Does the loudness compensation in RME ADI-2 DAC (or some other DAC/pre) actually work well?

Hi all,

I think I’ve been watching way too many Paul’s videos on YouTube, but he seems to referring to loudness compensation in quite a many of those. As a proud father of our soon-to-be-3-years-old daughter, listening enjoyably on low volume levels is something which would really interest me quite a much at the moment :sweat_smile: But modern pre or integrated amps do not seem to have those controls anymore.

I stumbled upon the fact that RME ADI-2 DAC, as well as its more recent FS version, has inbuilt adaptive loudness compensation via DSP processing. Of course, it can not be perfect, because reference levels of music recordings are not known. But it’s still a more modern implementation, and it seems that those German engineers have really tried to nail it there as well as they could. Even though the DAC itself is highly praised, I didn’t find any reviews which would have mentioned experiences about the loudness feature. I would really like to know, if it really works well in practise, or is it just a tech gimmick? Any owners around here?

Or do you happen to know of any other pre amps or DACs which would have a volume adaptive implementation of the loudness compensation?

Thanx for your help in advance!

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Hi kaplas
I own the RME dac and I think it’s a great piece of gear.
The loudness feture indeed decreases with volume, and it’s affect is certainly noticeable, but I wouldn’t buy it just for that feature. I don’t know how it compares to other dacs with loudness.
But, it has an extremely versatile EQ, that can be engaged and disengaged from the remote, and tone controls as well. I’m sure with all these three features you can set it up for enjoyable low level listening.
Have you considered listening with headphones? The RME has a great headphones amp section, would be a shame not to utilize it.

Thanks for your reply Ziggi!

Would you mind elaborating your experiences with this a little bit more? Does the effect make listening on low volumes more enjoyable for you? Or is it more like you just notice the effect is there, but you can really say whether the end result sounds “more right” or not?

I’m actually an avid headphone listener for 10 or so years, so yes, having that good headphone amp section doesn’t hurt at all, indeed :slight_smile: Though I use headphones for the whole work day already, so I don’t know if the headphone amp would actually get much use after all…

Our daughter is growing, and I just thought that I would like to give her the experience of being surrounded by good music while growing up. She do like headphones already (yey!), but perhaps a speaker set and an actual volume knob is a more proper and more social way to accomplish that. That was the inspiration for me start building a stereo set; she will deserve more than our current Sonos quality :smiley:

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i like that - surround her with music :slight_smile:

but also, i stopped wearing headphones when we had our son - with them on i couldn’t hear what was going on in the small hours, waking baby situations that type of thing. still not got back into using them :frowning:

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Raising 5 children was no easy task :grin: I bought these ages ago for the same reason
image
The good thing: they still work!

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I rarely listen at low levels, but sure, with loudness at low level the sound is much better and more enjoyable. Without it it’s flat and lifeless. I must tell you that I found the setting very confusing for me. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out how to set the gain in bass and treble when loudness is engaged and the ref level it will be operating in… so I guess maybe it could be even better if configured correctly or to taste

Thank once again Ziggi and all :slight_smile:

By the way, does someone know if the Bass Boost in Sprout 100 is adaptive to volume (so a bit like proper loudness compensation), or is just static + X dBs for the bass region? If my memory serves me well, @Paul has mentioned the Bass Boost function sometimes when he has been talking about benefits of loudness compensation on his videos.

It is static and does not move or change with volume as it might were it a loudness control.