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Benchmark DAC3 HGC vs RME ADI-2 FS for desktop DAC/headphone amp?

xirtam2005

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Debating between Benchmark DAC3 HGC vs. RME ADI-2 FS as a headphone amp and DAC via USB input to use with Qobuz wasapi exclusive for streaming. My specific headphones are Planar Magnetic Headphones with an Nominal Impedance of 26 ohms. Would I be better to use DAC3 HGC as headphone amp or select something like RME ADI-2 DAC FS, given my specific headphones. I do not want to add any additional headphone amp equipment, given how expensive either piece is.
 

maverickronin

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The head amps in each have similar power output.

Personally I'd go with the ADI-2 DAC because of it numerous other useful features such as crossfeed, PEQ, and loudness compensation.
 

TonyNL

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I'm using similar class equipment to drive my headphones. My suggestion is wait for the coming Holo May DAC WITH a headphone amplifier (mentioned by YT channel Golden Sound).
 

Matias

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Debating between Benchmark DAC3 HGC vs. RME ADI-2 FS as a headphone amp and DAC via USB input to use with Qobuz wasapi exclusive for streaming. My specific headphones are Planar Magnetic Headphones with an Nominal Impedance of 26 ohms. Would I be better to use DAC3 HGC as headphone amp or select something like RME ADI-2 DAC FS, given my specific headphones. I do not want to add any additional headphone amp equipment, given how expensive either piece is.
The only reason people may dislike the ADI-2 is because it is very feature rich and complex to set up. But if you use the basics and can live with it, it is an impressive equipment in terms of performance. If you are not sure, order from somewhere with a generous return policy.
 

3125b

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Well, given the fact that the ADI-2 DAC FS is less than half the price I'd go with that one. If you do make sure to check and if necessary update the firmware, there was a patch around christmas that brought some new features.

I'm just realizing that these posts make the RME sound complicated or taxing to use. It's not, you can just put it on your desk, plug in what you need and use it like any other DAC/amp. But it offers some really neat features that you will find yourself using in time.
 
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roog

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The only reason people may dislike the ADI-2 is because it is very feature rich and complex to set up. But if you use the basics and can live with it, it is an impressive equipment in terms of performance. If you are not sure, order from somewhere with a generous return policy.
It is true that the RME ADI-2 DAC fs is feature rich, but with the help of the RME forum and dare I mention it, the manual even I managed to work it out!

I gather that the latest update includes a dedicated means of switching between EQ profiles from the remote control without messing about with complex work around, I can see me needing to re- learn from the manual again.
 

Willem

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Is the loudness function also available if i tune the volume with a pre-amp?
Why would you use a separate preamp? The ADI-2 functions perfectly as a preamp, unless you want analogue sources, of course. It has volume control with auto reference level for lowest noise, but also traditional preamp functions like tone and balance control, plus neat things like dynamic loudness, parametric filters and a lot more.
 

LTig

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Why would you use a separate preamp? The ADI-2 functions perfectly as a preamp, unless you want analogue sources, of course.
If you need an analog input there's still the RMR ADI-2 PRO fs ...
 

arthur1260

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I’m also looking into the DAC3 HGS and it seems they have some unique features, at least according to their descriptions, are those moot marketing or do they make a relevant contribution. Apparently it’s not something trivial to measure:
  • 211 kHz Upsampling – eliminates time-domain errors caused by the D/A conversion chip
  • High-headroom DSP – eliminates clipping of intersample peaks
I also need analog rca inputs for my phono preamp, and a decent headphone output for my HEDDphones.
Any thoughts are deeply appreciated, I don’t want to spend 2k if the same can be achieved for less. I would pair it with the AHB2.
Cheers
 

LTig

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I’m also looking into the DAC3 HGS and it seems they have some unique features, at least according to their descriptions, are those moot marketing or do they make a relevant contribution. Apparently it’s not something trivial to measure:
  • 211 kHz Upsampling – eliminates time-domain errors caused by the D/A conversion chip
  • High-headroom DSP – eliminates clipping of intersample peaks
I own the ADI-2 PRO fs. It has 0.5 dB headroom if you set the volume to 0 dB. If you lower the volume the headroom increases accordingly.
 

roog

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I clicked on this thread because for one brief moment I thought it was to discuss the combination of the RME ADI-2 DAC fs and the Benchmark AHB-2 amp, as an RME ADI-2 owner, that's a combination that I would like to hear.
 

arthur1260

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I own the ADI-2 PRO fs. It has 0.5 dB headroom if you set the volume to 0 dB. If you lower the volume the headroom increases accordingly.
From the official description: Internal digital processing and conversion is 32-bits, and this processing includes 3.5 dB of headroom above 0 dBFS. This headroom prevents the DSP overloads that commonly occur in other D/A converters.
According to Mr. Siau there are some inter sample peaks up to 3.1db which cause audible distortion. Jim Austin seems to agree as he could measure this: https://www.stereophile.com/comment/569497#comment-569497

Basically what I wanted to find out is: did the other SD dac manufacturers figure this out and found a solution? Is this something that @amirm actively measures?
 

LTig

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From the official description: Internal digital processing and conversion is 32-bits, and this processing includes 3.5 dB of headroom above 0 dBFS. This headroom prevents the DSP overloads that commonly occur in other D/A converters.
That's for the Benchmark I assume.
According to Mr. Siau there are some inter sample peaks up to 3.1db which cause audible distortion. Jim Austin seems to agree as he could measure this: https://www.stereophile.com/comment/569497#comment-569497
Actually intersample overs can be much higher. Member @ayane found some up to +8 dB if I remember correctly.
Basically what I wanted to find out is: did the other SD dac manufacturers figure this out and found a solution? Is this something that @amirm actively measures?
I think it's possible to design an output stage which is capable of more voltage. But that's useful only for non oversampling DACs. Those which do oversample must use more digital headroom in the processing pipeline, and reduce the input to the final D/A stage which finally reduces S/N.

@amirm does not measure headroom for intersample overs.
 

ayane

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Member @ayane found some up to +8 dB if I remember correctly.
It was less than that, but still above +6.02 dB, or a whole bit, using a windowed Lanczos interpolation. Granted I used a very large window size for a narrow stopband, it's still substantially higher than the headroom in the DAC3. It's possible to construct test signals that go arbitrarily high.
 

ayane

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Debating between Benchmark DAC3 HGC vs. RME ADI-2 FS as a headphone amp and DAC via USB input to use with Qobuz wasapi exclusive for streaming. My specific headphones are Planar Magnetic Headphones with an Nominal Impedance of 26 ohms. Would I be better to use DAC3 HGC as headphone amp or select something like RME ADI-2 DAC FS, given my specific headphones. I do not want to add any additional headphone amp equipment, given how expensive either piece is.
Might be late, but as another RME user chiming in, go for the RME. It has comparable performance to the Benchmark in nearly every tested metric, save for the intersample headroom. That being said, the RME itself has some headroom, but neither have what I would consider "enough" headroom. You're better off using ReplayGain with oversampling to detect intersample clipping.

The RME also has a plethora of DSP features that practically no other device has, including PEQ, which suffices for room correction for speakers or to flatten out headphones. It even has the same pro-level outputs at +24 dBu. Its headphone amp is both less noisy and more powerful than the DAC3 HGC's headphone amp, and can do 1.5 watts per channel into 16 ohms.

If you get the ADI-2 Pro, you get 2x the power for headphones, if you're willing to use an adapter cable. That's just shy of 3 watts per channel, which is a lot.
 
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