Pros: Great transparent sound, ideal for desktop.
Cons: Low headphone output
Hello Head-fi, this is my first review. I saw the RME Babyface product listing in the sidebar with 'no review' under it. Since I highly appreciate it I thought I'd write a review. Please bare with my grammar and typo's as I am not a native English speaker.
A babyfaced German tank
The babyface is a small streamlined USB soundcard with a big 'multi' jog wheel knob thingy. It's not only pretty and with a great form factor for desktop usage however with the breakout cable it delivers a nice set of pre amps and line outs capable of powering any listening, media or bedroom and project and home studios.
Since we are on Head-fi I won't go in depth about the mic preamps - they are some of the best money can buy, and at this price point unbeaten.
Who is it for?
Obviously this product is aimed at the bedroom producer and home studios with a taste for good quality. RME is know as somewhat of an industry standard and can be found in many of the major studios around the world. The Babyface is their affordable yet high quality entry level product and is seen as a competitor to the mac only Apogee Duet.
Can it do cans?
So what about the average headphone user - is it any good? If you like transparent sound and like extensive mixing options; certainly yes! There are plenty of much cheaper USB audio interfaces, but nothing really compares besides the Apogee Duet line in terms of quality. The Jack output is placed on the right side. It's a 1/4 inch jack output which does not power headphones all that great. That being said I think the Babyface is viewed as a DAC here on Head-fi more than anything.
The DAC is neutral, nothing more nothing less. That's what it was designed to be. Alot of people will not like that per se. Although there are many audiophiles inclined to advocate this is the best as it will sound like the artist/producer intended. Music listening should be a pleasure, this device is aimed at spotting flaws in a pro environment. That being said many people simply listen to music that can stand the 'transparent converter test' and are looking for a solution with a mixer and DSP effects, this might be the ideal match. However if you are looking for a DAC simply for headphone playback, this might not be ideal.
There is DSP processing on the master channel so you can EQ with high quality Equalizers and filters. This can be used to your advantage obviously, when trying to EQ against your cans signature.
If you have powered speakers, the balanced outputs on the breakout cable provide a good solution for on your desk. The breakout cable is made to be used on a desk tho, it's rather short for anything else.
Pics and Comparison
I will be making pictures soon and do A/B test with the Schiit Magni!