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Minidsp SHD Review Updated (DSP, DAC & Streamer)

amirm

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This is an update to the review of minidsp SHD that I did a couple of years ago. My tests have evolved since then and company has stated that they fixed a few issues I found in that test. The SHD costs US $1,195 and includes a USB DAC, streaming engine (based on Volumio) and of course, DSP functions for crossover, filter and Room EQ using Dirac. The version I have was purchased new and drop shipped to me by a member.

Here is a shot of the unit, albeit with protective plastics still on it:

Minidsp SHD Review DAC Streamer DSP Balanced.jpg


The back panel shows the useful suite of connections:

Minidsp SHD Review DAC Streamer DSP back panel XLR Balanced.psd.jpg


For control you need to download the special software from minidsp. You need to make an account, redeem codes, etc. which is a bit aggravating. I downloaded the latest versions but could not get them to work. Then I saw the notice that said to uninstall old version first. I did that and reinstallation worked the second time. Once there, the user interface is a delight compared to just using the display on just about any multifunction unit.

For my testing I used USB input and XLR output.

Minidsp SHD Measurements
Let's start with our usual dashboard. I had to dial down the output to 4 volts as anything above that would cause clipping and at any rate, 4 volts is our measurement standard anyway:

Minidsp SHD Measurements Balanced.png


The original unit I tested has the same excellent performance in one channel but lower in the other. Nice to see both matching now, moving the SHD up a few notches in our overall ranking of all DACs:
best audio dsp review.png


Multifunction products such as AV processors have struggled to break the 100 dB mark and here is minidsp reaching to 112 dB, showing that signal processing and EQ need not be a barrier to excellent performance.

Sweeping the output level shows that 4 volts is the optimal setting:

Minidsp SHD Measurements Balanced THD+N vs Level.png


Dynamic range is very good:

Minidsp SHD Measurements Balanced dynamic range.png


Intermodulation distortion is nice as well:
Minidsp SHD Measurements Balanced IMD distortion.png


Filter response is not as good as I like:
Minidsp SHD Measurements Balanced Filter Response.png


Would want to see that attenuation down in -100 dB range or so. I thought this would cause problems for THD+N vs frequency and its wide bandwidth but it was not:
Minidsp SHD Measurements Balanced THD+N vs Frequency.png


Linearity is perfect showing good accuracy:

Minidsp SHD Measurements Balanced linearity.png


Multitone test signal is well behaved:
Minidsp SHD Measurements Balanced Multitone.png


We now get to the one test that gave the previous SHD some heartburn: jitter. This is the original results:

index.php


Here are the new:

Minidsp SHD Measurements Balanced jitter.png


We see faint signs of the original problem but they are now very nicely attenuated and at -130 dB and lower, not remotely an audible concern.

Conclusions
The Minidsp SHD could have had ordinary measurements like many other multifunction devices and not hurt its marketability. Yet, someone there thought no, they need to do better and better they did. With distortion and noise at or below threshold of human hearing, the Minidsp provides competitive performance to some of the best desktop and high-fi DACs yet provides a ton of extra functionality they do not. And across four channels, not just two. Yes, you pay for that but for a top class system where the SHD would get deployed, I think the cost can be justified.

Kudos to the company for taking our criticism to heart and revising the design. As such, it is my pleasure to strongly recommend the Minidsp SHD.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Appreciate any donations using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 
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amirm

amirm

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Helicopter

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Thamks Amir. This is an incredible combination of performance and functionality. No need to worry about degradation from 'something else' in the signal chain with this.
 

Matias

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Multi tone could be better but still nice overall. Thanks for the review.
 
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amirm

amirm

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I know they're working on roon ready status. Be nice when they can work that out as well.
Agreed. My sample complained about lack of certification.
 

Kachda

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I had a lot of difficulty setting up the software initially but managed to get it work with help from their support team, they are quite responsive.

The one thing that does not work very well at all is the wifi dongle they provide. It just refuses to stream anything. minidsp forums have many posts regarding this but they do not seem to have a solution. So if you’re going to buy this make sure you have an ethernet point nearby if you want to use the streaming solution (volumio)
 

maxxevv

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Hmm... looks like a fantastic candidate for a 3.1 or a 2.2 or even a 4.0 home system with DSP control in the chain !
It will be pretty neat with active / powered speakers in the chain too.
 

Tks

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I know it's minor, but I don't really like seeing clocks that aren't bang-on 1kHz if that is your test tone. With amps I expect a few digits of deviation, but on DACs, I don't get why they can't get a proper clock that's accurate like some that cost less than 10 times the price of this.
 

PeteL

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Great great stuff, I would have like to know how it performs as a DSP capable analog preamp. Lot's of value here. Altough it's not specified directly, looks like it's unity gain if we dissect a bit, I like some gain there, but beside that functionally it's the perfect swiss knife do it all pre. fairly low output impedance too (100 ohms unbalanced, 200 balanced). I'm wondering what happens if you connect something to both the rca and the XLR ins, It's only two channel analog, but would it break something, or would it hum, this would then be very convenient to practically be able to switch from two different piece of analog gear. It then would have it all for me
 

Kachda

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Great great stuff, I would have like to know how it performs as a DSP capable analog preamp. Lot's of value here. Altough it's not specified directly, looks like it's unity gain if we dissect a bit, I like some gain there, but beside that functionally it's the perfect swiss knife do it all pre. fairly low output impedance too (100 ohms unbalanced, 200 balanced). I'm wondering what happens if you connect something to both the rca and the XLR ins, It's only two channel analog, but would it break something, or would it hum, this would then be very convenient to practically be able to switch from two different piece of analog gear. It then would have it all for me
I believe both RCA and XLR are active at the same time. The signal that goes to rca1 is the same as xlr1.
 

PeteL

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I believe both RCA and XLR are active at the same time. The signal that goes to rca1 is the same as xlr1.
I get that, but what it means in practice, we would need to see the teardown I guess, if it's a basic combiner, you could litterally have an input that is the sum of the 2 ins, but it's an odd way to do this for inputs and maintain full performance. A bit sketchy (for ins)
 

watchnerd

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If the data stream is not over USB, but over the network via Roon (or any other streaming app), do we think that has any impact on any of the results?

My guess is "probably not", but just checking.
 
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win

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I love my shd studio, which works perfectly fine as a Roon endpoint. I'm not really sure what people's issue is with the Roon aspect. I believe there is a Roon endpoint plugin that you just download.
 

Kachda

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I get that, but what it means in practice, we would need to see the teardown I guess, if it's a basic combiner, you could litterally have an input that is the sum of the 2 ins, but it's an odd way to do this for inputs and maintain full performance. A bit sketchy (for ins)
Sorry i misunderstood your question, I thought you were talking about outs not ins.

i do not use the RCA or XLR in but the inputs are selectable via the remote so it should be designed for the use case of being able to connect both inputs at the same time.
 

Dj7675

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I had a lot of difficulty setting up the software initially but managed to get it work with help from their support team, they are quite responsive.

The one thing that does not work very well at all is the wifi dongle they provide. It just refuses to stream anything. minidsp forums have many posts regarding this but they do not seem to have a solution. So if you’re going to buy this make sure you have an ethernet point nearby if you want to use the streaming solution (volumio)
I purchased before they started including their own Wi-Fi adapter So I purchased one on my own. I only stream via WiFi and have never had any issues with the following adapter:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008IFXQFU/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Not saying it will work perfectly for everyone, but it has worked very well for me.
 
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