RME ADI-2 DAC fs - Official Thread

@DarthPool and @Torq - How big of an improvement is 789 from the RME’s DAC vs RME’s built-in amp? I am probably going to pick up the RME soon and I already have EC ZDT Jr as my main tube amp. So for the times I don’t want the full tube sound I’m debating if adding the 789 is really going to be worth the upgrade over RME’s built-in? Also, have either of you heard Monoprice Liquid Platinum out of RME? I’m curious if that amp could essentially best both 789 and RME’s built-in (even though it is hybrid) in more traditional SS roles…power, bass slam, dynamics, clarity, etc.


To some extent it is going to depend on what headphones you’ll be driving. But, assuming there’s enough power for your cans, then the difference is mostly in dynamics. I hear some slight compression in the dynamics of the RME’s native headphone output. That is reduced in high-power output mode. And it isn’t audible at all via the IEM output.

The better the micro-dynamic performance of your headphones the more easily you’ll be able to hear the difference - for example inefficient planar designs probably won’t render it audibly in the first place, where as something like the HD800S or Focal Clear will make it much easier to hear.

I would try it from the built-in amp first, see what you think compared to your EC ZDT Jr. and then decide from there if you find anything lacking.

Again, it’s not that the built-in output in the RME ADI-2 DAC is bad - just that comparing the DAC output via a TOTL dedicated amp to the built-in headphone output shows the DAC is more capable than the “amp”.


EDIT forgot to reply to you so I’m @'ng you bro! lol @I_want_all_the_tacos

Basically what @Torq said. I never had a problem with the built in amp on the RME ADI-2DAC, but it wasn’t the main purchase factor for me…ok I’ll admit I got it due to the EQ graphic screen…it is soo cool looking :wink: also because it allows so much functionality with all of the settings.

I also agree that I would just pair it with the EC ZDT JR (lucky bastard :cry: I want one!) and use the in built and then decide from there if the 789 is worth pursuing. The 789 is very good and deserves the praise heaped onto it, but honestly it is subtle differences and the efficiency of it that really make it shine. Oh and that inky black background is pretty magical. If you have the means it is a very fun listen.

Also good to see you on the forums again! that new course work must be keeping you busy huh? (I think I recall you mentioning getting your masters in SD, or maybe a new job?)


I have not heard it but it looks like a very cool looking bit of kit! I would want to hear it first before purchase though. I did like the MCTH from Massdrop but that got replaced by the Loxjie P20 due to price and competitive sound signature. I would like a Cavalli amp back in the house though…damn it…I do not need this…must resist :wink: oof they raised the price since launch it looks like too…up to $769 now it is moving into definitive test before buy territory (for me at least) must do more research on it, and see if people I trust/appreciate etc like it.


This is probably about 95% of the reason I want to get one. :slight_smile:


Thanks! Yeah I still want the RME regardless for its DAC, balanced outs to my LSR30X, EQ, remote, etc. And it sounds like it would work really well with my Andro too. And I would use my ZDT Jr for most my cans (e.g. HD800, Auteur, Atticus, HD6XX) most of the time, but I always like to have a solid state for everything else like my Elex, LCD2C, THX00, and future Verum 1. Have you been able to hear Liquid Platinum yet?

Thanks for the thoughts. That sounds in line with what I was thinking. And yeah, ZDT Jr is solid and a great fit for my collection. I just got rid of Valhalla 2 since ZDT Jr can handle the same duties. I saw all your posts about the P20 and that sounds pretty impressive. Those stupid cheap auto-buy types of products always tempt me, but I’m fighting that urge and trying to minimize down a bit and just get the “best” in each category. That’s why I’m thinking RME for DAC and IEMs, ZDT Jr for tube, and Liquid Platinum for hybrid power. Based on impressions of Liquid Platinum it seems like something you will eventually go after too haha.

And yeah, I am starting to get a bit more free time to get back into the hobby. I had finished my PhD at the end of summer and moved to SD to start my career. I’m working at a tech startup so as you can imagine my schedule is hectic and I had 0 free time the first few months getting trained and up to speed as well as getting settled into my new place. I’m finally able to get my head above water and rejoin you all. However, this hobby is even more dangerous now that I have adult money yet make child decisions =)


Me in a nutshell…
Sorry I messed up the school thing. I really hope MassDrop puts out the EC ZDT JR again, it will be an instant buy for me. But who knows maybe I’ll move to Europe and I can then get the one it is based off…

I work in a Faux tech startup environment right now…so yes I fully get the super busy schedule, plus I have a 2year old to take care of…so basically I don’t sleep, because that is how I get free time to do the things I want to do lol.

Also I really enjoy the Andromedas out of the RME ADI-2DAC IEM out. The only other DAC/amp I like with them is the iFi Nano Black Label (NiBL), I had one on loan and after returning it went out and bought one.

Anyhow, glad to have you back on the forum! After all it was you who brought me here from the depravity that is Reddit lol.




Congrats on your educational accomplishments and new job! Exciting times!

If I see a sale on these (i.e. eBay coupon), I may pick one up. I would be even more interested if they came out with a new model with XLR headphone out too.



If you do decide to go for an RME you might get a better deal direct from retailers vs ebay coupon. I know about 6 months ago dealers were willing to sell new ones for $825ish if you haggled. I have no idea what they are going for currently, but I imagine it should be about the same.

And yeah, a fully balanced XLR out would be cool for sure, but that might overlap too much with the ADI-2 Pro. I guess a sweet spot could be a balanced XLR version with no ADC that sits in between DAC and PRO. But even then it sounds like 789 is a better balanced solid state amp over ADI-2 Pro’s balanced outs.


Yep, but not with a useful array of sources or headphones nor at enough length to want to comment on it beyond saying that I would pick one up for more experimentation (as it was quite promising) if I wasn’t about to do a massive gear purge.

All the stuff I have acquired that has principally been for comparison, review or morbid curiosity (rather than an actual need for a given item) is about to get sold, so I figured it could wait until after I was done with that.


Good to have you back. Congratulations on your new job.


A couple of random(ish) things …

First, there’s another firmware update for the RME ADI-2 DAC - which fixes a couple of bugs and then expands the range of “Q” values you can set in the EQ.

Second, since my new Chord Hugo M-Scaler has multiple outputs (all active in parallel) and can drive non-Chord DACs (with some limitations vs. the dual-BNC connection Chord’s own DACs support), I figured I’d hook it up to the RME ADI-2 DAC and see what transpired.

With the M-Scaler in-place, a 16/44.1 input gets upsampled to 176.4 and processed via the WTA filter at ~250,000 taps (about 90,000 more than DAVE does on its own).

And so far, I’d say it makes a bigger difference (improvemenT) than I would have expected - even after seeing how much of a change it makes when paired with DAVE. With some blind(ish*) testing (the M-Scaler has a “passthrough mode”, so no connections need to be changed), it is quite apparent when the M-Scaler is engaged and doing its things vs. the raw behavior of the ADI-2 DAC.

I will have to save the details of what changes, sound-wise, for tomorrow, as I just ran out of time …

*Blind-ish, in this case, means me doing sightless listening, with the following process:

  • Set a playlist playing.
  • My wife muting the ADI-2 DAC (by remote).
  • Switching (or not) the output mode of the M-Scaler (by remote).
  • Adjusting the output level on the ADI-2 DAC (by remote, and ONLY if she changed the output mode of the M-Scaler - since it outputs at -3 dBFS vs. the source signal - to maintain matched levels).
  • Un-muting the ADI-2 DAC (by remote).

And, yes, you can mute the ADI-2 DAC and change it’s output level WHILE it is muted, without it un-muting - which is a useful trick.


I’ve been haggling with an eBay dealer today. Asked for $800 and 850 and rejected. They countered at $1000. So I will pass for now.

Apparently Zeos just reviewed the RME ADI-2 DAC in the past week or so which explains why stock is running dry everywhere?


Yeah the power of Zeos, love him or hate him is a real thing. I’ve seen him rescue a couple of kickstarters/indiegogo campaigns and decimate stock based on his video reviews.

I find him entertaining, but long winded. Joshua Valour is pretty good and new at it, also I think local to the PNW.

Yes, JV is pretty good. We should invite him to join us in a meetup. :slight_smile:

1 Like

I had to sell my RME ADI-2 DAC at the time of a major gear purge last year when I had to get a new car. Things have stabilized at this point and I’ve been working on building my audio equipment setup again. The first purchase?


I really missed it. What a great piece of kit! I still lack a good headphone amplifier (using the Cavalli Liquid Platinum on loan. It’s excellent and might be what I end up getting when I can purchase one), but the output on the RME is adequate for now. I mostly use IEMs anyway these days.


I jumped on the RME bandwagon, better late than never, right? I found a good deal on a used one and should be receiving it early next week! I’ll also most likely add the Cavalli Liquid Platinum in the near future as well. In the meantime I’ll use the RME’s built-in for solid state and my EC ZDT Jr. for tube. I’m excited to hear the RME myself and play with all the features.


I think you should sell me your EC ZDT Jr. Mostly because I want one :wink:

But seriously I think you will really enjoy the RME ADI-2DAC! I look forward to hearing your impressions of it.


Looks like RME is putting out some great videos walking through the menus on the ADI-2 DAC. 3 so far covering the Top Screens, Volume, and I/O. Edit: Now 5 including EQ and Setup.


Ooo I like the look of this. Is really pleasing to the eye.

1 Like