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Digital "preamp" solutions

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#1
I'm looking for some feedback or suggestions re: solutions for what will effectively serve as a digital preamp, which I intend to pair with a DSP / crossover solution (MiniDSP DDRC-88D or PC) and an Okto Research DAC8 Pro (ordered several months back).

I have both an analog (XLR or RCA) and a digital source (preferably USB); both are 2ch / stereo. I'd like to pull the analog source into the digital domain to configure routing, crossover selection, DSP, recording, etc.

The goal is to use a single device that can toggle easily between sources (both analog and digital) and adjust volume as you would with a traditional preamp. The caveat here being that I'm looking for digital out (no DAC).

I'm aware of 2 solutions that can serve as a convenient preamp for this scenario:
MiniDSP SHD
RME ADI Pro 2

My thoughts are:
MiniDSP = cheaper
RME = likely a better ADC, offers AES3 out (pairs conveniently with MiniDSP DDRC-88D and the Okto), USB in/out (if I take the "PC"-based crossover / DSP route).

NOTE: DSP / crossover functionality in this component is not valuable to me, unless it offers 8 channels of digital output, routing, etc. The rationale being that, using the Okto's 8 available DAC outputs, I want to route stereo signals to separate components (like active desktop speakers in addition to my main speakers / subs), and I want to be able to configure DSP separately (or not at all) per channel.

It's unfortunate I'm stuck paying for DAC functionality in both devices (MiniDSP offers the all-digital out SHD Studio, but it doesn't have an ADC), but if they meet my needs and there isn't a better alternative...meh.

Any suggestions aside from the SHD or ADI Pro 2? Any feedback from those who have attempted to do similar with one of the aforementioned?
 
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voodooless

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#2
What exactly do you expect the pre-amp to do? Looks like you only need an analogue input?
 

ppataki

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#3
I have Okto DAC8 Pro too, just connected to the PC directly
Volume is controlled by Jriver
DSP (4.0 speakers + 2 subs integrated into the fronts) is also in Jriver using DDMF Metaplugin + Dirac Live 3
I don't think you would need any other device in the signal chain
 
OP
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Thread Starter #4
What exactly do you expect the pre-amp to do? Looks like you only need an analogue input?
I have analog and digital inputs, and I want to be able to swap sources and adjust volume as you would with a traditional (all analog) preamp. Basically, I'm looking for a single device that offers digital and analog in, source selection, volume control, and digital out.

I don't want to have to manage volume separately for the analog and digital sources or dive into my PC's device settings to change the source altogether; while that might work for personal use, as soon as someone else wants to use the system, they'll be lost.

I have Okto DAC8 Pro too, just connected to the PC directly
Volume is controlled by Jriver
DSP (4.0 speakers + 2 subs integrated into the fronts) is also in Jriver using DDMF Metaplugin + Dirac Live 3
I don't think you would need any other device in the signal chain
This works great for DSP, crossover, etc., but it doesn't solve the issue of managing the analog source.
 

voodooless

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#5
The miniDSP has most things you need I guess. Volume control you can do with the Okto as well.

I would just look for an ADC to AES for analogue audio and connect that to the miniDSP.
 
OP
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Thread Starter #6
The miniDSP has most things you need I guess.
I've essentially reached the same conclusion re: MiniDSP SHD. It appears to be one of very few options that offer both analog and digital input, volume control, source selection, and digital output. The drawback is that, if I go that route, I'm paying for a host of features I won't use (DAC, Dirac, etc.), and I'm also essentially paying for Dirac twice, assuming I use the DDRC-88D for DSP / crossover functionality (the SHD only offers 4 channels for routing, DSP, X/O, etc., and it doesn't offer the option of configuring subs separately -- what Dirac refers to as "bass management"; the DDRC-88D does).

Volume control you can do with the Okto as well.

I would just look for an ADC to AES for analogue audio and connect that to the miniDSP.
I'd like to avoid having to swap sources and control volume on different devices (which I would have to do with a separate ADC). Again, while this works for me, as soon as someone else wants to use the system, it's too cumbersome and tedious to be accessible. Most folks can handle swapping sources and adjusting volume on the same box or with the same remote -- once you break those out and they have to toggle options across devices, etc., it's just a headache.

I am kind of surprised there aren't more options out there that serve as a digital preamp. I understand most of the market likely just goes for an integrated amp or AVR, but surely there are a lot of us that have moved to mostly digital source material yet still have a turntable (or tape deck, etc.) that they want to integrate.
 

voodooless

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#7
I've essentially reached the same conclusion re: MiniDSP SHD.
I was actually talking about the DDRC-88D ;) . I don’t see why you need the SHD. It has 4 digital inputs, volume control and profile selection. All you need is an ADC.

I am kind of surprised there aren't more options out there that serve as a digital preamp. I understand most of the market likely just goes for an integrated amp or AVR, but surely there are a lot of us that have moved to mostly digital source material yet still have a turntable (or tape deck, etc.) that they want to integrate.
Yeah. I’m about to hack a digital out to my AVR.. so I know what you’re going through. Analog input is not that important to me, so AVR ADC will be good enough for me.
 

Jim Matthews

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#8
I started with an RME ADI-2 DAC and migrated the the MiniDSP SHD Studio version to get AES outputs. The RME is a flexible, beautiful sounding product with a manual translated from the original Urdu.

The print is *really small* and the knobs are tiny. It has a beefy headphone amp, if that's important to you.

The MiniDSP has enthusiastic support from the makers, an established user forum and an easily navigated native APP ( Volumio). It's dead quiet and has larger buttons on the remote, and display.

The integral headphone amp can't drive my ancient Sennheiser headphones to high volume levels.

If the RME had AES out, I would still own one.
 
OP
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Thread Starter #9
I was actually talking about the DDRC-88D ;) . I don’t see why you need the SHD. It has 4 digital inputs, volume control and profile selection. All you need is an ADC.



Yeah. I’m about to hack a digital out to my AVR.. so I know what you’re going through. Analog input is not that important to me, so AVR ADC will be good enough for me.
Realistically, it's a fraction of my listening, but occasionally when people come over they like to throw records on, and I'd like for them to be able to do so without jumping through a bunch of hoops or changing virtual inputs / outputs on a PC, etc. The value of the SHD (or the ADI Pro 2) is that they can hit the source button and they're good to go. I suppose managing this through the DDRC-88D and using volume on the Okto isn't so bad, but I've kind of been holding out for a consolidated solution (probably still have a couple months left before the Okto shows up, so who knows).

You've pushed me a bit towards the DDRC-88D, though; at the very least, that saves me a chunk of $ - thanks!
 
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Thread Starter #10
I started with an RME ADI-2 DAC and migrated the the MiniDSP SHD Studio version to get AES outputs. The RME is a flexible, beautiful sounding product with a manual translated from the original Urdu.

The print is *really small* and the knobs are tiny. It has a beefy headphone amp, if that's important to you.

The MiniDSP has enthusiastic support from the makers, an established user forum and an easily navigated native APP ( Volumio). It's dead quiet and has larger buttons on the remote, and display.

The integral headphone amp can't drive my ancient Sennheiser headphones to high volume levels.

If the RME had AES out, I would still own one.
Doesn't the RME have AES out via a breakout cable (2ch only)?

Great feedback on both, though -- much appreciated.
 

voodooless

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#13
You've pushed me a bit towards the DDRC-88D, though; at the very least, that saves me a chunk of $ - thanks!
You can do all on the 88D, no need to tinker with the PC. Only thing needed is an ADC with AES output (and of course an AES interface for your PC). You can get a AKM reference board for far less than a RME or SHD, or some very cheap stuff from China as well.
 
OP
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Thread Starter #15
You can do all on the 88D, no need to tinker with the PC. Only thing needed is an ADC with AES output. You can get a AKM reference board for far less than a RME or SHD, or some very cheap stuff from China as well.
Right. PC mentions were in regards to a potential non-MiniDSP crossover / DSP solution (like JRiver). I actually have a Motu M4 which works as an ADC if I take that route (digital out over USB only). Certainly it is cheaper, but my worry is accessibility leaves a lot to be desired.
 
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#17
I'm searching for (aprox) the same stuff ... and I'm towards the shd studio, with ADC and a dac.

The shd studio it's a preamp / streamer with Dirac live but without internal dac (it's what I like about it).

I only don't know if a focusrite scarlett or Motu usb output works in the shd usb input.
 
OP
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Thread Starter #18
I'm searching for (aprox) the same stuff ... and I'm towards the shd studio, with ADC and a dac.

The shd studio it's a preamp / streamer with Dirac live but without internal dac (it's what I like about it).

I only don't know if a focusrite scarlett or Motu usb output works in the shd usb input.
My understanding is SHD Studio does not have USB input -- just AES / SPDIF / TOS. The USB is just for firmware, etc.
 
OP
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Thread Starter #20
I think it works both ways.



I wonder if an audio interface can be used instead the computer.
Odd they don't list USB as an audio source in the specs:
1621791634609.png


But they do seem to indicate USB can carry audio in the manual:
1621791764741.png
 
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