Topic: I'm look for a new DAC/Interface
I currently own a Focusrite Scarlette 18i8. A large majority of the time I use it as an interface for a single microphone. Occasionally, I use it as an interface for that same microphone and a guitar.
Since I've bought my focusrite, I've started to get more and more into high quality headphones, headphone amps, and so on. A major limitation of the focusrite currently is that it only supports up to 96Khz at 24 bits, and I also use a program called Voicemeeter to run most of my Windows audio which has some crackling disagreements with the Focusrite's internal clock from time to time. I've also been told that, in general, the Focusrite's internal DAC is not that great compared to quite a few other options out there, so now recently I've been looking to upgrade.
Trying to figure out my options:
Initially my idea was to buy the RME ADI-2 DAC FS 2-channel DA Converter. I can keep the Focusrite purely as an interface and use the ADI-2 DAC FS to plug in my headphones into and use it as the output for all of my music/system audio. I've heard great things about it, and it has an added bonus that it has a phones output and basically a built in headphone amplifier of at least some sort, which saves me having to drop another 500 USD on a Topping A90 right now before I can actually us it.
Now I'm thinking... if there as an interface that is basically the RME ADI-2 DAC FS then I can ditch the Focusrite entirely and just use that, which is probably even more ideal. In enter the RME ADI-2 Pro FS AD/DA Converter. It looks like the same thing as the DAC but interface, but is it? It has 2 XLR inputs, looks like it still has the built in headphone amp, and it's looking kind of like what I want, but my question is, is it really? Is the DAC circuit in this the same or better quality as that of the ADI-2 DAC FS? Also, I noticed the headphone jacks on the front are labeled BAL L and R, but they are described as two separate headphone outputs. Are these actually two separate left right channel quarter inch jacks for one pair of headphones, or a complete left right channel output for up to two headphones in total?
(There's also a black edition of this. What does it offer over the standard? It's a bit more expensive sure, but it might be worth it depending on if it's a little more future proof or if it has a little more to offer)
I've also noticed there are products like the Fireface UCX, which has quite a few more inputs than I need, and also doesn't seem to have the XLR L and R outputs for a headphone amplifier leading me to believe that this probably isn't the correct product for me, but I'm curious how the audio quality stacks up to the previous 2 or how it compares to the RME ADI-2 Pro FS AD/DA Converter, (or the RME ADI-2 DAC FS, if the AD/DA converter audio quality is crap and not what I actually want/need in the first place).
So basically, I'm a guy who's brand new to RME devices. Looking to potentially buy one really soon. I really want something with high audio quality, and there's an extra bonus if it's also an interface with 1-2 analog XLR inputs. I feel like there's an overwhelming amount of options given how little I know about RME products, can anyone who has experience with any or all of these products kind of point me in the right direction or give me a run down of how they compare or how they like the products?
Thank you so much in advance, and sorry for all the questions!
Furthermore looking into this, I realise I don't actually know the difference between a converter and an interface. The mic I'm using is a SHURE SM7B which does not require phantom power, and the only other input I really use is actually a 1/4 inch cable run directly from an electric guitar with passive pickups (usually for an unplugged type of sound). Currently, I use ASIO in voicemeeter to grab these input channels and route them to appropriate output channels. I'm imaging this would work the same with the RME interface, but I don't know if either of the ADI-2 AD/DA converter options would require me to buy separate pre-amps or anything like that. Can someone maybe fill me in on that information too if they know or recommend either of those devices?