Prelimenary review Behringer Digital Crossover
Behringer Digital Crossover Prelimenary review.
or this could be entitled
Preliminary review and impressions of Behringer Ultra-Drive Pro DCX 2496
with a sub-title of Haldor knows his stuff!
I would prefer to call this an initial and preliminary review - While I have tried to be balanced, I believe a proper review is best done when you have lived with something for quite a while. I also think that a review is best done when the only change that has been made is the item you are reviewing in some sort of A - B comparison so you can make clear comparisons or at least with a
system you are familiar with. The Nakamichi CA1 I had been using for a preamp died a week or so ago - so part of that will never come to pass. With a new preamp 12b4 TVC preamp almost done, and me gathering parts for another amp the system will be in a state of flux for some time
Caveat - I am using as preamp a Phillips receiver that was an early "surround sound" long before 5.1, I've had it so long I can't remember how long and it is not what anyone would consider "audiophile" by any stretch of the imagination.
Let's get to the review - I'll put associated equipment and info at the bottom. I would also like to state that the purpose of this review is for the use of this equipment as a digital crossover for home audio use and not for _pro_ use.
Name of the unit is Behringer Ultradrive Pro DCX2496 - Behringer prints across the unit Professional Loudspeaker Management system.
The unit was $325.00 including freight, from http://smproductionsinc.zoovy.com. I have no affiliation with SMProductions. I will say it was the best price I could find and they shipped quickly.
The unit is a rack mount _Pro_ stlye crossover whose nearest equivalent that I am aware of is the _BSS FDS-336 MINI DRIVE LOUDSPEAKER MANAGEMENT SYSTEM_ which sells for approximately $1250 new in the US. Nemo at AA has made some posts about digital crossovers and when I asked him about the BSS unit he suggested I consider this unit.
Short version of features - for the long version click on the link above -
Basically you punch in selectable crossover points, standard slopes up to 48DB, your choice of Butterworth, Bessel, or Linkwitz Riley, auto time alignment/delay and a good bit of EQ options along with a certain amount of level matching - It was the time/alignment and delay that sold me on giving this a try.
Hook-up - In keeping with it's _pro_ designation this unit uses xlr (balanced) connectors. Well, you've probably got to do some soldering, becauseI couldn't easily find XLR to RCA conncectors, so I went to Radio Shack and bought 2 mike cables and 2 pair each of male and Female XLR connectors and soldered them to the ends of several pairs of the old monster rca interconnects I had laying around.
Impedance mismatch was something I had been concerned about because of the differences btween pro and home audio, but there has been no apparent problem, with my setup. YMMV.
Setup was a breeze - for Haldor anyhow - he set it up smoothly in about 1/4 the time I would have. Haldor brought a signal generator, and 3 band per octave Real Time Analyzer and he brought a very acute pair of ears - Phil spent about 5 or 10 minutes reading the manual (something on he learned on the way to getting his EE degree probably prompted this reading of the manual stuff) and the user interface was a breeze for him. During setup Haldor made several remarks along the line of "you mean they've got _automatic_ time alignment with this thing"? Haldor tweaked a couple of db in several places but we made no attempt at room EQ or time alignment because of time conflicts.
Listening - This unit is really good - essentially transparent - beautiful integration with the subs.The sound seems a good bit more coherent overall even in the mid and higher octaves presumably because the higher crossover point is taking the lower end stress off of the driver.
There seems to be a slight lack of depth of soundstage which I can readily attribute to the inadequate preamp and the fact that I didn't have my silver interconnects in the system, because they're hardwired into my new tube preamp which isn't quite ready. I had noticed before that the silver interconnects seemed to add depth and lift a slight veil when they were in the previous system. Possibly the time alignment will help some also. The Behringer unit is obviously doing the job for me very,very well.
As fas as I'm concerned it's a definite keeper.
The ability to match levels of amps and speakers, along with variable crossover points, slopes, types, and to time align while doing this in the digital domain make this unit outstanding for the money. I won't be in the slightest surprised if you start seeing a number of these units used in home audio as a digital crossover because this is an excellent solution to more than one or two problems.
Listening to the music has me thinking that most probably whatever the Behringer imparts to the music in a negative manner it more than makes up for by the problems that it solves better than other solutions. It's realy clean sounding.
As Nemo mentioned to me in discussions prior to my purchase, a pro audio person that makes their living on the road or in front of a mixing console will probably look at this unit with disdain - the construction and various mechanical functions do not appear to be heavy-duty enough to hold up well to life on the road or in a full fledged _Pro_ environment. However, construction is far more than adequate for a set it, forget it, and tweak now and then crossover.
Many people of my generation have never truly learned to program their VCR. I usually do pretty good with stuff like that but have to think about it - I'm really glad Haldor was here and did the setup. I wouldn't have finished until the next day sometime. It's not really that hard to set up. However, it's not really what I would say easy either - If you have trouble programming your VCR you would do best to have a "Haldor" who does pro audio on the side lined up. Unless you can't program your VCR you should be able to do it without "Haldor" and without a RTA - but it's going to take a bit of tweaking and careful listening to get it right. With the RTA Haldor dialed it in so quick I was surprised.
Source = Sony C555ES SACD
Pre-interconnects= Pure Silver Sound
Preamp = Preamp out section of Phillips FR880 receiver
interconnects = Radio Shack/almost discarded Monster Cable
digital crossover = Behringer Ultradrive Pro DCX2496
Amp for Mid-Hi = VAC 30/30
Cables for Mid-Hi= Pure Silver Sound Octets
Mid-Hi- speakera = Azurahorns - 1 metre Fibreglass horns with fostex FE206E drivers
Amp for subs = Crown Com-Tech 410 - 225 wpc
Subs = NHT1259's in Madisound 3 liter cab
Misc = Crossover point of 172 hz 4th order Butturworth with inverted phase - Initially the sound stage was somewhat collapsed and lacking depth, Phil inverted phase and Viola there it was. I had thought that we were setting up LR 4th order but at some point The unit defaulted to Butturworth ( or we did). It sounded so good we just left it.
Power filtration consists of one Powervar 12 plugged into another Powervar 12.
Dire Straits = Sultans of swing - the Very Best of Dire Straits
Getz/Gilberto = reengineered from 1963 SACD
Willie Nelson = Stardust SACD
Brassed Off = Movie Soundtrack
Baroque Weekend = generic classical with some nice tracks and good performances
I had planned to wait until I had more listening time but am going to be pretty busy for a while and thought I might put it off too long and not make the post.
If anything of import comes up I will add to this or make a post of such.
As I read this over before posting, I believe it covers it pretty well - I hope it wasn't too much detail, but I don't see anything I want to cut -
Thanks to Nemo for turning me on to this. A definite thanks to Haldor for coming over and bringing his son Martin with him. Martin's a really neat guy.
Thanks for the review. I have the dbx Driverack 260 which is a similar unit although it has a few extra tricks, but I am thinking of the DCX2496 for my center and rears.
You're obviously using the analog inputs if you are using SACD. Did you notice any quantization noise from the A/D conversion? This is usually at its worst at very low levels as a kind of burbling noise.
This is why it is useful to feed a digital crossover as high a level signal as possible, and why it can be useful to have a way to turn down the gain of your power amps to ensure this happens.
Were you doing any EQ, or just using it as a crossover?
I'm happy at least SOMEONE gives his experiences with this unit, I started a similar thread some time ago with little response.
Let me give you my experiences. I am using the unit to play CDs and I go directly digitally (AES/EBU) from my Philips CD950 to the behringer digital input (A).
I don't use a preamp, I bought 30dB inline XLR attenuators which I put on the Behringer outputs, from there directly to two power amps (my speakers are 2-way) and on to the speakers. The levels are such that the behringer just has to be varied within +/- 5dB to balance the speakers and to run normal listening levels. But I am thinking of replacing the attenuators with passive level control.
Before I had the attenuators, I used the Behringer level setting all the way to -15dB both on input and output. That definitely worsened the sound, less resolution and more dull. It appears to be better just to use the Behringer level controls for balancing rather than volume control.
If I compare this set-up, sound wise, with my previous one (using vintage Sony preamp and conventional xover) I have a better balanced sound, but not much different on the soundstage and resolution (which is very good in both cases). The limiting factor may be the CD player rather than the Behringer.
No noise even at lower levels. I haven't listened for any at levels lower than normal low listening levels.
Tweaked -3DB at 401 Hz Q= 2.5 and 2730 hz -3.3 DB Q= 2.0
I'm guessing the 400 hz is an more an anamoly of the horn, and the 2730 is more so of the driver - the Fostex has a reputation for being a little bright.
Having never attempted any eq previously, I was surprised how much better it sounded and seemed to integrate the sound
One reason I posted the review as a preliminary is that this is relatively new and I don't think there are many units out - essentially we are among the first users for these purposes.
The current preamp volume control remains between 5 and say 15 degrees but actually works fine - with a new preamp almost done and another amp coming I didn't want to fool with it very much and then have to fool with it again so I haven't even considered gain matching and attentuators, etc. at this point.
I tried to be balanced in the review about the Behringer and keep it to just the Behringer. However, I'm _very_ enthusiastic about how it has improved my sound overall and has taken me another noticable notch closer to getting there. The horns had never been optimized with the subs before because the plate amps wouldn't crossover high enough plus the plate amp itself rolls off too low.
Since I'm so pleased using an old receiver for a preamp -
If you haven't tried it, why don't you try using it analog with whatever pre you can find, redo your setup and see if it makes a more noticeable improvement?
The improvements I'm hearing have got me grinning from putting it in the system. In your current setup it may not have made that much difference for you, but I guess I would like to see you grinning too after putting the money and effort in.
Thanx for the review Ken... i have been thinking about digital XOs since 1987... hopefully i'll get my hands on one to play with sometime soon.
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