ConclusionFive dacs... all around 1000 euro. All with their own story and own interpretation of the music. How big are the differences in practice? Well... Not that big. But audible. Especially in the imaging and the calmness that a converter demonstrates. The RME ADI-2 shows the most control in our opinion. The Audiolab comes very close. Its big advantage is that it has more interface options. We also think that the RME deserves a better power supply, which costs money (that makes the gap price-wise equal to the Audiolab).
IFI deserves the award for compactness and price/quality. This mobile dac simply comes along in this field. Which is really an achievement. The Metrum Amethyst certainly comes along, but is now a bit of a 'average dac' what it was not a few years ago... It shows that time does not stand still. And finally, the Audio GD R1. A somewhat tricky story. On the one hand this dac shows that measurements don't tell the whole story. ... only a part of the story. However, we cannot ignore the fact that we hear restlessness in the reproduction and this also manifests itself in the higher distortion and the linearity plot that is not straight. Does this dac sound bad? No, it doesn't. Not at all. But it doesn't present us with calmness either.
Conclusion and sample video
We have also made a compilation for you where we switch between all the dacs. The differences are small. Grab some headphones for the best results.