Topic: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

All is in the question.
Do you use a preamp or your ADI-2 directly to power amp ?
And why (one or the other)?

ROON on Lenovo > Allo USBridge > RME ADI-2 Dac > (A-GD Master-1) 2 mono A-GD P3  / KEF Q700

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

I use the ADI-2 as a pre to my integrated amplifier, which I use as a power amp (I bypass its pre). It's much easier to find the right volume with the digital volume control of the ADI2 and a remote (.5dB makes a difference), and it sounds a tiny bit less bloated in the low mids than the pre in my integrated amp. Plus, you get the most out of the DAC's functions (loudness, for instance).

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

If I can ? What amp model ?

ROON on Lenovo > Allo USBridge > RME ADI-2 Dac > (A-GD Master-1) 2 mono A-GD P3  / KEF Q700

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

I and almost all of my customers with an ADI-2 PRO/DAC do not use a pre-amp, always a direct connection to a power-amp or active speakers. Unless you need more than one analog input. And we all have setups of very or extremely high quality.

The RME's great digital volume control is perfect and there is absolute no coloration, perfectly neutral.

If you want a specific sound, a specific coloration you can use a pre-amp to achieve that. But no electronic and a simple cable connection is always better than a complex pre-amp circutry.

Warm regards,
Bernhard Rother
enjoy-audio.de

5 (edited by Pitrs 2019-07-14 21:32:06)

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

Bejoro:
Any owners of an extremely high quality audio (which to me is for example Soulution power amps and Vivid Giya speakers) use RME ADI-2 DAC?

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

And to the question: I use ADI-2 PRO as DAC only having it connected to Parasound P5 preamp.

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

The ADI-2 DAC replaced my Schiit Freya preamp and Gungnir DAC into Event Opal active loudspeakers. I tried the RME through the Freya and liked the sound better using the RME alone. I also added 30 dB XLR attenuators, which made a difference.

8 (edited by nearhos 2019-07-15 09:46:53)

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

No ,i don t use RME as pre ,because  my integrated amp  has better pre .

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

I am a new owner but in my interpretation the adi-2 is in fact a pre amplifier, but one with only digital inputs. So I use it with a refurbished Quad 606-2 power amplifier and Quad 2805 speakers (plus a subwoofer with Antimode 8033 dsp room eq). The sound is excellent but can only get better when I will have had the time to use the adi's eq function to flatten the main speakers' in-room response just as I did with the subwoofer, using the Antimode 8033.

RME ADI-2 DAC fs, Quad 606-2 power amp, Quad 2805 speakers, B&W PV1d sub with Antimode 8033 Cinema

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

Directly connected to the power amp of my monitors for me. With the performance of the unit and the smart digital volume management, I can't see what an external preamp can add... except coloration.

And 10 dB XLR attenuator here, to always be on the optimal volume range of the ADI-2 DAC.

ADI-2 DAC - Neumann KH 310 A monitors

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

In my case with Harrison Labs 12 dB inline attenuators

RME ADI-2 DAC fs, Quad 606-2 power amp, Quad 2805 speakers, B&W PV1d sub with Antimode 8033 Cinema

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

AD1-2 (via -20db Attenuators) straight to Active Monitors/Subs.   Totally Organic.  NO Artificial Ingredients.

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

Do not fool yourself (and us). All the components in your (any) gear have its own distortion thus coloration = artificial ingredients.

14 (edited by Curt962 2019-07-15 16:28:08)

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

Pitrs.   

Perhaps we should simply agree to disagree...Yes?   On my behalf, I prefer to have something closer to the source material, whatever that may be...Good or Bad.

As one who spent years Rolling Tubes, Capacitors. etc, and knowing that Jimi Hendrix was legendary owing to his use of added Distortion as you've prescribed....well...Let's just say I'm no Hendrix. smile

We're delighted with our ADI-2 DAC (Room, etc) as configured and have no desire to change.

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

In my case, the RME is directly connected to my Quad 606 (first version).
It's better than going through my tandberg preamp.
I tried attenuators (-10dB) : it veiled the sound and reduced the dynamics.
So it is better without if the RME is your unique source.

16 (edited by ramses 2019-07-15 19:24:53)

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

Pitrs wrote:

Do not fool yourself (and us). All the components in your (any) gear have its own distortion thus coloration = artificial ingredients.

Could it also be a bit more friendly? I think the good intention of Curts post was clear. Don't put his words on a gold scale.

BR
Ramses
X10SRi-F, Win7 Prof, Cubase 9.5, UFX+, Octamic XTC, ADI-2 Pro FS BE/DAC, RayDAT, ARC USB

17 (edited by Pitrs 2019-07-15 20:15:10)

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

Firefly:
I have the same experience with attenuators. Clearly degrading the sound.

ramses:
Thank you for your Wonderful Advice :-D . Well, if you are able to put any "unfriendliness" to my purely factual remark, then you will surely find some advice also for yourself ;-) .

(This is technical forum. For judging people wrongly please use Facebook instead ;-) . It is not a topic here.)

18 (edited by Curt962 2019-07-15 22:20:17)

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

Firefly,

You are NOT Wrong!   There is a "certain magic" o the ADI-2  (sans Attenuators,  Tubes, Op Amps, Potentiometers, Switches, etc)  It breaks the Gain Staging Rules, but either way..(excluding the Active Circuit Contaminants)...I hear no noise.  The Silence between Tracks is Deafening.  It's a matter of "Level"   Louder is always better. smile

As an experiment, my Attenuators are  on the floor. Attached to nothing.

Well!   When the High Priestess of Audio comes home...we shall see.

(if SHE throws a Red Flag?? Oh oh!)


Best!!

Curt

19 (edited by Curt962 2019-07-15 23:16:04)

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

All,

I figured it out!   When flopping between Attenuators or not...."Loudness Comp" tends to be ignored.   

At the Lower Vol Settings dictated by non-attenuated output...you hear a heavily EQd Sound that tends to sound more Dynamic, etc.   Simply adjusting your Loudness Ref Level accordingly negates the differences.

In the end, I'm not convinced that unless we've Polluted the Adi-2 output with...You know..."whatever"...any actual difference exists.

20 (edited by ramses 2019-07-16 07:33:20)

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

Pitrs wrote:

Firefly:
I have the same experience with attenuators. Clearly degrading the sound.

ramses:
Thank you for your Wonderful Advice :-D . Well, if you are able to put any "unfriendliness" to my purely factual remark, then you will surely find some advice also for yourself ;-) .

(This is technical forum. For judging people wrongly please use Facebook instead ;-) . It is not a topic here.)

I am pretty sure that Curt didn't want to fool himself or others by his statement.
I think you simply misunderstood him and then judged him for something that he didn't mean this way.

The only reason why I involved here was a mail from a user who was dissatisfied from your posting (same as me).
What you call factual discussion was at the end creating dissatisfaction.

We do not discuss here to "win", we share our experiences with the aim to support.

You are still young to this forum with around 24 posts. You do not know the people and the habits.

There are too many forums out there, where people are struggeling and are in competition with each other.
This is really not the spirit of the RME forum. At least this was not the case since a very long time.

BR
Ramses
X10SRi-F, Win7 Prof, Cubase 9.5, UFX+, Octamic XTC, ADI-2 Pro FS BE/DAC, RayDAT, ARC USB

21 (edited by bejoro 2019-07-16 07:39:35)

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

@ramses
Very good post! Thank you.

Warm regards,
Bernhard Rother
enjoy-audio.de

22 (edited by Pitrs 2019-07-16 07:54:19)

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

Curt962:
At a very low levels it seemed to me that the sound tends to lose a bit of dynamics and clarity. That is why I started to experiment with attenuators. With them it was even worse moreover at all levels, so they are gone now. I am using ADI-2 Pro since it suits better to my system but I strongly believe that the same applies to ADI-2 DAC.
But yes, differences are small.



ramses:
Topic is "[ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?"
Topic is not evaluating other people.

I hope not that difficult to understand even if you (wrongly) think you are someone who can tell other people what to do. You are "smartly" giving advice how to behave on the forum without even being capable of keeping yourself in the borders of the thread topic. Hmm...

Chill out and if you have nothing to the topic, you do not need to write anything. It is not obligatory :-). This is not the place for your compulsion to evaluate others. There are too many forums out there far more suitable for your kind of posts.

We do not discuss here to evaluate others, we share our experiences with the aim to support.

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

Curt962 wrote:

All,

I figured it out!   When flopping between Attenuators or not...."Loudness Comp" tends to be ignored.   

At the Lower Vol Settings dictated by non-attenuated output...you hear a heavily EQd Sound that tends to sound more Dynamic, etc.   Simply adjusting your Loudness Ref Level accordingly negates the differences.

In the end, I'm not convinced that unless we've Polluted the Adi-2 output with...You know..."whatever"...any actual difference exists.

100 % agree. smile
I use the JTS pads (-10, -20 or -30 dB) recommanded by MC.
At the same sound level, there is no difference in sound... Absolutely none. With or without the pads I can't tell the difference.
The one who can hear a difference with the pads, I would be curious about the result of a double blind testing at the same pressure sound level.
Except with very bad pads, there is no reason to lose dynamic or sound quality with this really basic electronic device...

I use the -10 dB setting and it allows me to be on the optimal volume range of the ADI-2 DAC (from - 24 dB to 0 dB, with Auto Ref level ON).

ADI-2 DAC - Neumann KH 310 A monitors

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

With long cables, for example with active monitors, it might make a difference whether the attenuators are connected directly behind the output or directly in front of the input, because of the difference in impedance in front or behind the cable.

I would suggest to put the attenuator always "behind" the cable. Correct?

With short cables (maybe 5 meters or less) it should not make any difference.

Warm regards,
Bernhard Rother
enjoy-audio.de

25

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

Yes, the attenuators should always be placed at the input of a device, no at an output.

Regards
Matthias Carstens
RME

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

N00b:
I had tried JTS MA-123, connected to the power amp input. XLR cable from DAC to power amp has 1 m. I did not make double blind testing since I do not have my gear twice :-), still after some 2 months of listening on a various music types and in my various mind and mood settings I could identify quite clearly whether they are in the signal path or not. Difference was subtle yet audible.

They are electronic devices, therefore they alter the signal - BTW did anyone measure the performance of any attenuators in terms of frequency range, dynamics change, phase etc.?

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

Pitrs wrote:

N00b:
I had tried JTS MA-123, connected to the power amp input. XLR cable from DAC to power amp has 1 m. I did not make double blind testing since I do not have my gear twice :-), still after some 2 months of listening on a various music types and in my various mind and mood settings I could identify quite clearly whether they are in the signal path or not. Difference was subtle yet audible.

They are electronic devices, therefore they alter the signal - BTW did anyone measure the performance of any attenuators in terms of frequency range, dynamics change, phase etc.?

You have the specs here:
http://www.jts.com.tw/english/products/ … mp;pid=237
http://www.jts.com.tw/english/products/ … ?docpid=98


THD:
-10dB: <0.0011%
-20dB: <0.0012%
-30dB: <0.003%

Noise at -115 dB...

ADI-2 DAC - Neumann KH 310 A monitors

28 (edited by Pitrs 2019-07-16 11:47:24)

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

Well, I saw this. Firstly these are manufacturer's numbers, not independently measured. And secondly it tells really a few, not sufficiently. According the data sheet the distortion is not THD as you are assuming, but just some undefined "distortion" without any details. So it is just a very non specific number. Other measurements are missing. It tells nothing about the real behaviour of that device from the technical point of view.

Sonically its presence in the signal path is noticeable.

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

Pitrs wrote:

Well, I saw this. Firstly these are manufacturer's numbers, not independently measured. And secondly it tells really a few, not sufficiently. According the data sheet the distortion is not THD as you are assuming, but just some undefined "distortion" without any details. So it is just a very non specific number. Other measurements are missing. It tells nothing about the real behaviour of that device from the technical point of view.

Sonically its presence in the signal path is noticeable.

That is to be proven! "Very [less] specific" than the constructor datasheets wink

ADI-2 DAC - Neumann KH 310 A monitors

30

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

I have measured these several times, THD is below the measurable limit, around -140 dB (0.00001%). Their numbers show the usual problem of getting more noise into the measurement the lower the level.

These are simple resistor dividers that don't change the frequency response, do not add noise nor distortion. The achieved attenuation might be some dBs off due to the source devices' output impedance, but that's for overall volume, and not sound changing.

Regards
Matthias Carstens
RME

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

@MC
Is there a signifcant difference in attenuation between different devices (resistor tolerances)?

For a mono channel (mic) it does not matter but in a stereo setup it is important.

Warm regards,
Bernhard Rother
enjoy-audio.de

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

bejoro wrote:

@MC
Is there a signifcant difference in attenuation between different devices (resistor tolerances)?

For a mono channel (mic) it does not matter but in a stereo setup it is important.

On JTS website, they say the attenuation is within ±1dB at -10, -20 or -30 dB...
And I've checked with a dB meter app with a 1000 Hz sine: it's the same dB left or right for me with -10 dB set (I do not have the decimals, but I know its is 1 dB or less on mines). smile

ADI-2 DAC - Neumann KH 310 A monitors

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

Thank you.

Warm regards,
Bernhard Rother
enjoy-audio.de

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

Pitrs wrote:

ramses:
Topic is "[ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?"
Topic is not evaluating other people.

Maybe we can agree on, that the topic is to support other people and try to be fair to each other
(also not to piss somebody off, to make your list more complete).

I am personally looking forward, maybe we all can learn from mistakes of the past and try to make it better the next time.

BR
Ramses
X10SRi-F, Win7 Prof, Cubase 9.5, UFX+, Octamic XTC, ADI-2 Pro FS BE/DAC, RayDAT, ARC USB

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

ramses wrote:
Pitrs wrote:

ramses:
Topic is "[ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?"
Topic is not evaluating other people.

Maybe we can agree on, that the topic is to support other people and try to be fair to each other
(also not to piss somebody off, to make your list more complete).

I am personally looking forward, maybe we all can learn from mistakes of the past and try to make it better the next time.

+1 !!!

36 (edited by firefly 2019-07-21 16:17:03)

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

I tried Rothwell (-10dB) connected to the power amp input and as I already said, it was almost awful.
I am trying now IMS/Monacor ILA-1029 set at -20dB and I must say it is neutral and no degrading the sound at all (and may be the opposite).

37 (edited by maartenl 2019-07-21 16:16:51)

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

firefly wrote:

I had tried Rothwell (-10dB) connected to the power amp input and as I already said, it was almost awful.
I am trying now IMS/Monacor ILA-1029 set at -20dB and I must say it is neutral and no degrading the sound at all (and may be the opposite).

I use Rothwell XLR (-20db) connected to my power amp's (Hypex NC500 dual mono amp with OPA1612 based input buffer boards) input and there no audible differences at all (as expected because logical). Very content with the Rothwell attenuators : no impact on sound quality and very nice build quality.

38 (edited by maartenl 2019-07-22 00:46:49)

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

Pitrs wrote:

Firefly:
I have the same experience with attenuators. Clearly degrading the sound.

ramses:
Thank you for your Wonderful Advice :-D . Well, if you are able to put any "unfriendliness" to my purely factual remark, then you will surely find some advice also for yourself ;-) .

(This is technical forum. For judging people wrongly please use Facebook instead ;-) . It is not a topic here.)

I have the opposite experience, my Rothwell XLR -20dB attenuators do not degrade the sound in any audible way.

"Clearly degrading" are very big words and there's absolutely no scientific reason that attenuators, when properly engineered and built, colour and/or degrade sound. That would mean that every component in the audio chain (pre-amp, dac, amp) that have resistors in the signal path degrades and/or colours the sound. Sheer nonsense. It's a pity that many (read: almost all) audio forums are being polluted with sheer snobbery like your remark.

By the way: there is nothing "factual" in your remark, absolutely nothing, let alone "purely factual". Would like to have some facts that support your bold assertion that attenuators clearly degrade sound. As you mentioned "This is technical forum" I would expect you to adhere to your own standards and provide technical proof (including measurements) that attenuators degrade sound quality. I'm curious...

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

Pitrs wrote:

Do not fool yourself (and us). All the components in your (any) gear have its own distortion thus coloration = artificial ingredients.

Don't worry, we won't fool ourselves. One fool on this forum is already more than enough ;-)

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

I use Primaluna Prologue Premium preamp (with Mullard and RCA NOS tubes), sounds much better than RME pre. Connected to Nord class-D power amp and Focal speakers. Unfortunately Prima has only RCA inputs, im sure XLR would bring few benefits (new Prima pres have XLR inputs).

~~ sound sommelier ~~

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

Your Prima Luna may well sound different from the RME, and you may prefer that, but 'better' is a dangerous word. The ADI-2 DAC is perfectly neutral, with distrotion and noise well below the limits of human hearing acuity. So if the Prima Luna sounds different, it can only be because it is less neutral, distorts more, has more noise etc.
I use some 12dB Harrison Labs attenuators to lower the unusually high sensitivity of my Quad 606-2 amplifier, and the result is perfect through my revealing and very neutral Quad 2805 speakers.

RME ADI-2 DAC fs, Quad 606-2 power amp, Quad 2805 speakers, B&W PV1d sub with Antimode 8033 Cinema

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

willem wrote:

Your Prima Luna may well sound different from the RME, and you may prefer that, but 'better' is a dangerous word. The ADI-2 DAC is perfectly neutral, with distrotion and noise well below the limits of human hearing acuity. So if the Prima Luna sounds different, it can only be because it is less neutral, distorts more, has more noise etc.
I use some 12dB Harrison Labs attenuators to lower the unusually high sensitivity of my Quad 606-2 amplifier, and the result is perfect through my revealing and very neutral Quad 2805 speakers.

Im not measuring instrument, i listen with my ears. And after owning many many preamps, tube gears and whatnot, i learned that "best S/N ratio" and other measuring stuff means almost nothing in terms of sound quality (for stereo listening).
RME is natural and accurate, but for many other characteristics Prima is a clear winner (related to tube sound, that no transistor can match: holographic imaging and sound stage, more natural color in human voices, mid bass "body" etc).
Then take Pass pre+power combination for example, and that sounds 5x better than RME and Prima combined, in my optinion.

~~ sound sommelier ~~

43 (edited by willem 2019-07-24 17:48:58)

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

Tube sound is nothing special, it can easily be reproduced digitally. There are plenty of professional plug-ins for the studio. It is just not accurate, but a specific set of deviations from accuracy. But if you like candle light rather than daylight, that is fine. Just don't call it better.
Unlike you I do not seem to suffer from the upgrade Angst. My first audio system in the 1970's consisted of a Linn Sondek LP12/SME/V15ii. Quad FM3-33-303 and Quad ELS57. In the early 1980's I added a cd player, replaced later by a DVD player and later again by a BD player. After decades of enjoyment I replaced the speakers with Quad 2805s and a B&W PV1d sub to reproduce the deep bass made possible by digital audio (with Antimode 8033 dsp room eq), which required more powerful amplification so I got a refurbished Quad 606-2. Since streaming became so much more important and since the Quad 33 was not quite up to modern standards I subsequently decided to replace it with the RME ADI-2 DAC, to be enjoyed for the next few decades.
I honestly think that once you move into the territory of high quality properly designed gear from the likes of Quad or RME, differences between units are small at best, and sonic progress is slow or nonexistent. Speakers show a slow but steady improvement, but electronics hardly. I recently had a technical problem with my modern Quad 2805 speakers so I had to fall back on the old ELS 57s and the 33-303 to drive them (I still had them in storage). To be honest, the difference was not night and day, not at all.
In my fourty years of owning pretty decent stuff there were only two moments of real sonic advancement. The first was the introduction of the CD and digital audio more generally. The second was the discovery of the sonic benefits of dsp room eq to tame my subwoofer. It made me realize the importance of the room, which is why I went over to the RME ADI-2 DAC as a DAC but also as a pre amplifier with inbuilt parametric equalization to tame my main speakers as well.
There is no magic here - it is just science. The art is in the music.

RME ADI-2 DAC fs, Quad 606-2 power amp, Quad 2805 speakers, B&W PV1d sub with Antimode 8033 Cinema

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

willem wrote:

There is no magic here - it is just science. The art is in the music.

As a musician I can really appreciate this! ;-)

Vincent, Amsterdam
https://soundcloud.com/thesecretworld
HDSP9652+ADI-8AE  2X HDSP9632
Cubase pro10

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

willem wrote:

Tube sound is nothing special, it can easily be reproduced digitally. There are plenty of professional plug-ins for the studio. It is just not accurate, but a specific set of deviations from accuracy. But if you like candle light rather than daylight, that is fine. Just don't call it better.
Unlike you I do not seem to suffer from the upgrade Angst. .

I don't agree with most of the things you say, so lets agree to disagree.
With transparent and high res speakers its very easy to hear the difference, specially in different sonic signatures of tubes vs solid state and different DACs. Saying that tube sound can be reproduced digitally is really funny to me, but everybody who doesn't belive that, should hear the difference on decent hifi system, and stop saying "there's no diff" because they don't hear it on their system.

This thread was about preamp, don't want to go into discussion about theoretical differences of tubes vs SS, I just shared my experience and people can do whatever they want with it.

~~ sound sommelier ~~

46 (edited by willem 2019-07-24 21:36:51)

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

Well, you can have your own opinions, but you cannot have your own facts.
1 I don't think there are more transparent and resolving speakers than Quad electrostats.
2 I am not denying that you hear differences, the question would be if you still hear these under controlled conditions, i.e. level matched and in double blind abx.
3 if you still hear differences between two piece of gear, we have to decide by what criterion we choose: accuracy, or taste.
4 De gustibus non est desputandum, but for accuracy we have criteria, like frequency response (probably the most important one), lack of distortion and noise, etc. We can measure these.
5 it is my contention that on the electronics side, the sonic differences between competently designed units are very small, or often non-existent, and have been for a long time. This has been demonstrated by many controlled listening experiments (I once participated in one and at the time the result surprised me as well), and it is also obvious if we combine the results of measurements with the audibility thresholds for distortion, flatness of frequency response etc that have been established experimentally. There is quite simply nothing better than audibly perfect.
6 none of this implies that you are not perfectly free to prefer a sound signature that deviates from the classic criterion the late Peter Walker once formulated for amplifiers: a straight wire with gain. The cheapest way to create such a personal sound would be to use the tone controls on your amplifier.
7 to return to the RME ADI-2 DAC, it is sonically well beyond sonic perfection, just like a number of competitors. If you don't like the sound, that is a different matter, but sonically these are indeed just straight wires.

RME ADI-2 DAC fs, Quad 606-2 power amp, Quad 2805 speakers, B&W PV1d sub with Antimode 8033 Cinema

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

@Willem: Amen smile

ADI-2 DAC - Neumann KH 310 A monitors

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

hhrvoje wrote:

I use Primaluna Prologue Premium preamp (with Mullard and RCA NOS tubes), sounds much better than RME pre. Connected to Nord class-D power amp and Focal speakers. Unfortunately Prima has only RCA inputs, im sure XLR would bring few benefits (new Prima pres have XLR inputs).


Well, as always, it is about the whole system not about particular components. So with your class D amp (usually sounding very accurate, fast, technically), and Focal speakers (very detailed, analytical, dry sound), using tube pre with its typical pleasing warmly coloration makes pretty much sense. I can easily imagine that in your system tubes sound much better than rather neutral RME DAC.

Of course it is far from ideal to balance one deviation from neutrality of one component with the opposite deviation from neutrality of another component. But no one lives in the ideal world.

Side by side standalone Primaluna vs RME DAC would clearly show RME transfers the signal better, with less distortions. But no one listens to standalone pre.

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

willem wrote:

The ADI-2 DAC is perfectly neutral, with distrotion and noise well below the limits of human hearing acuity.

As every electrical audio component, also ADI-2 DAC has its sonic trace. Perfectly neutral would mean that what is on the input matches 100% to the output. Which is not the case on any DAC. Sure, this is RME fans forum but still it is good to stand with the feet on the ground.

I have ADI-2 Pro AE in my system and couple months ago I bought ADI-2 DAC since I did like the remote. Also I did assume it might sound very similar and it seemed as a good idea to switch these two since I am not using the extra functionality of the Pro version compared to DAC. After some 2 months of listening to both of them on a different kinds of music, in my different mood tempers, focused listening and background listening, I found clear sonic differences between the two which I was able to recognize without knowing which of them is currently in operation. In my system and room acoustics the Pro version better suits even if I did strongly prefer the DAC personally (has the remote and would save me some money to buy records :-) ).

Re: [ADI-2 Dac] HiFi : you use a preamp or not ?

willem wrote:

Well, you can have your own opinions, but you cannot have your own facts.

Fully agree. Still your points 1), 2) and 7) are just opinions.


Regarding this accuracy vs taste question - for sure it is undoubtedly relevant for evaluating standalone components. Once such a component is in a system (other components, wires, room acoustics etc.) it changes the point of view a bit. Not always the combination of technically "best" components results also in the "best" (=more accurate) sound. Mainly because of the listening room acoustics but also because of a personal taste, because of the fact that the sound can become too dry, analytical, lacks life and natural timbre of a piano, brass, bass etc.
Let anyone takes his fine tuned system to another room and it will sound significantly different and most probably not to the taste.

There is no ideal component and there is no ideal system.