I calibrated Dirac Live remotely for a customer based Germany, their system is headed up by an Arcam AVR21 used a processor with several power amplifiers. The system is a 5.3.6 Dolby Atmos system with varied speakers some from KEF and varied subwoofers one from REL. His centre speaker is also his 83″ Sony OLED TV very cool and his sources are an Apple TV box and Bluesound music vault with Denafrips DAC for music.
The calibration started with me suggesting the customer change the speaker configuration he was using, I felt it was very front heavy and he would be better off using more speakers for Atmos and less for surrounds due to the speakers location being better suited, he later agreed it made a big difference.
The challenge of this calibration was the variety of speakers and subwoofers, they were from many different brands so obviously would have different sonic profiles and would need to be integrated together. Dirac is amazing for solving this issue and I am excellent at finding the right combination of settings to get all the speakers and subwoofers dialled in to sound as one. This is particularly tricky with three subwoofers again all different, but the system was configured in a way I could what each sub did best. The REL T9X was front loading the system ideal for music, a larger sub in the rear corner was providing the low end and the third subwoofer was helping to fill in and even the sound pressure in the room.
The customer commented that before the system sounded like a variety of different speakers playing sound at him, now he can hear all the speakers playing but you dont hear them individually its just one big sonic bubble of sound you experience.
I started the calibration using Dirac measurements to correctly set the phase for the subwoofers and the pre calibration level, this was all different to what the customer had set. We then took a correct set of measurements and I dialled in a system sound I thought the customer would like based on what he told me and how the system measured on the room.
This was tweaked several times to offer alternative sounds but the customer preferred my initial calibration sound, but I could tell he wasn’t 100% and I thought he needed more listening time.
We had a second calibration sessions a few days later and the customer asked for the higher frequencies to be reduced some and that tweak made all the difference for him and his systems sound.
I enagaged Terry’s consultation for a full Dirac calibration this month of October following a full upgrade of my home theatre with a new ARCAM AVR21 at the core.
With 3 subwoofers in the room, calibration particularly around bass optimization and expert knowledge of Dirac, were key drivers for me to engage the best possible consultancy in the market towards ensuring the best outcomes from my investment.
Terry did not diasspoint !!….
Initial contact was over the web through his online presence Request A Quote – Dirac Live Calibration
. Terry responded same day and we began the process which started with an overview of my system, room, desired outcomes and timing needs.
We interacted via email until all these were agreed along with the investment for his services for my bespoke requirements, which in my opinion were very reasonable given the overall spend on my system upgrade.
The fact that i am based in the north of Germany and Terry in the UK was in no way an obstacle to the process. In fact, I’ve been completely convinced through my experience and the end success of this approach where physical location limitations exist and can fully recommend to any in the same situation.
Recent ARCAM products have (I believe through a friend who is a dealer and one of the largest home theatre specialists in Australia) trickle down technology from Lexicon products within the Harman group of companies.
My initial experience after purchase, was these were not “easy” products to get the best out of and the user experience (at least imo) is an opportunity for improvement.
Along with the Dirac OEM license, i upgraded to the multi-sub optional license to support my 3 sub setup optimally in readiness.
Even at these early stages, Terry’s superior knowledge, professional and customer centric demeanour were in evidence. He recommended an improved configuration of my setup given my speaker’s placement in the room, to optimize Dolby Atmos front, centre and rear heights – toward seamless integration of the effect channels.
Due to some scheduling limitations at my end, we completed the lenghty and extremely detailed calibration session this past week.
Here an end customer needs to be prepared to invest the better part of a working day as its a roughly six hour process, give or take.
Terry provided me well in advance with a comprehensive list of all the requirements i would need at my end – all very straight forward in terms of equipment for the full Dirac calibration as well as for communication and software for him to follow and take control of Dirac through my laptop.
We started in the morning with a full sound check and individual speaker positioning and levels testing. Also having a mutual video feed on our mobiles, Terry was able to look at my room and microphone with boom-stand set up live and recommend the best positionings ahead of the formal measurements.
Once settled on final subwoofer positionings, we got started and it was pretty straight forward from my end, as i simply needed to move the microphone stand around as required and he took care of all the rest remotely.
Each subwoofer was measured and then he did his magic by seamlessly integrating them for optimum overall bass response in my particular room. Already at this stage i had a smile on my face as it was obvious his expert Dirac knowledge over many years of using and understanding the product came to the fore.
While no technology or audio beginner, there is no way that I would have been able to arrive at the end result he provided had i tried to do the calibration. ( I had in advance followed and tried the workflow in the software but the real trick is in understanding all the theory of bass acoustics and, the deep customization options Dirac provides)
Here alone the investment was already paid off in my opinion: I have NEVER had such clear, tight, seamless and pervasive bass response out of my subs, fully integrated in my lounge. Combining a TRIAD Silver, REL T-9x and a further Boston Acoustics sub is something i have tried but never come close to the bass response he was able to conjure!
Once the bass part was done, we moved on to finalizing the target curve based on all the measured positions and loaded it to the ARCAM.
From there each individual speaker was adjusted through small incremental and subtle adjustments until we reached the optimum levels for each.
I drive my LS50’s via an external Starke Audio power amp in bridged mode and, all my Atmos speakers (six channels in total there) via an Emotiva BassX amp. The rest are ARCAM driven.
To say that my system now sounds “night and day” in comparison to my own efforts pre the session with Terry is the epitomy of understatement. I have never had such an expansive and full encompassing forward soundstage in any system i have had.
This i see as testimony to the ARCAM processor in comparions to previous products I have owned, the Dirac software and, Terry’s expertise in calibration.
After a long day (with a couple of breaks in between) we finally were done mid-afternoon. For the rest of the evening i played a number of my favourite movies that i know very well and favourite high-res audio soundtracks streamed from my Bluesound via a Denafrips Pontus II.
i am still pinching myself… The bass response and integration is astonishing in each use-case and I feel like my KEFs are delivering to their full potential. I have to confess i have a few times “checked” to see if all subs are working as I can not discern any individually, simply wonderful clear tight bass coming from the fronts filling the entire room.
Same applies for each individual speaker. I dont “hear” anyone individually but all are contributing to the most amazing coherent sound.
I hope the above helps other prospective enthusiasts understand the process a bit as well as the experience in engaging Terry.
If you are invested or considering investing in a Dirac enabled system I can only recommend you to reach out to him with confidence. The results for me have been transformative.