RME Babyface Pro

As I’ve mentioned in other threads, I’m in the midst of selling off all my analog guitar stuff to move to a digital rig. As a part of that process, I’m considering upgrading my Focusrite 2i2 audio interface. I’m also interested in getting another desktop DAC/AMP, and I’m wondering if I can kill two birds with one stone.

RME makes a highly regarded audio interface called the Babyface Pro that has great form factor, and at least from the marketing speak seems like it might share components with their ADI-2 DAC. The specs are a little lower, but the Babyface is also 2/3rds the price of the ADI-2.

Most of the reviews I’ve seen on the Babyface Pro are focussed on its features as an audio interface, but I’m wondering if anyone here can comment on its utility as a DAC/AMP combo?

Output Specs for ADI-2

2019-07-11_19-29-47

Output Specs for Babyface Pro

Thanks!

This isn’t based on listening to one … but immediate thoughts are that:

  • The headphone output is limited to 70mW vs. the >1000mW available from the ADI-2 DAC, so that’s going to put a big crimp on how well it’ll drive full-size cans that aren’t both low impedance and high sensitivity. Even the IEM output on the ADI-2 DAC manages 40mW.

  • The DAC chips are different … with the 4413 falling on the low side of something like the Grace SDAC, never mind the ADI-2 DAC.

I’m inclined to think that combination (never mind the portion of the budget spent on other things like ADCs, mic-pre amps, etc.) means that, in DAC/amp terms, it’s more for monitoring than as a serious audiophile competitor to the ADI-2 DAC.

But, again, that’s based on specs not actual listening.

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Thanks @Torq!

I’d missed the DAC specification, and realistically don’t know them well enough to say how they compare, so I appreciate the insight.

I suppose I was hoping that lazy engineering had made this a comparative bargain, but it looks like signs are pointing to no. Right now I have mostly IEMs, but hanging out here I know that I should be buying something that’s more versatile. In the end, I suppose, my desire for better sound trumps my desire to have fewer things on my desk.

I have a few friends that have Babyfaces, so once I have a better DAC in hand I’ll try to do a listening comparison and post the results.

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I went in the other direction with my setup. I found a used Steinberg UR28M and used its coaxial output into the RME ADI-2 DAC to take advantage of RME’s incredibly fast drivers (the Steinberg’s are mediocre) for playing guitar.

That’s essentially the same setup as I am using now, but going analog into the RME ADI-2 Pro FS. There’s really no discernible latency improvement for whatever reason–it’s super fast both ways if you have the RME in there.

The Babyface Pro is regarded as the reference standard if you need a low latency guitar interface (and you do, because it feels wrong playing a guitar with much latency at all).

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