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MiniDSP SHD Dirac Live Rivals

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#1
As I get closer to identifying my elusive new system, I find the MiniDSP SHD with Dirac Live to be a compelling front end device that could check all of my boxes should I go with an active speaker solution (or I suppose even with passive+power amplifier). The Studio might even do what I need, depending on the output choice.

I am wondering what worthy competition for this might include. I don't know enough to know where to check for capable alternatives. I could put these functions together myself and save some money, but I do like the ready integration and smallboxness a device like this provides.

Thanks.

-mitch
 
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#3
I’m looking for a 2 in 8 out D/A convertor with DSP for crossovers, set and forget and not require a PC.

I had heaps of music on my NAS but that was so 2009.

I find myself using streaming more and more... apart from the rare classical or underground tracks, Spotify, Apple Music and Soundcloud seems to over most my needs.
 

FrantzM

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#4
I’m looking for a 2 in 8 out D/A convertor with DSP for crossovers, set and forget and not require a PC.

I had heaps of music on my NAS but that was so 2009.

I find myself using streaming more and more... apart from the rare classical or underground tracks, Spotify, Apple Music and Soundcloud seems to over most my needs.
Same here. Word for word.
 
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#6
I have an SHD on the way - should be here today - so I guess my answer has to be 'there really isn't one' depending on what you're looking for. My application is to bi-amp with a 250Hz (ish) xover between monitor tops and woofer cabinets in our living room which requires at least a couple external inputs in addition to music streaming and has to be wife-friendly.

The NAD C658 is the closest off-the-shelf competitor I think - has Dirac Live (limited version, upgradeable to the full version), and has stereo low-pass outputs potentially suitable for bi-amping. More expensive, and missing the generalized DSP functionality though. (and the low-pass outputs are almost certainly limited to a single fixed slope and probably limited to 200Hz or lower based on my experience with the D7050) . BluOS streaming which I know very little about. It does have a trigger output though - something that IMHO is a disappointing omission from the SHD.

I was weighing between the SHD and a PC-based solution using jackd/BruteFIR on a linux box. I think it should be feasible to come up with a minimalist 'appliance' style solution where you power-on straight into audio processing, but getting volume control, input switching etc would need a bit of coding at least, and probably a lot of testing. Plus, if you need to support external inputs you'd either need to use analog inputs or else SRC on the digital inputs since the jackd/BruteFIR setup will only run at a fixed sample rate. Something like the MiniDSP UDIO-8 would fit the bill, but it only supports coax inputs and of course everything I have in the living room is toslink. I eventually decided that running a homebrew remote-controlled PC in the living room was just too risky, and given that it was something of an open-ended project I wasn't sure I had the time to pull it off anyway.

So, the SHD was pretty much the only thing out there that really met my needs. Hopefully it delivers.
 
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#7
I hope so too. If you have time to share your impressions once you have spent some time with it, I'd love to read them.
 
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#8
I still have to get my Neurochrome amp boards into a case before I can get the system set up, but given the measurements and knowing that Tom from Neurochrome designed the analog stages of the SHD and seems to be happy with the SHD as a DAC, I'm optimistic.
 

digicidal

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#9
I'm in exactly the same boat here... I love the look of the C658 over the SHD... but I'm much more confident in the flexibility of the SHD. Plus with the ability to go balanced out on all outputs - eliminates having to run/pull another cable from my 8801A in my current setup.

Although in a completely different price bracket - the DSPeaker Anti-mode X4 is another compelling option... now if only it were $1500 less. :rolleyes:
 

Krunok

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#10
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/looking-for-cheap-well-engineered-streamer-dac-preamp-recommendations-for-xlr-input-active-monitors.6731/

Alternatives are discussed in this thread. I'm in a similar situation. Looking to go active with a streaming DAC preamp that does room correction/parametric EQ.
You can run Volumio on a cheap fanless PC. Cheap high quality USB DAC like SMSL-SU8 v2 would do the job just fine. For Spotify there is a Volumio plugin. Tidal integration can easilly be done with BubbleUPnP Android app which I anyhow suggest you buy to control Volumio from your phone.

For room EQ there is a BruteFIR plugin which enables you to use filters from several free room EQ apps like DRC-FIR, REW filters and others (WAV, PCM and TXT fliter formats are supported). You can also generate filters and XO's mannually with rePhase.

You can have all this for less than $400.
 

digicidal

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#11
Quite true, however there is a cost (IMO worth at least $1K) in not having the hours/frustration of dealing with a large number of various pieces of software/hardware. I'd definitely go that route if cost was the primary driving factor though. I'd prefer it if the only major time constraint was in taking measurements. Plus, as WAF is still a contributing factor in the decision (for me at least) ease of use is also high. A single device with decent remote is no problem... more than that might be.

That is what has kept my 8801 in use for so long... if I add or change speakers, move furniture, etc. all I have to do is grab the mic and run another Audyssey calibration set... and I'm back to listening. If I were the only one that ever had to use the setup - then I'd probably go the "2-3 little boxes" route over a single point solution.
 

Krunok

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#12
Quite true, however there is a cost (IMO worth at least $1K) in not having the hours/frustration of dealing with a large number of various pieces of software/hardware. I'd definitely go that route if cost was the primary driving factor though. I'd prefer it if the only major time constraint was in taking measurements. Plus, as WAF is still a contributing factor in the decision (for me at least) ease of use is also high. A single device with decent remote is no problem... more than that might be.
The only major difference, aprt form price, between the solution I proposed (and that I'm using) and miniDSP SHD is that with miniDSP SHD you are getting both hardware components (comp and DAC) in a single housing.

The only major time consuming process is measurements but you can't avoid that anyhow if you want to have good SQ in your room.
 

digicidal

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#13
The only major time consuming process is measurements but you can't avoid that anyhow if you want to have good SQ in your room.
And installing, patching and configuring... It may not be "complicated" in the pure sense, but as someone who already has 4 computers in the house and 20 at the office that I maintain... outside of running a calibration routine I'd definitely prefer a firmware solution over a software one - even linux boxes need love from time to time. Plus the power consumption is likely worse (though admittedly not a huge consideration either way).
 

Krunok

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#14
And installing, patching and configuring... It may not be "complicated" in the pure sense, but as someone who already has 4 computers in the house and 20 at the office that I maintain... outside of running a calibration routine I'd definitely prefer a firmware solution over a software one - even linux boxes need love from time to time. Plus the power consumption is likely worse (though admittedly not a huge consideration either way).
miniDSP SHD is not a "firmware" solution but also a linux box. It also runs Volumio.

Why would power consumption be worse??
 

digicidal

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#17
miniDSP SHD is not a "firmware" solution but also a linux box. It also runs Volumio.
Why would power consumption be worse??
The streamer on the ARM is a "linux box" however, I presume (possibly wrongly - you seem much more familiar) that's all - basically a raspberry pi "on board" kinda thing. The DSP implementation is firmware based AFAIK, which is what I was referring to. MiniDSP doesn't provide any draw characteristics, but as the whole thing runs on a 12V DC wallwart... I'm guessing <30W total? I have a NUC running little more than a LAMP stack and it almost never idles that low... if it were doing all of the DSP as well I think it'd be well over.

The streamer isn't the primary demand for me... it's the DAC, pre-amp, dual-sub DSP features that are the critical aspects. The streaming is just fine running my Oppo as a roon-endpoint so that's not a thing.
 

Krunok

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#18
The streamer on the ARM is a "linux box" however, I presume (possibly wrongly - you seem much more familiar) that's all - basically a raspberry pi "on board" kinda thing. The DSP implementation is firmware based AFAIK, which is what I was referring to.
It's a 450MHz Sharc board. It runs on software, not really a firmware.


The streamer isn't the primary demand for me... it's the DAC, pre-amp, dual-sub DSP features that are the critical aspects. The streaming is just fine running my Oppo as a roon-endpoint so that's not a thing.
Combine NUC with miniDSP U-DAC8 and you will 8 channels to play with. Volume will be controlled by Volumio via XMOS chip and with BruteFIR plugin running on NUC you will have much better DSP features than those in miniDSP SHD.
 

digicidal

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#19
Combine NUC with miniDSP U-DAC8 and you will 8 channels to play with. Volume will be controlled by Volumio via XMOS chip and with BruteFIR plugin running on NUC you will have much better DSP features than those in miniDSP SHD.
That solution works great from the DSP/subs side of things... but I've lost TV, BDP, and WAF in the process. Plus I've got to repull everything or use balanced-to-unbalanced adapters. See the dilemma? None of these are an issue in my office - where if I'm listening to anything, I'm already at the computer, already can run everything in software in the digital realm prior to hitting the DAC. No other sources, no other users - it makes things much simpler. ;)
 

Krunok

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#20
That solution works great from the DSP/subs side of things... but I've lost TV, BDP, and WAF in the process. Plus I've got to repull everything or use balanced-to-unbalanced adapters. See the dilemma? None of these are an issue in my office - where if I'm listening to anything, I'm already at the computer, already can run everything in software in the digital realm prior to hitting the DAC. No other sources, no other users - it makes things much simpler. ;)
Well, SHD certainly has it's strong sides. The only thinng that actually bothers me with it is that Dirac Live is not optional and that Volumio installation is custom so you can't add BruteFIR and other Volumio plugins to it.
 
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