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RME ADI-2 DAC fs against the Topping D90SE

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I am gob smacked at what I am reading, the 'deafness' of those who don't rely on what they are hearing but more on the specs...which are really only a human construct as is the equipment used to measure things! It's like going backwards in time to 490 BCE just before Pythagorus began to realize the earth was round and we still had people believing it was flat 1,000 years later! Perhaps even today! There are a myriad of things both internal and external to our hearing that affect our perceptions, just like how we taste wine. You can take a bottle of wine and 'measure' many things that it contains and match these measured contents to another wine and they can taste completely different...surely that can't be true! That's why we have people like Nelson Pass, John Curl, Dan Dagostino, Rob Watts and Paul Klipsch. I guess these people are all redundant and of no use to 'objectivists'. I thought there would be an equality of open-mindedness in this forum, I was wrong. Many thanks to those who have appreciated my contribution and good luck with the continued use of your ears and the thing that sits between them.
 

Blumlein 88

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I am gob smacked at what I am reading, the 'deafness' of those who don't rely on what they are hearing but more on the specs...which are really only a human construct as is the equipment used to measure things! It's like going backwards in time to 490 BCE just before Pythagorus began to realize the earth was round and we still had people believing it was flat 1,000 years later! Perhaps even today! There are a myriad of things both internal and external to our hearing that affect our perceptions, just like how we taste wine. You can take a bottle of wine and 'measure' many things that it contains and match these measured contents to another wine and they can taste completely different...surely that can't be true! That's why we have people like Nelson Pass, John Curl, Dan Dagostino, Rob Watts and Paul Klipsch. I guess these people are all redundant and of no use to 'objectivists'. I thought there would be an equality of open-mindedness in this forum, I was wrong. Many thanks to those who have appreciated my contribution and good luck with the continued use of your ears and the thing that sits between them.
You have the flat earth thing backwards actually.
 

Rednaxela

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I am gob smacked
Nah. Nothing in this thread to be gob smacked by. Just a regular subjectivist vs. objectivist audio debate.

You come here declaring that there was a coin in the girl’s ear because you saw the magician take it out. People tell you that a coin does not fit inside an ear, and suggest you to rethink what you saw. You tell them they are blind and closed minded, and should rely more on their senses.
 

ahofer

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I am gob smacked at what I am reading, the 'deafness' of those who don't rely on what they are hearing but more on the specs...which are really only a human construct as is the equipment used to measure things! It's like going backwards in time to 490 BCE just before Pythagorus began to realize the earth was round and we still had people believing it was flat 1,000 years later! Perhaps even today! There are a myriad of things both internal and external to our hearing that affect our perceptions, just like how we taste wine. You can take a bottle of wine and 'measure' many things that it contains and match these measured contents to another wine and they can taste completely different...surely that can't be true! That's why we have people like Nelson Pass, John Curl, Dan Dagostino, Rob Watts and Paul Klipsch. I guess these people are all redundant and of no use to 'objectivists'. I thought there would be an equality of open-mindedness in this forum, I was wrong. Many thanks to those who have appreciated my contribution and good luck with the continued use of your ears and the thing that sits between them.
I don’t think you’ve thought at all about what’s been said here. You’ve built your own fantasy strawman of our views. We are open-minded, but we believe hearing is fallible and suggestible. We demand a scientific basis for claims of fact. Preferences are your own, facts must be established rigorously, not by assertion.

By the way, everything you taste in wine can be measured chemically (read about frankenwines and Rudi Kirnawan), just as, so far, nobody has established a strictly audible phenomenon that electronic instruments/microphones, which are far more sensitive than the human ear, cannot measure in frequency, phase, and amplitude.

We have dedicated threads for topics like “are measurements everything or nothing”, how to do blind tests, does market success prove sound quality, "objectivism vs subjectivism", “message to golden-eared first time posters” etc. I politely explained that that this is a science-based forum that has addressed these issues in depth. You read none of it, but instead made up your own ridiculous characterization of our views, and then called us flat earthers.

This is an evidence-based, objective-leaning audio forum, and you seem to prefer subjective fantasy. This will continue to be an uncomfortable place for you, especially if you continue to project, deny, and insult like the Orwell-understander up the thread.

Off to the ignore list with you as well.
 
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Oukkidoukki

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One question: Can these filters or ”sound mode” settings affect to experience how wide or ” close” sound feels in headphones for example? My smsl su8 has sound modes like tube, standard, original etc. and filters like fast minimum. I hate to have these options, just want neutral output.
 

Yuhasz01

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This group has an article of faith that perceived differences don't exist if measurements are the same. The problem with this is that it is a hypothesis and has to be proved. It is simply empirical fact that different DACs and amplifiers often sound different. Moreover, whenever someone claims the contrary, you all pile on to say that they have deceived themselves somehow. That has to be proved. Amongst other things, science should explain what we perceive, not to say that our perceptions are illusions and browbeat the person into submission by adopting a superior attitude. It is not uncommon for doctors are unable to detect the cause of a patient's discomfort. That means that medical science hasn't developed the right tests, not that the patient is deluded.
Of course individual differences possible. Each of us has slightly different ear patterns, ability to hear upper frequencies, our rooms are all different as well. And, equipment and components differences.
With same equipment specs there are listening differences due to human and physical space issues and perceptions.
 

Yuhasz01

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I am gob smacked at what I am reading, the 'deafness' of those who don't rely on what they are hearing but more on the specs...which are really only a human construct as is the equipment used to measure things! It's like going backwards in time to 490 BCE just before Pythagorus began to realize the earth was round and we still had people believing it was flat 1,000 years later! Perhaps even today! There are a myriad of things both internal and external to our hearing that affect our perceptions, just like how we taste wine. You can take a bottle of wine and 'measure' many things that it contains and match these measured contents to another wine and they can taste completely different...surely that can't be true! That's why we have people like Nelson Pass, John Curl, Dan Dagostino, Rob Watts and Paul Klipsch. I guess these people are all redundant and of no use to 'objectivists'. I thought there would be an equality of open-mindedness in this forum, I was wrong. Many thanks to those who have appreciated my contribution and good luck with the continued use of your ears and the thing that sits between them.
Your comments are accurate here.

If you want real measurement perspective, balanced with some listening perceptions also, follow Achimagos Musings. He provides deep dive to measurement process which he recognizes can be flawed many times.
 

Jimbob54

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Of course individual differences possible. Each of us has slightly different ear patterns, ability to hear upper frequencies, our rooms are all different as well. And, equipment and components differences.
With same equipment specs there are listening differences due to human and physical space issues and perceptions.
What? Nobody is saying 2 people hear the same.

But if the listener is the same, in the same room etc etc , changing the DAC should not result in a change in what the user hears.

That is, if they cant see the DAC and the levels are matched, filter behaviours are the same etc etc
 

Jimbob54

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One question: Can these filters or ”sound mode” settings affect to experience how wide or ” close” sound feels in headphones for example? My smsl su8 has sound modes like tube, standard, original etc. and filters like fast minimum. I hate to have these options, just want neutral output.
You have everything you need to try this yourself if you have an independent button presser.
 

ahofer

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What? Nobody is saying 2 people hear the same.

But if the listener is the same, in the same room etc etc , changing the DAC should not result in a change in what the user hears.

That is, if they cant see the DAC and the levels are matched, filter behaviours are the same etc etc
Listeners are different, and the non-aural processing they bring to listening is different. We're just trying to isolate the differences that originate in the signal presented by the equipment (a stable phenomenon) from those created in the listener's head (an unstable and widely variable phenomenon, IMO). The latter are a poor way of judging equipment.

Certainly people get lasting enjoyment from looking at tubes (or the "phallic brutalism", as my wife calls it), fiddling with nice-feeling controls, and admiring the carved lines and bulbous monitors of their beefy amps.

We often get satisfaction from owning really well-engineered gear even if that engineering creates no strictly audible benefit (people here get excited by SINAD measurements that are waaaay beyond our ability to notice). Otherwise we would all own Dongle-DACs.
 
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AdamG247

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I'd love take a piece of your cheap, but perfect measuring chifi and compare it to something let's just say different and see if it is so very hard to perceive the difference, a difference that would be as clear as day or the nose on your face.
We kindly ask our Members to refrain from using the term ChiFi. As we have a global presence and members from around the globe. Some members find this term to be demeaning and insulting. Thank you for your understanding and support.
 

Andreas007

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I am gob smacked at what I am reading, the 'deafness' of those who don't rely on what they are hearing but more on the specs...which are really only a human construct as is the equipment used to measure things! It's like going backwards in time to 490 BCE just before Pythagorus began to realize the earth was round and we still had people believing it was flat 1,000 years later! Perhaps even today! There are a myriad of things both internal and external to our hearing that affect our perceptions, just like how we taste wine. You can take a bottle of wine and 'measure' many things that it contains and match these measured contents to another wine and they can taste completely different...surely that can't be true! That's why we have people like Nelson Pass, John Curl, Dan Dagostino, Rob Watts and Paul Klipsch. I guess these people are all redundant and of no use to 'objectivists'. I thought there would be an equality of open-mindedness in this forum, I was wrong. Many thanks to those who have appreciated my contribution and good luck with the continued use of your ears and the thing that sits between them.
Fun fact 1: You can design and produce fake wine with some synthetic aroma and some colour added into water! Even professional wine tasters will fall for it. And guess what, you can do it because the ingredientes have been measured and the relevant substances identified. If two wines taste different, you can surely measure why.

Fun fact 2: You don‘t have to reproduce the original composition down to every detail of the original. Because your taste is not sensitive enough to taste the very small differences. Reminds you of another topic?

Fun fact 3: I would never ever drink synthetic wine. Reminds me too much of Synthehol which, we all know, tastes awful.
 

Sproketz

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Can you not use the EQ to get the result you're looking for?
This is what I also want to know.

I see a lot of these threads around the web comparing ADI-2 DAC to whatever, or perhaps someone saying that it "isn't warm enough" or "the highs are too bright" etc. Just add warmth using the PEQ or the B/T knobs then? Buying various high priced audio equipment to alter the sound signature sounds like an absurdly hit and miss way to do things. That's why the ADI-2 DAC exists. Just add whatever warmth, punch, or sound characteristics you want. If you want to use a tube amp to add pleasurable distortion, perhaps that's something that would warrant a separate amp, but the D90SE vs ADI-2 DAC? What are we doing here? Can someone really not EQ in whatever thing they perceive they are missing?

Are people really saying that there is some specific sound quality they can't achieve with EQ on the ADI-2? Or are they purists who are afraid of using EQ? If the latter, why buy an ADI-2 DAC to begin with?
 
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Blumlein 88

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Fun fact 3: I would never ever drink synthetic wine. Reminds me too much of Synthehol which, we all know, tastes awful.
I don't think the complaint was on taste of Synthehol. It was the limited inebriating capability of it. You know, you can only get two beers drunk no matter how much you consume. Of course there is always Two-Beer Charlie who becomes unhinged after.....wait for it.....two beers.
 

Andreas007

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I don't think the complaint was on taste of Synthehol. It was the limited inebriating capability of it. You know, you can only get two beers drunk no matter how much you consume. Of course there is always Two-Beer Charlie who becomes unhinged after.....wait for it.....two beers.
Hehe, I guess so. But there is this one scene with Scotty and Data in TNG „Relics“ where he immediately recognizes the bad stuff. :p Funny as hell too: It is green…
 

Sound86

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Well I am not much invested in the discussion at large. I am in my 30s now and have heard hundreds (mostly sub-1000 a few higher overwhelmingly vintage) components by the time I was in my 20s. Measurements only recently peaked my interest and Ive been buying new components again.
Do I believe measurements are the be all and end all? Nah not really, because after all I (me) want to enjoy music and Ive had plenty speakers or amps that I could just enjoy. To name only a few highlights (and I bet they would all measure awfully) are Goodmans Dimension 8, Bose 6.2 (only Bose I ever really liked and I had plenty), Magnepan MMG, Martin Logan Aerius, Equation 1b etc. I also enjoyed a Uher 3000 combination (built by Harman) with 20 tubes altogether. Man that thing could heat up your apartment.

With DACs, well... Do I want them to insert coloration? Probably not. Im using a Gustard X16 now, waiting for my D90Se, which should arrive Wednesday. But the RME DAC ist also interesting. Espacially the features do make it a big contender. Now even though the personal experience of someone else doesnt tell me much about my experience its sure entertaining to read if you consider buying similar equipment, more so if the person has other equipment you own too.
 

Rover

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I had heard so much hype about the Topping D90SE I decided to buy it and compare against my RME ADI-2. Here is what I heard.

Caveats: Before I get started I wish to state I have no idea what the engineers were trying to attempt when they recorded the music I was listening to. All I can do is attempt to articulate what differences I heard between the two DAC’s and how they each exited my hearing. What I look for in a recording is my idea of a ‘true to life’ playback of I what I understand instruments and vocals should sound like in various spaces. My assessment is based around these 9 attributes:

  • Clarity/transparency of sound stage – separation of instruments and vocals and type of room I can image I am listening too (club, auditorium, outside venue, small room, large room etc). My guess as to what the engineer is attempting in the recording v what the DAC engineers and designers are doing with their chip sets and electronics.
  • Air in the clarity – muffling v top end articulation
  • Bottom end articulation
  • Mid-range articulation
  • Front to back imaging
  • Side to side imaging
  • Dynamics/attack
  • Scale – size of the performance in my room
  • Value for money
What I hear in my room (4.76m L x 3.74m W x 2.38m H) will be different to what others hear in theirs. My speakers sit about 1m from the short wall (3.74m) I sit 2.65m away from the front of the speakers and they are about 75cm from the side walls. It’s a small room! My hearing is still ok in the bottom frequencies but my top end stops at about 12k to 13k. I’m getting old!

Gear: Speakers – Revel Performa F228be, CD Transport – Cyrus XT SE + PSX-R, Amps – Pass XA25 and Bryston 4BSST 2, Cables - Mogami/Canare and my own, Interconnects – my own and Chord C-line. To give the XA25 more grunt I use the Burson Buffer Amp 160 (Class A Singled ended). I also used USB connection through my laptop using JRiver media. I don’t use pre-amps and rely on the pre-amp inside each unit.

Listening: I started my testing with the Pass XA25 then moved to the Bryston 4BSST 2 and quickly realized my testing is better off with the Pass + Burson buffer (the buffer provides more gain). The Pass is much more resolving, tonally more real and the imagery the best I have ever heard from any amp! The air and top end smoothness is something to be heard. Only drawback is it doesn’t put out enough watts to drive the Revels. They work extremely well with the horns I have built but that’s a review for another day. Don’t get me wrong, the Bryston is still a great amp and dynamics are superb with bottom end punch to leave you breathless and of course much more powerful than the Pass. But the Bryston’s top end has an edginess that doesn’t work with either of the D90SE or the ADI-2

Off the bat I can say that there is more energy and depth in bottom-end response in the D90SE than the ADI-2. The ADI-2 however had more energy and resolve in its top end. The D90SE provides an overarching sound of a smaller venue with little reverberation whereas the ADI-2 sounds more open in a more lively and larger venue. Therein lies the difference of the two units in my room!

The D90SE bass response is exciting without being bloated, it seems to garner another ½ octave. The ADI-2 is tighter and a little restrained in its lower registers. The ADI-2 shines with the air it brings to the top-end and the openness of instrumentation in staging.

The openness of the ADI-2 continues down to upper mids which brings out more detail in the human voice. The D90SE has less openness/air in its top-end but adds depth/density into the midrange over the ADI-2. Voices have less sibilance with the D90SE.

I found both to have similar side-to-side imaging but the ADI-2 had better front-to-back imaging. This I think came from the openness it brings to the party.

The ADI-2 clearly had more dynamics in its delivery. It seemed to work better and ‘louder’ with the XA25 + Burson Buffer. Not sure why? I had the D90SE on the 5v setting and I think the output of the ADI-2 reaches 3.46v at its maximum. The D90SE seemed to be ‘steady’ and the ADI-2 got more exited. Just like some people I know!

One interesting thing I noted was the D90SE seemed to present a bigger image on the staging, taller than the ADI-2. Both never seemed to faulter when driven hard but again a little more definition with the ADI-2.

When it comes to value for money (D90SE about $AUD 1300 and ADI-2 about $AUD $1700) I think both offer good value. I turned off the DSP/PEQ on the ADI-2 to compare DAC to DAC on an even playing field but this feature is remarkable and does help better integrate loudspeakers into rooms. The D90SE does allow greater connectivity for streaming and input functionality. The ADI-2 has two connections for headphones the D90SE has none. The ADI-2 is a complicated beast, it has a 69 page instruction booklet, the D90SE has a brochure and you are better off going to the web to find out how users use the device.

So what do I think? The ADI-2 still grabs me because it has the extra DSP/PEQ feature I enjoy and the air/openness and front-to-back localization of instruments/voices I crave in imaging. The D90SE is not far behind. 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.
Good subjective review.:)
 
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Sproketz

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ABX test or gtfo imho.
 
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