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RME ADI-2 DAC Thread

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  1. SuperelvinSH
    It's alright mate, thanks for the info!
  2. SuperelvinSH
    Good idea, thanks!
    cardeli22 likes this.
  3. Keisuk3
    Man this thing really makes a lot of sense as my next DAC. I just want out of my vintage meme, but the features on this dac seem to push me towards actually selling it.
  4. Tsukuyomi
    Would you guys say that the ADI-2 DAC sounds warm? bright? neutral?
  5. JSOppenheimer
    Very neutral, it's not really warm, neither is it cold or clinical. At least in my experience, no matter what headphone you use with it, you just get that headphone's default sound signature with practically nothing added or removed. That means that it works rather well with all gear I've thrown at it, but it also means that it's not going to smooth out anything if you use bright headphones with it - applying EQ or using a tube amp to give the sound some warmth may be a good idea in that case, if you happen to be of treble sensitive type.

    And to clarify: yes, I absolutely goddamn love it as a combo DAC/amp unit. It has the blackest background imaginable, it sounds so clean and detailed, yet it still doesn't add any artificial shrillness or edge to the music. When you combine that with the ridiculous featureset (EQ! Adjustable DAC filters! Adjustable crossfeed! Remote!), I don't believe that there's anything else that can match it at its current price point. I may get a tube amp to accompany it later, but it covers DAC and solid state amp functions so well, that there's zero upgradeitis left on that side of matters.
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2018
  6. VRacer-111
    Agree with JSOppenheimer that it's pretty neutral - neutral with EXTREMELY excellent black level and clarity/detail. It's not really what I like for most of my headphones (just doesn't work for me with the Fostex TH-X00s, even outputting to a separate Gustard H10 amp - sound just seems too lacking in the low end and fullness compared to my Gustard X20U DAC and modded Gustard H10 amp setup specifically tweaked for the TH-X00PH's) but I got it really just for my STAX L300 Limited setup. Setup uses a NAD C275BEE stereo amp which brings out more lowend, fullness, and punch to the L300 LEs very well while the RME ADI-2 DAC works well with the natural clarity, speed, and detail of Electrostats. Plus crossfeed and fully customizable EQ really help to tune the L300 LE's like I want as well. I REALLY like the RME ADI-2 DAC for my STAX setup... and it also works very well with Campfire Audio Cascades plugged straight into the headphone out.
    tekkster and Tsukuyomi like this.
  7. Tsukuyomi
    And for my last question before i hit the "order" button on my local audio shops website for the ADI-2 DAC :p
    how is heat? i've owned a Violectric HPA200 before and there was almost 0 heat issues with mine the only time it ever got "warm" was when i was too tired and forgot to turn it off and left it on for 24hrs.
    also how useful is the remote controls distance? do you guys use it much at all? im assuming most of you use it as a desktop solution. also have you had any issues with drivers when connecting to a pc via USB? or should i just connect via optical?

    and before you ask, yes, i've sold my Fostex TH900mk2 and Violectric to get the money for the ADI-2 DAC hahah. i hope that when i get the ADI-2 DAC it will be my "end game" source device. which means i can focus more on headphones and DAP for portable use.
    cardeli22 likes this.
  8. tekkster
    No heat issues.
    Runs cooler than my other solid state DACs, the H2 and Jot.

    It could very well be considered an end game DAC.
    Tsukuyomi likes this.
  9. occamsrazor
    Mine never even gets vaguely warm.
    For remote, I use a Logitech Harmony remote instead, but that’s because I also have it already for controlling movie players like Plex
    Tsukuyomi likes this.
  10. Tsukuyomi
    good to know, for me this will be my end game source. Only have headphones and DAPs left to focus on :p
    cardeli22 likes this.
  11. tekkster
    I find it interesting that despite a continuous search for better and better gear, the RME ADI-2 remains my primary driver, all day, every day. I have the MojoPoly and R6 that I use on the road. The H2, while it sits on my desk, is used primarily for reference testing, and sometimes when deciding to work in other parts of the house (I'm a consultant who works from home). I do think that the H2 brings up subtle sounds better, improving detail retrieval and adds that extra bit of emotion to some instruments (like cymbal taps). And yet, the ADI-2 brings so much flexibility to the table, the sheer control seems infinite, and makes every headphone find its ideal sound profile. I generally don't pair my current two best headphones with the ADI-2 DAC (though they sound great with this versatile unit). The KSE1200 is most often paired with the MojoPoly and Utopia with the H2, while pairing the venerable HD800 (not the S) with the ADI-2 (with the iFi iCan Pro in between). I also use the NightHawk/Nightowl/Cascade/PM-3/tr80/250/Meze99c with the ADI-2. This chain may not bring out all the most subtle details, but it still has so much more detail than everything else (except the H2 + Utopia or KSE1200), that overall, it's extremely satisfying in a multitude of ways without feeling like there's any real sacrifice in detail retrieval. If I'm ever lucky enough to save, will probably pick up an electrostat and an estat amp, but pretty sure it will be hooked up to the ADI-2 DAC.

    Really remarkable to me, just thinking about it, to find myself reaching for the ADI-2 based setup day in and day out. Never getting sick of it, never feeling like it's missing anything, and always satisfied with the many sound profiles I've saved to the presets.

    Just a remarkable device all around.

    Feel pretty lucky to have it.
  12. Tsukuyomi
    reading everyone's posts in this threat is getting me super excited for when i get my RME ADI-2 DAC :) :) :)
    I seriously can't wait.
  13. GrussGott
    I'd love to hear your overall thoughts on the H2 vs ADI-2; specifically, sure via the Utopia an H2 would bring out more detail, but you mentioned other non-summit-fi headphones, and I'd be curious to hear your exanded thoughts there (and as DAC only). Obviously the H2 is compelling as a transportable option that can also be a great desktop ...

    ... but I just can't get myself to buy the H2 because I had real quality issues with the mojo (battery issues, piercing charge whine, cell phone interference, USB jacks soldered right to board so terrified they'll break off, etc) ... then looking at the H2 it looks like a larger mojo with a solid case, but still the same quality/build issues (e.g., you can see the lights between the seam in the halves, usb ports look unsecured to the chassis, etc). Granted I could easily get over that stuff if it was $1200, not the $2600 MSRP - for that I expect damn near perfection.

    In any event, if the ADI-2 brings most of the same flexibility (usable as a DAC/amp, small enough to move around the house just have to plug in, great desktop with other amps), most of the sound quality, and for less than half price ... well that's more compelling.
    cardeli22 and bidn like this.
  14. Tsukuyomi
    I've also considered Chord products, but after hearing what some people here and some store owners have said, im staying well away from Chord products as their quality control seems to be lacking. For the premium you're paying for a device of theirs i dont think its worth it at all. I think they think of themselves as the apple of the audio world. selling over priced products with not as good build quality as other brands.
    cardeli22 and bidn like this.
  15. tekkster

    I think with Chord products, the issues are really in the minority. Most of the people I know on head-fi have no issues with Chord products (the one exception being Poly, which was problematic for me on a number of fronts, but really wasn't made by Chord, but rather, outsourced). The USB port soddered on the motherboard is pretty strong. I've cause that kind of damage with other devices, but never with the H2. It's on there pretty solidly. Really, I've never had any problems with any Chord products (again, except the Poly, which was just such a PitA to get working right).

    I both love and don't love the H2. When it's paired with very fast headphones, like the Utopia and KSE1200, the sound can be truly stunning at times. But it can also be glaring and wince worthy for some songs too. It's a bit hit or miss, depending on the file I play.
    - Most of the time, it's very good
    - Some of the time, it's stunning and better than anything I've ever heard.
    - Some fo the time, the treble glare makes me wince

    The H2, like most DACs, doesn't have any way to really adjust the sound profile. There's the roll-off buttons, but they don't make a dramatic enough difference. The crossfeed works well.

    When I talk about detail retrieval, it's really a small difference. If I were to rank the ADI-2 vs. the H2 vs. straight from my smart phone or laptop, I would say:
    - H2 - 93/100
    - ADI-2 - 90/100
    - iFi DSD BL - 82/100
    - Jotunheim - 79/100 (gen 1)
    - MacBook Pro - 65/100
    - iPhone 8 - 65/100

    In other words, what really sets the H2 apart is its ability to take the quieter sounds (like light cymbal taps, or subtler musical components in a song) and bring them up. In addition, the H2 doesn't blend. No matter how many instruments are playing at the same time, the H2 keeps every sound very distinct.

    The ADI-2 does that too, just not quite as much.

    Jazz ensembles, and classical orchestral pieces, and off kilter stuff like Keiko Matsui, some movie sound track stuff by Marc Mancina, Thomas Newman, Hans Zimmerman, etc., have so many instruments, that a few get a little lost. Both the ADI-2 and H2 do an incredible job, but the H2 edges the ADI-2 out just a wee bit. Not enough for me to care that much, but noticeably.

    Like Santana's Corazon Espinado, there's a ratchet percussion, there's also a couple of other percussion instruments, and it's percussion goes almost the entire song. In the beginning, there's only 3 instruments, the shaker being a subtle one of the three. As the song progresses, more instruments come into play, and then the main instrument, the guitar comes in and dominates. With my MacBook Pro and iPhone, the shaker all but disappears. I can hear it if I concentrate on it, but if I'm just relaxing and listening to the music, it fades into the background, getting blended. With the H2, that percussion stays prominent enough throughout the song and well separated.

    Or Keiko Matsui's Water Fairy, which has a very subtle almost static like tap that constantly plays, moving from the left to right, and it's incredibly subtle, very hard to hear. Both the ADI-2 and H2 do a great job of keeping that extremely subtle, low low sound moving back and forth (and sometimes settling in the middle). It's an 8/4 rhythm (or 4/4 at double time). It's such a quiet sound that it disappears as other instruments start dominating. With the ADI-2, despite always being there, it gets very quiet and harder to hear. Still amazing that you can hear it at all! but the H2 brings it up just that much more. That same detail retrieval might, maybe, be why I don't always love the sound. For some music, bring every instrument into such sharp focus makes the song less pleasant to listen to.

    It's hard to really put into words since on the detail retrieval front, the ADI-2 is so much closer to the H2 than anything else is to the the ADI-2.

    at the end of the day, the ADI-2 is so good at detail retrieval compared to most DACs that I sometimes use it as reference when really trying to listen carefully to music, but it doesn't quite reach the sheer detail retrieval of the H2.


    I have one small gripe with the ADI-2, and that's soundstage. it's rather narrow (so is the H2, btw). but the iFi iCan Pro fixes that easily. For classical orchestral music, my chain is the adi-2 -> ifi iCan pro -> HD800. There's nothing in my gear lineup that widens the soundstage as much as this chain.


    I should probably note here that I do have one problem that a lot of real audiophiles don't have.... I love EVERYTHING. I enjoy the el cheapo M50X and TR80/250 in certain genres as much as I love the Focal Utopia, HD800, and KSE1200 for other genres. Heck, I'm listening to the Meze 99c on the ADI-2 right now, because it's such a fun sound.

    I should also probably note that my ears aren't the best. My listening range is pretty good on the low end, rolls off pretty fast on the high end. I can hear 20Hz just fine. But at around 15kHz, I can't hear anything. Luckily, there aren't many songs where I need to hear about 12 or 13kHz, so it's not a problem for me yet.

    So my opinions should be taken with a huge grain of salt, hahaha.


    The ADI-2 allows me to shape sound so much that I can find the perfect sound profile (for me) with any and every headphone. Nothing else comes close to the clean sounding flexible sound shaping ability of the ADI-2. And the analyzer is just as amazing. I play songs and stare at the equalizer tons, getting a much better feel for frequencies of each instrument of each song. That analyzer is just an incredible tool for me.

    Anyway, while other devices, like the iDSD BL and the Schiit Jot are now tucked away in other parts of the house and rarely used, the ADI-2 will likely remain a critical component of my daily listening gear. It provides visual information, allows endless customization, has an incredibly low noise floor for IEMs, and has power boosting for high ohm headphones like my much loved T1.

    To me, the ADI-2 is just that good.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2018
    unmaker, Anaz, GrussGott and 2 others like this.
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