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Questions about value of miniDSP vs current setup

elshaddai

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Looking at options to get the most out of my nearfield 2.1 speakers and subwoofer. Current setup starts with USB from my PC to a JDS Labs Atom 2 DAC/headphone amp stack running as a preamp. I'm running RCAs from the preamp to my Emotiva SE8 sub, using its built-in DSP/crossover/HPF (60/80/100 options), then RCA-XLR cables from the sub to my Buckeye NC252MP speaker amp. Two questions about the value of miniDSP units:
  1. Would adding a $225 miniDSP 2x4 HD after the preamp output provide a meaningful upgrade in DSP/crossover options over what the sub is already doing? Or is the primary value for folks who do not have DSP in their existing chain?
  2. Does the $495 miniDSP Flex offer any meaningful preamp upgrades over the JDS stack? I am not using optical/coax/bluetooth inputs in any way.
Given that I'm using this as a desktop setup, I'm not overly worried about room reflections for what is behind me, so wasn't thinking about these in terms of mics and correction software.
 

DVDdoug

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I'd say there's no benefit if you are just switching to a different crossover. If you were building a bi-amped or tri-amped system, it's an easy way to make a tweakable crossover with the option of additional EQ. But it's not the most economical way to make (or buy) a crossover, and what you have is probably fine.

If you want the EQ/room correction it could be worth it.

Given that I'm using this as a desktop setup, I'm not overly worried about room reflections for what is behind me, so wasn't thinking about these in terms of mics and correction software.
I'm NOT saying you should "worry" about anything, but near field monitoring doesn't help that much at low frequencies. And the room can still have effects at higher frequencies and the speaker/monitor can have variations at any frequency.
 

JeremyFife

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Your electronics are more than good; the JDS Atom 2 was described here as 'essentially flawless' and Buckeye are a well regarded Amp provider.
You can add DSP/EQ in software on your PC and your Sub already handles the crossover.

I can't see any reason to add a miniDSP (or any other electronics) unless you need more control over your sub integration (e.g. timing issues). You'll need to measure in order to know if you have those issues though.

Usual advice: if you want to improve your sound then consider new Speakers or Room treatment ... and you really should measure your current system in your room before you think about that.
 
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elshaddai

elshaddai

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I'd say there's no benefit if you are just switching to a different crossover. If you were building a bi-amped or tri-amped system, it's an easy way to make a tweakable crossover with the option of additional EQ. But it's not the most economical way to make (or buy) a crossover, and what you have is probably fine.

If you want the EQ/room correction it could be worth it.


I'm NOT saying you should "worry" about anything, but near field monitoring doesn't help that much at low frequencies. And the room can still have effects at higher frequencies and the speaker/monitor can have variations at any frequency.

Appreciate the feedback - sounds like room measurements are the logical next step whenever I'm ready to take that step. Thank you!
 
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elshaddai

elshaddai

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Your electronics are more than good; the JDS Atom 2 was described here as 'essentially flawless' and Buckeye are a well regarded Amp provider.
You can add DSP/EQ in software on your PC and your Sub already handles the crossover.

I can't see any reason to add a miniDSP (or any other electronics) unless you need more control over your sub integration (e.g. timing issues). You'll need to measure in order to know if you have those issues though.

Usual advice: if you want to improve your sound then consider new Speakers or Room treatment ... and you really should measure your current system in your room before you think about that.

Speakers are Philharmonic Audio True Minis, so I'm plenty happy with them for my space. Appreciate the feedback on electronics - I'll try to put my FOMO on the shelf and think about room measurements as the next area of focus. Thank you!
 

levimax

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There is one case where the Mini-DSP flex could be important. I don't know about your subs but I recently added 2 SVS SB3000 subs to my system and the onboard DSP on the subs adds ~6ms of delay whether you use it or not. I would guess your subs would do something similar. Depending on where you are locating your subs the 6 ms delay can be a big and audible issue. Without the Mini-DSP or similar it is not possible to delay your main speakers relative to the subs (you will need to delay them more than the DSP delay in most cases) in order to sync your mains with the sub. This issue seems to be often overlooked and if I was going to do it all over I would probably buy subs without DSP as the delay makes sub integration, which is hard enough, even harder unless you have something like the Mini-DSP HD in the chain.
 
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terryforsythe

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Depending on how deep you want to go into optimizing the sound quality, it might be worthwhile to get a UMIK-1 USB microphone (about $130 from miniDSP with shipping) and download REW (free) to tune your speaker/subwoofer integration. Try to get the speakers and sub phase aligned at the crossover frequency, as measured from your listening position. If you have an EQ, make some adjustments to address any significant frequency response issues.
 
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elshaddai

elshaddai

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There is one case where the Mini-DSP flex could be important. I don't know about your subs but I recently added 2 SVS SB3000 subs to my system and the onboard DSP on the subs adds ~6ms of delay whether you use it or not. I would guess your subs would do something similar. Depending on where you are locating your subs the 6 ms delay can be a big and audible issue. Without the Mini-DSP or similar it is not possible to delay your main speakers relative to the subs (you will need to delay them more than the DSP delay in most cases) in order to sync your mains with the sub. This issue seems to be often overlooked and if I was going to do it all over I would probably buy subs without DSP as the delay makes sub integration, which is hard enough, even harder unless you have something like the Mini-DSP HD in the chain.

Thanks for that insight - I'm not sure my brain can comprehend what a 6ms bass delay would sound like, but I'm very familiar with audio-visual sync delays and the frustration they can cause. If it makes a difference, the sub is about 2 feet from my feet under the corner of my desk. I'll keep an ear out for any issues.
 
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elshaddai

elshaddai

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Depending on how deep you want to go into optimizing the sound quality, it might be worthwhile to get a UMIK-1 USB microphone (about $130 from miniDSP with shipping) and download REW (free) to tune your speaker/subwoofer integration. Try to get the speakers and sub phase aligned at the crossover frequency, as measured from your listening position. If you have an EQ, make some adjustments to address any significant frequency response issues.

Definitely will look at microphones and software if/when I get to that point in the journey. Thanks for the recommendation!
 

terryforsythe

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I'm not sure my brain can comprehend what a 6ms bass delay would sound like
You may end up with a dip in the frequency response around the crossover region. But, room modes likely will create an even larger issue, so it may or may not be noticeable.

That being said, using a miniDSP to manage the crossover/DSP makes it much easier to tune the subwoofer/speaker integration. For me, it made a significant difference. The Flex series provides a large number of crossover topologies/slopes, adjustable time delays, adjustable gains, parametric E.Q., etc. The 2x4 HD may include these as well, I just haven't looked that deep into that model.

Again, it depends on whether you want to go that deep into tuning your system. For me, it was well worth it. In fact, I had a miniDSP SHD. When I decided to go all active and needed 8 channels, I sold it and got a miniDSP HTx.
 
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levimax

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Thanks for that insight - I'm not sure my brain can comprehend what a 6ms bass delay would sound like, but I'm very familiar with audio-visual sync delays and the frustration they can cause. If it makes a difference, the sub is about 2 feet from my feet under the corner of my desk. I'll keep an ear out for any issues.
If you have the capability to adjust driver timing then 6 ms is "a lot".... it is like moving your speakers 6 ft. Also as mentioned it can create cancelation issues around the crossover frequency and makes integrating subs more difficult. If you can it is the "first step" in integrating subs and it makes understanding your measurements easier as it eliminates a source of FR variation. As far as 6 ms being audible that is an interesting question, I know that when using some automated EQ it messed up the timing between my subs and the mains by 100 ms and that was VERY audible.
 

bibi2000

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If your source is only a PC, you may consider a DIRAC Live Licenses to deal with the listening room correction beside the UMIK-1 measurement & REW.
 
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