Don't like the DSP function. Wait, what?

I’ve been using Roon for more than a year and absolutely love it. Recently though, I’ve found my system has lost some of its ‘edge’. The emotional kick from music has felt dulled for some time, and the presence of vocals, or the kick from a bass drum for example seemed too relaxed for want of a better word. I had a friend round at the weekend and we played some 2 channel music through roon, and he thought it’s ‘ok’. When we played multichannel music not through roon the impact was amazing, and his exact words were ‘the 2-channel sounds broken’ - which I agreed with but had not investigated for some time.

Last night I did some probing. I clicked on the cog for the settings on my audio zone and was amazed to find that DSP was turned on (although it looked like none of the individual options were changed from default. I can’t remember ever turning it on, was it enabled by default on a software version change or something? On turning DSP off however, the impact and life suddenly came back to my 2-channel setup, and music became so much more involving instantly.

Can anyone tell me what is going on here? If DSP is enabled, but none of the individual settings have been changed or appear to be enabled, is there still something going on to the musical food chain that could impact SQ?

I have a Meridian 861v8 with an ID41 card as the roon source, feeding 8kse’s as my front pair.

I find the difference night and day - is there something wrong in my settings for DSP or do other people find their system ‘sings’ better without it?

Is headroom management enabled by default? That applies -3db, which could account for why the sound differs from what you are used to.

Thanks Geoff - it could be, although even at very modest volume levels last night (from what I normally listen at) the impact was still very noticeable. So even if headroom management is enabled, could it be the case that it is doing more than just applying -3db?

Hi Chris, what does Roon’s signal path look like, could you post an image?

Of course, will do tonight when home - usually though it is very direct - the only difference typically being 192khz material where the meridian dacs can only do 96k

Your Meridian setup is very similar to mine (861 & 8Ks), I’ve have Roon’s MASTER DSP switch off, as I don’t use any of the options (downsampling for compatibility excepted)… but I’ll try enabling it to see if I hear any difference.

I can also test with almost the same setup. Will see what settings I have. Sounds incredible so not expecting to find anything though.

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Have uploaded some screenshots - one being a 192k file, which is downsampled as you can see.

DSP is off, though the headroom setting was also set to off, so even when the DSP master switch was on before, I guess the headroom adjustment was not being applied?

Anyway maybe I’m going mad but my system feels ‘normal’ again, engaging, exciting and music with real emotional impact.

Chris

its very easy to A/B having DSP (and any sub components) in realtime. do you hear a difference when you disable/enable the dsp button while listening to a track?

Jumping in here, but for me, turning DSP off is like putting the speakers in a closet (and thats not an exaggeration) :slight_smile:

The reason is room correction in combination with a very bad listening room (4x4 meters, concrete walls). And if done correctly, room correction will improve the sound for everyone not sitting in an extremely well acoustical treated room (i.e. double walls with isolation between, slanting roofs, bass traps, diffusors, and so on).

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Yes no doubt, for many/most, room correction via DSP in Roon will improve things. I was just referring to the the OP’s question/concern about testing whether or not simply enabling/disabling the DSP function in Roon, even without anything within it enabled, makes an audible difference. It should be very easy to verify given that one can click the function on and off in realtime while listening to music.

Tried it again last night and yes I do detect a difference toggling DSP on/off (even with nothing further enabled), and I definitely prefer everything off. Really interested in others positive experiences as I feel I must be missing something, or doing something wrong?

Over the years, I have tried DSP/room correction on everything that could do it that I have owned: Tag AV32R DP, Linn Kisto, Classé SSP-800, Meridian 861v8 and lastly Roon. I have never once had an improvement (across different rooms in different houses). Best way I could summarise it would be that it always seems to lose an element of musicality - timing and impact just always seem a tiny bit dulled, the emotional impact of the music just never seems to reach the heights on the non-DSP/corrected option. I’d love it to work, as I definitely have room issues!

I’ve tried using simple solutions with an SPL, and more detailed options with REW etc. - just never managed to get the system to ‘sing’ with these options enabled. I am not by nature a ‘purist’, and have always gone with things when I’ve heard a positive improvement, even when I can’t explain why they work, such as with still points ultras, still points rack, Chord Sarum power cables, Chord Sarum speaker link etc.

But hey it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been told I’m weird!

In older threads some users have also detected that enabling the DSP function, in and of itself, changes the SQ for the worse. @brian could you offer any input on whether this has any basis? If dsp is enabled but all dsp functions within that are disabled, one would assume that the outgoing data is bit-identical?

Hi,

I had the same experience with my Aqua LaScala Optologic DAC. DSP was at first very tempting, I did used it to max oversampling (PCM) for several weeks. It softened and smoothed the sound in a way I liked.

Then I noticed exactly what you described, the music just became somehow boring. Lost it’s edge and drive (it was smooth however). I switched off and life was back.

I concluded, that this experience had to do with something with the new tubes in the DAC. I installed them when buying Roon and they were probably a bit corse at the beginning > smoothing effect of the DSP oversampling was really helping to mask some harshness. Then the tubes settled in and the smoothness became too much.

Headroom management was always on by oversampling (-3dB).

I have also heard people report that, but I tried it myself and could not detect any change. But then, I don’t have a very high end system. But issues like this might also depend on the Roon host, give it more work to do and it will create more noise and jitter, which might affect sound.

Still, the overwhelming majority of listening rooms will benefit from correctly done room correction, the difference there is far greater than whatever negative the DSP inflicts.

I had the same experience with these techniques, including REW.
They were using Parametric Equalization. A net loss in quality, i would not use it.

Then I went to Acourate, creating a convolution, and it was a huge improvement. I will not go without it. (Use it in main system, top of the line Meridian, and in a smaller room with Bel Canto/Mark & Daniel gear.)

Note that the filters created by Audeze for their headphones also use convolution.

When I think about it, that’s exactly what someone else said. Convolution sounds good, but PEQ in Roon subtracts from sound quality (even if its empty but enabled). Maybe something the Roon devs can look into.

I am using convolution only right now (room correction with built in house curve).

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Thanks Anders,

I am not familiar with Acourate - had a quick look on the website but could not see how this would work with Meridian kit. Could you describe how you use this with your Meridian please?

No, I don’t use it with Meridian. Don’t think that is possible. I use Acourate to generate the convolution and then put that in Roon. Roon sends the corrected signal to the Meridian 818.

Thanks Anders - I will check Acourate out. Any specific soundcard/mic combo you would recommend for doing this? I have macs at home, would expect that most mainstream soundcards would work with my mac emulating windows through VM Ware - have never had a problem using windows emulated before. And lastly, which version of Acourate is the one to go for?

Thanks for your help, Chris