A little over a year ago I built a ST-120. The ST-120 was the golden bullet
I was looking for. It sounds amazing and could not be happier.
After a few months with ST-120 I purchased a NAD C658 streaming DAC.
Though included, Dirac was not available at the time of purchase so I used the C658
like any other preamp/dac.
I spent several months listening to this setup feeding a pair of GoldenEar Triton Fives.
I was very happy with the setup; anyone who cared to listen were completely blown
away with the sound quality. My tin eared wife even noticed the quality differences.
Though I was extremely happy with the sound I tried Dirac when it became available,
it was included with the NAD so it cost me nothing.
If you are unfamiliar with Dirac, it is not simply a digital EQ, it is a digital
modelling/room correction system that does most of its work in the time domain.
In the simplest form, it requires 9 measurements per speaker to create a model of
time/frequency at/around the listening position. If you own a sub, add 9 more
measurements per sub.
Once collected the user can create custom response curves (the EQ portion) for the
main speakers and separate curve for subs. Dirac then creates a custom time and
frequency correction based on those settings.
Yes, I said EQ, but more importantly I also said time.
Timing information is adjusted for of all frequencies over the entire frequency range
per speaker; thus delivering balanced, coherent audio to the listener.
As I explained to somebody, its like this:
Living in Chicago we are accustomed to the noise and light all around us. The hum
of cars, trains, sounds reflected off all the infrastructure around us; the dogs and cats
and the neighbors wind chimes. The inability to see the stars or a mile into the
distance is a fact of life due to congestion and light pollution.
When you go to bed way out in the country you are suddenly aware of the quiet.
It all goes away. It can be disconcerting, or uncomfortable. If you look out the
window you can see all the stars you've never seen before. You can hear all the
nature you've never heard before. The noise is gone.
Dirac mitigates the noise by accounting for room response, reflection, timing issues,
etc. It allows the listener to hear the music, amplifier, and speakers by managing and
accounting for the horrors of most listening spaces.
For me, I have reached a level of listening pleasure I never thought I could reach.
I have the old - tube amplifier technology and all that it brings.
I have the new - streaming DAC with all the convenience of instant access to music.
I have the future - Dirac mitigating the influences of my listening space on the music.
Dirac does not take away from the ST-120, it allows it to be heard clearly.
For the record, 12 months ago I thought all the talk of digital room correction was crap,
experience has proven otherwise.