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RME ADI-2 DAC FS - AKM Versus ESS Measurements (DAC, Preamp & Headamp)

BR52

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That HDMI portion may be out of the question truth be told. It seems, for whatever reason. Explicit DAC companies (whether desktop, or studio) seem to not cross the line that AVR's cross, in the same way AVR's never cross the performance line that desktop DACs are inversely in.

Though I really wish we could get simple HDMI stripping functionality like some low cost devices have especially with things like consoles not sporting TOSLINK connectors, and finnicky USB audio implementations (like Sony's annoying ass UAC1 from the 80's for some idiotic reason even on the PS5).
OK with HDMI, but may be 2 spdiff and 2 toshlink plus usb for a rpie streamer, thats need and Bluetooth
 
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MC_RME

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Really wish that wasn't a 4.4mm Balanced. Half the reason I like balanced is due to the authoritative connection with XLR, the prongs all equally and simultaneously make contact. The connector feels good to hold and plug/unplug with ease due to size and grip.

You sound like you do not have much experience with Pentaconn. When I first heard about it I also was like 'why do they have to introduce another adapter format, again'. UntiI I got some technical insight and practical experience with it, and now I am a glowing fan and don''t want to see these antique oversized XLR 4-poles on my headphone cables anymore!

Some background: the 4.4 mm plug is not a completely new design but based on studio standard for patchbays, called Bantam. Quote:

Connectors with a diameter of 4.4mm are popularly known as Bantam-type. They can also be found mainly in professional studio equipment. Interestingly, this type of a connector is still in common use, despite its size. This can be illustrated by the fact that in 2015, a Japanese company Nippon DICS developed a five-pin standard called Pentaconn, based on a 4.4 mm jack. The Pentaconn has been received quite warmly in the industry and has since found use in many musical devices.

The Pentaconn version has more poles to enable balanced with separate ground, so you get tip, 3 rings and sleeve. The matching socket has a feature I wish bigger TRS would have: it makes contact not only on top but also on bottom, thus halfing the contact resistance. It also makes the whole plug and unplug process very stable and rigid. It doesn't feel cheap or loose to use this connector.

Finally the original Pentaconn socket has insert detection, which is a top priority for our units (headphone plugged detection, here automatic activation of balanced mode). Guess what no XLR-4 pole socket on the market has - exactly...

To not leave out the negatives: The Pentaconn connector is terrible for self-soldering, clearly made for machine moulding. That's not a big deal anymore, we have been flooded with replacement cables and adapters of all kinds for Pentaconn, so I avoided soldering so far. My favourite adapter is this one, TRS male to Pentaconn female:


It saves me to change the headphone cable when using the balanced phones with 'normal' unbalanced outputs. And is of very high quality with zero drop-outs or contact issues so far (got three of them already). Seriously: XLR-4 pole is dead. And it won't come back.
 
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BR52

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You sound like you do not have much experience with Pentaconn. When I first heard about it I also was like 'why do they have to introduce another adapter format, again'. UntiI I got some technical insight and practical experience with it, and now I am a glowing fan and don''t want to see these antique oversized XLR 4-poles on my headphone cables anymore!

Some background: the 4.4 mm plug is not a completely new design but based on studio standard for patchbays, called Bantam. Quote:

Connectors with a diameter of 4.4mm are popularly known as Bantam-type. They can also be found mainly in professional studio equipment. Interestingly, this type of a connector is still in common use, despite its size. This can be illustrated by the fact that in 2015, a Japanese company Nippon DICS developed a five-pin standard called Pentaconn, based on a 4.4 mm jack. The Pentaconn has been received quite warmly in the industry and has since found use in many musical devices.

The Pentaconn version has more poles to enable balanced with separate ground, so you get tip, 3 rings and sleeve. The matching socket has a feature I wish bigger TRS would have: it makes contact not only on top but also on bottom, thus halfing the contact resistance. It also makes the whole plug and unplug process very stable and rigid. It doesn't feel cheap or loose to use this connector.

Finally the original Pentaconn socket has insert detection, which is a top priority for our units (headphone plugged detection, here automatic activation of balanced mode). Guess what no XLR-4 pole socket on the market has - exactly...

To not leave out the negatives: The Pentaconn connector is terrible for self-soldering, clearly made for machine moulding. That's not a big deal anymore, we have been flooded with replacement cables and adapters of all kinds for Pentaconn, so I avoided soldering so far. My favourite adapter is this one, TRS male to Pentaconn female:


It saves me to change the headphone cable when using the phones with 'normal' unbalanced outputs. And is of very high quality with zero drop-outs or contact issues so far (got three of them already). Seriously: XLR-4 pole is dead. And it won't come back.
Ok now we have the next adapter.
 

MC_RME

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This adapter is obviously unbalanced as the photos show a big TRS. And it has never been a problem to connect a balanced phone to an unbalanced output. Only the other way around won't work.

Edit: I added the word 'balanced' (phones) in my post #142 to make my statement more clear.
 
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BR52

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That HDMI portion may be out of the question truth be told. It seems, for whatever reason. Explicit DAC companies (whether desktop, or studio) seem to not cross the line that AVR's cross, in the same way AVR's never cross the performance line that desktop DACs are inversely in.

Though I really wish we could get simple HDMI stripping functionality like some low cost devices have especially with things like consoles not sporting TOSLINK connectors, and finnicky USB audio implementations (like Sony's annoying ass UAC1 from the 80's for some idiotic reason even on the PS5).
You are right, they all (most of them) thinking in boxes. You can see hundreds of Dac's with 3 (4) inputs each USB, Spdiff, Toshlink some plus Bluetooth, some with the relatively useless nonstandard l'I2S LVDS via HDMI.
For me, I hope not alone, I like good quality sound (music) in my living room, this can be easily done with this type of standard DAC's and Roon for example with its DSP capabilities, feed in the USB input. I have a Flat TV with its very limited speakers in the same room. Now the question pops up, why not feeding the TV in the DAC? OK, all (most)of the TV have Toshlink, does it work? See here in the forum it can, sometimes not. Ok, I'm lucky. Next Step I have a CD, BD, DVD-player hopefully it has now a Spdiff-output because the single Toshlink is already in use. Ok, it works, but the room correction is only working in Roon.
With the AVR-box thinking, I have other problems perfomance... And I need no big boom behind me.
Simply a few easier to handle more inputs would be helpful after DSP setup for sure. Because of the NTAF.
 
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BR52

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Most of the companies with high sound quality appliances here we can see are small and engineering driven.
That's good! Because this will drive technology further. But I sometimes guess a little product management with an ear for the customer can drive some products to a higher level as well. It is clear this has impact on the cost side, but it can pay back.
May this be the wrong thread here?
For your information: I am also from the tech side and learned a little product management is not that bad.
 

Tks

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You sound like you do not have much experience with Pentaconn. When I first heard about it I also was like 'why do they have to introduce another adapter format, again'. UntiI I got some technical insight and practical experience with it, and now I am a glowing fan and don''t want to see these antique oversized XLR 4-poles on my headphone cables anymore!

Some background: the 4.4 mm plug is not a completely new design but based on studio standard for patchbays, called Bantam. Quote:

Connectors with a diameter of 4.4mm are popularly known as Bantam-type. They can also be found mainly in professional studio equipment. Interestingly, this type of a connector is still in common use, despite its size. This can be illustrated by the fact that in 2015, a Japanese company Nippon DICS developed a five-pin standard called Pentaconn, based on a 4.4 mm jack. The Pentaconn has been received quite warmly in the industry and has since found use in many musical devices.

The Pentaconn version has more poles to enable balanced with separate ground, so you get tip, 3 rings and sleeve. The matching socket has a feature I wish bigger TRS would have: it makes contact not only on top but also on bottom, thus halfing the contact resistance. It also makes the whole plug and unplug process very stable and rigid. It doesn't feel cheap or loose to use this connector.

Finally the original Pentaconn socket has insert detection, which is a top priority for our units (headphone plugged detection, here automatic activation of balanced mode). Guess what no XLR-4 pole socket on the market has - exactly...

To not leave out the negatives: The Pentaconn connector is terrible for self-soldering, clearly made for machine moulding. That's not a big deal anymore, we have been flooded with replacement cables and adapters of all kinds for Pentaconn, so I avoided soldering so far. My favourite adapter is this one, TRS male to Pentaconn female:


It saves me to change the headphone cable when using the phones with 'normal' unbalanced outputs. And is of very high quality with zero drop-outs or contact issues so far (got three of them already). Seriously: XLR-4 pole is dead. And it won't come back.
Yeah, I don't have much experience because I don't have a liking for them in the devices I've used them with. But it doesn't matter, I don't have a liking for barrel connectors period in general, the size doesn't really matter, I just don't like the multi stage actuations as they slide along the insert.

There's no question that your sockets for 6.3mm and the 3.5mm on the DAC are really nice (though the 3.5mm is a bit spongy making it somewhat easy to insert and unplug, as opposed to the 6.3 that feels extremely solid, to the point where if it were anymore solid, it'd be a pain to insert and remove that would require bracing the DAC vertically with the other hand quite heavily).

Likewise I don't like barrel connectors because they're round. This may be a positive for folks, but to me, it always invites potentially crackling sounds sometimes when they do rotate. Not a problem in clean desktop environments, very much a problem with mobile devices.

You can say 4-pole XLR is dead if you want, and you can laud all the warm welcomes 4.4 jacks has received with appeals to popularity I suppose mostly driven by mobile users. I just can't fathom why anyone would care for a barrel jack over an XLR jack for desktop uses (aside from you saying it can't happen with your products since detection is impossible for some reason). But I would never buy a desktop balanced amp that doesn't come with it. It's that much of a satisfaction pleasure to use it as a connector for me. Heck I'd dump barrel connectors on all desktop amps if I could (balanced or unbalanced). Which is possible but not really without employing adapters which is a no go.

I just dislike barrel connectors in general for desktop use, and especially in the sizes the come in, their only conducive use is for mobile applications in my view. And of course presumably for use-cases where there is no other option (like in the device you say makes XLR impossible for detection purposes). Though thankfully, 4 pin XLR's aren't actually dead, and future products still sport them.
 

bloodshoteyed

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bloodshoteyed

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You mean brand new? Easy, then: it has to be ESS. Rev2 AKM has been completely sold out for more than a year by now.
not everwhere, got mine 2 or 3 months ago locally, with a nice discount
 

Trell

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I just have the SN outside the box. I don't know for how long it has been at the retailer.
E-mail RME support and ask them which DAC IC the unit has since you have the S/N.
 

lashto

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... tell me, where on the graphs can I see the ESS glare or the akm velvety sound that we all know really differentiate these 2 units ?
That is not a particularly serious question but the answer might not be exactly what you (so ironically) think.

Sound characteristics like velvet and glare (or warm/musical and cold/sterile as others put it) are classified as tone-color or timbre. There are two main phenomena that generate (audible) timbre differences and the one applicable here is the harmonic spectrum.

So, _if_ there is any timbre diff between those DACs, you should see it by comparing their THD and IMD graphs. (btw, the HD spectrum of a single 1000Hz measurement is not very telling, would be better to have a full HD spectrum.)
Lots of literature/research about how those HD/IMD spectra sound, an (over) simplification would be:
  • H2 - sounds good-ish (warm/musical/velvet/etc)
  • H3/4 - sounds ok-ish (i.e. still kinda "warm" but less than H2; often described as "more precise" or "sharper")
  • H5 and above - sounds bad-ish (cold/sterile/glare/etc)
Might be best if you just listen to those HD-s here, the diff between say H2 and H7 should be easily audible. Or you can check a math-heavy post here; if that's too much math&text, just scroll and look at the pictures under "Fig. 6 - Simulation of 3rd order distortion al left; 2nd at right" :)

Going with the 'simplification' above, we can see that the ESS spectrum is H3/5/7/9 dominated (i.e. sounds glary) and the AKM one is H2/3 dominated (i.e. sounds velvety) .. which is exactly what "the legend" says.
There may be some truth in this (I have no clue) if the THD levels weren't that low.
At this kind of level, you defenitely can't hear any of them anyway.
You'd need to have the THD components 60dB higher or so to -maybe- start playing a role.
that is of course "the money question": are those HD differences audible at such a low level (-120Db)?

What you seem to forget (and for some reason many others do the same) is that we do not listen to DACs, we listen to loudspeakers/headphones. And the sound that reaches your ears has HDs exactly in that -60Db range that you mentioned. Which is audible. And actually it's more like -40 to -50Db (just look at all speaker/hp measurements, only the best of the best reach -60DB and a few super HPs reach -80Db; and that only for the upper part of the FR).

So, if your speaker has HDs in the (typical) -50DB range, the sound reaching your ears will have HDs in the -50Db "+" -120Db (from the DAC) "+" -120Db (say you have an excellent amp too). Summing HDs is not exactly easy-addition but you end up (roughly) with HDs in the -49.995 to -50.005 Db range. Not exactly a giant diff, but still a measurable diff in the audible range.

Some conclusions (sort of):
  1. in the case of ESS RME vs. AKM RME, we are looking at THD diffs of magnitude 0.01Db in the -50Db range. Minuscule and probably not audible. But we can't say anything for sure because nobody tested. And nobody can test with all possible combos of Speakers/Amps and HD-spectra.
  2. what if we had -100Db speakers, will such diffs be audible?! Much bigger chaces but again, no one knows cause we don't have any.
(very) long story short: the only scientific-to-the-letter and 100% sure answer here is "we don't know".
Neither very useful nor so ironic anymore but that's the (only) answer we have.

edit: fixed the THD math which was "way too rough" & some typos
 
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lashto

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a bit more about that "ESS glare legend".

You have to remember that there is some grain of truth to any legend. This particular one started about 10 years ago when the ESS chips had HDs in the much higher -80-100Db range. The probability that some people heard a -90Db "glare" is still minuscule. But at the same time, it is waaaaay higher than with the current -120Db.

And what exactly would be the alternate explanation for the ess-glare? That some guy(s) hated ESS and started a giant rumor about an imaginary ESS-glare .. and then multiple people started "hearing" it in a sort of collective audio psychosis?!
I find this alternative even less credible. But maybe someone has a better explanation.

In the meantime, I would bet .02$ that the ess-glare exists (or at least it did exist some time ago).
 
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