2.1 bass management with 2 DACs and Zones (an experiment)

I have a 2.1 system I listen to from my computer, and while it sounds good I would like to get some bass management into it. The sub has crossover so I can make that play the frequencies I want, but the monitors get full signal, which I would like to avoid to make them able to focus on higher frequencies.

Strangely enough, finding some neat hardware that solves this is very hard (it’s not like I am alone with this problem). A USB DAC with bass management is also non-existent, at least in my price range.

If anyone know of good and not terrible expensive solution for this, please let me know.

But then I got a little creative. I have an old DragonFly DAC (the 1.2 version) and the newer and improved DragonFly Red. So here is what I tried:

  1. Connect both DACs to computer, and add them in Roon as 2 zones
  2. Group the zones in Roon, so they get the same digital stream from Roon
  3. Connect one DAC to the monitors, and another to the sub.
  4. Add highpass filter to the sub-DAC in Parametric EQ, at around 80 Hz and 24 dB/octave
  5. Add lowpass filter to the monitor-DAC in Parametric EQ, at around 80 Hz and 24 dB/octave

And it works very well, and as far as I can tell is an optimal crossover solution from an audio-standpoint (this assumes that the timings in the DAC is 100% similar though). However, my DAC get its volume from Windows, so controlling volume from Windows don’t seem possible. So I had to choose DSP volume and change volume in Roon.

If Roon could add a “link volume” between Zones, and send Windows volume information to both DACs, this solution would be perfect :slight_smile:

@allo.com Allo.com have the Piano 2.1 DAC that will probably do what you need but I have yet to see some specific set of instructions how to go about the splitting of the bass filtered output to one or 2 subs.


There appears to be new firmware for this board too but there are no instructions I could find on how to install it? Johan???

Looks DIYish, I would prefer something with a box around at least, and I would guess you need the Vana player. Still, its an option.

Sorry wizardofoz , team has left and will be back on Monday. What I do know is that they released new dsp flow a few weeks back

I will ask for clear instructions when they come back to work

Happy Easter and enjoy the long weekend .

Read a little more, don’t that need Rasperry Pi? I don’t have that (but if the need is great I guess I could get one). I play directly from my computer through USB -> Dragon Red USB DAC -> 2.1 speakers

Magnus , we will release Vana player in alu casing that will work out of the box

Does that mean I can use it directly from USB, and handle bass management? Can it handle FIR filters as well? That would be awesome, because then I would get room correction working on all audio and not just from Roon.

Any comparisons in sound quality compared to what I have now, which is DragonFly Red?

Cool solution using the 2 DACs - I wonder too if clock sync is an issue that you can hear?
You could look at this option from miniDSP which is a DAC and DSP in one.


With 2.1 as the target you would also need to purchase a software plugin for the unit for $10:


Cheers, and it supports REW which means it can handle the room correction as well. Anyone know the quality of the DAC in those? Will they take volume information from Windows without using the Windows-mixer (i.e. in exclusive mode)?

I can not hear any clock problem in my 2-DAC hack, but that does not mean it does not exist. To be safe, it would be best to use identical DACs, and even then its no guarantee,

Any clock differences between the two DACs will be swamped by timing differences between the two zones.


Yes RPi is needed for the Allo piano to function…not for a USB connection but it’s a cheap setup if you don’t mind a little diy

Minidsp 2x4hd would mayb work better if you like the idea of rew and whatnot but I think the spec tops out at 24/96 or at best 24/192. It’s also has different plugins that you need to decide on and it’s boxed etc. an added plus is an analogue input that can be used too.

I just found this: Rolls SX45 but as always with devices like that its hard to know what effect they have on the sound quality. But if it works good, its an alternative. I would like a sharper falloff though.

It frustrates me that there is no clean solution for this. Surely I am not the only one running a 2.1 HiFi setup directly from the USB DAC :rage:

I guess I have to buy monitors with support for high-pass filter (Dynaudio BM5 MKIII seems a good choice).

Pretty much every HT receiver has the features you’re after, plus built in amps to boot!
What’s your budget and what is the miniDSP solution missing?

I use active speakers and sub connected directly to an USB DAC from computer (my home office), and cluttering the desk with a receiver feels unnecessary.

The miniDPS solution is great, but I already have a DAC (DragonFly Red) and then I have to replace that, and while miniDSP has bass management (and more) I don’t want to sacrifice overall music quality and I feel a little suspicious about DIYsh solutions and music quality (but maybe I am wrong).

If I know I can upgrade my DAC and get 2.1 support that would be ok, for example the Parasound P5, but $1000 feels a little step. For that price, I would rather upgrade my monitors to better sounding ones with a high pass filter.

Has Roon changed in this matter ?

Wouldn’t the HT receiver convert the output from the DAC back into digital to do the 2.1 split? If so, any benefit from a decent high-quality USB DAC would be lost.