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post #1 of 14 Old 12-03-2019, 08:02 PM - Thread Starter
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NAD C 658 or Bluesound Vault 2 + miniDSP?

My current setup is JRiver on a Win10 machine running Dirac -> Benchmark HGC DAC2 -> Benchmark AHB2 amp -> Aerial 6Ts. I love the way everything sounds, but the Win10 machine is getting long in the tooth, requiring frequent reboots. I also just starting using Tidal and while I love the sound quality, having to control it with a mouse is a pain. So I'm thinking of ditching the PC and moving to a streaming box, but Dirac is a must. My initial thought was to buy a Bluesound Vault 2 and miniDSP ddrc-22d (https://www.minidsp.com/dirac-series/ddrc-22d) and go Bluesound -> miniDSP -> Benchmark HGC DAC2. Any reasons to go with an all-in-one solution like the NAD C658 unit over the two box one? I have ~600 CDs ripped in FLAC that I want to be able to easily access, and while I listen to a lot of new stuff on Tidal these days, still buy CDs and want to be able to rip them easily. Thank you!
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post #2 of 14 Old 12-05-2019, 05:58 AM
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Originally Posted by justin42 View Post
My current setup is JRiver on a Win10 machine running Dirac -> Benchmark HGC DAC2 -> Benchmark AHB2 amp -> Aerial 6Ts. I love the way everything sounds, but the Win10 machine is getting long in the tooth, requiring frequent reboots. I also just starting using Tidal and while I love the sound quality, having to control it with a mouse is a pain. So I'm thinking of ditching the PC and moving to a streaming box, but Dirac is a must. My initial thought was to buy a Bluesound Vault 2 and miniDSP ddrc-22d (https://www.minidsp.com/dirac-series/ddrc-22d) and go Bluesound -> miniDSP -> Benchmark HGC DAC2. Any reasons to go with an all-in-one solution like the NAD C658 unit over the two box one? I have ~600 CDs ripped in FLAC that I want to be able to easily access, and while I listen to a lot of new stuff on Tidal these days, still buy CDs and want to be able to rip them easily. Thank you!
I have a Bluesound Node feeding a DDRC-22D (using Dirac Live), works great. Here a few things to consider between the miniDSP and NAD route:


DDRC-22D:



- also a digital preamp (3 inputs, 3 outputs (all always active) plus digital volume control)
- no bass management
- more components means more clutter but also more flexibility



NAD 658C


- you'll likely want to spend the extra $100 to get full version Dirac Live
- NAD doesn't advertise this well, but unit does full bass management (high pass filter on main pre-outs mirroring low pass filter on sub-outs). Doesn't look like you have subs, but if you go that way in the future, you're covered. With the DDRC-22D you'd need to implement bass management externally (like I do)
- phono input (if you care), plus the ability to room correct analog sources (there's a miniDSP for that too tho)


Both options will get the job done. Obviously, price will also be an important factor.


Since you're looking a NAD, which is a full preamp with Dirac Live, you should also consider the miniDSP SHD pre-amp (does everything the NAD does without phono input, Volumino streaming instead of BluOS, but has balanced preouts for subs and mains).
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post #3 of 14 Old 12-05-2019, 07:44 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by destan803 View Post
I have a Bluesound Node feeding a DDRC-22D (using Dirac Live), works great. Here a few things to consider between the miniDSP and NAD route:


DDRC-22D:



- also a digital preamp (3 inputs, 3 outputs (all always active) plus digital volume control)
- no bass management
- more components means more clutter but also more flexibility



NAD 658C


- you'll likely want to spend the extra $100 to get full version Dirac Live
- NAD doesn't advertise this well, but unit does full bass management (high pass filter on main pre-outs mirroring low pass filter on sub-outs). Doesn't look like you have subs, but if you go that way in the future, you're covered. With the DDRC-22D you'd need to implement bass management externally (like I do)
- phono input (if you care), plus the ability to room correct analog sources (there's a miniDSP for that too tho)


Both options will get the job done. Obviously, price will also be an important factor.


Since you're looking a NAD, which is a full preamp with Dirac Live, you should also consider the miniDSP SHD pre-amp (does everything the NAD does without phono input, Volumino streaming instead of BluOS, but has balanced preouts for subs and mains).
This is great, thank you so much! I think I'm going to go with the miniDSP + Bluesound combo. Good info on the NAD and bass management, but I can't see myself using a sub for 2-channel in the foreseeable future, I get more than enough bass from the 6Ts. I'm thinking now I can just use a Bluesounde Node 2i instead of the Vault and link it to my music library on my computer (which is always on); I probably only rip a handful of CDs each year, and easy enough to do that in JRiver on the PC vs. loading into the Vault. Do you happen to know if the Bluesound analog outs are active at the same tima as the digital outs? I currently use a Sonos ZP90 as my source for my kitchen speakers, and go digital from that into a Denon 4300 receiver. I would think the Bluesound DACs are higher quality than the Denon's? Thank you again!
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post #4 of 14 Old 12-05-2019, 08:06 AM
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This is great, thank you so much! I think I'm going to go with the miniDSP + Bluesound combo. Good info on the NAD and bass management, but I can't see myself using a sub for 2-channel in the foreseeable future, I get more than enough bass from the 6Ts. I'm thinking now I can just use a Bluesounde Node 2i instead of the Vault and link it to my music library on my computer (which is always on); I probably only rip a handful of CDs each year, and easy enough to do that in JRiver on the PC vs. loading into the Vault. Do you happen to know if the Bluesound analog outs are active at the same tima as the digital outs? I currently use a Sonos ZP90 as my source for my kitchen speakers, and go digital from that into a Denon 4300 receiver. I would think the Bluesound DACs are higher quality than the Denon's? Thank you again!
I have the Node (1st gen), and the analog and digital outs are always active (must be same for current gen).


I'm sure on paper the DAC in the Node is superior to what you find in the SONOS player, could you hear the difference? That's a different question. IMO, it's worth going with Bluesound simply for the flexibility of playing HiRes music files/streaming services (up to 24/192), something that SONOS I believe still doesn't support.
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post #5 of 14 Old 12-05-2019, 08:09 AM - Thread Starter
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I have the Node (1st gen), and the analog and digital outs are always active (must be same for current gen).


I'm sure on paper the DAC in the Node is superior to what you find in the SONOS player, could you hear the difference? That's a different question. IMO, it's worth going with Bluesound simply for the flexibility of playing HiRes music files/streaming services (up to 24/192), something that SONOS I believe still doesn't support.
Awesome, thank you! Yeah, I definitely want the Bluesound for the high res stuff (it's going to place the Win10 machine running JRiver); figure if I can also use it for the kitchen system and ditch the Sonos that would be good too. How does the miniDSP handle high res stuff? Looks like it tops out at 24/96?
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Awesome, thank you! Yeah, I definitely want the Bluesound for the high res stuff (it's going to place the Win10 machine running JRiver); figure if I can also use it for the kitchen system and ditch the Sonos that would be good too. How does the miniDSP handle high res stuff? Looks like it tops out at 24/96?
The miniDSP DDRC-22D accepts up to 24/192, it operates internally at 32/96, and outputs everything at 24/96. Even if you feed it 16/44.1 - it will up-convert and output at 24/96, whether Dirac Live filter is on or off.
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post #7 of 14 Old 12-05-2019, 08:23 AM - Thread Starter
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The miniDSP DDRC-22D accepts up to 24/192, it operates internally at 32/96, and outputs everything at 24/96. Even if you feed it 16/44.1 - it will up-convert and output at 24/96, whether Dirac Live filter is on or off.
Awesome, thank you again for all the helpful info, can't wait to get this up and running
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post #8 of 14 Old 12-16-2019, 07:17 AM - Thread Starter
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The miniDSP DDRC-22D accepts up to 24/192, it operates internally at 32/96, and outputs everything at 24/96. Even if you feed it 16/44.1 - it will up-convert and output at 24/96, whether Dirac Live filter is on or off.
Thank you again for all the help; got the Bluesound Node 2i set up last week and the miniDSP was just delivered. Are there any particular settings you recommend on either unit for optimal results? I have the Node 2i set to fixed volume output (using coax). The miniDSP manual suggests setting the volume at 50%, is that what you do? Thank you again!
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post #9 of 14 Old 12-16-2019, 08:24 AM
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Thank you again for all the help; got the Bluesound Node 2i set up last week and the miniDSP was just delivered. Are there any particular settings you recommend on either unit for optimal results? I have the Node 2i set to fixed volume output (using coax). The miniDSP manual suggests setting the volume at 50%, is that what you do? Thank you again!
Hi,


The following is assuming you are using a preamp, DAC or integrated amp after the Node 2i and DDRC-22D to control volume.


1. Set the Node 2i to fixed volume.


2. Configure the Node 2i for MQA compatible DAC (yes/no) as applicable (although, to be honest, I'm not sure that MQA signaling can be preserved if applying Dirac Live filters - I don't have an MQA capable DAC, but I use Roon where the first MQA unfold is done).


3. How much digital attenuation you select on the DDRC-22D will depend on the largest difference between the chosen Dirac Live target curve and the in-room measured response curve (50% seems unreasonably low though). After running Dirac Live, the DDCR-22D will default to 10 dB of attenuation because that is the maximum gain Dirac Live will apply to a filter to correct for a null. But every case is different. You may find that your deepest null is only 3 or 4 dB below the target curve. I use only 3 dB of attenuation. The digital attenuation is to avoid digital clipping before the data is sent to the DAC. The digital attenuation is not set in the Dirac Live 2.0 software, but in the MiniDSP control app for the DDRC-22D.


Let me know if there's anything else.
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post #10 of 14 Old 12-16-2019, 08:29 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi,


The following is assuming you are using a preamp, DAC or integrated amp after the Node 2i and DDRC-22D to control volume.


1. Set the Node 2i to fixed volume.


2. Configure the Node 2i for MQA compatible DAC (yes/no) as applicable (although, to be honest, I'm not sure that MQA signaling can be preserved if applying Dirac Live filters - I don't have an MQA capable DAC, but I use Roon where the first MQA unfold is done).


3. How much digital attenuation you select on the DDRC-22D will depend on the largest difference between the chosen Dirac Live target curve and the in-room measured response curve (50% seems unreasonably low though). After running Dirac Live, the DDCR-22D will default to 10 dB of attenuation because that is the maximum gain Dirac Live will apply to a filter to correct for a null. But every case is different. You may find that your deepest null is only 3 or 4 dB below the target curve. I use only 3 dB of attenuation. The digital attenuation is to avoid digital clipping before the data is sent to the DAC. The digital attenuation is not set in the Dirac Live 2.0 software, but in the MiniDSP control app for the DDRC-22D.


Let me know if there's anything else.
Thank you so much. I will be using a Benchmark DAC2 HGC as my DAC/preamp.
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post #11 of 14 Old 12-16-2019, 07:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by destan803 View Post
Hi,


The following is assuming you are using a preamp, DAC or integrated amp after the Node 2i and DDRC-22D to control volume.


1. Set the Node 2i to fixed volume.


2. Configure the Node 2i for MQA compatible DAC (yes/no) as applicable (although, to be honest, I'm not sure that MQA signaling can be preserved if applying Dirac Live filters - I don't have an MQA capable DAC, but I use Roon where the first MQA unfold is done).


3. How much digital attenuation you select on the DDRC-22D will depend on the largest difference between the chosen Dirac Live target curve and the in-room measured response curve (50% seems unreasonably low though). After running Dirac Live, the DDCR-22D will default to 10 dB of attenuation because that is the maximum gain Dirac Live will apply to a filter to correct for a null. But every case is different. You may find that your deepest null is only 3 or 4 dB below the target curve. I use only 3 dB of attenuation. The digital attenuation is to avoid digital clipping before the data is sent to the DAC. The digital attenuation is not set in the Dirac Live 2.0 software, but in the MiniDSP control app for the DDRC-22D.


Let me know if there's anything else.
I'm sure this is a dumb question, but not quite sure where to set the volume; looks like the DD22 goes from -127 to 0. If I'm using the default -10 db attention, where should my volume be? Thank you!
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post #12 of 14 Old 12-16-2019, 07:28 PM
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I'm sure this is a dumb question, but not quite sure where to set the volume; looks like the DD22 goes from -127 to 0. If I'm using the default -10 db attention, where should my volume be? Thank you!
Volume should be set at 0, Attenuation at -10 dB (if using the default - you can choose 0 dB, -3 dB, -6 dB, -10 dB).


The attenuation setting will reduce volume by the specified amount regardless of volume position. For example, if attenuation is set to -10 dB, and volume is set to 0, then volume is actually -10 dB. If you change the volume to -10 (and Attenuation remains at -10 dB), then volume will actually be -20 dB.
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post #13 of 14 Old 12-21-2019, 03:11 PM
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My current setup is JRiver on a Win10 machine running Dirac -> Benchmark HGC DAC2 -> Benchmark AHB2 amp -> Aerial 6Ts. I love the way everything sounds, but the Win10 machine is getting long in the tooth, requiring frequent reboots. I also just starting using Tidal and while I love the sound quality, having to control it with a mouse is a pain. So I'm thinking of ditching the PC and moving to a streaming box, but Dirac is a must. My initial thought was to buy a Bluesound Vault 2 and miniDSP ddrc-22d (https://www.minidsp.com/dirac-series/ddrc-22d) and go Bluesound -> miniDSP -> Benchmark HGC DAC2. Any reasons to go with an all-in-one solution like the NAD C658 unit over the two box one? I have ~600 CDs ripped in FLAC that I want to be able to easily access, and while I listen to a lot of new stuff on Tidal these days, still buy CDs and want to be able to rip them easily. Thank you!
I would consider going:
Streamer of your choice>Minidsp SHD>Benchmark AHB2 Amp>Aerial 6Ts.
With the SHD you get a very, very good DAC, Dirac 2, digital and analog inputs, crossovers/bass management with up to 2 subs. Not sure if you use Roon or not but it is also a roon endpoint so it could be your streamer too. The other benefit is there would be fewer components. I have 1 Minidsp SHD and one SHD Studio (for an all digital, 2.0 setup).
Just a consideration.
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post #14 of 14 Old 01-16-2020, 12:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by destan803 View Post
Volume should be set at 0, Attenuation at -10 dB (if using the default - you can choose 0 dB, -3 dB, -6 dB, -10 dB).


The attenuation setting will reduce volume by the specified amount regardless of volume position. For example, if attenuation is set to -10 dB, and volume is set to 0, then volume is actually -10 dB. If you change the volume to -10 (and Attenuation remains at -10 dB), then volume will actually be -20 dB.
Just wanted to say thank you again for all of the advice and help. I am loving the Bluesound Node 2i + mini DSP. It already sounds better than my JRiver setup ever did, and I still haven't been able to take great measurements with a full-size mic stand, but even using the little tripod that comes with the miniDSP it sounds fantastic. I did have one minor issue where Dirac was giving me static out of just one speaker during the volume calibration and I was convinced I had knocked something loose with my Benchmark gear while installing the unit and drove myself crazy for about 30 minutes before just restarting the miniDSP and Dirac which fixed everything!
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