RME ADI-2 DAC or Pro with Roon?

I’d like to second this request for experience with the RME ADI-2. I’m considering it as well as an upgrade in my main system. Currently using an older Teac UD-501 and wondering how much of an upgrade the RME would be in my system. Using Focal Clears for my headphones and my source is a PC running Roon.

Both are fantastic DACs, the Pro is also an ADC, so you can convert any analog input (in fact you can set it up in multichannel mode to use all inputs). No issues with Roon on the DAC from my Windows-based PC (will try a NUC / Rock setup in the not-too-distant future). IMO their main advantage is the EQ feature, which is great for headphones. They also have separate loudness, normalization, and bass / treble gain for some quick adjustments when needed. You can run all outputs simultaneously (two headphones + one balanced output + TRS line out) and have separate EQ settings / customizations and save them, which is great if you have many headphones with different impedances, freq. response and so on. NOTE: there are limits on how much DSP / EQ you can do simultaneously, if any! DSP is expensive in terms of computing power. Otherwise very customizable, and the headphone amps are quite powerful - very impressive for such a small box. The display is nice, it can get in your face but of course there’s a setting to turn it off after 5 secs. Runs pretty hot compared to other DACs, I put a silent Aircom fan on top.

I would not eq the line out at all, and I also wouldn’t upsample everything from Roon; DAC chips upsample internally, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Roon of course has its own EQs and DSP, some amps also have those, so you have to decide what you want to do, and where. The ADI-2 DAC sounds very smooth and it’s the most customizable DAC / preamp / headphone amps I have seen.


How does it sound compared to more regular HiFi DACs, like DACs from Chord? I have read reviews where the reviewer liked it better than Hugo 2, but I find that doubtful.

I think you can filter using EQ on separate outputs, although I am not sure you can do it SIMULTANEOUSLY on the DAC (check their guide, it’s on their site). This is because the DSP chip cannot do too much at once. It seems to me you should DSP your subwoofers separately with specialized hardware which is cheap these days.

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This sure looks like an interesting DAC. Does anyone have any experiece with playing DSD from Roon to this DAC? Especially with headphones, when I read the manual it seems like it’s not possible and DSD will be converted to PCM?

“Even more extreme is DSD Direct. If activated (SETUP, Options, Device Mode), the DSD signal is not converted to PCM within the DAC, therefore there is no volume control at all – except for the analog reference levels, which can be used to set the coarse output level/volume. Left with no volume control, the ADI-2 DAC intentionally deactivates the headphone outputs in DSD Direct mode – the analog signal is only available at the rear outputs”


Yup, only PCM is possible via the headphone outputs.

So for DSD, you’ll need to use the DAC’s rear RCA/XLR outputs and connect to a separate headphone amp.

I have the THX 789 headphone amp and am thinking of getting the RME ADI-2 for DAC (incl. DSD) duties.

Currently connected to my THX 789 amp is a Pro-Ject S2 DAC and MrSpeakers Aeon Closed headphones.

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From what I understand, you can send DSD to the DAC but it will internally convert it to PCM during playback, unless you use DirectDSD mode in which case all DSP (including volume) and headphone amp is disabled.

This is a result of volume being done in 32bit DSP in the DAC.

Yup this is correct.

I was primarily considering this for headphone duties, avoiding the separate headphone amp that I feel the Pro-ject S2 Digital needs. I have a fairly bit of DSD tracks so I might reconsider.

Its a drawback with this DAC, the manual says that DSP cannot be performed on DSD but Roon does it so its certainly possible. Maybe it can be fixed with firmware update?

I think the reason for this is that RME mostly does equipment for studios, and I don’t think DSD is a big deal in the studio world.

@sohe68 here the RME DAC is compared with Soekris and Halo Cyan. The Halo Cyan also has the same behavior with volume and DSD btw: https://www.headphone.com/blogs/news/holo-audio-cyan-dac-amp-review

NIce, thanks for the link!

When I think about it, Roon also converts DSD to PCM for volume leveling and other DSP, so the DSD/DSP drawback is probably not something to worry about for the RME DAC.

This is assuming someone wants DSP applied to their DSD files…

If someone doesn’t care for DSP applied to DSD and doesn’t want their DSD decimated, DSD is not an option with the headphone output on the RME. In this case, would need to use a separate headphone amp for DSD playback (without decimation), as I mentioned above.

Strange they designed the amp like that. The Pro-ject S2 Digital plays DSD to hedphones, unfourtunately the headphone amp, IMHO, is not so good.

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Agreed. The THX 789 amp is a great match to the ProJect S2 DAC.

See here:

I think the reason is that they found volume control in this way gives better sound quality compared to do it with the DAC chips (like Pro-Ject Pre Box S2). The Halo DAC I linked earlier also had this “feature”, so I assume its for a good reason.

They also have the loundness function, which applies progressively and configurable more boost the lower the volume, which I think is a very nice functionality, but which probably requires the volume to be done in DSP

Unlike the Halo DAC, the RME lets you decide yourself if you want to use is as a pure DSD DAC with no DSP, or as a regular DAC/preamp/headphone amp.

Anyone successfully using the RME ADI-2 DAC with an Allo USBridge? I don’t see the DAC listed on the @allo.com DAC compatibility matrix.

I’m interested in this question also.

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I’ll let you know next week. I took one for the team and ordered the RME DAC…

You are welcome :smiley:


Nice! Looking forward to reading your impressions. Should be the last DAC you ever buy…