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MiniDSP SHD implementation options

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#1
Newbie - so feel free to point me elsewhere if there are existing topics/threads that address this......

I'd like to get started with DSP but need to figure out how to add DSP processing to my system(s). I have a couple of systems where I will want to add DSP eventually but I'm currently focused on my office system that I use for most of my audio listening.

Some details.....That system is located in a small/mid sized room (14x14) and is a nearfield setup on a large desk sitting in the middle of the room. Music is sourced from a PC with most critical listening coming from either Tidal or Media Monkey playing FLAC files located on a Synology NAS (mainly std redbook CD RIPs). I also do some casual listening on Spotify and Youtube. Hardware includes... i7 based Windows PC -> Matrix Audio USB board -> Topping D90 DAC (MQA version) -> Keces E40 integrated amp -> Revel M105s and a Pinnacle Sub (I am also looking into replacing the sub).

Its great combination but none of those components comes with DSP support. I thought about Roon (which helps solve the larger whole house problem) but I'm not quite ready to go down the full Roon approach just yet and, instead, have been eyeing adding a MiniDSP SHD to provide DSP/Dirac support. (knowing that I could later add Roon and define the MiniDSP as an endpoint). The other advantage of the MiniDSP SHD seems to be the ability to apply corrections to the M105s and Sub independently. But, going down the MiniDSP SHD road raises the question of how to hook it up. Here are the 2 options that I was considering....

1) Remove the D90 altogether and let the MiniDSP handle the PC USB input and DAC duties....then directly feed the Mini analog output to both the E40 (high signal) and the Sub (low signal). This seems like the simplest solution but I hate the idea of losing the D90. On a smaller note, this would also require pushing the MQA processing back to the Tidal software on the PC. Last, there is the question of replacing the Topping audio drivers on the PC with the MiniDSP's drivers. The Toppings drivers lets you set Tidal to exclusive use of the Topping audio device/driver (via WASAPI). Does anyone know if the MiniDSP SHD Windows drivers support allowing the Tidal player to use the WASAPI interface?

2) Let the MiniDSP handle the PC USB input and use the Mini digital out to feed the D90 (high signal) and the Mini analog outs to feed the sub. With this option, the D90 is handling the DAC duties for the bulk of the music....but there's an additional Digital connection added to the chain (MiniDSP to D90).

Ultimately, If the Mini's DAC performance is close enough to the D90, there wouldn't be much reason for configuration option #2 and I would probably just stick with option #1. If the D90 is really a better DAC, then option #2 seems best.

Any words of advice on these options and/or others that I missed would be much appreciated!
 

TimW

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#2
I have a miniDSP SHD. I'm pretty sure I have used it with Tidal on a Windows PC using exlcusive mode.

The D90 is an objectively higher performance DAC but me and most others here will argue there is no audible difference between it and the SHD. Also, many here are Anti-MQA so they would say who care's if you lose the hardware unfolding. Personally I have done AB comparisons of MQA tracks through an MQA decoding DAC and normal DAC, both of competent objective performance, and I heard little to no difference. So I would recommend option 1 and either sell or repurpose the D90. Although if you really like the D90, there is no downside to using it with the digital output from the SHD. In fact you could even go with the SHD Studio which is intended for use with outboard DACs.

Keep in mind that with either set up, you would not want to use the volume control on the Keces E40.
 
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mash
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Thread Starter #3
I looked at the SHD Studio but that would mean adding another DAC for the Sub output.

Why, the comment on the E40 volume control? Would you use the D90/SHD'd level adjustment for the volume control? or control the volume from the PC?
 

waynel

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#4
I looked at the SHD Studio but that would mean adding another DAC for the Sub output.

Why, the comment on the E40 volume control? Would you use the D90/SHD'd level adjustment for the volume control? or control the volume from the PC?
Yes the SHD studio would need 2 DACs to support subs or one Okto DAC8 pro. You need to make sure that the volume control adjusts both the LR and sub volume so you should use : PC or SHD (or Okto Dac8 pro) but not the integrated amp (as the sub signal comes from the SHD ideally) or the D90 (as the sub signal doesn't run through it).
 
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mash
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Thread Starter #5
Yes the SHD studio would need 2 DACs to support subs or one Okto DAC8 pro. You need to make sure that the volume control adjusts both the LR and sub volume so you should use : PC or SHD (or Okto Dac8 pro) but not the integrated amp (as the sub signal comes from the SHD ideally) or the D90 (as the sub signal doesn't run through it).
ahh (or should I say Duh).....good point
 

JustJones

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#6
Minidsp SHD and SHD Studio can't be used as roon endpoints, there is a plugin in Volumio you can use. They are supposed to be getting certification.
 
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mash
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Thread Starter #7
Minidsp SHD and SHD Studio can't be used as roon endpoints, there is a plugin in Volumio you can use. They are supposed to be getting certification.
Right, this was my understanding. I don't need Roon just yet...maybe next year some time. I think I'm going to go down the Roon road but that is a bigger commitment that I need to spend some time thinking through. As long as the SHD's get it in 21, I would still view that as a plus.
 

JustJones

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#8
I would use a SHD Studio ethernet in and let Volumio pass the Tidal signal to the D90 if I wanted MQA. It also has a Spotify plugin and will play from your NAS. In other words get the PC out of it altogether, and get a second DAC for the subwoofer. Or get the SHD and go that route.
 
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mash
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Thread Starter #9
My original thought had been to "temporarily" keep using my PC as the source until I implement Roon and then let Roon directly feed the SHD for most sources and cut the PC out for anything that Roon supports (Tidal, NAS Flac files) and keep the PC for non-roon sources (Youtube, Spotify). I hadn't really thought about using the Volumio streaming support to cut out the PC for some/all of those sources. Good suggestion, I'll need to dig into that a bit more and/or play with it if I get the SHD.

I still think I would go with the SHD over the SHD studio. If I had been smarter before, the SHD studio combined with the Okto DAC8 might have been a great combo. Now, I'll probably get the SHD, compare the sound with and without the D90 and make a decision to pull the D90 based on what I hear.

On MQA - I'm not a huge proponent of it either but I wouldn't cut it out if I can still do it. That said, its low down the list of priorities....i.e. I would certainly pick DSP corrections over MQA.
 

JustJones

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#10
I know the SHD Studio had Tidal, Quboz, Spotify, some radio stations and I think YouTube not sure about that one. shared folders, NAS, connected USB drives. Using the SHD would be the easiest.
 

TimW

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#11
I'm not a fan of Volumio. Using it with Tidal or my network drive of music is no fun. I just don't like the interface. Using it with Roon or Spotify works well because you control playback through their apps. But I'm still waiting for Roon Ready certification. I wish I could cast to it using Plexamp. Maybe Tidal connect will improve things but that doesn't help with my local collection. For now I just stream to the SHD with my PC/Plex server/Roon core connected via USB. That way I can use whatever music software I want and I can quickly fire up the miniDSP plugin or REW or Dirac whenever I feel the itch.

As far as the SHD Studio goes, yes you would need a second DAC for the subwoofer but It could just be something cheap that gets the job done. The full SHD is more versatile though and it includes analog inputs.
 

dwkdnvr

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#12
I do actually run the digital out from my SHD to my Sabaj D5 and then to the mains, but this is largely because a) I have it b) it makes it a bit easier to adjust levels without using too much attenuation in the SHD dsp chain. I really should go back and A/B with the straight SHD analog outs, as freeing up the D5 wouldn't be bad even though I really don't have an immediate use for it.

I'd also suggest the full SHD over the Studio, particularly if you ever think that HT integration might be in your future. The analog input provides some flexibility in that area.
 
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#13
Minidsp SHD and SHD Studio can't be used as roon endpoints, there is a plugin in Volumio you can use. They are supposed to be getting certification.
sure you can ... i do it for almost a year. Its just not certified yet. That should change in near future. miniDSP already started the procedure with roon.
 

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