Sunday, June 16, 2024

Guides, Testimonials, News

For more than a year I have utilized the ‘exaDevices exaU2I Asynchronous USB to I2S Interface’ with my stock built Buffalo II/Legato3 combo (Twisted Pear Audio). The exaU2I allowed me to enjoy I2S PCM up to 384kHz or to be wired separately for DSD.DFF file playback up to 5.6MHz (with the included proprietary software). The exaU2I provided a more dependable and stable performance when mated to my BII DAC.


ExaSound’s retail target price for the e20 was under $2500. The price point selected was very competitive for the stated design performance goal, ”to achieve recording studio performance”, As a result of this price discipline, the design team prioritized decisions for the final design and also for the features selected as they relate to price vs. performance. The results is the exaSound e20 DSD USB DAC, an ultra low noise and ultra low jitter design using very high quality parts in the USB interface, DAC and IV conversion stages. Measured specifications exceed other consumer electronic products of which I am currently aware. While measured specifications are important to many consumers, as a bottom-line enthusiast like many on this forum, I prefer to make purchase decisions upon careful listening. Thankfully, exaSound offers a generous 30 day trial period. Let me also commend exaSound’s prompt, courteous, and professional customer service. Customer service promptly responded to each of my emails and even offered telephone support if needed.


Being a well conceived design, the e20 offers numerous user friendly features, is reasonably priced, and is trouble-free. (It is free of annoying sizzle, pops and clicks, and the occasional signal unlock of my DIY BII DAC as one should expect from a well designed, fully-assembled, consumer electronic product.). It is housed in an all aluminum chassis, being both designed and assembled in Canada. The e20 recognizes the signal then automatically (and silently) selects the proper format, either PCM and DSD. DSD streams are always processed in their native format without conversion to PCM. (Complete information is available on the exaSound website.) The flip-side to the under $2500 retail price point is the e20 is furnished with a wall mounted switching AC-DC power supply. Let me suggest that many enthusiasts will prefer to substitute a rechargeable DC battery to realize improved performance. My evaluations are based upon the use of a rechargeable 12 volt battery.


I allowed a week for break-in (during which the DAC played 24-7 into a load) prior to beginning my evaluation. During the evaluation I switched between the two DACs mentioned herein. So how does the e20 perform? The e20 exhibits a stunningly low noise floor, revealing impressive dynamics, improved detail retrieval, with superb sound-stage spatial cues and resolution. Be it with Choral music or Rock, the vocalists’ diction is more distinct and the lyrics are easier to discern. Undoubtedly, the e20’s low noise and jitter specifications, contribute to the quick, open, detailed, and lively music delivery. The highs are well extended but not bright. The bass is tight and impactful. The e20 is an exciting DAC – definitely not from the soft, slow, and laid back school of design. The tonality, and overall presentation delivers a believable representation of the live performance.


My wife a casual listener says, “It just sounds cleaner and more open.”; an excellent testimonial to the musicality, and performance of this superb design. We have decided to keep the exaSound e20 DAC in our home system. I encourage members to utilize the 30 day trial period to compare the e20 DSD USB DAC to your current favorite.




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