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Xilica XP active crossover integration into my system

Chris A

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I recently acquired a Xilica XP-8080 active digital crossover on ebay...a new unit that had not been used, but sold as used.  The Xilica XP8080 can accept up to 8 inputs and up to 8 outputs (hence its name), and is meant to be placed between your preamplifier's outputs and your amplifiers' inputs to replace your loudspeaker passive crossovers in order to directly couple your amplifiers outputs to your loudspeaker's woofers and midrange and tweeter drivers.  Other Xilica crossovers in this series include the XP-2040, XP-3060, and XP-4080. These crossovers are 96 kHz sampling/24 bit units that I'd classify as "hi-fi" in terms of their sound quality.


The XP-8080 is the only one in this series to use the Phoenix (a.k.a., "Euro") bare wire screw-down terminals, shown above in green, and below, disconnected:


These terminal blocks are removable from the back of the unit for ease of assembly with the connecting cables.


The other Xilica models use XLR (balanced) inputs, such as the following XD-4080 model:




The XLR "microphone cable" connections are used on most quality multichannel preamp/processors to reduce line noise:




These cables are also available with RCA "unbalanced" connections on one end (resulting in male and female cables) for those that have preamplifiers and amplifiers with RCA connectors only:







Since I was replacing three other active crossovers in my rack with this one unit, I had a lot of the XLR-->XLR (male-to-female) cables on hand--most of which I bought at Guitar Center locally for about $6-$9 each cable--and I am using the XP-8080 with bare-wire connections (Phoenix), I simply chose to remove the XLR connector on one end of the cables that needed to connect with the XP-8080.  Note that you can buy XLR--bare wire cables and save the cost of the extra connector.


For a 5.1 multichannel system like my own, there are five input channels (+ one of subwoofer channel, usually handled separately).  So I modified five XLR cables to remove the male connectors.  Similarly, the XP-8080 has 8 outputs, so I modified 8 XLR cables to remove the female XLR connectors.  I stripped the wires and inserted them into the respective terminal blocks and screwed them down.


The connection of the amplifier outputs to the loudspeakers is your choice: you can assign input channels to output channels in software, as shown below. If you're using different types of amplifiers (tube and SS) the figure below is a typical connection for "horizontal bi-amping" for two channels:


Bi-amp, active horizontal.GIF


For the XP-8080 crossover, this one crossover is actually the equivalent of four stereo bi-amping crossovers in one box (assuming bi-amping all loudspeakers), or tri-amping two front loudspeakers and bi-amping a center loudspeaker...or in my case, bi-amping the front three loudspeakers, and mono-amping the two surround loudspeakers (two '79 Cornwalls using their passive crossovers).  For me, one XP-8080 is crossing my entire 5-channel system, with my AVP providing the separate subwoofer channel outputs to two DSP front-end subwoofer amplifiers (Crown XTi-1000s) that do the EQ and amplifying for the two TH subwoofers (TH-SPUD clones). 


After I made the connections for the XP-8080's channels and connected their other ends to their respective preamp outputs (5 channels), and downstream amplifiers (four stereo amplifiers--including 3 Crown D-75A rack amplifiers and a First Watt F3 class-A single ended FET amplifier), I was ready to program the XP-8080 using their supplied XConsole software (Windows and Mac supported)...


Next up: programming the Xilica using "XConsole" software

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The XConsole Windows 7 software installation took a few minutes, and included the embedded install of a UART USB driver, which requires that you reboot your computer after the install is complete (NOT mentioned in the install process).  So just make sure that you reboot after the install is complete.


Xilica provides a YouTube training video for using their XConsole software:



Next up: XConsole lessons learned

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Here are the "gotchas" that I found using XConsole:


1) Assigning input channels to output channels: that is done by selecting the on-screen button from the "Mixer" column for the output channel of interest (on the right-hand block of buttons). Make sure that you move the gain slider to the top of its range for the input channel that you wish to connect to the output channel.


XConsole Device Window SS.GIF


2) Transferring equalization settings from other crossovers:  Xilica uses "bandwidth" for the sharpness or coverage width of each filter, instead of "Q" used in, for instance, the EV and Yamaha digital crossovers.  The table below converts Q to bandwidth (and back):

Q to BW.png


The Xilica window also calculates and shows the "Q" just below the "Oct" inputs for each "PEQ" filter shown below.  You can iterate the BW input that you use to see the equivalent Q for each filter, so you don't have to use the above table:


XConsole Output Window.GIF


3) Shelving filters:  this is the only area that I currently don't have a "lesson learned" since the Xilica shelf filters interpret the bandwidth much differently than the "slope" (i.e., 6 or 12 dB/octave) of the EV and Yamaha crossovers.  My suggestion is to iterate the slope's bandwidth value so that the resulting curve shown in the plot area is smooth and sloping correctly, i.e., not creating a "S" in the middle of the response curve.  The workaround that I used was to abandon the use of shelf filters until I can find documentation from Xilica explaining the "bandwidth" parameter relative to how EV and Yamaha use that parameter.


4) Using REW to help set up PEQ filters:  If you have a calibration microphone, like a UMIK-1 or a ECM8000 and a small phantom power source (a mixer, typically), you can use REW to measure the output of your loudspeaker undergoing Xilica settings, then use the REW "EQ" button to help you determine the PEQs required to flatten the loudspeaker's response.  This is so powerful and time saving, that I will provide a separate thread just discussing how to do that.  EDIT--a link to that thread:


5) "How To" manual for each setting:  I recommend using the EV Dx38 manual as a training guide to each parameter in the settings since Xilica apparently hasn't provided a user manual explaining each parameter in detail.  Note that the shelf filter discussion on "Q" will not apply to Xilica.  More on this subject later.



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Good presentation, Chris. Per one of your other posts, I bought 2 of the Yamaha units. This company makes Tom Danley's favorite speaker control units. Not surprisingly, I believe their units are simply rebranded and pre-programmed for the large speakers they sell for stadiums and dance clubs.


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If you click on mixer under the outputs (first column), you can attenuate and add channels here.  I use this spot to adjust the gain between each AMP using a Volt Ohm Meter and test tones.  This is a great spot for that, especially if you run multiple AMPs with different sensitivities that can't be adjusted at the AMP and yet still add gain to each driver/channel in the next "gain" column.  I usually start with my least sensitive at full (my HF FW SIT2) and attenuate those that are more sensitive (my LF Crowns). Just don't forget that is in there, you can't see that attenuation anywhere else unless you click it.  I also make sure everything is bypassed when I set this up, if its running through a PEQ or crossover, it alters the voltage.


As a very last step, I also run the test tones produced through my Oppo setup and using the db meter in REW adjust the gain on the Inputs on the Xilica to get speakers as a whole, level matched.  I then leave the trim setting in the OPPO at 0.



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Joe, thanks for that insight.  I use an AVP which has channel gains that are controllable using the remote which produces pink noise for each channel, as well as having set-up based EQ and delays on each channel...and Audyssey.



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After a few days of listening to the Xilica dialed in using REW-derived PEQs, it's clear that it represents an increase in fidelity over the prior system configuration.  It's a larger increase in fidelity than I was anticipating.  I attribute it to getting everything dialed in a little closer to flat frequency response and 24/96 processing all the way around.



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I reran Audyssey this morning (when it was quiet in the house while others slept) to re-establish channel delays, and to fine tune the 5.1 channel gains. 


Yesterday, I found that I had overlooked the change in the Jubilee crossover filter steepness from 24 dB/octave to the current 48 dB/octave I'm using in the Xilica XP crossover (Linkwitz-Riley in both cases).  The Yamaha SP2060 that I was using beforehand had 48 dB/octave available, but I chose to stay with 24 dB/octave (the maximum steepness available from the Ev Dx38 crossover, which was the settings that I was using). 


Yesterday I reran some sweeps on the Jubilees using REW's "Excess Group Delay" plot (accessible from the Group Delay plot window after generating minimum phase from the "controls" dialog) to accurately show the time delay mismatch between the Jubilee bass bin and the K-402/K-69-A high frequency horn/driver.  I've completely overhauled the Jubilee crossover and equalization settings that were provided from Roy's anechoic chamber-based settings provided to Jubilee owners (and accessible on this forum).  I had to add 1.5 ms delay to the 2.28 ms delay on the K-402/K-69-A channels that were being used with Roy's TAD 4002 settings due entirely to the increase of crossover filter steepness (24-->48 dB/octave). 


The change that resulted from overhauling Roy's Jubilee/TAD 4002 settings--in terms of overall subjective fidelity including microdynamics, balance, and presence--was the most I've experienced, even surpassing increase in subjective fidelity from the First Watt F3 amplifier insertion into the system a few years ago (...but not surpassing the increase in subjective fidelity using TAD 4002 drivers).


As was expected today when I reran Audyssey to reset the channel "distance" delays and channel gains, I found that I needed to compensate for the added delays of the Jubilees relative to the center and surround channels - about 2 feet of apparent delay was added that I had to compensate for.  Additionally, the system throughput delay difference between the EV Dx38s and the Yamaha SP2060 crossovers (used before the XIlica replaced them in the setup) was apparent in the channel delay changes--the Xilica has one system delay value for all channels, thus making it easier to estimate any delays based on physical measurements in-room.  (Note that I turn off any EQ or dynamic EQ that Audyssey tries to insert into the system.)


As I re-listen to my surround sound recordings (the set of hi-fi recordings that I own, that is), I'll report back differences that I hear.



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  • 2 weeks later...



I believe it's time to report back on our listening experiences.  First, an anecdotal story: 


On the evening of 26 November, I was sleeping in a nearby room while my wife and a house guest (visiting relative) were watching a movie late into the evening...the last episode of The Hunger Games on Blu-Ray (my wife usually doesn't like to handle the controls at all but was relegated to this duty by necessity this evening).  I was suddenly awakened to the sound of fighting dogs--I'd say 2-4 of them, and quite distinctively in the next room.  (FYI: we have two border collies in our "empty nest" family--and they don't fight with anything...not even the kitty--but they'll lick your face for a rawhide). 


I jerked myself up out of bed, and I now remember hitting something pretty hard while I was trying egress the bed to find the door.  That was when I noticed it was suddenly exceedingly difficult to breath or move the left upper side of my body (...I apparently broke a rib just over my heart...).  That was when I finally realized that what I was listening to was the Jubs, K-402-MEH and CWs playing a "mutt" scene.  It was still quite real as I opened the door.  I tried to breathe normally...pacing my breaths and trying to practice The Relaxation Response.  The mantra didn't work very well at controlling the pain.  It still hurts. 

(End of the story.)


Now the listening impressions on the Xilica crossover:


My wife has mentioned that all the little upgrades to the setup along the way over the past nine years have resulted in a continuous series of improvements in sound--which is actually something to be comprehended, really.  But now she says that she has never heard anything like what she has been hearing: a quantum jump in performance. 


We've more-or-less systematically gone through all the music video discs.  James Taylor at the Beacon Theater really came alive (a sleeper in the past) as did all the other music Blu-Ray discs like EuroArts, Art Haus, Naxos, Accenture, etc.  The best recordings have an edge, presence, and surround envelopment that I've never heard reproduced before.  I've even had to update some of the unmastered stereo recordings that I've done to rebalance them based on the "new sound".  It's difficult to describe, but it sure holds your attention.  It's better than any movie theater that I've heard and now is blurring the line with the real thing, I kid you not


I strongly recommend saving your shekels for one of these: forget other electronics.  I've found my key to Wonderland...and it's a slim rack-mount unit with a little back lit yellow-green LCD display...saying "Xilica XP-8080" on the front.


(End of report.) 



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I tried to bi amp using AL-4 XO's in my la scalas... while I could see the potential, I now know I need an active XO now for more control over things such as timing, XO points and gain.


how much are active XO's?

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You can look around for gently used Xilica XP series; these don't wear out.  The Xilica XPs are hi-fi compared to other crossovers that I've used.  Yamaha SP2060 (2-in, 6-out) has similar hi-fi performance--if you can find one used at a reasonable price.  I've found that being able to flatten in-room response, and set up the crossover phase delays is pretty important to achieve the performance that I talked about just above.  REW and a UMIK-1 microphone are your friends--it takes MUCH less time than it did doing it by trial-and-error.  I've found that it's quite easy to email your REW measurements, have someone else crunch the REW EQ optimization if you like, and send you back corrected the Xilica settings.  It usually takes one or two email exchanges back-and-forth, and you're done.  Talk to Joe (Cantilope) about our email exchanges for an independent assessment of how well it works.  You can also do it all yourself...


As with loudspeakers, if you buy new you pay a higher price--however, the prices have moderated to the point where you're going to see new prices that are significantly lower than ALK extreme slope passives.  The percentage decline in prices with age of the unit is similar to Klipsch loudspeakers, and there seems to be a rock-bottom price--like used Klipsch Heritage, etc.





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1 hour ago, Coytee said:

I see a network port on the back.  Is that for linking them together?  Can you instead, plug it into your network then, use your networked PC to control it?

I believe that the network port that you're talking about is the Ethernet port.  This is directly from the manual:



RJ45 connector for Ethernet control. The device should be connected to a router/switch/hub via a straight through CAT-5 cable.


7.7 Ethernet Settings
The network settings are separated into 3 menus.
A unique IP address should be assigned to each unit in the network.
The gateway address of the network. Usually, this should be the IP address of your router/switch/hub address.
The sets the subnet mask used by your network.


7.8 Communication Settings
NOTE: User must power cycle the unit for the settings to take effect.


This control assigns a device ID from 1 to 16 to the unit. This ID is only useful when a network of more than 1 unit is used in conjunction with 1 or more XPanels.


9.0 PC Control Software
The XP series is shipped with a special PC Graphic User Interface (GUI) application - XConsole. XConsole gives the user an option to control the unit from a remote PC. The GUI application makes it much easier to control and monitor the device, allowing the user to get the whole picture on one screen. Programs can be recalled and stored from/to PC’s hard drive, thus expanding the storage to become virtually limitless.


XConsole can be connected to the XP series via RS232, USB or Ethernet.

USB requires the installation of additional driver. The user is given an option to install it during the installation of XConsole, and if the user did not install it at that time, they may choose to do so by running the USB driver installer from the provided software.*

* The latest version of XConsole and USB driver are available at www.xilica.com.



An "XPanel" is a remote controller that is available from Xilica--if you want to use a dedicated control: https://smile.amazon.com/Xilica-X-Panel-Control-Panel-Black/dp/B019J5XWGU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1480976197&sr=8-1&keywords=xilica+xpanel


I'd just use a PC to connect to using XConsole.



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