Rs 7.5L Brax DSP upgrade on my Kia Sonet: Why its worth every penny
Took 7 hours to tune and calibrate & another 3 hours to fine-tune it to my liking.
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The Helix DSP Ultra is one of the most sought-after and the most-liked DSP by many. In fact, the Ultra has enough channels and processing powers, with very good OPamps and DAC too. So obviously, the reason for my change to BRAX DSP was nothing more than to satisfy my curiosity and also due to some very high ratings from audiophiles who had the chance to listen to/install them.
The BRAX DSP is customizable. with various I/O options and I chose 2 analogue and 2 digital inputs and all analogue outputs. After a wait of almost two months, it arrived. serial No. 1135
If Helix Ultra is well built, it dwarfs in comparison to the Brax. The Brax is built like a Tank and is almost thrice the size of the DSP ultra. It feels as if it weighs a TON. The sheer quality of the build is amazing. It’s sad we had to install it under the driver’s seat and not on the boot. The fabrication would take days and also I don’t want to lose out any more space in the boot.
The audio presets from the Helix Dsp could be used in the BRAX and as soon as the installation was finished, we loaded the preset from the ultra onto the Brax, just to get an idea of how it would sound.
Sound staging has a few parameters like imaging, depth, height and width. And I always felt that the width of the stage in a car would always be restricted by the physical presence of the drivers. To get a better width, some midranges in high-end installs are being done on the sail panel. However, the same was not an option in the Sonet because the Dashboard corners kind of cramp it. And that’s the reason, both my midrange and tweeter are installed in the A Pillars.
But to my surprise, as soon as the Brax was connected, and I played my favourite track, the first major difference that was evident to both me and Mr Karthik was the Width. The soundstage appeared to stretch to the RVMs and I am not exaggerating this here. And with much happiness and greater anticipation, the RTA process began.
Earlier with the Ultra, it needed a bit of EQing as there were a few peaks and cuts. What amazed me with the Brax is, that it was outputting the pink noise with much fewer peaks or dips. Also, the EQ response was phenomenal. Overall, the Brax was much easier to tune and more responsive than the Helix, when it came to responses to EQ.
So finally, after a gruelling 7 hours of tuning and calibration, it was time for the fine-tune to my liking. And that took another 3 hours to nail a proper tune to my liking.
As I had mentioned earlier, if the first impression was increased width, after the proper tune, the imaging got better. The imaging, was dead Centre to the point while at the same time, the width and height got better. Also, in a few tracks where sometimes it was more on my face got warmer and more relaxed (I thought this ‘in my face’ or harshness or brightness was due to the beryllium).
I liked the Lows in the Helix better. It had a slightly more pronounced sub-bass and upper mid frequencies. But Brax is very balanced across spectrums and it needed a couple of days of listening for the sound to grow up on me.
The tuning was done from my earlier DAP, the iBasso DX320, which has been replaced by the Cayin N8ii and the Astell and Kern SP3000. So Mr.Karthik wants to do another couple of tunes for these DAPs. I will soon post about the differences between the iBasso, the Cayin and the AK.
Overall, I am very happy with the outcome. Am not saying this because of any placebo or ownership bias. I will have no qualms about accepting a bad purchase, albeit expensive. (Made a lot of them ) but the 7.50 lakh spent on Brax is definitely worth every penny.
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