Very interested to hear how your impressions are coming along even if you have got as far as inconclusive but indicative evaluations. I have half an eye on the RME ADI-2 PRO but am put off by some reports of anaemic SQ but here it's placed in your front-runners... My chain will be MacBook Pro -> DAC -(balanced XLR)> Liquid Platinum -(balanced XLR)> Ether 2. Running the LP fully balanced (i.e., in and out) is, according to Cavalli, his personal philosophy, he says: "And I have a general philosophy that a balanced amp should be run fully balanced in and out to get the best. Though this last idea is more of a personal thing than something measured out in detail." And goes on to say: "I should modify my reply above bc it wasn't detailed enough. In terms of output power and most other performance measures, if you are using bal out, the input choice won't matter that much. And you may not even hear differences if the sources are equal. There are slight differences that can be measured. My experience with the Carbons is that these slight differences are not possible to hear with any equipment that I have in hand. Most important is using the balanced output as this utilizes the full performance of the amp. I always feel that with a balanced amp balanced in (XLR) and balanced out (XLR) is the best way to go. The Platinum's RCA input have a built-in phase splitter to ensure that the full balanced capability is used." Anyone else with opinions please chime in.