I’ve got an RME ADI-2 FS v2 that I’ve been using with a full Benchmark Media Systems stack (LA-4 preamp to dual AHB2 monoblocks) for several months now.

It’s really the DAC to beat in its price class. I paid under $900 shipped from SFB Electronics in the Netherlands. I’m currently in Seattle WA. SFB are a fully factory authorized dealer for RME and have the best prices on the planet. Literally.

This is the newest version of the ADI-2 FS, with a custom implementation of the AKM4493 DAC chip. This chip has the phase AND amplitude perfect SDLD filter (short delay low dispersion). It’s got excellent impulse response, no pre or post ringing, and is flat to within a fraction of a dB out to 20khz on 44.1/16 bit material. It goes even flatter as sample rates increase.

All in all, it’s a fantastic device. I trial’d one of these with a Chord Qutest and the RME won out for me pretty handily. It’s got a liquid smooth midrange, really good imaging, and good depth/width to the sound stage. Low level detail retrieval is excellent and voices/instruments sound exceedingly natural and lifelike across all genres. Where the Chord, great though it is, would overhype some aspects of imaging and occasionally introduce some fatiguing aspects with certain (already borderline harsh) material, the RME handed you all of the detail, but managed to do it without any fatigue. I was unable to find a filter on the Qutest that really checked all the boxes for me; I found myself continually switching between filters and constantly questioning which was right for the material. It was detracting from my enjoyment.

Price wasn’t real issue for me (I say this with humility; this hasn’t been the case for most of my life), but the Chord Qutest usually sells for $1700+ versus the $880 for which I found the RME. That difference funded the strategic purchase of some NOS Cardas XLR cables that were NIB; a pair of Parsec 1m XLR that bridge the DAC and Pre, and a 1.5m pair of Golden Presence that are my main umbilical between preamp and amps... with $$$ left over. They indeed sounded better than the Canare and Gotham Star Quad XLRs I had been using. Further enhancing the performance of my entire system and the RME.

Recently, news of the new-ish iFi iPower X power supply came across my desk and I decided to give it a try, based solely on the strength of their reputation. I’m glad I did.

The improvements mentioned below should be understood properly. RME ships with its products possibly the best OEM power supply among non-esoteric DACs of any maker in the world. It is a custom designed, thoroughly tested, purpose built unit that only RME sells. It’s a very low noise unit that provides high quality power for their devices and is absolutely suitable for use in any critical listening environment. Full stop.

So when I say that the iFi X showed easily discernible improvements in the following areas, it really speaks to the quality of the iFi and is in no way an indictment of the RME.

Easily discernible improvements in blackness, smoothness, detail, air, imaging width/depth, texture, & separation. Liquidity in the midrange is even better (already a strong suit of the RME).

Unit also runs slightly cooler, but that’s a non issue as it ran cool before. I suspect that the voltage regulators are having an easier go of things. Bottom line: a great mod that fully complies with spec (you keep your warranty) for a great price. It’s like the cheapest cable upgrade you’ll ever do, with no downsides. This DAC is simply unbeatable with the Ifi X for anywhere near this price.

So that’s it. That’s my take. An already unbeatable value is made even stronger by a relatively inexpensive upgrade. No downsides.
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