Wednesday, May 25, 2011

AudioControl DQXS Six Channel Digital Crossover and Equalizer With Memory

When it comes to custom tailoring your sound in your car, a dedicated equalizer is the best way to do it. And if you ask around for who is the best when it comes to dedicated EQ's and digital processors, chances are the name that will keep coming up is AudioControl. Built right here in the good old USA in Washington State, up for review is the AudioControl DQXS. It is a digital electronic equalizer as well as electronic crossover.

It's key features include:

6 Channel 3-way Crossover
Six Input and Eight Channel Output
One-Third Octave and One-Half Octave Equalization Controls Per Channel
Two Parametric Equalizers Per Channel
142 Total Equalization Filters
Outputs for Front Highpass, Front Lowpass, Rear Highpass, and Subwoofer Outputs
24dB/Octave Linkwitz Riley Alignment Crossover Slopes
Eight User Programmable Memories
Utilizes an Audio Enhanced DSP
Output Level Controls
Input for Optional DDC (Digital Dash Control

Packaging was a tad on the plain side, not that it matters much. The AudioControl DQXS was very well packaged and secured inside the box. There was no way it was moving around. And a plastic bag helped to protect it's finish. Included inside was the owner's manual, which I have to give the guys at AudioControl not just some kudos for, but also a big two thumbs up. I have to say it is the first owners manual that was entertaining to read. I never thought I would see that happen! The AudioControl is a sophisticated piece of equipment that you will want to read up on if you are installing it and tuning it yourself. So the bit of comedy found in the manual did make reading it a fun experience. There is also an optional wired remote so that you can make changes easily from the driver's seat. Build quality was also really good, with gold plated connectors, and nice LED's. Fit and finish was very good.

The AudioControl DQXS is not a typical processor. Loaded would be an understatement. For the crossover section, it features six channels in and eight channels out. That means you have two pairs of out for the front channels, one pair out for the rear, and one pair out for the sub. That gives you low pass for the subwoofer with it's adjustable crossover points and high pass outputs for the rear, with it's crossover points. The front channel however actually has 2 outputs, one pair is high pass, and the 2nd pair is low pass or band pass.

This level of flexibility is more than most are used to. Typically coaxials are used for the rear channel, with no high pass crossovers. The AudioControl in this situation will give you better control so they won't try to play bass frequencies they can't handle. The front soundstage is commonly handled by a pair of component speakers, which will come with a passive crossover network to send the high frequencies to the tweeter and the low frequencies to the midrange driver. The front channel of the AudioControl DQXS however actually used a high pass and low pass or band pass. This means that your 2-way component system will no longer need the passive crossovers, if you have the correct amp configuration. The AudioControl DQXS will do the job, and with better sound quality since it is an active electronic crossover. the high pass will block low frequencies from getting to the tweeter. The low pass can also be used as a bandpass. Not only will it block the high frequencies that are above what the midrange can handle, it can also block out the lower frequencies that are too low for it to handle.

The subwoofer channel is also not forgotten. It's low pass filter makes sure your subwoofers only get the bass that they are craving. The -24 db slope is also nice and steep so you know what you want to hear from your speakers will be what you will get. There is also a system low frequency, that will block out frequencies too low for your system to handle, and protect your subs.

The electronic crossover is only part of the story. The AudioControl DQXS also has a phenomenal electronic digital equalizer. Overkill again comes to mind, but in a very good way. It is not a 2 channel EQ. It is in actuality a 6 channel EQ. This means you have separate EQ control of the front channels, rear channels, and subwoofer. This gives you separate control of the EQ curves for the front channel, rear channel, as well as the sub. But it does not stop there. I did say it was a 6 channel EQ. Because of that, you can actually have separate EQ curves for the front right, front left, rear right, and rear left channels!! Just to give you a better idea of the level of control the AudioControl will give you, the subwoofer actually has 15 bands of EQ control! The front channel has 30 bands, and the rear channel has 19 bands. All said and done, you have a total of 142 filters at your disposal, and each one can be adjusted from -12 to +12 db boost.

Using the AudioControl DQXS was everything I had hoped it would be...stellar! The sound engineering I was able to do was great. I tend to listen to my music a bit on the loud side at times. And driving the tuning and listening part of the review, I realized that one of my front midbass drivers was partially blown. It had recently happened, and was only in the lower bass frequencies, so a simple adjustment to the crossover for the front channels, and the resonating of the blown driver is gone. I was very pleased, as I was able to listen to my music until I got the replacement driver. Otherwise listening to the blown driver would have driven me nuts! The sound quality was very clean and distortion free, thanks in part to the audiophile grade components. And the sound that I got from making the plethora of allowable sound adjustments was nothing short of delicious! If you want to unleash the true potential of your sound system, the AudioControl DQXS will help you get there. And while you can make the adjustments on the EQ, it would be more convenient to use the optional DCC wired remote so you can make the necessary adjustments from the driver's seat. As it was not included with the review unit, I managed without it. But in doing so, I easily saw the benefit and convenience of having it, and would highly recommend getting it as well.

I must admit, that with the reputation of AudioControl for their components, I was not surprised by their amazing performance. the AudioControl DQXS with a MSRP of $599 is not cheap, but it is a good example of you get what you pay for. The guys at AudioControl in the rainy state of Washington know their stuff when it comes to audio processors. If good sound is important to you, you owe it to yourself to check out the AudioControl DQXS. Based on it's features, design, build quality, and performance, it has earned our Editor's Choice Award. Kudos to them! For more info and complete specs, check out their website at Reference gear included Kenwood KDC-X991 receiver, Vibe Audio Space 6 3D components, Alpine SPX-13PRO components, two Diamond Audio 12" D6 subwoofers, and Vibe Audio LiteBox Stereo 4 and Vibe Audio BlackDeath Bass 1 amps.