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exaSound's new e12 DAC with DSD 256 - Smaller & just over 1 pound in weight


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I see that George Klissarov at exaSound has a new, smaller, lighter Stereo DAC that supports DSD 256.

Just over 1 pound in weight for $1,999.

 

And I thought his current models were small and light…. :)

 

[ATTACH=CONFIG]17146[/ATTACH]

 

 

exaSound Audio Design > e12 > Overview

 

 

So far, so good. But it seems the e20 is no longer available and this little guy doesn't offer the same functionality. It's entirely different product albeit for less money. So...

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They're claiming the same sound quality as its' bigger siblings, albeit with fewer features. If the SQ claims are true it seems like quite a competitive product.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Path: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Cayin iDAC6 MKII (tube mode) (XLR)>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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The master clock is not as good as the e22 DAC. Better to purchase the e22. You get what you pay for.

 

Model e22: 0.082 ps master clock

Model e12: 0.13 ps master clock

My Dedicated 2CH System Gallery

 

Custom C.A.P.S. Reference Music Server with UpTone Audio JS-2 External Linear Power Supply > Bel Canto REFLink Asynchronous USB Converter > AT&T ST Optical Glass Fiber > Bel Canto DAC3.7 DAC > Pass Labs XP-20 Preamp > Pass Labs XA160.5 Class A Mono Blocks > Martin Logan Summit X Speakers

 

Powered By Balanced Power Technologies - UpTone Audio JS-2 Linear Power Supply - CyberPower Sinewave UPS

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The master clock is not as good as the e22 DAC. Better to purchase the e22. You get what you pay for.

 

Model e22: 0.082 ps master clock

Model e12: 0.13 ps master clock

 

It's tricky: I wonder how many people could spot the difference that master clock makes; I'm not sure I could. That said, although I think the built-in preamp is quite good, I prefer to use an external preamp (that cost me an extra 700$.) However, I'm glad of the extra connectivity, and the HPA is really first-rate. I think, on balance, George has positioned this pretty well.

Mac Mini (+Tidal +Roon) -> WiFi -> Lyngdorf TDAI1120 ->JM Reynaud Lucia (Tellurium Q Black v2)

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The master clock is not as good as the e22 DAC. Better to purchase the e22. You get what you pay for.

 

Model e22: 0.082 ps master clock

Model e12: 0.13 ps master clock

 

1 Sample of 44.1kHz 0.000022675736962s

1 Sample of DSD256 0.000000088577098s

0.130ps clock       0.000000000000130s

0.082ps clock       0.000000000000082s

 

Do you really think it will make a difference?

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1 Sample of 44.1kHz 0.000022675736962s

1 Sample of DSD256 0.000000088577098s

0.130ps clock       0.000000000000130s

0.082ps clock       0.000000000000082s

 

Do you really think it will make a difference?

 

I say every little bit helps. My DAC master clock is 0.070ps from 100Hz to 1Mz

My Dedicated 2CH System Gallery

 

Custom C.A.P.S. Reference Music Server with UpTone Audio JS-2 External Linear Power Supply > Bel Canto REFLink Asynchronous USB Converter > AT&T ST Optical Glass Fiber > Bel Canto DAC3.7 DAC > Pass Labs XP-20 Preamp > Pass Labs XA160.5 Class A Mono Blocks > Martin Logan Summit X Speakers

 

Powered By Balanced Power Technologies - UpTone Audio JS-2 Linear Power Supply - CyberPower Sinewave UPS

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The master clock is not as good as the e22 DAC. Better to purchase the e22. You get what you pay for.

 

Model e22: 0.082 ps master clock

Model e12: 0.13 ps master clock

 

The question isn't the specs. The question is the sound. The e22 is a very good sounding DAC. If the e12 sounds as good. Then it will probably be one of the best,or the best, sounding for up to $2K. And not all of the competitors do 256 DSD and 384K PCM.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Path: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Cayin iDAC6 MKII (tube mode) (XLR)>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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George is sending my review sample this weekend. I expect it to be a killer under $2k DAC. Why? Same innerds as E22 (less femto) with USB galvanic isolation, and they knocked $1500 off the price. There are plenty of folks who don't need a display (and the noise accompanying one), headphone amp or balanced outs. George and company have proven that they know how to "tame" the beast that is the ultra-resolving original 9018 chipset (8, four per side). Their handbuilt ASIO drivers do magic; this should be an excellent DSD (to 256) stereo DAC. Can't wait.

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1 Sample of 44.1kHz 0.000022675736962s

1 Sample of DSD256 0.000000088577098s

0.130ps clock       0.000000000000130s

0.082ps clock       0.000000000000082s

 

Do you really think it will make a difference?

 

For correct answer, you need to divide sample time of 44.1 kHz with the sample precision.

 

Thus:

1 / 44100 / 2^16 = 346 ps

1 / 192000 / 2^24 = 0.31 ps

 

This if naturally total, so +-173 ps / +-0.155 ps

 

Because the timing error should not be larger than amount of LSB, otherwise random jitter begins to lift your noise floor or systematic jitter cause spectral peaks exceeding level of LSB signal.

 

Since best DACs have true resolution of about 21 bits, true output jitter must not exceed +-1.24 ps to make use of the resolution, at 192 kHz.

 

Another thing is that stating only "0.082 ps" clock generator jitter doesn't tell much. Having phase noise level in dBc @10 Hz would probably be more useful. But in any case clock generator jitter is one thing and the jitter in DAC output is another. It doesn't get better on the way, but it may get worse. And usually the MCLK signal seen by the DAC chip pin is already something else due to random and systematic noise processes affecting the signal on PCB traces...

 

In many cases 10 Hz phase noise level is already about 10 dB worse with 100 MHz oscillator compared to 24.576 MHz oscillator even if the overall "ps" jitter figure would be not much different. This is one reason why true-DSD and ladder-PCM converters are good, because they don't need MCLK at all and thus don't need high fs-to-MCLK multipliers either (clock rate is equal to sample rate).

Signalyst - Developer of HQPlayer

Pulse & Fidelity - Software Defined Amplifiers

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George is sending my review sample this weekend. I expect it to be a killer under $2k DAC. Why? Same innerds as E22 (less femto) with USB galvanic isolation, and they knocked $1500 off the price. There are plenty of folks who don't need a display (and the noise accompanying one), headphone amp or balanced outs. George and company have proven that they know how to "tame" the beast that is the ultra-resolving original 9018 chipset (8, four per side). Their handbuilt ASIO drivers do magic; this should be an excellent DSD (to 256) stereo DAC. Can't wait.

 

Agreed. The e12 looks like quite a deal. Some music fans will gladly trade a few of the goodies to save $1,500! :

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I hope you are right, Ted. I'll be interested to hear if you think it as good as its direct price competitors ($1500-$2500) or as good as something more expensive, based on SQ only.

 

 

George is sending my review sample this weekend. I expect it to be a killer under $2k DAC. Why? Same innerds as E22 (less femto) with USB galvanic isolation, and they knocked $1500 off the price. There are plenty of folks who don't need a display (and the noise accompanying one), headphone amp or balanced outs. George and company have proven that they know how to "tame" the beast that is the ultra-resolving original 9018 chipset (8, four per side). Their handbuilt ASIO drivers do magic; this should be an excellent DSD (to 256) stereo DAC. Can't wait.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Path: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Cayin iDAC6 MKII (tube mode) (XLR)>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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Ted-

I would be interested in hearing your impressions of the e12 vs the Hugo.

I was able to hear the e12 a couple weeks ago at our Audio Society of MN meeting. George brought it along and gave us the "World Premier" of it. I think it will be one killer dac at that price point especially if you only need a DAC only component. It is really small and looked very well built. He also brought along an e22 for comparison. The two sounded very close, there were a few comments on differences in soundstage, but from where I was sitting I didn't hear it. All I can say is that to my ears they were very close, but the limited time we listened I couldn't point to any specific differences. He played all sorts of sample rates and there were no issues(clicks, etc). I was very impressed by the e12 and George is a very interesting person to listen to as well.

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IMO, the e12 with a very good third party power supply should be able to outperform the e22 with a standard PS.

 

What do you think about?

 

Matt

 

Why do you think so? Pretty much everyone I've read on the e22 noticed little or no change when they swapped in a 3rd party PS. And again, for what it's worth, the e22 has that femto clock.

Mac Mini (+Tidal +Roon) -> WiFi -> Lyngdorf TDAI1120 ->JM Reynaud Lucia (Tellurium Q Black v2)

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Why do you think so? Pretty much everyone I've read on the e22 noticed little or no change when they swapped in a 3rd party PS. And again, for what it's worth, the e22 has that femto clock.

 

http://www.computeraudiophile.com/f22-networking-networked-audio-and-streaming/hqplayers-network-audio-adapter-13892/index20.html#post395119

 

KR

 

Matt

"I want to know why the musicians are on stage, not where". (John Farlowe)

 

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Fair enough; perhaps I'll try that someday.

 

Btw, for those that care, I've taken the preamp back out of my system. There was a sudden dramatic shift in the quality of the sound around, I guess, the 250hr mark. Now everything that the preamp was contributing (firming up vocals, separating lines) is being contributed in spades by the e22 itself. And of course there's that incredible transparency you get when you go direct into the amp. I find it astonishing how far down I can turn the volume and still get a full picture of the sound.

Mac Mini (+Tidal +Roon) -> WiFi -> Lyngdorf TDAI1120 ->JM Reynaud Lucia (Tellurium Q Black v2)

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Fair enough; perhaps I'll try that someday.

 

Btw, for those that care, I've taken the preamp back out of my system. There was a sudden dramatic shift in the quality of the sound around, I guess, the 250hr mark. Now everything that the preamp was contributing (firming up vocals, separating lines) is being contributed in spades by the e22 itself. And of course there's that incredible transparency you get when you go direct into the amp. I find it astonishing how far down I can turn the volume and still get a full picture of the sound.

 

Trappy,

Wow - that's great news! Thanks for sharing your first hand observations - I guess most components need a slight burn in before they really start singing. Again, thanks for the first hand observations.

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I find the E20 and E22 volume control to be absolutely transparent, could not be happier.

 

whilst George has done a great job on galvanic isolation, the E20 and E22 still benefit from optical isolation of the LAN when using a HQ Player NAA running on Windows Server 2012. The SQ of the Exasound WS2012 ASIO driver is superb, making the combination with HQ Player simply stunning for its live realism

Sound Test, Monaco

Consultant to Sound Galleries Monaco, and Taiko Audio Holland

e-mail [email protected]

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I think this move makes sense for exaSound. It makes for a clearer distinction between the features offered by each model in the lineup, and how that's reflected in the price. Whereas with the e20, it was kinda sorta but not exactly the e22's little brother. A lot of people don't need a HPA in their DAC, balanced out, or any input but USB... exaSound does put a great HPA in their e22 (and did in the e20) but honestly for a few hundred bucks more you can get a much more powerful, external amp from companies like Schiit or Burson. (Or can go nuts with tubes like I do.)

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