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I know there are at least a few miniDSP owners here but no owners thread, so here goes...

I've had a miniDSP 2x4 HD for a couple of years now but have recently bought an SHD as well (the full one with a DAC rather than the smaller, digital-only SHD Studio). I was asked in the bits'n'bobs thread how the sound of the two compared so here's my initial experience.

I use my miniDSP(s) to act as a crossover between main speakers and sub, applying crossover filters to both, time delays to the main speakers, and EQ to the sub to manage room modes. For this comparison I used exactly the same configuration on the 2x4 HD and SHD (not using Dirac Live), and stuck to RCA outputs so I could use the same connection to my power amp for both miniDSPs. Source signal was via Toslink from my OPPO blu ray player, playing CDs. Prior to the comparisons I used microphone measurements to ensure level and frequency response matching. I use my miniDSPs as pre-amps fed directly into my power amp and sub so switching between the two configurations took a little time as I had to power things off, swap cables, and power them on again. I'll gloss over the fact I didn't wait the 40 hour warm-up time suggested by Bel Canto for my power amp :D.

After the first switch-over I was briefly surprised how big the difference was but then I realised I hadn't connected the sub cable correctly for the second configuration :doh:. Not surprisingly fixing this made it a much more even comparison! The upshot though is that I do think the SHD sounds better, being slightly more natural sounding (slightly less 'grainy'?), most clearly to me on female vocals. Now I'm well aware of the limitation that this was a 'sighted' comparison so I've been back and forth a lot, both yesterday evening and this, and I'm as sure as I can be of this (but I still wouldn't bet anything really significant on being able to pick them correctly in a blind test!) Make of this what you will :).

From a usability and functionality perspective the SHD is in a different league but that's a different discussion, plus of course I need to see what Dirac Live can add.

@Tony_J@Camverton@bencat  I think. @newlash09 as you asked about the comparison.)

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Thanks for that Martin - sounds like a worthwhile upgrade.

I suspect you will find that the addition of Dirac will be a much more significant change in SQ.

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Very interesting Martin, thanks.

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Super Wammer

I am an owner of MiniDSP items . Started with a plain MiniDSP 2x4 HD which I used as my first dip in to active speakers. Having little (make that no) mechanical skill I had to opt for changing over existing passive speakers . While this is not as advanced or versatile as those who build there own speakers it can as I have found yield very musical results .

I quite quickly took the plunge and upgraded the 2x4 HD to a DDRC 24 which adds the Dirac Live software and enables this little unit to act as Digital Crossover / DSP / DAC / Volume Control . It is in this mode i use the unit for in the original one pair of KEF 103 Reference speakers . This has then morphed in to two pairs of KEF 103 stacked one on top of the other with the bass unit only working on the lower speaker and the bass units wired in parallel . This after a little bumpy road start is now my current spare room system and sounds wonderful , it was destined for Kegworth but we all know what has happened to that. I am using this system daily and it will be there at the rearranged Wam Show .

I also had a second DDRC 24 which I used just as a DSP unit with Dirac Live in my main system for a pair of Quad ESL57 speakers. This was not quite as much a success and recently I swapped one of the DDRC 24 for a DDRC 22 which is a simple Dirac unit that can go between digital source and DAC and allows up to three input and output on various sockets. This is much better suited to just a Dirac unit in a a passive speaker system and would recommend this if you are not going to use the Digital Crossover part of the DDRC 24 .

All in all I find the MiniDSP units to be remarkable pieces of modern digital equipment and they offer a very much easier way in to active and DSP use as the GUI and set ups are pretty much idiot proof , I know because they even work for me.

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Super Wammer

Well a very frustrating day today and for quite a few different reasons . However one issue i have had with the DDRC 22D is the one that nearly sent me in to a complete rage with total destruction in mind .

After getting my main music system up and working I decided that it would be sensible to do a full Dirac Live session to take in to account the change of equipment etc and try get the best filter set up with what was now playing .

All plugged in , MIC and DDRC 22D indentified no problem , set the volume . Run through a complete session with 13 measurements . Filter produced and some alteration from me to take out the areas under the curve whcih no amount of amplifier power will cure as the Quad ESL57 just does not go that low. Click the export filter button and then get an error message that the network can not be reached . try and save the project not possible . Tried turning off the firewall and wire connecting still says network error . In the end lose the whole hour or so work .

No real idea what the issue was or how i can stop it happening in the future or even if there is fix to at least save all the measurments etc so that I can work on them later . This did not ever happen with Dirac 1 as it was loaded on your PC and anyhting could be saved . Dirac 2 seems to have to use the Dirac site and this means no option to save things at vital points just in case .

Bahh  Humbug ,,,,,,,

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2 minutes ago, bencat said:

This did not ever happen with Dirac 1 as it was loaded on your PC and anyhting could be saved . Dirac 2 seems to have to use the Dirac site and this means no option to save things at vital points just in case .

Dirac 1 phoned home as well Andrew - they basically are just checking that you are using a registered device. Very frustrating though. Best to save the project as often as possible.

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I feel for you!

When you face trying again I'd start by measuring just the central point and clicking through to filter design etc to check the whole process works first, then go back and measure everything else. 

I may be wrong but I think the filter optimisation still happens on the local PC but it's just a licensing check the network is needed for.

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Super Wammer
4 hours ago, MartinC said:

I feel for you!

When you face trying again I'd start by measuring just the central point and clicking through to filter design etc to check the whole process works first, then go back and measure everything else. 

I may be wrong but I think the filter optimisation still happens on the local PC but it's just a licensing check the network is needed for.

@MartinC Good advice and if that is all I can do then will give it a try . What I planned to do was after each measurement click on save the project name it and then as it says save the project. If it lets me do this after every point measurement is finiished then should the worst happen i will be able to just reload and go back to the last save point .

You know all of you that I am syaing this with my fingers and toes firmaly crossed in the hope that it will let me do it that way .

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I think you should be able to save things like that. I've certainly saved projects based on just a single central measurement point.

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Super Wammer

Afternoon All as Linda has been called in to work (again) I was left on my own for a few hours which helps as it is hard to explain what i am doing and the strange noises and why i ask he not to come in to the room and speak.

So completed another Dirac 2.0 session today and it went much better than yesterday which on top of the other problems I was having nearly made me rip my beard off . All calm today and the session went well without any probelms at all . However as said just to be sure I saved the project after each measurement and that worked well .

When it cam to the Filter page the results were much less messy if that makes any sense than they had been in the past . In paticular the bass part and filter suggestion followed the orginal trace very closely and there were no big troughs that I need to alter the line for to ensure it was not drawing too much power from the amplifer .

Loaded perfectly to slot 2 and when i pressed play out came the music at the normal much reduced level (which I think is what Dirac does automatically) . Upped the out put on the DDRC 22D till it was a good volume but not really loud so leaving the DDRC a little head room . I then used the Myrad Pre which had lots of volume available to set from my seat . Everything is sounding good and the results are quiet background and quite a smooth sound . Too early to say if this is the best yet but it certainly looks promising .

Now as we are all couped up you get to thinking (which in my case is probably not a good thing) but still does not stop you . Now my Quad ESL57 are about 29cm away from the back wall nothing like as much as they should be but best I can do in the room . As they are already compromised I was wondering what would happen if I put them back really close to the back wall then ran a Dirac Live session to see if it would correct the reflections from the back wall that would be caused by this set up ? It is just a thought and will not get done today but as it will cost me nothing but a little time I feel have to give it a try . When I do will put a few comments here as what happened and how the filter changed from the current one .

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Super Wammer
Posted (edited)

Well you all know me by now and there was just no chance that I would be able to resist an idea if that was burning a hole in my head . After some rather frustrating drop outs and issues with the server I decided to give an Ethernet Switch a try . Read the thread in Computer HiFi and not really convinced that it is going to add anything at all to sound quality but it may well make my connections a little more robust and less prone to the drop outs .

Despite the views that more business oriented and more expensive switches are best decided on being mean and go for the low end managed 8 port unit . ordered a TP-Link one from Amazon in a metal case and arrived today . So turn off the router little bit of rearranging and plug nothing in the Router except the Switch . Bit of coughing and spluttering at first but all working now as it should and so far so good no issues at all . Will have to wait for 17.30 to 18.30 tonight to see if this keeps up as this is when I have the main problem .

Well then by that time and with what I needed to do I was on a roll so decided to scratch the itch and push the Quad ESL57 back to the wall (about 9 inches away) . Then out with the PC and UMIK Mic and straight in to another Dirac Live session . Just to be safe saved after each measurment but in truth it performed without any issue . Gave me a Target Curve but with a litte too much cut off at the bass end (nothing below 40HZ ) well I know the Quads have little deep bass but this was a little too steep a cut off . Extended a little to around 26HZ and smoothed the curve to match the speaker curve . For once left the treble untouched and just saved the project and loaded in to slot 1 on DDRC 22D .

Then connected the Allodigi One back up went to Materials Skin and started the music. Out it came and very good it sounded  The expected reflected sound seemed to be well controlled and placing near a wall seemed to have little effect on the sound in the room . Not sure as the Quads has no real enclosure if being by a wall adds to the bass output like it does with box designs but it does not sound as if it does. Was also worried that being dipole they might cancel out in the mid range but again no sign of that . I am very happy with the quality that is coming out and so far have not come against any draw backs that would make me pull them back out in to the room . They give a little extra space in the room which is welcome and they seem to dominate a little less . Linda likes the new position and does not seem to think that there is any loss of sound quality . Imaging has changed there is still a clear image but it seems to be a little less deep which is what I would expect .

Played the Quads directly with the DDRC 22D out of the chain and the difference was very marked far more than any other setting i have used. All the issues I was expecting with moving them that close to a wall came in spades and resulted in a quite smeared and confused sound . So the Dirac Filter is powerful enough to cope with this complex sound issue and does a very good job of correcting and making sense of the audio. I know that it is probably better to move the Quads as far out in the room as I can and then get that set up working as well as it is possible , but what I have now is a compromise that I can easily live with . My hearing now is not as critical as it was and I honestly am struggling to find much fault with the music as being played now . I think that this will be a more stable placing and will remain as the normal set up . If or when things calm down and I can get an Audiology appointment and if they can find a cause and better still cure for my tinitus then I might come back to this and have another try at getting the Quads in as much free space as I can in my music room . Until then they can stay as they are and let me have a best possible compromise .

Edited by bencat
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Super Wammer

Couple of days playing now and two really positive results. Firstly putting in an Ethernet Switch has beefed up my network rock solid now no drop outs even at the peak times.

Now the Quad ESL57 close to the wall well this has just gone from good to excellent . Done a little change to the bass and moved the cut off a little lower even though better before was just a little too bass light . Might need to tweek this over the next few days and find the point were it is too much then back it off a little .

Lastly DPD collected my Denafrips DAC today and it is off to Audiphonics in France.They seem very confident they can repair it so that will add a little extra finesse and sparkle to the system when it returns. In the meantime the Metrum Octave sounds very musical.

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Super Wammer

Not applicable to all MiniDSP models I know but i think it is used by those on here . Dirac Live has a new software download 2.5.2 . Just a small piece of advise unistall the previous version before you load this one as otherwise it seems to load both side by side and will continue to use the old version whne you connect . Not sure if it will make any real difference but it is normally better to have the latest version .

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1 hour ago, bencat said:

Not applicable to all MiniDSP models I know but i think it is used by those on here . Dirac Live has a new software download 2.5.2 . Just a small piece of advise unistall the previous version before you load this one as otherwise it seems to load both side by side and will continue to use the old version whne you connect . Not sure if it will make any real difference but it is normally better to have the latest version .

Thanks for mentioning this - I'll give this a try at some point. One of the changes refers to fixing an issue with IR coordinates, which I've never found to initially actually show where the peak is so this might be helpful. I wonder if the fix for 'minor graphical issues' might fix the problem I know some have experienced with the predicted response sitting significantly below the target curve, although I've not seen this myself.

https://live.dirac.com/changelog/

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I've been doing some experiments with my DDRC-24 to figure out more about how it operates internally - in particular, to look at how much "headroom" there is in the DDRC's digital processing to allow for filters that potentially boost signals above 0dB. This is an issue with the DDRC devices because Dirac's generated filters aren't visible to the user, so you have no real clue what it is doing to the signal. If (like me) you operate using digital volume controls, either on the digital source, or using the DDRC's master volume, this isn't really much of an issue, but if your configuration operates at 0dB input levels and minimum attenuation within the DDRC, then you need to pay attention to this to avoid the signal clipping when it reaches the DDRC's DACs. I posted about this on the miniDSP forum a while back without doing any testing to validate my assumptions, and have performed some tests over the last couple of days. A new thread on the miniDSP forum here:

https://www.minidsp.com/forum/dirac-series-support/17205-ddrc-24-gain-structure-and-internal-headroom#48120

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