Thanks for putting things in perspective, guys.
To add a little fuel as well, the ADI-2 DAC is much better than the Modi (any variant). I’d advise against taking such a big step back on the source in order to potentially improve the amp a bit.
If you want something better for the Sennheiser HD6xx, consider something like the Garage1217 Project Sunrise III. That’s what I have for mine and it’s excellent with them.
The Massdrop Cavalli Tube Hybrid (MCTH) is also a nice one for those, or you could start thinking about a proper step up to the Cavalli Liquid Platinum or Schiit Lyr 3.
I’ve done exactly the sort of thing you’re pondering (1-2 steps back, 1-2 steps forward), and it just ends in more money being spent.
For anyone considering the MCTH ($250), look at the Loxjie P20 instead ($100, twin tubes, balanced output). I sold my MCTH because the high end is fuzzy and flat relative to the Loxjie, and the MCTH is pretty lean (less tube-like). See extensive discussion in other threads.
I have a silly question for you. I am getting an RME ADI-2 DAC arriving today. I loaded most of my music to an iPad Pro (based on reading what you did). However, the iPad has an USB-C connector. What did you use to connect the iPad to the RME? Any generic wire or do you use something specific?
When I tested it, I wasn’t using anything fancy … just one of these USB-C to USB 2.0 Type B (printer) cables.
Yes I see. I ordered one similar. Thanks.
Yikes, double yikes, fudgesicles!
Then RME is one pain in the “dupa” to set up. Dupa is in Polish…
How do you register the RME and keep updated of new firmware? I’m lost.
By the way, it sounds beautiful with my Focal Elegia. Eventually, once I run REW in my audio room, it will replace my Theta Casablanca III.
If by “register” you mean for support/warranty purposes, then either send in the card that came in the box, or email your details to RME.
Firmware updates, and their notifications, are posted here.
Firmware updates are done over USB. If you’re on macOS then you can simply run their updater tool - no drivers are needed. For Windows I believe the drivers have to be installed first.
I have to say I quite like my ADI 2! I eventually got it updated,
some griefs I’ve had, AUTO Ref also changes the attenuation on the LINE out, so I’ve turned AUTO Ref off and manually set output to lock at 0.0 dB my REF Out is like +1 atm from the RCA outputs into my Project Ember x Noise Nuke.
I’m doing most of my listening tonight with the WRONG Tube for my HE 560, but I run my HE 560 full Silver with BrainWav Angled Velours [really dark pads with a flatter bass response] and my Psvanne is a thicker tube, that said… I’m finding my self more and more surprised by the system as a whole the more I listen! Filter wise I’m running Sharp
I think the real aha! Moment for me is listening to “ceilito lindo” by Marta Gomez.
I gave it a listen on my old system for about a solid hour straight right before I took my system apart to bring up to a Head Fi Meet… listening to it for the first time on this system [RME Dac] and whoa… the track… sounded little flat before. Dynamically there but really lacking in tactility. Not so any more! There’s some detail [fret buzzing and other string noise] I hadn’t noticed before either!
I also have to say the HD 800 faults stand out a bit more so too!
Have you tried using the ADI-2 DAC’s PEQ with the HD800? I found it to be very enjoyable.
Marta Gomez Cielito Lindo is an obscure music choice! I have the CD somewhere behind me. Entre Cada Palabra!
I dislike EQ, it’s a useful tool but having to “remember” to disable when I plug something else in just bothers me. Frankly the Slow Filter helps and I find it’s not detrimental with any of my other amps
I actually prefer drier sounding cans to wetter, same for my amps so in all honesty the Slow filter does what I need it to and helps minimize some of the faults of the HD 800.
As for Cielito Lindo, I actually review with about 9 tracks. I use music that has 1 or 2 instruments at most so I can really focus in on how said headphones perform with that instrument. Cielito Lindo is an excellent vocal and guitar showcase track!
usually after running through those 9 simpler tracks to get a feel for the individual timbre and tone throughout the audible spectrum, I’ll listen to a more intense mix to see how well the headphone is voiced when there’s a more involved mix featuring much more content through the entire spectrum
That Said Cieltio Lindo was the first track to really catch my attention!
What was the change that felt to make a big difference? The firmware update? The sharp filter?
Neither, I listened to a different track
again I spent all of a day listening to it before I took my system apart for the Meet. Last thing I heard before I packed up. When I heard it again on the RME ADI 2 that was the AHA moment, there was just little bits of detail I hadn’t heard before in that track
You should listen to Enrique Coria and Yolanda Aranda. Guitar and voice. Latin American music. Beautiful recording.
Strangely, if you listen to the Barry Williams show from Peter Gabriel on headphones you may get the impression, I did, that it was recorded, produced and intend to be listened with headphones. Even though the sound on speakers is spectacular, the sound on cans is spooky. Feels truly intended.
Brief review, but that’s about all that’s needed given how much we have all said about this piece of kit.
Responding to two of your negatives:
- The volume knobs feel a bit cheap, especially coming from the JDS Element. The knob is made of thin plastic with a faux rubbery coating and clicks whenever a turn is made. It is very light - there is little to no resistance. This is great for tactile feedback, but I’d gladly take the diminished tactile feedback if the volume knob had a heavier and smoother turn with high resistance and muted clicks instead of pronounced ones.
- The aluminum casing feels similarly cheap. I would have much preferred a thick, heavy stainless steel enclosure over this light aluminum enclosure at this price.
For the volume knob, I’d be upset if it didn’t have the tactile feedback. I know that every click is exactly 0.5dB. Heavier I would fine with, but I don’t mind it as it is.
For the case, I’d also be disappointed if it was heavier. I carry this thing around a lot. It’s very easy to transport between work and home, and I do it pretty much every work day.
Both are obviously subjective, but two parts of your con section would actually be a pro for me.
I won’t comment much on something you mentioned at the end about there being other options available at a fraction of the price, but I will say this: I am unaware of a single DAC that sounds definitively better than this for less than $1000.
I might prefer something like a Sonic Frontiers SFD-1 MKII SE+ with a Lynx AES16e to it, but that’s vintage risk + an expensive internal PCIe card on your PC.
I’m with you on “definitively better for less than $1000,” and I’ll likely be proving that point here moving throughout the year! But I think frankly the only other options are “different” there’s a few different options that may suite an individuals needs or tastes better but I’m skeptical about there being anything as detailed/resolving as this is
An frankly detail/resolve/precision is what I want from my DAC, I will admit compare to my NFB10ES2 the RME is quite Sterile and not as “hefty” in the lows as the AGD unit is. But it’s so much more detailed, and not even obviously so! I’m still finding my self caught off guard by details I’ve not heard before from music in my collection
An regarding the end heft, I found it hard to go back to the weightier AGD after adjusting to how clean/textured the RME is in comparison.