I noticed an RME ADI-2 DAC for sale on SBAF.
Got it in…now to figure out the best placement…and start toying with it. So far enjoying it, but line out is a little quiet, I’ll have to deep dive the manual to figure out all the nuances when I get more time. It took forever to get to work on my machine with my setup though. I have it going to my Element for solid state, and the MCTH for tubish, and also to self powered JBL 30Xs. Tonight when the monsters go to bed I’ll try and get a better feel for it…or play videogames lol
If you want a quick setup … update the firmware and then put it in “Auto Ref = ON” mode and set the output to 0 dB attenuation (which defeats the software volume control). Tweak from there.
Though there are some interesting measurements that show other settings (e.g. -20 dB attenuation) result in lower THD and lower 2nd and 3rd order harmonic products. For me, I find a loss in dynamic resolution if I’m not at 0 dB which is greater than anything I’m getting in terms of other products at lower levels.
The fun is, of course, in the experimentation. It’s a FUN and great sounding unit … congrats!!
@Torq thank you for hooking me up with the seller, I"m really liking the look of it. I need to figure out my desk space though, it is getting crowded and cluttered. I picked up an NFB 11.28 also (seen in the picture and I’m not sure how I feel about it yet, I enjoy opening it up and playing with the jumpers, but I’m not sure I like the highs coming out of it. People say it is a problem with the DAC chip, which sounds good but a lil shrill). I put it to 0dB which helped…I’ll have to find the Auto ref setting…
On the NFB 11.28 … I’m not, personally, a big Audio-GD fan.
I think some of their higher-end amps have been quite good (the Master 9 was/is competent if not really “my thing”). But excepting their 8x PCM 1704-based DACs I’ve been singularly unimpressed with their other source products (either dedicated DAC or in DAC/amp form).
I’ll save further comments there so as not to taint your listening …
Oh no worries, I like the NFB 11.28, but the longer I listen to it the more I think something is off with it, for me anyways. I think it has a great soundstage, and lots of power. But I think you are correct in that it is more of a sidegrade to the Element. I really need to put the Bottlehead together. I think that DACs and amps are a whole different rabbit hole, I think with having the RME ADI-2 now, I can start focusing more on amps. But at this point it will be more about settling in with what I have and start deciphering and learning what I’m hearing. I like that I have the NFB because it allows me to contrast and compare and also start learning what else is out there. I’ll probably put it up for trade in the near future though once I’ve given it a good listen.
It’s official this thing is amazing, new toy glow is in effect but I’ve been swapping between a couple sources that I’m used to my El DAC with and the NFB 11.28 and wow…The RME ADI-2 DAC is a keeper for sure…plus it just looks so cool! lol
Edit: now with more picture!
Awesome, I have an older NFB-11 (pre 9028 chip) and I always found it to be good, but nothing special. It is definitely brighter in the highs than my R2R 11. I have been eyeing the RME AD-2 for a while now a I am still sort of testing my limits for how much I can hear the differences in source gear so I’ll be following your impressions moving up from budget stuff. I am especially curious how you will like the built-in amp of RME vs using it as DAC only.
You’ll be pushing @Torq and various others in the equipment state soon. . I am only jealous really. You have some great Amps/Dac’s in your hands at the moment. Enjoy and please continue to pass on your experiences.
Ok, so, the RME ADI-2 DAC is another one of those WOW moments in audio. I can easily tell the difference between the El DAC and it. I’m using my Element as a solid state amp, and the MCTH as my hybrid tube (until I finally get off my butt and complete my Bottlehead). I’m only a couple hours of listening with the two of them, but I instantly feel like across the board I’m getting more out of them. Now to speak directly on the onboard amp… I wasn’t too impressed with the standard phones ouput with my HD800, but it is good. The IEM output though with the Tin audio T2 was amazing and blew me away. With the Andromedas, WOW at it’s lowest volume output I actually almost can’t hear anything which is a first on everything I’ve tried with them. The sound is outstanding with IEMs on this thing, granted I have Andros and the T2(T2 has much better lows especially with the port mod). I’m not familiar enough with DACs to give a good review, but my impression of this is that it makes everything more “alive” and “real” it has a presence that until I heard it didn’t realize I was missing. Honestly I’m listening with my Andros as I’m typing this and this track came on and I always liked this track but it never got me to have emotion with it, but as I was typing I just had to stop and listen, the Strings and piano just filled me up, and transported me to being a kid listening to live orchestras and being mesmerized by them.
song for reference:
man, the bowing being done is phenomenal, and the piano just … yes… I needed this. What a great hobby, totally just got lost again in the song =)
Ok edit: this song came on and I can hear the mechanics of the piano keys being pressed down in the beginning, and the snares hitting the drums, and I swear I can hear the guys fingers strumming the guitar.
" I am Tyler’s utter contentment" Sorry I like creating Fight Club qoutes =)
I am just lucky to have a wife who is relatively understanding, I do annoy her with what is becoming an ever encroaching mass of audio gear, and toys/collectibles. I will also admit that the RME ADI was out of budget this go around (was budgeting for it in the next couple months) but I have been eyeballing it, and I know that if I didn’t just go for it I would eventually end up buying it later at a more expensive price, so I splurged and didn’t put as much money into savings this month =) We make money to spend it right?..right? lol spend responsibly folks!
Yep my thoughts exactly re spending. I did get a little out of hand at one point so am trying not to buy anymore headphones or iem’s at the moment. Just maybe Amp/Dac. Enjoy your new toy though. It certainly looks like it could take a while to figure out all it’s nuances.
Thanks for those impressions. Seeing as how I also have Andromeda and T2 that IEM port was definitely one of my considerations for the RME. Also interesting that you consider this upgrade a wow moment and easily hear those differences. It always takes me a while to really hear source differences and it is sometimes hard for me to place exactly what it is I hear. Thanks for providing those specific examples within tracks as I will give those a shot and try to hear what you are hearing.
It’s good to hear all the different impressions. I’ve been listening to the RME exclusively now for a little while. Occasionally I will pair it with my Vali2 for a change of pace. For a while I thought that outsourcing the amp function to the Vali2 was the better way to go however, I’m not sure what my preference is between the Vali2 and the built in headamp now.
Neither amp is without compromise. What I once preferred, now I don’t. I think that you could find a really good amp pairing with this unit and probably be happy for a very long time. I don’t know what that pairing is for me yet but, for the most part I’m happy with just the unit for now.
The relatively greater dynamism of the Vali2 is noticeable across the frequency spectrum. The downside of the Vali2 is the slight veil in the treble. YMMV with different tubes, I’ve found tube rolling has a limited role for the Vali2 but, I’ve found many tubes sound better than the stock one provided. There are other Vali2 characteristics that sneak in but this isn’t a Vali2 review
With the built in headamp there is more detail and greater extension in the low and high frequencies. The downside being that it’s not a very dynamic amp and is lacking some needed power. It has enough power to drive everything I own, just not as well as most full sized headphone amplifiers I’ve tried.
For now I’m preferring the built in headamp for the kind of listening I’m doing Vs. my Vali2. I’m looking to try the unit with some other amplifiers in the future, so please if you have amp pairing impressions, feel free to leave them here for everyone.
I’ve been mostly listening through the MCTH, and my Element and find them both good pairings. I agree with your assessment of the onboard amp. But I do like it with my IEMs I have on hand. Once I get my Bottlehead crack complete I’ll play with that and give an impression of it (once burned in).
How are you getting on with your Bottlehead build? Have you managed to start it yet?
I just need to solder it all together and it will be done. Maybe this week? But I’m working on moving my home office to a new room so we’ll see =)
I am not surprised you’ll be in need of a bigger room with your ever expanding collection. . I will bet that your Bottlehead sounds great when up and running. Out of interest have you listened to one? I haven’t heard one but read rave reviews about them.
I also have not heard one but heard nothing but good things, so I’m looking forward to putting it together finally…but between daughter, work and other hobbies it tends to fall to the bottom of the list of things to get done.
I will say that with the RME ADI-2 DAC I’m in no hurry though I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I am slowly going through the manual and trying to learn what it can do and what everything means. It would be nice to be able to appreciate these things more with more understanding of what it does. Maybe we can convince @Torq to create one of those Masterclass episodes/training on how to better understand what DACs and amps are doing.
One of the features one the RME that I’d love too try is the loudness feature. Keeping perceived frequency response constant across volumes seems neat.