The Focusrite 2i2 is "poor" discussion

Discussion in 'Random Thoughts' started by Mngnt, Nov 8, 2017.

  1. Mngnt

    Mngnt Rando

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    Not to derail, but are you using the headphone output from the 2i2? I have a 1st Gen 2i2 and the headphone out seems poor
     
  2. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    What do you mean by "poor"? What is so "poor" about it?
     
  3. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    I've heard about this before. By non other than xnor himself.

    https://hydrogenaud.io/index.php?PH...b110ipvt0q397&topic=96813.msg807545#msg807545

    https://hydrogenaud.io/index.php/topic,96813.msg807579.html#msg807579

    The instrument input does not seem too sensitive IMO. And the headphone output is not too silent. I can freaking make 90 dBSPL measurements with an HD600 and still have some room for plenty more (90 dBSPL is pretty loud). Like north of 100 dB loud and looking at the HD600 300 ohm cans throwing monkey chunks.

    I don't find the noise floor to be audible at all. As far as the input clipping, that's why there are input level controls. Depending on how hot the signal coming in is, one has to adjust the levels.

    I can measure headphones fine, and the distortion is definitively dominated by the driver, not the amplifier from what I can tell.

    So, what do we mean by "poor"?

    Are there better? Hell yeah. But in particular, what is the problem with evaluating cans with this interface?
     
  4. Mngnt

    Mngnt Rando

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    Sorry, I'm realizing my question came across different than I meant it.

    Last night while mostly sober, I spent some time listening to my HD598s through the 2i2, followed by the same headphones through a Marantz HD-DAC1. At the time, I thought that the Marantz seemed to sound a lot better, which made me wonder if the headphone output on the 2i2 was decent or not.

    Hence my question, which is out of genuine curiosity (and I'll admit, some laziness on my part to not search elsewhere for the information).

    Thanks for the info, I'll read up now.

    EDIT: And I know, while the HD589s aren't great, they were the gateway drug from MDR-7506s to the Marantz, BHCrack & HD6xx which will be arriving soon...
     
  5. Mngnt

    Mngnt Rando

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    To clarify a bit more - I too have minimal noise levels. Input sensitivity is a bit too high for me, as I had a couple active basses that would clip it. A pad switch would work.

    Also had a USB ground loop issue for a while, but that got resolved. All in all, a good unit for sure.

    But after reading the pages you linked, they seem to be more about the overall unit, rather than the output of the headphone jack?

    I just wonder if they're using the same DAC for the headphone jack as the outputs, or if it's more of a "convenience" feature for live monitoring (which I do use).
     
  6. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    Yup, the question came across a bit weird. But it is what it is. I'm also a bit weird sometimes.

    IMO the HD598s do not scale well. Too muddy. An HD600s can perceptibly sound better than an HD598s.

    The problem is the driver. I have an HD558, and hear it with my 2i2. The performance was not held back by the 2i2, it was the HD558. Place my HD600 and things are nicer.

    I would have recommended you to first upgrade your headphones before moving on to a different DAC/Amp. But you should do what works for you.

    The Marantz DAC/Amp looks very nice.
     
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  7. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    Mmmm. Noise level is not a problem for me. At least no so far.

    Input sensitivity requires the user to play with the input level knob.

    As far as the headphone jack, the only objection is that the impedance 5 ohms which maybe a little on the high side. But not a big problem for most headphones north of 32 or so ohms IMO.

    There are far more powerful headphone amps of course, but I find I can drive most every other random headphone w/o much of an issue. An HE-6 is one of those headphones that are out of the question though. For those I use the 2i2 as a DAC and make use of an external Amp. Obviously the same is true when measuring/hearing electrostatic cans.
     
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  8. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    Focusrite output impedance on the headphone jack is 10ohms. The Senn HD598 impedance curve starts in the 50's and spikes to 300ohms around 100Hz. This is practically a textbook example for creating midbass bloat due to impedance interactions.
     
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  9. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    I think you are right about 10 ohms. Proly that is part of the problem there.

    This is the HD558 impedance curve:

    http://www.changstar.com/www.changstar.com/index.php/topic,65.msg31950.html#msg31950

    It does affect things a little. I may have quantified that a little before. There was some interaction in the mid-bass. stv014 pointed that out, but I don't recall being that big of a problem given it's sort of a 5 to 1 ratio there.
     
  10. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    BTW, is the Marantz headphone out 32 ohm?

    EDIT: It seems CNET got that wrong, it's 800 mW @ 32 ohms. But what is the output impedance of the Marantz anyway?
     
  11. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    Meh. Who cares. 2i2 is not perfect. I just don't think it's that bad.
     
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  12. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    Ha! This is what I was looking for:

    http://www.changstar.com/www.changstar.com/index.php/topic,987.msg28332.html#msg28332

    I compared the HD600 vs the HD558 using the 2i2 there. The output impedance should not be a problem for the HD600 given its 300 ohm impedance. The response between the two cans is close. I see about 1 dB or less of "textbook example for creating midbass bloat due to impedance interactions". This is IMO because the HD558 50 ohm nominal impedance is 5x 10 ohms the 2i2 output impedance. That said 32 ohm cans may indeed suffer a little more from amp/can impedance interactions.

    Note however the significantly more distortion on the HD558 vs the HD600 when driven at 90 dBSPL. Which is why I would recommend to upgrade the cans first, if an upgrade is desirable.

    Below is another thread from Changstar were we discussed HD558 vs HD600 when driven by a 32 ohm Valhalla 1, where the "textbook example for creating midbass bloat due to impedance interactions" + using a less linear driver does seem to show its ugly face:

    http://www.changstar.com/www.changstar.com/index.php/topic,1081.0.html

    This again argues for the need to upgrade the cans first IMO.
     
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  13. Mngnt

    Mngnt Rando

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    Well, I can't find the output impedance of the marantz. It has low/med/hi gain modes.

    I seem to have hit a nerve here and it was unintentional. At the time I wasn't really thinking about the fact that I was comparing two devices that differ in price by an order of magnitude.

    Which leads me to my next thing - if the 2i2 headphone out (specifically) really is good or even decent, then it's quite a deal. I paid $120cad for mine a while ago - cheaper than one half of a schiit stack while also including ADCs etc required for recording.

    Upgraded cans (6xx) are on the way eventually, dang slow massdrop...
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2017
  14. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    LOL! You did hit a nerve at the beginning because I decoded your comments as putting into question my impressions on the HD660S vs the HD600. All because I used a 2i2 as a DAC/Amp. I didn't see that as a problem because these cans should have no problem being driven by the 2i2, and I felt the questioning was somewhat unfair.

    However, I also know that many do not consider a 2i2 as reference equipment and frown on it's use as such. So in that sense, your questioning is fair. I could use a Schiit Jot that is around somewhere if you like. But I doubt it's going to make much difference. I say that given what I illustrated on the posts above. I don't think 1 dB delta in the mid-bass is such a big deal (HD558/HD598). And power was not a problem IMO. Neither was distortion or noise floor. Considering we were dealing with cans > 150 ohms (HD600/HD660S), we are not going to observe even a 0.5 dB delta either. These are not super sensitive, low crazy impedance IEMs. For that I use a separate mini amp driven by the 2i2.

    BTW, I do not consider price that relevant. I've seen pricey equipment that performs horribly relative to el-cheapo stuff.

    I don't known how good the Marantz DAC/Amp is. Though Marantz is a good brand (or used to be) I always have my reservations on equipment performance unless I've heard or measured it (or both). That said I would be surprised if the Marantz was inferior to the 2i2. Specially given the Marantz seems like a more specialized product with a much higher price tag.

    I do wish Marantz was a little more up front about their specs. They are IMO too scant and there is not a lot of info about it regarding it's true distortion characteristics and electrical interface specifications. It makes me a bit uneasy considering this is not your regular Walmart off-the-shelf device.

    I know going from an HD598 to an HD6xx will be an upgrade. And I'm pretty sure you will enjoy it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2017
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  15. Mngnt

    Mngnt Rando

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    I'll try to give the 2i2 vs marantz a more legit and less intoxicated comparison sometime soon ish, maybe with my se535s too. Unfortunately I have no measuring equipment except an ecm8000 so it'll be subjective at best.

    If you end up doing the same with your jot, I'd certainly be interested in whether you notice a difference.
     
  16. Deep Funk

    Deep Funk Deep thoughts - Friend

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    When the device works as specified and sounds more than acceptable you are good. Some cheapskate gear delivers a lot of bang for relatively few bucks.

    Until I had the Fulla 2 I used a Pico DAC. Price tags alone are not indicative for performance...
     
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  17. chakku

    chakku Friend

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    Still using the HPA on my DAC2 despite its reputation. *shrug*
     
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  18. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    LOL! I wouldn't use the SE535s, those things are about 25 ohms and have an interesting impedance curve. My best guess is that they will sound thin with the 2i2. If the Marantz output impedance is at around 1 ohm or below, I would think the Marantz would destroy the 2i2 with those cute-tips unless the Marantz was utter crap, which I doubt.

    Here is a sheet with the SE535 impedance curve:
    https://www.innerfidelity.com/images/ShureSE535.pdf

    For those kinds of things I use an el-cheapo FiiO E6 (discontinued). It is not the last word in performance either. But it performs best with low impedances. I believe the next generation of this offering is the FiiO A1. The output impedance is 0.25 ohms or something like that.

    Again, there are better choices, but I feel this should work relatively well for something like an SE535s. At least much better than 2i2. So I would feed monitor (or headphone) outputs to the FiiO (or whatever solution) to buffer things out between the interface and the cute-tips.

    Yup. It's not a clear cut world out there unfortunately.

    Dunno how the Pico DAC vs Fulla 2 death match would go. Is the Fulla 2 > Pico DAC?
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2017
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  19. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    Hell, I do have a Massdrop O2. I could use that :)

    Like HD660S vs HD600 with 2i2. Then with the Jot. Then with the O2... I expect to arrive to the same conclusion with those particular set of cans (if I keep the O2 gain to low of course):

    Get the cheaper of the HD660S and HD600.

    If you can get your mittens on an HD6xx for less $$$, do so.
     
  20. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    BTW @Mngnt, your Marantz is probably inferior to the O2. And if it is not, it is unnecessarily better.

    (kidding kidding)

    I got the O2 because it seemed like a more well rounded solution for all these different cans than the built in amp on the 2i2 and E6. But it's sort of impractical and kind of just fell back to the 2i2 for most stuff unless I can't. It's somewhere inside the box. Sometimes I use it.

    EDIT: My main cans are my HD600s and Koss PortaPros. The PortaPros are above 60 ohms so they are IMO fine with the 2i2 anyway. KSC-75 are also fine. I do have the HD558s but don't use them as much now. Sometimes I use some cheap dynamic IEMs (JVC boom booms or something like that). Those I think are low impedance, but are somewhat resistive (no wild peaks in the impedance curve) so no problem there either me thinks. It's just convenience.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2017
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