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miniDSP Flex

anotherhobby

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I don't want to take this thread off topic, but my experience may be of interest to other people who want to order a Flex directly from MiniDSP.
This morning, I got a phone call from DHL following up from the electronic message I sent them. The patient woman explained to me that they need to have the number (because of the tariffs). My options were to provide a number, ask DHL to turn the process over to my own customs clearing agent (I don't have one), or ask DHL to return the item free of charge.

I opted to go online and apply for an EIN at irs.gov. It takes a couple minutes. I provided that number to DHL and things are moving forward for now. I don't know what kind of future paperwork I have incurred by getting the EIN. The DHL employee told me that the social security number or EIN is forwarded electronically to US Customs, but that it also goes into my (customer record) in DHL's computer system ~permanently. I understand other people might not worry about this.

If I had this to do again, I would probably wait to buy it through the Colorado vendor when they get it.

Alternatively, I might have been better off ordering just the Flex by itself. I ordered the Umik-1 and the Dirac upgrade at the same time. Perhaps if I had ordered only the Flex, the value of the order would have been low enough to have not triggered this process. I've ordered things from China before, and never encountered this customs situation.
That really sucks! What a pain! I think I would have cancelled and waited to order it from a US vendor. For the record, I ordered just the miniDSP balanced on its own and did not get any such inquisition to have it delivered to Minnesota.
 

Actungz

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Received my Flex balanced yesterday and have it up and running on my desktop system with a pair of Neumann KH120s and a pair of SVS SB1000 pros. It's a gamechanger for desktop audio as it's the only small device that I've found that supports bass management and balanced outputs. It also meets by requirement of a volume knob for quick adjustments (and not trusting software volume control) and room EQ. It's quite the nice device and I think should be table stakes for anyone using studio monitors with subs for a desktop system.

BTW: the subs are unbalanced and I found no issues with using a cable configured to MiniDSP's recommendation. As I mentioned earlier, I believe all the worrying about using the flex balanced with unbalanced subs (or speakers) was unwarranted.

Did you have to increase the sub output by 6db like some members suggested? Or did REW and the flex adjust automatically when running the software?
 

waynel

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Did you have to increase the sub output by 6db like some members suggested? Or did REW and the flex adjust automatically when running the software?
No, the sub gain was about right as I was previously using the single ended outs from the motu m4 for the subs and the balanced out for the speakers so it was the same gain structure . Then I decided to run the subs in mono and decreased the gain by 6dB to compensate . Running balanced speakers/amp with single-ended subs is a non-issue.
 

Actungz

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Thank you for clarifying that. Finding fewer and fewer reasons to not get one now.
 

Ultrasonic

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Did you have to increase the sub output by 6db like some members suggested?

This may have been what you had in mind but with a typical active subwoofer I'd be doing this with the sub gain knob rather than with a an adjustment in the miniDSP settings ('plugin').
 

anotherhobby

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Wow, mine just showed up to my house in 1 day! I got the DHL shipping notice yesterday morning when it shipped out of Hong Kong telling me it would be here in Minnesota 6 days later. Instead it somehow managed to show up this afternoon. I can't wait to dive in!
 

dkinric

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Wow, mine just showed up to my house in 1 day! I got the DHL shipping notice yesterday morning when it shipped out of Hong Kong telling me it would be here in Minnesota 6 days later. Instead it somehow managed to show up this afternoon. I can't wait to dive in!
The thing that got me at first was you MUST launch Dirac Live from within the Flex console software. If you launch the Dirac software alone, it doesn't recognize the Flex.
 

Ultrasonic

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The thing that got me at first was you MUST launch Dirac Live from within the Flex console software. If you launch the Dirac software alone, it doesn't recognize the Flex.

It's done this way for Dirac licencing reasons I think, rather than needing a licence key of some sort for the software itself. I think this behaviour is common over all miniDSP models that support Dirac Live.
 

Madjalapeno

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Does anyone know the latency on a Flex? Could it be used in a home theater scenario without a lag on speech?
 

anotherhobby

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I just plugged in my Flex this evening and did a quick setup, so here are some initial impressions and observations.

I didn't have time to set up EQ or anything. The plugin software is fine and easy enough to use, and I like how changes made in the UI are instantly reflected in the audio. I just set up the inputs, routing, and crossovers for my speakers and two subs. I was up and running that far within about 10 minutes.

After getting it set up and I started listening, there was an immediate improvement in sound quality. This is because I was using 70 Hz 12dB/oct inline passive high pass filters on my mains amp, and I was using the Crown amp's built in 24dB/oct crossover set to 70 Hz low pass for the subs. It worked okay, but with mismatching slopes, the mix was not nearly as good as matching them perfectly and actively in the miniDSP. This was a very nice upgrade, with the bass rolling off more smoothly at the crossover point.

The volume knob motion is not smooth, but instead is stepped/notched for each 1/2 dB increment. I initially did not like it, but I'm getting used to it. I will be using it for primary volume control, so I guess I better make friends with it. I really love the dB reading volume display.

I plugged it into a power strip on a smart switch with the rest of my desktop audio and noticed the Flex turns on with the wall wart getting power. This is what I was hoping for, and I'm glad I don't have to turn it on manually.

Switching between presets while listening to music incurs a 4 second audio drop out. I guess it's fine, but I wish it didn't drop. I plan on using the 4 presets for:
  • preferred EQ setup
  • reasonable bass cut to the subs for night mode
  • slight bass boost on the subs for low volumes
  • speakers only with no subs or crossovers

The USB audio input has noticeably less gain than the TOSLINK. Not sure what's up with that, but I can feed it either one from my Mac. Striking that comment as it appears to have been an error. Speaking of USB, the miniDSP Flex is the only DAC that I have ever plugged into my Mac that does not pick up any USB ground noise from the computer's CPU. I've always had to use USB>TOSLINK decouple the ground between my computer's USB and my audio setup. This is the 5th DACs I have tried on my Mac in the last few months (Schiit Modi 3, Topping D10s, NAD 3020 V2 internal DAC, Topping E30), and every other one of them passes CPU noise into the speaker and you can clearly hear buzzing, the kind where you can hear it change when you move the mouse. The miniDSP Flex is 100% silent and picks up no USB noise. I was not expecting that, but I'm super happy about it.
 
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Ultrasonic

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The USB audio input has noticeably less gain than the TOSLINK. Not sure what's up with that,

My guess is this is more likely an issue with some volume attenuation at your computer end rather than the miniDSP. You could compare the input signal levels shown by the bars in the miniDSP plugin for the two inputs to help see what's going on.
 

Ultrasonic

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it’s less than 1ms.
Are you certain? That sounds suspiciously short... I'm also guessing you mean a FLEX that isn't running Dirac Live, which would definitely introduce a longer delay.
 

abdo123

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Are you certain? That sounds suspiciously short... I'm also guessing you mean a FLEX that isn't running Dirac Live, which would definitely introduce a longer delay.
Well if you're going to use any features that inherently require a time delay then you will introduce time delay to the system. but the inherent processing delay is extremely low.

 

Ultrasonic

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Well if you're going to use any features that inherently require a time delay then you will introduce time delay to the system. but the inherent processing delay is extremely low.

This post from the miniDSP forum suggests a 3 ms latency for a 2x4 HD, which appears to share at least the DSP chip with the FLEX:

 

anotherhobby

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My guess is this is more likely an issue with some volume attenuation at your computer end rather than the miniDSP. You could compare the input signal levels shown by the bars in the miniDSP plugin for the two inputs to help see what's going on.
It'm pretty confident it's not volume attenuation on my Mac. Both connections are USB from the Mac, and volume on the Mac all the way up. The path's are Mac > USB > Topping D10s > optical > Flex vs. Mac > USB > Flex. The Topping/Optical path has noticeably more gain. I'm working now, but I'll see if I can get some more specific information later. << that comment is incorrect. Both USB/TOSLINK inputs are the same level.

On a side note, another observation is that the Flex display turns off 2 minutes after you've last touched it (except when you are working in the plugin software and it's connected). I can't find any way to disable that, but I wish I could keep the display active all the time.
 
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th0m

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On a side note, another observation is that the Flex display turns off 2 minutes after you've last touched it (except when you are working in the plugin software and it's connected). I can't find any way to disable that, but I wish I could keep the display active all the time.
On the SHD, you can customize the behaviour of the display in the same program where you manage the output routing etc. "Display settings" under the Preferences tab. Should be the same on the Flex?

I have mine set to remain active but dim to the lowest brightness after 10 seconds.
 

Ultrasonic

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It's pretty confident it's not volume attenuation on my Mac. Both connections are USB from the Mac, and volume on the Mac all the way up. The path's are Mac > USB > Topping D10s > optical > Flex vs. Mac > USB > Flex. The Topping/Optical path has noticeably more gain. I'm working now, but I'll see if I can get some more specific information later.

Oh, definitely not the MAC then :). Sorry the full context wasn't clear from your earlier posts. Do still check the input levels shown by the FLEX though to get a better idea what's going on, as I'm still doubtful the FLEX is the cause.
 

abdo123

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On the SHD, you can customize the behaviour of the display in the same program where you manage the output routing etc. "Display settings" under the Preferences tab. Should be the same on the Flex?

I have mine set to remain active but dim to the lowest brightness after 10 seconds.
They haven’t baked these features into the plugin yet. It’s mostly just the 2*4HD one for now.
 

Ultrasonic

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I wish I could keep the display active all the time.

Bear in mind that it's an OLED display that may not do so well being on permanently. There have been some display issues on SHDs, although a firmware update that reduced the display refresh rate is meant to help with this. I still think I'd avoid having the display on permanently myself though, and I'm sure the current default behaviour of the FLEX is partly with this in mind.
 
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