The new Flex HT is an intriguing multichannel USB/HDMI processor that is raising quite few questions from our community members! We thought that we'd try to summarise what the Flex HT is and what it isn't.
Let's start by what the Flex HT isn't!
- A Dolby/DTS-X Atmos processor. If you want to do object audio OR if you need a product that will decode bitstream, the Flex HT platform unfortunately isn't for you as it doesn't support decoding. It will only support multichannel PCM input. The good news is that there are LOADS of AVR/AVP products on the market that will do exactly what you need here! You can still read below details for what we had in mind for this product.
- You have a large Hometheater room and want support for streaming/balanced in&out/ATMOS + DTS-x/Roon/custom APi etc.. once again, that isn't your target product I'm afraid.. This tiny boxed is priced aggressively for some specific applications with a specific feature set. It's unfortunately not your all-in-one-does-it-all box you've been looking for.
So what is the Flex HT and why you are releasing this product?
- For one, because we love building NICHE products to fit some unique needs. As mentioned in the above point, there are already LOADS of AVR/AVP platforms on the market at a very low price. Adding yet another AVR to the mix wouldn't bring much value, would it? As we've done multiple times in the past, we're adding something new & unique which isn't similar to what you can find at Best Buy.. It doesn't mean that it's a useless product, it just mean that it targets a specific set of customers looking for a specific application.
- The core of miniDSP platforms is about bringing flexibility which just isn't available in most consumer/off the shelf products. From building multiway speakers, to customising the routing of your surround system or advanced Bass management processing, the Flex HT focuses on Audio processing and audio quality. That's our strength!
At the core of the Flex HT is support for two types of "multichannel" inputs thanks to its internal 8x8 DSP structure:
USB audio: For those of you decoding/streaming from their PC. You do get PCM out from your onboard software decoder so the Flex HT is the perfect fit. You can easily connect a simple USB cable to the Flex HT and process a 7.1 that is properly bass managed + EQ'ed (REW) or Room Corrected (Dirac live) by the Flex HT. May it be your Linux box or your Win/Mac PC, the multichannel UAC2 interface will process audio. Ever tried to find a multichannel USB DAC + Room Correction + A complete DSP toolbox? Flex HT is on a league of its own!
HDMI earc/ARC + CEC: Not as common once again in a pocket size multichannel DAC is the support for HDMI Audio Return Channel (ARC) or Enhance Audio Return Channel (eARC). In either format, this signal would typically come from your TV as a stereo (ARC) or multichannel (eARC) audio output. With the advent of Smart TV, we tend to use the TV as a)An HDMI switcher b)Our streamer/player of content. The ability to stream out audio from the TV multichannel is the beauty of HDMI earc/ARC protocol and allows one to get a very integrated system where you IR TV remote will control ON/OFF/Volume of the Flex thanks to CEC support.
As for the output side, we're once again trying to add our miniDSP spin to stand out from the crowd:
Analog audio: Most AVR/7.1 surround sound DAC are typically low cost and unfortunately of poor audio quality. We focused our engineering resources to give you a great sounding multichannel DAC without breaking the bank.
Wireless Audio (WISA): A unique feature of this little box is the addition of WISA which gives you direct compatibility to a host of Wisa powered speakers. (B&O, Buchardt Audio, Dynaudio, KEF, SA to name a few). You may not have a 7.1 but you can certainly use the Flex HT as an all in one little box to room correct your 2.0/2.1/2.2 or even your multiroom setup? Once again, you'd be hard pressed to find a tiny box doing it all this way.
To sum it up, let's list some sample application:
- PC/Mac movie streaming USB audio to an 8ch DAC doing Bass Management + Room Correction
- Studio looking for a cost effective way to get 8ch DAC + Dirac live for their mixes
- A gamer who can't get away from the large latencies introduced by games
- A multiway speaker driven from your TV
- The husband of Marie Kondo who only has space for a tiny box for his AV processing in his minimalist system
- Some creative tinkerers wanting to build their own surround matrixing
- A WISA powered speaker processor for stereo or surround setup.
and a lot more we haven't thought off!
We hope that the above information is a good starter? We're currently working on the manual and will soon add some app notes/reference setup which will hopefully keep complementing this information. As usual, please contact us with any questions, we'd be happy to clarify an add more comments to this FAQ!