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Best tool for the job...Dirac VST or MiniDSP SHD??

HionHiFi

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#1
I have a first world problem. Which DAC/Preamp to buy?

I'm in the market for a new DAC/Preamp (room correction, no A/V). I want to implement DSP Room Correction into the system. I'm just not sure which implementation to go with. A software DSP solution ie Dirac VST hosted in Audirvana in my Mac Mini using an outboard DAC/Preamp or a hardware solution in the MiniDSP SHD performing all the functions.

I've narrowed the choices down to a Teac UD-505 and a MiniDSP SHD.

Teac UD-505 $875
Signal Path
Mac Mini --Audirvana (Dirac VST) USB--> Teac UD-505 --analog--> VTV Hypex NC502MP Amplifier --analog-->Egglestonworks Fontaine's
Pros
I can use any DAC/Preamp I like​
Hi-Res audio playback supporting DSD512 (22.6MHz) and PCM 768kHz/32-bit PCM​
Dual monaural circuit design with a high-end AKM VERITA AK4497 DAC on each channel​
5 types of PCM digital filters and 2 types of DSD digital filters​
Up-conversion up to 24.5MHz DSD and 384kHz/32-bit PCM​
Bluetooth, APTx HD, LDAC​
1 Analog input​
Mac Mini has the processing power to handle more advanced Room Correction DSP's like Acourate, and Audiolense.​
Cons
Room correction is only performed on music coming out of the Mac Mini.​
No room correction is performed on Apple TV and other sources in the system.​

MiniDSP SHD All in One Streaming Processor $1171
Signal Path
Mac Mini --Audirvana USB--> SHD --analog--> VTV Hypex NC502MP Amplifier --analog-->Egglestonworks Fontaine's
Pros
Dirac Live® 3.0 Digital Room Correction is performed on all sources in the system.​
DSP audio tuning software to tune my dual subwoofers​
Network Streaming Audio​
Cons
Locked into 1 Preamp/DAC​
All audio is downsampled to 96kHz​
Analog inputs are digitized​
No wireless options like bluetooth, or LDAC​

I'm liking the flexibility of the Teac UD-505. I can see it being the center of my front end system. I can also see that in the SHD too.


Note: I have no use for the headphone amplifier. MiniDSP SHD (fullsize)
 
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#2
The Pros for UD-505 that you listed are but common features these days. Several better measuring DAC/Preamp units at similar or cheaper prices can do the same. The SHD is however an external unit that applies DSP to all sound signals coming out of the Mac Mini. Audirvana and YouTube alike. If you are going to stream video on the Mac Mini than go with the SHD.

WolfX-700 has measured the higher tier TEAC NT-505 and posted results on his site. SINAD is not terrible, but rather unimpressive in this day and age. I suppose the UD-505 would not measure better than the NT-505. Wolf tore down the NT-505 in his follow up post. He wrote an in-depth analysis and concluded that the NT-505 deliberately employs the cheapest possible internal clock in order to sell the external 10M master clock. So there is also that.
 
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Chromatischism

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#3
I'm going through similar considerations for a 2.0, no video system with a laptop PC as a source. Need a DAC/Preamp. However one wrinkle is being bound to having room correction only via a certain music program and not applied system-wide. The best thing would be a system-wide EQ so even if you opened up a web browser and loaded a YouTube video, or an online music service, that would go through the filters, too.
Cons
Room correction is only performed on music coming out of the Mac Mini.No room correction is performed on Apple TV and other sources in the system.
What do you get from the Apple TV that you can't get from the computer?
 
OP
HionHiFi

HionHiFi

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Thread Starter #4
I'm going through similar considerations for a 2.0, no video system with a laptop PC as a source. Need a DAC/Preamp. However one wrinkle is being bound to having room correction only via a certain music program and not applied system-wide. The best thing would be a system-wide EQ so even if you opened up a web browser and loaded a YouTube video, or an online music service, that would go through the filters, too.

What do you get from the Apple TV that you can't get from the computer?
The AppleTV is just a source in my system. The Mac Mini I use exclusively for music. I haven’t tried it as a dedicated television source.
 

Willem

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#5
There is also the Minidsp DDRC22D. It has digital inputs and digital outputs, so you could use it with all your sources, and also feed any DAC/preamp you like. It is quite affordable in the US, but sadly rather more expensive in Europe.
 

Mnyb

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#6
My humble input

Teac UD-505 $875
Signal Path
Mac Mini --Audirvana (Dirac VST) USB--> Teac UD-505 --analog--> VTV Hypex NC502MP Amplifier --analog-->Egglestonworks Fontaine's
Pros
I can use any DAC/Preamp I like​
Hi-Res audio playback supporting DSD512 (22.6MHz) and PCM 768kHz/32-bit PCM​
Dual monaural circuit design with a high-end AKM VERITA AK4497 DAC on each channel​
(5 types of PCM digital filters and 2 types of DSD digital filters) stick with a known good filter.
(Up-conversion up to 24.5MHz DSD and 384kHz/32-bit PCM) the DAC's internal upsampling is good enough even if sotware does better in theory.
Bluetooth, APTx HD, LDAC​
1 Analog input​
Mac Mini has the processing power to handle more advanced Room Correction DSP's like Acourate, and Audiolense.​
Cons
Room correction is only performed on music coming out of the Mac Mini.​
No room correction is performed on Apple TV and other sources in the system.​

MiniDSP SHD All in One Streaming Processor $1171
Signal Path
Mac Mini --Audirvana USB--> SHD --analog--> VTV Hypex NC502MP Amplifier --analog-->Egglestonworks Fontaine's
Pros
Dirac Live® 3.0 Digital Room Correction is performed on all sources in the system.​
DSP audio tuning software to tune my dual subwoofers​
Network Streaming Audio​
Cons
Locked into 1 Preamp/DAC​
(All audio is downsampled to 96kHz) not an audible problem , you are not a bat. It migh even be beneficial you remove some ultrasonic gunk in DSD recordings
(Analog inputs are digitized ADC) is really OK these days , should be transparent to us .
No wireless options like bluetooth, or LDAC well here i would go for an external streamer in RasPI format would not even dent your budget.
Good luck please report your findings , I'm very interested in the SHD product :) when my current setup wears out SHD is on my shortlist​
 

Absolute

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#7
Minidsp SHD for me. Physical product is more convenient, easier to sell and will probably not destroy itself/malfunction like any and all pc/software do seemingly at random.
 
OP
HionHiFi

HionHiFi

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Thread Starter #8
The Pros for UD-505 that you listed are but common features these days. Several better measuring DAC/Preamp units at similar or cheaper prices can do the same. The SHD is however an external unit that applies DSP to all sound signals coming out of the Mac Mini. Audirvana and YouTube alike. If you are going to stream video on the Mac Mini than go with the SHD.
Agreed. It seems alot of the manufactures like Topping, SMSL, Soncoz, Okto, Sabaj, etc, are pumping out really nice units. It's becoming difficult to wade through them all to determine which has the exact feature set I want. MQA, or not, SPDIF Converter or not, and on and on.

Onto the Mac Mini. I use it only as a music source hosting Audirvana. I do not stream video through it (though I could, but I have an AppleTV for that.)

Back to the UD-505 can you link to measurements for the unit? On other positive I failed to note about the Teac UD-505 are its aesthetics. It just feels like a high-end component. It looks and feels great (not that I'm going to be hugging the freaking thing, but it's nice all the same). The fit and finish on the case is premium. I also enjoy the styling of the unit. The switchs, buttons and so forth all impart a pride of ownership lacking in some of the other manufacturers. The Teac UD-505 feels like a premium device. And that's important to me. The remote is useful and full-featured. About the only thing it's missing is backlighting. I agree the SHD is probably the better more useful device. I'm just unfamiliar with the SHD and MiniDSP as a company so I'm skeptical, though many here seem to love the SHD.
WolfX-700 has measured the higher tier TEAC NT-505 and posted results on his site. SINAD is not terrible, but rather unimpressive in this day and age. I suppose the UD-505 would not measure better than the NT-505. Wolf tore down the NT-505 in his follow up post. He wrote an in-depth analysis and concluded that the NT-505 deliberately employs the cheapest possible internal clock in order to sell the external 10M master clock. So there is also that.
In the translation to English Wolf's review of the Teac UT-505 was difficult to read through however what was clear was his dislike of UT-505's layout and design and he clearly wasn't impressed with the Teac. The "review" was very critical, even damning, but it is but one persons view. I don't know his background, testing methodology, credibility, bias's, etc, so I take his comments with a those things in mind. In other words, his words isn't Gospel.
 
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OP
HionHiFi

HionHiFi

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Thread Starter #9
There is also the Minidsp DDRC22D. It has digital inputs and digital outputs, so you could use it with all your sources, and also feed any DAC/preamp you like. It is quite affordable in the US, but sadly rather more expensive in Europe.
I hadn't looked at that device before. It would work too! Thought I'd have to use something like a Topping D10s to convert the USB to SPDIF to feed the DDRC22D.

One thing I think could be a problem is MQA and higher resolutions coming into the DDRC22D. It will make everything 96kHz, which kind of defeats the purpose of having a super high resolution DAC because it'll only ever receive a 96kHz signal from the DDRC22D. No MQA (important to me for testing and listening with friends for comparison.) I realize 24/96kHz is transparent to us but is there any other benefit to higher resolutions, ie dynamic range, noise floor, etc? What do you think?
 
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OP
HionHiFi

HionHiFi

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Thread Starter #10
My humble input

Teac UD-505 $875
Signal Path
Mac Mini --Audirvana (Dirac VST) USB--> Teac UD-505 --analog--> VTV Hypex NC502MP Amplifier --analog-->Egglestonworks Fontaine's
Pros
I can use any DAC/Preamp I like​
Hi-Res audio playback supporting DSD512 (22.6MHz) and PCM 768kHz/32-bit PCM​
Dual monaural circuit design with a high-end AKM VERITA AK4497 DAC on each channel​
(5 types of PCM digital filters and 2 types of DSD digital filters) stick with a known good filter. Why, I want to play! :)
(Up-conversion up to 24.5MHz DSD and 384kHz/32-bit PCM) the DAC's internal upsampling is good enough even if software does better in theory. Yeah, but my years of audio indoctrination make me want higher and higher resolution even though it's like chasing that "1st High." LoL.
Bluetooth, APTx HD, LDAC​
1 Analog input​
Mac Mini has the processing power to handle more advanced Room Correction DSP's like Acourate, and Audiolense.​
Cons
Room correction is only performed on music coming out of the Mac Mini.​
No room correction is performed on Apple TV and other sources in the system.​

MiniDSP SHD All in One Streaming Processor $1171
Signal Path
Mac Mini --Audirvana USB--> SHD --analog--> VTV Hypex NC502MP Amplifier --analog-->Egglestonworks Fontaine's
Pros
Dirac Live® 3.0 Digital Room Correction is performed on all sources in the system.​
DSP audio tuning software to tune my dual subwoofers​
Network Streaming Audio​
Cons
Locked into 1 Preamp/DAC​
(All audio is downsampled to 96kHz) not an audible problem , you are not a bat. It might even be beneficial you remove some ultrasonic gunk in DSD recordings. If it's ultrasonic, we can't hear it and so makes no audible difference, if measurable. No benefit and we're back to the bat analogy.
(Analog inputs are digitized ADC) is really OK these days , should be transparent to us. I agree.
No wireless options like bluetooth, or LDAC well here i would go for an external streamer in RasPI format would not even dent your budget.
Good luck please report your findings , I'm very interested in the SHD product :) when my current setup wears out SHD is on my shortlist​
All good points. I'll keep this thread updated on which route I take. I've ordered an SHD, but I may change that depending on what I decide here in the next few days.
 
OP
HionHiFi

HionHiFi

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Thread Starter #11
After taking a look at the MiniDSP DDRC22D, it looks to be the solution as opposed to the SHD. Then I can use whatever DAC/Preamp I want to on the front end.
 

murraycamp

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#14
OP - I Know you got the SHD (congrats - it's what I have as well and have been (relatively) pleased with it) but I don't understand why digitizing your analog inputs is a downside if you want DSP/room correction. There is no analog room correction tech that I'm aware of so everything has to be digitized anyway. Am I missing something?
 

EJ3

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#15
I run analog (RtR (A 1st gen copy of the Landing on the Moon Audio & other historical stuff), Cassette (historical), LP's (from 1927-today), Video tape [music, concerts, historical video], 8mm & 9.5 mm film (family, historical) {I want save the originals but to convert all of this to digital} and ALSO RUN digital (CD, DVD , BluRay, 4K [OPPO 205 converted to all region]). There is no computer hooked into my system (although I could do that with an extra laptop I have that plays DVD & BluRay). I do not stream (for me, I don't have the availability of the connectivity stability to make it work, so far it has never been as good as the disk). I purchase BluRay & 4K discs. Both my APT/Holman Pre's have a processor loop. I would like for everything to go through any room correction that I would like to get. Where I live on a good day I only get 2 bars of signal with an iPhone 10s, many times I get less or none. Anyone have any good suggestions? (the best ways to digitize my analog [which would then allow me to take the next step: some of the better ways to implement room correction]).
 
OP
HionHiFi

HionHiFi

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Thread Starter #16
How do you like it?
So far it sounds good. After getting it configured and connected to my amplifier last night I stayed up listening for about 2.5 hrs. While listening to Matt Corby, Runaway, Live on the Resolution Tour (EP), Lay You Down / Song for Interlude on the same EP, and several Neo-Soul playlists on Qobuz, a few Afro-Peruano songs from Eva Ayllón and other Afro-Peruano artists on YouTube a distinct smile formed on my face. It passes the subjectivists mantra of "I let my ears be the ultimate judge of sound quality." test.

I configured Preset 1 with a simple 35Hz/24db per octave high-pass filter so that my speakers don't down much below 35Hz. Then I configured the 2 subs with a 45Hz/24db per octave low-pass filter so that they don't play to high up into the frequency range and blend well with the main speakers. Not sure it this is an ideal configuration but as I said earlier, it sounds good for now, until I can configure it properly.

For Preset 2, I set it up as a basic full range 2 channel setup, no subs.

Amplifier: VTV NC502MP NCore Amplifier 500WX2
DAC/Preamp: MiniDSP SHD
Speakers: Vandersteen 3A Sigs
 
OP
HionHiFi

HionHiFi

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Thread Starter #17
OP - I Know you got the SHD (congrats - it's what I have as well and have been (relatively) pleased with it) but I don't understand why digitizing your analog inputs is a downside if you want DSP/room correction. There is no analog room correction tech that I'm aware of so everything has to be digitized anyway. Am I missing something?
Good question. In the end it turned out I was really concerned about variety in which DAC and/or Preamp I choose. With the SHD, I am essentially locked into 1 DAC/Preamp/Streamer. I didn't like that idea because I rather like my Teac UD-505 DAC/Preamp. Furthermore, what if I want to change the DAC or Preamp in the future? Hence I thought the DDRC22D would be a better choice because I could put any DAC or preamp behind it and still reap the benefits of DSP. And indeed it would work and give me the expandability I'm looking for, however...

What I found was that the SHD has a digital output which alleviated all my worries because I could use it the same way I would use DDRC22D. Plus I'd get the benefit of it's other features so I "settled" with the SHD, ;) which gives me all the functions I could want without compromises.
 
OP
HionHiFi

HionHiFi

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Thread Starter #18
I run analog (RtR (A 1st gen copy of the Landing on the Moon Audio & other historical stuff), Cassette (historical), LP's (from 1927-today), Video tape [music, concerts, historical video], 8mm & 9.5 mm film (family, historical) {I want save the originals but to convert all of this to digital} and ALSO RUN digital (CD, DVD , BluRay, 4K [OPPO 205 converted to all region]). There is no computer hooked into my system (although I could do that with an extra laptop I have that plays DVD & BluRay). I do not stream (for me, I don't have the availability of the connectivity stability to make it work, so far it has never been as good as the disk). I purchase BluRay & 4K discs. Both my APT/Holman Pre's have a processor loop. I would like for everything to go through any room correction that I would like to get. Where I live on a good day I only get 2 bars of signal with an iPhone 10s, many times I get less or none. Anyone have any good suggestions? (the best ways to digitize my analog [which would then allow me to take the next step: some of the better ways to implement room correction]).
EJ3, I think you'd probably get a better response posting a separate thread exposing your question to a wider audience.

What I can say about the SHD in relation to how it could help you, is that with it's digital output iit could be a DAC and ADC for all your analog to digital and vise versa recording, and give you room correction in your stereo system. I probably recommend however something better suited to your process and that would be the ADI-2 Pro FS R Black Edition. 2-Channel high-end AD/DA Converter. There are cheaper options, but the RME is superlative in this aspect for the money.
 
OP
HionHiFi

HionHiFi

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Thread Starter #20
Have you already tried Dirac calibration ? If so, please tell us your opinion :).
Not yet. I intend to do so this weekend. Once I've done it, I'll report my findings here.

I have experience with Dirac when I owned the NAD M10 a year or so ago when it first appeared. I owned one. So it'll be interesting to see how the process compares to the NAD's implementation of Dirac.
 
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