One DAC to Rule it All

Sorry for the "click-bait" headline. The digital side of my system is an Auralic G1 sending to an OKTO DAC8 Stereo. I like the sound a lot, but I also use a DBX Venu360 digital crossover system to split the signal to my mains and subs. The DBX gets an analog signal from my preamp (Benchmark HP4), but to do its function the DBX unit converts to digital, then back to analog at 96Khz. My question is, since the DBX unit has the capability to receive a digital signal (AES/EBU), would it be better to use just one DAC (DBX) to do it all, or stick with the double converting and keep the OKTO in the system?



I agree that only you will be able to tell if you prefer the sound of the DBX (as a DAC) or your OKTO. I’d try it without the OKTO and perhaps live with that for a few weeks or months.

As I recall, @mijostyn has posted about this in the past and he is a long time user of DSP “preamps” for crossover and bass/room correction. He’s even supporting a very nice turntable with this solution, perhaps he’ll weigh in on this.

I’m still using an analog crossover for subs, however, I am intrigued by the capabilities of digital solutions. And I think they are only going to get better.

I am currently running a similar setup where I high-pass the signal from my DAC to my amp/main loudspeakers, and separately send a signal to my subwoofer. I am also using a DBX solution--however, unlike your setup, mine does not perform additional ADC/DAC to the signal. I am using the balanced XLR output from my DAC to the DBX 223xs active balanced crossover to split the signal at an analogue level, which is then delivered via balanced XLR to my power amp on the high level. You may want to consider this option if you're looking to avoid excessive DAC/ADC conversions in your chain. It sounds great for me, and I agree, relieving the main loudspeakers of the lower frequencies and letting the subwoofer pick them up is a great setup (although in my case, I needed to do it to fix a huge room gain at 43hz--I high-pass the main loudspeakers starting around 70hz and then set the low-pass in my subwoofer's DSP at 30hz plus a -12db curve at 43hz in the DSP's parametric EQ), both are 24db/octave roll-off, and it manages to give me a flat response without excess phase shift since it is a 4th order crossover on both ends. the DBX 223 comes in single-ended version as well.


@rhg3 finally found me. Here I am in all my glory.

OK. @koestner the problem is you need a DAC channel in front of every amplifier channel, in your case we are dealing with 4 channels, two subwoofer and two main. The dBx has 6 DAC channels in it. Any additional channels are not required. It is really a small professional PA system unit with features like feedback suppression for microphones. 

Between you me and the woodwork the DACs in the dBx are not so hot. The improvement of a digital two way crossover in managing subwoofers can not be overstated, however I think you need to head in a more streamlined direction. I spoke with the folks at Benchmark recently and they are extremely cost conscious. What they are doing is using a MiniDSP SHD Studio and two of their stereo DACs. They say they are getting terrific results with this. The Studio includes Dirac Live and Streaming. Even more streamlined is getting a full function digital preamp. These usually include an ADC with several analog inputs, some even have a phono stage, bass management, room control and streaming. Examples are the MiniDSP SHD and SHD Studio, Anthem STR, Trinnov Amethyst and my personal favorite the new DEQX PRE series. Prices range from $1300 for the MiniDSP to $13,000 for the DEQX PRE 8. The problem you can run into using separate digital items is they can get confused talking to each other causing jitter. You can handle that with a master clock if the equipment has a clock input. In the past each digital piece had it's own DAC and signals were passed in analog. Now we use much cleaner digital interconnections. Unfortunately that leaves the door open for clocking problems. This problem disappears when the clocking is handled by one piece.

I think you should look into the MiniDSP SHD studio. You have one DAC. Just get another one and you are in business. Should you choose to get one order it with the UMIK 2. It is a much better microphone. Any unit can only be as good as the data you give it.

What subs are you using and what is your crossover point and slope?

My subs are 15" drivers in a 3 ft^3 sealed box. They are powered by a Crown 2500 amp, and the drivers are 4 Ohm. My listening room is large because my home is an open floor plan and the system is in the living room. 

I'm going to the Tampa hi-fi show tomorrow and I will ask around what others are doing too. For now I will stick with the DBX unit to learn all its functions before ditching it for something else. That way I will have more knowledge before embarking down another path. I'm interested in the DEQX units, but they are delaying their release of some new pieces. I don't know why.