it is on a larger laptop, giving installers flexibility in which tools they prefer using on site. Together, these improvements reaffirm our commitment to providing the best product, developing ever-improving room correction tools, and keeping current with peripheral technological advances.”

    Following CEDIA 2017, we reported that Dirac’s technicians have been exploring multi-subwoofer and immersive sound solutions. As of now, Dirac does not offer any type of bass management, as that functionality is covered by each manufacturer’s own unique product platforms. According to Jakob Ågren, Dirac is considering adding bass management as part of a future update to the new Dirac Live package. Ågren says Dirac has planned for an elongated 2018 rollout, largely to allow for any bugs to be corrected once the product is used en masse.

    The new generation of Dirac Live is expected to become publicly available sometime during Q1 2018. At that time, the new interface will be installed, but functionality will remain consistent with the original version. Updates to the software will roll out during the rest of the year. Dirac says that upgradeability of legacy equipment is manufacturer dependent.
     
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Comments

Discussion in 'AV Industry News' started by Todd Anderson, Jan 17, 2018.

    1. thrillcat

      thrillcat Active Member

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      Very curious to see if/how this is implemented with my Emotiva XMC-1, and to hear what it can do in my room!

      Also hesitant to embrace a "new, more user-friendly interface", as that often means fewer user definable parameters and options. But I'll wait and see. :)
       
    2. Todd Anderson

      Todd Anderson News Editor / Reviewer/ Senior Admin
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      You don't need to use the new interface... the old one will remain an option ;-)
       
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    3. AudiocRaver

      AudiocRaver Senior Admin
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      I'm excited!!!!!
       
    4. tesseract

      tesseract Senior Admin
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      Hopefully this will roll over to the XMC-1. Would be great to have external control via laptop, if possible.
       
    5. Lesmor

      Lesmor Member

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      "As of now, Dirac does not offer any type of bass management, as that functionality is covered by each manufacturer’s own unique product platforms."
      I was under the impression that for miniDSP you could buy a Dirac bass management plug-in?
      Kinda also explains why there are BM issues with Arcam AVR's
       
    6. richardsim7

      richardsim7 New Member

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      You can, but that's a MiniDSP plugin, so I guess that still counts as the manufacturer

      And Arcam's BM issues are pretty much solved at this point
       
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    7. Lesmor

      Lesmor Member

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      Hi Richard
      As I understand it Dirac is mostly used in cinemas by Datasat so surprised to read that they don't offer any type of bass management
      Of course in a large area like a Cinema it is a completely different situation compared to a home cinema environment

      I do know that the BM in the Arcams is pretty much solved the problem being who was to blame in the first place.
      It now seems clear it was Arcam who wouldn't admit there was a BM issue and still haven't totally fixed it
       
    8. Todd Anderson

      Todd Anderson News Editor / Reviewer/ Senior Admin
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      It’s certainly an interesting fact... Dirac measures bass frequencies, but it’s up to each manufacturer to take that information and apply management.

      I think this will change, however.

      Another interesting fact, that I was completely unaware of: The bulk of Dirac’s business is automotive and cellular. In fact, they only entered the HT space during the economic downturn (automotive went flat). This new platform is a refresh of sorts and a new commitment to chasing the HT space... That and Dirac’s name is huge in China (to the point that its branded on cell phone packaging)
       
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    9. Ron Kuper

      Ron Kuper New Member

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      Hoping you or someone here would be kind enough to help me bridge the "what am I missing" gap:

      Use case:
      1. I use Dirac Live on a PC for a 5.1 system
      2. I mainly listen to stereo content
      3. I want Dirac to correct every speaker's full range output (including the subwoofer!)
      Question:
      How can this be done using my AVR's BM functionality?

      Virtual hugs to the kind helper :)


      My take:
      Currently, for my use case and with my understanding it just not possible for stereo content which needs to be up-mixed first BEFORE Dirac can correct the SW signal. Thus, I have to resort to another software/virtual sound-card which makes the whole setup very fragile. It really doesn't make sense to not supply BM as an integral part of the Dirac for PC virtual soundcard.

      Besides, doing BM the "Dirac way" has lots of conceived audio advancement for smoothing and automating subwoofer integration over typical BM solutions from manufacturers.

      Ron
       
      #10 Ron Kuper, Jan 21, 2018
      Last edited: Jan 21, 2018
    10. Kal Rubinson

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      DataSats for domestic use include BM, so I think it probable that the pro units do so.
       
      #11 Kal Rubinson, Jan 21, 2018
      Last edited: Jan 24, 2018
    11. Fitzcarraldo215

      Fitzcarraldo215 New Member

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      Ron - I currently do bass management in JRiver together with the Dirac VST plugin on the PC. That has worked extremely well for me for years, and I listen to stereo 2.0 in 2.1. JRiver switches automatically from 5.1 to 2.1 output, if desired.

      I evolved to a Media PC concept for 100% of my music, video and TV watching, so all audio goes through JRiver + Dirac on the PC, then audio goes out to an Exasound E28 DAC and video to my monitor via HDMI.

      That eliminated my former prepro from the system. No need for it. Nice! But, before the Exasound, I was using a prepro via HDMI with JRiver bass management and PC Dirac. That worked fine, too, noticeably better sounding than the Audyssey XT32 in the prepro with an Audyssey Pro calibration. A friend uses the same JRiver + PC Dirac scheme with a Marantz 8801.

      I do not know of another way to bass management currently, when properly configured to do the bass management prior to PC Dirac in the signal path.

      Likely, I will switch to using Dirac's bass management when it becomes available. But, I have no complaints now.
       
    12. Todd Anderson

      Todd Anderson News Editor / Reviewer/ Senior Admin
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      Sounds like an interesting setup @Fitzcarraldo215. You say it sounds noticeably better than Audyssey XT32... is that in reference to mid and high frequencies?
       
    13. Fitzcarraldo215

      Fitzcarraldo215 New Member

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      Actually, I cannot say I heard a big difference in the bass. Most of the difference, as I recall, was in the mid/high area. Dirac had a greater sense of transparency, possibly aided by its upper sampling rate limit of (then) 96k, now 192k, vs. Audyssey's 48k. I do play mostly hirez Mch recordings. But, the difference might not be as noticeable with CDs.

      Also, note that Audyssey's "midrange compensation" dip around 3k Hz was turned off in Audyssey Pro. My response was smooth and flat in that region.
       
    14. Todd Anderson

      Todd Anderson News Editor / Reviewer/ Senior Admin
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      What you've heard is what most everyone else seems to hear!
       
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    15. Ron Kuper

      Ron Kuper New Member

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      Hi @Fitzcarraldo215,

      Thanks a lot for your answer!
      I believe we can have a nice discussion here -

      I actually used to have this setup (with JRiver MC23)!
      My opinion is that JRiver does a reasonable job with BM for 2.0 (stereo) content played through Jriver.
      I say reasonable since it could get quite confusing between the different overlapping options - JRSS subwoofer, Room Correction crossovers, etc. (JRiver won't protect the user from getting this wrong)

      But for content played outside JRiver... well that is where the JRiver WDM driver comes, right?
      My experience - It sounds bad. Very unstable. Random cracks in audio. Laggy... Apologies for the harsh language, I was a very frustrated user.

      Nice! That is so interesting to me since I am also considering switching to Exasound + HDMI from 'HDMI only' for my HTPC
      How would you describe the change to Exasound, sound quality wise?
      Did you have issues with lip-syncing for video content? If so, what was your approach?
      Anything else I might consider?

      I've found one!
      Probably should have mentioned all of that in my original question.
      I moved from JRiver + WDM Driver + Dirac to Roon + EqualizerAPO + Dirac.

      Roon - "just" the player, but seriously... check it out. It is amazing in almost every category (Sound quality, capabilities, UI, etc)
      EqualizerAPO - A phenomenal free software for advanced system-wide EQ (attached to the Dirac virtual sound card, not a sound card on it's own like the WDM Driver).
      Configured for BM. It also has channel detection capabilities for auto-switching between 2.0 and surrounds content.
      Not ideal in terms of configuration overhead but in my opinion works much better than both JRiver EQ/BM functions and the JRiver WDM Driver.

      I moved for stability but the noticeable improvement in SQ compared to JRiver astounded me and was a very welcome surprise.

      Perfect? not close!
      Sound quality wise, EqualizerAPO works only in shared mode so we lose exclusive mode in go through the OS Mixer (which might resample if we're not feeding it correctly). Not ideal but still vastly better than the WDM driver SQ and stability IMO.
      Usability wise - EqualizerAPO is a bit "raw" and probably not for everyone.

      The situation is absurd. I hope Dirac is listening.

      Here Here!
       
      #16 Ron Kuper, Jan 27, 2018
      Last edited: Jan 27, 2018
    16. Fitzcarraldo215

      Fitzcarraldo215 New Member

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      Ron - I had no problems with bass management setup in JR, just per the instructions.

      Yes, I have heard a lot of negatives about JR WDM driver. Fortunately, I do not need it. I do no streaming or playback outside JR.

      No problems with lip synch with JR as the player to the Exasound. JR has very good video and lip synch.

      Roon is simply inadequate for managing my very large, mostly classical, hirez Mch library of DSF files, let alone video, TV, etc. I will not speculate on sound quality. Others have heard no sonic advantage of Roon over JRiver, and I doubt Roon has some secret sauce in the digital signal path for normal playback, except it does not have the failings of WDM. But, I understand the appeal of the Roon GUI and its streaming support, which is superior.

      Yes, I will be most interested in Dirac's bass management, though unless it does some sort of special optimization in the crossover region, I doubt it will sound any different on a single, mono bass channel than JRiver bass management used with Dirac, as now
       
    17. Ron Kuper

      Ron Kuper New Member

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      You said it - as long as it is played from JRiver not using the WDM.

      For me sound quality wise -
      [Tidal --> Roon --> Dirac with EqualizerAPO] sounds markedly better than [Tidal --> WDM Driver --> JRiver --> Dirac] to the extent I started laughing when first hearing and realizing the difference (Not to mention WDM Driver latency and cracks issues).

      When comparing local hi-rez content played natively by both players the difference, if any, is much less distinctive.

      Still keeping JRiver for video.

      I'm not a "secret source" guy, assuming the implementation is not lacking it is usually a matter of clean signal path with functions like upsampling with sample rate conversion, minimizing downstream resampling, clipping prevention, quality volume processing, adequate buffering of signal and the like. (all of which both has)

      Not expecting Dirac's BM to sound better, just expecting not having us, its customers, be "stuck" with severely limited (2 actually) 3rd party software options in order to enjoy their product for stereo music in systems with a Subwoofer.

      @Flak where art thou?
       
      #18 Ron Kuper, Jan 27, 2018
      Last edited: Jan 27, 2018
    18. Flak

      Flak Member

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      Hi Ron and ciao Fitzcarraldo,

      it will take much more time than desired but we are working on BM, more important we instead expect that Dirac's BM will sound better than other solutions :)
      Flavio
       
    19. Ron Kuper

      Ron Kuper New Member

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      YES!!!

      Awaiting eagerly. In case you could use volunteers who are experienced beta testers and already have the gear (ahem...) don't hesitate to contact :)


      P.S.
      In my heart, I was expecting that :p
       
    20. Matthew J Poes

      Matthew J Poes Staff Writer
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      Thanks for chiming In on this Flak. Everyone is already salivating apparently. I imagine that adding BM capability the. Adds some benefit when integrated into manufacturers hardware as they don’t need to add this into their existing software and can use it instead. That would give you more control over the process to ensure better results.
       
    21. dziemian

      dziemian New Member

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      I am using JR with Dirac VST plugin exclusively. This set worked for me from the beginning whereas Dirac's processor had its moods. I do BM in Jriver but I would love Dirac to implement its own bass management (like DDRC-88 BM) and multisub optimization. I heard that new Dirac Unison is going to be in a hardware form only so its a huge pity for HTPC community. I appreciate Roon but I would only switch to it if they start supporting video as I prefer to have a simple multimedia center.
       
    22. Todd Anderson

      Todd Anderson News Editor / Reviewer/ Senior Admin
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      I think Dirac is definitely interested in pursuing BM for multi-subs... I'd imagine the next year (plus) will tell a lot.
       
    23. Matthew J Poes

      Matthew J Poes Staff Writer
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      So how do you decode all the surround formats. I considered doing something like you have but gave up when I read that these systems couldn't decode the latest surround formats. I had read that Atmos and DTS-X is probably off the table for ever and that even Dolby TrueHD was not available. Is that not true?

      One thing that excited me about an HTPC is the ability to use really good audio hardware. You could have a 16 channel system using a USB audio interface that provides state of the art perfirmance at a modest price.
       
    24. dziemian

      dziemian New Member

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      I am not interested in Atmos at this time. I use what Jriver offers. I have stereo mains and 4 subwoofers. I will add another pair for surround sound soon but that's all. I forgot to mention that I am also using Multisub Optimizer to setup these 4 subs and upload filters into minidsp HDA. Dirac VST corrects globally mains and single sub ouput.

      With Dirac's BM and multisub optimization I would simplify the whole set and that is what I am looking forward.
       

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