RME ADI-2 direct to amp

Hello all,

I am heavily considering one of these units as the reviews are great and I love the eq options. Anyone compared using the RME direct to amplifier vs via preamp to amp? In theory this should work out well but I tried this years ago with a Wyred4Sound unit and was not pleased with the outcome. Sounded hard and metallic. 
Never tried it...mine is connected to a c-j preamp with my other sources.   I would recommend you set the line out low and start from there to prevent overloading your amps input.   Great sounding DAC , I love mine 
RME ADI-2 direct to amp
No problem at all if you can get enough volume, it will be the most transparent/dynamic way, your RME has 100ohm output impedance, and will be fine for any amp.

Cheers George

I haven’t tried it direct as I much enjoy my ModWright preamp and can’t imagine going direct but I should give it a go and report back in a few days... haven’t even tried the headphone amp. I play vinyl often so I need a preamp. It is a great DAC. Every retailer that carries RME has a return policy so not much to lose but cost of return shipping.  It’s extremely flexible but even in its purest form with all settings bypassed or fixed it’s still a bargain. 
Even with its stock switch power supply it sounds great but upgrade the power cable which requires the C7 plug to component as it does improve things. Later look into a Linear Power Supply as it elevates it even more. I went a Teddy Pardo LPS and am very pleased. 
I do know there’s many setting options on the volume control if you do go direct so I’d be surprised if there’s an amp out there that will not work. The engineers gave a lot of thought on the RME and the manual is well thought out as well. It’s simply a little beast.

Yes definately try direct, you may be very surprised.
Just looked that dac, it is the swiss army knife of dacs and uses a AKM (Asahi Kasei Microdevices) dac, not bad for a delta sigma dac, I prefer R2R ladder dacs.

Cheers George

If you do decide to try amp direct I would love to hear your comparisons! I think I will wait till my local guitar center has one in stock then go snatch it up. 

It is confusing to me the weight differences in some of these DACs. My Wyred DAC-2 years ago was something like 15 lbs. I believe some newer ones are heavier as well. What can account for 2lbs vs 15lbs in a DAC? 

I've run my ADI-2 directly into my poweramp (Rogue ST100) and it sounded good, albeit a bit drier and less full than when running the ADI-2 through my preamp (Rogue RP7).  I suppose these are preamp colorations (or perhaps there was an impedance issue with directly driving the poweramp?) but the DAC into the preamp sounded better to my ears.
Kinda what I'm thinking. I am running class D amp so I think my tubey preamp fleshes things out a bit. Ill give it a shot anyway if I purchase. 
Currently using DAC inside Node 2 so I'm expecting a descent jump in performance with something like the RME. 
I’ve run my ADI-2 directly into my poweramp (Rogue ST100) and it sounded good, albeit a bit drier and less full
Definitely can’t be a impedance issue, your Rouge is 200kohm input and only needs 1v in to for full power out, no problem going direct

I think dryer tighter is a good thing, maybe just need a re-tune speaker position a little closer to the back wall maybe, system/room/interconnects.

Also did you stay with the 4ohm taps on the ST100? Because the 8ohm now maybe fuller richer and far more powerful also.

Cheers George
I've been using my RME ADI 2 Pro as a preamp direct to power amp (tube, soild state, and class D) for a few years, as well as a headphone amp, without issue.
I’ve been using my RME ADI 2 Pro as a preamp direct to power amp (tube, soild state, and class D) for a few years, as well as a headphone amp, without issue.
This should never have been bought up in the first place, the REM ADI 2 has 100ohm output impedance, with enough voltage to drive ANY amp into clipping, balanced and SE. Shows how things snowball without any reason to.

Cheers George
Hmm. I dont see how it's snowballed. I asked a question about those who have used this particular DAC direct to power amp? 

What I mean is one says it, then another and another.
It’s an unwritten law the output to input ratio should be 1:10 or better eg: 1:100

Not many look at the specs to see if the ratio of what the RME output impedance is (100ohm), and if it 10 x less or more than the input impedance of the power amp it sees, in this case the Rogue at 100kohm! so 1000 x less, so absolutely problem at all.

Cheers George
I get it that it will work. When I tried it 10 years ago with my Wyred it worked as well, just sounded hard albeit more detailed. I can infer from milked's post he liked it since he has used it that way for several years. 

Things that should be technically superior do not always sound that way to my ears. 
The RME is really an amazing component for the money.....  I sold my NAD M51 to a guy to use in a second system....what was his main system DAC?  A RME ADI 2 FS DAC.....
When I tried it 10 years ago with my Wyred it worked as well, just sounded hard albeit more detailed.
My mate has a WFS and it too is hard when doing PCM Redbook compared to my discrete R2R MSB, which has even more detail and dynamics. I think it more the WFS dac being exposed when direct.

Cheers George

mofojo OP Which MSB do you have George? Do you run amp direct with it?

The MSB Discrete R2R Ladder Dac that I do run direct, because it’s remote control digital domain volume is a few clicks off full up so (no bit stripping) at the level I listen to.

If I have far more efficient speakers or amps with higher sensitivity in the system,   so the volume of the MSB then is far lower, and then probably ( bit stripping), then I would use my passive in between dac and amp, set it’s level, so then the MSB is back up near full again and use it’s remote volume control again.

Cheers George
Check out post on hifi shark there are some that run RME direct into amp with good results. I have the RME version 2 with Teddy Pardo power supply and MHDT dac. I like both for different reasons. If I had to pick one it may have to be RME. The RME digs deep for information and things keep going when music becomes busy or complex, not as much with r2r and the RME features are awesome. The person that convinced me to try RME replaced his audio mirror se with RME going straight into his amp and from what he told me he loves the results with no regrets.
Ordered an open box one from Sweetwater. Should be here early next week. Hope I get it b4 the old lady sees it!! Lol
I have my RME ADI FS Pro-2 plugged into my amp directly as I just purchased one from Sweetwater to try. Bought the pro to use the analog as a HT bypass. No issues feeding the amp directly (pass 250.8)

Be sure to post your results. The unit has a 65 page manual but once you understand the menu hierarchy and what the knobs and buttons do its super easy. Even though its tweaked for home use , it is by all rights a piece of studio gear and its layout speaks of that. Go to RMEs website and you can download software that allows you to perform a bit check test and record whats present at its inputs... remarkable little box for sure


I finally got around to running my RME ADI 2fs direct to my Pass X250 and I’m stunned how great it sounds. Currently I’m going from my Bluesound Vault 2 playing off the hard drive so not streaming. I’m using a custom power cord I built for the Vault with Nordost Silver Shadow SPDIF, then off the RME Nordost with a Frey 2 balanced to the Pass with Wywires Platinum HC power cord. All source components going through a PS Audio P5. Amp feed through a Nordost QBase II with QV2 and QK1 also with Wywires Platinum HC PC. Dedicated AC lines. Only mentioning equipment and cables as although not out of this world products I think it’s more than able to pull out what the RME is capable of.

I’ll spend a lot more time going direct next with streaming with Qobuz and then spin some CD’s and report back. First impressions is it sounds really good and just from memory recordings I know very well are sounding very close ModWright LS 36.5 which I think says a lot. Lastly having no issues whatsoever with with the volume whatsoever and at low volumes it still sounds great which my ModWright does as well. So far I’m impressed!

Forgot to mention I am using a Teddy Pardo linear power supply that is being feed with WyWires Silver Juice II Digital Series power cord on the RME.
Probably should had done a better job proofing of spelling and etc on previous post... oh well.
Spent a few hours tonight listening to an assortment of music from stuff I listen to often and a lot of music I have not visited in years. Really impressed how the RME sounds going direct, bypassing a separate preamp. For those that own this DAC and like me until tonight have not tried it direct you might be in for a surprise. No doubt it’s going to be system dependent including cables and if you’re using the stock SPS and PC. Just realized the IC I’m running direct to my amp cost more than the RME so that’s probably helping as well.

I’ll throw my preamp back in the mix in the next day or two and report back.
Really impressed how the RME sounds going direct, bypassing a separate preamp.
Yes 9 times out of 10 going direct is a clear winner, with better transparency/detail/pin point imagining, tighter deeper bass and better dynamics.
But "if" your system has problems somewhere with harshness/hardness, then sometimes it "can" be accentuated by going direct, then the right preamp colouration may put a bandaid fix on these and colour/soften them so they’re not so obvious.

Cheers George
Sounds promising. Will arrive Thursday so I can start playing around with it. New speakers arrive Saturday so I will get a couple days to play around on current ones. Old Snell Type E iii while very musical IMO aren't real resolution monsters so I'm curious to see if I can hear a definite difference from the Bluesound DAC. Real steal on the used market btw. 
Been playing around with the RME for a few hours now. Demo unit so assuming its somewhat broken in if that matters. I started going through my tube pre and it sounded really freakin good. About an hour in I hooked it up direct and so far I believe I prefer it that way. Seemed like everything tightened up and a little more detail. Nothing harsh or digital about it. 
Now need to play around with all the functions. There are a bunch of youtube videos that are a step by step for all the functions. 

About an hour in I hooked it up direct and so far I believe I prefer it that way. Seemed like everything tightened up and a little more detail. Nothing harsh or digital about it.

 Exactly what should happen, more transparent, dynamic, and controlled. Bad recordings maybe less to your liking though.
If any harshness become apparent on good recordings, it’s the fault of the source, amp or speakers, not because your going direct. And that "can" be "band aid" fixed with a preamp in the system that’s less detailed and softens things somewhat.

Cheers George
Had some more time with the RME. Definite upgrade to the Bluesound DAC as expected. Super detailed but natural.
I have done the back and forth with the preamp in and out several times  and it is noticeably better going direct in my system. I do not have a real high end preamp but I would urge everyone to give it a try. 
Next step is to throw out the switch power supply and move to a linear power supply. Many options to chose from which two popular LPS are the Sbooster and Teddy Pardo. I and a few others here have the Teddy Pardo and it made a noticeable improvement being, tighter deeper bass, fully presentation without losing the crystal transparency, wider and deeper stage, and improved PRaT. I don’t get some that say the RME sounds great but it’s weakness is its stage, as in my system, with room treatment and the Teddy Pardo I am blown away by the depth and stage wider than my room... the RME is definitely not closed in but I suspect showing the rest of ones system or a poorly treated room and maybe the lack of the Teddy Pardo with other users.

The RME Engineers are pretty proud of the ADI 2fs claiming in the extensive manual that there is no need to change out the SPS but I and others will strongly agree that is false and I’m guessing they’re just a little too proud of it as is. The Teddy Pardo is affordable and worth ever penny. Strongly recommend. If you opt to stay with the SPS, changing out the power cord does help but you’ll need to get a cable with the C7 plug which there’s many, or as some have suggested getting an adapter if you already have a cable you want to use. Lastly I leave mine on all the time as it does take some time to warm up and at first does sound a little thin or closed in at a cold start but still impressive.
Thanks, I will look into the Teddy power supply. 

So I am running somewhere around -30 on the volume of the RME for normal listening and maybe -16 for occasional loud listening. Am I losing "resolution" bits? I am biamping and each amp has a gain knob. Should I adjust the gain so that I am running higher in the volume range of the RME?

Also the volume goes from -60 to above above 0. Do the positive numbers mean clipping or possible clipping? 

Am I losing "resolution" bits?

They say 70% or more of full up is fine.

Full is 0 and lowest is 100?
Then 30 is fine 16 even better

Cheers George
I lowered the gain on the amps. My max listening is now basically 0 now. So should be good to go. Ill need to  check but I think 60 is the bottom. 
OP I don't own this dac yet but I'm researching it.

Sometimes the Dac designers when they offer Dsp (volume control and such) on the Dac  will account for not losing resolution and the RME is a well designed dac. I think you would like to stay at -6 to -3, to avoid possible clipping and not too low -10 and more allowing the extra headroom to increase possible noise floor. Maybe read the manual since I heard it is very complete.
Did you purchased the pro model? You are biamping and I also read the pro model with dual chips have independent channels for 2 possible amps, one balanced one single ended, I am biamping (planning triamping too) and thought you might be interested.

In regards to the preamp question I have tried dac direct with a project S2 and Denafrips Terminator in my system using hqplayer Dsp (with Denafrips) as volume control and I preferred a preamp (preamps) over it, the choice of going direct I think it is very dac dependent (on its output), it seems the RME benefits this design but I am not completely sure since I haven't tried it.Some others have used analog stepped attenuators controls (gold point) with dacs to avoid the preamps and digital Dsp and preferred this too but it is a gray area some experts say the attenuators have their own tradeoffs and well designed digital Dsp (especially when you are already upsampling like me with hqplayer) are better. I choose to believe these are, if it is real or imagined I have no idea, it sounds good enough to me and the math behind it makes sense.

I do not have the Pro Model. I am using an XLR splitter cable to the 4 channel amp, then using the RCA outputs to a sub. 

Really loving the EQ ! I have a small bump at 120 and 500 for a little punch increase. I hear no negative effects from this. While not exactly cheap I believe the combo of functionality and sound quality make it tough to beat. When I finally go back in the office I may take it in for headphone listening.  
So some of this RME manual is over my head! The amp I just started using does not have a gain control. At normal daytime listening levels I am at around -50 on the digital volume control of the RME direct to amp. Am I losing bits like this? I thought I read somewhere you can change the max output voltage of the RME to compensate for higher power amps. I can't find this in the manual? Anyone know if this is true or I just made it up? It also has relays click off and on in the RME for certain volume ranges. Is this used to not lose bits?

Go into the line out menu in section 19.1.   The menu's hierarchy is described in detail in sec 12.     Specifically  Line Output Reference level.   If you set it to " - 5 dB " this should help to get the volume above -30.  

Also try Auto Reference Level.   That setting uses relays to change the out put in the analog domain, using less " digital" volume.   You can hear the relays click as you go up and down the volume scale when engaged 

That setting may work better, try both...

A little advise, recommendation to improve LPS  further , put a decent power cord 

not too expensive like the Pangea sig , very easy to hear the improvements .

for sure upgrade the DC cable for stock , and upgrade the fuse is you choose .

i have done this on 2 LPS ,one a Teddy pardo I just received l and a Mojo audio .


Totally agree. I use a WyWires Silver Juice II Digital Series PC and a Synergistic Orange Fuse with great results. Made a nice difference, giving more openness and warmth, taking out the edge… what little edge there was.