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TOPIC: Dirac, Crossover, 2.1 setup, DAC, which way to go?

Dirac, Crossover, 2.1 setup, DAC, which way to go? 8 months 2 weeks ago #24253

  • occamsrazor
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I actually posted a similar question on the CA forum, but figured I'd ask here too....

I used Direc Live trial software and was very impressed. Living without it is hard, but I'm confused as to which way to go in implementing it in my system, as I would also like to add the crossover and bass management functions of MiniDSP....

When I was using the Dirac trial software my setup was:

Mac Mini > Audirvana with Dirac AU plugin > USB > DAC/Pre > Balanced out to power amps & Main speakers full-range
Mac Mini > Audirvana with Dirac AU plugin > USB > DAC/Pre > Unbalanced out to powered sub with low-pass filter

(i.e. no active crossover)

Now I could just go with Dirac Live software, but then I saw some of the new products from MiniDSP incorporating Dirac, particularly the upcoming 2 x 4 DL.

So I guess my question relates to how important an active crossover is in a 2.1 setup when also using Dirac. It seems to me that while not a crossover itself, using Dirac alone should be able to smooth out any unwanted bass humps/troughs caused by the overlap between mains and sub. But I would really like to try out the new bass management functions of the upcoming models.

So it seems the options would be:

1. Using Dirac Live software alone on Mac Mini. Advantages - keeps the 24/192 signal chain, no additional boxes. Disadvantages - doesn't do active crossover.

2. Using Dirac Live software on Mac Mini, to DAC, then RCA to MiniDSP 2x4 HD. Disadvantage is you would be adding an additional AD/DA stage, which seems less than optimal, and it would reduce the signal chain to 24/96.

3. Using Dirac and crossover functions on MiniDSP 2x4 DL using that unit's inbuilt DAC. Advantages - does both crossover and Dirac. Disadvantages - If using the internal DAC of the MiniDSP via USB I am guessing it is likely not as good as using a dedicated DAC.

4. Using Dirac and crossover functions on MiniDSP 2x4 DL with an external DAC before it. If using the MiniDSP via RCAs after the dedicated DAC, you would be adding an additional AD/DA stage, which seems less than optimal, and it would reduce the signal chain to 24/96.

So it seems that whenever you gain the bass management and crossover functions, you lose out in some other ways.

I'm really confused..... are there any options I've missed? Any thoughts on which way to go? Ideally you'd have a one-box solution that would interface with your existing DAC but avoid the additional AD/DA stage, but I guess that's not possible.
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Dirac, Crossover, 2.1 setup, DAC, which way to go? 8 months 2 weeks ago #24258

  • john.reekie
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Hi, in your item 2, why wouldn't you use USB from the Mac mini to the 2x4 HD?
I am not miniDSP support.

"You must ask the right questions." - Dr. Alfred Lanning's hologram.
-> Have you read the User Manual??
-> Have you drawn and posted a diagram?
-> Have you posted a screenshot?
-> Have you posted your config file?
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Dirac, Crossover, 2.1 setup, DAC, which way to go? 8 months 2 weeks ago #24262

  • occamsrazor
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john.reekie wrote:
Hi, in your item 2, why wouldn't you use USB from the Mac mini to the 2x4 HD?

Yes you could do that, that's true. I was thinking on the basis that a dedicated external DAC would likely have better SQ than the one in the 2x4 HD. But it's a fair point that obviously I haven't heard this unit, so I can't say what differences there may be in the quality of the DAC itself. Also the 2x4 HD doesn't (yet) support USB HID volume control, whereas my DAC does.

If I WAS going to use the inbuilt DAC via USB, it would seem to make more sense (probably in terms of price as well) to use (3).
Last Edit: 8 months 2 weeks ago by occamsrazor.
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Dirac, Crossover, 2.1 setup, DAC, which way to go? 8 months 2 weeks ago #24264

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Hi again, I'm not sure if there's a misconception here, but you always have to use the DAC in the 2x4 HD (or 2x4 DL). It's possible that the analog input -> analog output might sound better than USB input - analog output, because in the former case there is no sample rate conversion going on. OTOH there's also additional D/A/D conversion stages.

Interesting point about the HID volume control.
I am not miniDSP support.

"You must ask the right questions." - Dr. Alfred Lanning's hologram.
-> Have you read the User Manual??
-> Have you drawn and posted a diagram?
-> Have you posted a screenshot?
-> Have you posted your config file?
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Dirac, Crossover, 2.1 setup, DAC, which way to go? 8 months 2 weeks ago #24266

  • occamsrazor
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john.reekie wrote:
Hi again, I'm not sure if there's a misconception here, but you always have to use the DAC in the 2x4 HD (or 2x4 DL). It's possible that the analog input -> analog output might sound better than USB input - analog output, because in the former case there is no sample rate conversion going on. OTOH there's also additional D/A/D conversion stages.
Interesting point about the HID volume control.

Ha, yes, I must be stupid. Any benefits of the external DAC would presumably be negated by the inbuilt DAC's AD/DA conversion. I guess I just like having the option to use the external DAC of my choice, but also wanted to avoid an extra AD/DA stage.
My guess is the combination of the 2x4 DL's bass management and Dirac would significantly outweigh any lesser qualities in the inbuilt DAC anyway.

But I also dislike the box the 2x4 HD is in, although I'm guessing it keeps the cost down, with its connectors on both ends and no physical volume control leads to messy cabling, especially as if you wanted (needed) to use the IR remote you'd have to have that facing out. I'd love to see a 2x4 DL balanced in the DDRC-22 box with connectors at the back and volume control knob.
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Dirac, Crossover, 2.1 setup, DAC, which way to go? 8 months 2 weeks ago #24267

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Heh, I guess the 2x4 HD is the smallest actual box they can squeeze all that into.

There are a lot of options... I think you can actually do what want now: DDRC-22D + nanoDIGI + your DAC (x2). But it costs more. (+ USB-SPDIF convertor to avoid TOSLINK)
I am not miniDSP support.

"You must ask the right questions." - Dr. Alfred Lanning's hologram.
-> Have you read the User Manual??
-> Have you drawn and posted a diagram?
-> Have you posted a screenshot?
-> Have you posted your config file?
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