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Thread: System #45 (Monolith IIIx, SL3XC, Sequel II)

  1. #76
    Super User JonFo's Avatar
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    Default DriveRack 4800

    As I’ve mentioned before, I’m looking to simplify my system, as at the moment, it’s a daunting to operate, and a bear to maintain. But it met my goals for control and precision.

    One aspect I was never too happy with was all the Behringer gear, but it was a factor of a slowly evolving system, and I was proving approaches.

    Now that the speaker management aspects of the system are pretty well fleshed out, it’s time to move on to the final solution (he says confidently ) for speaker management.

    So, out goes all the Behringer gear from the rack, and in comes a $5,000 DBX Driverack 4800 Speaker processor that will take on the front three channels and the sub.



    The 4800 is a beautiful piece of gear, with ultra-high resolution A/D/A, four input channels and eight outputs, it can handle L/C/R and the Sub on the input side, and on the outputs, will feed the front three channels Panels/Bass (6 channels), plus support the IB sub (1) and Tactile transducer (1).

    The existing pair of DriveRack 260’s will be reconfigured as follows:
    One DR 260 to be sold (Another forum member with Monoliths has dibs on it, as it’s nicely pre-configured for Monoliths)
    The other DR 260 will be reconfigured for rear-channel duties.

    So when I’m done, I’ll have only two boxes between the preamp and the amps. Much simpler than the six devices currently in play.

    The diagram below shows the config I’m working towards in the next few weeks. The Denon AVP is still a few months out though.
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    Last edited by JonFo; 05-04-2008 at 08:46 AM.
     
    Jonathan

    System #45 (Monolith IIIx, Sequell IIb, SL3XC)

  2. #77
    Super User Rich's Avatar
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    Your incredible system just continues to evolve into an even more incredible system. As always, I am awed by your technical no-how, your ability to organize a very complex setup, and your drive to continue to improve your system. By the way, I think you win the forum award for most feet of cable in an audio system.
    Rich

    This comment is intended solely for educational purposes and should not be construed as conveying any express or implied warranty of fitness for any other purpose. Said comment constitutes merely the humble opinion of its maker and does not reflect the views of the MLOC or of ML, Ltd. YMMV. Trust your own ears.

  3. #78
    Super User JonFo's Avatar
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    Thanks Rich, it sure is fun to push the envelope.

    We had some neighbors over last night, and they are big Pink Floyd fans, so I put on the Dark Side of the Moon SACD and cranked it up.
    They commented that they were hearing things they had not heard in all 40 years of listening to that album over and over.

    As for
    By the way, I think you win the forum award for most feet of cable in an audio system
    LOL, Yep, I bought a 500’ spool and only have 35’ left. But, I’m about to replace it all, it’s been there for 8 years and is beginning to show oxidation. So I’ll be buying a spool or two of Blue Jean Cable 10 gauge to redo the wiring when I get some new amps.

    Speaking of which, not depicted in the diagram, but I’m in discussions with Roger Sanders regarding the following proposed stack of amps:

    ESL-
    Monolith Panel – left front - Sanders Monoblock
    Monolith Panel – right front - Sanders Monoblock
    SL3XC Panel – center front - Sanders Monoblock
    Sequel Panel – left rear - Sanders Stereo Ch1
    Sequel Panel – right rear - Sanders Stereo Ch2
    SL3SC Panel – left side - Sanders Stereo Ch1
    SL3SC Panel – right side - Sanders Stereo Ch2

    Low freq.-
    Monolith Woofer – left front – Sunfire Stereo Ch1
    Monolith Woofer – right front - Sunfire Stereo Ch2
    SL3XC LineArray – center front - Sunfire CG Ch1
    Sequel Woofer – left rear - Sunfire CG Ch2
    Sequel woofer – right rear - Sunfire CG Ch3
    SL3SC Mid-bass – left side - Sunfire CG Ch4
    SL3SC Mid-bass – right side - Sunfire CG Ch5
    Infinite Baffle Sub – Crown K2

    I would love to go all Sanders amps, but since I already have the Sunfire Cinema Grand signature and Stereo amps (recently refurbished by the factory), those will be fine for woofer duties.
    Adding 5 Sanders amps on the critical ESL components should improve the system noticeably.

    This will surely get me the coveted ‘most amps in a single system’ award
    Jonathan

    System #45 (Monolith IIIx, Sequell IIb, SL3XC)

  4. #79
    Forum Administrator twich54's Avatar
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    Holly Molly !! No wonder the "National Grid" is so severly taxed !! LOL !

    Jonathan, without doubt, your threads are the most enlightning on the board !
    Dave

    System #79 - Analog is Alive and Well, if in doubt, click the link below !

    Click Here to see my System

  5. #80
    Super User JonFo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by twich54 View Post


    Jonathan, without doubt, your threads are the most enlightening on the board !
    Hi Dave, thanks and I hope they are entertaining as well

    I’m sure they are also confusing to some, as they do get technical and sometimes I assume a bit to much context in the post.
    Jonathan

    System #45 (Monolith IIIx, Sequell IIb, SL3XC)

  6. #81
    Super User JonFo's Avatar
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    Default Processor updates

    … I’m looking to simplify my system …
    Famous last words methinks.

    Fewer boxes is indeed simpler, but the functions embedded in them are roughly still the same. Matter of fact, the DriveRack 4800 is a huge leap forward in features (and attendant complexity). Luckily, it has a great user interface (via PC’s) and combined with my years of DriveRack use with the 260’s, I was able to master it in short order. But simple? yeah, right

    Before I jumped in and started ripping out gear and plugging in cables, I spent a day planning and writing up the steps I would take to perform the swap over. After 6 or so pages, I pretty much had it covered from tear-down to re-installation and initial gain calibration.
    Yes, yes, call me anal-compulsive , but read on.

    So I spent a few hours every morning for the past week on cable end labeling and equipment re-arrangement. This also let me do a better job of wire management (as Rich noted, I probably have more cables in active use than anyone I know). So now the back of the rack is a little neater. However it’s still a rats nest to some extent, fixing that would require a full tear-down of ALL gear and using custom length cabling for power and signal cables. A >$5K exercise, so I can live with a bit of mess, as it doesn’t affect the sound.

    I finally got to the point of getting everything fired back up yesterday morning.

    One observation about this is that as mentioned before, complexity is very high, and I think I just proved to myself that this must indeed be a hobby, as why else would I spend 15 or so hours planning and executing an equipment upgrade
    Jonathan

    System #45 (Monolith IIIx, Sequell IIb, SL3XC)

  7. #82
    Super User JonFo's Avatar
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    So now that the DriveRack 4800 is set up and running, how does it sound?

    Really great is the short answer. It is indeed a step up from the Driverack 260, which is already a very good piece of gear. The added headroom from the improved gain structure (explained later) allows the improved A/D sampling to really shine. Likewise the improved algorithms for the building blocks inside the processor are very nice.
    Also, having the four main channels (L/C/R + sub) handled in a single processor is a benefit for control and low-noise.

    The overall dynamic range of the system seems to be about 10dB better than before.

    Dumping the Behringer gear and extra cabling results in an inaudible noise floor. With the ear right up against the panels and the volume cranked up, I can hear absolutely nothing.

    While I transferred the prior EQ settings form the 260’s, I’ve been doing some more measuring and re-tweaking for even better in-room balance and performance.

    I do have say, the room treatments are astonishing in the effectiveness. The Bass (<80Hz) needed only three parametric bands of EQ. and mild cuts (less than 4dB) at that.
    Jonathan

    System #45 (Monolith IIIx, Sequell IIb, SL3XC)

  8. #83
    Super User JonFo's Avatar
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    Default DR4800 pic

    Here is picture of the rack with the DriveRack 4800 in it.

    The DR 260 on the lower shelf is for the rear speakers and the DR 4800 above handles the L/C/R + sub.

    The mixer above it controls gain on the outputs of the Center line array and the left and right Monolith woofers. If my amps had built in gain controls, this piece would not be needed.
    So I'm considering some more pro-amps (these are for woofers anyway) that have gain controls built in.
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    Jonathan

    System #45 (Monolith IIIx, Sequell IIb, SL3XC)

  9. #84
    Super User JonFo's Avatar
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    Default DR4800 config

    This is a screen cap of the primary configuration panel for the drive rack.

    It depicts the input and processing flow of the system.

    From left to right we see:

    • Four inputs
      • Each feeding a graphic EQ (31 band) then feeding a Parametric EQ (9 band)
      • Then they feed a linked (all channels share same settings) module that performs sub-Harmonic synthesis ( DBX 120A processing).
      • The three front channels go into a linked Compressor module which is typically off. But would be very useful in a ‘party’ type preset.
      • The sub gets its own compressor settings, again typically off.
      • Then, finally an input delay setting for each channel. All off in my config.
    • Top 7/8’s of the right side contain
      • Three Mixer/connectors in front of a linked insert for a feature called ‘AutoWarmth’ that I’ll explain further ahead
      • The left and right are plain connectors to their respective input chains
      • The mixer combines the Sub and the center
      • This is pretty cool, as if the LFE channel happens to have full range signals, the crossover will route them to the center (which is right on top of the sub). But even if it just contains signals up to 120hz, those will wind up in the center line-array of mid-bass drivers.
      • This all then feeds a 3-way x 7 output crossover that will be explained in greater detail below
      • Each crossover output is then fed to its own 6 band parametric EQ
      • The next insert is either a compressor or limiter to manage the energy going to the respective amp/driver combo. Limiters are used to guard against frying the mid-bass or subs. No limiting is applied to the panels as they can pretty much take all one can throw at them.
      • Although keeping the signal below the point where the amps clip is a very good idea, and once I calculate that, I might set up some limiters for the panels.
      • Next come individual output delays for both intra-speaker alignment and room layout alignment as I’ve described in other posts.
      • And finally, that’s it, the outputs feed the amps.
    • The last line on the right is for the tactile transducer.
      • It’s input is a mixer, normally pulling just the LFE channel, but I wanted to have the option to capture ‘the feeling’ from the others if I wanted to.
      • The mixer feeds thhe same chain as noted above. I use its 1x1 crossover to limit the signal to 150hz and below.
      • Also, the compressor and limiter are really, really necessary here. One can indeed get too much of good thing from the Buttkicker, if ‘ya know what I mean

    See, simple, less complex
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    Jonathan

    System #45 (Monolith IIIx, Sequell IIb, SL3XC)

  10. #85
    Senior Member VanDaRo's Avatar
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    I've always stuck with simplicity and purity in my system(s), keeping the signal path as untouched by circuitry as possible. Your system is the antithesis of this philosophy.

    You either know something we don't or are a hopeless audio-geek !! I'd love to hear that rig... I'll bet it would make me rethink my values.

    ~VDR

  11. #86
    Super User JonFo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VanDaRo View Post
    ...
    You either know something we don't or are a hopeless audio-geek !! I'd love to hear that rig... I'll bet it would make me rethink my values.

    ~VDR
    Well, a little of both

    The only pure system is a CD player and a set of headphones. And even then you are listening to what the producer though would be right for the playback context (which could assume anything from FM, to Car to in-room to cans).

    If you listen to music through a system in a room, you are so beyond 'pure' it’s not even funny. That's why acoustics of the room both in terms of size/shape plus treatments are so critical. Then the manipulation of the sound in the room is the next, so EQ's are a must. Pure signals are pure anathema to accurate reproduction when the room is adding colorations that processing can mitigate. Although, one does need to do so judiciously.

    Bottom line, every component in my complex chain is designed to address some in-room at listening position challenge and improve it.

    Trust me. I’ve heard quite a few mega-buck systems, and this one is tops. I’m sure there are better out there, but not by too much.

    If you’re in Atlanta, drop me a line about a get-together, guaranteed to change at least your outlook a bit
    Jonathan

    System #45 (Monolith IIIx, Sequell IIb, SL3XC)

  12. #87
    Super User JonFo's Avatar
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    Default Crossover details

    Here is shot of the Crossover details.

    I use a Linkwitz-Riley high pass cornered at 314 Hz with a 36 dB/octave to feed the three front panels
    The bandpass for the woofers/line array is a low-pass at 314 Hz with a symmetrical 36 dB / octave LR. The high-pass at the other end is a LR 24 at 83 Hz
    The woofer has a low-pass set at 83 Hz using a LR 24 slope.

    The gain on the three panels is dropped by about 3 dB, which sort of disproves that ESL’s are inefficient. If you remove the passive crossovers, they are quite (a bit too) efficient.

    The line-array and woofers, not so efficient, so gain is boosted 3 dB.

    Sub amp has it’s own gain controls, so we leave the x-over gains alone (amp has roughly +4 Db)

    Here’s the crossover pic:
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    Jonathan

    System #45 (Monolith IIIx, Sequell IIb, SL3XC)

  13. #88
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    And this is the composite view of the output bands as affected by crossovers and EQ’s combined.

    You can see that the EQ’s are fairly mild. But the results are pretty dramatic in terms of benefits.

    It took dozens upon dozens of measurements to get to this result.

    (the colors of each line correspond to the numbers on the right, which in turn correspond to the master layout image above)
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    Jonathan

    System #45 (Monolith IIIx, Sequell IIb, SL3XC)

  14. #89
    Super User JonFo's Avatar
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    Default AutoWarmth

    A very, very cool feature of the DR 4800 is the new ‘AutoWarmth’ module.

    What this does is provide a dynamic adaptation of the system tonal response based on the human ear’s natural response changes as volume drops. This is the ‘Fletcher-Munson’ curve one hears about for adjusting frequency so perceived loudness is maintained irrespective of actual SPL. This also known as an “equal-loudness contour”.

    The AutoWarmth module has a user controllable threshold setting (volume at which it takes effect) as well as variable ratios of application of the effect. Anywhere from 1/4 to 4x the effect can be applied.
    Once the threshold is crossed, it dynamically EQ’s according to the curves and the current volume level.

    It is very effective. I’ve been listening to some prog-rock this afternoon as I write all this up, and I’ve had it playing at an average of 73dB, but the fullness of the bass is all there.

    It is miles ahead of the old ‘loudness’ controls, and nothing short of the new Audyssey Dynamic EQ found in the new Denon AVP-A1HD processor is even close to it.

    Really, really dig this feature
    Jonathan

    System #45 (Monolith IIIx, Sequell IIb, SL3XC)

  15. #90
    Super User JonFo's Avatar
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    Default Gain structure

    One of the most important things to do in a complex system is to ensure that the gain structure of the rig is normalized. That is, that each piece of gear is operating in its optimal gain range, and that we are not introducing opportunities for distortion or limited headroom due to improper matching.

    This becomes even more critical when interfacing consumer equipment to pro-gear, as I’m doing here.
    The toughest item to deal with is the inputs. As pro-gear typically operates at +4 dBu and consumer gear at -10 dBu, there is a big gap in gain.

    To interface consumer gear to pro gear, I recommend the use of the Jensen transformers I mentioned in prior posts in this thread to both convert from unbalanced (typically RCA connectors) to Balanced (typically XLR connectors) with effective hum and ground suppression as well. However, these are typically only a 1:1 gain, so we still need the pro-gear to boost the input signal with its gain controls. Luckily, the DBX gear has very clean front-ends and gain structure can be matched to consumer levels easily.

    The new DR 4800 even has a very handy gain structure adjustment for the entire box with various output gain settings selectable.
    In my system, an input gain sensitivity of 14 dBu before clip largely compensates for the 14 dB delta between pro and consumer levels. (note: the lower the input dBu, the more sensitive it is, that is more gain).
    Likewise the outputs are lowered to 12 dBu to better interface with my consumer Sunfire amps (even though they have balanced connectors). The lone pro-amp (a Crown for the IB sub) just gets its input gain tweaked to match.

    Here’s how I set up my gain:
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    Jonathan

    System #45 (Monolith IIIx, Sequell IIb, SL3XC)

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