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RME ADI-2 DAC fs against the Topping D90SE

Blumlein 88

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To the op, level matching is job #1 for any listening comparison. There no mention in the post of level matching. In fact the description indicated a known level difference without mention of how it was handled. Before you ask, no matching by ear is not sufficient.
 

Blumlein 88

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As a follow up to my other post, an insidious thing about mismatched levels is the listener is really perceiving differences. How often do subjective listeners say they really heard a difference? Well with a level mismatch your perception of a difference is real. If blind tested with those conditions you'd score well. Same with frequency response difference, the listener is hearing something that would hold up under blind testing as the difference perceived is real. Once you line up levels and fix any frequency response issues you only very rarely have anything left to sound different.

Now with all the ways humans can be biased, even with level and FR matched, you still might think you are hearing differences, but in my limited experience with a few friends doing those two things to control the listening experience reduces these differences even under sighted conditions. It doesn't eliminate false positives, but it reduces them.
 

AdamG247

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As a follow up to my other post, an insidious thing about mismatched levels is the listener is really perceiving differences. How often do subjective listeners say they really heard a difference? Well with a level mismatch your perception of a difference is real. If blind tested with those conditions you'd score well. Same with frequency response difference, the listener is hearing something that would hold up under blind testing as the difference perceived is real. Once you line up levels and fix any frequency response issues you only very rarely have anything left to sound different.

Now with all the ways humans can be biased, even with level and FR matched, you still might think you are hearing differences, but in my limited experience with a few friends doing those two things to control the listening experience reduces these differences even under sighted conditions. It doesn't eliminate false positives, but it reduces them.
I am 100% certain (Bias) that I am not Bias. So much so, that I am now Bias that I couldn’t possibly be Bias. :oops:
 

amper42

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In my AB test between the D90SE and the ADI-2 DAC FS I didn't hear a notable difference in Bass with the F328Be. But, I did hear additional clarity in the treble with the RME ADI-2. I am guessing that's what the poster heard in the treble?

It would be interesting to compare a REW curve with the two DACs and see if it displays a difference. Without measurements of some type to backup the claim it will be difficult to convince ASR readers the difference exists. When you're comparing components for your own selection purpose, it only matters what you think. What I ended up doing was keeping the RME ADI-2 on the F328BE in the larger listening room and moving the D90SE to a bedroom with Acsend Sierra Towers (RAAL tweeters).

With the two DACs in different rooms and different speakers it's impossible to detect the differences I heard in AB tests using the F328Be. :D
 

ahofer

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When you're comparing components for your own selection purpose, it only matters what you think.
Not sure about this. You assume non-audible stimuli are stable. I think most of them are not, and in fact fade, and that’s why audiophiles are often on the upgrade treadmill.
 

Oukkidoukki

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I just compared old rme adi 2 from the year 2000 to smsl su8. Exact same experience. Rme was wider, more airy, depth, space is more real. Clearly these chinese dacs are missing something. Good headphones and amp reveal these differencies easily , no worries abot room acustics.
 
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Sproketz

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If I could put the bass response and midrange warmth of the D90SE with the ADI-2 I don’t think there would be a DAC under $10,000 that could compete.
Can you not use the EQ to get the result you're looking for?
 

tiramisu

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Feature-wise the RME and even more so the RME Pro are pretty amazing.
Pretending you can hear the difference seems pretty silly.
 
OP
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Thank you all for your responses, most of you are very kind while some others quite embittered. I am new here and am unaware of all the conventions in play.

However, I thought to stimulate some debate over my findings (quite a simple test) would be a good thing and not made with any malice towards member’s expectations in this forum. And no, I am not a troll or the other things that people have assumed I am. I have been investing in HiFi for 45 years and enjoy the hobby. I do build gear and look at measurements but consider these as an adjunct to my listening experience. After all, science is a human construct used to help explain what we see, hear, taste, smell and feel which includes our emotions. Science today is looking much deeper into ‘who’ we are and how we can measure this. Psychoacoustics is a branch of psychophysics so shouldn’t we see the value in our perceptions and take this into account when making our audio purchases. Surely members in this forum don’t go out and buy audio gear based on measurement alone.

Those of you who have carefully read my review probably have noticed I have used some ‘science’ to get the best out of my room and associated equipment. The single and most critical aspect of the resolve of audio equipment is the room used for playback. I have measured the room and carefully placed acoustic treatments (within reasonable cost). I also did some measurements on playback levels but as I said the results had me pondering. I have compared equipment and traded off performance measurements in order to achieve what I think is pleasing to the ear and my emotions. Yes, everything in our world has tradeoffs especially in the types of distortion imbedded in equipment. I did mention my hearing will be different, what I didn’t mention is I used my wife and my son in blind tests to determine if my brain was interpreting different cues to theirs. I often do this. Turns out all three of us were on the money with only some slight disagreement…again based on people’s tastes. While I had their attention I conducted some blind tests on some cables I had constructed, turns out the differences were not apparent between mine, least expensive and most expensive. Cable’s resistance measured was also close to identical.

Anyhow that’s me, I am human, with many imperfections and not an accumulation of highly tuned electronics. As a human I do review measurements when I purchase audio gear. This ‘blending’ of science and being human is half the fun of the hobby and gets people talking about their experiences. Do you agree?
 

voodooless

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Those of you who have carefully read my review probably have noticed I have used some ‘science’ to get the best out of my room and associated equipment. The single and most critical aspect of the resolve of audio equipment is the room used for playback. I have measured the room and carefully placed acoustic treatments (within reasonable cost).
Well, sounds like you covered the most important bases then! Good!

I also did some measurements on playback levels but as I said the results had me pondering.
Just curious: about what?
I have compared equipment and traded off performance measurements in order to achieve what I think is pleasing to the ear and my emotions.
Why use science to construct the room, and then ignore it when it comes to comparing equipment?
Yes, everything in our world has tradeoffs especially in the types of distortion imbedded in equipment. I did mention my hearing will be different, what I didn’t mention is I used my wife and my son in blind tests to determine if my brain was interpreting different cues to theirs. I often do this. Turns out all three of us were on the money with only some slight disagreement…again based on people’s tastes.
Well, that is not very surprising. Without level matching, the louder one usually sounds best. Next to that difference in loudness leads to difference in perceived frequency response due to how our hearing works. See equal loudness contour:
1656309355076.png


So why not use some science and redo the test? Looks like you have some measurement equipment? Have a DMM? Try to level match the DAC outputs to within a few mV before you do your next comparison. Let us know what you find.

While I had their attention I conducted some blind tests on some cables I had constructed, turns out the differences were not apparent between mine, least expensive and most expensive. Cable’s resistance measured was also close to identical.
Good!
 
OP
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Yes did some level matching with 500 and 1000 test tones, multimeter voltage test then a 20 to 20,000 sweep but to me the ADI seemed a little louder than the D90SE but I think it was because the ADI had a more pronounced top-end. Therein lies the human element/focus! Age has caught up with me and I have read that our memory has the ability to fill in 'gaps' of what we heard with younger ears v what we are now hearing with age. But I am definitely hearing less in the top end octave on the usual suspects of music tracks I listen too.
 

Jimbob54

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Yes did some level matching with 500 and 1000 test tones, multimeter voltage test then a 20 to 20,000 sweep but to me the ADI seemed a little louder than the D90SE but I think it was because the ADI had a more pronounced top-end. Therein lies the human element/focus! Age has caught up with me and I have read that our memory has the ability to fill in 'gaps' of what we heard with younger ears v what we are now hearing with age. But I am definitely hearing less in the top end octave on the usual suspects of music tracks I listen too.
Using which filters on each device?
 

Trell

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I just compared old rme adi 2 from the year 2000 to smsl su8. Exact same experience. Rme was wider, more airy, depth, space is more real. Clearly these chinese dacs are missing something. Good headphones and amp reveal these differencies easily , no worries abot room acustics.

Be sure that any DSP in the RME is disabled and level matched with the other DAC.

There was one poster claiming to hear differences between his RME ADI-2 and another DAC, and only later discovered that dynamic loudness was enabled and had forgotten about that.
 

Trell

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Yes did some level matching with 500 and 1000 test tones, multimeter voltage test then a 20 to 20,000 sweep but to me the ADI seemed a little louder than the D90SE but I think it was because the ADI had a more pronounced top-end. Therein lies the human element/focus! Age has caught up with me and I have read that our memory has the ability to fill in 'gaps' of what we heard with younger ears v what we are now hearing with age. But I am definitely hearing less in the top end octave on the usual suspects of music tracks I listen too.
You’ve verified that all DSP in the RME is disabled?
 

Willem

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Measurements of these two units show performance well above the scientifically established limits of human hearing, so they are extremely unlikely to sound different under controllled listening conditions. Such listening tests should follow precise protocols, and there is enough evidence that if that requirement is ignored, we get false results.
The real benefit of the RME unit is in the wide range of additional functions, and of course its build quality and support.
 
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Oukkidoukki

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Be sure that any DSP in the RME is disabled and level matched with the other DAC.

There was one poster claiming to hear differences between his RME ADI-2 and another DAC, and only later discovered that dynamic loudness was enabled and had forgotten about that.
Old rme has zero dsp, only dac. No loudness available.
 

MaxBuck

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When you're comparing components for your own selection purpose, it only matters what you think.
Yep.

Ultimately, measurements are the only way to select components that you can't listen to. But if you listen to music through a component and really, really like what you hear, there's no reason to let measurements dissuade you.

I believe that objective measurements are sufficient to select components, but I'm not going to criticize people who use different criteria. OTOH, their subjective reports carry no weight with me.
 

Jimbob54

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Old rme has zero dsp, only dac. No loudness available.
Ideally you would know what type of filters were applied on both DACS and make them the same too. Some people can tell a slow filter with an early droop in the highs from a brickwall apparently.
 
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