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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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