The DEQ2496 is a DSP-feature-rich DAC. It has digital inputs and outputs (XLR coaxial and Toslink) as well as analog ins and outs for using its onboard DAC. Although designed with pro, studio mastering applications in mind, it is adaptable to Hi-Fi uses as well. There are 4 concurrently selectable EQ modes: A 10-band parametric EQ. A 31-band graphic EQ. A Feedback Destroyer. 3 Dynamic EQ's per stereo channel. There is also a 61-band FFT Analyzer (microphone optional) and a digital stereo width control.
As long as you can look past the low price tag and slightly low-rent appearance, the DEQ2496 is a remarkably powerful audio tool when used carefully. Even in the context of a high-end system, it can still play a very useful role.
My observations are that it's virtually transparant if used in fully digital (i.e. in digital 'loop' or between digital source and transport) mode, but that it's analogue stages should be avoided in high-performance systems. It's VERY powerful features are NOT as difficult to use and understand as people may believe as long as you take your time, read the manual carefully and explore the menus.
If used as a room response correction device (as I do), I would recommend avoiding the Auto EQ function completely as it's rather OTT and will radically alter the sound balance of your carefully selected amp and speakers. Which assuming you like them originally, is not a great idea.
Instead I would suggest using the mic and RTA feature with the Pink Noise generator and just try gently targeting obvious peaks with the Parametric EQ function. This allows you up to pick up to 10 target frequencies where you can boost or cut (though I'd always just cut and not boost as this is less intrusive) and vary the width of the bandwidth and frequency of each. This is also the best way to deal with bass nodes, although in this case I'd use this tool identify the frequencies and add a few db of attenuation at a time and listen for improvements
I have used this unit in my home system for around 6 years for full range EQ and room correction. The price and features are exceptional and it is a very powerful tool that is useful for more than most will give it credit for. Some have commented that it has some sonic degradation in the midrange, but I have not experienced this. In my experience it is quite transparent, although it is possible that some audiophiles with extremely revealing speakers may not agree. I'm suspicious that the problem is more imaginary than real. Some audiophiles listen with their eyes and beliefs more than their ears.
Everyone who hears my system with and without comments on the improvement - it isn't subtle.
What I use it for:
* EQ in the bass range to take care of room modes (all positions benefit from this)
* "House curve" - I create my own tonal balance which sounds best to my ears, makes a HUGE difference; many guys would be better doing this than many more expensive upgrades
* dynamic EQ - I change the tonal balance with different levels so the bass is boosted at low levels, but this gradually comes off as you turn it up > balanced sound at all levels
* stereo width - I make it a little wider to create a bigger sound stage
* RTA - I like seeing how low the bass goes, that never gets old for me
It also helps with many DIY experiments. I try out different things with speakers, this lets me do it easily. Want to try open baffle? No problem - it will handle the eq needed. Want to put the speakers in a spot that makes them boomy? No problem - if the boom is caused by extra room gain you can remove it. Handy for a party.
I can only attest to the performance of the DEQ as RAM-modified device since I bought it, in February of '07, never having heard it in either stock or modified form. The people at RAM did a great job and I now find myself eager to get more than this "basic-level" mod done for it. It has an excellent sound as a DAC, but, I'm aiming for even more. Decades ago I believed in the "the-source-is-the-most-important" school of HiFi. With the advent of digital I somehow fell asleep and convinced myself that digital was somehow going to make the "your-system-is-only-as-good-as-its-weakest-link" theory the over-riding one. If for no other reason than an entry-level digital player should be nearly as good as a mega buck machine, I thought. But, as an audiophile I finally had to realize after a few failed attempts that I would ultimately have to commit to making digital sound as good as analog if I was ever going to get out of it what I want. That would have been too expensive for me had I not discovered the possibility of having equipment professionally modified.
But finding someone who could modify this particular EQ was a godsend! The difference between a fully DIGITAL parametric equalizer and a an analog EQ is huge! Stunning precision. An analog EQ would offer, of course, continuous adjustments - and a fair amount of noise. Digitally, there are a finite number of center frequencies and octave widths (slopes, or "Q"s) to choose from. But with the DEQ there are "only" more than 330 center frequecies per channel on tap!!! Equally importantant is that you can easily go from 1/10th of an octave to TEN octave wide!!! And "only" 64 user-defined memories!!! Ever try all that with analog?? And, being in a contained chassis, means I need not rely on computers that have their own sound quality issues - especially for me and my stated goal of trying to make digital truly sound like analog. The DEQ allows me to sidestep the computer route altogether.
"But wait, there's more!" There is a feature on the DEQ called "stereo width". If you investigate the literature it wil no doubt strike you (as it did me) as a cheesy, stoopid little gimmick - an after thought included because "they could" - trust me, nothing could be further from the truth!!! Having lived with this feature for some time now, I've found it utterly indispensible!. In fact, I won't listen without it. It is totally digital (I remember a weak-sister analog version on a Technics receiver in the 70's - it really WAS a gimmick) and it's now totally uptaded, including being able to compensate for bass frequencies that are shifted at a different rate than the rest of the spectrum, eccentric asymmetry controls to compensate for off-centered listening positions in unique ways no balance control could ever THINK about doing!. And the width feature doesn't just shove everything toward the extremes of the soundstage and leave gaps toward the middle. Instead everything is precisely scaled in perfect proportion as it is widened. Plus it's all easily adjustable from far-wider-than-normal (or wider than I think anyone would ever need) through normal to totally mono! My floor-standers in my system have the ability to, on the most extreme CD examples of off-stage recorded sounds I have, display those sounds 6 to 8 inches from the outside edges of their cabinets. With the DEQ I can if, I want to, reflect whole instruments off the side walls 5 and 1/2 FEET away!!! NO BS!! And that's not nearly at the maximum setting! It simply represents the maximum distance my speakers, even with the DEQ, can reach - who knew!? Not only can I do that if I want to, I've found that I DO want to do just that. I now have a super-wide soundstage that in every other respect is comepletely accurate. Musical instruments that are recorded off-stage are rendered so without any "holes" between them and the rest of the soundstage (if the speakers are placed the right distance from the side walls) and those instuments are as fully fleshed out as any other in the mix - just how much so is down-riight spooky - in fact it's a lot like having 4 identical speakers in front. Bear in mind, these speakers have a response from from 28-36k +/- 3db - but EVERYTHING from a triangle to a string bass is wholely identifiable as a distinct instrument in its own space, without image wander, and no "ping-pong" effect between the side wall and the near speaker! Yet large groupings of massed instruments, like violins, now have room to breathe without sounding manipulated or processed in ANY way at all. In fact, if the recording, as many of mine are, is naturally lacking in off-stage instruments, there's not that much indication that anything is different. Not until you play something with extremely lateral examples of those sounds does the system do something you will instantly recognize as counter-intuitive. People spend time and money to tame side-wall reflections, but, I've had cause to rethink that strategy altogether. It may not strike you as particularly "purist", but then, that's what I considered myself to be - until I heard this setup! I don't know of it being offered, by anyone, on anything other than the DEQ.
If your budget is modest, I don't see how anyone can go wrong, even if all you ever do is use it in stock form between a CDP and a DAC, this is an unusual and amazing device!
I already reviewed the unit in detail earlier. Now half a year passed, I changed my system - in came Stereophile class A amp/preamp/dac combo, Golden Tube moved to the bedroom system. But the Behringer stayed put! It is totally addictive - I can’t listen without it. Totally tuning the room with loads of ugly acoustic treatment would probably yield better sonic results anyway (compared to DEQ2496), but it would cost an arm and a leg, and wouldn’t look nice at all. So for now I plan to get a second Behringer DEQ2496 for my other system. I can also add that DEQ2496 is not put to shame when used with higher quality components. Also, when directly compared to my Benchmark DAC1 the analogue outs of DEQ2496 (now I use only its digital outs) hold its own, although Benchmark is a little better overall. The difference is not very big - if I knew I don’t think I would have spent $1k on Benchmark and instead would do some mods like http://www.audiosmile.co.uk/deq2496.htm. Also, now I prefer AQ Optilink-3 with it, instead of coax or AES/EBU. And, if you get a DEQ2496, don’t forget that it is not just a room corrector, it is actually an EQ, the ultimate tone control! Correct your room acoustics, save results as a preset, and then experiment - tweak the sound to your liking. Have fun ;-)
A fantastic unit! A must have digital instrument for correcting major or minor flaws in room accoustics / speakers interaction. Of course, it cannot completely alleviate poor room accoustics and inacurate / wrong speaker placement, but it adresses the worst problems and makes the audio experience MUCH more ejoyable. Best used as a digital EQ: Digital source (DVD/CD/PC/etc.) > Jitter Supression unit (optional, but mandatory for LQ dig sources or long dig cables or soundcards), for example the excellent Behringer SRC2496 Ultramatch Pro > Behringer DEQ2496 Ultracurve Pro > High-End DAC of your choice. Also, DEQ2496 has very good DACs in it (but requires at least 2 week break-in to sound any good), so it can run straight into your preamp or integrated amp. It is in fact a cheap equivalent of the famous and expensive TACT room correction system. Also you can use it as a studio-grade digital equalizer to tailor the sound to your taste or to correct the CD mastering errors, or for loudness compenation for late-night listening.
ECM8000 calibrated milke is a mandatory buy to employ the acoustics/speaker correction (called AutoEQ), as well as a balanced (XLRf-XLRm) mike cable long enough to place the mike at your usual listening position, as well as a cheap mike stand. It sounds pretty good as is, but there is a number of tweaks in the web to make it competitive with Benchmark DAC1, Apogee and the like.
I had it only for about a month and I will not listen without it! It improves everithing from soundsage to overall tonal coherance. My main system consists of a fully modded / upgraded Golden Tube Audio 40 wpc single-ended class A tube amp driving Triangle Heliade ES - French floorstanding 3-ways on granite pillars and custommade spikes, Behringer SRC2496 and DEQ2496, Musical Fidelity X-10D V3, Musical Fidelity X-CAN V3 modded into a preamp, and a bunch of digital sourses including old Marantz 63 Ishiwata Signature, 1TB HDD media player, cheap Pioneer DVD-A/SACD and other gear, but I mostly listen to my computer as a source - it runs on Zalman Reserator and is dead-silent. IC are AQ Lapis, Nordost Red Dawn, DIG IC are Apogee and Canare, SC are Kimber 8TC double run, power cables custom built of pure silver. I am telling this to show that I would not hype some el-cheapo unit like DEQ2496 if it didnt work wonders! I mean, just signal tubes in my setup cost more than the Beringer. DEQ2496 is an incredible bargian.
HOWEVER IF YOU HAVE PERFECT ACOUSTICS IN YOUR ROOM AND PERFECT SPEAKERS, AND IF YOU DONT WANT TO EQ YOUR SOUND, THEN YOU DONT NEED THE UNIT AT ALL!