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Questioning the MiniDSP 2x4 sound quality.

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#1
Question for you guys about the Minidsp 2x4 (Non HD) My unit was purchased in 2015 and it is the old Rev A version with 0.9vRMS.

Using this with a Windows PC based system to control two studio monitors and a sub. it is being fed by a hiFime S2 DAC. I am trying to upgrade my Creative Soundblaster AE-7 soundcard. It has rudimentary crossover and bass management. Sounds OK but can be kind of noisey and i feel there must be better options.

I have been swapping around different components and noticing that the 2x4 doesnt sound very good through the analog inputs. Horrible actually. seems like very poor dynamic range. I tried using my Creative soundcards stereo outputs into the miniDSP and it sounded lifeless and lowfi. Terrible. The sound has the same quality of my motherboards soundcard. Going from a USB DAC into the minidsp 2x4 is the same. I thought it was the cheap DAC I was using initally but trying the DSP on the soundcard showed this was not the case. i upgraded the DAC somewhat to a 9038 based unit and the minidsp is still crushing the sound.

I love the control but not the quality it is outputting overall. Would the 2x4HD or even the DDRC-24 sound better through analog inputs? (I have read the DAC on the 2x4 HD isnt very good.) Would i have to step way up to get great sound quality by purchasing the miniDSP SHD? i want the DSP control between my monitors and subs like the minidsp provides but this sound is a deal breaker.

Anyone have any thoughts on this? I noted a review here of the SHD and it seems like a great unit. That's alot of money though and i don't need streaming at all. Was also considering the emotiva PT-100 preamp and using the 2x4 off the sub outputs.

Any thoughts or recommendations would be greatly appreciated
 

abdo123

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#2
I think it’s in your head tbh.

But ‘scientifically’ speaking, the MiniDSP SHD is the only transparent MiniDSP device measured on this forum.
 

Lorenzo74

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#3
Question for you guys about the Minidsp 2x4 (Non HD) My unit was purchased in 2015 and it is the old Rev A version with 0.9vRMS.

Using this with a Windows PC based system to control two studio monitors and a sub. it is being fed by a hiFime S2 DAC. I am trying to upgrade my Creative Soundblaster AE-7 soundcard. It has rudimentary crossover and bass management. Sounds OK but can be kind of noisey and i feel there must be better options.

I have been swapping around different components and noticing that the 2x4 doesnt sound very good through the analog inputs. Horrible actually. seems like very poor dynamic range. I tried using my Creative soundcards stereo outputs into the miniDSP and it sounded lifeless and lowfi. Terrible. The sound has the same quality of my motherboards soundcard. Going from a USB DAC into the minidsp 2x4 is the same. I thought it was the cheap DAC I was using initally but trying the DSP on the soundcard showed this was not the case. i upgraded the DAC somewhat to a 9038 based unit and the minidsp is still crushing the sound.

I love the control but not the quality it is outputting overall. Would the 2x4HD or even the DDRC-24 sound better through analog inputs? (I have read the DAC on the 2x4 HD isnt very good.) Would i have to step way up to get great sound quality by purchasing the miniDSP SHD? i want the DSP control between my monitors and subs like the minidsp provides but this sound is a deal breaker.

Anyone have any thoughts on this? I noted a review here of the SHD and it seems like a great unit. That's alot of money though and i don't need streaming at all. Was also considering the emotiva PT-100 preamp and using the 2x4 off the sub outputs.

Any thoughts or recommendations would be greatly appreciated
The point is: are you going to detect any differences In a blind test? Minidsp 2x4HD has enough dinamic range (Cd quality) and frequency response (can you really reach 20kHz?) beyond your subjective capability, of course younger (teens) ASR members might challenge my statement...
save your money and invest on room treatment or speakers.
best
 

andreasmaaan

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#4
@vlad335 I would look at your gain staging if I were you. Where is your volume control taking place? The 2x4 shouldn't significantly degrade sound quality (if at all) so long as the input voltage is high enough.

I haven't seen measurements of the Hifime S2 DAC, but another device from that company that was measured here performed significantly worse than the MiniDSP 2x4, so I would also wonder whether that is actually your weak link.
 

noobie1

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#5
Question for you guys about the Minidsp 2x4 (Non HD) My unit was purchased in 2015 and it is the old Rev A version with 0.9vRMS.

Using this with a Windows PC based system to control two studio monitors and a sub. it is being fed by a hiFime S2 DAC. I am trying to upgrade my Creative Soundblaster AE-7 soundcard. It has rudimentary crossover and bass management. Sounds OK but can be kind of noisey and i feel there must be better options.

I have been swapping around different components and noticing that the 2x4 doesnt sound very good through the analog inputs. Horrible actually. seems like very poor dynamic range. I tried using my Creative soundcards stereo outputs into the miniDSP and it sounded lifeless and lowfi. Terrible. The sound has the same quality of my motherboards soundcard. Going from a USB DAC into the minidsp 2x4 is the same. I thought it was the cheap DAC I was using initally but trying the DSP on the soundcard showed this was not the case. i upgraded the DAC somewhat to a 9038 based unit and the minidsp is still crushing the sound.

I love the control but not the quality it is outputting overall. Would the 2x4HD or even the DDRC-24 sound better through analog inputs? (I have read the DAC on the 2x4 HD isnt very good.) Would i have to step way up to get great sound quality by purchasing the miniDSP SHD? i want the DSP control between my monitors and subs like the minidsp provides but this sound is a deal breaker.

Anyone have any thoughts on this? I noted a review here of the SHD and it seems like a great unit. That's alot of money though and i don't need streaming at all. Was also considering the emotiva PT-100 preamp and using the 2x4 off the sub outputs.

Any thoughts or recommendations would be greatly appreciated
Amir reviewed the HD version and seemed lukewarm about the product. Your version may measure even worse. 2015 is a long time ago in terms of DAC/ADC transparency in budget consumer products. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some issues with your unit.
 

andreasmaaan

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#6
Amir reviewed the HD version and seemed lukewarm about the product. Your version may measure even worse. 2015 is a long time ago in terms of DAC/ADC transparency in budget consumer products. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some issues with your unit.
All versions of the MiniDSP 2x4 use the ADAU1701 chip, which has an internal ADC and DAC, i.e. there will not be significant differences in performance for older models.

The ADAU1701 is far from state of the art but should be transparent for most if not all purposes IMHO so long as proper gain staging is used.

FWIW, some measurements of the older version of the 2x4 were posted here with input/output levels of 0.5V:

1610142328120.png


I find it next to impossible to imagine that level of distortion could be audible.
 
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#7
As a reference point Linkwitz was satisfied with the 2X4 when he designed the LXmini. I have heard complaints about noise/hiss with the 2X4 but that does not sound like what you are describing. Definitely agree with the previous comments about gain staging.

You definitely need to be careful when making comparisons as you really need to level match to make the comparison valid. That being said eliminating unnecessary ADC/DAC steps is always a good idea for peace of mind. 2X4HD would allow you to go USB in directly to the miniDSP and you would be cutting out the unnecessary ADC/DAC. If for some reason you wanted to stick with using the analog input I do not think I would upgrade to the 2X4HD.
 

Lorenzo74

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#8
As a reference point Linkwitz was satisfied with the 2X4 when he designed the LXmini. I have heard complaints about noise/hiss with the 2X4 but that does not sound like what you are describing. Definitely agree with the previous comments about gain staging.

You definitely need to be careful when making comparisons as you really need to level match to make the comparison valid. That being said eliminating unnecessary ADC/DAC steps is always a good idea for peace of mind. 2X4HD would allow you to go USB in directly to the miniDSP and you would be cutting out the unnecessary ADC/DAC. If for some reason you wanted to stick with using the analog input I do not think I would upgrade to the 2X4HD.
Amazed, I was searching on minidsp-linkwitz in google since I remembered eng. S Linkwitz judgement about minidsp as digital crossover alternative for his speaker. Then I come here and found your post. Amazed...
https://www.minidsp.com/applications/powered-by-minidsp/linkwitz-lab-lx521
best
 

Ron Texas

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#9
Transparency seems to depend on who you talk to. 16 bits (96 Db SINAD) is said to be the threshold of human hearing, but in a room with the usual amount of noise it doesn't have to be that good. One member here who used to be a recording engineer and wrote a book on crossovers @mitchco says 12 bits or 72 db for most listeners with possibly 13 bits 78 db for a few. Remember loudspeakers have much higher levels of distortion than good electronics. The MiniDSP 2x4 HD was tested here and our host estimated its SINAD at 90 Db. That was before he bought the AP analyzer he is using now.

Based on the above, the MiniDSP 2x4 HD should get the job done. It allows for subwoofer integration (crossover and delay) and downstream equalization so your non computer based sources may be equalized. It doesn't cook and clean, do 5.1, have a built in streamer or balanced outputs. You might need one of those features, especially the robot wife.
 
OP
vlad335
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Thread Starter #11
Ok. this is not in my head. I connected my Adam studio monitors directly to the DAC bypassing the minidsp and that is the sound I want! Clarity and dynamic range, albeit without my sub. Myself and anyone in the world would have no problem hearing the difference.

I don't know whats going on with this unit but it definitely lowfi. I will open it up later tonight and check the jumpers
 
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OP
vlad335
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Thread Starter #12
Great replies here. Maybe I should try the 2x4HD and get the analog inputs out of the equation.

I was also considering the DDRC-24 and trying DIRAC but afraid of spending the money and being stuck with the same dogsh*t sound quality.
 
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OP
vlad335
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Thread Starter #13
Opened the unit up and it was set for 0.9Vrms. Switched it to 2.0 just for the hell of it and the only difference is lower volume available.

i wish I could describe the poor sound quality. Its like the dynamic range and openess to the sound is squashed. no space between instruments and somewhat harsh. It is not distorted or noisey though.
The best i can come up with is the comparison to my motherboard's realtec soundcard. Sounds a lot like it.
 

abdo123

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#14
Opened the unit up and it was set for 0.9Vrms. Switched it to 2.0 just for the hell of it and the only difference is lower volume available.

i wish I could describe the poor sound quality. Its like the dynamic range and openess to the sound is squashed. no space between instruments and somewhat harsh. It is not distorted or noisey though.
The best i can come up with is the comparison to my motherboard's realtec soundcard. Sounds a lot like it.
This really sound like mismatched volume.
 

Rock Rabbit

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#15
Can you test the minidsp with filters "bypassed" ...and only with your portable dac and phone. To discard any gnd and filter problems (input must be set 2V rms)
 

Lorenzo74

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#16
Ok. this is not in my head. I connected my Adam studio monitors directly to the DAC bypassing the minidsp and that is the sound I want! Clarity and dynamic range, albeit without my sub. Myself and anyone in the world would have no problem hearing the difference.

I don't know whats going on with this unit but it definitely lowfi. I will open it up later tonight and check the jumpers
Politely disagree.
I’m listening in my desktop setup to adam t7v on minidsp ddrc24 since 2 weeks. No issue. Minidsp is transparent to me.
Of course I’m 46 I can’t hear >16kHz. I have measured listening position with Rew before and after dirac. . Room is sufficiently treated. I can challenge in ABX testing who claim to distinguished minidsp ddrc and 110db dac...
Best
 
OP
vlad335
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Thread Starter #17
Can you test the minidsp with filters "bypassed" ...and only with your portable dac and phone. To discard any gnd and filter problems (input must be set 2V rms)
Heading to band rehearsal now but will try this later tonight or in the morning.
 
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#18
Can you test the minidsp with filters "bypassed" ...and only with your portable dac and phone. To discard any gnd and filter problems (input must be set 2V rms)
This is a good suggestion. Would you mind saving your configuration .xml and posting it? Might help to have a set of cold eyes on it and make sure there are no obvious issues.

Michael
 
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vlad335
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Thread Starter #19
Politely disagree.
I’m listening in my desktop setup to adam t7v on minidsp ddrc24 since 2 weeks. No issue. Minidsp is transparent to me.
Of course I’m 46 I can’t hear >16kHz. I have measured listening position with Rew before and after dirac. . Room is sufficiently treated. I can challenge in ABX testing who claim to distinguished minidsp ddrc and 110db dac...
Best
That's good to hear. Maybe this unit here is outdated or something wrong with it.
 

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