Sunday, June 16, 2024

Guides, Testimonials, News

Published at and by RKlein

My current system comprises the following:


NCore mono amps that I have tweaked with various improvements chronicled on another thread

Bent Audio TAP preamp (passive) (borrowing until I score my own)
C.A.P.S. V. 2+ music server powered by a Hynes SR3-12 Power Supply running Windows 8
Running J.River V. 18
Mytek 192 DAC (borrowed until I decided on a DSD capable DAC
DIY'd TRT speakers from Selah Audio
MG Audio Planus 2 speaker cables
Running everything balanced with Furutech XLR I.C.'s
All components plugged into MY PI audio Uberbuss

I want to start out by stating that I was extremely happy with this setup. The synergy that was happening with the above components was (as Billy Crystal would say) simply marvelous! The transparency/honesty of the recorded material was very satisfying. 


The Sound

... Installing the Exasound driver was a piece of cake. Rebooted the C.A.P.S. and we were ready to go. My first impressions were that I preferred the sound of the Mytek 192 DAC. However, as we continued to listen my impressions started to change. At first, I thought that the E20 sounded somewhat spread and not as focused as the Mytek. As I listened more, I actually eas hearing more texture in the sound. The lower bass and especially the mid-bass had more integrity. More heft if you will.


The mids and highs were also a bit more smooth yet retained every bit of detail that I was digging from the Mytek. The E20 exhibited a more musical presentation no matter if we were playing Redbook, HiRez or DSD material.


Dynamic Range

I started to notice another trait of the E20. I put on a DSD recording of Carl Orff's Camina Burana performed by The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra conducted by Robert Shaw. The challenge in playback is the beginning of the 1st movement. It starts out very softly with chanting sounds from the chorus. About a minute later the full orchestra comes in and usually you have to turn the volume down from where you had it for the beginning. With the E20, I did not have to do this. The low level retrieval is very very good. I find this to be an important plus as I don't have to then turn the volume down in the loud passages.


Headphone Amplifiers

We also listened to the headphone sections on both the Mytek 192 and the E20. Before I talk about this, there is a caveat...I have a pair of Stax cans that I have hard wired to my Pioneer Elite Receiver up in our family room. They weren't going anywhere!! I also have a pair of Audio Technica ATH-50's that I use for IPod/IPhone/late night listening to TV in bed, etc. These are the cans used with the two DACS. With that in mind, I thought that the Mytek had a slight edge in this department. For me, this is not a very important feature as I rarely listen with headphones in my main rig.


Digital Volume Control

The last area I want to talk about is the digital volume control on these units. While the Mytek has both analog and a digital VC, I found that I much preferred running the Mytek into the Bent Audio preamp. I thought (and still do) that this combination was fabulous. Again, I thought the E20 into the Bent TAP was great as I stated in my above comments.


What really floored me

What really floored me was when I played the E20 directly into the NCores sans the Bent TAP. I could hear NO LOSS of transparency. No loss of texture. No loss of anything to be honest. I realize that Ted_B preferred running the E20 into his Concert Fidelity tubed preamp. One needs to put this in its proper perspective. The Concert Fidelity preamp is a $20,000 piece!! What this tells me is to improve upon the volume control of the E20 you better be prepared to pony up some serious $$$$$$.

The best presentation of the SABRE chip that i have heard to date

To my ears, the E20 gave the best presentation of the SABRE chip that i have heard to date. I realize that the Invicta DAC is getting excellent reviews as well. However, that DAC runs $1,500 more than the E20. I think the E20 at its price point is a very solid contender. So much so that I ordered one.




Posted in: Reviews, e20 DAC
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