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Minidsp SHD Review Updated (DSP, DAC & Streamer)

EJ3

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not exactly, minidsp SHD has 4 analog output allowing 2 full range and 2 subs for best bass management. considering the features and the quality of the output I see it as the best all in one DA-streamer-Dirac product competing delivery a value much higher than its competitors in the price range.

are additional -5/10dB SINAD point "relevant" below audibility?

i just bought ADAM Audio T7V driven by minidsp ddrc24 and they sounds very good to my ears. I'm thinking to open a thread posting horizontal and vertical response (REW+Umik1) before and after dirac... we'll see.
Exactly what I need: 2 analogs to my 2 bridged mono amps (1 kw each) for my mains [4 Ohms each]) and 2 analogs to my stereo (.5 Kw a channel) 2 subs (2 Ohms each). Unless something changes this will be a third QTR 21 purchase. I have enough power that the -10 thing doesn't bother me. Even though the room is large and convoluted, I never have turned the system up to that level for listening purposes anyway. (Unless I was outside in the back yard).
 

ahofer

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I’d go for this if it had the dynamic loudness feature of my RME. Can DIRAC program that?
 

wjc

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I was seriously considering the Minidsp SHD about a year ago but changed my mind due to these two issues:

1. There was no way that I could figure out how to configure the analog inputs as a home theatre bypass for the L+R +subs so that I could integrate this into my home theatre (which is where I listen to my stereo music).

2. I don't/won't use Roon. I currently use JRiver and control it with JRemote and stream to Volumio on a Raspberry Pi which acts as a DLNA renderer. Works great, including gapless playback. From my research on the Minidsp SHD forums (some time ago), it appears that the Volumio/hardware implementation in the Minidsp SHD does not support gapless playback as a DLNA renderer.

I'd still like to consider this device so if anyone is aware that I'm wrong about these two issues or that they've been corrected in a firmware or hardware fix please let me know.
1. You will need to connect the variable pre-out from your AVR/stereo to the analog inputs of the miniDSP. Configure the outputs for two subs, i.e. Output1 + Output2 to the Left sub. Output3 + Output4 to the Right sub.

2. Try using a NAS server. JRiver and any other DNLA renderers will be able to stream from it. Gapless playback depends on which software player you are using.
 

FrantzM

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By now, it should be known that we are a tough crowd...
This miniDSP remains a superb example component. It will replace eaily a stack of components while providing what is for not so-jaded audiophiles, superb results.
The flexibility of many miniDSP products is excellent. Plus you have Dirac and dedicated , crossover-controlled sub outputs... Such a system can help many audiophiles achieve SOTA results, with a modest (for our hobby) cash outlay ... I like concrete example one of those (there are many)..

This miniDSP SHD .......................................... $1200 (complete with UMik BTW)
A pair of Neuman KH 310 ......................... $4400
A pair of SVS or Rythmik sealed subs .... $1000
Cables ...................................................................$300

There! You have a 20Hz to 20 KHz linear, high SINAD system that will play music from a HDD or Spotify or the Internet radios , with the utmost objective fidelity in any room less (or even more than) 100 cubic meter ... with minimum amount of room treatment....

Peace

Happy Holidays!
 
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I was seriously considering the Minidsp SHD about a year ago but changed my mind due to these two issues:

1. There was no way that I could figure out how to configure the analog inputs as a home theatre bypass for the L+R +subs so that I could integrate this into my home theatre (which is where I listen to my stereo music).

2. I don't/won't use Roon. I currently use JRiver and control it with JRemote and stream to Volumio on a Raspberry Pi which acts as a DLNA renderer. Works great, including gapless playback. From my research on the Minidsp SHD forums (some time ago), it appears that the Volumio/hardware implementation in the Minidsp SHD does not support gapless playback as a DLNA renderer.

I'd still like to consider this device so if anyone is aware that I'm wrong about these two issues or that they've been corrected in a firmware or hardware fix please let me know.
The SHD Studio plays gappless over DLNA. No issues here.
 

ahofer

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By now, it should be known that we are a tough crowd...
This miniDSP remains a superb example component. It will replace eaily a stack of components while providing what is for not so-jaded audiophiles, superb results.
The flexibility of many miniDSP products is excellent. Plus you have Dirac and dedicated , crossover-controlled sub outputs... Such a system can help many audiophiles achieve SOTA results, with a modest (for our hobby) cash outlay ... I like concrete example one of those (there are many)..

This miniDSP SHD .......................................... $1200 (complete with UMik BTW)
A pair of Neuman KH 310 ......................... $4400
A pair of SVS or Rythmik sealed subs .... $1000
Cables ...................................................................$300

There! You have a 20Hz to 20 KHz linear, high SINAD system that will play music from a HDD or Spotify or the Internet radios , with the utmost objective fidelity in any room less (or even more than) 100 cubic meter ... with minimum amount of room treatment....

Peace

Happy Holidays!
Save the money on cables, use whatever you already have lying around.
 

Vasr

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I've sent an email to miniDSP to see if they can clarify their manual instructions in terms of output levels and Dirac. I'll be the first to admit I'm wrong if so, and that would be great news for folks like me and @Kachda who understood it the same way. The miniDSP forums also talk about this -10db volume setting as well, fwiw, so it's not just us.
You are correct in your earlier observations but the problem needs to be better understood to see whether a solution exists. It is more of a UI/UX problem than a technical one. And the responses to you have not been entirely correct.

There is some misunderstanding in this thread of the difference between the digital and analog stages. Between digital clipping and analog clipping. Between digital levels and analog gain from the pre-amp. Between analog volume control and digital volume control.

1. Digital signals in the way they are represented can only go up to 0db. If you process the stream digitally to boost above that, it will digitally clip (in the way a register that can hold a fixed magnitude will overflow and result in something different than what you wanted). This is unrelated to whether it leads to analog clipping downstream.

2. The incoming audio can go all the way to 0db. The device has no control over that.

3. Without any DSP processing the same digital levels go to the DAC. It cannot send more than 0db max peak. The DAC converts this to analog and the pre-amp stage converts this to the output voltage with some gain that is decided by the design as a trade-off between noise/distortion and ability to drive downstream amps that require some minimum voltage to provide their peak output. The 0db input to DAC corresponds to max design voltage output of the pre-amp.

4. Any digital processing you do before the DAC will not affect this DAC/pre-amp stage since it will only see a 0db max signal. So boosting in the DSP processing in digital has no impact on whether it will clip in analog or further downstream. It has nothing to do with whether the amp downstream can handle the DSP boost or not. The latter simply has to do with matching the output levels of the pre-amp with the input sensitivity of the power amp. That is independent of whether you are using a DSP or not.

5. If the volume control is in analog, then it is affecting the gain in the pre-amp stage and it can be calibrated to have its 0db correspond to the max peak output of the pre-amp which corresponds to 0db digital signal reaching the DAC. So, the 0db level here will be unaffected by any use of DSP upstream. The volume level will just go down when you engage Dirac as explained below.

6. If the volume control is in the digital stage, then it needs to ensure that it maintains the max 0db digital value because it cannot increase it without digital clipping. If the volume control is after the DSP stage and pre-DAC, it is simply a pass through for 0db and attenuation for below that.

7. When you do DSP stuff like Dirac, that can boost the signal to compensate for room eq, you run into the possibility of digital clipping. For example, if you create a filter to boost by ANY amount at a particular frequency, since the original signal can potentially have a 0db peak at that frequency, it can digitally clip distorting the signal. Note that the maximum boost you can apply here has nothing to do with whether the downstream analog systems pre or power can handle it because the maximum you can send out to DAC is still 0db numerically which will still be the max output voltage of the pre-amp and if the power amp can handle it, there is no clipping in the analog stage.

8. So room eq systems typically reduce the overall level of the incoming signal by an amount corresponding to the maximum boost they will apply to keep any processed digital output not potentially exceed (in computation) 0db for any signal level. Dirac is fairly aggressive and can apply 10db boosts if it feels necessary, so its implementations reduce the overall levels of input by default anywhere from -10db to -18db (DLP) as default. This causes the overall signal level to fall and so the volume you get out of it will be lower with the EQ engaged. But you can still reach 0db for signals that are boosted.

9. This causes an issue for the implementor for accommodating the use cases with both Dirac enabled and without. In particular, how to calibrate the volume control. If you calibrate to the 0db without processing (or past the DSP processing stage), then the volume drops as soon as the eq is engaged even with the volume control at 0db. If you calibrate to the reduced level used with eq on, then without eq engaged, the volume dial will need to go beyond 0db to get to the actual max output. This is not a technical problem but just a UI/UX problem.

10. If you have the volume control as an attenuator at the digital input before feeding to DSP (and I suspect the SHD may be doing this) so you do not have the DSP automatically reducing the incoming signal to prevent digital clipping, then the volume control will have to be calibrated to have its 0db correspond to the attenuated level when eq is engaged to prevent digital clipping but it will have the same problem as 9 above when eq is not engaged. So, I suspect this is where the -10db requirement for the SHD comes in because it is calibrated to 0db input signal. Increasing above that with Dirac engaged may potentially lead to digital clipping while it will be fine without eq engaged.

This situation is more of a UI/UX issue than a deficiency or a bug in the unit.

The reduction of overall level is a necessary one when you have room EQ engaged and it is dependent on how much headroom eq requires for its max boosts. You cannot lose what you can't have by reducing the volume to -10db with Dirac engaged. It is important to note that the pre-output can still hit the max 2V/4V even when the digital volume is at -10db because the processed digital level can still get up to 0db where it is boosted, so it is not like it is shortchanging your amp.

On the other hand, increasing it above -10db may lead to digital clipping artifacts (unrelated to and with no impact on any analog clipping in the pre-amp or the power amp downstream) and hence the recommendation. My guess.

Like I said it is UI/UX problem.

If you increase the design pre-amp output voltage beyond the standard 2V/4V, then all you are doing is transferring the problem downstream. You may always have to keep the pre-volume at some quantity less than 0db (whether you are using EQ or not) to prevent the potential for far more destructive clipping downstream. Or have to let the user do their own gain staging/matching settings between the pre and power amps.

One solution is to make the volume be much smarter and integrated with the DSP processing and the pre-amp stage, so it can automatically change its calibration depending on whether EQ is engaged or not so 0db always corresponds to the maximum you can get and so you can leave it on that setting whether you are using EQ or not and not have to manually compensate for eq switched on. But it may not be worth the additional complexity. This just solves the UI/UX issue and people thinking they are getting short-changed.
 

phoenixdogfan

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for 6 channels, you'd have to buy one of the minidsp 2x4hd addons, I believe.
If you wanted to do multiple subs, you could just do the sub output from one channel of the SHD, feed it into the analog input of the 2 x 4 HD and use the matrix routing one the 2 x 4 to feed it into up to 4 subs and do eq on each of the subs with the 2 x 4. As long as there wasn't a lot of latency added (or more than the miniDSP Shd could compensate for by delaying the non sub channels to match the delay occasioned by using the 2 x 4 processor on the sub channels), and as long as we are using the subs in a range where bass is mono, it could be the perfect way to manage multiple subs.
 

phoenixdogfan

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Full disclosure - I don't own the SHD, but have tested Dirac Live PC VST plugin.

I assume the reason why ~10dB headroom is required in SHD is because Dirac can boost some frequencies by ~10dB. I.e. your average signal going to the amp will be ~10dB lower, but there will still be peaks at full-scale output when the signal hits frequencies Dirac boosted. Note that you also don't want the amplifier input stage to clip in those cases.
So IMHO @sarumbear is correct when he says the limiting factor will be amplifier power headroom rather than SHD output voltage. SHD will only lose about 10dB of SNR due to 10dB lower average output level.

Side note - won't Dirac processing in SHD itself reserve the headroom and lower the volume, rather than the user having to reduce SHD master volume?
My experience with DL is that you can set the gain, and, therefore the headroom manually. I never had to use the full 10db of output attenuation, more like 3-4 db, but YMMV depending on how much correction (boost esp) your room/speakers need.
 

martijn86

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Save the money on cables, use whatever you already have lying around.
I can understand why people are against spending too much on cables but don't get bottom of the shelf as well. Snake oil is one thing, but there are also bad cables for sale that are only meant to be the cheapest on sale. A simple cable with good quality copper, solid connectors and good isolation is not cheap. I have experience with copper cable that started to break down after a year and also learnt about a phenomenon called CCA (Copper Clad Aluminium) cables the hard way.
Believe me that you want to stay away from both $3000,- and $3,- cables. A quality set will set you back around $30,- and if you want a nice finished, western manufactured product, $300,- for all the cables in your system is not unreasonable.
 

wjc

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One solution is to make the volume be much smarter and integrated with the DSP processing and the pre-amp stage, so it can automatically change its calibration depending on whether EQ is engaged or not so 0db always corresponds to the maximum you can get and so you can leave it on that setting whether you are using EQ or not and not have to manually compensate for eq switched on. But it may not be worth the additional complexity. This just solves the UI/UX issue and people thinking they are getting short-changed.
The target curve should be set so that it doesn't cause over boosting by Dirac. Ideally, a flat frequency response works best.
 

ahofer

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I can understand why people are against spending too much on cables but don't get bottom of the shelf as well. Snake oil is one thing, but there are also bad cables for sale that are only meant to be the cheapest on sale. A simple cable with good quality copper, solid connectors and good isolation is not cheap. I have experience with copper cable that started to break down after a year and also learnt about a phenomenon called CCA (Copper Clad Aluminium) cables the hard way.
Believe me that you want to stay away from both $3000,- and $3,- cables. A quality set will set you back around $30,- and if you want a nice finished, western manufactured product, $300,- for all the cables in your system is not unreasonable.
Agreed, but most people already have cables from their prior systems. If I had to do this de novo, I’d just order the required lengths from Blue Jeans. But I have some stupid cardas cables from a prior life and I use those.
 

laurelkurt

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As a DIRAC processor this is excellent. It is much more than a DAC, and outperforms all but 1 or 2 products with similar functionality at a much lower price.
Can this do bass management with separately EQed dual sub outs with simultaneous DIRAC running. Or rather, does (can) DIRAC properly integrate 2 separate subs with the mains - crossover points, EQ, levels, phase, distances/delays, like (or hopefully better than) Audyssey does with multiple mic positions and sweep tones? Thanks.
 
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