Saturday, September 22, 2018

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Occasionally, one makes an improvement in their audio system that is monumental....The sound field has become immense, and detailed. You can pinpoint individual instruments and their positions in the orchestra. The sound field has also expanded off to the sides beyond the speakers themselves...This is the most “musical” reproduction that I’ve ever heard.

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My LH Labs Pulse Xfi stereo DAC died last year so I started leaning heavily on my OPPO 105 as a stereo Asynchronous USB DAC with my PC as the source. All Stereo had been going through the Pulse. I love multichannel, and had been sending it over HDMI to my AV pre-processor. This worked well because I had Audyssey XT32 dialed in nicely. The Marantz didn’t support all bitrates, ISO, or DSD, so there were workarounds needed. For Stereo and DSD I preferred the OPPO 105 via analog out, but had to use HDMI for multichannel DSD.

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...as I kept switching between the two, the sound of the e32 kept drawing me in, in a way that the EAR DAC (and one or two other lesser dacs that I had on hand) did not do. And as I kept listening and the DAC ran in further, this sense intensified. I was finding the e32 strangely satisfying and engaging, in a way that I have not yet experienced with digital.

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The following is more of a catharsis than a comparison of some very exciting DAC products on the market today. These writings are somewhat of a warning to others more than a recommendation of one product over another; attempting to discover audio nirvana can tail spin quickly. Over the course of two months I auditioned the Ayre Codex, Schiit Yggdrasil, Lampizator Amber II, exaSound e32, and Ayre QX-5 Twenty, in my home, in my listening room and with my speakers. But that was not the original intent. Each piece of succeeding equipment arrived as the result of me continuing to read reviews in magazines and forums, even after making my final purchase decision. Hence my warning, purchase it and enjoy it, as there is always some other or new gear that alleges an improvement to your current setup, and chasing nirvana can take you places you were never prepared to go; especially if you find and prove the reviews to be true and accurate....

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Like the e18 and e28, the e38 was silent in operation and absolutely stable. Unlike with them, I heard a newfound delicacy in the treble, unaccompanied by any added noise or brightness that the ambience...

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"Armed with all the research and queries of forum members, I listened to and demo’d the following DACs which were available to me in the UK, without extraordinary import taxes and duties: Chord Hugo, Mytek 192, M2Tech Young, Auralic Vega, Wyred4Sound and miraculously the exaSound...

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I found the e32 to be quite different. The e32 has richness to the sound that is natural and not overly warm or full sounding. In fact, the basic sound of the e32 reminds me of the “analog type” sound that I have heard in DACs costing far more than the e32...

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The exaSound PlayPoint and its companion e32 DAC are miniature masterpieces that illustrate that excellent sound doesn’t require large components.

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