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miniDSP SHD Studio + Matrix X-SABRE Pro (MQA)

speedy

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#1
I'm considering assembling a new 2.2 channel setup with a miniDSP SHD Studio Volumio streamer and a Matrix X-SABRE Pro (MQA) DAC.
If I do this, would it be possible to still get full MQA rendering on the X-SABRE Pro DAC even with Dirac & bass management crossovers running on the SHD Studio?

Here's how I'd set everything up:
  • I'd use Roon (MQA decoding) to stream Tidal as well as my music collection from my NAS to Volumio on the miniDSP SHD Studio.
  • I'd run Dirac Live 3.0 on the miniDSP SHD Studio.
  • I'd perform bass management on the SHD Studio to have a crossover for the subs.
  • For the L/R channels, I'd connect the SHD Studio to the X-SABRE Pro over AES-EBU and then XLR to the amp.
  • For the subs, I'd connect the SHD Studio to a Schiit Modius over AES-EBU and then XLR to the subs.

A few more questions:
  • Is there anywhere that I can buy pre-built high quality nCore amp? I'm currently using an nCore-based NAD M27 in my Home Theater that I love and would like something similar for my 2-channel setup.
  • Am I wasting my time and should I just get one of the new SHD Power units and call it a day?

Thanks for the help!

P.S. I'm aware of the perpetually contested validity of MQA in every corner of the internet ;-)
 
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Vasr

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#2
That wouldn't work as I understand it. MQA metadata is computed for the PCM content within the container but if the PCM content changes for any reason, the MQA metadata wouldn't be correct for that modified stream. Unless I have misunderstood something.

You could still get the "benefits" of MQA if the streamer inside SHD did the unfolding before supplying to DSP with Dirac processing. Then the DAC downstream wouldn't see the MQA data and would just like a regular DAC. Don't know if Volumio is MQA capable.

I am not sure SHD would pass through the MQA metadata but even if it did, that metadata unchanged would no longer apply to the modified content in the same container from applying Dirac processing.
 
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OP
speedy

speedy

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Thread Starter #3
@Vasr That was my understanding as well, but then I thought I've seen a number of posts/articles that state the opposite.

Regardless, it sounds like you're right. Here's an article that backs you up:
Can I use software EQ with MQA?
Generally, NO.

And always NO if you’re using a full MQA decoder.

Applying EQ to the audio data changes its contents and the MQA encoded data is no longer recoverable. The file will play as if it were a non-MQA-encoded file in this case.

If your player software supports EQ (or can host plug-ins that do), as long as the “Core Decoding” is done prior to EQ being applied then it can apply EQ to it’s output. However, if you do this you cannot then use an MQA renderer to do the rest of the decoding.
-Source: https://forum.headphones.com/t/mqa-playback-support/2090
 
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speedy

speedy

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Thread Starter #4
Actually, from looking at other sources, it seems like this should be possible.

Here's some stuff supporting this from an interview with Bob Stuart:
1594239561818.png

He mentions a side-chain API in his description of the flowchart (quoted below), no idea what that really means.
We are going to answer this question by describing the optimum structure for MQA in a surround processor (e.g. using upscaling, matrixing, room correction) or in an automobile or a DSP loudspeaker. Such processing may not be performed on the incoming MQA (as this would destroy the MQA data signals) and should not be performed on the final output to the DAC (as this would compromise the MQA decoder’s management of the DAC), introduce uncontrolled temporal blur and require a lot of resource to perform, e.g. room correction at 8x or higher DAC feed speeds.

The main decoder produces an intermediate signal and processing, such as multichannel up-mixing, room correction or crossover, etc. may be performed on this. A software decoder may include a side-chain API where such processing can be inserted, as it is already in mobile implementations.
-Source: https://audiophilestyle.com/ca/ca-academy/A-Comprehensive-Q-A-With-MQA-s-Bob-Stuart/

Thoughts?
 

Vasr

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#5
Seems theoretically possible but it seems practically feasible only when the whole chain is vertically integrated by a single vendor like in an AVR or a SmartPhone committed to supporting MQA, rather than be piped through multiple units from different vendors.

It is also not clear how MQA-aware the "optional intermediate processing" needs to be to make it work. Would third parties who provide such "intermediate processing" feel the need to support MQA if it requires extra work?

If MQA became the standard for all content, I can see that happening but not otherwise.
 

Soniclife

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#6
Actually, from looking at other sources, it seems like this should be possible.

Here's some stuff supporting this from an interview with Bob Stuart:
View attachment 72456
He mentions a side-chain API in his description of the flowchart (quoted below), no idea what that really means.

-Source: https://audiophilestyle.com/ca/ca-academy/A-Comprehensive-Q-A-With-MQA-s-Bob-Stuart/

Thoughts?
This is possible with roon, but not if the signal goes via Dirac. Roon can do the first unfold, then it can apply DSP, and then add back the MQA info for the 2nd unfold for the end DAC to do. As I see no value in the 2nd unfold, as it's just crap upsampling, I would not want it anyway.
 
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speedy

speedy

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Thread Starter #7
As I see no value in the 2nd unfold, as it's just crap upsampling, I would not want it anyway.
lol, here we go ;)
look what I've started

In all seriousness though... this all helps make up my mind. I'm just going to go with the SHD Power and give up on MQA.
 
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