Not really, sorry.


Direct competitor would be the CMA400i. Before I can help I would need to know which hps or if you’re instead using iems, what your source is, preferred genre/s and preference for warm/“neutral”/cool. You’re turn…


For those of you running the RME ADI-2 DAC already, I’m curious to know what filter setting you’re using (the factory default should be “SD Sharp”).

I’ll keep quiet about which of the available options I find preferable for now. But I am most curious as to see which filters you’ve settled on. And to know what headphone and, if relevant, amp pairing you’re running.


I’m pretty sure I’m using the NOS filter with the boosted highs that was recommended on head-fi by the RME representative.



JDS labs The Element

Bottlehead crack



CA Cascade

Fostex X00 PH




CA Andromeda


I can give a more precise response when I get home this weekend


i think i prefer the NOS or the SD Slow…

Phonitor X, and Focal Utopia.


Hi DarthPool, out of the amps you have, which one pairs the best with the ADI-2 when using HD58X and Andromeda? Or do you prefer to use the ADI-2 amp section for both of these?



I’ve mostly been using the MCTH, and Element. Andromeda I just plug directly into the ADI-2DAC or on occasion the Element. 58X I tend to lean towards the MCTH for the added tube flavor. On occasion I’ll plug the 58X into the Bottlehead Crack, which is probably my favorite amp right now (might be because I built it lol)


So I haven’t bought an ADI-2 DAC yet, but I was wondering about how to use it as a DAC only: Are the outputs direct from the DAC as standard or is there some setting in the software you have to change when you plug another amp?

I’ve been googling quite a bit to find an answer, but either my google-fu is flawed or nobody’s asked that question anywhere (perhaps because the answer is obvious)


Section 5 of the manual is helpful. It looks like there are two headphone outputs on the front (which can also be used as a line out) as well as two line outs on the back, one unbalanced RCA and one balanced XLR.


The output on the RME ADI-2 DAC is always variable, for all outputs (except in DSD-Direct mode where it is always fixed). There is no dedicated fixed output nor a selectable “fixed output” mode.

If you want to use it with an external amplifier, and bypass the software/digital volume-control processing (or, rather, have it not change anything), you just set the volume level to 0 dB. But the volume dial is still active and will still affect the volume level if you turn it. All volume control behavior is implemented in the digital domain - the dial is a rotary encoder not a pot.

The other thing to be aware of is the reference output level. This is implemented using relay-switched physical attenuators and has four settings at 6 dB intervals (-5 dB, +1 dB, + 7 dB and +13 dB). For XLR output add 6 dB to each of those values. You can manually select a setting there, or use “AutoRef” to do it for you.

Depending on the input sensitivity and headroom on your amplifiers, you may have to manually select the output reference level to avoid clipping your amplifiers input stage.


Thank you. I think I understand that. I can’t quite visualize how that works but I’m sure I will, eventually. As long as it’s not double amping.


Easy part first … there’s no “amp” for the output stage feeding the RCA or XLR outputs - just the reference level attenuators and buffers. So you wouldn’t be double-amping using those outputs into your existing amplifier.

If the amplifier in question is the Bravo Audio 2, which I think you’ve mentioned elsewhere, you’re very likely going to find that the RME unit’s native output is both quite a bit more powerful (about 3x), a lot quieter (i.e. lower noise, not lower volume), and a fair bit more resolving. It won’t have the same coloration/signature as the Bravo Audio 2 has, of course.

More details on "Reference Level" and "Volume Control" for the RME-ADI 2 DAC ...

If I understand the hardware implementation correctly, then the highest reference output level is achieved by simply not having any hardware attenuation (e.g. resistors/voltage divider) in the chain. Lower reference output levels are achieved by simply adding progressively more attenuation.

Thus, the purest signal chain should be at +13 dBu (or +19 dBu for XLR).

If you set the volume at 0 dB, the digital/software volume control is effectively defeated. Turning it down below 0 dB results in digital processing to reduce the effective sample values (amplitude) PRIOR to it reaching the DAC chip. If you turn it up above 0 dB, then the same digital processing increaes the effective sample values (amplitude), again PRIOR to that sample data reaching the DAC chip itself.

The digital/software volume control uses 42-bit wide math, so should be audibly transparent (no digital volume control is bit-perfect … as by definition they work by changing the bit-level data). But if you want to ensure it’s not diddling with the data, you just run it at 0 dB.


Thank you very much. That made sense. I’m pretty certain I understand it now. :slight_smile:

Well, I might play around with it, but my plan is to upgrade my entire chain and probably get something like the Ifi Pro iCan or some higher end solid state amp to pair with the ADI-2. Been considering Violectric or something. But that’s Phase 2. Right now I’m in Phase 1 - upgrading headphones and getting my hands on the ADI-2.


The Pro iCAN is a very solid pairing with the RME ADI-2 DAC. I have one myself. In particular the ability to engage the Tube and Tube+ modes when you want something a bit less technical is a very nice complement to the RME unit.

The darker/less emphatic rendering of the higher-end Violectric V281 would also have a similar effect/synergy with the RME unit. Though in this case, it’d be permanent.

Another excellent match, and the best solid-state amplifier I’ve heard, is the SPL Phonitor x (review, and pictures of it with the ADI-2 DAC here).

All very solid choices.


I’ll have to try the Phonitor X too, it seems. Your words on the ADI-2/Phonitor X/Eikon-combination just made it much more interesting.


By the way: Did you like the HD800(S) with either of those amps in combination with the ADI-2?


Sorry, just saw this …

Yes, the HD800S pairs extremely well with both the SPL Phonitor X and the iFi Pro iCAN using the RME ADI-2 DAC to source them. The differences really come down to whether you want the purest, most transparent, result (SPL Phonitor X) or the features/tube-coloration options of the iFi unit.


Another firmware update for the RME ADI-2 DAC has been posted on the RME site.

Just for those that don’t pay constant attention to such things … :wink:


Hi @Torq!

Just wondering, if you have ever compared RME’s preouts againts RME+SPL Phonitor x combination (as a dac+preamp)? I recall you mentioning that using the digital attenuation somewhat hurts micro dynamics.


I have!

Yes, the final output is better going RME ADI-2 DAC @ 0 dBr (+19 dBU output level) into the SPL Phonitor X and then on to either active speakers or a power amp.

It would not be a path I would recommend unless you were also going to get full use out of the Phonitor X as a headphone amplifier, however. You could achieve much the same result with a much cheaper passive attenuator fed from the ADI-2 DAC. Especially where you can push the output level up to +19 dBU (balanced) or +13 dBU (single-ended) … so you’ll have plenty of signal to work with and not need an active gain-stage or buffer in the chain.