In this new era of studio monitor calibration, there seemed to be a gap in the market: an affordable yet hardware-based solution. Now Dirac has teamed up with miniDSP to come up with a software and hardware combination for calibrating your speakers and room. This miniDSP Dirac Live solution is exactly what we were waiting for. Let’s hope it sounds good!
miniDSP Dirac Live Series
Processing the output of studio monitors, or any speakers for that matter, was, until recently, frowned upon. The processing quality was considered more detrimental to the audio performance than the gains achieved by removing the room anomalies. However, technology has slowly improved and in only the last few years this has more widely become considered successful.
As it’s still early days, there are very limited options if you do want to calibrate your listening environment. Trinov are considered the ultimate hardware solution, but that comes at a significant price. On the more affordable side, there a few software solutions such as Sonarworks. Surprisingly, even most monitor manufacturers still don’t provide self-calibrating solutions within their products. Genelec, for example, are amongst the first to pioneer the idea.
I’m an avid user of Sonarworks and the mastering house I use has a Trinov installed. Both systems work exceptionally well, with the Sonarworks sounding even more ‘pleasing’ than the Trinov in some cases. However, the biggest drawback with the Sonarworks system is that you must run the calibration on the master channel of your DAW. This eats into your processing power available for plug-ins and as soon as you leave the DAW, your ‘old’ sound is back. Apparently something new is coming from them soon as well, but this is the first affordable standalone system I’ve seen.
The miniDSP Dirac Live solution comprises the Dirac measurement and calibration software with miniDSP’s hardware unit and measurement microphone. Both the microphone and the hardware unit connect to a PC or Mac via USB. The Dirac software measures your room, creating a calibration file. That file is then loaded onto your hardware to ensure you hear a balanced sound from your monitors all the time. There are 3 hardware units available depending on what connectivity you require. Analogue, digital and digital to analogue, named; DDRC-22A, DDRC-22D and DDRC-22DA respectively.
I think this is a really exciting product and demonstrates how this market is growing. I could spend a lot of space here talking about the advantages calibrated monitoring has given me. But I would encourage everyone to investigate these solutions. The price point and dedicated hardware on offer here are really exciting. The only concern – without, of course, hearing the product – is that this was designed for the audiophile market initially. Professional studio use doesn’t feature in the marketing as heavily as I would like. However, I can’t wait to hear the results and compare.
For more information about the miniDSP Dirac Live Series packages, head over to miniDSP’s webpage. There you can buy the 3 variants of the hardware/software product, each retailing at 799 USD. Considering how much is in each package, that seems like a very good deal.
If you want more information about the software, or to purchase the software to run as standalone on your Mac or PC, check out the Dirac webpage.