RME ADI-2 DAC

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

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    Looks like RME topped Topping at their game. Why hasn't Amir posted the balanced out headamp measurements for the RME ADI-2 Pro ESS? That's a spectacular result and it would seem that their audience (and some here) would like to know.
     
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  2. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Most improved member; A+

    Slaytanic Cliff Clavin
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    RME kicks the shit out of a lot of things but the ADI-2 had some issues vs better pro equipment. Mainly in the velvet sound, staging, and slightly dirty treble. I doubt they’ve fixed the latter but RME always improves their products. Their mainline Fireface interfaces have a long way to go though vs Lynx and Apogee.

    Nobody cares about dsd. All of your recordings have hit pcm anyway and if they haven’t, they’re for the worse because all the best processing is in pcm, and as of 2021, can be cleaner and just as functional as analog but of a much more limited palette of tools (that are as good as analog). By that I mean for individual digital processors, you can count them in one or two hands for each type. Sometimes even 2-3 fingers.
     
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  3. Metro

    Metro Friend

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    ESS is a recent change and probably nobody (ASR member or RME) has sent him one. RME sent him the non-Pro AKM model that he tested previously.
     
  4. limesoft

    limesoft Almost "Made"

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    There is no RME ADI-2 Pro ESS - the Pro model keeps the AKM dacs, only the ADI-2 DAC fs gets the ESS according to RME.
     
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  5. mitochondrium

    mitochondrium Friend

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    Just goes to show that RME know a thing or two about customers. They probably did not want to put all their eggs in one basket and decided to have two suppliers for the DAC chips. Seems logic to me that they would keep the AKM for the PRO and go with ESS for the DAC. Folks buying the DAC will more likely be impressed by better metrics, even if these better metrics are meaningless when it comes to sound quality. When they changed from 4490 to 4493 they even said that probably most people would not hear a difference.
     
  6. limesoft

    limesoft Almost "Made"

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    I think it’s a practical thing for RME and unrelated to their customers. They have a stock of AKM chips they need to use up, and their PRO interface is less in the demand so they have enough. Also they probably save on some money not having to redesign the Pro as well for now

    I suspect the ess version sounds a little different as I can’t hear the AKM traits that are typically discussed, instead it sounds similar/better to my other well implemented ess dacs. Probably a small enough difference, but if you’re annoyed by the AKM velvet mids and slightly etched treble the ESS might be better (as I’m super sensitive to those traits and can’t hear them)… don’t know for sure though I don’t have both versions side by side to compare
     
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  7. limesoft

    limesoft Almost "Made"

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    Fancy a mini portable RME for 100$ for your IEMs- get the Quidelix 5k. Sounds great for the price; clean, neutral and non fatiguing (with my IERM7 or Andromeda) and is even more feature packed with extensive PEQ settings. It doesn't have any right sounding this good for 100$ but when you add the PEQ, great app and 1001 other features it provides it's a steal.
     
  8. Tennstrong

    Tennstrong Rando

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    Notion to carry from my story below - ensure you have a strong warranty policy with the shop you buy from - ideally import from the U.K. with one of their 5 year warranty stickers (RME support has said these are valid globally if you have the shrink wrap guarantee), & consider buying a spare LCD of the current generation at time of purchase.

    A cautionary word about these units (I've written my experiences elsewhere, so I'll copy them here, feel free to ask for further details): I had the opportunity to purchase an otherwise functioning ADI-2-DAC FS with a defective screen for very cheap (<1/4 price, 400CAD), they go through revisions silently that require completely different parts that you can no longer acquire directly. I am an individual who is comfortable soldering electronics, and would otherwise have no issue replacing an lcd. To quote their replacement parts dealer's website: "RME has changed the type and size of their OLED's and replacing the oled needs a new front panel and hardware modifications we suggest that you contact your local RME distibutor to have it replaced." - I ended up contacting: [RME, local headphone shop who stocks RME, RME Parts Distributor, Canadian RME Repair Hub (there's only 1 place in Canada for RME repairs & it's in Montreal, they charge 75$/hr for labor out of warranty + parts & ship to get it out to Germany since it apparently requires a pcb modification that only the factory in Germany can do). This resulted in the expert technician at the RME repair center telling me personally he would not touch the defective unit at any price if he were in my shoes since the repair will almost definitely cost more than a new unit (after I asked their opinion) - so IMO (and in the opinion of the expert technician) as soon as a RME product is out of warranty with a problem, it's next to worthless. If the screen dies, the thing is worth about 50$ in scrap metal/connectors.

    TLDR: I sent at least a dozen emails to figure out that a semi-functional (pass through was still working & I informed each support system with that) adi 2 dac out of warranty that I would be more than comfortable fixing myself is near worthless due to their ongoing revisions, and saved myself about 400CAD in the process (it did seem like a screaming deal at first).

    Regarding the warranty, it is rather difficult to get official documentation confirming the warranty (I've searched a lot of documents/forums, in which the officials redirect people to the manual & service page to contact the individual country's authorized warranty provider) which I do see as a slight concern. Canadian retailers show a 2-year period in some listings, though I can't seem to find any official RME statement confirming so [listings ref 1, 2]. Outside of the UK you can possibly get the (5-year) warranty as long as you purchased from a UK retailer & have the code on the shrink wrap of your box based on this person's experiences after speaking to C/S. You need to get a different power cord, but that may be the route I would go if I were dead-set on purchasing one of these units.
     
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  9. mrflibble

    mrflibble Friend

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    Some thoughts and impressions about the RME ADI-2 DAC ESS Sabre Edition

    After previously owning the AKM version of the RME ADI-2 DAC, and going against the advice of my fellow SBAFers, I decided to purchase and try the ESS Sabre RME ADI-2 DAC.

    I really love the form factor, the functionality, and the spectrum analyzer of this DAC. But I had issues with the treble and overall sonic presentation of the AKM version, hence why I wanted to give the ESS Sabre version a try (in the hope I would like the sound better). I have been listening to the ESS version for a little over two weeks.

    Historically, I have problems with any kind of treble nasties or sibilance, etc. I have mild occasional tinnitus and hyperacusis. This can sometimes make me question if I am really hearing a treble issue or if it is just me. It has been a few months since I listened to the AKM version because I sold it and in the mean time I have moved house (which has been disruptive). You may therefore wish to take my subjective impressions with a pinch of salt.

    My listening chain was as follows:

    Laptop | RPi4 -> (iFI iGalvanic) -> RME ADI-2 (ESS) -> Built-in headamp | Schiit Magni 3+ | Arcam rHead -> HD650 | JVC FDX1

    Listening was done both with EQ (modified oratory1990, applied by the RME) and without.

    From memory, I found the treble of the AKM version to be slightly etched and, most of all, disconnected from the rest of frequency spectrum. In addition, I found the mids to be relatively recessed, this was particularly noticeable after being used to a Gungnir Multibit A1. To me, the AKM version sounded like the treble had been sprinkled on top of the other frequencies, as if it had been added later.

    The ESS version of the DAC is much more balanced, the treble sounds properly integrated with the mids which do not sound recessed. It sounds quite "normal", very clear and resolving (like the AKM version), good soundstage (but nothing like Schiit Multibit). I find it a definite improvement over the AKM version. Unfortunately, I still have an issue with the treble. With the ESS version the treble sounds unnatural with an unpleasant edge. It sounds as if an unsharp mask has been applied to the sound.

    I spent quite a lot of time trying to get to the bottom of the problem because I so desperately wanted to like and keep the DAC. I questioned my ears, my source (my laptop is a terrible source, I bought an iGalvanic), my HD650 headphones (I bought new ear-pads for them), and the music (type and mastering). The treble issue is more evident on certain tracks and music than others but always seems to be present to some degree. Certain electronic music in particular e.g. Random Access Memories come to mind. Quiet acoustical music seemed to be the least offensive. Apart from the treble, I really enjoyed the sonic presentation of the DAC.

    Sound in blu ray and streaming (Disney+) was particularly bothersome, especially dialogue and sound effects. Using the built-in headphone amp really exacerbated the issue and watching just a single episode of Futurama made me feel ill (due to the sound not the humour!). Using the Arcam rHead mitigated the problem and made things much more listenable but the sharpness was still audible.

    I used to think the headout on the RME was glary, but now I am not so sure. I think perhaps it is just ultra clear and shows the treble characteristic of the DAC completely unmasked. Whereas the rHead is very slightly veiled (especially with the HD650), and definitely has the ability to soften edges.

    So, will I be keeping the RME ADI-2 DAC ESS Version? Sadly, no. As much as I want to love it, I cannot live with the treble presentation. :-(

    What next? I have a Gustard X16 incoming (second hand). So more ESS Sabre torture for me then! Hopefully not, fingers crossed. Will report back with my impressions. :)
     
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  10. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Most improved member; A+

    Slaytanic Cliff Clavin
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    If you want great Sabre sound, buy a modern Apogee. The Symphony Desktop is great. The Elements were great. Duet who knows but it’s cheap. No idea how they will pair tonally to headphones but who cares? They sound great on speakers.

    good but not great with more channels for less money? MOTU

    RME does not compete soundwise. Their USB drivers are the best though.
     
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    Last edited: Nov 6, 2021
  11. Riotvan

    Riotvan Got lost for three weeks at Delft City Hall

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    My Groove even sounds smooth without treble fuckery and that is with Beyer Dt290’s no less(250’s with a mic basically).
     
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  12. limesoft

    limesoft Almost "Made"

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    The Apogee Element I have has a more analogue/woolly texture compared to the RME. I'd say the RME ESS is superior in terms of technicalities; able to dissect the audio and present it in a clearer, detailed but still delicate way,. i'd classify it as more "reference" sound.. the Element is the more musical and euphoric sounding, and has a foot tapping essence to it. For example when I try to make some music on my computer, the Element just makes me lazy and I just end up listening to music instead it as it has an addictive boogie quality to it and i just wanna have fun.

    The Element's head out is kind weird - it doesn't work with balanced armatures, and makes my HD650/HD800 bass light, even though i'd say it shows better control of the drivers vs the RME, and has less glare.

    To be honest I haven't really found a solid state amplifier which complements the Sennheiser's very well - for me it's tube amp or nothing for these headphones.. once I heard how the Woo WA8 bass boogies on the HD650, I'm looking for it on solid state and it just isn't there. The rHead is probably one of the better options for solid state, but it was still bass light for me.
     
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  13. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Most improved member; A+

    Slaytanic Cliff Clavin
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    The Elements have higher distortion than the RME ADI-2 and the Symphonies. I'm not this actually matters because the RME distortion is usually more offensive. It has distortion and noise the higher treble and doesn't present low mid 100-1khz issues as well. So it will make recordings sound thinner than they really are because the resonances just aren't there.

    The Symphonies are much more revealing of the distortion of analog hardware, different high shelves, and various distortion plugins. They will fundamentally change the texture of the sound while on the RME, a colored high shelf is often just a tube screamer.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2021
  14. limesoft

    limesoft Almost "Made"

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    It doesn't feel like distortion plays a part in terms of audible sound characteristics here - it's so very low on all these units it shouldn't make a difference, it could be the clocking or power regulators, op amps etc. who knows...
     
  15. Jamca

    Jamca Rando

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    There has been an ''Issue'' with Rme adi 2 fs sabre edition, as it seems that the necessity of quick production changes (of ess implementation) lead to weird design decisions with a manually soldered cable (for bridging ??) . It is obvious at the official video of Rme in which Mc from Rme talks about the new dac used (you can see the pcb board at 5:56). What is your opinion about that. I have this new version, and i confirm that this soldered cable exists. Isn't it a liitle weird? It feels like a cheap patch and makes me worry about reliability issues. Perhaps it does not mean anything, but maybe it does. There is not any official answer from MC about this decision. Could you tell me your opinion , should i worry (and all others with the ess sabre version...) or not?

    PS: sorry for my English...
     
  16. Riotvan

    Riotvan Got lost for three weeks at Delft City Hall

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    I wouldn't worry about it. It's not something unheard of and you still have your warranty.
     
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