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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: 23 65.7%
  • Computer+DAC (RME ADI-2 Pro)

    Votes: 12 34.3%

  • Total voters
    35

dasdoing

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well, you don't have to pay for Dirac with a Raspery Pi. there is free (and better) DRC software for Linux. but I agree that a MiniDSP is convinient; kind of the Apple of DSP lol
 

TabCam

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well, you don't have to pay for Dirac with a Raspery Pi. there is free (and better) DRC software for Linux. but I agree that a MiniDSP is convinient; kind of the Apple of DSP lol
Which free DRC software do you consider better than Dirac?

With an active speaker I her less profit from Dirac as it's fase correctness is better than an passive filter. In that regard, I like an active filter even more than a digital one, there seems to be more compression due to different gains.

With regards to the original question, I dislike the sample rate conversion of the MiniDSP. It is still dillicult to see which has the most effect, but I had better results when Dirac was applied on a laptop and the file was played in the original sample rate. That last one aside, the MiniDSP is a more convenient solution, especially if you need analog input. One volume control, a real remote, those things can aldo be taken into consideration.

In short, I would take a computer for the absolute best sound quality and the MiniDSP SHD for convenience.
 

Ultrasonic

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well, you don't have to pay for Dirac with a Raspery Pi. there is free (and better) DRC software for Linux. but I agree that a MiniDSP is convinient; kind of the Apple of DSP lol

That last comment is just absurd. A big strength of miniDSP products is the control they give to users over exactly what is done. That's the antithesis of Apple's approach.

Have you actually used a miniDSP SHD?
 

Ngregson

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I am a new joiner but I have some good insight here as I have all the components being discussed and can compare. For context, I have the following system: My current preferred digital set up is Roon + HQPlayer running through Dirac Live Processor on a Mac Mini into a Holo May KTE DAC (via USB) then through a Naim 282 Preamp with Supercap, and Naim 250 power amp, into Verity Audio Rienzi speakers. What’s that got to do with the OP’s question, you may ask.... Well, I also have an RME ADI2 Pro ADC/DAC that I use mainly for the ADC so I can play vinyl from my turntable through the Dirac set up. And I also have a MiniDSP SHD....that I was previously using for my Dirac processing, prior to switching to the Mac mini set up. Using these various pieces I made a few comparisons:

1. Computer Set Up: Roon —> Dirac Live Processor —> RME ADI2 DAC via USB (note: I removed HQPlayer from this set up)

2. MiniDSP SHD Set Up A: Roon —> Auralic Aries Femto* —> SHD SPDIF input —> SHD Dirac Processor —> RME ADI2 DAC

3. MiniDSP SHD Set Up B: Roon —> SHD internal streamer* —> SHD Dirac Processor —> RME ADI2 DAC

4. MiniDSP SHD Set Up C: Roon —> Auralic Aries Femto* —> SHD SPDIF input —> SHD Dirac Processor —> SHD DAC

5. MiniDSP SHD Set Up D: Roon —> SHD internal streamer* —> SHD Dirac Processor —> SHD DAC

*I don’t have the Bluesound node streamer (although I did own one briefly) and would say from memory that is not as good as the Aries Femto as a streamer but is as good, or maybe slightly better than the SHD’s internal streamer.

In terms of sound quality of the five set ups above, the order is 1>2>3=4>5 A few comments:

- The RME DAC is slightly superior to the SHD’s DAC in terms of timbre and soundstaging (deeper though maybe not quite as wide), although the SHD DAC is no slouch at all considered as part of a multi purpose unit

- The Aries as a streamer is clearly superior to the SHD streamer...smoother and a greater sense of ease and flow, vs a bit more digital /harsh sounding with the SHD streamer. But again, the SHD streamer is fine considering it’s part of a broader package. I do notice (as have others) that’s there are some random pops and clicks with hi res files when using the SHD streamer (a bit like the clicks you get from vinyl....not terrible but they shouldn‘t be there.)

- The Dirac Live Processor in the Mac Mini sounds a bit more open and less boxy than the Dirac processor in the SHD, but again, this is not a massive difference (bear in mind that I had to use different measurement files with each of the Mac version and SHD versions of Dirac as the files are not transferable, so we are not exactly comparing apples with apples, although I was measuring the same speakers, same chair with the same mic etc.) I understand also that the Mac version of Dirac calculates at 192 vs 96 for the SHD box so that may account for a bit of the difference in perceived openness.

So, in summary, the MiniDSP SHD loses just slightly against its competition (in this test) in each of the categories: as a DAC vs the RME ADI 2, as a streamer vs the Aries, and as a Dirac processor vs the Mac version. Having said that, it is still a great sounding box, and although I didn’t buy it to use the DAC or streamer components until recently I was very happy with it using the Dirac processor with the Aries as a streamer. And if something went wrong with my Mac set up I’d be perfectly happy reverting to that.

This was clearly not a highly scientific comparison, but I hope it gives some insight as to the differences between these options.

Nigel
 

mike70

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I am a new joiner but I have some good insight here as I have all the components being discussed and can compare. For context, I have the following system: My current preferred digital set up is Roon + HQPlayer running through Dirac Live Processor on a Mac Mini into a Holo May KTE DAC (via USB) then through a Naim 282 Preamp with Supercap, and Naim 250 power amp, into Verity Audio Rienzi speakers. What’s that got to do with the OP’s question, you may ask.... Well, I also have an RME ADI2 Pro ADC/DAC that I use mainly for the ADC so I can play vinyl from my turntable through the Dirac set up. And I also have a MiniDSP SHD....that I was previously using for my Dirac processing, prior to switching to the Mac mini set up. Using these various pieces I made a few comparisons:

1. Computer Set Up: Roon —> Dirac Live Processor —> RME ADI2 DAC via USB (note: I removed HQPlayer from this set up)

2. MiniDSP SHD Set Up A: Roon —> Auralic Aries Femto* —> SHD SPDIF input —> SHD Dirac Processor —> RME ADI2 DAC

3. MiniDSP SHD Set Up B: Roon —> SHD internal streamer* —> SHD Dirac Processor —> RME ADI2 DAC

4. MiniDSP SHD Set Up C: Roon —> Auralic Aries Femto* —> SHD SPDIF input —> SHD Dirac Processor —> SHD DAC

5. MiniDSP SHD Set Up D: Roon —> SHD internal streamer* —> SHD Dirac Processor —> SHD DAC

*I don’t have the Bluesound node streamer (although I did own one briefly) and would say from memory that is not as good as the Aries Femto as a streamer but is as good, or maybe slightly better than the SHD’s internal streamer.

In terms of sound quality of the five set ups above, the order is 1>2>3=4>5 A few comments:

- The RME DAC is slightly superior to the SHD’s DAC in terms of timbre and soundstaging (deeper though maybe not quite as wide), although the SHD DAC is no slouch at all considered as part of a multi purpose unit

- The Aries as a streamer is clearly superior to the SHD streamer...smoother and a greater sense of ease and flow, vs a bit more digital /harsh sounding with the SHD streamer. But again, the SHD streamer is fine considering it’s part of a broader package. I do notice (as have others) that’s there are some random pops and clicks with hi res files when using the SHD streamer (a bit like the clicks you get from vinyl....not terrible but they shouldn‘t be there.)

- The Dirac Live Processor in the Mac Mini sounds a bit more open and less boxy than the Dirac processor in the SHD, but again, this is not a massive difference (bear in mind that I had to use different measurement files with each of the Mac version and SHD versions of Dirac as the files are not transferable, so we are not exactly comparing apples with apples, although I was measuring the same speakers, same chair with the same mic etc.) I understand also that the Mac version of Dirac calculates at 192 vs 96 for the SHD box so that may account for a bit of the difference in perceived openness.

So, in summary, the MiniDSP SHD loses just slightly against its competition (in this test) in each of the categories: as a DAC vs the RME ADI 2, as a streamer vs the Aries, and as a Dirac processor vs the Mac version. Having said that, it is still a great sounding box, and although I didn’t buy it to use the DAC or streamer components until recently I was very happy with it using the Dirac processor with the Aries as a streamer. And if something went wrong with my Mac set up I’d be perfectly happy reverting to that.

This was clearly not a highly scientific comparison, but I hope it gives some insight as to the differences between these options.

Nigel

Excellent post!

Can I ask you something? I tried to play vinyl digitally with my Focusrite Scarlett / Pi 4 to a USB DAC with Audacity in the "monitoring" feature. Well, the Pi 4 doesn't have enough processing power (many glitches) and I need to go to a mini PC ... but ... what software are you using to "play" the USB input? Audacity isn't very "user friendly" as player.
 

Ngregson

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I use HQPlayer to “play” my vinyl. My phono preamp is connected to the analog ins of my RME ADI2 Pro, which is connected via USB to my MacBook. In HQPlayer I select the RME as my input device, select the desired sample rate (192) and hit play in HQPlayer. The output from HQPlayer is the DiracLiveProcessor, so I can now hear my digitized final stream, upsampled/filtered by HQPlayer, then “room corrected” by Dirac Live.
 

youpassbutter

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For you SHD-savvy folks: I am having issues with Spotify Connect on Volumio with my iPhone (I am a Spotify premium member). I installed both the Spotify plugin the 3rd party Spotify Connect plugin. But I can't get Spotify connect to work - I can only connect over Airplay which is suboptimal. Any troubleshooting recommendations? I did do a power off of the SHD unit. Thanks in advance.
 

Ultrasonic

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For you SHD-savvy folks: I am having issues with Spotify Connect on Volumio with my iPhone (I am a Spotify premium member). I installed both the Spotify plugin the 3rd party Spotify Connect plugin. But I can't get Spotify connect to work - I can only connect over Airplay which is suboptimal. Any troubleshooting recommendations? I did do a power off of the SHD unit. Thanks in advance.
Have you logged into Spotify on your SHD?
 

youpassbutter

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Have you logged into Spotify on your SHD?
I had, yes. OK, I don't know how to explain this, but it is working now for the first time. Thanks - I have no idea why it didn't work in the first place and why it works now.
 
Last edited:

jhaider

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Do you want to do
(a) audio-related tinkering mediated by a computer, or
(b) computer tinkering and audio tinkering, possibly in some sort of iterative loop?

If the answer is (a), go SHD. If the answer is (b) go computer. It's really that simple.
 
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