I have been playing around with different setups and for some odd reason I found that when I plug the ADI via USB to my mac mini instead routing it via AES through UFX+ the sound is much more detailed and better. Any ideas why?
This has been discussed quite often on this forum already.
There is not quality difference between different forms of digital data transfer (USB, AES, ADAT, SPDIF).
Are you really sure that you did a proper testing not to become a victim of psychoacoustic effects?
Our ear can not remember small sound differences for long, so you need to perform quick A/B tests where you can switch in seconds.
Next for our ears louder sounds better (therefore the well-known "loudness war" in the music industry.
Therefore it's very important to make quick A/B comparisons at the same volume levels.
Another aspect of psychoacoustic is, that we have a certain bias and this also heavily influences sound interpretation of our brain (this is simply how our brain works..)
If you think, that
- device A sounds better than device B, then it will.
- more expensive USB cables sound better, then it will.
- there is a sound difference between USB and AES/SPDIF/whatever - maybe you heard at different sound levels and noticed a difference because of that - then you have now a certain bias and then it will sound better.
Such psychoacoustic phenomens exists and for a valid comparison you need to do everything to exclude them.
One important methodology is to perform blind tests, that you do not know what is in use for playback.
Even more accurate is to perform double blind test where the other person, who performs the switching between A and B also does not know what is currently in use, not to influence your judgement by certain reactions.
I would propose that you check
a) 1st of all with the ADI-2 Pro's Bittest (explained in the manual) that on both computers a lossless transfer of music data between application (music player, daw, ..) and the ADI-2 Pro is guaranteed "end-to-end"
b) that you listen at the same volume level
But you also need to check settings on the application, the computer and the ADI-2 Pro..
Maybe on one of your computers
- the music players volume was turned down
- the music player had some FX active (EQ, sound enhancer)
- the music player didn't use the proper audio driver that guarantees lossless transfer of audio data by curcumventing the sound system of the computer (Windows)
- the computers sound system has some sound enhancers active
- the computers mixer was active and turned down, making sound more silent which does not sound as good
- TotalMix FX faders are not at 0dB position (on SW playback or HW Output channel or both)
- TotalMix FX has some FX active on the HW output
In case you created different profile for playback from USB and AES to prevent automatic switching of modes.
Maybe the settings in the two profiles are not equal: B/T, PEQ, dynamic loudness.
To exclude that I personally perform two things
a) work on one setting and finalize it with everything needed and with B/T, PEQ, Dynamic Loudness turned off
b) save this also as 2nd setting and then make only those adjustments to playback from another source
Also helpful is to use the key remapping, I have mapped the front key EQ to toggle any form of EQing on/off for all four analog outputs (Analog 1/2, Phones 3/4):
Options -> SPDIF / Remap Keys -> EQ (3) - EQ+B/T+Ld 1-4
By this you turn off Bass/Treble, PEQ and dynamic Loudness settings and get feedback in the display whether its deactivated or not for a valid comparison without any EQing.
Of course you also need to check, whether you use the same D/A filter:
I/O -> Main Output 1/2 -> Settings -> DA Filter
Also check whether you have perhaps erraneously changed some other settings there that also impact sound/dynamic:
Reference Level settings, Mono, Width, Phase Invert, Crossfeed ..
To check for the same volume level its good to cross check with such a measuring device and using sine tones:
https://www.thomann.de/de/digital_sound … _meter.htm
So based on this observation
As I said, your observation is wrong, pls check.
Once music data has been transferred digital and lossless to the ADI-2 Pro three things happen.
1. RME Steadyclock technology eliminates any clock jitter
2. The clock signal becomes "refreshed" by the ADI-2 Pro's internal FS clock.
3. The final D/A conversion is being performed with the ADI-2 Pro's internal FS clock in best quality.
In terms of cabling between UFX+ and ADI-2 Pro (if you want to use it this way):
I personally would avoid coaxial SPDIF and use e.g. optical SPDIF to also get a galvanic isolation between devices.
But also AES is very good eliminating noise as it is a balanced connection and thus can be used for cable lengths over 100m in the studio. TOSLINK allows for 10m according to standard, but with RME also 15+1=16m works fine for me from UFX+ to an Optosel 4:1 TOSLINK Switcher and then 1m between switcher to ADI-2 Pro.
But you can possibly also do the following
a) cabling between UFX+ and ADI-2 Pro (optical SPDIF or AES)
b) keep both devices connected through USB (also useful for performing firmware updates
Then configure two different setup and store them in the ADI-2 Pro, then you can switch between two modes of operation
a) to be used as D/A converter for monitors / phones, getting audio from the UFX+
b) to be used as aggregated device where the DAW can access both devices through their USB connection
Also I would put ADI as clock master instead of UFX+. Any thoughts on this?
You can do this but I personally see it as an operational advantage to use the UFX+ as clock master.
Then applications like Music Player or DAW can set the sample rate.
The main interface will learn the sample race through the driver.
And the connected ADI-2 Pro would learn it through AES or optical SPDIF (which is a 2ch protocol up to 192kHz, so that the connected ADI-2 Pro can detect also higher sample rates automatically.
The final D/A conversion will be performed as I mentioned anyway on the ADI-2 Pro by using its local FS clock.
I personally do not think that you get audible changes (measurable yes) for the A/D and D/A conversion of the UFX+ when being clocked through ADI-2 Pro's FS clock. But it's your decision where your focus is.
I am usually recording in 44.1, so for me it would not be much fiddeling around.
But I have music content in different sample rates, there it would be a burden, having to change the sample rate on the ADI-2 Pro whenever the samplerate changes on playing back stuff randomly.
X10SRi-F, E5-1650v4, Win10Pro21H2, Cub11Pro, UFX+, XTC, 12Mic, ADI-2 Pro FS R BE, RayDAT