Dirac? Is it time to make the jump to a Mini DSP SHD?

prime minister

Site Owner
Staff member
I've been working at tweaking my room to get the best sound out of my system, but as I've been looking at wall and floor coverings, I can't help but keep wondering if I'm going about it the wrong way. @Pat McGinty has raved about how well the Mini DSP SHD Dirac equipped preamp, with built in streamer, works. Ive been trying to find more about it online, but for the most part the info I have found has been contradictory to same the least, if not mostly useless.

In my studies, I came across George @deercreekaudio. I felt if anyone could help me sort this out, he'd be the guy.

I hope George can give a good intro on the SHD, what it does and doesn't do, and we can start chiming in with questions. For me, with my Kites, it is a super tempting option.

6CEF0CCB-03D5-4C1D-AC31-C1EA5E642C0B.jpeg
 
I've been working at tweaking my room to get the best sound out of my system, but as I've been looking at wall and floor coverings, I can't help but keep wondering if I'm going about it the wrong way.
I won't hop in on the DSP debate (and risk ruffling feathers), but I will say that after attending a presentation by acoustician Bob Hodas, I found that his experience reinforced my own prior thoughts that proper speaker and seating position, room layout, and room treatments should be done first, with electronic "correction" done only as a very last resort. (And if I recall, he only does that with custom-designed, fixed EQ modules that apply mild corrections.) I can't do much in my family room since I have little spare space to hang anything, and furniture position is pretty much set in place, but I was still able to apply a couple of his tips to help with the sound. I wish I had recorded or at least taken notes. While few of us in the audience would ever be able to contract his services, he had many tips and real-world examples of how he went about physically "correcting" a room, even difficult spaces in clients' homes (he does not tune studios only, in other words).

If anything, I envy his listening talents (and the talents of those who do this for a living)--he has trained himself to listen (with his ears and his test equipment) for specific problems, vs. listening to music and constantly tweaking to what could be a moving target. True, good music reproduction is the end result, but the ability to quickly hear reflections and other anomalies allows him, and others like him, to zero in on what the true problems in a room are, and is able to offer steps to correct those which go a long way towards "cleaning up" the room in order to minimize the final tweaking.
 

prime minister

Site Owner
Staff member
I did try some DSP room correction built into an old harman kardon 990, I think, integrated amp. Dammit if it didn't dramatically improve the sound. However, the resolution of the digital side was just to rough for regular usage. It just added a layer of grey to the sound, which took away much of the victory of the DSP correcting for room issues. But that's a tin of computing power in the past.
 

ICTWoody

Junior Member
I literally almost ordered one of these last week. But while I still might in the future, after a long discussion with @jhoyt who has had one for several months, I decided to go simple for the time being.

I’ll be following along and I could still make the jump for a few reasons.

It definitely has my interest.

- Woody
 

prime minister

Site Owner
Staff member
I literally almost ordered one of these last week. But while I still might in the future, after a long discussion with @jhoyt who has had one for several months, I decided to go simple for the time being.

I’ll be following along and I could still make the jump for a few reasons.

It definitely has my interest.

- Woody
its very interesting gear indeed. I have an advantage, as I can feed a digital xlr signal directly from the preamp to my speakers. Very slick.
 

Kpatch

Junior Member
its very interesting gear indeed. I have an advantage, as I can feed a digital xlr signal directly from the preamp to my speakers. Very slick.

Which speakers? Are you saying you’re feeding a digital xlr signal directly from an outboard preamp directly to the amps in your Kites?

And I’m interested in the Mini DSP SHD Dirac equipped preamp as well and I hope George will post some thoughts.
 
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Not having a single purpose listening room, I am loathe to do any room treatments (not that my wife would allow it anyway). From my understanding the main reason for room correction is for the long waves of the lower frequencies. It would seem to me that a good system could be set up to concentrate on the low frequencies, where it could potentially do the most good, without changing the signal in the higher frequencies. Unless of course you want to tweak the upper frequencies and like what you hear. I would give something like Mini DSP a try, especially if they have a trial period with free returns.
 

Kpatch

Junior Member
. Unless of course you want to tweak the upper frequencies and like what you hear. I would give something like Mini DSP a try, especially if they have a trial period with free returns.
Yup, my main interest in the Mini DSP SHD Dirac would be smoothing any brightness/harshness in the upper frequencies.
 
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Yup, my main interest in the Mini DSP SHD Dirac would be smoothing any brightness/harshness in the upper frequencies.
I've ripped all those spinning audio discs I own to a Mini PC running Daphile (Celeron, 4 GB RAM, 1 TB SSD). This made some remarkably positive impact especially on SACD performance.

Next step was to apply EQ: measurements and filter generation using REW, BruteFIR filter import to the Daphile server to overcome (most of) the obvious drawbacks of my listening place. It took several days of trial and error, but the outcome is impressive. Both channels are well balanced for the first time since I moved in this place about a year ago.

Room Correction.jpg
My Tannoy D500 are alaso suffering a somewhat harsh treble, depending on program material. Sibilants of female vocals are most 'vulnerable'. I managed to temper the effect to a certain degree by experimenting with a house curve when EQing. Now I'm close to a 10 dB difference between low and high, and this sounds 'right'. Some sources even suggest more than 12 dB, but I did not like this. Treble begins to sound too dull that way.

My current summary would be that tempering harsh treble by EQing works to a certain extent. But if you really want to resolve this I'm afraid you have to invest in new speakers.

I'm interested in an external EQ solution, because I'm also running TV audio over my stereo gear via optical input, and this would most likely benefit a lot from a similar EQ. The Daphile hosted BruteFIR solution does not support this.
 
I won't hop in on the DSP debate (and risk ruffling feathers), but I will say that after attending a presentation by acoustician Bob Hodas, I found that his experience reinforced my own prior thoughts that proper speaker and seating position, room layout, and room treatments should be done first, with electronic "correction" done only as a very last resort. (And if I recall, he only does that with custom-designed, fixed EQ modules that apply mild corrections.) I can't do much in my family room since I have little spare space to hang anything, and furniture position is pretty much set in place, but I was still able to apply a couple of his tips to help with the sound. I wish I had recorded or at least taken notes. While few of us in the audience would ever be able to contract his services, he had many tips and real-world examples of how he went about physically "correcting" a room, even difficult spaces in clients' homes (he does not tune studios only, in other words).

If anything, I envy his listening talents (and the talents of those who do this for a living)--he has trained himself to listen (with his ears and his test equipment) for specific problems, vs. listening to music and constantly tweaking to what could be a moving target. True, good music reproduction is the end result, but the ability to quickly hear reflections and other anomalies allows him, and others like him, to zero in on what the true problems in a room are, and is able to offer steps to correct those which go a long way towards "cleaning up" the room in order to minimize the final tweaking.
Learning the skills needed to be a "quick listen" is like learning to play scratch golf; you have to want it, it means studying for years and you mostly have to be your own teacher. When you start out, your analyzer is much better than you are. Once you've gotten any good at it, your analyzer hardly ever gets turned on. And there's a downside: a bundle of kill-joy negatives come along for the ride. Movie theaters, automobiles, most stereos.

I think the term "room correction" comes more from the marketing side than the engineering side. I'm finding that guys are taking the term too literally and expecting miracles.

It's not a substitute for getting your room right. You want to start there. That said, if you're stuck with room problems, it will help. Help a whole lot more than the usual audio accessories, wire and all that.

If you have trouble with rise and settle times, they'll still be there. But if you have the speed, Dirac does a nice job of lining up the leading edge. It'll unwind the phase mess from your passive filters, but not the detail blur.

What Dirac does do is straighten out your impulse response and force the both speaker's F/A response and arrival times to precisely coincide. So the effect on focus, notably depth focus, is worth the price of admission. Just me, midrange balance is my sticking point and Dirac does a nice job of sorting it out.

Let's turn the question on its head: assuming that you're not completely screwing up by going DADA, why would you not want to grab the datastream and rearrange it to your tastes and situation?

Full disclosure: I'm a reseller.
 

S0und Dragon

Moderator and Circus Hand.
Staff member
Learning the skills needed to be a "quick listen" is like learning to play scratch golf; you have to want it, it means studying for years and you mostly have to be your own teacher. When you start out, your analyzer is much better than you are. Once you've gotten any good at it, your analyzer hardly ever gets turned on. And there's a downside: a bundle of kill-joy negatives come along for the ride. Movie theaters, automobiles, most stereos.

I think the term "room correction" comes more from the marketing side than the engineering side. I'm finding that guys are taking the term too literally and expecting miracles.

It's not a substitute for getting your room right. You want to start there. That said, if you're stuck with room problems, it will help. Help a whole lot more than the usual audio accessories, wire and all that.

If you have trouble with rise and settle times, they'll still be there. But if you have the speed, Dirac does a nice job of lining up the leading edge. It'll unwind the phase mess from your passive filters, but not the detail blur.

What Dirac does do is straighten out your impulse response and force the both speaker's F/A response and arrival times to precisely coincide. So the effect on focus, notably depth focus, is worth the price of admission. Just me, midrange balance is my sticking point and Dirac does a nice job of sorting it out.

Let's turn the question on its head: assuming that you're not completely screwing up by going DADA, why would you not want to grab the datastream and rearrange it to your tastes and situation?

Full disclosure: I'm a reseller.
Pat or anyone that is in the know, Could someone expand on the perils of going "DADA"?
 
" why would you not want to grab the datastream and rearrange it to your tastes and situation?"
Good question. If the purpose of buying equipment is to enjoy music at the very best fidelity that you can afford, then we should be open to any idea with sound engineering behind it.

What is DADA?
 

240sx4u

Technically It's LexusGuy
" why would you not want to grab the datastream and rearrange it to your tastes and situation?"
Good question. If the purpose of buying equipment is to enjoy music at the very best fidelity that you can afford, then we should be open to any idea with sound engineering behind it.

What is DADA?

Digital - Analog - Digital - Analog
 
Digital - Analog - Digital - Analog
Ahh... thanks. That’s precisely why I’m looking at a CD transport method to go to my active speakers. I don’t like the idea of a CD player doing a DA conversion only to send it to the analog input of my speakers to have it do an Immediate AD conversion to feed it to the DSP. I have no evidence that would be a problem sonically, but why not do it the cleanest way? Direct digital signal to the speaker digital input.
 

rogerfederer

Junior Member
in my VA house (i have since moved) i had a terrible listening room that i couldn't improve. miniDSP with DIRAC helped improve my sound in that room significantly--really dialed in the image. was worth the DADA downside. YMMV
 

240sx4u

Technically It's LexusGuy
Ahh... thanks. That’s precisely why I’m looking at a CD transport method to go to my active speakers. I don’t like the idea of a CD player doing a DA conversion only to send it to the analog input of my speakers to have it do an Immediate AD conversion to feed it to the DSP. I have no evidence that would be a problem sonically, but why not do it the cleanest way? Direct digital signal to the speaker digital input.

If you were to use the mini-dsp products I believe you can feed digital from the CD player to the DSP to the speakers all in digital domain. I am of the opinion that the less conversion you do, the better.
 

240sx4u

Technically It's LexusGuy
in my VA house (i have since moved) i had a terrible listening room that i couldn't improve. miniDSP with DIRAC helped improve my sound in that room significantly--really dialed in the image. was worth the DADA downside. YMMV

I don't think its necessarily a downside if your system requires it. It just comes with the territory.
 

prime minister

Site Owner
Staff member
Again, it's a huge advantage I have with my Meadowlark Kites. I *could* go digital stream from streamer into the SHD and then digital stream into the Kites. Just a few less steps to mess around with things.

Btw, does the SHD allow me to use it as a tone control? I'm just thinking if there is a little added warmth, for instance, that I want to add to the sound, can I tweak it through the SHD?
 
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I tried this with a DBX Venue 360 recently. While it certainly does iron out the room issues, I found that it did more harm than good and I'd attribute that to the DADA issue. Even with all of the eq's turned off, you can still "hear" it in the chain.

I decided that I'd rather live with a few response issues than throw a digital blanket over the music. That's a personal choice really as there are no right and wrong answers when it comes to room correction. In my HT room for example, the Audyssey correction in my Denon receiver does a tremendous job making a bunch of different speakers and subs sing as one. But there I'm feeding it mostly Dolby and DTS signals that are a far cry from Qobuz 24/192 in the music room (or vinyl). I think for a more resolving system, it gets in the way.
 
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