Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Guides, Testimonials, News


e20 DAC



Initial impression: I've just received the exaSound e20 MkII DAC and I've been extensively comparing it against the Benchmark DAC2. The Benchmark is a very fine DAC with solid build quality, but to my ears exaSound performs better in almost every way.

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For Immediate Release

exaSound Audio Design announces the immediate availability of the e20 Mk III - the first high-end DAC capable of achieving DSD playback at sampling rate of 12.288 MHz (DSD 256+).  This is another world's first for exaSound. The e20 Mk III predecessor, the e20 Mk II was the only consumer-oriented DAC capable of achieving DSD 256 at 11.2896 MHz. The e20 Mk III goes to the next level by introducing three new DSD modes that cover the 48 kHz family of sampling rates: 3.072 MHz (DSD 64+), 6.144 MHz (DSD 128+), and 12.288 MHz (DSD 256+).


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The purity of presentation through the exaSound e20 Mk II DAC was astonishing. DSD files which I had heard before as aggressive and somewhat bright through my Oppo105 player now sounded full, natural with inner details and smooth texture. The imaging was wider, with more space between instruments. Yet music just did not seem to appear from speakers as most often happens when the sound stage widens.

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I just finished comparing both of these units (Benchmark DAC2 and exaSound e20), along with the Mytek 192DSD, on a 30-day home trial. I kept the Exasound.

The Benchmark was solid, but, to my ears, the Exasound was better in most every way: more dynamic, more liquid and more detailed.

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My first opportunity to hear the exaSound e20 DSD/DXD/PCM DAC ($2500) did not disappoint. The company that self-effacingly identifies itself as "exaSound," with a small "e," played along with surprisingly extended Janszen 2A2.1 electrostatic loudspeakers ($7495/pair),, which are reputedly flat to 40Hz, and the Bryston Power Pac 250 amp ($2350) to deliver a beautiful smooth, wide soundstage on a DSD recording from Channel Classics.

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I have a system built around a pair of Spendor S100 speakers and a Jolida integrated >100W tube amp, and I must say that I could not discern any significant difference or improvement in sound between the Chordette QuteHD DSD DAC (that I have also been auditioning) and the entry-level FIIO E17 unit (using the Wolfson 8740 DAC). I was therefore skeptical that I would hear much or any difference in the sound between the e20 and the other DACs That said, I am happy to report that I do indeed consider that the e20 has improved my listening enjoyment in the form of greater perceived greater clarity. It as though a film has been removed from the sound.

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For Immediate Release

exaSound Audio Design announces today’s launch of the e20 Mk II - the first high-end DAC capable of achieving DSD playback at sampling rate of 11.2896 MHz (DSD 256).

exaSound's DAC’s have always stayed ahead of the curve, and the latest e20’s DSD 256 capability not only goes beyond the capabilities of all other DAC’s on the market today, it is ahead of current recording technology. This ensures that audiophiles will be enjoying studio master files the way they were recorded – without down-sampling or down-conversion – well into the future, without equipment upgrades.

In addition to offering the highest digital audio resolution, the e20 DAC has jitter, distortion and noise levels that are vanishingly low, creating an astonishingly clean and analog-like sound – the difference is obvious, even with an ordinary CD. Detailed measurements, specifications and subjective impressions are available at exasound.com.

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