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Audio interface to DAC. Worth it?

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#1
Hi. This is an amazing forum, a new discovery by me. Congrats in advance.

Currently I use and enjoy a great portable audio interface, the RME Babyface Pro FS, for listening to music, producing, mixing, playing synthesizers with low latency in Ableton Live, and such. I don't record anything, so I use it solely as a DAC and the ADC part of it is completely neglected.

Well..the question is...would I benefit somehow, or notice any difference if I switch to a full DAC? The RME ADI-2 DAC FS is in my checkout page, ready to order, but I don't want to make a mistake if it's unnecessary.

Thoughts?
 
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JeffS7444

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#2
Looks like 2 excellent products, but the ADI-2 DAC FS has has some pretty sweet DSP functionality too. But unless you plan on using that built-in equalizer, I can't imagine that there would be any real sonic difference.
 

Blumlein 88

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#3
I concur with JeffS7444. I doubt you would notice a difference or it would be very small. If you can use the built in DSP to smooth out the below 200 hz response in your room however you'd get quite a benefit. The EQ would also give you a chance to compensate for less than stellar recordings, but in my experience most people tire of that and just use one setting. But smoothing out the low end is a pretty good bonus.
 
OP
pallatin
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Thread Starter #4
I guess a quality audio interface like this got to a point where the improvements of a better measuring DAC no longer matter in the end, especially if all I listen to is lossless or uncompressed 16-Bit/44,1 kHz audio in low/mid-end speakers and headphones; the worse distortion, noise and other characteristics from the speakers, and the insufficient room treatment, mask the inaudible "flaws" of the conversion device anyway.

So, I guess it's better to spend in better speakers/headphones and/or room treatment instead. Feel free to disagree and change my mind though. The RME ADI-2 DAC FS is still on my checkout page :p . Damn "GAS" is hitting me hard right now, I love these fine german engineering pieces.
 
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pallatin
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Thread Starter #5
Maybe the conversion quality won't matter. But what about the headphone outputs/AMP? BTW, I use pretty easy to drive headphones like the Hifiman Sundara, Audeze LCD-1 and such. No high impedance headphones here.
 

acbarn

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#6
I have a Babyface Pro (older pre FS version) and various DACs and headphone amps. I run a JDS Labs Element II and the Babyface on the same system. I haven’t bothered with an ABX test, but in regular use I hear no obvious difference between the two when driving my DT1990 Pro and HD660S. With the headphones you have I seriously doubt you’ll notice any sonic difference moving up to the ADI-2. As stated above, the advantage of the ADI-2 would be the features.
 
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#7
The headphone amp of the ADI-2 offers more power than that of the Babyface, so if you would ever purchase a high impedance headphone in the future the ADI-2 would worth it.
 
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pallatin
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Thread Starter #11
What would be the proper way to send the signal from the Babyface Pro FS to the JDS Labs Atom amp?. ¿Do I need 3.5mm cable interconnect from the 3.5mm headphone output in the Babyface Pro FS, that goes to the 3.5mm input in the JDS Labs Atom? ¿Isn't this a bad practice, "double amping" or something like that?
 

AnalogSteph

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#12
I don't see any problem in this case. Going by Amir's measurements, headphone output performance should be barely any worse than for the main outputs, and the +7 dBu maximum output level is close to consumer line-level. I might back off the Babyface output by 2 dB or so just in case, but other than that you should be ready to go.

All you need is a good-quality cable, which may be the biggest challenge. If you want to minimize the number of 3.5 mm jacks, you could use a nice 3.5 mm to 2x RCA cable instead. And if you don't mind turning down Babyface output level by about 7 dB, a 1/4" stereo to 2x RCA cable may be an even more robust option (in high gain, the Atom hits full output at less than +8 dBu, and the 1/4" output goes up to +13 dBu).
 
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pallatin
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Thread Starter #13
Thank you. Sorry, but I'm a bit confused on how to manage the "gain staging" between those 2 devices for optimal performance. Any guide I can follow? Sorry, I'm a bit of a newbie in this particular headphones/amp matter (never been much of a headphones guy, until just recently). I just don't want to mess up the already fantastic sound that comes out of my Babyface Pro FS, just want to improve it if it's possible with the Atom.
 
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acbarn

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#14
Thank you. Sorry, but I'm a bit confused on how to manage the "gain staging" between those 2 devices for optimal performance. Any guide I can follow? Sorry, I'm a bit of a newbie in this particular headphones/amp matter (never been much of a headphones guy, until just recently). I just don't want to mess up the already fantastic sound that comes out of my Babyface Pro FS, just want to improve it if it's possible with the Atom.
The simplest approach would be to adjust the output on the Babyface so that the Atom volume knob is at approximately 50% at your typical listening level.
 
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