The DEQ-2496 is a DSP-controlled DAC that has both digital inputs and outputs. It is primarily designed as professional mastering gear, but it can be adapted (without moddification) to be used use in a Hi-Fi two-channel set-up. There are 4 concurrently selectable DSP modes: A 10-band parametric EQ, 31-band graphic EQ, Feedback Destroyer and 3 Dynamic EQ's per stereo channel. Other key features include a 61-band real-time FFT Analyzer with additional auto EQ function for room and speaker correction (when using the proper microphone - sold separately) and a digital stereo width control for adjusting spatial relationships in the stereo image. Designed in Germany, made in China.
First of all, I want to thank everybody who has ever posted a review here. It has helped a lot over the years. I had a few laughs, read about dream gear, & made some really informed decisions when it came time to buy.
Secondly, this review may be a bit pre-mature, as I will explain later when I get to the hook-up chain of my gear.
Third, save some time and skip this review! Run, don't walk to the dealer & grab one of these things. Unless you have the ultimate in components/speakers and a room in your mansion to enjoy them in, you need a 24/96. This is probably the best $400 bucks I have ever spent on audio. So here goes:
The manual is better written & more informative than I was led to believe in reviews of this product. No, they don't hold your hand through the initial process of getting it up and running (this ain't bose home theatre, now is it?), but anybody who has even WALKED by a high school, let alone managed to get a diploma should be able to get it going reasonably well after a couple of hours. Get rid of the wife & kids for the afternoon, 'cause you need to concentrate a bit, but it is fairly intuitive.
I did the basics of set-up and was knocked on my ass! The sound was dynamic and involving almost immediately. It will take you several days or weeks to fine-tune, but my results were excellent almost as soon as I set it up. I knew I was on to something here!
A word about my gear: I have played the audio merry-go-round for about fifteen years now. Levinson/Audio-Research/Bryston and Vienna Acoustics when times were good, Harman/Kardon-Adcom & Energy speakers when the money dried up. I thought subwoofers would screw everything up. Wrong! I now run two Velodyne 15 inchers, and can't live without them. Pro audio? I thought that was for the strip bars & rock shows. Wrong! I got tired of paying big bucks for power amps that wern't anything special, so on a lark, I bought a pair of ALESIS RA300 amps (convection cooled, VERY important, no fans) for a little over $300 bucks each for a stereo pair. I have tried 'em bridged & bi-amped on my current Revel performa F-32's, and brother, these f***ers sing. I hit the "on" switch two years ago and they have been on ever since. Totally dependable (I've had bad luck with expensive amps). And now the Behringer DEQ 24/96. This is the cat's ass, so-to-speak. Makes everything come together. A tweakers delight, so get some long cables and hook it up close to you, because you'll wear a hole in the carpet setting it up and changing settings. There are also lots of sites and audio forums where you can get some real good set-up tips, a lot more in depth than I have been here.
I am currently waiting to take delivery of a Trends Audio "PC link 2" digital transport interface from a great outfit in Seattle, Wa. called AUDIOMAGUS. I thought PC audio was just plain wrong. Wrong! I use EXACT AUDIO COPY to FOOBAR & store it all on hard-drive. I am planning on using a USB cable from my PC to the PC LINK 2 to convert the USB to aes/ebu digital to the DEQ 24/96 digital I/O. From there, its on to my Benchmark audio DAC1 for D/A conversion. From there (phew!) it's on to a Mark Levinson ML-7 pre-amp (an oldie but a goodie, great for LP's) or straight to the balanced XLR analog inputs on the amps, whatever sounds better. Hey, $400 bucks won't kill anybody, and ya can always bring it back if it ain't for you. As far as I'm concerned, this thing is a lot of fun, remember fun? Hell, I even caught myself playing air guitar again, and I put the air guitar away years ago. I will update this review in a couple of weeks, after I get it set-up the way I have planned (thanks HEELS-6 in Illinois for the cable info & being a straight shooter).
Non audio part: SUPPORT OUR TROOPS! We play with stereos, they make sure we can! Republican/Democrat or PC/Liberal, it doesn't matter where we stand on the political part, God bless our sons & daughters for standing up. Canada/USA, we are a lot more the same than we are different!!!
The sound quality of the Behringer DEQ-2496 is something I can't attest to when it's straight out of the box, since I haven't heard it that way. I opted to buy the "basic" modification from Reference Audio Mods in California in February, '07 since web postings concerning the stock unit, at the time, argued back and forth between certain perceptable, and imperceptable qualities when using the analog outputs from the DAC - (which can be essentially avoided when going through the digital ins and outs and bypassing the analog outs). After some scrutiny, and knowing I would likely want to use it as a DAC, I took the plunge on the modded version. Right away I noticed that the DEQ sound was noticably more independent of the speakers. The sound was not as clustered around the drivers as with my humble Onkyo CD Changer. So the soundstaging improved considerably. The imaging specificity was a only a tad bit improved, however, but, then again, the basic mod from RAM does not include the much touted "Superclock III", which would likely offer considerable improvement here, as well as in some other departments, too. I'm not saying the imaging was bad, by any stretch, just that it was honestly acceptable to me and not a lot more.
The second thing I quickly noticed was the much-improved bass response. I was already expecting this since the Onkyo (which I now use as a transport) loses a lot of response when it tries to go southward of 25-30 hz as a CDP. But, not only was the depth nicely restored, but, the midbass (already just a little loose in the Onkyo) became more nimble and a bit more firm. On the whole the Onkyo's DAC seemed 'sloggier'.
Another virtue of this DAC took quite a bit longer to break in. Gone is the digital midrange glare that afflicted my system before. Together, with the newly recovered bass performance, the rig will play considerably louder - or rather I enjoy it a whole lot more when listening to it louder - than ever before.
The DEQ replaces an AudioControl Richter Scale III that I had used pretty much happily for years. As a DSP EQ unit, the DEQ blows it out of the water. Although I was familiar with the theory behind analog parametric EQ, in practice, I was unprepared for the surgical precision afforded me with the digital implimentation of it. Gone is the not-inconsiderable amount of overhang. The rig can play loud without exciting the room too much and the amount of, and the shape of, the EQ curve is entirely flexible and completely effective in my rig. My room is already fairly spacious and it helps to no end that my speakers are sealed boxes - vented designs are notoriously difficult to boost below the 3db down point in their bass response curve due to an increase in port noises and driver distortion - a definite drawback, when you can't afford a good sub. With the fact that my speakers also have a 3db down point of 28hz, I no longer entertain the notion of ever buying a subwoofer! Something I've never been able to safely say before. That's money I can better spend elsewhere in the chain.
But, that 'elsewhere' may just turn out to be the DEQ itself. RAM offers more mods that just the basic level one and they all look intriguing to me. Perhaps the one I can see the DEQ benifitting the most from is the custom transformer, but, that is $600 and I will have to wait a while, with my beer budget. But, in the mean time, I'm more than content to listen as is. Moreover, I don't feel in any way 'cheated' for being left with wanting to buy more. In fact, when I bought it, I was rather hoping there would be enough sound quality that would make me feel validated in spending more, farther down the road, and there certainly is - more than enough to enjoy what I have for the forseable future, in fact.