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Balanced System with SHD? 4 months 2 weeks ago #53833

  • robertofabbri
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You can leave the preamp after the SHD if you are in need of more gain in order to properly drive your main amp and loudspeakers.
Anyway, with or without a preamplifier, you can connect up to two subwoofer directly to the SHD. In that case once you found the sweet spot volume within your preamp you have to control volume just through the SHD, in order to keep it balanced between the mains and the sub.

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Balanced System with SHD? 4 months 2 weeks ago #53835

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Thanks for all the advice. I demoed a Moon 390 and found it to have a lot more transparency than the DAC 2 and would love to hear the SHD now to compare. I can't demo the it where I am in Canada so I reached out to Solen to see if they could send me both the SHD and the Studio and I could return one. Though I guess I could build a second system in the rec room and use both...

In the continuing search for DAC/preamps I see that Mytek is coming out with an updated Brooklyn Bridge II with the Sabre 9038 chip. I have a bias towards Mytek and Benchmarks because that's what the amp manufacturer recommended. But I'm adding room correction somewhere in there for sure.

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Balanced System with SHD? 1 month 3 weeks ago #55248

  • Nuprin
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So an update on the SHD I ordered and put into my system. Quite a different story than with what others observed especially when comparing with other preamps and DACs.

First the SHD DAC - Very bright, harsh, lots of sibilance. It was hard to listen to for more than a few seconds really. The ARES II and the DAC in the Cambridge Audio 851N both crushed the DAC in the SHD - In my system at least. Honestly I've never been so disappointed in a DAC.

Next the SHD as a preamp - Vocals were ok, soundstage width completely collapsed, shrunk from the entire width of the wall, 17 feet, down to about 5 feet. Depth was kind of all jumbled up with the instruments. Sounded like a cheap receiver.

With EQ but no DIRAC (using the ARES DAC) - Fixed the 10db gain at 35hz and improved the -25db drop at 100-120hz that I was getting in the room although not by a whole lot.

With DIRAC correction (using the ARES DAC) - Again the bass peaks were better but everything else was worse, especially soundstage. Had a more artificial sound.

Inserted into existing chain after my preamp (in order to set sub/speaker crossover, with and without EQ but no DIRAC) - Poor results just like when the SHD was functioning as the sole preamp.

Unfortunately there is no return policy so I will have to take a loss, sell the SHD and go back to finding an active crossover and work on room treatments.

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Balanced System with SHD? 1 month 3 weeks ago #55251

  • asx77
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That’s not good. It sounds like your strong pre-convictions about how great your existing system is have been proven true. I’d suggest living with the SHD for a few weeks then go back to the old system. Maybe, just maybe you’ll then find your existing kit dull in comparison(!) but by the sound of it... I suspect nothing will ever beat your Ares II dac or Wyred4sound pre. Can you take any comfort in knowing your existing system is probably unbeatable? You’ll sell your SHD with no problems.

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Balanced System with SHD? 1 month 3 weeks ago #55252

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Wow! You've been to my room? You know exactly what my system sounds like before the SHD and after the SHD? You've listened to my speakers, sub and associated electronics? That's amazing, I didn't know you know what my system sounded like remotely!

First of all, if I thought my system was unbeatable, I wouldn't be looking for improvements with my room issues. I've had the SHD for a few weeks already, probably spent a good 30-40 hours testing, measuring, tweaking and listening. I've listened to hundreds of hifi speakers and electronics for over the past 25 years. Even worked for a hifi shop in college. I've heard B&W, Ariel, Martin Logan, Revel, Paradigm, Vandersteen, Linn, Magnepan, Wilson Audio (all the way up to their Alexandiras and XLF) and many many more. Then electronics ranging from Pioneer, Marantz, Rotel, Arcam, Ayre, Acoustic Research, Mark Levinson, McIntosh, Linn, Cary Audio, Wadia, etc, etc, etc. Entire line of AuidoQuest, Synergetic Research, up to the Transparent Magnus Opus and more. I currently use Beldin Blue Jeans 10 gauge and Mogami Gold XLR in my balanced system FYI so no, I don't just buy into hype.

I believe in measurements up to a point and until I hear it in MY ROOM, then it doesn't matter what is said or written about the product. I don't buy into marketing hype or the cost of the product until I can hear it and decide for myself. So no, my "kit" will not sound dull in comparison if I just "live" with the SHD for a few more weeks. I have been to recording studios. I go to live concerts, especially jazz and some classical. I have friends who are musicians. I enjoy lifelike vocals as much as anyone else and strive for as much realism and emotional connection to the music. I have an idea of what good sound reproduction is. I visit Audio Science Review as well as many "typical" hifi sites to research and decide for myself but ultimately by listening. So please don't tell me you know what sounds better in my room and setup because you assume I have strong pre-convictions about my own system. Heck, I would have been thrilled had the SHD been able to replace my existing DAC and Preamp. I would love to improve the sound for less money -just ask my wife!

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Balanced System with SHD? 1 month 3 weeks ago #55256

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Nuprin,
I’m not looking to argue with you. You had some strong thoughts that the SHD wouldn’t hold up against your system and you proved yourself right – power to you.

I didn’t need to visit your room… From your previous posts I took your word for it. Let me quote you:

I would like to keep those components in the loop

I suspect for the money, at least the DAC will not be better than the Ares II but may match the 851n as a chipped DAC. And I much prefer the Ladder Ares over the 851n DAC

I want to keep all the equipment I have

The preamp is really really good and comes with a remote. I've compared it to much more expensive preamps in the near $10k range and still like it better

…the SHD could in fact replace the Streamer, DAC and Preamp but I am not convinced.

The 851N are all those things minus the DIRAC but it pales in comparison to the "separates" of my own DAC and Preamp regarding overall resolution, imaging, soundstage, bass...etc. I had a Cary Audio 11a and it was the best SS processor I've ever heard on 2 channel of SS processor under $15k I've heard - and the Wyred STP II blew that away. Adding the Areas also improved naturalness, tonality and bass albeit less significantly.


In the nicest possible way, I don’t care if you use a pre-amp or not – the debate of pre-amp or not is a long one but its one of those compoents that is personal choice. Do they offer better control of current and voltage, or do they add another source of possible distortion? The best would do all of the first bit and none of the second.

And in the nicest possible way I don’t care what DAC you prefer – that is again personal choice.

Most times when we buy equipment we audition it. You do. I do. Sometimes you have to take a gamble – I’m in the UK and its near impossible to audition miniDSP ahead of purchase so I took a gamble with miniDSP as I couldn’t listen first. But I minimised risk by starting with a 2x4HD, before upgrading it to DDRC24. Then being happy, I bought a second hand SHD and moved the DDRC24 to a second system.

If every part of a hifi system sounded 100% transparent we’d all be sat listening to exactly what the sound mixer recorded. But they don’t and that’s good because we should enjoy what we listen too right? I shouldn’t have to listen to what the sound engineer liked because their tastes are going to be different to mine! I know though that there are limitations. Components can’t add detail that isn’t in the original for example. I like the sound of my valve amps because to me they make things sound more natural but they’re doing it by distorting the original signal in some regards by adding certain harmonic - I've no qualms about that, its ok - I like the sound. But what I don’t want is every component adding their own flavour. I want to minimise that to one or two items. The other parts of my system (including my DAC/pre) should be as transparent as possible which I believe the SHD is.

I guess for you the ARES and Wyred4Sound adds a combination of things you like. Ok… genuinely good for you. Enjoy it. Your SHD gamble didn’t pay off. That is genuinely again a shame, I wouldn't like it happening to me. And if you’ve tested your system against components 10x the price ($10k-$15k) and in your view yours are still better than if I was in your position I’d stop looking for more and yes, I would say from your perspective (and ears) you’ve got an 'unbeatable' system. Be proud. Be content. Be happy. And above all, sit back and enjoy.

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Balanced System with SHD? 1 month 3 weeks ago #55262

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I’d suggest living with the SHD for a few weeks then go back to the old system. Maybe, just maybe you’ll then find your existing kit dull in comparison(!) but by the sound of it... I suspect nothing will ever beat your Ares II dac or Wyred4sound pre. Can you take any comfort in knowing your existing system is probably unbeatable? You’ll sell your SHD with no problems.[/quote]

You seemed sure that my system would sound dull after living with the SHD for a few weeks which it did not - and thus my post to report my findings. As a tube user and from UK(Nothing against you, just pointing out a lot of components I've heard from UK have that warmer, laid back sound), you of all people would not like the harshness I heard with the SHD DAC in my system and room, nor the collapse in soundstage or more artificial sound of the music. I aim for transparency and neutrality. Accuracy and resolution with musicality. I'm just telling you that your assumption was incorrect, not arguing with you whether it sounds better or not in my room since I'm the only one here who's listened to it in my system. The differences I heard are not a matter of personal preference. It's not a warmer to analytical, forward presence vs a laid back one or rolled off highs vs extended. I don't know anyone who prefers a collapsed soundstage or harsh sounding midrange and vocals with sibilance that makes you want to leave the room. Maybe if the SHD was paired with speakers and amps that were very "warm" sounding that a lot of the things I heard might be lessened or even go away but my speakers and amp certainly let you know what you're doing upstream.

"Nothing will ever beat my Ares or Wyred4sound? " When did I ever say that? There are certainly better components that mine, just the cost is too high at this point for me to afford. A $90k MSB Select DAC to go with my MSB amp would sound better in my system but a lot of money would need to fall out of the sky for that to happen. I searched and demoed many components before finding the best price/performance I could afford. As stated before, it will probably be difficult to find significant gains without an exponential jump in cost - as much as I wish that wasn't true.

The whole point of this thread and me purchasing a SHD was to improve the sound in the room, particularly the bass peaks and dips along with some unwanted resonances at certain frequencies. In my previous room, the bass was fantastic, with the same setup but the soundstage was lacking and not as defined imaging. Sure, I do enjoy listening to my system and generally happy, but there are areas it can be improved. But no, I'm not content with how my current system sits. Isn't that a lot of us in this hobby? Searching for better?

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Balanced System with SHD? 1 month 3 weeks ago #55282

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@nuprin, if you don’t like your SHD that’s fine. I’m glad you shared your impressions. However, you’re pretty heated and defensive about it. You have to understand that someone on this forum would naturally say something like “live with it for a few weeks and see what you think.” That’s one of the most common things audiophiles say to each other. It’s not presumptuous or an insult. It’s practically meaningless. Chill out, dude.

If you’re truly done with your SHD then I don’t know why you’d stick around here to argue about it. Just tell us you think it’s pure garbage, copy-paste the list of gear you’ve listened to that you keep in a .txt file on your desktop, provide the exact dimensions of your collapsed soundstage, and move on.
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Balanced System with SHD? 1 month 3 weeks ago #55283

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Heated? No. Defensive? Yes. Since people presumed to know that my "pre-conceived" notions of how "top-notch" and how I think my system is bee's knees of all systems out there. I explained I ran the unit for a few weeks but was not getting the result I was hoping for. They presumed to know that my current setup would sound "dull" if I just got used to the SHD sound as if I'm a newbie and know nothing about what music should sound like. The insult is in the presumption and knowing how my system sounds without hearing it and inability to accept different results compared to theirs. I would call that arrogance.

I had different results with my Ares II in my system than others here - and I was hoping the SHD would be better since it had measure so well on Audio Science Review - I remember the Ares not measuring as well in comparison but I'd have to check again. I was hoping to replace my current DAC and Pre-Amp or at least insert the SHD in the system as the EQ and bass management piece and improve the results. It did not for me except the bass part but everything else was worse. The point is that some people just can't accept different results than theirs, which is stupid because we don't have the same room or (rest of the)components. I took a chance and spent my money on something that I sought advice for here, which a few people suggested it would better the Ares II as a DAC and possibly replace my Pre-Amp, which is why this thread started in the first place. I simply expressed my disappointments of how it didn't work out and some people who love their SHD or MiniDSP as brand can't accept that. The point is that if someone else was looking at the unit and doing their research, they might see that others have different results than 5 star reviews across the board (taken into context of existing components). If that's not acceptable "here" then it's just my results against fanboys.

If you had a different experience and explain what you heard with your system NOTMAN, then I'd love to hear it. Maybe have a more academic discussion of the reasons behind the results instead of commenting on some else's experiences that you don't like. I genuinely do appreciate the responses from everyone when the post was started and it led me to purchase the unit. Shared my results, you guys don't like it - fine, but don't insult my findings because you can't agree with it.

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Balanced System with SHD? 1 month 3 weeks ago #55285

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@Nuprin

Sorry to hear that you're having some issues with the setup. This indeed some very odd feedback here and just not the norm and we wonder if it could be a simple misconfiguration which can happen with a new device with lots of settings like the SHD. The comment " Sound stage collapse" is text book for an incorrect routing (mixing mono with incorrect routing table) or sometimes some incorrect LPF/HPF.. Maybe the case here?

Have you contacted our support team about this issue? We can't find any support ticket with your email address I'm afraid.

please start a support ticket with our team (support.minidsp.com), we'll be here to help to:
a) Check your SHD configuration
b) Confirm the routing/Crossover
c) See what target curve you've actually setup in Dirac Live.

That will be a great first step in troubleshooting.

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Balanced System with SHD? 1 month 3 weeks ago #55286

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@devteam

Thanks for reaching out. All my cables are labeled and I always use a tone test along with L channel and R channel check when trying out a piece of equipment. Went through the initial setup without any issues and listened to how the unit sounded "out of the box" with and without the DAC active and let it run for a few days straight before coming back for another listen. I did not hear much improvement but moved on to utilize the crossover function with the LFP and HFP. I did reference some set up guides to make sure it was done correctly. As I worked more with the settings and played with the EQ, I was able to dial in the bass and get rid of the peak nodes in the room but still had difficulty with the -25db drop at the 100-120hz range. I tried this with a single and dual subs but not much success in my room. I have moved the speakers and sub all over the place for months to find the best location previously to the SHD so I did not change my speaker position.

Next I moved onto DIRAC Live, and am familiar with it since I use it for my HT in another room in the Lexicon MC10. Performed all the calibrations and tried the recommended smoothing while continuing to tweak different settings for the curve. Overall with the DIRAC Live, the sound was different, not necessarily better than what I had adjusted on my own.

What struck me as most surprising was the harshness I heard in the DAC when going back and forth from the Ares II. Even if the preamp with the crossover or EQ settings were not perfect or even off, it shouldn't have been that different between the two because the SHD was functioning as the Pre-Amp in both cases. It is an issue with my room regarding the bass problems I am having as I had the same exact components in my previous room/home and the bass was very good there however soundstage goes deeper and wider in the current room.

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Balanced System with SHD? 1 month 3 weeks ago #55287

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Ok, thanks for the clarifications.

As stated above, the next step is for you to
1) Start a support ticket so you can supply all the information we requested above.
2) Harshness in sound is extremely odd as the SHD is flat all the way up to 48kHz (nyquist of the sample rate) at 0.5dB deviation at the max (at the edges). I doubt that you're hearing harshness related to a specific frequency boost/rise unless you're clipping somewhere in your chain.

Once we see the above information we requested, I'm sure that we'll learn more onto what is the issue here. :-)

PS: -25dB is a room cancellation = Room Mode. There is limited magic that can be done when this happens. It's typically related to speaker placement. You do "not" want to add 25dB boost to solve that. it won't be a good idea as you will clip your system/amp way before you can solve this.

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Balanced System with SHD? 1 month 3 weeks ago #55290

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Since people presumed to know that my "pre-conceived" notions of how "top-notch" and how I think my system is bee's knees of all systems out there.


By people you mean me. Look I wasn’t going to come back but you keep making this point and quite frankly you’ve misinterpreted my comments. Look a few posts back. I quoted you all the times you made reference to your system being good and how you doubted the SHD would be better. This without listening to it first. Who was presumptuous there?

I explained I ran the unit for a few weeks but was not getting the result I was hoping for. They presumed to know that my current setup would sound "dull" if I just got used to the SHD sound as if I'm a newbie and know nothing about what music should sound like.

How on earth was I to know you’d listened to it for 40hours already. As @notman said it was a harmless suggestion. There aren’t many on this forum with your extensive knowledge of HiFi (presume(!!)you’ll take offence of that comment now). I used to have a Krell integrated. There’s a night and day difference between it and my valves. If I was swapping to the Krell for the first time now, I’d find it bright but I would not jump to conclusions as it might have other redeeming features masked by the sudden change. The ‘dull’ was just me using the opposite to however you’d described the SHD. It was a suggested outcome not a given.

The insult is in the presumption and knowing how my system sounds without hearing it and inability to accept different results compared to theirs. I would call that arrogance.

I’ve never doubted your findings. As just said it was a simple suggestion to live with the SHD a while.

You’ve also taken offence to me suggesting you have an unbeatable system for some unknown reason. Again I think you’ve misinterpreted my comment. If I had a Lamborghini in my garage I might say to someone “my car is unbeatable”. Well we know that’s not strictly true but in most cases it will be. You’ve told us you prefer your components to ones costing 10x the amount. Either you were saying those expensive components were rubbish or you were saying yours are very good. I presumed the latter. And most people would be content in that case. Yes you may be able to do better but at a possibly unreasonable cost so most people in your position would probably be happy there system was figuratively ‘unbeatable’!

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Balanced System with SHD? 1 month 2 weeks ago #55299

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I think this is obvious by now, but I wouldn’t waste your time. Hopefully miniDSP support can help him get his installation sorted out. Not sure if he thinks the rest of us are just crazy, happily listening to harsh, sibilant audio with no soundstage presentation, but we’re clearly not.

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