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Review and Measurements of RME ADI-2 DAC

Frank Dernie

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So you're saying that objective measurements are useless since this DAC objectively measures better than D10. Got it.
Not everybody agrees but IMO properly engineered DACs have been audibly transparent for decades. The changes needed to be able (pointlessly IME) to decode higher resolution files than red book CD have resulted in potentials of dynamic range and frequency response which are impressive measuring but pointless.
For listening to music, which rarely has loud bits more than 40dB louder than the quiet bits, and almost never with pop music, the only time you will hear background noise is during the blanks between tracks. Even with CD you won’t hear any (unless a transcription of an old analogue recording).
On top of this the distortion of speakers (and perhaps headphones, I know little about them) is orders of magnitudes higher than DACs.
So, IMHO, worrying about DAC measurements is more about admiring good engineering than sound quality.
Speakers, headphones and maybe power amplifiers into difficult loads may have audible levels of distortion many many times higher than any non-broken DAC.
A DAC capable of 24/192 decoding should have good measurements as a matter of principle, not as a matter of sound quality.
If you are concerned about sound quality forget DACs and make sure your amp is powerful enough for the speakers/headphones and get the best headphones and speakers you can find - that is where you may get an audible improvement.
 

daftcombo

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For listening to music, which rarely has loud bits more than 40dB louder than the quiet bits, and almost never with pop music, the only time you will hear background noise is during the blanks between tracks.
There's this track by Autechre which always comes in mind when discussing dynamic range
The part in the middle shows it has lots to offer in the background.
 

Willem

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I remain surprised that people continue to propagate the myths of sonic differences they claim to hear at measured performance levels well above audibility. Expensive and superbly engineered gear from the likes of RME or Benchmark makes practical sense in a professional context, but not at consumer level. You will not ever hear any difference, however good the rest of your system. And that is good news: it means impeccable source quality is available for ordinary people with limited budgets. And it means that larger parts of the budget can be allocated to what matters: the speakers, and their interaction with the room.
 
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I remain surprised that people continue to propagate the myths of sonic differences they claim to hear at measured performance levels well above audibility
Sure thing... But at the end, there is nothing "surprising" here. You just perfectly described how audiophile market works. If it was any kind of logical or objective... Then 90% of audiophile brands would not even exist...
 
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After a lot of AB testing, I couldn't reliably identify any difference in two power supplies. Just as my measurement shows.

So we are all good :cool:
Thank you for trying AB tests. What you described before as sounding "thicker" was just what you wanted to hear after the upgrade. We are all victim of psychoacoustic one time or another!... ;)
 

Frank Dernie

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There's this track by Autechre which always comes in mind when discussing dynamic range
The part in the middle shows it has lots to offer in the background.
I played this on my study hifi this morning with my sound level meter app running on my phone (I use it at concerts from time to time) in my listening position the quiet bits were 42dBA and the peak recorded was 78.8 dBA, so lots of dynamic range for a music recording, yes, but comfortably less than 16 bits offers, in fact it would be fine on LP as well.
 
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I played this on my study hifi this morning with my sound level meter app running on my phone (I use it at concerts from time to time) in my listening position the quiet bits were 42dBA and the peak recorded was 78.8 dBA, so lots of dynamic range for a music recording, yes, but comfortably less than 16 bits offers, in fact it would be fine on LP as well.
Hi guys, I'm new here so go easy on me :). I've just purchased an ADI-2 FS Dac so looking forward to receiving it. One question I have is why do people always refer to the number of bits reflecting only the capacity for the recording to expand the difference between the quietest and loudest sounds? Isn't the bit depth also representative of the amount of quantization noise in the digitisation process? Wouldn't 20 bit both increase the dynamic range and the dynamic accuracy over 16 bit?
 

daftcombo

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I played this on my study hifi this morning with my sound level meter app running on my phone (I use it at concerts from time to time) in my listening position the quiet bits were 42dBA and the peak recorded was 78.8 dBA, so lots of dynamic range for a music recording, yes, but comfortably less than 16 bits offers, in fact it would be fine on LP as well.
The sound quality of this video is pretty poor, even for Youtube. Perhaps you would have more difference with the 44.1kHz/16bit version.
Still, not bad for contemporary music! This one won't win the loudness war.
I have that track on LP. On the cover there is a sticker "Incomplete without surface noise". As a matter of fact, the quiet parts can be a lot more affected by wear.

By the way, that band (Autechre) now usually releases music in 44.1kHz/24bit. They could go "hi-res" but don't. Or at the end of the day perhaps "hi-res" is only about the number of bits?
 

Frank Dernie

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The sound quality of this video is pretty poor, even for Youtube. Perhaps you would have more difference with the 44.1kHz/16bit version.
Still, not bad for contemporary music! This one won't win the loudness war.
I have that track on LP. On the cover there is a sticker "Incomplete without surface noise". As a matter of fact, the quiet parts can be a lot more affected by wear.

By the way, that band (Autechre) now usually releases music in 44.1kHz/24bit. They could go "hi-res" but don't. Or at the end of the day perhaps "hi-res" is only about the number of bits?
I almost never listen on YouTube so not frame of reference to me. The sound didn’t seem so bad to me, but not music I would get enthusiastic about. A range of over 35 dB is a LOT for pop music IME, concerts I have measured are rarely above 20dB. That is not a compressed to death recording, even on YouTube. 24-bit is pointless if this is typical loudness ratio, 16 bit allows 96dB so is way more than is needed for this, and most, probably all, other, music.
 
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Anyone can prefer whatever, but since this is a science forum the Qutest wipes the floor in measurements with the RME,
Adi2 should not even be in the first section of the dacs measured.
No offense, but new measurements just proved otherwise...;)

Still, the Qutest shows slightly better SINAD (Basically 114 Vs 112 averaged) but with higher distortion (RME is below -122db, the lowest measured to date, from what I know). All others measurements are nothing but VERY similar.
 
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No offense, but new measurements just proved otherwise...;)

Still, the Qutest shows slightly better SINAD (Basically 114 Vs 112 in averaged) but with higher distortion (RME is below -122db, the lowest measured to date, from what I know). All others measurements are nothing but VERY similar.
And when you factor in price, the RME is a clear winner.
 
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Hi guys, I'm new here so go easy on me :). I've just purchased an ADI-2 FS Dac so looking forward to receiving it. One question I have is why do people always refer to the number of bits reflecting only the capacity for the recording to expand the difference between the quietest and loudest sounds? Isn't the bit depth also representative of the amount of quantization noise in the digitisation process? Wouldn't 20 bit both increase the dynamic range and the dynamic accuracy over 16 bit?
Even the recording is 16-bit, additional bits on the DAC increases the dynamic range. That itself can give you more head room for noise degradation of your analog system components down the chain. So basically, when you amplify the audio signal, you also amplify the noise floor. However, there is a diminishing return by increasing more bit resolution of the DAC as your analog system components down the chain most likely would not have the equivalent dynamic range to begin with. Noise is additive and having an extra headroom at the source helps. When I worked on DAC processors many years ago, I remember that threshold was about 20-bit equivalence of dynamic range before you start seeing diminishing returns. Also, having more bits of resolution on the DAC does not increase the details of your 16-bit recording, unfortunately.
 
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Hi all.

New to the forum so hi!

I've been reading with interest about this product as it intrigues me but I'm new to DACs and how they integrate in any system.
Because of my newbieness (not a word I know), I'm put off by the sheer amount of changeable options in this unit!
Is this something I can learn quite easily?
I'm led to believe the manual is very comprehensive and well structured so I guess a bit of reading will pay dividends....

I plan to introduce this to my small setup at home.
I have Spendor A7 speakers hooked up to an Arcam SR250 2 channel AVR.
I have a large catalogue of FLAC files which I play via Kodi on my nvidia shield.
I find that I'm not getting the detail in the music that I should be....

Is that the fault of poor amplification?
My thought was to introduce this DAC to better get a handle on the music.
I also plan to buy an Innuos Zen mk3 and use that going forward for all music and streaming.
Was planning to hook that up to the RME via USB 2....

Any thoughts guys??
 

Ceburaska

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Hi all.

New to the forum so hi!

I've been reading with interest about this product as it intrigues me but I'm new to DACs and how they integrate in any system.
Because of my newbieness (not a word I know), I'm put off by the sheer amount of changeable options in this unit!
Is this something I can learn quite easily?
I'm led to believe the manual is very comprehensive and well structured so I guess a bit of reading will pay dividends....

I plan to introduce this to my small setup at home.
I have Spendor A7 speakers hooked up to an Arcam SR250 2 channel AVR.
I have a large catalogue of FLAC files which I play via Kodi on my nvidia shield.
I find that I'm not getting the detail in the music that I should be....

Is that the fault of poor amplification?
My thought was to introduce this DAC to better get a handle on the music.
I also plan to buy an Innuos Zen mk3 and use that going forward for all music and streaming.
Was planning to hook that up to the RME via USB 2....

Any thoughts guys??
As an Innuos Zen 2 owner, I would query why you’re going for a Zen, rather than Zen mini. I “downgraded” to the mini and it’s fine. Smaller, cheaper, same basic bits. Also, I believe the Zen mini 3 has analogue outputs, so you could just connect straight to amplifier. Rme and Zen cost £800 and £1900, Zen mini is £900, so you’ve just saved £1800. If it’s the amp that’s the problem, spend the money saved on a new one!
Note, I’ve no idea of the Zen mini 3 measurements, so this might not be a great idea. But as current thinking seems to be most DACs, even poor tested ones, are better than our hearing/ amps/ speakers, it seems reasonable to focus attention on the real problem areas.
 
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