DSP Active Crossover

I'm considering trying a DSP-based active crossover in my system. I did a search to see how much this has been discussed, and most of the posts are pretty old or about active speakers. DSP technology has changed a fair amount in the last 15-20 years.

My system is digital only, and my speakers are 3-way, so it's not particularly complicated. I've been looking at the Danville Signal dspNexux 2/8 which has two channel in (with digital inputs) and eight balanced analog outputs. This appears to be available with AKM AK4499 DACs which are fairly well regarded sigma-delta DACs (although I don't know how good their implementation is).

This product has a fairly rich DSP software environment for programming filters, time delays, etc., so it should be fairly straightforward to set it up to replace my passive crossovers. 

My biggest reservations are 1) giving up my Denafrips Terminator+ DAC and nice-quality DIY preamp, and 2) using the DAC's digital volume adjustments. 

This unit is about $3K (maybe a bit more with the AK4499 DACs), so isn't terribly expensive. From the limited research I've done, this unit appears to be higher sound quality than the miniDSP or DEQX boxes, but I could be wrong. All my amps have balanced inputs, so I'd prefer to use a unit with balanced outputs. 

So, what I'm wondering is if the benefits of active crossovers and dsp equalization will outweigh the lesser DAC quality (assuming this is the case) and lack of analog volume control (currently using a relay switched attenuator). I'm also wondering if there are other dsp audio processors that I should consider (digital inputs, at least six channels out, ideally with balanced outputs).


@ricevs ,

No, you can not parallel SHDs. The Dirac Live only knows about 4 channels in the SHD. As far as the crossover are concerned you might be able to double it up although I think that is a silly proposition. You are much better off with Dirac Live than a three way crossover. It is hard to explain to people what total control over a system/room's amplitude response means or sounds like. You have to hear it. 

I don't understand how you were using a Tact for bi-amping.  Does it have analog line level outs?  Or is this a digital out for subs?  Or two sets of digital outs?  And how were you using the SHD?  Analog outs or digital outs?  And if you are using digital outs what external DACs were you using?  Graininess in what configuration and compared to what?


How is your active system doing?  How does it compare with the passive version?  Any tradeoffs?  My friend in Panama owns the very first Line Force speaker that Danny made and was made from Aluminum.  I just sent him a modded Peachtree Gan1 amp to use on the panels.  He modded the passive xovers with my suggestions.

@ricevs - Unfortunately I haven't had a lot of time to work with this yet. I've been buried with work (I run an ecomm business and do all the coding - getting ready for the holidays) so this has taken a back seat.

Setting up the dspNexus means I have to disconnect my passive crossovers,  set up an extra pair of amps and get everything plugged in, and change the settings on my subs, so takes a while. And then takes a while to switch everything back. So I have to be able to dedicate at least 4-5 hours to make it worthwhile and haven't had that much free time in one chunk in a few weeks. 

Once I get into November, I should have more time since I don't like to make changes to the websites during the holidays. I'm planning to attend CAF next month and look forward to discussing my setup with Al Clark and Richard Hollis. 

So far, I have gotten a simple crossover setup to work, with a limited amount of equalization to the subwoofer channel. It sounded ok, but will clearly require more filter tweaking before I can decide whether I like it better than the passive crossover.


Given how good your DAC, preamp and passive crossover are......I can see moving to a stock electronic xover as being just a side ways or lowering quality move.  The analog input and output stages are just op amps in the Danville (nothing like the analog stages in your preamp!!!).....and how good are the power supplies and routing and wires and jacks?  It is not made anything like the preamp you made or the DAC you have.  You are removing an excellent passive simple crossover for a way more complex and not as well done thang.  A better A/B would be to use the Danville as the DAC and preamp, as well.  Therefore you are not as much adding something but just changing.  You would then have no external DAC, no external preamp, and no analog cables between them.  You just run the digital signal directly into the Danville and then through their DAC and output stages and then right to your amps.  This is how Rich Hollis is using the Danville.  He uses no preamp or external DAC....he gets some pretty darn good sound.  And if you modded the output stages of the Danville you would then get even better sound.

This is why I am such a fan of digital amps.  You have no DAC, no preamp, no analog cables and you also have no analog stages on the output of the crossover or normal analog amps with feedback (or no feedback).  The digital signal from your source goes directly to the chip in the digital amp and then the PCM is converted directly to PWM and then drives the GaN output stages that drive your speakers.  By using two stereo digital amps you can bi-amp using the Minidsp Flex of SHD and you can build a two way speaker that is out of this world transparent.....because it has no analog crossover and has these low distortion digital amps (sonically low distortion)......all drivers mounted on open baffle and driven directly without connectors from the amps.....this is unheard of simplicity.  Of course, you have a 3 way speaker system with servo amps so going this way would make it way more complicated.....so this would not work for you.  I am sure you have seen my webpage that describes what I am talking about.  This is world class amp/speaker system for $6K.  If you wanted to go bigger you could run 6 12 inch woofers per side on their own baffle and run 8 planars in a long line source on another baffle fo another $2K.  Imagine the impact and transparency of such a monster.......and still only $8K or so.  We are talking 6 12 inch woofers and 8...eight inch planars per side.....open baffle, fully equalized and time aligned.....would blow you away...........just like your current system.....but look at the cost difference!  The only thing you would not get with such a system is super low bass like with the servos.  

Here are a few suggestions to make you current analog xover better.

1. Change the foil coil on the input of the midrange to a 12 gauge version (looks like 14 gauge? is what you are using?  Also, you need to go into the inside of the coil (all coils you use) and out the outside....or the outside to ground if used as a shunt.  I like the Jantzen 12 gauge wax paper coils.  Mundorf has some newer foil coils that are damped as well.

2. Change the Erse coil to a copper foil coil.  Even in a compensation circuit it still makes the same difference.  Erse coils are veiled....big time.

3. Change your speaker input connectors to WBT copper nextgens and cut off most of the solder tab in the back.  Then remove those massive speaker banana posts from your speaker wire and form the end of your speaker wire into a loop and tin it and wrap it around the WBT jack or make your own tinned hook out of 14 gauge VH audio cryoed ofc wire that you use as a spade.  This is much more transparent than what you have.  Even better would be to hardwire your speaker cable directly to the wires in the crossover....or use my plastic clamp system as shown on my Peachtree GaN 1 page.  I have not used any speaker connectors on any speaker or amp in over 40 years.

You could also try my Ground Enhancers and Music Purifiers on the input of your xover....mucho better sound for practically nada moolah.

Whatever you do....please....have fun.