Guenter Villnow
Guenter Villnow

The Microsoft Surface Dial is a Bluetooth-connected physical control device. We decided to try using it as a remote control for the SHD Series processor. This way, you can have an actual physical volume control knob (and mute) that is remotely connected to the SHD Series processor! This app note describes how to do it.

miniDSP SHD with Surface Dial

Note: the Surface Dial feature is only compatible with the Neo3 version of the SHD Series. It is not compatible with the older Neo2 version of the SHD Series due to Kernel limitations on the current build. You can easily check which version you have from here. Unfortunately the Dial feature won't be able to get transfered to the Neo2 build for this reason. All other features/software from Volumio are identical.  

What you will need [Top]

  • A miniDSP SHD Series processor. (Note: the Surface Dial plugin is compatible with the Neo3 version of the SHD Series only. It is not compatible with the older Neo2 version of the SHD Series.) Make sure that you upgrade to the latest version of Volumio (v1.119). 

  • An WiFi and Bluetooth USB adapter with the Realtek 8821CU chipset. This adapter provides the Bluetooth interface needed for the Surface Dial, and can also be used for Wi-Fi connectivity for your SHD Series processor. (See the SHD Series User Manual for details on Wi-Fi setup.)

  • A Microsoft Surface Dial.

To get started, power off the SHD Series processor and insert the EDUP adapter into the USB Host port on the back panel. Power the processor on again.

NOTE: Please note that with when using this Wifi dongle, you will loose Wifi streaming. An Ethernet LAN connection is required for streaming. 

Getting ready[Top]

  1. Ensure that your SHD software is up to date. In particular, the firmware version displayed in the plugin must be 1.29 or later:

    Check SHD firmware version

    (See the SHD Series User Manual for instructions on how to update the SHD firmware.)

  2. Ensure that your Volumio installation is up to date to v1.118. In the web interface, go to Settings then System and use the System Updates section to bring your installation up to date:


  3. In the Volumio interface, go to the Settings - > My Music and enable ms_surface_dial feature. 


  1. Restart the SHD Series processor: select Shutdown and then click on Restart.

    Restart the SHD Series processor

Changing the volume step size to 1

WARNING: This step is extremely important and shouldn't be missed else the Dial might send some large volume changes to your audio system! 

  1. In the Volumio Settings page, go to the Playback Options


  2. Scroll to the Volume Options section


    Click to change volume steps size to "1"


    Click save to confirm. Volumio will now operate in 1dB steps for both the GUI and Microsoft Dial commands. 


Pairing the Surface Dial[Top]

The Surface Dial communicates with the SHD Series processor over Bluetooth.

  1. In the Volumio Settings page, go to the MyMusic page again and click on Settings button.


  2. Check the bluetooth status. If it says "Bluetooth Off", click the Power On Bluetooth button and wait until the status changes to "Bluetooth On." Two new items for pairing will also appear as below:

    Surface Dial configuration in Volumio

  3. Put the Surface Dial into pairing mode:

    1. Bring the Surface Dial near to the SHD (less than 2 meters).
    2. Open the cover on the back.
    3. Insert the batteries if you have not previously.
    4. Hold the pairing button (shown in the photo below) until the pairing LED blinks at 1-second intervals.
    5. Release the pairing button.

    Surface Dial Bluetooth connect button

    Note: If the LED blinks quickly and then turns off after a few seconds, the Surface Dial is already paired with another device or computer. Use the other device to unpair the Surface Dial, then try putting the Surface Dial into pairing mode again.

  4. In Volumio, click on the "Start Pairing" button. The message "Searching for Surface Dial" will appear, followed by a series of status messages ending with "Great! Surface Dial now Ready to Use." Be patient, as this can take 20 or 30 seconds.

    Surface Dial Bluetooth pairing completed

  5. Confirm that the Surface Dial field now says "Connected (In Use)".

Using the Surface Dial[Top]

The Surface Dial is ready to use with your SHD Series processor! The controls are easy to use:

Rotate clockwise Increase volume
Rotate counter-clockwise    Decrease volume
Press Toggle mute on or off

Note: the Surface Dial will disconnect after a period of inactivity to save battery power. To reconnect, rotate the Surface Dial.

If you wish to Un-Pair the dial, simply click "Forget" and it will be removed from the connection. 

Wrapping up [Top]

That's it for this app note! Have fun, and please let us know in our forum if you give this a try.

Related products - SHD series