Add DSP to your Subwoofer for as little as $60
This is definitely the best $60 I spent on my Home Theater. But let's face it,$60 is about the price of a new video game. There really isn’t much you can get for $60 anymore. Yet, this device I am about to show you, completely revolutionized my Home Theater and was only $60.
Here it is the Dayton Audio DSP-LF. It is a DSP for your subwoofer that can automatically tune it to your room. Before I lose you, let’s try to understand what this does and why you may need one. No matter how much you spend on your speakers or subwoofer, they are tuned using an anechoic chamber measurement. That basically means that if you were floating in mid air with nothing around you; that is how your speakers would sound. SO when you see these measurements that manufacturers give out, that is what you think is what you are receiving.
Unfortunately, we aren’t all floating in space listening to our speakers with nothing or no one else around us. Although that might be kind of cool. I digress. But as soon as we put our speakers in a room, the sound reacts with that room. Now you might want to blame the speaker manufacturers for your speakers not sounding like you thought they would. But it’s not their fault. Every room reacts differently. That’s because it isn’t just about the shape of the room, but also what is in it and even the type of flooring. This is why there is room correction software is built into pretty much every home theater receiver and why people pay for room treatments. Unfortunately a lot home theater receivers are designed to adjust your main speakers, but leave your subwoofer untouched.
Now this is problematic, as it reacts with your room the most. This is due to the fact that low frequency sound waves, ie subwoofer soundwaves, are longer and thus react with your room more. So as soon as you put your subwoofer in your room, you no longer get the response the manufacturer claims. Basically your response isn’t what you want it to be. Now this will always be an issue that will need to be adjusted. Some of the most common ways you may experience this is that you get really boomy bass or bass that seems to just keep going around the room. Not nice and tight like you thought it would be. Another way is maybe you find yourself constantly fiddling with the volume of your subwoofer. Some movies it sounds fine, yet the next movie it is way too loud. Or even worse, maybe you have to fiddle with it in the same movie! Finally maybe some songs sound like they have really good bass and some jsut really lack it. For $60, this device takes your subwoofer and automatically tunes it to your individual room. So basically, it helps guarantee you receiving the response you thought you were buying in the first place. Let’s take a look at it and how it works.
In general there isn’t much to it. It has an in and an out in the form of 3.5 mm jack. I bought these which convert the 3.5mm jack to RCA – links are always in the description. all you have to do is plug your RCA from your receiver into the dsp and out of the dsp into the subwoofer amplifier. Then plug up the USB cable to power it.
Now this device uses an app to tune your subwoofer. You can do this manually via android, but it is easiest to do this with an idevice, such as an iPhone or iPad. With an iDevice you can use an auto tune. Now this is where this device really separates itself, so let me show you how that works.
First you need to buy the $5 I woofer pro app. Once that is installed you open it and navigate to room calibration and then wizard. From here the app guides you through the rest of the process. The first step is to take a nearfield response of your subwoofer. Why? We are trying to see what the response is without the room interfering. To do this, depends on the type of subwoofer you have. If you have a sealed subwoofer you will stick the iPhone microphone as close to the cone as possible. For a ported enclosure you will place it about halfway between the port and the woofer. Now I am showing you on a passive radiator subwoofer (which is a form of ported). So I will place mine in between the passive radiator and the subwoofer. Now it will test the response. And honestly, the response is pretty good. About what I expect from this subwoofer. Now let’s take a measurement from the main listening position, so we can see how much the room reacts with the subwoofer. Once again point the microphone towards the subwoofer and take a measurement. Once that is complete I get the in room response. What I want you to notice is how far the green line has deviated from the blue line. I am now getting a huge peak around 40hz and it is dropping off fast. That means this room has really accentuated that frequency, which is not at all what I want. When that frequency hits, it’ll be close to twice as loud as I want it to be. So let’s correct it.
The next screen offers a few options. These are explained in the manual, but the two most used are boomy region and linear. For those who people that just want to get rid of the boomy region of their sub, you select boomy region. And for those who want a flat aka linear response, you will select linear. Linear helps you achieve your ideal nearfield response at your listening area. Said plainly, it gives you back the response you thought you were getting when you bought the subwoofer. This is the one I will be using. What I find crazy is that after it did it's measurements, it applied, over 100 fir corrections! And the response afterwards, is unbelievably different. It is completely flat, approximately + or – 1db. This is absolutely incredible for something that only costs $60. It has completely transformed my theater experience.
After I finished, I tested it out. Give it a good listen. As I was testing it my son joined me. And soon enough, my wife joined the party as well. We all could easily hear the difference. Although, my son is 4, so he probably just agreed. Either way, it was a noticeable difference. Gone are the boomy parts in movies and the constant fiddling with the subwoofer. In is the perfect response I wanted when I...in this case...built the subwoofer. It really is an incredible value.
But I am sure you are wondering, are there any faults? There are a few things I wish could be improved upon. First you cannot autotune with Android. I spoke with Daytons engineers and they explained, the app can adjust for iPhone since they use the same microphones, They can’t account for all the different Android microphones out there. So if you have an Android you will have to manually tune your subwoofer. You can do that with an SPL meter, by ear or with an expensive calibrated microphone.
Now typically getting an iPhone over to your house really wouldn’t be an issue. But during a Pandemic, it might be a a little harder. I ended up borrowing someone’s old iPhone and paying them for the app. And even still, I don’t regret my Android Purchase.
Next, the cables it comes with really don’t help. I personally wish it just had RCA on the back. If you already have your subwoofer in a spot, you have an rca cable run there, the way it comes you can’t directly hook it up. That is why I bought the adapters. They are cheap, but it would be nice if they came with it or that it had RCA.
With that in mind, it cost me $5 for the app to auto dsp and another $12 for the adapters. Some people have said at that price, there is competition, such as the Mini DSP. Which is only true, if you don’t care about the auto tune – since the mini dsp does not offer that.
To me that is what makes Dayton DSP-LF really special. Anyone can buy this and tune their subwoofer. You don't have to learn any programming; you just have to follow a few onscreen prompts. Not only does it offer an incredibly easy auto tune, but it does it really well.
Having said that, in the future I would like to see if they could implement a package deal that includes the imm-6 microphone which would plug right into any phone or tablet to use with the app. That would make an already great product…out of this world. And it would make Android users a little happier.
If anyone is considering buying this, if you can access an iDevice, even for 15 minutes, I would say this is a definite buy. I can't think of a better way to spend $60 that can impact your listening experience more. If you are stuck on android, and you can’t get an iPhone or iPad to your house, then it is still a good buy, but you have other options. I personally would still buy it, just knowing that I can auto-tune at a later date with an iDevice.
I hope this review helped you.
Have you had a chance to play around with the Boomy and Near-Field modes? I went straight for Linear, but wonder how to get a little more boost at 20Hz. I think my dual SVS PB-1000s have more to give, but the DSP-LF was afraid to boost that low. It's allowing their natural roll-off below 30Hz.