• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required. There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Minidsp: SHD Studio vs Flex + Chromecast Audio

streamophile

Member
Joined
Oct 7, 2023
Messages
31
Likes
15
After some soul-searching (and asking ARS members) I have decided to sell my whole Linn system and start from scratch.

The plan is to build the system slowly. First, I'll get some measurement gear and experience with REW. Then, I'll get an active system (was looking into the Genelec 8030/8040). In time, as my sources are TV and a Chromecast Audio (CCA) streamer, I'd like to move from REW from my laptop to room correction via hardware (i.e. minidsp product). So basically, I'm looking for a DAC + DSP product. Maybe afterwards, I'll add a sub.

So, my question right now is about the minidsp product / DAC & DSP to get "in-system" room correction / PEQ. I am not planning of using any computer in my system so this would be the only way AFAIK to add DSP. Therefore, I was looking at the minidsp Flex, as it has all that I need: a DAC to unify the TV and CCA digital outs and the ability to do DSP. However, a minidsp SHD Studio has popped up in the second hand market in my area and I am tempted.

So my questions are:
  1. If I already have a streamer via the CCA, what would be the advantage of having as SHD Studio vs the Flex & CCA?
  2. As I intend to add a sub down the line, would I be able to integrate it with either SHD Studio or Flex? So would none work for this?
  3. Are there other products or routes I am not considering for having DSP & DAC functionality?
Thanks!
 
  • Like
Reactions: MAB

Willem

Major Contributor
Joined
Jan 8, 2019
Messages
3,622
Likes
5,249
WIth miniDSP you will need the Dirac option. A DSpeaker x2 would be an alternative.
 

MAB

Major Contributor
Joined
Nov 15, 2021
Messages
2,081
Likes
4,679
Location
Portland, OR, USA
  1. If I already have a streamer via the CCA, what would be the advantage of having as SHD Studio vs the Flex & CCA?
  2. As I intend to add a sub down the line, would I be able to integrate it with either SHD Studio or Flex? So would none work for this?
  3. Are there other products or routes I am not considering for having DSP & DAC functionality?
I have a couple Flex and a SHD. Either will work great. Both will be awesome for integrating subwoofers, you will likely never use the built-in crossover on a commercial sub again. They will work very well with a pair of active monitors. I use the SHD to control a pair of Genelec Ones plus subwoofers. The Flex are used for active multi-way systems.
I don't often use the streaming function in my SHD but it works great in that capacity. I typically use USB from computer, as well as digital input from a CD transport, and even use the analog inputs for an old turntable/phono preamp. The Flex doesn't stream, but a cheap unit like a Wiim solves that.
Not many products directly compete with MiniDSP. Too bad, they are good but I would like more choices, and even more powerful DSP.
 

MAB

Major Contributor
Joined
Nov 15, 2021
Messages
2,081
Likes
4,679
Location
Portland, OR, USA
I have decided to sell my whole Linn system and start from scratch.
Also, congratulations. I sold Linn for a few years in the '80s. Putting their turntable legacy aside, you will find better sounding gear. I'm sure you got good use out of what you had, but I think you will be really happy with what is available today.
 

Multicore

Major Contributor
Joined
Dec 6, 2021
Messages
1,614
Likes
1,679
Have you looked at the Genelec and Neumann products that include DSP? Each brand offers an add on product with a measurement mic and software to automate the correction EQ set up. I have done this the more DIY way using MiniDSP Flex, UMIK-1 and REW but it's quite technical. It's also very interesting if you're into that kind of thing but I don't think everyone is.
 
OP
S

streamophile

Member
Joined
Oct 7, 2023
Messages
31
Likes
15
I'm quite tech savvy in general, and I have experience in home studio (recording, mastering, etc) so I'm not afraid of the DIY route. I'm even looking forward to it, actually. Therefore, I don't think I want to go with either GLM in the Genelecs or Dirac Live as I can do it myself on the cheap.

Regarding Neumanns, my wife likes the look of Genelecs but despises the Neumann's so that is a no-go. Actually, that's not too bad as I'm in Sweden and for some reason Genelecs are very easy to come by in the second hand market, while Neumanns are much more rare.

I actually have an audio interface, so was thinking of getting a non-USB calibrated mic instead of the typical umik-1 mic and save a bit of money there.

About sub integration, I've read in ASR somewhere that the SHD Studio could not so sub integration. I have not looked at this much, as I've never had a sub so I don't really know what this process entails. So either Flex or SHD will work with a sub in the future, that's great. I think I'll go for the Flex then as I already have streaming capabilities with the CCA.
 

Willem

Major Contributor
Joined
Jan 8, 2019
Messages
3,622
Likes
5,249
As for room equalization, please realize that most experts agree that equalizing much above the Schroeder frequency of, say, 100-250 Hz, depending on room size, is a bad idea. Equally, there is agreement that two are more (mono) subwoofers usually give a smoother response.
If you are tech savvy, you may want to look into Multi Sub Optimizer.
 

MAB

Major Contributor
Joined
Nov 15, 2021
Messages
2,081
Likes
4,679
Location
Portland, OR, USA
About sub integration, I've read in ASR somewhere that the SHD Studio could not so sub integration.
It can, has four digital outputs, each with independently configurable filters/DSP.
It has the drawback of requiring external DAC (it's all digital), and has no ADC/Analog inputs.
I have not looked at this much, as I've never had a sub so I don't really know what this process entails. So either Flex or SHD will work with a sub in the future, that's great. I think I'll go for the Flex then as I already have streaming capabilities with the CCA.
Therefore, I don't think I want to go with either GLM in the Genelecs or Dirac Live as I can do it myself on the cheap.
I have DIRAC and GLM, I tend to use REW and my own correction.

Go check out MiniDSP's user forums, and ask customer service questions as well if you have doubts. They actually have good customer services, a community forum, and application notes.
 

terryforsythe

Senior Member
Forum Donor
Joined
May 4, 2022
Messages
338
Likes
275
So my questions are:
  1. If I already have a streamer via the CCA, what would be the advantage of having as SHD Studio vs the Flex & CCA?
  2. As I intend to add a sub down the line, would I be able to integrate it with either SHD Studio or Flex? So would none work for this?
  3. Are there other products or routes I am not considering for having DSP & DAC functionality?
Thanks!
1. There are different input/output options for the Flex: analog unbalanced (RCA), analog balanced (TRS), or digital (SPDIF/TOS). If you prefer one of these, then the Flex should fit your needs since you already have a streamer. Dirac Live is an option, which I do recommend.

The SHD Studio is all digital. It only has digital inputs and digital outputs,. So, you need an external DAC unless your powered speakers have them built in (the same goes for using the digital output version of the Flex). If you want to use an analog source, you will need an ADC. The SHD Studio includes Dirac Live by default.

2. Both the Flex and SHD Studio have 4-channel outputs, with crossovers handled by the DSP processing. So they both support using subwoofers, and should do so very well. In that regard, they both provide tuning parameters (i.e., time delay, crossover frequency, crossover slope, etc.) that I find are invaluable for getting a good crossover transition from the speakers to the subwoofer.

3. If I remember correctly, Dayton audio has some DSP equipment, but I have never played with it. When looking into it a couple of years ago I chose the miniDSP SHD - it provided a single solution for my needs and Amir gave it a pretty good review in round 2 after improvements were made over the original version.

One of the posts above mentioned that you don't need an external crossover with modern subwoofers. I guess that really depends on the subwoofer you choose. To get a smooth transition from the speakers to the subwoofer, in my experience adjustable time delay is an absolute must, along with adjustable frequency and selectable crossover slopes. My SHD has all of that, and they were invaluable for tuning my system. I have not looked at any high end subwoofers recently, so I don't know if they include all of that functionality. If they don't, in my opinion you still are better off with an external DSP.

Some active speakers have subwoofer out and room correction. Again, unless they also include adjustable time delay, adjustable frequency and selectable crossover slopes, in my opinion you still are better off with an external DSP for subwoofer integration.

I'll share my experience in this regard. I have an active subwoofer that includes a crossover frequency adjustment, as well as a high pass amplifier output with two phase settings: 0 deg. and 180 deg. Using it to provide my crossover I never could get a good frequency response in the crossover region. Neither of the two phase settings were optimal, and the frequency response in the crossover region was not good. I replaced my pre-amp with the SHD, using it to provide the speaker/subwoofer crossover. After tuning the crossover parameters the bass quality improved significantly. It sounds much tighter and more natural. Dirac Live added further improvement.

Last note - if you think it is likely that you will add a subwoofer, I recommend getting speakers that are in a sealed enclosure. That also will provide better sound quality once the subwoofer is integrated, though on their own without the subwoofer the bass extension may not go very low - some active speakers still do a good job in sealed enclosures, though.
 
Last edited:
Top Bottom