Sonic Benefits of 8 Channel exaSound e38 DAC

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The $3,999 question is how much better does the e38 sound compared to the DACs in the Oppo 205 playing ripped digital files, especially hi-res? Significantly:

Cleaner?
Smoother?
Clearer?
More Analog Sounding?...

I'll answer my own question. From Kal's review (page 2) of the Oppo 205 in Stereophile:

"In comparison to the exaSound, the Oppo had punchier but equally transparent sound with solid bass, but the e38's sound was more subtle, smooth, and spacious. I ultimately prefer the exaSound, especially for long-term listening, but I could also make a case for the Oppo without overreaching."

https://www.stereophile.com/content/music-round-87-oppo-udp-205
 
I'll answer my own question. From Kal's review (page 2) of the Oppo 205 in Stereophile:

"In comparison to the exaSound, the Oppo had punchier but equally transparent sound with solid bass, but the e38's sound was more subtle, smooth, and spacious. I ultimately prefer the exaSound, especially for long-term listening, but I could also make a case for the Oppo without overreaching."

https://www.stereophile.com/content/music-round-87-oppo-udp-205
FWIW, I never used the 205 as a DAC anymore and now I have an e38 Mk.II...............................................
 
Sorry. I misinterpreted what you said and only saw it through my own eyes. I was commenting on Marpow's timidity about setting up a device which, to me, is plug-and-play.
You got that right Kal. timid I am. All my equipment is in cabinets, wires everywhere, and when I get a new piece I have to get in a very Zen state of mind. George is helpful and I believe I can do it, the inputs (going into the exasound) are easy of course, it's the outputs between the exasound and AVR. Need to have some analog and HDMI outs. I probably would be less worried if I had a rig that I could walk behind, the McIntosh equipment is super heavy the 3 channel amp weighs 150lbs.
 
Got my shipping notice.

Please note that the DAC is shipped by exaSound Audio Design from Canada and the Teddy Pardo power supply is shipped directly to you by the Teddy Pardo Company from Israel.

Very exciting. Look forward to your listening adventures with the e38 Mark II.
I picked up a Paul Hynes power supply to use with the earlier e28 8-Channel DAC from exaSound. It made a difference vs. the original exaSound-supplied power supply in the box.
 
Very exciting. Look forward to your listening adventures with the e38 Mark II.
I picked up a Paul Hynes power supply to use with the earlier e28 8-Channel DAC from exaSound. It made a difference vs. the original exaSound-supplied power supply in the box.

Hmmmm...I will take it as read that the Paul Hynes unit (about $430) indeed made a difference given that power supplies are important. But how, or better yet, why is this so? Is it unfair for one to expect the unit to be delivered with a power supply that extracts the full potential of this excellent DAC? Why not just charge $4400 for the DAC with a super-hero power supply rather than sell the package with a "journeyman" power supply? (These questions are more for the exaSound people.)
 
After reading the e38 instruction manual, it does indeed seem that replanning one's system is necessary.

For example, my computer is in the upstairs office and could not be any further from the audio system which is in the basement at the other end of the house. So relocating the Mac, or more likely getting another along with something like JRiver is in my equation.

Another matter then becomes how to scroll through music files remotely from the couch...which happens to be no big deal using the "Swiss Army Knife" Oppo 205.
exaSound is about to release a low-cost streamer, a network to USB bridge to adders configurations like yours. For example you can have JRiver on your Mac upstairs, streaming with UPnP to the e38 over the home network. You can control JRiver via JRemote. I wish Audirvana was capable of streaming multichannel over UPnP. The same scenario is possible with HQPlayer on the Mac streaming to the NAA on the exaSound to-be released streamer. It works the same way with Roon Core on the Mac streaming over RAAT to the Roon Ready player on the exaSound streamer. By the way all this is not new. All mentioned technologies are available with our PlayPoint devices. We are about to make it more affordable.
 
exaSound is about to release a low-cost streamer, a network to USB bridge to adders configurations like yours. For example you can have JRiver on your Mac upstairs, streaming with UPnP to the e38 over the home network. You can control JRiver via JRemote. I wish Audirvana was capable of streaming multichannel over UPnP. The same scenario is possible with HQPlayer on the Mac streaming to the NAA on the exaSound to-be released streamer. It works the same way with Roon Core on the Mac streaming over RAAT to the Roon Ready player on the exaSound streamer. By the way all this is not new. All mentioned technologies are available with our PlayPoint devices. We are about to make it more affordable.

Let me just say that I think your company is first rate and having you here to explain different aspects of your products helps immensely...just keep in mind that a lot of us are physical disc users....first and foremost... and this is a new world for a lot of us...and the more simplistic you can make the application of your products...the more converts you will acquire....I view products like your e38 Mark II as a compliment to an Oppo...not a competitor...we still need discs to get the music we want now....
 
Is it unfair for one to expect the unit to be delivered with a power supply that extracts the full potential of this excellent DAC? Why not just charge $4400 for the DAC with a super-hero power supply rather than sell the package with a "journeyman" power supply? (These questions are more for the exaSound people.)
There is a bit of history here that I need to explain. It starts with our design preference to keep the power supply out of the enclosure of the DAC. If we put it inside we will have to disproportionally increase the price in order to keep the noise levels comparable to where they are now. Some companies use internal power supplies, we wouldn't sacrifice performance for optics and convenience.

Our approach is to use dedicated cascaded linear regulators for the various subsystems of the e38 DAC. 17 of them I believe, the exact number is somewhere on our website. With all the power conditioning inside the DAC it becomes insensitive to the quality of the external power supply. Based on measurements and listening tests, we thought the performance of our DACs is excellent with a desktop style external switching power supply. Our customers provided feedback to the contrary.

At this time we offer our DACs with two power supplies, one switching for temporary use, and a Teddy Pardo that takes a bit longer to arrive. Customers have the option to experiment with other third-party power supplies. Depend who you ask, different brands can be "super-heroes" or "journeyman".
 
Let me just say that I think your company is first rate and having you here to explain different aspects of your products helps immensely...just keep in mind that a lot of us are physical disc users....first and foremost... and this is a new world for a lot of us...and the more simplistic you can make the application of your products...the more converts you will acquire....I view products like your e38 Mark II as a compliment to an Oppo...not a competitor...we still need discs to get the music we want now....
Thank you for the good words!

I also have an Oppo for disk playback. The multichannel DAC is not a replacement for the surround system. It is important to understand how to connect the DAC to make the most of it. It is a long discussion, I will start here with the basics.

The DAC in my opinion has to be the last digital device in the sound-processing chain of audio components. After the DAC you can have an analogue preamp/input selector, analogue power amp and speakers. The preamp is optional.

What if you use a digital device after the DAC? What happens when you connect the outputs of the e38 DAC to a surround processor for the purpose of room correction and base management? Presumably you've purchased the e38 for the fine digital to analogue conversion and the natural sound that it produces. The surround processor will digitize the analogue signal from the e38, it will perform digital processing on it and it will use its own internal DAC to make it analogue again. The character of the sound in your room will be more like the sound of your surround processor. Some of the benefits of the high-end D/A processing of the e38 will be lost.

It is important to do all the digital processing before sending the sound stream to the e38 via USB. It should be done by the player app. In my opinion everything after the e38 should be pure-analogue.

In my listening room I have a passive input selector. I have the analogue outputs of the Oppo, the e38 and the e32 attached to the input selector. This comes to two 8-channel inputs and one stereo input. The input selector goes to a 5-channel analogue amp. I don't use all the 8 channels.

The easiest way to do this setup is with an amplifier like the Parasound A51. It has a little switch on the back to alter between XLR and RCA inputs. You can have the Oppo on the RCAs and the e38-Mini-XLR version on the XLRs
 
Thank you for the good words!

I also have an Oppo for disk playback. The multichannel DAC is not a replacement for the surround system. It is important to understand how to connect the DAC to make the most of it. It is a long discussion, I will start here with the basics.

The DAC in my opinion has to be the last digital device in the sound-processing chain of audio components. After the DAC you can have an analogue preamp/input selector, analogue power amp and speakers. The preamp is optional.

What if you use a digital device after the DAC? What happens when you connect the outputs of the e38 DAC to a surround processor for the purpose of room correction and base management? Presumably you've purchased the e38 for the fine digital to analogue conversion and the natural sound that it produces. The surround processor will digitize the analogue signal from the e38, it will perform digital processing on it and it will use its own internal DAC to make it analogue again. The character of the sound in your room will be more like the sound of your surround processor. Some of the benefits of the high-end D/A processing of the e38 will be lost.

It is important to do all the digital processing before sending the sound stream to the e38 via USB. It should be done by the player app. In my opinion everything after the e38 should be pure-analogue.

In my listening room I have a passive input selector. I have the analogue outputs of the Oppo, the e38 and the e32 attached to the input selector. This comes to two 8-channel inputs and one stereo input. The input selector goes to a 5-channel analogue amp. I don't use all the 8 channels.

The easiest way to do this setup is with an amplifier like the Parasound A51. It has a little switch on the back to alter between XLR and RCA inputs. You can have the Oppo on the RCAs and the e38-Mini-XLR version on the XLRs

Could you expand on the "passive input selector"....not sure what that means... and brand?
 
The DAC in my opinion has to be the last digital device in the sound-processing chain of audio components. After the DAC you can have an analogue preamp/input selector, analogue power amp and speakers. The preamp is optional.

I'm following a similar approach here. I replaced a Meridian 861 Surround Processor with a Meitner EMM Labs Switchman II as the input selector/controller.
It has analog in and out for 4 devices. Same unit as used for recording and playback by Michael Bishop (former Telarc, now 5/4 Productions) and Gus Skinas (Super Audio Center).
Works and sound great.
 
Thank you for the good words!

I also have an Oppo for disk playback. The multichannel DAC is not a replacement for the surround system. It is important to understand how to connect the DAC to make the most of it. It is a long discussion, I will start here with the basics.

The DAC in my opinion has to be the last digital device in the sound-processing chain of audio components. After the DAC you can have an analogue preamp/input selector, analogue power amp and speakers. The preamp is optional.

What if you use a digital device after the DAC? What happens when you connect the outputs of the e38 DAC to a surround processor for the purpose of room correction and base management? Presumably you've purchased the e38 for the fine digital to analogue conversion and the natural sound that it produces. The surround processor will digitize the analogue signal from the e38, it will perform digital processing on it and it will use its own internal DAC to make it analogue again. The character of the sound in your room will be more like the sound of your surround processor. Some of the benefits of the high-end D/A processing of the e38 will be lost.

It is important to do all the digital processing before sending the sound stream to the e38 via USB. It should be done by the player app. In my opinion everything after the e38 should be pure-analogue.

In my listening room I have a passive input selector. I have the analogue outputs of the Oppo, the e38 and the e32 attached to the input selector. This comes to two 8-channel inputs and one stereo input. The input selector goes to a 5-channel analogue amp. I don't use all the 8 channels.

The easiest way to do this setup is with an amplifier like the Parasound A51. It has a little switch on the back to alter between XLR and RCA inputs. You can have the Oppo on the RCAs and the e38-Mini-XLR version on the XLRs
I've experimented & struggled with the less is more since getting my first CD player in 83-84, a Sony 610-ES with a variable line out and most lately with Oppo-105 & 205 players without using the pre-amp.
Every time I preferred having the pre-amp in the chain both from a SQ stand point and from a functionality standpoint.
Later when I got an Anthem D2 pre-pro in my multi-channel music\theater system, I experimented with & without ARC. I felt for MCH that ARC was indispensible for integrating the subs and the speakers in my 7.2 system.

In my 2-channel living room system, I was using another D2 & an Oppo-105 front end.
My brother positioned the speakers using the micro-set method of configuring speakers to a room. The results are great. Without any treatments my system sounded really good. No ARC.

So now as my room reno is coming to a close and I'm adding 2 subs, an Oppo-205 and thinking about what kind of pre-amp I might update to, do I go with the D2? The new Anthem STR pre-amp or something like a used Pass Labs
pre-amp.
I know a lot of people I respect who feel that room correction software outweighs any disadvantage compared to a quality traditional pre-amp.
 
My exasound38 arrived today. Just gonna look at it for now. Power supply jack, USB in from my NUC, Optical in from my Vault player (now that I have JRiver I don't use the Vault for playing only for ripping CD's to FLAC). The IN's are easy of course. I assume I won't use the SPDIF in?
I'll need to do PC setup, looks easy and needed is the ASIO driver, easy.
There is a 12V trigger, wonder if this will work with my McIntosh set up as one ON from the remote triggers all the other components.
There are 8 COAX outs 4 right (white) and 4 (left) that I can use in my 7.1 coax set up rear of my MX122 AVR.
I have a few more things coming out of the rear of my D150 DAC now, I just have to allow myself some time to be calm and sort it out, but for now looks less complicated than my current DAC.
One thing I notice is my universal disc player McIntosh MVP891 is coax out to my AVR MX122 (this was used for SACD MCH out) to the space that the exasound will want to use. The MVP891 also has HDMI out to AVR.
I am guessing that if and when I want to play BD's or DVD's I will be fine, but will I lose SACD MCH? I rip all my SACD's and play via JRiver anyway, so I don't think I am concerned?
I have the right and left balanced from my D150 going to my MX122AVR, I assume I won't need those anymore?
I think I will be OK, and certainly George will help me but if any of you Audio Wizards have any suggestions that would be great.
Better link to MX122MX122, Better link to D150 (being replaced by Exasound38)D150
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My exasound38 arrived today. Just gonna look at it for now. Power supply jack, USB in from my NUC, Optical in from my Vault player (now that I have JRiver I don't use the Vault for playing only for ripping CD's to FLAC). The IN's are easy of course. I assume I won't use the SPDIF in?
OK. Probably no need to use the S/PDIF in as of now.
I'll need to do PC setup, looks easy and needed is the ASIO driver, easy.
What software are you running on the NUC? Setup is easy on Roon, nearly as easy on JRiver.
There is a 12V trigger, wonder if this will work with my McIntosh set up as one ON from the remote triggers all the other components.
No need. The e38 can be setup to turn off/on in response to input.
There are 8 COAX outs 4 right (white) and 4 (left) that I can use in my 7.1 coax set up rear of my MX122 AVR.
Yup. LF, RF, C, LFE, SurrL, SurrR, RearL and RearR in number order.
One thing I notice is my universal disc player McIntosh MVP891 is coax out to my AVR MX122 (this was used for SACD MCH out) to the space that the exasound will want to use.
You must mean analog RCA out. Do you? You cannot get SACD (stereo or multichannel) from S/PDIF.
The MVP891 also has HDMI out to AVR.
I am guessing that if and when I want to play BD's or DVD's I will be fine, but will I lose SACD MCH? I rip all my SACD's and play via JRiver anyway, so I don't think I am concerned?
Yup.
I have the right and left balanced from my D150 going to my MX122AVR, I assume I won't need those anymore?
Probably not.
 
exa065,
Just saw the custom balanced version of the MkII on your site.
What, if any diff in specs from the RCA?
Different gain?
1 nit, pic of the rear case doesn't have a MkII silkscreen? Does the actual product?
Last nit, why no black case?
JMO, lots of folks have all black gear, like me.
Performance-wise your product is impeccable and getting better.
 
OK. Probably no need to use the S/PDIF in as of now.
What software are you running on the NUC? Setup is easy on Roon, nearly as easy on JRiver.
No need. The e38 can be setup to turn off/on in response to input.
Yup. LF, RF, C, LFE, SurrL, SurrR, RearL and RearR in number order.
You must mean analog RCA out. Do you? You cannot get SACD (stereo or multichannel) from S/PDIF.
Yup.
Probably not.
Thanks Kal, very helpful, correct on the RCA out, thats what I meant. The windows 10 NUC I use is JRiver.
Currently in my JRiver playback options my Audio Device is McIntosh HD-(ASIO) I assume when the exasound is hooked up JRiver will just pick up on the exasound ASIO.
 
exa065,
Just saw the custom balanced version of the MkII on your site.
What, if any diff in specs from the RCA?
Different gain?
1 nit, why doesn't the pic of the rear case have a MkII silkscreen?
Last nit, why no black case?
JMO, lots of folks have all black gear, like me.

Not sure I know answer to those. I talked to George and after lengthy talk this is what we came up with. Black vs Silver, I don't care. All my equipment is in cabinets and can't see anything except face plate.
 
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