Schiit Vali 2+ vs Cayin RU6 for iems Review This might seem like a silly comparison because they have such different use cases one being a desktop amp and the other a dongle - the most portable device possible. Let me explain. The RU6 has an R2R DAC and an analog section that has a euphonic richness reminiscent of tube amps. My Vali 2+ rig is a Yggdrasil R2R DAC and the Vali 2+ is a tube amp. The Vali 2+ costs $150 and the RU6 costs $100 more at $250. While the Vali 2+ doesn’t come with a DAC, we all already have desktop DACs, so the cost of adding one of these to your system is $100 less for the Vali 2+. Which is what makes this interesting, along with their similar character - R2R plus tube euphonics. Gear pi2aes -> Yggdrasil A2/og -> Vali 2+ -> micropore tape modded Shoer S12 iPhone -> RU6 -> micropore tape modded Shoer S12 Sound Signature I’ve got a NOS Raytheon 6BZ7 tube (cost me $7.99 with free shipping) in my Vali 2+ right now, and comparing to the RU6 the sound signature is very very similar. ie the Frequency response, not the tone. Bass, mids and treble are of similar balance. Comparison Vali 2+ Soundstage is bigger More space between notes More dynamics and slam across the spectrum Cymbals are smoother and sound more like cymbals Bass hits harder with more control Tone is much much better and more natural Sound is smoother in general Sound is more analog, where the RU6 winds up sounding digital in comparison and a bit etched Vali 2+ seems to grip the drivers much better, moving them and stopping them faster Really, everything is better with the Vali 2+ rig Synergy From my experience and from what others have said about iems that work with the RU6, I think they synergize with a very similar group of iems. However, the Vali 2+ can be tube rolled to tailor it’s sound brigther, warmer, more/less bass etc so it has more versatility than the RU6. Final Notes This may seem like an obvious conclusion, but I thought it was worth writing up because I think dongles are kind of trendy right now, and a lot of people might buy a dongle thinking they sound really good even if they don’t need the portability. If you’re using your iems in a desktop situation, buying a desktop amp will give you much better sound than a dongle, or at least the RU6. When I get the iFI Go Bar I’ll update this. If you have BA iems, the THX 789 is the same price as the RU6 and will sound much better If you have ortho or electrodynamic iems, the Vali 2+ is a really cheap way to get great sound for $150 These desktop amps also don’t run out of batteries or require chords all over to keep them powered. They can integrate nicely with your desktop setup. I’ll be keeping my RU6 because it’s a lot of fun to use it and always get good sound out of iDevices, though who knows in time. It’s a bit silly playing 128kbps bandcamp streams through the RU6.