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RME UCX II vs Topping E70/E70v and SMSL SU-90/SU-90n

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This is a loaded question, but I trust many of you here, as these forums seem to be very comprehensive when it comes to actual information and value of opinions.

Currently, I have RME HDSPe Raydat pcie card that I output signal through ADAT to my old Saffire Pro 40, but I believe clock on my Saffire is old and dying. I get pops and clicks doesn't matter the buffer size on RME unit, not if I run Saffire in Firewire mode (which is worse for pops and clicks).

RME Raydat is very flat, but it needs a DAC or interface that can run speakers, or a speaker amp.

I am debating on returning this card to get RME UCX II, for the fact it has EQ in TotalMix FX, and you get a speaker driver as well.
In this case I lose that amazing latency of PCIE Raydat, but gain EQ and speaker output knob.

If I got this route, I don't need a DAC, but how good is RME UCX II output in your opinion?

My other option is to keep RME Raydat and keep the amazing latency, but buy a DAC.
I have been debating between 4 units for DACs:

Topping E70 (ES9028PRO chip)
Topping E70v (Velvet) AK4499EX chip
SMSL SU-90
SMSL SU-90n

Another unit I saw was SMSL DO200 MKII

But the more I see those options, the more I am confused.
Should I go for a single unit like RME UCX II, or should I buy a DAC? Also, which one would you recommend out of these 5?

I record audio, usually a single channel vocals, and I mostly play games and listen to music over Youtube.
I am so tired of pops and clicks, even when watching movies, and I think my Saffire Pro 40 is finally giving out on me as a signal chain.

I love low latency audio, because when I record I record fast vocals, and higher latency creates a "slow down" for my vocals, forcing me to slow down.
In games high latency matters, as I play tactical first person shooters where I listen to footsteps and environment, where 5 ms can make a HUGE difference for me.
This is why I went for RME DSPe Raydat, and will keep it, if I go DAC route.

Am I "upgrading" my chain by going through DAC, and am I increasing latency here, by going into DAC to have output through speakers?
Perhaps UCX II unit by RME is better, as I will be going directly to DA conversion with Main Outs, maybe not.
But I will get an EQ onboard, where I can tune my speakers in RME unit, before it even hits the CPU and speakers.


RayDat uses ADAT outs and ins, so this is why I am considering DAC, as most units have optical in, and I will be outputting to XLR Yamaha MSP5 speakers.


Thank you for your inputs.
 
The UCX II is a very good interface.
It measures without weak point.
You'll get no audible benefit from a DAC, IMO.

Now, I have no experience with the RayDat.
 
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The UCX II is a very good interface.
It measures without weak point.
You'll get no audible benefit from a DAC, IMO.

Now, I have no experience with the RayDat.
Here is something I should have mentioned:
RayDat sounds quite sharp at top end when I game, like it will hurt my ears on explosions (with higher volumes, to the point it startles me).
It never phases me on Saffire Pro 40, even though it is more muddy

Have you tried UCX II? How would you describe that sound.

I am very surprised to hear that I will not be upgrading when it comes to DAC in comparison to UCX II, is UCX II that good?
If so, I will wait for it to come back in stock, but otherwise I will go with DAC.

My intent is to have a natural sound, without too much colorations, but yet gentle sound, compared to RayDat.
RayDat needs EQ, imo.
 
RayDat sounds quite sharp at top end when I game, like it will hurt my ears on explosions (with higher volumes, to the point it startles me).
The RME RayDat has no analog input or output, so I’m not sure what you mean here. It has to be connected digitally to a device with a DAC section, which you do to your Saffire Pro 40.

Have you tried UCX II? How would you describe that sound.
He made the following review with measurements of the UCX II in the thread below. There are more measurements in that thread than just in the beginning, so worth looking through it all.


I am very surprised to hear that I will not be upgrading when it comes to DAC in comparison to UCX II, is UCX II that good?
If so, I will wait for it to come back in stock, but otherwise I will go with DAC.
It’s a very nice audio interface. I own it myself.

My intent is to have a natural sound, without too much colorations, but yet gentle sound, compared to RayDat.
RayDat needs EQ, imo

RME devices don’t have any colorations. They are neutral.
 
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The RME RayDat has no analog input or output, so I’m not sure what you mean here. It has to be connected digitally to a device with a DAC section, which you do to your Saffire Pro 40.


He made the following review with measurements of the UCX II in the thread below. There are more measurements in that thread than just in the beginning, so worth looking through it all.



It’s a very nice audio interface. I own it myself.



RME devices don’t have any colorations. They are neutral.

Thank you for the link!

I got to ask about UCX II then:

Would you say buying UCX II is a better option than having DAC and RME PCIe card?
EQ in TotalMix FX is very alluring to me, but DACs sound nice as well with PCIe card.

How is the latency on your UCX II, can you run lower sample size such as 32 and 64 samples while watching Youtube, without artifacts and clicks in audio?

Since you are still hitting DA conversion on main out, how would you describe sound across the frequencies? Such as how the transients are and how good the bass response sounds. I don't believe in transparent devices, just don't exist in sub 5000 usd (imo).


On RayDat the sound is punchy for better or for worse (transients are sharper) but fullness of sound is missing, I wish I could EQ that signal, from being a bit lifeless to rich in midrange. High end is actually pretty sharp in certain frequencies. It is very apparent during game explosions, where my ears begin to hurt, unlike with old Saffire Pro 40. Bass is not as full as Saffire Pro 40, midrange on RayDat is much more subdued.

It's a great device for mastering, but it's not characteristically good for music listening imo. It's very clean, but almost sterile. It's a bad word, but I can't think of another. There is a strong sound separation, but it is trully separating the tonal characteristics from each other. This is like having vegetables on the table for a soup, but they don't gel together in a pot, and swim around separately. Like "oh, here is carot gang, and here is a cluster of onions" All separate from each other.

Cohesion is not there after Raydat goes into Saffire. It alters sound significantly. But doesn't happen when I go straight firewire on Saffire into firewire pcie card on motherboard, or having optical spdif of the motherboard as master clock to Saffire in. Raydat clock alters main out, motherboard optical SPDIF barely does. Same ADAT in on Saffire, but different master source.

I don't want to sidetrack into how many factors on digital signal there can be, and 0s and 1s on each electrical unit can be different (before they are turned into 0s and 1s), there are still chips and other factors (within ADAT protocol, that some units do better than other). PCIe has latency too, it has ability to select buffer in the motherboard BIOS.
Another example: motherboard ADAT (albeit optical SPDIF at the core) will sound different compared to a PCIe RayDat via ADAT in the same motherboard going into the same speaker amp or standalone unit. It's electrical conversation and it's too complicated to have.

Even clocking can play the role in sound, as good clocking will have cleaner signal, and okay clocking will have phasing before you receive the signal in your speakers. As 2 devices are trying to sync but out of sync slightly (2 of the same waves are overlaid on each other, you may perceive it as gentle coloration), okay sync = gentle phasing. Good sync = true to what the recording was. Bad sync = pops and clicks, and the sound of metallic Flanger like effect. When you have bad sync it can be indicative of a dying clock within just 1 unit, but not the others. Sound will change, but it is still "digital"

Tested this too many times now to tell the difference in a blind test. I go back to certain records I listened to for years, and it's amazing how different Optical SPDIF can sound, compared to having Firewire connection instead, or PCIE Raydat. Nothing is truly flat, until you approach 5000 USD mark with converters, and you isolate the biggest issues with clocking and conversion issues.

I simply want my sound to be good, even if it is colored. This is why I am asking if UCX II is really better choice than having a dedicated DAC. As the sound out is what matters, and having EQ is amazing, because I can EQ the main out to my liking. BUT, I sacrifice ADAT expansions of Raydat and losing responsiveness of PCIe Raydat card

I play games, I record music too, and I love listening to music.
Having rich and full sound is important, but iffy clocking can DEFINITELY alter the sound.
 
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How is the latency on your UCX II, can you run lower sample size such as 32 and 64 samples while watching Youtube, without artifacts and clicks in audio?

@Trell measured latency

I don't listen to YouTube, but I never experienced any issue.
It mostly depends on your computer, though.
 
how would you describe sound across the frequencies? Such as how the transients are and how good the bass response sounds. I don't believe in transparent devices, just don't exist in sub 5000 usd (imo).
I don't share your opinion.

I think there is a measured performance threshold above which any good measuring DAC is transparent, and then "sounds" the same.
Or, rather, doesn't "sound" at all.

The UCX II is good enough to qualify.
As is any of the DACs you listed.



If you want to go for state of the art performance, there may be better measuring devices.

For me the RME ADI-2/4 Pro SE, as an example, is as close as currently possible to ideal.
When a device is able to give you absolute transparency guarantee IN LOOPBACK (ie DAC + ADC effect cumulated), I don't know what you could expect more.

And it doesn't cost $5000.
 
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@Trell measured latency

I don't listen to YouTube, but I never experienced any issue.
It mostly depends on your computer, though.
Thank you! :)
 
clocking can play the role in sound
Not for simple setups.
For complex setups, best protocols ensure perfect clocking nowadays (Madi, Dante).
And it simply works.



As an example, I've performed some measurements recently, involving several Dante devices and network switches in a Dante connection, including my quite old Yamaha DM1000 mixer.

The result is that the clock coherency and stability is simply perfect. Better than any USB connection (which is still, as Amir proves on a regular base, good enough by a margin to not add any audible impact).
 
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Not for simple setups.
For complex setups, best protocols ensure perfect clocking nowadays (Madi, Dante).
And it simply works.
I stand by what I say on quality of sound even due to clocking on basic set ups

Quartz crystals are not the same, and quartz does go bad over time. Quartz in good Swiss watches make huge difference and allows accuracy of time.

Watches are not built the same and will loose timing. Good quartz watch will retain timing of the watch. Bad one will not.

There is a huge difference between a $5000 converter and $1k AD converter. Serious studios will not use cheap stuff, because they sync movie dialogue to timecodes.

In consumer gear we hear difference in phasing and pops and clicks.

Most budget gear uses very bad quartz, and few focus on quality overall. Aurora Link and Apogee converters used to sit in every studio I worked at. And that was only for a single mic vocal set up. In Hollywood rap studios.

1000 bucks and up interfaces have better quartz clock.

But I am going to say at 2k is when you start the notice a big difference in sound
I saw Saffire converters take a nose dive versus SSL ALPHA Channel preamp digital converter.

Good converters are not as neutral as most think. Apogee expensive converters are not sterile. They are bright and clear.

Every room in the Hollywood studio I worked at had Apogee units there. Those recording sounded so good!

Far from neutral and sterile
 
neutral and sterile
Those words don't go together.
Either you have a neutral, transparent device, and that's nothing like "sterile", either you have a colored device.

The later, I'm not interested in.
One can mimic that in the digital domain.


Now, you may think or believe what you want.
But you probably won't find much support on that here.
 
Those words don't go together.
Either you have a neutral, transparent device, and that's nothing like "sterile", either you have a colored device.

The later, I'm not interested in.
One can mimic that in the digital domain.


Now, you may think or believe what you want.
But you probably won't find much support on that here.


neu·tral
[ˈno͞otr(ə)l]

ADJECTIVE
not helping or supporting either side in a conflict, disagreement, etc.; impartial

ster·ile
free from bacteria or other living microorganisms; totally clean:

In sound it's synonymous terms
 
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