RME ADI-2 DAC

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by Luckbad, Jan 12, 2018.

  1. goreshade

    goreshade Rando

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    Thanks for the explanation. So i can play a 96kHz/24bit track through the headphone out without downsampling it ?
     
  2. Baten

    Baten Friend

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    please educate yourself a little, this forum does not take kindly to those trying to be spoonfed
    https://headfonics.com/2018/02/dsd-vs-pcm-real-competitors/

    All you need is a device supporting 96Khz/24-bit, and a player. Look up "WASAPI" or "ASIO" for direct mode native playback that is hassle-free, set-and-forget.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2019
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  3. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    x kHz / y bit PCM means that an analog signal will be re-created from stored samples at 1/x millisecond uniform intervals and using 2^y possible values. This in part due to the fact that only a fixed number of samples with a fixed number of values can be stored in a physical medium.

    Note: Storage resolution limitations in time and level (in space) also applies to "analog" media such as vinyl, though is probably not as explicit, and in some ways a different story. The fact that this is not so obvious has been exploited to mislead folks into thinking that vinyl is some sort of infinite or god level resolution media. It is not.

    Back to PCM, for example, 96 kHz / 24 bit PCM means that each stream sample is spaced by 10.42 microseconds from it's neighbor, and can take the values −8,388,608 to +8,388,607. How that maps in to level depends on the ADC. Some will map -8,388,608 to -2.0 Vrms, or whatever random thing the manufacturer (and marketing) want that to be. And I do mean marketing, because it's possible to cook performance numbers by increasing the voltage range of the bits to level mapping.

    As far as DSD, the resolution can be (nominal) 24 bit. But the encoding is not PCM. DSD employs delta-sigma (DS) modulation at the digital recording level, which in turn demands standarization in the encoding process and not much room for newer/better DS algorithms. The approach is therefore not very flexible, nor as awesome as the marketing would lead folks to believe, given improvements in DS technology.

    Most PCM ADCs use multi-bit delta sigma in their internal conversion stages. In general, given advances in technology, the DS process might be superior in some cases than what is available through the DSD standards.

    In that sense, one could argue that a high performance ADC feed with PCM is the way to go, as opposed to DSD.

    That is not necesarily true since more often than not performance boils down to the quality of the recording and masterization, regardless of the data encoding/storage/streaming format.

    In other words, get the best recording/masterization you can. If it comes in DSD, get that one. If it comes in PCM, get that one. DSD can also be converted to PCM perfectly fine by the player, and life should be good.

    As far as playing 96 kHz / 24 bit track directly, in the context of the RME ADI-2 DAC, I believe that's supported and possible.

    EDIT: One more thing. Just because it says 24-bits, it does not mean that the output is going to be 24-bits. That's just the number of bits going into the ADC. The conversion real bits is a function of SINAD. And that seldom is 24-bits. That is like 144 dB THD+N. THD+N on the RME ADI-2 is 110 dB at -1 dBFS from their specs. Thats closer to 18-bits. Consider that number as pretty nice and groovy. Again, I would focus more on getting a great recording/mastering, since that more than not is the bottleneck.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2019
  4. Call_me_the_Breeze

    Call_me_the_Breeze Rando

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    I'm new here. I made an account after reading most of this thread as I recently picked up one of these DACs. I'm using mine primarily in a HiFi setup with maybe 5-10% headphone use with both XLR and single ended outs.
    I con't go anywhere near 0db unless the reference level is set to -5dbu. I thought this might be due to using XLR, so I tried 3 different amplifiers, and multiple tracks from different sources and inputs using both XLR and single ended interconnects and all are the same, horrible distortion from clipping. I'm really not sure how you could not hear this.
     
  5. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    You're clipping your amp's input stage.
     
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  6. Slaphead

    Slaphead Facebook Friend

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    I agree with @Luckbad - you're clipping the amps input stage.

    So I'd re-read page 62 of the latest manual which describes operation in a HiFi environment where the ADI-2 DAC is used purely as a DAC - you can download it from here

    If that doesn't solve your issues then I'd post your questions on the RME forum here. You'll more often than not get an answer directly from one of the engineers involved in designing the unit, so it's really the best place to ask.
     
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  7. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    The first item of pro gear in a person's life means checking out the fact that it probably has two possible output levels, one (higher) which is expected by other pro gear, and one which is suitable for domestic hifi gear. And then there's balanced and unbalanced, and cables that can connect one to the other (but note that they do not change levels)

    Although it is not a clear pro/consumer split any longer: some consumer gear comes with XLR input/output.

    It is too long since I had to deal with this for me to write anything more useful. Someone else might (@ultrabike already wrote one excellent beginner's roundup post today --- I'd better not ask for another!) Or... the internet knows all about it.
    Oh, yeah... never mind the internet: the manual knows all about it!

    (And don't forget to use headphones that had "Digital Ready" on the box ;) )
     
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  8. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    @PTS lent me the RME ADI-2 Pro DAC. It's actually good. It would seem what sounded like ass was the headphone outputs. As DAC, and running it through various amps and headphones, it's quite good. One of the better AKM velvet DACs around. Good heft, warmth, and surprisingly good at plankton production. Reminds me of the Crane Song Solaris DAC, but with better less clinical tone and presentation, but less capable in terms of soundstage layering and precision. The Solaris DAC also places the stage further away. However, as an AIO (and assuming you don't need the EQ functions), I felt the Solaris was a much better unit with its built-in headamp synergizing more with the DAC than the ADI-2 Pro. The RME ADI-2 headouts sound like ass, so can't recommend the RME as an AIO.

    The kind of similar sounding AKM Velvet based Modi 3 (with the power USB also plugged in) couldn't quite keep up. The mids and highs tonality was on par, maybe slightly smoother and less grainy in the highs, however, resolution was a bit behind the RME. Modi 3 bass was also softer and had less volume and heft.
     
  9. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    finally. some truth to end the ADI-2 AIO end game BS.
     
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  10. Luckbad

    Luckbad Traded in a unicorn for a Corolla

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    The IEM output is good. People using it as an AIO for proper headphones just don't know better. Running balanced with an ADI-2 Pro is 10% better, so it's still not really great.
     
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  11. waynestractor

    waynestractor Rando

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    I have been pretty happy with the RME as an AIO, but will have a Phonitor xe here on Tuesday, so looking forward to what is said by many to be a far superior HP amp.
     
  12. scapeinator1

    scapeinator1 Once You Go Black You'll Never Go Back

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    So I've actually been using a regular non-pro RME ADI-2 DAC for a few weeks now. I would just like to say something about it because I've actually had some people at my school who watch Zeos ask me about it quite extensively as an AIO "endgame" unit. As youtubers generally do, he kind of had an on screen episode of sensual climax with the thing, and probably is at least partly responsible for the recent uptick in popularity.

    I would mirror Luckbad's sentiments about the IEM output also having heard PTS's pro unit a few months ago I can vouch for that model as well. I generally will use the unit with my andro S when sitting at my desk. It has very little (virtually silent) noise compared to pretty much everything I have. There was always a slight hiss or random noise with all of my outputs (Jot, MCTH, LG G7) without the use of something like an IEmatch and that alone was really nice along with the equalizer for use with the andro S. Coming from the modi 2 and the Jot balanced dac as my reference points, this DAC was a pretty solid upgrade with the improved bass being the most noticeable thing to me when using it with IEMs. There was improvement across the board across lows -> highs but everything else was more subtle.

    Although I have to say that what I've really liked about it the most is the convenience it provided for my setup. Before I had the Jot and a Modi 2 both plugged into my PC, so I had to constantly switch things on the PC side to output to my headphones vs speakers.

    My setup now is a single cable from my PC to the ADI-2 with that having the XLR out sent to my Jot and the RCA out to my receiver (going to KEF LS50s). So if I don't want to use IEMs I just unplug those and it will activate both outs which I can just turn on whichever one I'm trying to use and/or just mute whichever one I'm not. I know that sounds convoluted but my setup before with two separate DACs caused me so many headaches. All of those random features they pack in there are actually pretty nice for speakers. I actually find myself using the "loudness" or "dim" features or adjusting the bass down fairly often when I'm listening at night at low volumes trying not get a noise complaint (I essentially live in a dorm).

    I have to admit that the ADI-2 and the Jot isn't the best pairing though. But don't get me wrong, the ADI-2 is in a different class than the Jot balanced DAC especially in terms of treble smoothness/detail and bass authority/slam. Personally I find the bass to be a big improvement over the integrated balanced DAC in essentially every way. Body, extension, slam, etc. This is really noticeable on tracks like "DJ Koze - Club der Ewigkeiten" when using the whole chain and my focal clears. This difference is not super pronounced with my 6XX. However, at times, the pairing airs into being a bit too sharp. I've been playing around with the EQ a lot to get it just right, but I haven't quite nailed it down yet.

    I wouldn't go as far as this assertion that they're garbage. The quarter inch out isn't great for a thousand dollar product sure, but I'm surprised you didn't find the IEM one adequate. When I had tried it with the CA Solaris I thought it was a pretty good pairing.

    At any rate, what kind of frustrates me about this being considered AIO endgame is that it really shouldn't be the thing that everyone buys. I can't buy larger DACs because I live in a small apartment, I have to move every so often and won't have a stable living situation probably for years because of medical school clerkships/residency etc. I actually use the IEM output a fair amount and have an IEM that benefits from it being there. I have speakers and live in a situation where the EQ and various features do actually come into play. I have a separate amp that allows me to get more from the DAC than you'd get from the integrated amp. There are a lot of people out there who I share an office with who were literally thinking of buying this and using it with the integrated quarter inch with their HD650, and that's not the right way to spend a thousand dollars. It's a good product, but I almost feel like it's being purchased by redditors and youtube viewers who really shouldn't be buying it.
     
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  13. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    How disgusting! :eek:

    And doesn't youtube have rules about that sort of content?
     
  14. data.noodle

    data.noodle Acquaintance

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    This has been my experience as well, it's a bit odd that one of the ADI-2's biggest strengths as a dac is it's clear sound (imo) and the headphone output is anything but.
     
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  15. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    The RME ADI-2 headouts really do sound like garbage. The balanced output, which is 10% better, was just as much garbage because -5 x 1.10% = -5.50. We are talking about flat and boring + hard glare. Couldn't stand it for more than 15 seconds. @insidious meme was there. He can confirm this. I went back just to be sure but lasted 5 seconds. I haven't been so offended by gear in a long them. The A-GD amps were murky molasses-like poo, but the RME ADI-2 headouts were plain offensive. If those were not someone else's headphones, I would have thrown them across the room.

    I used the PRO, so no IEM output. If anyone wants to send me their non-PRO unit so I can report back on the IEM output, I would be happy to do so.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2019
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  16. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Most improved member; A+

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    Why the hell are people buying this mainly for headphones anyway? Just use it as a very high quality interface/dac/adc/ pre for speakers and production use. Headphones are secondary so the jack is secondary. Planars have no detail and the Sennheisers have no appreciation of the RME cleanliness due to the nastiness of the 600/650 and the anorexia of the 800.

    The 1/4th inch jack sounds rather 2D and is meh.The IEM out is sick with the Portapro but IEMs are awful so it has no reason to exist on the pro model and you can use better cans than the Portapro or IEMs at a desk. HD 280 & HD 25 > all IEMs anyway for all purposes not listening off a phone or real live use.
     
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  17. elmoe

    elmoe Friend

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    It's a decent DAC for the price, whether you use the headout/IEM out or not (I echo most people in saying that to me also, the headamp sounded like ass). Functionality-wise, the EQ is very robust though the interface/clicking through does have a learning curve, and overall sound when used strictly as a DAC with separate headamp/preamp/poweramp is pretty good considering the price tag. If you own one or consider getting one, don't be put off too much by this thread, this is still a great little DAC for the money.
     
  18. Baten

    Baten Friend

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    Wait WHAT. I'm starting to understand your tag on this forum :eek:
     
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  19. BenjaminBore

    BenjaminBore Friend

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    The headphone outs really are horribly unpleasant, even with a warmer thicker headphone like the stock HD650, and planars excentuate it further. Did you notice any difference between SE and BAL? To me the BAL sounded warmer and more authoritative at the expense of clarity.

    I wasn’t keen on it as DAC either, but it wasn’t so offensive. I heard it as clear, neutral, dynamically flat, ethereal, and somewhat behind the Gungnir Multibit A1 at everything else that matters. I guessed that I’m just not keen on DS DACs, more so now after reading your comments. Would you consider that a reasonable conclusion, or could have I just not yet heard a more performant DS with a presentation that I’d find more palatable?
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2019
  20. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    The DAC is a little bit on the flat side dynamically, also headstage wise, but not horribly so. The Modi 3 was less flat in these two aspects with a little bit more pluck or snap on the transients. And again Crane Song Solaris or any of the Schiit burrito filter DACs destroys both in terms of soundstage depth, layering, and image localization. Tonally, the Gungnir A2 would be leaner. The A1 would be similar, and would be at a disadvantage is clarity if using SE outputs, which I believe you are not with the Mjolnir 2.

    I didn't feel the Modi 3 wasn't far off though. Softer bass-, less plankton-, smoother less delta-sigma highs+, more lively transients & dynamics+. less warm, but just as bassy (=).

    Personally, I wouldn't buy it. It's either sub $400 gear for $2000+ gear for me. And I have no need of EQ because I prioritize physical mods to headphones or simple DEQ in Foobar or JRiver or post process in software for final mixing and mastering. If I were doing "rock band" stuff, which I may eventually do with my kids, I'd rather get the Focusrite Scarlette 18i20 for $450, which is like x28 capable. Or shit, the Convert-2 for AD/DA if I wanted supreme quality for dedicated AD/DA.

    For a DAC, it's dumb, unless you just really like the sound and has that specific synergy. I leave you with this.
    upload_2019-6-24_14-50-46.png
     

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