Surround Receivers

Be Prepared for the Cost of Adding Dirac on Denon and Marantz AV Receivers


The audio world has been buzzing since Denon/Marantz announced they added Dirac Live capabilities to their 2022 lineup of AV receivers. While the announcement was welcome to many, Sound United didn’t offer any information on the implementation. Well, at long last, we have some details, and while they aren’t shocking, it may take a little bit of lustre off the shiny new toy, Dirac Live. Let’s discuss how much it will cost to add Dirac to your 2022 Denon and Marantz receiver. 

When Is It Coming, And What Models Are Supported?

Denon and Marantz have set a release date of March 2023 for the firmware update to Dirac Live. This firmware update will only apply to the 2022 models announced to support Dirac Live. These are the Denon A1H, AVRX4800H, AVRX3800H, Marantz AV10, Cinema 40, and Cinema 50. 

Dirac Live will not be backward compatible with any other older AV receiver. So if you “must” own a Denon or Marantz model with Dirac Live, get in line, You’ll need a 2022 model, and availability is currently limited as demand seems relatively high. 

What’s Needed To Run Dirac Live?

Right now, we know that you can’t use the included measurement mic to take Dirac Live measurements. Sound United suggests a UMIK-1 as their preferred mic. As is typical with Dirac, you will need a standalone computer or laptop to run Dirac Live. From my experience with my Onkyo, I can only use my UMIK-1 with the Dirac PC app and not directly from my AV receiver, so this tracks. 

You will also need a license to get access to the software. Right now, we expect a Dirac Live Limited to cost around $260 (USD) for your Denon or Marantz. Ultimately, Dirac has the final say over licensing costs. And if you want to upgrade to Dirac Live Complete in the future, it’s an additional $99. 

And Dirac Live Bass Management? Well, you know that is going to be an extra licensing fee. Right now, a single-sub license costs $350, and a multi-sub license is $500. Being on the bleeding edge ain’t cheap, Hoss! 

Known Limitations to Denon/Marantz Dirac Implementation 

Now, details are still firming up, but we know that you won’t be able to EQ frequencies over 500hz with Dirac Live Limited. This limitation probably isn’t a huge deal breaker for many people. But in my opinion, if I am paying for a USB mic and a license, I don’t want any limitations on my measurement capabilities. The fact that I need to spend another $99 (plus a license for bass management) for it all does not sit well with me.

Additionally, you can only run Dirac or Audyssey room correction, not a combination of the two. So that means you have to go whole hog Dirac or Audyssey. You can’t use the best of both worlds here. 

And there will only be two save slots total. So you can only have two presets in the memory, whether they are both Dirac, Audyssey, or one of each. I have four slots in my Onkyo TX-NR7100, so I am slightly surprised that Sound United went with only two. 

Dirac Live bass management will also not form part of the firmware update for March 2023. Sound United indicated that efforts to integrate bass management haven’t started and to expect it in 2024. And Dirac Spacial Room Correction? Sound United has not committed to anything other than saying they will work with the Dirac Live team on all future solutions. What that means for us is unclear. But if I were a betting person, I wouldn’t hold my breath for it. 

Our Take 

So, that’s the cost of getting Dirac on your new 2022 Denon or Marantz receiver. It is easy to be attracted to the shiny new toy and to want all the bells and whistles. Sound United has gotten a lot of interest from AV enthusiasts who are clamoring to get their fingers on the “best” room correction software out there. But this is a situation where you must buy now and have faith that the firmware will drop when promised. I have seen a lot of broken promises in this game. 

On top of that, you have to pay (a lot) to play. A laptop, a USB mic, and at least one license, if not two, of the software, can add up pretty quickly. And as a Dirac user who came from Audyssey, I am still not convinced the Dirac is any better than Audyessy, and I AM sure it’s a heckuva lot more difficult to set up. This reminds me of the adage “death by 1000 cuts”. Sure, we all probably have a laptop, but each small addition adds up to a lot of cash.

My advice? Unless you ABSOLUTELY need a new AV receiver in 2022 that has both Audyssey and Dirac, wait until 2023 and see if Sound United met its target and IF the implementation is as good as expected. 

What about you? Are you planning on getting a new Denon or Marantz AV receiver that supports Dirac Live? Tell us in the comments below. 


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