Karister on 2020/07/05
I’ve been looking for a DAC to my Stereo system and DAC+AMP for my headphones for quite a while. Finally I picked RME ADI-2 ADC FS due to it’s awesome measured performance, decent power output for headphones and advanced DSP.
I owned a few devices (Marantz HD-DAC 1. Matrix Audio Element M, Burson Conductor, Schiit Audio) before and RME is the first one that after two weeks I have nothing to complain about. It is simply an audio-voodoo nonsense killer.
Firstly it has a brilliant noise floor. My sensitive IEMs are dead silent when nothing is playing. Finally! Secondly it can easily drive my HiFiMAN Arya which is a demanding headphone. No hassle at all. While low power mode is not enough for loud listening, high power mode shows it’s true potential. Even when close to max volume (sorry to my ears for that) there was no distortion at all. My HiFiMAN Arya was shaking on my head due to intense drivers’ movement and in a sub-bass heavy song it sounded no worse than a stereo system with a proper subwoofer. While my previous amp (rated at 1W per channel) was just producing one big distortion, sound from RME was perfectly clean and powerful. In terms of sound quality and performance I simply love it.
Second thing that I love is that it cured me from audio-voodoo. Detailed DACs, Warm sounding AMP, silver cables… come on. RME’s parametric EQ offers way more versatility. It really allows you to fit sound to your personal taste. I would love it to have more than 5 bands, though. Nevertheless, it is still a powerful tool. Another great function is crossfeed. Must have for headphones listening. I hate it when one instrument plays to the left ear and another one to the right ear. It is such an unnatural and tiring feeling. Crossfeed fixes it. While instruments stay in their positions, this unpleasant feeling is gone and instruments are more to the center. Something like listening to the stereo system which is always in front of the listener. Another nice thing is that RME saves settings for each output separately. This way I can have separate volume and EQ settings for stereo and headphones. I need to only switch the output and all settings are loaded automatically. It is simply clever and well thought.
There are some other minor cool things worth mentioning as well. Four programmable buttons in the remote are very handy. Auto input select works great. I connected my PC via optical and my network player via coax. Thanks to it, RME normally works as a DAC for PC but when I start playback via network, it automatically switches to coax input. When I stop playback from the network, it automatically goes back to optical. So convenient! Just perfect.
There are only minor things that I dislike about RME ADI-2 DAC FS. Firstly, It’s weight. It is too light and it must be held when pressing encoder knobs. Fingers easily leave greasy marks on it. Secondly, I use it as a DAC for stereo and DAC+AMP for headphones as mentioned before. I set volume for line out to 0dB as I have volume control in my stereo AMP. When I change Mute line setting from Toggle Ph/Line (it allows me to switch between Headphones and line out with the remote) to Off, RME switches output to headphones and uses volume setting from line out. 0dB in my case. This could be an unfortunate death of many headphones and ears due to misclick when done during playback. Lastly, I would appreciate some protection film for display. Mine was unprotected during shipping.
Last big plus for RME for their guide movies on Youtube. Very detailed and helpful. Despite being loaded with an enormous number of functions, I managed to set everything up without opening the manual.
To sum up - my best audio purchase ever. Price is very competitive when compared to hi-end audiophile companies. I am pretty sure I will be RME fanboy for a long time.