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Review and Measurements of RME ADI-2 DAC

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Aug 3, 2018
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Hi,

This unit seems very good according to the measurements and reviews.

I have a Topping D10 at the moment, which I am satisfied of. It just lacks a volume knob and a S/PDIF in.
Sound-quality-wise, is the RME ADI-2 DAC worth the extra money? Should I save for it? Will it be tremendously better, and for what (bass? treble?).

I already have decent enough speakers and cannot work acoustic treatment where I live. So I don't see what to upgrade at the moment except the DAC.

Best regards.
I'm gonna have to say no. Placement and treatment are probably what needs help in your situation. That is, unless I missed what you have, your amp and speakers aren't up to snuff. You can only correct for so much with software, in one or two particular positions at best, without a myriad of mic's measuring simultaneously. Even then, it's still a compromise IMHO.
 

AresHarvest

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The guys over at RME aren't trying to make home users happy, though this is somewhat of a crossover product. RME makes fantastic pro gear, and the focus is usually on compatibility, and engineering excellence; not so much intuitive software.
TotalMix, which is the mixer/routing software, is quite intuitive once you get a handle on the way it's organized. For "pro" gear, once I finally went RME back in 2013 I never went back. Stability is top notch, drivers are stable, the gear itself is infallible in practice... I use a UFX, UCX, or Babyface (non-pro) depending on the gig. They're all untouchable as far as I'm concerned.

But the fact that the ADI-2 DAC can't use totalmix to store snapshots, and there are no storage slots accessible from the panel, well. I'm not a fan.
 
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@amirm : Hello. Where would the Adi-2 Dac be placed in your Sinad graph? I didn't see it in there.
Hello,
Please read the thread: Amir didn't measure it with his new AP but could do this with another loan unit within next month. :)

PS: @amirm: would be great to see both SINAD with XLR and RCA (and different Ref Levels), Dynamic range, SNR, Crosstalk... :cool:
 

mickeyd123

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Amir, I chanced upon your site from some google searches. What can I say I caught the bug! I first got the JDS labs Ol Dac based on seeing that mentioned somewhere else. I then got the atom amp. I was happy with both of those, with my ATH m50x headphones. Then I started to get into headphones seriously and got some of the massdrop headphone specials he4xx hd6xx, and of course got some balanced cables. I then said to myself I need a headphone amp with balanced capability. So I got on the THX AAA 789 drop. Wow, again based on your tests, incredible. I then felt I need a dac with better results, so I got the SMSL su8 based on your tests. I was pretty happy, then I got some high end headphones, HD800s and said well I must have a DAC to match that type of headphone and make sure the headphone is the bottleneck not the DAC. So I read and re-read the RME ADI-2 DAC review many times, and waited to see the windows driver issue sorted out. Well Sweetwater had a 0% for 36 months deal on it, a few weeks ago, and as you can predict from what I am writing, I jumped on it. I cannot thank you and the people in this forum enough for all the good work you are doing. I will definitely pitch in and contribute monetarily as I am so glad to see something logical and truthful amidst the questionable claims and ads in high end audio. Thanks again for everything.
I do have one question- any suggestions on where is best to sell my less than 3 months old, SMSL su8, jds atom, and jds ol dac?

thanks.
 
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Amir, I chanced upon your site from some google searches. What can I say I caught the bug! I first got the JDS labs Ol Dac based on seeing that mentioned somewhere else. I then got the atom amp. I was happy with both of those, with my ATH m50x headphones. Then I started to get into headphones seriously and got some of the massdrop headphone specials he4xx hd6xx, and of course got some balanced cables. I then said to myself I need a headphone amp with balanced capability. So I got on the THX AAA 789 drop. Wow, again based on your tests, incredible. I then felt I need a dac with better results, so I got the SMSL su8 based on your tests. I was pretty happy, then I got some high end headphones, HD800s and said well I must have a DAC to match that type of headphone and make sure the headphone is the bottleneck not the DAC. So I read and re-read the RME ADI-2 DAC review many times, and waited to see the windows driver issue sorted out. Well Sweetwater had a 0% for 36 months deal on it, a few weeks ago, and as you can predict from what I am writing, I jumped on it. I cannot thank you and the people in this forum enough for all the good work you are doing. I will definitely pitch in and contribute monetarily as I am so glad to see something logical and truthful amidst the questionable claims and ads in high end audio. Thanks again for everything.
I do have one question- any suggestions on where is best to sell my less than 3 months old, SMSL su8, jds atom, and jds ol dac?

thanks.
Unless you need the full features of the RME DAC, you should have stopped at THX/SU-8 DAC. Based on your headphones collection, you don't need balanced and the Atom amp is more than capable. The RME alone is more than enough. It already has a very capable headphone out.

I have SU-8/THX combo myself and I thought this is my desktop setup for a very long time until one of them breaks.

But yeah, if money is not an issue ADI-2/THX combo unbeatable in SQ, power and features. But a KTB/Atom combo is unbeatable jugdging by price/performance ratio.
 
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amirm

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Amir, I chanced upon your site from some google searches. What can I say I caught the bug! I first got the JDS labs Ol Dac based on seeing that mentioned somewhere else. I then got the atom amp. I was happy with both of those, with my ATH m50x headphones. Then I started to get into headphones seriously and got some of the massdrop headphone specials he4xx hd6xx, and of course got some balanced cables. I then said to myself I need a headphone amp with balanced capability. So I got on the THX AAA 789 drop. Wow, again based on your tests, incredible. I then felt I need a dac with better results, so I got the SMSL su8 based on your tests. I was pretty happy, then I got some high end headphones, HD800s and said well I must have a DAC to match that type of headphone and make sure the headphone is the bottleneck not the DAC. So I read and re-read the RME ADI-2 DAC review many times, and waited to see the windows driver issue sorted out. Well Sweetwater had a 0% for 36 months deal on it, a few weeks ago, and as you can predict from what I am writing, I jumped on it. I cannot thank you and the people in this forum enough for all the good work you are doing. I will definitely pitch in and contribute monetarily as I am so glad to see something logical and truthful amidst the questionable claims and ads in high end audio. Thanks again for everything.
I do have one question- any suggestions on where is best to sell my less than 3 months old, SMSL su8, jds atom, and jds ol dac?

thanks.
Thanks for the kind words. I am glad my recommendations have worked out. We do have a for sale forum here if you like to post them there: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?forums/audio-equipment-for-sale.29/
 
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I've had the RME for about 10 days, and I also in the last few days built a Mac Mini i7 server around it solely for headphone use. Sources are stored CD's on hard drive and lossless or MQA-encoded Tidal, all played through the Roon core and output via Toslink, 1 meter into the back of the RME. I testing out the Mac's 24-bit/96khz output. The unit is dead-quiet and very powerful. Notably more quiet than anything I've used except a Benchmark DAC/amp, which was similarly quiet. The only glitch I'm seeing is that the small power jack, if wiggled, shuts off the unit. That may be a protection feature, or it may be chintzy. I will wade through the manual to find out if it's something done to prevent damage to the unit somehow. If anyone knows the answer, do tell.

Update: switching over to the AC-powered RME amp makes for a significantly better deep-bass output than the series of portables I've been trying out for several months at the bedside rig. It's not even close.
 
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amirm

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The only glitch I'm seeing is that the small power jack, if wiggled, shuts off the unit.
Rotate it and it will lock. It is a very unique connector.
 

sonci

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Feb 18, 2018
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That’s a medical grade connection, the electrocautery pedal we have, also connects that way..
 

mickeyd123

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Question, is there a plan to add the SINAID for this to the graph on the front page, it seems to be missing? thanks again for everything!!
 
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I've been listening to mine for most of the night, I'm really quite impressed!

SD Slow Filter, might swing back to just Sharp eithe way REF is set at into +1 my Project Ember II x Noise Nuke and +7 db into my Modded APPJ pa1502a and I've no attenuation so what 0.0 VOL locked, and I'm again quite impressed! Purchased this unit as a replacement for my old school Audio GD NFB10ES2, only thing I miss from the NFB10ES2 is my 3 line outs... 2Pairs of RCA and a single pair of XLR... ugh makes reviewing amps a little trickier but non the less it's an amazing sounding source!

Oh there goes my wtf moment... listened to "ceilito lindo" by Marta Gomez for about a solid hour straight right before I took my system apart to bring up to a Head Fi Meet... listening to it for the first time on this system [RME Dac] and whoa... the track... sounded little flat before. Dynamically there but really lacking in tactility. Not so! There's some detail [fret buzzing and other string noise] I hadn't noticed before either!

Count me as tickled pink!
 

protoss

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Has anyone try this with planar headphones? Headphones like LCD2,3,4 ,Hfiman HE1000 or Ethers? Dose it have enough power to drive them?
 
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Amir, this unit does not appear in your "Master SINAD (distortion) Comparison Graph for DACs"....did you measure this value for this DAC?
 
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