Deconstructing the home theater pre-processor

mojave

New Member
Oct 29, 2010
251
0
0
Elkhorn, NE
#21
You mentioned in your article that you plan to do 12 channels of correction. For those that need fewer channels (or if you want to play around :)), multiple Mytek 192-DSD DACs can be used. When using ASIO output, subsequent Mytek's show up as extra channels of the same audio device and all the Mytek's use one clock. This weekend I helped (remotely) someone setup two Myteks for a two channel/stereo sub system and it worked great. The downside is you can't have the Mytek decode DSD if you want to use bass management or convolution.

The Mytek is also neat in that it has RCA inputs and he can route the mains/sub signal from his receiver through the Myteks as a pass through. This allows him to easily switch between a C.A.P.S. two channel (with subs) or his receiver for other sources.
 

edorr

WBF Founding Member
May 11, 2010
3,151
0
36
Smyrna, GA
#22
You mentioned in your article that you plan to do 12 channels of correction. For those that need fewer channels (or if you want to play around :)), multiple Mytek 192-DSD DACs can be used. When using ASIO output, subsequent Mytek's show up as extra channels of the same audio device and all the Mytek's use one clock. This weekend I helped (remotely) someone setup two Myteks for a two channel/stereo sub system and it worked great. The downside is you can't have the Mytek decode DSD if you want to use bass management or convolution.

The Mytek is also neat in that it has RCA inputs and he can route the mains/sub signal from his receiver through the Myteks as a pass through. This allows him to easily switch between a C.A.P.S. two channel (with subs) or his receiver for other sources.
If you feed multiple Myteks a signal over USB and the USB input on the Mytek is asynchronous, wouldn't each DAC use its own clock?
 

zydeco

New Member
Oct 16, 2010
58
0
0
WA, Australia
#25
External (HDMI) sources?

Nyal

How are things progressing with the HTPC pre-/processor? I’m doing something similar – using JRMC and e18 DAC to work together as a digital cross-over (with room EQ. built into the filters). It takes considerable effort and, more importantly, disciple to stable Windows environment but I think that this is possible if one accepts maintenance activities. My main issue is that I’m limited to using JRMC as the source . which is fine for me but a pain for other family members that have adopted Apple TV, TiVo and XBox. Have you made any progress with supporting other (HDMI) sources with the HTPC pre-/processor? My recollection is that JRMC doesn’t support this model?

Cheers
Zydeco
 

Nyal Mellor

Industry Expert
Jul 14, 2010
591
2
0
SF Bay Area, CA, USA
#26
Nyal

How are things progressing with the HTPC pre-/processor? I’m doing something similar – using JRMC and e18 DAC to work together as a digital cross-over (with room EQ. built into the filters). It takes considerable effort and, more importantly, disciple to stable Windows environment but I think that this is possible if one accepts maintenance activities. My main issue is that I’m limited to using JRMC as the source . which is fine for me but a pain for other family members that have adopted Apple TV, TiVo and XBox. Have you made any progress with supporting other (HDMI) sources with the HTPC pre-/processor? My recollection is that JRMC doesn’t support this model?

Cheers
Zydeco
Hi, yes there is good progress to report!

The HTPC is built and completely silent, JMRC is installed and I am using the DSP in JRiver to get 12 output channels over the Lynx AES16e card at 24/48. I did some minor Win 8 optimization, nothing crazy. Everything is stable, CPU and memory utilization are ~10%, so it should have legs for trying out Dirac Live and the other room correction algorithms. The main issues I have had so far were with getting Win 8 installed from a USB stick and getting the Metric Halo LIO8 I am using for 8 of the channels set up.

I have some open questions about the video side for the guys at JMRC but once those are finalized I will be writing a blog post detailing all of the configuration.

I do not know a way to get HDMI into the computer and in any event I don't think JRiver would accept that as a source. I also don't really care about sources other than blu-ray either! I think you'd need a pre-pro for those other sources and either use power amps that accept both an RCA and XLR input and use one for Jriver HTPC and one for the pre pro or use Y cables.
 

prerich

New Member
May 21, 2012
232
0
0
#27
I wrote a blog article today about pre-processors and how their functionality might be deconstructed and split out to improve quality and ease ongoing upgrades. Thought you might be interested:



You can read the rest here. Thoughts & comments?
I've been talking about this for years in various places (even before Bluray came about) and most recently at blu-ray.com. I love the ideal of a HTPC as a prepro because I can fix it myself :p!!! I'm looking forward to your findings (my test are not as grandiose as yours ;), however I want quality). My earliest try was with DVD and my soundcard of choice was the M-Audio Delta 410. This combination worked extremely well at the time but it still faced stablity problems in Windows XP (prior to SP1). It was novel but the remote options, stability, and several other things cause me to shelve it.

Now with JRiver (I'm an avid fan of this program), I've reduced my sources down to one....just my HTPC - and no crashes with Windows 7 SP1. i use a HRHD Prime 3 for my CableCard programing. I was about to launch into the HTPC/Prepro land again by purchasing a Halo Claro XT - but that didn't materialize. I'm also somewhat for lack of a better word concerned about room correction. I love the DIRAC program but its pricey for someone that doesn't have deep pockets - and I refuse to use pirates for software! If someone came out with a piece of software that cost around $200 that did 7.1 room correction - I'd be all over it, but right now - I'm truly tempted to forgo the room correction software and just go by measurements, using apps such as REW and using apps in my iPad. Oh and since the Asus H6 is back in production - I would look at getting it along with the Essence ST PCI soundcard (yes my motherboard still has a PCI bus).

I'm looking forwared to your findings and results!
 

edorr

WBF Founding Member
May 11, 2010
3,151
0
36
Smyrna, GA
#28
Nyal, dumb question from the novice. I am warming up to the idea of going down the same path. I may end up having to bite the bullet and rip my MCH SACD collection. One dumb question though.

Would such a machine play physical BR discs through the optical drive? I watch mostly movies rented from netflix once, with no interest in ripping. But would love to have my concert DVDs all ripped and at my fingertips.

Also, a Dirac question. I know the Dirac PC version has no bass management. However, I don't have a sub. Will Dirac at least allow me to set it up as a 5.0system and route the LFE channel to my mains?

Other question. Is there any software / hardware I can integrate in such a machine that will decode dolby digital coming in from my satellite TV receiver?
 
Last edited:

mojave

New Member
Oct 29, 2010
251
0
0
Elkhorn, NE
#29
If someone came out with a piece of software that cost around $200 that did 7.1 room correction - I'd be all over it, but right now - I'm truly tempted to forgo the room correction software and just go by measurements, using apps such as REW and using apps in my iPad. Oh and since the Asus H6 is back in production - I would look at getting it along with the Essence ST PCI soundcard (yes my motherboard still has a PCI bus).
You can do 7.1 correction with REW by exporting the Filters Impulse Response as WAV and using JRiver's convolution engine. I've also entered the filters into JRiver's PEQ manually for many systems. However, I use Audiolense for 7.1 correction and it is much easier. You can buy the surround version for $320. It creates convolution files for use in JRiver's convolution engine. Once you select the first file, JRiver will automatically switch to the file needed depending on output channels and sample rate. If you are interested in an Essence and H6, I have one with various opamps. Send me a PM.

Would such a machine play physical BR discs through the optical drive? I watch mostly movies rented from netflix once, with no interest in ripping. But would love to have my concert DVDs all ripped and at my fingertips.

Also, a Dirac question. I know the Dirac PC version has no bass management. However, I don't have a sub. Will Dirac at least allow me to set it up as a 5.0system and route the LFE channel to my mains?

Other question. Is there any software / hardware I can integrate in such a machine that will decode dolby digital coming in from my satellite TV receiver?
I play rented Blu-rays all the time through my HTPC. However, if you don't use commercial Blu-ray software such as PowerDVD you need to use anyDVD HD to decrypt the Blu-ray. It does it on the fly and is completely transparent. I insert the Blu-ray and the main feature starts playing automatically.

You can use the bass management in JRiver to route the LFE to the mains and use Dirac on the output from JRiver.

The Creative X-Fi Elite does hardware decoding of dolby digital from external sources, but I don't think you can then route it through JRiver or Dirac.
 

edorr

WBF Founding Member
May 11, 2010
3,151
0
36
Smyrna, GA
#30
I play rented Blu-rays all the time through my HTPC. However, if you don't use commercial Blu-ray software such as PowerDVD you need to use anyDVD HD to decrypt the Blu-ray. It does it on the fly and is completely transparent. I insert the Blu-ray and the main feature starts playing automatically.

You can use the bass management in JRiver to route the LFE to the mains and use Dirac on the output from JRiver.

The Creative X-Fi Elite does hardware decoding of dolby digital from external sources, but I don't think you can then route it through JRiver or Dirac.
That is good news. I would spend the $80 on a Blu Ray player. My satellite TV listening is non critical so Dirac routing is not needed. However, since I would be running this straight into 3 dacs, having digital volume control would be beneficial. Do you happen to know if this Creative X-Fi elite allows you to control volume?
 

edorr

WBF Founding Member
May 11, 2010
3,151
0
36
Smyrna, GA
#31
The Creative X-Fi Elite does hardware decoding of dolby digital from external sources, but I don't think you can then route it through JRiver or Dirac.
turns out these cars are no longer in production, nor any other cards that decode Dolby due to DRM issues. I currently use an old Meridian SSP with 8 channels digital out to do the job. While big, expensive and wasteful, it works. If I run 5.1 channels digital PCM from the Meridian into the Lynx card, would that allow me to control volume somewhere on the PC in the digital domain, and/or run the signal through Dirac?
 

mojave

New Member
Oct 29, 2010
251
0
0
Elkhorn, NE
#32
I'm not sure what happens if you take digital PCM into the Lynx card. I just installed an AES16e in my computer last night, but I don't have a digital source with AES output to go back into the card. Hmm, I guess I could connect an output to an input and loopback in for testing. I haven't even opened the Lynx mixer yet and I haven't used a Lynx card before. JRiver can accept input from an ASIO line in so perhaps it will work.
 

prerich

New Member
May 21, 2012
232
0
0
#33
Hi

I am quoting your blog premises here for the sake of clarity:



Aren't we substituting a complicated box with another equally complicated and likely comolex to put together and set-up. What would be the price of such? Would the results be worth the cost?

Using for example a High End Sound Card would get you in the thousand easy. Now Processor, Power Supply, Enclosure, cooling and soundproofing could well get you in the vicinity of $2000, likely more.
I suppose a High End video card is part of the deal we can put aside video-scaling but we need to do well in video and gaming could well be close to $1000. Multiple inputs output may require multiple video cards ...
Then you need software, I am not sure of the cost but you are likely in the half thousand
Then you need to optimize this whole thing. What about things like Reliability? Ease of use? Support?

This gets you around $5000 easy IME. Aren't we in the province of substantial, good honest performance pre/Pro like the Denon 4311, Integra 80.3, etc? It becomes more flexible .. true to a point too much control leads to endless tinkering.
You must not "Newegg" often ;) ! A grand for a high end sound card?!!! You can get the Asus Essence ST with the H6 add on card or the HT Omega Claro Halo for $250 or less. You can even get a Lynx or RME for 600 or less. Power supply, Enclosure, cooling and soundproofing - a computer builder could get all of this done for less that $1K if they got the Asus/Omega route. Gaming is another matter all together, but as far as high res video goes, most mid range video cards are already 4k capable. Software...$50 bucks for JRiver, XBMC is free and I can buy my O/S very cheaply because I'm in education. I talk like this because I've did it myself.

The issue is that this undertaking is not for the novice, nor is it for the person that doesn't want to take the time to set it up. Now once it's set - enjoyment - but if you're an A+ certified computer geek like myself, you will tinker with it. The good thing is that you will be your own support, you can fix it, upgrade it, whatever - all you want. While everyone else was spending $500+ on BD upon launch...I got in with less than $200 including software, just added the BD player to my PC and the software.

In fact, my first BD player was in my PC...almost 7 years later - I'm still using that same drive (I thought it had died - but it turned out to be a piece of memory). Ease of use? I control everything from my android phone - couldn't be easier. When something breaks - I'm not going to hunt down a repairman that's going to charge me a ton of dough because it's a highend piece of gear...nope, I'm going to remove the cover (if it's hardware) and replace what's wrong. If it's software I'll find a fix or see what offending piece of software has caused the problem. My PC has been my major source for years, and now it serves as my preamp and source - but I will say - I'm not the norm.

$5000?!!!! I don't see it. If I went all out with a build, with a ton of drive space (I can get 3TB drives for 99 bucks each). I could build a monster of a machine for less than half that amount - and what it would be able to do would be more than the prepro's that you've named. It appears to be a winning combination for a techie geek! (So this is what happens when you combine a PC geek with an AV lover - that's a dangerous combo ;):D ).
 

prerich

New Member
May 21, 2012
232
0
0
#34
I enjoyed reading the article. Did you wait specifically until 12:34 to post it? :D

For a little historical perspective, you might want to browse the "Please post your "HTPC as preamp/processor success stories"" thread at AVS from almost 10 years ago (March 2003). At that time the emphasis was more on the audio card's drivers and HDTV Tuner software than on playback software. There was also an interesting "High-End Analogue Soundcard Shootout" thread at the same time that compared RME, Lynx, and M-Audio soundcards to a dCS DAC and Lexicon Pre/Pro.

Here are a few highlights my own HTPC as Pre/Pro timeline just for fun:
  • 2003: Build first HTPC and used M-Audio Revolution 7.1 soundcard for decoding, upmixing, and bass management
  • 2004: Purchased Theatertek 2.0 software with advanced audio pack - used for all movie playback, decoding, and bass management
  • 2005: Starting using JRiver Media Center V9 for music only
  • 2005: Purchased MyHD MDP-130 HDTV Tuner for HTPC
  • 2007: Switched to JRiver Media Center for movies, too
  • 2007: Sent digital out from HTPC to BehringerDCX2496 for bass management
  • 2009: Started experienting with VST plugins in JRiver for Parametric Equalization
  • 2009: Started using JRiver's Bass Management
  • 2010: Requested madVR be added to JRiver
  • 2010: Used JRiver for parametric EQ for music/movies
  • 2012: Able to route all computer audio through JRiver for PEQ/Bass Management
  • 2012: Purchased Audiolense for advanced room correction
  • 2013: Active Crossovers with Audiolense?
I looked at this post and said it sounds a little like me but just ahead of me (I used to use the M-Audio 410 with breakout cable, then I went to the Audigy ZS2 - these were all pre Blu-ray). Then I looked at the name, and then I said ....It figures!!!! How ya doing Mojave?!!!! I've got a question for you...do you know if JRiver will begin to support CableCard (since the FCC's ruling will make boxes mandatory). This would make the entire HTPC solution even better (I have to use WMC for my CableCard tuners for now).
 

edorr

WBF Founding Member
May 11, 2010
3,151
0
36
Smyrna, GA
#35
You must not "Newegg" often ;) ! A grand for a high end sound card?!!! You can get the Asus Essence ST with the H6 add on card or the HT Omega Claro Halo for $250 or less. You can even get a Lynx or RME for 600 or less. Power supply, Enclosure, cooling and soundproofing - a computer builder could get all of this done for less that $1K if they got the Asus/Omega route. Gaming is another matter all together, but as far as high res video goes, most mid range video cards are already 4k capable. Software...$50 bucks for JRiver, XBMC is free and I can buy my O/S very cheaply because I'm in education. I talk like this because I've did it myself.

The issue is that this undertaking is not for the novice, nor is it for the person that doesn't want to take the time to set it up. Now once it's set - enjoyment - but if you're an A+ certified computer geek like myself, you will tinker with it. The good thing is that you will be your own support, you can fix it, upgrade it, whatever - all you want. While everyone else was spending $500+ on BD upon launch...I got in with less than $200 including software, just added the BD player to my PC and the software.

In fact, my first BD player was in my PC...almost 7 years later - I'm still using that same drive (I thought it had died - but it turned out to be a piece of memory). Ease of use? I control everything from my android phone - couldn't be easier. When something breaks - I'm not going to hunt down a repairman that's going to charge me a ton of dough because it's a highend piece of gear...nope, I'm going to remove the cover (if it's hardware) and replace what's wrong. If it's software I'll find a fix or see what offending piece of software has caused the problem. My PC has been my major source for years, and now it serves as my preamp and source - but I will say - I'm not the norm.

$5000?!!!! I don't see it. If I went all out with a build, with a ton of drive space (I can get 3TB drives for 99 bucks each). I could build a monster of a machine for less than half that amount - and what it would be able to do would be more than the prepro's that you've named. It appears to be a winning combination for a techie geek! (So this is what happens when you combine a PC geek with an AV lover - that's a dangerous combo ;):D ).
Money aside (some people on this forum drop $5K for a cable or 8 stillpoints), the end result will get you away from spinning disc and allow me to zap through my concert BR tracks (and MCH SACD once ripped) with Jremote on an iPad. To me this is the overiding consideration in trying to piece this together (which I eventually will).

Also, if you can run a $500 copy of Dirac live on the HTPC (as Nyal is doing), you are saving the cost of a sota DRC system on a turn key box (Trinnov or Datatsat?), which would set you back easily $10K by itself.
 

prerich

New Member
May 21, 2012
232
0
0
#36
You answered this post about 5 days after I bought my Essence ST :(!!!! Thanks for the ups on Audiolense - I thought it was only 5.1 though. I tried my hand a manually entering the PEQ filters and did a fair job at it :) (Using Studio Six software). What are you using now for your soundcard? I would definately like an exa18 but the $ isn't there yet - I've got a few more important fish to fry.
 

mojave

New Member
Oct 29, 2010
251
0
0
Elkhorn, NE
#37
do you know if JRiver will begin to support CableCard (since the FCC's ruling will make boxes mandatory). This would make the entire HTPC solution even better (I have to use WMC for my CableCard tuners for now).
JRiver started supporting CableCard on March 8. I think they started with support for the Ceton InfiniTV 4, but have added support for some other products.

You answered this post about 5 days after I bought my Essence ST :(!!!! Thanks for the ups on Audiolense - I thought it was only 5.1 though. I tried my hand a manually entering the PEQ filters and did a fair job at it :) (Using Studio Six software). What are you using now for your soundcard? I would definately like an exa18 but the $ isn't there yet - I've got a few more important fish to fry.
Audiolense lets you configure it for how ever many channels you want. You could use it for a 7.1 system with three way active speakers for each channel and three subwoofers for 24 total channels if you wanted to.

You can also enter the PEQ filters into JRiver's parametric EQ.

I primarily use a Steinberg UR824 for an 8 channel DAC. I just bought a Lynx AES16e card and am having a custom 8 channel DAC built with AES input and balance output. I hope to get it next week. In a couple weeks I'll have a few days to try three Mytek Stereo 192-DSD DAC's for multichannel DSD, a Lynx Aurora 8, and a Lynx Hilo.
 

prerich

New Member
May 21, 2012
232
0
0
#38
JRiver started supporting CableCard on March 8. I think they started with support for the Ceton InfiniTV 4, but have added support for some other products.


Audiolense lets you configure it for how ever many channels you want. You could use it for a 7.1 system with three way active speakers for each channel and three subwoofers for 24 total channels if you wanted to.

You can also enter the PEQ filters into JRiver's parametric EQ.

I primarily use a Steinberg UR824 for an 8 channel DAC. I just bought a Lynx AES16e card and am having a custom 8 channel DAC built with AES input and balance output. I hope to get it next week. In a couple weeks I'll have a few days to try three Mytek Stereo 192-DSD DAC's for multichannel DSD, a Lynx Aurora 8, and a Lynx Hilo.
Well I hope that support included the HRHD Prime :D ! FYI...You're going to love the Hilo!!!! I heard it last year on a MAC based system and it was one of the best sounds at the show (speakers were the Joseph Audio Pulsars).

Audiolense here I come!!!!
 

prerich

New Member
May 21, 2012
232
0
0
#39
money aside (some people on this forum drop $5k for a cable or 8 stillpoints), the end result will get you away from spinning disc and allow me to zap through my concert br tracks (and mch sacd once ripped) with jremote on an ipad. To me this is the overiding consideration in trying to piece this together (which i eventually will).

Also, if you can run a $500 copy of dirac live on the htpc (as nyal is doing), you are saving the cost of a sota drc system on a turn key box (trinnov or datatsat?), which would set you back easily $10k by itself.
+10,000 ;) !!!!!
 

edorr

WBF Founding Member
May 11, 2010
3,151
0
36
Smyrna, GA
#40
as I am working my way into building the HTPC from hell myself, I have a short term decision to make about a laptop. My HTPC server will be sitting behind my audiorack and probably be without a disc drive. I will rip another machine and copy files to either a NAS or USB storage on the HTPC.

So in order to be able to rip Blu Rays, will any laptop with a Blu Ray drive do? Or there any other constraints I need to be aware of?
 

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