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Stereo 2.1 set up upgrade DSP/DAC/Amp

Pavko

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Can you give me some tips on stereo setup.

Currently I own such set up PC --> SMSL DO200 --> (XLR balance connecition) SMSLS AO200 --> KEF LS50 Metas

Room size 12m. I want to add to this set up KEF KC62 and make some additional changes. I want to take step by step approach of upgrading, currently I’m lacking streamer, room correction (this should be value add), subwoofer management, better DAC and Power Amp. What I am looking for is to have wide stage with natural sound. I don’t plan to change my speakers in near future.

1. I was thinking about adding DSP. Here I have three options
  • 1. Adding minidsp Flex with Dirac Live
  • 2. Adding minidsp SHD with Dirac Live
  • 3. Moving into Eversolo dmp-A8 with their DSP
2. Changing DAC to Gustard R26. Is it worth to move to this DAC if I choose minidsp device before in the chain? Will it be beneficial to use it? If I read correctly attaching DAC is only available with minidsp SHD or Eversolo?

3. Changing Power Amp to something either with Purifi 1ET400A or NCore NCx500.

If I decide to go with minidsp SHD or Eversolo I’ll have already streamer but in this case as a standalone streamer Eversolo would be better with their app?

Can you help me to choose best solution, which DSP device? If I should add additional DAC (something like Gustard R26). How the best to connect all those devices. In case of Power Amp there should not be much of a difference between Hypex and nCore.

 

staticV3

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2. Changing DAC to Gustard R26. Is it worth to move to this DAC if I choose minidsp device before in the chain?
No, definitely not. Both your DO200 and the DAC that's built into the Flex are more transparent than the R26.

If I read correctly attaching DAC is only available with minidsp SHD or Eversolo?
You can get the Flex Digital if you want to use an external DAC.
However, the one that's built into the Flex is already so good that there's not really a point in using an external one.
 

ZolaIII

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What's the listening distance, positioning of speakers?
Those KEF's are relatively small and will pass a mid field (2 m) distance for calibration but even so they need to be crossed high (120~130 Hz) so 2.2 stereo (including sub's) is highly recommended. Your current amplifier can about menage just enough power to push them that loud (93 dB @ 1m) keeping +3~6 dB to soft clipping.
You can pass without Dirac Live for cost of little less convenience even if you chose to go with MiniDSP Flex unbalanced. If you chose to go balanced it will cost you additionally (sub's with balanced inputs and such multichannel interface or Flex balanced).
I would actually mention Flex HT for some 100$ more over Flex unbalanced.
On the other hand with desktop Windows PC you could go with something like Creative AE-5 Plus and JRiver for less than 200$.
If you go with MiniDSP the basic WiiM Mini trough Toslink to it would be enough.
Forget that KEF sub, for that money you can get 2x SVS SB-2000 Pro's for example.
As said before you don't need a stereo DAC (at all).
 
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Pavko

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Currently listening distance is less than 2m. Regarding positioning of speakers I would need DSP to solve it as listening position is not exactly in the middle.

I've checked SVS SB-2000 Pro and the price is pretty close to KEF KC62 at least in Poland.
 

ZolaIII

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Currently listening distance is less than 2m. Regarding positioning of speakers I would need DSP to solve it as listening position is not exactly in the middle.

I've checked SVS SB-2000 Pro and the price is pretty close to KEF KC62 at least in Poland.
As much as I can see you have a quiet a good market choice there.
As I see there are not sold out in both mat and piano gloss variants what you say about pair of SVS SB-1000?
I don't know about availability or pricing of MiniDSP products in Poland and told you on PC side a deacent multichannel card with software starts from little less than 200$. You can keep your current amp on up to 2 m to pass white noise reference SPL calibration point (86~88 dB stereo, 83~84 mono).
Something like Flex HT if you can find it even close to official price would be good investment so that you can settle regarding future upgrades (with 8 chenels) and that what ever you trow at it from input sources would be EQ-ed tho it doesn't have equal loudness so that part you would have to do elsewhere (in software).
 
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RickyC34

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If a 2.2 system is a possibility Dirac room correction suite + bass control can be had for close to $500 with their current sale. This + another dac for the subs is the route I went. If you feel like the SMSL is a weak point in your system, make it the subs dac and get the dac of your choice for your front L/R. Just a heads up R2R dacs that have a fifo buffer stage on digital inputs do not play well with Dirac in my experience. The FlexHt is currently $850 with Dirac in the US. The above option would be close to the same price (depending on dac #2) and you would have a better version of Dirac (DLBC) than the version you can add on to the flex. If you will never have a 2.2 system DLBC would not be needed and you could save some money.

If on PC a free option to add PEQ to your system would be Equalizer APO

I agree with the above that the DAC in the Flex is sufficient and appears to have great measurements. If you go this route just use the flex's dac and avoid an additional conversion. I have a 2.3 system and I'm currently thinking of adding the Flex to my system to serve as a multichannel dac / preamp.
 

great04

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What's the listening distance, positioning of speakers?
Those KEF's are relatively small and will pass a mid field (2 m) distance for calibration but even so they need to be crossed high (120~130 Hz) so 2.2 stereo (including sub's) is highly recommended. Your current amplifier can about menage just enough power to push them that loud (93 dB @ 1m) keeping +3~6 dB to soft clipping.
You can pass without Dirac Live for cost of little less convenience even if you chose to go with MiniDSP Flex unbalanced. If you chose to go balanced it will cost you additionally (sub's with balanced inputs and such multichannel interface or Flex balanced).
I would actually mention Flex HT for some 100$ more over Flex unbalanced.
On the other hand with desktop Windows PC you could go with something like Creative AE-5 Plus and JRiver for less than 200$.
If you go with MiniDSP the basic WiiM Mini trough Toslink to it would be enough.
Forget that KEF sub, for that money you can get 2x SVS SB-2000 Pro's for example.
As said before you don't need a stereo DAC (at all).
Newbie here as well. How important is balanced connection? I’m deciding between miniDSP Flex balanced vs Flex HT. Thanks
 

RickyC34

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@great04 Are you deciding between the Flex balanced vs unbalanced or Flex balanced vs FlexHT? If you ever plan on adding speakers beyond a 2.x system and value-independent subwoofer control the HT would be the way to go. If you will never go beyond a 2.2 system and are with how the subwoofers have to be routed in the Flex, I agree with the above. I believe it's only an additional $75 to go balanced with the Flex but you can save some $ and just use different cables if necessary. Unfortunately for those of us deciding between the FlexHT and HTx there's an additional $350 to go balanced. For that reason, I went with the HT.
Should be here tomorrow : )
 

terryforsythe

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The only unit I am familiar with is the MiniDSP SHD, which I bought a year or two ago. So, I can't say whether it is better than the other options. But, I'll provide my experience with, and perspective on, the SHD.

I have an old Velodyne subwoofer (over 25 years old) that only includes a switch to toggle between 0 deg. or 180 deg. of phase shift, and only a single first order passive filter for the amp driving the speakers. This is not adequate for smooth integration of the subwoofer with the speakers - predominantly phasing issues. I lived with it for years, but was never fully satisfied.

The SHD addresses this issue with fully adjustable time delay and crossover frequency, as well as a number of active filter topographies and parametric equalization. Using REW to measure in-room frequency response, I experimented with various filter topologies and crossover frequencies, and adjusted the time delay for the speakers accordingly, until I found the best settings for my system in my room. Wow, what an improvement that provided. I found that Dirac Live further improved the sound of my system in my room. I found no need to add additional parametric equalization beyond what Dirac Live implemented.

I primarily stream from Logitech Media Server (LMS) to my SHD over WiFi. It has worked flawlessly. The SHD also includes Volumio, which provides a settings interface for the SHD, and which you also can use to stream your music. I only use Volumio for the SHD settings, though, and mostly stream from LMS. If I did not already have LMS and become conformable with it, I probably would use Volumio. It looks nice with its most recent update.

The SHD does not support MQA, which itself seems to be controversial. Nonetheless, if MQA is important to you, you might choose another device that supports it.

As measured by Amir, https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...sp-shd-review-updated-dsp-dac-streamer.18681/, SINAD for the SHD is 112 dB, which falls in the excellent category, but is about 12 dB below the best rated two-channel DACs - the SMSL SU-10 ($900) and Topping DX7 Pro+ ($700) both measured 124dB. But, for $1,200, the SHD includes DACs for 4 channels (beneficial if your subwoofer does not have a digital input, which is my case) and includes a lot of other features the two-channel DACs don't have.

How audible is 112 dB SINAD vs. 124 dB? I don't know. The SHD does, though, also have digital outputs for all 4 channels using two digital RCAs, each handling two channels. So, if down the road DACs providing higher SINAD come down in price, you can always connect one or two to the digital outputs, and thus bypass two or all four channels of the SHD's internal DACs.
 

great04

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@great04 Are you deciding between the Flex balanced vs unbalanced or Flex balanced vs FlexHT? If you ever plan on adding speakers beyond a 2.x system and value-independent subwoofer control the HT would be the way to go. If you will never go beyond a 2.2 system and are with how the subwoofers have to be routed in the Flex, I agree with the above. I believe it's only an additional $75 to go balanced with the Flex but you can save some $ and just use different cables if necessary. Unfortunately for those of us deciding between the FlexHT and HTx there's an additional $350 to go balanced. For that reason, I went with the HT.
Should be here tomorrow : )
So balanced cable is not important. Originally, I thought balanced interface would get rid of ground loop. Is it unimportant because it's mostly inaudible?

Flex HT does give me one more input HDMI eARC. It would replace my TV's TOSLINK connection, which frees up a port on Flex HT. In terms of future-proofing, I wasn't planning to have home theater setup, because of all the wirings nightmare. But, later Flex HT is coming with WiSA. So that is enticing. Also, do you know how to play Dolby Atmos to Flex HT? Is a PC or other decoder needed (Flex HT only supports LPCM)?

I am a little confused about volume control. With Flex, I am assuming 2.1 setup's volume is solely controlled by Flex? Did you mean if the setup goes beyond 2.2, the volume control becomes an issue?

Thanks for your explanation. Please let us know how you enjoy the new HT!
 

terryforsythe

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So balanced cable is not important. Originally, I thought balanced interface would get rid of ground loop. Is it unimportant because it's mostly inaudible?
Most people have no noise issues with unbalanced connections, but some do.

I think there are a lot of variables involved, noise on ground connections, etc. Some issues may be ground loops, but I suspect more often than not there is another culprit. For example, my Xfinity cable has a 120 Hz signal coupled to the shielding. Xfinity runs a lot of their cables on power line poles, so I suspect it is a second harmonic of the power line frequency. In that situation, balanced cables could help. Other solutions are to connect the television audio to the audio system via Toslink, or filtering the cable. Both worked in my system.
 

RickyC34

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So balanced cable is not important. Originally, I thought balanced interface would get rid of ground loop. Is it unimportant because it's mostly inaudible?
Do you have ground loop issues?
Flex HT does give me one more input HDMI eARC. It would replace my TV's TOSLINK connection, which frees up a port on Flex HT. In terms of future-proofing, I wasn't planning to have home theater setup, because of all the wirings nightmare. But, later Flex HT is coming with WiSA. So that is enticing. Also, do you know how to play Dolby Atmos to Flex HT? Is a PC or other decoder needed (Flex HT only supports LPCM)?
If you don't want a home theater because of the wiring, I assume that you will be using a 2.x (2.0,2.1, or 2.2) system. If so, why the concern about Atmos? That's for multichannel audio. Some TVs can do the LPCM conversion, other configurations I've seen people talk about using use an Apple Tv.
I am a little confused about volume control. With Flex, I am assuming 2.1 setup's volume is solely controlled by Flex? Did you mean if the setup goes beyond 2.2, the volume control becomes an issue?
What I was saying is that if you ever want to go beyond a 2.x system for example a 3.1 system, you would want to go with the HT because it has 8 in and 8 output channels. The volume will always be controlled by the flex no matter which version you get. If using HDMI you can use your TV's remote to control the volume.
 
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Pavko

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It would be interesting to see comparison between MiniDSP SHD and Eversolo DMP-8.
SHD has Dirac Live and better subwoofer integration but Eversolo looks to have better internal DAC. I don't know about app which one is better. Anyone had a chance to compare both?
 

ZolaIII

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Newbie here as well. How important is balanced connection? I’m deciding between miniDSP Flex balanced vs Flex HT. Thanks
Well balanced is better autended (higher signal to noise) and there is no ground loops, also suitable for longer cable connections and have higher level feed (4V or more vs 2V unbalanced). But going balanced also cost more as then you have to stick with balanced all the way down to the end (including studio sub's with balanced inputs). You really don't have to go balanced. To people asking what's a difference between 112 and 120 dB SINAD DAC the possible differences is 2 dB on 114 dB SNR balanced input and none with unbalanced as input SNR is at best case 110 dB. You won't hear the difference, such high SINAD serves to dig noise down that it doesn't pop even on very low feeding levels (sensitive headphones, line out quiet listening). For about 100 $/€ more Flex HT brings 2x chenels and HDMI ARC over the regular Flex and it would be all great if it had better availability especially in EU (all their products).
 
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