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Worth giving up the miniDSP 2x4HD?

Dark826

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My current desktop setup for the past year or so (speakers about 1m from MLP with their backs unfortunately close to a wall, on Isoacoustics stands):
Stream music from my PC (primarily Amazon) -> miniDSP 2x4HD -> SMSL DA-8s -> Kef Q150. The 2x4HD also feeds two SVS SB-1000 subs.

The 2x4HD has allowed me to integrate the subs with the mains relatively easily with crossover, and correct a few troublesome lower-frequency peaks (e.g. 114Hz boominess) and broad dips from the mains. It also lets me fine tune delay between the mains and subs in the crossover region. I EQ the subs, L, and R separately, using REW + UMIK1 and the moving microphone method. Haven't tackled MSO multi-sub yet.

It's fine, I enjoy it. But as I'm listening to it for hours every day while I work, I find it lacking a bit and slightly fatiguing. It feels a little sterile and missing a little substance. When I listen to my Hifiman Ananda's through my Topping D50s -> Liquid Spark, its more relaxing for a longer day. However, wearing headphones really isn't feasible for my workday. I also know there are some misgivings about the DAC in the 2x4HD, as well as the underrated power in the DA-8s maybe not driving speakers as well as they could be driven.

Thus I'm considering stepping up my entire system just a bit. I'm thinking something like the Topping PA5 Amp and E50 DAC, and something like the Polk R100 speakers (something in the $600-800 range). I like the idea of the balanced DAC/AMP, but I understand that may not be worth it/noticeable in my setup.

The problem: If I go to a better DAC/AMP, I lose the 2x4HD's ability to crossover and individually EQ the subs and L,R. I can EQ using Equalizer APO in Windows, but that won't allow me to EQ subs and mains separately, or play with the crossover between the mains and subs. I would have essentially the same EQ'd signal going to mains and subs.

Options:
1) Just do it and use the low pass filter knob on the subs to at least have some crossover functionality. Do a general EQ in Equalizer APO that would get applied to both the mains and subs in the overlap region, hopefully I could implement a house curve with this as well. No ability to fine tune delay, but realistically that might not be noticeable.
- I still don't know how I'd get a line signal to the subs as the PA5/E50 don't have sub out. Perhaps use the L/R RCA outputs from the E50 (E50 can output on both the balanced and RCA outputs at the same time).
- I could instead get the SMSL DA9 or A0200 which have sub out, but for the price the PA5 seems like a better upgrade over my DA-8s. Or the Aiyama A300.

2) Keep the 2x4HD and just upgrade the amp and speakers. Kills the PA5 option though because it only has balanced inputs.

3) Technically the 2x4HD sends the four output channels as digital along the USB back to PC, and I would like to assume that these didn't go through the 2x4HD DAC. I could crossover and EQ on the 2x4HD, send the subs directly out from the 2x4HD, and use voicemeeter to grab the L+R from USB and send those back out a different USB to the new DAC. That seems like I'm introducing a lot more places for degradation and timing issues.

4) Forego the subs and get speakers that are sufficient enough in the low end that I won't miss the subs that much. My main consideration at my PC is music (not gaming or movies), so maybe that's possible? This would certainly simplify A LOT of the setup, though I'd have to be careful on how big the speakers are. The subs perform double duty in my home theater setup in the same room, so they won't be going to waste.

5) Get a multi-output soundcard, fiddle with Equalizer APO and routing channels and such, not sure I want to go this route.

6) ?

I would love to hear some thoughts on these or other options. Thanks!
 
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phoenixdogfan

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The miniDSP Flex is a better version of the 2 x 4 HD with improved DACS, and better interface, available with Dirac. They also make a version of the Flex which is just a processor with all digital I/O if you want your own DAC/Preamps.
 

MarcosCh

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I can't comment on what is the best thing you can do to improve your system, but I will comment on option 3)
Yes, you can keep the minidsp (and the possibility to have Dirac live for a small investment) and skip it's DAC using the USB. I am doing it via raspberry pi + the 4 channel DAC or interface of your choice.
Yes, the flex has it everything in one box, I guess it depends on how much you want to spend...
Now, the option of taking 2 channels directly to the subs and the other 2 through the computer to a second DAC... I am curious if it is feasible. I honestly don't know.
 

Mowz

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First I would try and find out what it is that causes this.
This, and then the other stuff. I jam at work almost all day and I find a few dB dip around 4k or a steeper rolloff will lower fatigue for me significantly. Some more knowledgeable members can likely say your fatigue is not gear related unless you are blasting to distortion, but I am not positive.

I don't know that amp but if it is true [email protected] you are getting like 105db at 1 meter with those speakers so it might not be the upgrade you hope for.

I had ls50metas with a schiit aegir and nearfield it is also 40 and i was usually under 20watts and they are 83sens vs q150s 86.

I have a pa5 I use with them now and if you are doing dsp like you are it does give plenty of extra headroom. I use the aegir in the winter still though when I need to heat up the room.

Check out amirs review you are going to get max power from that amp at 2.5 volts so even if you run unbalanced rca ->trs you are going to have way more nearfield headroom than is good for you.

Other than room treatment or finding a less abrasive, you probably would get the most bang for your buck from better speakers. I have q350 and r200 and I like them both. If I was crossing with 2 subs and doing eq, I would probably pick the q350 but the r200 au natural and no sub is pretty great and r100 looks to he similar. Still you should Def get from somewhere you can take back if it isn't a big improvement if you get r100.

If you're paranoid about the minidsp you could always go the flex route and you have the dac and the minidsp rolled into one.
 

fpitas

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If these are your speakers, I'd turn down the treble, too:
I find rising treble to be interesting briefly, then distracting, then fatiguing. YMMV.
 

tonycollinet

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First I would try and find out what it is that causes this.
This - and most likely it is frequency response, or possibly sub integration. You will likely find you can fix it in EQ with a simple adjustment to your target curve, or crossovers. It is also possible boosting dips could be causing it.

I think it would be worth taking some time experimenting with your DSP set up.
 

tonycollinet

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Just another thought:

I love my system - it sounds better than anything I thought I'd have - and that since I put in the Flex with Dirac. I can listen to it for hours without fatigue. Just listening, or doing something that is mindless.

However - if I am doing something else that requires concentration - music can become distracting/irritating - fatiguing if you like. If you are listening while working, it might just be this is the cause.
 
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