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Help Me Decide: MiniDSP SHD or Computer+DAC?

Should I go with the MiniDSP SHD or Computer+DAC option?

  • MiniDSP SHD

    Votes: 25 62.5%
  • Computer+DAC (RME ADI-2 Pro)

    Votes: 15 37.5%

  • Total voters
    40

cheapsoundguy

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I have a bunch of great hardware in front of me, including a PC, an RME ADI-2 Pro FS R BE, and a MiniDSP SHD.

I want to play with DIRAC room correction. I could either use the MiniDSP as a standalone option, or use DIRAC running on a PC, with the RME ADI-2 Pro as the DAC.

In BOTH cases, I will use a BlueSound Node as the "streamer." The PC would *only* be in the chain as the DIRAC processor. The PC will need digital in/out to work in this manner.

MiniDSP SHD Pros
-Single integrated box with simple wiring/setup
-Possibly less conversion of sample rates, etc

MiniDSP SHD Cons
-Fixed 24bit/96khz sample rate internally
-DAC chip is whatever MiniDSP has included

Computer+DAC Pros
-Potentially native 24/192khz capability without resampling (does DIRAC Live on PC support this?)
-Less potential for something going obsolete (e.g. the SHD box or MiniDSP software)

Computer+DAC Cons
-Much more complicated setup
-Potential fan noise, etc unless a dedicated fanless box is build


Other thoughts or comments?

Thanks --
 

Glasvegas

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I have a bunch of great hardware in front of me, including a PC, an RME ADI-2 Pro FS R BE, and a MiniDSP SHD.

I want to play with DIRAC room correction. I could either use the MiniDSP as a standalone option, or use DIRAC running on a PC, with the RME ADI-2 Pro as the DAC.

In BOTH cases, I will use a BlueSound Node as the "streamer." The PC would *only* be in the chain as the DIRAC processor. The PC will need digital in/out to work in this manner.

MiniDSP SHD Pros
-Single integrated box with simple wiring/setup
-Possibly less conversion of sample rates, etc

MiniDSP SHD Cons
-Fixed 24bit/96khz sample rate internally
-DAC chip is whatever MiniDSP has included

Computer+DAC Pros
-Potentially native 24/192khz capability without resampling (does DIRAC Live on PC support this?)
-Less potential for something going obsolete (e.g. the SHD box or MiniDSP software)

Computer+DAC Cons
-Much more complicated setup
-Potential fan noise, etc unless a dedicated fanless box is build


Other thoughts or comments?

Thanks --

“MiniDSP SHD Cons
-Fixed 24bit/96khz sample rate internally
-DAC chip is whatever MiniDSP has included”

…if that’s the worst thing you can say about the miniDSP SHD, then you’ve answered your own question.

Another Pro for the SHD. You can get rid of the Node and use the SHD’s internal streamer.

If you really want to use a PC, use Roon with the SHD.
 

th0m

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I think the PC version of Dirac Live works at 48 kHz? Could remember wrong though.

All I can say is that I really like my SHD and recommend it wholeheartedly.
 

staticV3

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Fixed sample rate may just be a pro for you, as PEQ is sample rate dependent. The same PEQ settings will reult in different frequency responses depending on the DSP's sample rate.
 

f1shb0n3

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I've shared my detailed opinion in another thread here, wanted to share my comment on your points:
MiniDSP SHD Cons
-Fixed 24bit/96khz sample rate internally
Not an issue by any means - you can't hear any difference between uncompressed 16/44.1 vs 24/192kHz as long as from the same source. Try converting and A/B-ing with Foobar to be convinced.
-DAC chip is whatever MiniDSP has included
You can connect external DAC to it by COAX digital. I myself couldn't hear Topping D90 sounding any different than SHD other than inconsequential noise difference. Not done comparing DACs though and SHD is a great tool for that with two outputs individually digitally attenuated.

Reiterating another important point - RME ADI-2 Pro's ideal spot is as a digital preamp at the top of the chain with its 3 digital inputs, DSP for personalization to taste and SOTA headphone amp. PC on USB, BlueSound Node on COAX and you have an optical for another source. Remote to switch inputs, volume control and bass/treble. SOTA ADC for your potential future analog sources.
 

mugbot

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Any reason you wouldn't use a Minidsp flex with dirac?
 

f1shb0n3

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Any reason you wouldn't use a Minidsp flex with dirac?
Essentially the choice is PC vs one of MiniDSP's Dirac boxes from which he can pick based on connectivity options.
Flex doesn't have digital outputs for example. Except the Flex Digital that's coming later which is all digital and similar to SHD Studio.
 

levimax

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The mini DSP works with Dirac but it lacks power in case you wanted to try custom FIR filters at a later date. PC's are very powerful and flexible and can do a lot more than mini DSP including video.
 

abdo123

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Do you have any idea how to route output from a streamer to a DAC on a PC?

Node + MiniDSP Flex should be golden.
 

phoenixdogfan

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You can also do multichannel with the PC. J River will do all the legacy codecs up to 7.1, Dirac has multichannel, and something by OCTO or Motu can provide a high end multichannel usb DAC.

Moreover, with it's zone capability J River can accommodate multiple use cases for the same system. You could, for example have two subs with 5 mini monitors, pair the two subs as L-R woofers to the L-R mains, and have Dirac treat each as a speaker as a 3 way when you're doing two channel music in J River's stereo zone, and then turn around and in a different zone of J River run a 5.1 system with the LFE channel information sent to both subs, and all five satellites running as smalls in a home theater use case.

All that would take is a laptop PC, J River, Dirac Multichannel, a multichannel USB DAC, sub(s), and 4-5 speakers with amplification.
 
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DWPress

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@phoenixdogfan Yes, you can do channel routing easily in both JRiver and Roon but the weakness is being able to accurately create more complex XO slopes. For JRiver at least there seems to be a good solution - member @3ll3d00d created a program to assist. From the thread in my sig he added:
IME jriver DSP studio is capable but usability is horrible for anything beyond a couple of peak filters. To workaround this, I added a filter editor to an app of mine that does all the filter design including filter types they don't support but can be created from ones they do and uses their API to update the configuration. Details in https://beqdesigner.readthedocs.io/en/latest/ui/manage_mc/ and https://yabb.jriver.com/interact/index.php/topic,129609.0.html

Also note that miniDSP has a slightly different definition of Q compared to Jriver & Roon so not always cut and paste working between the two systems.

I've done it with both apps as well as miniDSP all along with driver correction, PEQ and convolution filters driving active 3-ways + 2 subs but prefer other methods to suite my needs better.
 

dasdoing

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miniDSP is a gimmick imo. limited and overpriced (compared to a computer). if you want something standalone use a raspery pi
 

phoenixdogfan

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@phoenixdogfan Yes, you can do channel routing easily in both JRiver and Roon but the weakness is being able to accurately create more complex XO slopes. For JRiver at least there seems to be a good solution - member @3ll3d00d created a program to assist. From the thread in my sig he added:


Also note that miniDSP has a slightly different definition of Q compared to Jriver & Roon so not always cut and paste working between the two systems.

I've done it with both apps as well as miniDSP all along with driver correction, PEQ and convolution filters driving active 3-ways + 2 subs but prefer other methods to suite my needs better.
Any number or software crossovers that can be used with JRiver. I am personally using Dephonica which is free, can do any number of crossover slopes, works and plays well with JRiver, and has an ASIO sink driver. Ekio looks and works exactly like miniDSP's interface, costs only $150 but requires you supply the ASIO drivers. So you can use JRiver for the codecs, use Dirac Live as either a VST plug in on JRiver or as stand alone on the PC, and use a software crossovers (EKIO, Audiolense XO, Dephonica, or rePhase).
 
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phoenixdogfan

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"note that miniDSP has a slightly different definition of Q compared to Jriver & Roon so not always cut and paste working between the two systems."

My understanding is that the definition comes more into play for shelf filters associated with crossovers, rather than the peak filters associated with EQ. That and the lack of clearly defined types in the interface (LR, Butterworth, et al is the reason I use Dephonica for my two channel stereo use case, though I do use the high low pass in JRiver for my 4.1 home theater use case). Both use cases have Dirac Live applied to them to correct any anomalies I may be causing with my home brewed crossovers.
 

3ll3d00d

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Fwiw the app above creates all of those standard crossover filter types (bw, lr, two Bessel variants) using the features jriver has built in hence no need for additional plugins in mc itself. The filter definition issues are that their shelf filters use S as an input (but describe it as Q) and their variable Q high/low pass filters are also broken (their value is scaled by 1.414). Fortunately these are easy to workaround programmatically so it is still possible to compute correct crossovers of various types.

The other advantages, which might be useful to some, is that the app can edit these things over their http interface live (which means you don't need to be at the playback computer itself) and it provides a visualisation of the filter response. You can also handle mixing for multichannel setups more easily too.
 

Worth Davis

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miniDSP is a gimmick imo. limited and overpriced (compared to a computer). if you want something standalone use a raspery pi
I doubt you can buy and licensce a PC, 4+ channel DAC, and 3rd party software for less than the cost of a Minidsp SHD. Then you have to do all the work to intergrate all of that. Pi doesnt run Dirac or any other filter software outside of loading FIR etc from one of these pieces of software.
 

dwkdnvr

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I doubt you can buy and licensce a PC, 4+ channel DAC, and 3rd party software for less than the cost of a Minidsp SHD. Then you have to do all the work to intergrate all of that. Pi doesnt run Dirac or any other filter software outside of loading FIR etc from one of these pieces of software.
Well, you can, but looking strictly at hardware cost under-sells the benefit of the SHD which is integrated convenience.

e.g. a Celeron mini-PC is $250. If you're ok with analog outputs only, a Motu M4 is $250; to really compare with the SHD though an UltraLite Mk5 at $550 is probably a better comparison - digital outs, XLR etc. Dirac appears to cost $350 for a stereo license. So, minimum $850, or $1150 if you want more flexibility with the UltraLite. (a Pi4 would be less if they're available, but that limits you to Linux only and you won't get Dirac)

Now you have to do all the work, as you say. What DSP stack? What are your audio sources - streaming loopback only, or bluetooth/external analog as well? Remote control. Display. Making it bullet-proof so the wife can deal even if there's a power outage when I'm away.

I 'know how' to do all this stuff - I was doing my first DSP crossovers on Linux with BruteFIR prior to Y2K if you can believe it. Despite that I consider the SHD the best $$$ I've spent in my system because you just set it up and it works.
 
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