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RME ADI-2 DAC Thread

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  1. ZenErik
    It’s okay to prefer a cheaper product even if that’s not what you expected. Personally, I think the amp on the RME is quite good. Not ‘weak’ at all.

    I’m curious whether you’d hear these same differences in an actual blind test. Now that a bias has developed with the sighted tests I don’t think that’s really going to change.

    Either way, useful comparison for me. I’ve actually been thinking of trying the Micro iDSD BL though it’s a ‘downgrade’.

    I’ve found differences between the ADI-2 DAC, Polaris, IHA-6, and Pro iCan to be rather minimal. That’s my opinion on solid state amps I’ve tried in general. Maybe some of those summitfi ones are a dramatic change, but I find the ones I mentioned I find much much more similar than different. On the other hand I find the color from a SET tube amp to be very noticeable.

    When I first got the RME I compared the DAC portion with the Metrum Onyx ($2500 NOS DAC) using the Pro iCan. I thought the the RME sounded notably less natural and less full. Had a harder edge to the treble. Not that surprising especially considering NOS DACs have some treble roll off. But even with the RME on the NOS setting it just sounded off. I still ended up selling the Onyx because I liked the footprint of the RME and within a few days I didn’t really notice or care about the difference much. Got used to it.

    Then I figured well, how’s the internal amp? Basically sounded the same as the Pro iCan with Xbass and 3D sound off. Even when the Pro iCan was in tube mode. Just my opinion. The tube distortion the Pro iCan adds is so minimal that it’s basically placebo. So I’m using the ADI-2 DAC built in amp over this solid state/hybrid that has a list price of $1800. Preferring cheaper gear isn’t a terrible thing, I promise. Your wallet will feel better about it too.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2018
    Docharsha89 and cardeli22 like this.
  2. kino lau
    There's no need to even use the Turbo output of the BL and can't imagine any reason why I would ever need to use anything but the Normal settings. There's no way to grab the output of the RME and connect to the inputs of the BL. In all honesty...when I first began listening to the 2 DAC, I was kind of afraid to do a side by side with the Black Label. Now I know why. It's really a bummer that I'm getting confirmations of what I hear, rather than suggestions that are focused on the RME as a stand-alone unit.
  3. Torq
    @Dithyrambes is referring to this review.

    I'll get around to posting a copy of that here on Head-Fi when I feel like fighting with the XenForo post-editor.
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  4. ZenErik
    You should be able to. There's a 1/8" line in on the front of the micro iDSD BL. Male RCA to male 1/8" should work to use the DAC portion of the ADI-2 with the micro iDSD BL amp.

    Out of curiosity which filters are you using on each DAC? On the ADI-2 DAC Sharp has no treble roll off. 'NOS' starts rolling off pretty early and slow starts rolling off much later. Given that you've said I feel like you'd probably prefer the Sharp filter (or maybe SD Sharp).

    Refer to pages 54 and 55 of the ADI-2 DAC manual. http://www.rme-audio.de/download/adi2dac_e.pdf
  5. kino lau
    Thanks for the suggestions. Like I said initially, I need to spend more time with this. I'm not overly thrilled about needing to run the RME through the BL but I'm open to trying it. Unfortunately, I don't have a male/male 3.5 mm cable so it's something I'll need to pick up sometime over the next few days. However, the combination would need to provide a level of sexual gratification to justify keeping a $1000 DAC that can't stand on its own. I didn't feel that the 2 DAC had any lack of power. But I do remember from my home stereo days that dynamic range is dependent on available power on reserve, not the continuous output. I'm going to play around with this for a few days "very carefully" since it may be going back. I'm in the process of picking up a Draug Silver cable from Norne for my Clears. The change in cables may lead to my being content with just using the Black Label. Right now...the BL is definitely more FUN to listen to than the RME.
    Jwakeford likes this.
  6. ZenErik
    As I said in the longer post it's perfectly fine to prefer the cheaper option. I don't think you should need to use the RCA to 1/8" either, but I was saying that the option is there if you wish to compare the headphone outs of each while using the RME DAC.

    Without having heard the iFi micro iDSD BL, the main advantage the ADI-2 DAC offers is features. It's capable of a lot of things that the micro iDSD BL is not. That's awesome if you use and value those features. If you don't use them then a bit of the value of the ADI-2 DAC is lost. My personal favorite though completely unnecessary feature is the analyzer. I love looking at that thing when I'm listening to music.

    Which filters are you using on each DAC? This will make a difference as well. Not just the headphone outs.
  7. VRacer-111
    The features are the main reason I got the RME ADI-2 DAC...mainly for the customizeable EQ and Bass/treble knobs, crossfeed, balance control, ability to verify the signal the DAC is outputing, and the graphical analyzer. Having a built in amp with headphone and IEM outputs doesn't hurt either, but the amp section wasn't of much concern to me as it's for a dedicated STAX based setup. Just recently got the setup mostly how I want it too:
    Amish, knopi and Coltblue like this.
  8. Dithyrambes
    @kino lau Any combo unit is going to be compromised so I wouldn't put it on just the RME dac. For example the Chord hugo 2 doesn't have the best headphone output, nor does the dave. I guess for easier to drive stuff like the focal clears, it should be fine, but I can definitely say getting a quality amp makes far bigger differences.
    cardeli22 likes this.
  9. technobear
    Firstly, if the RME is brand new versus a well used BL, then comparisons are pointless. Get some hours on the RME. It needs to break in.

    Second, are you using the same digital filter in both cases? You can use Bit Perfect on the BL and NOS on the RME for a closer comparison.

    Third, I take issue with all this nonsense about the RME amp being weak. The Focal Clear does not need huge amounts of power and the RME has plenty more than enough.

    Fourth, both devices benefit from warm up so play them for at least half an hour (preferably an hour) before doing critical comparisons.
    bidn likes this.
  10. sodesuka
    @kino lau
    Maybe try activating Auto Ref. and/or Hi-Power options (on I/O -> Phones), should help with the dynamics
  11. kino lau
    That's my next attempt. I spent some time this morning playing with DAC filters, EQ settings and the like. I chose the Sharp filter mainly based on what is in the manual. If I wanted more high end and dynamics then I certainly wouldn't expect to get that from the other settings. I could be wrong. I figured out how to adjust the EQ, though it took me a tad bit to make changes and listen actively while making those changes. I realized when I was out of time that the Hi-Power was in the Off position. Previously, I noted that the power was on Auto, and as the volume increased it would switch from High to Low Power
  12. technobear
    Over on the RME forum, you can find settings to add treble pre-emphasis with the PEQ in order to counter the early roll off of the NOS filter. Then you get the best of both worlds - extended response and clean transients.
  13. sodesuka
    Just got Hugo 2 here with me. Using Flares Gold, compared to ADI-2 Dac, Hugo 2 sounds more 'exciting' due to what I think is upper mid 'sheen' yet both are about on par technically, however, RME unit is more forgiving with bad recordings, highs are smoother and easier on the ears though the edges of tones aren't as hard-hitting as Chord units (yet, I think these harder edge quality is also why ADI-2 seems to sound smoother)

    Kinda hard to say which one I like more at this point (both units haven't seen much listening and burn in time yet, if it's even needed), but I might be leaning to ADI-2 for long listening sessions...

    Tried with Headphone out of ADI-2 as I found IEM out to lack dynamics a bit compared to the HO
  14. wirebrat
    RME. Adjustability galore. Utopia. OMG.
  15. Coltblue
    hi, do you mind linking the post or a post. i would like to try.
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