What hardware and DACs are used in the Discovery Music Server?
The ELAC Discovery uses a Quad Core ARM9 Processor running at up to 1.2Ghz. It has 512MB of storage for the operating system and 8GB of flash for meta data storage. For the analog outputs a separate linear power supply powers two (one for each set of analog outputs) Cirrus Logic CS4398 DAC’s (192kHz 24-Bit) with Burr Brown op-amps.
I see two digital outputs on the Discovery Music Server. Are these separate outputs?
The two digital “Toslink” outputs are a simultaneous output. They are considered a single output. The Digital, Analog 1, and Analog 2 outputs are completely independent and can playback different or the same content simultaneously.
What if I cannot run a wired Ethernet connection from my router to the Discovery Music Server?
We have had good luck with a couple of “No New Wires” methods of connection such as PowerLine adapters and Wireless Bridges. PowerLine adapters utilize the copper wiring in your electrical outlets as the Ethernet cable. We have used adapters from TP-Link and Netgear with good luck. Of course every house different and we cannot guarantee that these will work in your home. We have also used Wireless Bridge devices which convert an existing Wi-Fi connection into a wired connection.
Does the Discovery Music Server support Wi-Fi?
The connection from your wireless router to the Discovery Music Server must be a wired connection (This decision was made to ensure a smooth user experience. High Resolution music can take quite a bit of bandwidth), however once the Discovery is connected to your home network you can use Wi-Fi to control and navigate the Discovery as well as play content to supported wireless speakers and end points.
What audio formats does the Discovery Music Server support?
The Discovery Server supports WAV, AIFF, FLAC, ALAC, OGG, MP3, and AAC. For high resolution audio the Discovery supports 24-Bit 192kHz WAV, AIFF, ALAC, and FLAC files.
How do I use the multi-room capabilities of the Discovery Music Server?
To add a wired second zone to the Discovery Music server simply connect a different set of outputs from the server to another amplifier, receiver, or powered speaker in the other room. By selecting that output from the bottom right of the Roon Essentials application you can now choose what you want to listen to and control the volume in the additional zone. If you want to add a wireless zone, the Discovery Music Server supports AirPlay devices (Apple TV, AirPlay Speakers, AirPlay Receivers), Roon End Points, Sonos Speakers ELAC Discovery End points. For additional information on using AirPlay product with the Discovery take a look at the Discovery Video section of the forums.
Where do I download the Roon Essentials Control App?
The Roon Essentials App for Windows and OSX can be downloaded from the below links. The app for iOS and Android can be downloaded from the respective app stores.
Roon Essentials for Windows
Roon Essentials for Mac
Roon Essentials for iOS
Roon Essentials for Android
Is a separate license required for the Discovery Music Server?
There is no need for an additional license. The Discovery Music server uses an embedded license that is tied to the Discovery Music Server. As long as you are the owner of the device you can continue using it. If you decide and some point to sell your device simply logout of the device before you sell it. The new owner will create an account and the license will transfer to the new owner.
The specifications for many of your speakers go out beyond 20kHz? What is the advantage of this?
Generally the frequency range specified indicated the limits of where the performance has started to diminish. Many dome tweeters that are specified to extend out to 20kHz are already up to 3dB down at that point. By engineering the tweeter to extend to over 25kHz, we make sure that it has not already rolled off by 20kHz.
What are the advantages of the aluminum drivers compared to other materials?
The best choice of cone materials is governed by the intended application. Not all materials are ideal for all applications. The advantage of aluminum for the bass driver is its good balance between performance and cost. It is easily formed, consistent in production and has a good ratio of stiffness to weight. More exotic materials have very little further advantage in this size of bass driver. With the midrange driver, we generally find ourselves working with materials that are not rigid over their operating range. For example in the Debut speaker range, we use Aramid fiber. This gives us the capability of carefully controlling the cone flexing to get the best performance. This difficulty in design is somewhat ameliorated by having a three way speaker, and also now allows us to change to an approach that eliminates flexing within the operating range. Aluminum, as optimized in the Uni-Fi midrange, has its first flexure mode at a high 8kHz which results in excellent performance.
What are the main advantages of a 3-Way speaker vs. a 2-Way speakers?
The principal advantage is that the drivers are operating over a narrower frequency range. As a result they can be better optimized for their intended purpose. In particular, the bass/midrange driver is no longer required to reproduce both bass ad mid frequencies simultaneously. This reduces the total amount of power going into each driver, reduces distortion and produces a clearer midrange and more dynamic bass performance.
What are the main advantages of a concentric driver?
First, what is a concentric driver? In general, it is a driver where the tweeter and bass/midrange driver have been combined into one compound unit. The tweeter is mounted at the apex of the cone, sitting directly on top of the bass driver pole piece, where the dust-cap would normally be found. The result of this is to match the off-axis characteristics of both drivers so that the sound is more even across the frequency range. The imaging will then be better, the sound character will be more consistent throughout the listening area, and will be les influenced by the acoustics of the listening space.
Is the microphone in my cell phone or tablet good enough for setting up the Subwoofer?
The requirement for the microphone is simply that it has a response that has some capability down to 20Hz with useable signal to noise ratio. The exact response is of no importance since that function is eliminated form influencing our process. We have found that the majority of modern phones and tablets meet this requirement. For those few that do not, it is possible to purchase a simple low cost calibrated mic that plugs into the mic input of the phone or tablet to give better performance.
How does the Auto EQ feature on many of your subwoofers work?
The Auto EQ works in a way that is subtly different from conventional EQ methods. In those, a calibrated microphone is required, and the response measured at the listening location is adjusted to match some “ideal” response determined by the software engineer. This is not the response that was designed by the speaker engineer themselves! Ideally, when the subwoofer engineer designs the subwoofer they have an idea of what performance they want the speaker to achieve. The limitation is that the room will modify this, hence the need for EQ. But the ideal is that the EQ gives at the listening location the response desired by the speaker engineer. This is the approach utilized in ELACs’ process. It allows for a clever change in the requirement of the microphone. We no longer require a calibrated microphone. In fact we utilize the microphone built into the smartphone itself!
The process is to hold the phone very close to the subwoofer, the so-called “nearfield”. At this location, the measured response is devoid of almost any influence from the room, and is measuring in fact the designed response of the subwoofer. Once this response is captured, the smartphone is relocated to the listening location and a second measurement made. Next a set of filters is adjusted automatically to make the response measured at the listening location match that made in the nearfield of the subwoofer. The actual performance of the microphone is now of no importance: it is the same for both measurements and we are simply adjusting to minimize the difference! The sound heard at the listening location is now the one that the designer wanted you to have. It’s a very cool technique.
Why do many of your subwoofers use a passive radiator instead of a port?
In low cost subwoofers, a vent is used to assist the bass out capability of the subwoofer. The vent is typically tuned to operate at the lowest frequency that the subwoofer is designed to operate at. At this frequency, the vent takes over the task of moving air to produce bass, and the driver itself does little of the work. The downside of this is that the air velocity can became very large, particularly with small diameter vents. At these high velocities the air becomes turbulent and you can hear this as “chuffing” noises. Although this can be helped by adding flares to both ends of the vent, it’s difficult to eliminate entirely. If the vent diameter is increased the airflow can be reduced, but the vent has to be made longer to keep the same tuning frequency. At some point, the vent becomes too large to fit into the box!
The solution is to replace the vent with a passive radiator. This is a driver unit of the same size or larger than the main woofer, but it has had its motor structure removed. It becomes just a passive diaphragm driven by the air inside the cabinet. The mass is chosen to match the equivalent of the mass of air that was in the vent, but because of it’s large size the movement is much less than the air it replaces. As a result, there is no “chuffing” and it behaves much more linearly.
How do you control the S10EQ, S12EQ, SUB3010, SUB3030, or SUB3070 subwoofers? It looks like they do not have any controls.
All controls for the subwoofer that would normally be located on the back of the subwoofer have been replaced by a remote adjustment over Bluetooth, accessible from our Sub Control 2.0 app running on an Andoid or iOS phone. This makes it much more convenient: the setup of the sub can be done in real time from your listening position, without constantly having to get up to adjust the controls on the back of a conventional subwoofer.
* If you own a S10EQ or S12EQ please download our latest firmware for these models. This new firmware will allow continued control of these subwoofers with our latest SUB Control 2.0 app. The older app no longer works with these models.
My receiver has two subwoofer outputs? How do I connect the subwoofer?
When a receiver has dual subwoofer outputs the two are typically duplicates of each other with a common internal connection. You are therefore free to choose whichever is most convenient. If they are independent, and you have only one subwoofer, then simply choose one of them and indicate in the receiver setup which one you have chosen to use.
What are the spikes for that came with my speakers?
The purpose of the spikes are to increase the cabinet stability to prevent them being knocked over, particularly when they are used on carpeted floors. In the case of wood floors or floors that may be easily damaged by the spikes, we recommend that you place something under the tip of the spikes to prevent damage.
Do I need a subwoofer with your speakers?
You may well get away without using a subwoofer at all, even with our bookshelf speakers. All our speakers are designed to have an extended bass response, giving up some efficiency in order to achieve this. If your listening habits are predominantly with music that doesn’t have super low bass recorded, or not at high levels, then you can enjoy the simplicity of just the main pair of speakers. However, if you have a large listening space, like to listen to music very loud or to music that contains lots of low bass or want to use the speakers as part of a home theater setup then a subwoofer would be advantageous.
Why is the sensitivity low on some of your speakers?
All speakers are governed by the laws of physics. There are in particular three parameters that are inter-linked : Box size, low frequency response and efficiency. This limits your choices. You cannot have both a small box and a high efficiency and an extended bass response. If you want low bass and a small box you cannot have high efficiency.
If high efficiency is a goal, then the speaker can play loud with only a modest power amplifier, but will not have good bass response. However, the number of opportunities for playing loud music at home tend to be limited. Most of the time we listen at only modest sound levels. As such, we sacrifice bass response for all our music, for the trade-off that occasionally we can play loud.
The Debut series priority was to be able to have extended bass and so we gave up somewhat on efficiency, recognizing also that higher power amplifiers are lower cost than ever, if one needs the ability to play loud!
Can I mount your Bookshelf speakers on the wall?
With wall mounting, rear vents may end up being in very close proximity to the wall. You are not likely to choke of the bass coming out of the vent, but you will strongly modify the sound of the bass, and it may be overwhelming. Two solutions can be used:
1. If using a subwoofer in a home theater setup, set the xover point to no lower than 80Hz. This will then eliminate frequencies that would normally come from the vent and reduce the problem.
2. If all else fails, sometimes stuffing the rear vent of the speaker will help reduce the amount of bass. An old sock or foam ball can work quite well!
3. Take a look at one of our on-wall speaker solutions
Can I use the your Atmos speakers as a standard surround speaker?
We do not recommend any Atmos enabled speaker as a general surround speaker. The Atmos requirements are quite specific in terms of restricted directivity and bass response. As a result the Atmos speakers are designed to be used no lower than 180Hz and therefore require the receiver to limit the low frequencies going to the Atmos speakers to 180Hz. Feeding low bass to the speaker could result in damage.
What amplifier do you recommend with the Debut 2.0 Series Speakers?
The Debut 2.0 speaker range all have an easy impedance level, so are an easy load for most amplifiers to drive. An amplifier with a minimum of around 40W/6 ohms should be adequate for normal listening levels in smaller rooms with up to around 140W/6 ohms for larger rooms and higher listening levels.
What speaker stands do you recommend?
The speaker stands should bring the speaker to a height such that the tweeter is at roughly ear level. This means a stand height of between typically 24-28”. The stand itself should be rigid and have a base area large enough so that the speaker will not easily tip over. It can help to spike the stand to the floor for better security.
What if I have to place the speaker closer to the wall?
Putting the speakers closer to walls and corners will give you more bass, and quite possibly too much bass. In such situations, you could try changing your listening location to one that minimizes the effect of this boost. Alternatively, a simple tone control might help alleviate the problem. Alternatively, if you are using a subwoofer, the setting a high-pass filter to the main speaker at around 80Hz will eradicate the problem. If all else fails, sometimes stuffing the rear vent of the speaker will help reduce the amount of bass. An old sock or foam ball can work quite well!
What is the proper placement for the speakers?
The $64,000 question! This is so difficult to answer with any certainty. It is so dependent upon the particular circumstances of your listening room. There have been some attempts to give rules of placement, such as the rule of thirds. This however in practice is just so limiting. Very few rooms are of a regular shape, and added to that are the different acoustic properties of the walls, the floor, the windows and of openings into other rooms, that blanket rules are largely wishful thinking.
Some clear pointers are that:
1. Putting the speakers closer to walls and corners will give you more bass, and quite possibly too much bass
2. Location the listening seat will give you more bass, and maybe too much
3. Listening dead center in the room will likely give you a big null in the bass at some frequencies and result in uneven reproduction of bass notes.
The simple answer is that there is no simple solution. Start by placing the speakers about 10’ apart, listen around 12’ away, keep the speakers around 3’ from rear and side walls, listen around 2/3rds of the way down the room, then just keep experimenting. Listening to some music with good, consistent bass that explores the full range of the bass frequencies, and then keep moving the speakers inch by inch and listening for the most even reproduction of each bass note. It can be a long involved process, but is worth it in the long term.
Why are speaker impedances different?
Speaker impedance is an indication of how much power will be drawn from the amplifier. For a given voltage from the amplifier, a lower impedance will result in a higher current draw and more power being delivered form the amplifier to the speaker. All other things being equal, higher impedance is a good thing. Of course, all things are not equal!
The speaker with the lower impedance will always sound louder when directly compared to one with higher impedance, so this is often a way that manufacturers can gain some advantage in such comparisons. However, as stated earlier, there is no free lunch. It’s louder because it is taking more power from the amplifier.
Unfortunately, there is not a good, easy way to characterize the speakers’ impedance or its demands placed upon the amplifier with music signals.
The most universally accepted definition simply states that the minimum impedance should be no lower than 80% of the rated impedance, For an 8 ohm speaker, this means 6.4 ohms minimum and for a 4 ohm speaker 3.2 ohms minimum. However, not only do many manufacturers ignore this basic specification, it doesn’t state over how much of the frequency range the impedance stays close to the minimum. One that only occasionally dips low will place very different demands upon the amplifier than one that is always close to the minimum.
Therefore it is not easy to state unequivocally whether a particular speaker will work on a particular amplifier. However, we do stay within the accepted limits: the minimum impedance does not drop below 80% of the rated impedance, and we try and minimize how much of the frequency range that it is at that minimum value.
What is stereo imaging?
Stereo imaging is the illusion created of a spread of sound between the two speakers that mimics the sound heard at the original performance, or that is created in the studio. It typically has parameters that include perceived width, height, depth, specificity and instrumental separation. Some systems and technologies can give a better image than others (our concentric drivers for instance), and some listeners judge this parameter less important than the musical performance itself, such as perceived rhythm and timing, musical communication etc.
What is the advantage of speaker bracing?
Speaker bracing is a technique used to minimize speaker cabinet vibration. Why would we want to do this? Well, for most accurate reproduction of recorded music, we require that only the woofer or tweeter radiate sound as governed by the input signal. However in practice life is not so simple. Along with the drivers moving, we get unwanted vibration of the speaker cabinet. The stiffer and stronger we make the cabinet, the less unwanted vibration we get. We can get this in many ways. We can use thicker panels for the cabinet, we can use superior material that are inherently stiffer and stronger, or more massive. We can also add bracing inside the cabinet to tie opposite panels together so that they cannot move so readily.
All of this costs money, of course. The skill in designing to a price point in a budget speaker is to decide where to spend the money in the overall design of the speaker. Sometimes, bracing does not significantly reduce the vibrations but just moves them to a higher frequency where they might in fact become more audible! So careful balancing of choices, less cost in the cabinet but more cost in the drivers for example, can result in a higher overall performance.
When should I use a subwoofer?
You may well get away without using a subwoofer at all, even with our bookshelf speakers. If your listening habits are predominantly with music that doesn’t have super low bass recorded, or not at high levels, then you can enjoy the simplicity of just the main pair of speakers. However, if you have a large listening space, like to listen to music very loud or to music that contains lots of low bass or want to use the speakers as part of a home theater setup then a subwoofer would be advantageous.
Which type of speaker is better for music? A bookshelf or floor standing speaker?
There is no simple answer because it depends on your associated equipment and the listening environment. First let me say that the answer is applicable to both movies and home theater. Typically, bookshelf speakers have limited bass output, both in terms of frequency extension and bass dynamic capability.
Clearly, the small size of a bookshelf limits the size of bass driver that can be accommodated and so limits how much air the driver can move. To reproduce low frequencies, we need to move a lot of air.
Secondly there is a relationship between the cabinet size, the low frequency extension and the efficiency that is attainable, governed by the pesky laws of physics. One cannot have bass extension, high efficiency and a small box. If we therefore limit the size of box, as in a bookshelf speaker, we must give up efficiency or bass response. Obviously for a floor stander we have greater cabinet volume along with the capability of accommodating either larger drivers or multiple smaller drivers, so the limitations of the bookshelf are largely overcome. We can have somewhat higher efficiency, or better bass response and more bass output.
So, do we need all of the gains that the floorstander can give us? This will depend upon musical tastes, how loud you like to listen, how big is your listening space, how far away from the speaker you listen, and how powerful your amplifier is. What we do attempt in our designs is to give the bookshelf speakers almost the same bass extension as the floorstanders, so that you are still able to hear most of your music, just at a lower maximum volume level.
What is the advantage of a 3-way speaker compared to a 2-way?
Let’s consider the perfect speaker. It would contain just one full range driver. This driver would work down to the lowest frequency (20Hz) at full output level, and respond up to the highest frequencies (20kHz or beyond). It would have a constant directivity pattern and high efficiency to minimize amplifier requirements.
Not only does this driver not exist, it is not even possible given the laws of physics! To reproduce low frequencies we must move a large volume of air, albeit relatively slowly. This demands a large diameter driver which by necessity is quite heavy.
For high frequencies we only need to move a small volume of air, but we must do so very quickly.
These two requirements are mutually opposed. In addition we are not going to e=achieve a constant directivity response.
For these reasons we are forced to consider a two way system. One driver dedicated to high frequencies and one to low, with a xover network to direct the appropriate frequencies to the appropriate driver. This works well enough fora lot of applications, and is certainly a cost effective solution for the most part. However, it does have it’s limitations.
Firstly, the woofer must ideally have a good clean response up to a couple of octaves above the xover frequency. Likewise the tweeter must have clean response to a couple of octaves below the xover frequency. These requirements are not easy to achieve.
If we now consider a three way system, we have increased complexity, but with attendant benefits. Each drive, (bass, midrange, tweeter) now is only required to operate of a narrow frequency range. Their design can be better optimized for his range. The overall directivity response can be better engineered.
The cost in this approach is the need for a complex three way xover network. Often these are poorly designed, leading to less than perfect blending together of the drivers, and an audible discontinuity in the response. ELAC engineers however have decades of experience in computer aided xover network design, and contributed to some of the earliest research in this field. As a result we are able to engineer three way system with extraordinary driver integration.
What is the advantage of different cone materials for speakers?
Loudspeaker drivers come in many sizes, varieties, intended applications, cost, and performance requirements. There is no such thing as one size fits all. As a result, the best cone material is not necessarily the newest flavor of the month. The best cone material is the one that best fits the purpose for which the driver is intended to be used. Take a subwoofer driver for instance. It is generally large in order to move enough air, but the cone can be heavy. In addition, it needs to work down to low frequencies but not up to high ones. In fact, the range is so restricted that often the cone resonances are way above the required operating range for even traditional cones materials such as paper. In his instance, the cone is required to resist the high back pressure exerted on it from the cabinet so must be stiff when acted on by that pressure.
Another example would be a driver intended for very high efficiency. In this case the cone must be very light. If we also need it to act as a midrange, it must have an extended high end response. So the cone resonances must be correspondingly high. The factor that sets this parameter is the stiffness to weight ratio. Normally, we only care about getting the ratio as high as possible. This can be achieved by high mass and very high stiffness, or low mass and not so high stiffness. Clearly the optimum, in this example, would be the low mass version.
At ELAC we are very careful to design our drivers specifically for the system in which it will be used, rather than develop a generic driver that is sold for use in as many systems as possible. In his way the driver is optimized to meet the many variables that exist and must be optimized in any particular system design.