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exaSound E68 Stereo DSD512 and 8-Channel DSD256 DAC


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Just to close the loop on this conversation, I went ahead and switched to using the S88 ROON Core.  Now, both my main PC and my laptop have ROON installed and also JRiver.  If needed for Amazon Music and Primephonic, I also have the WDM driver.  I've switched back and forth several times and no issues.  I still have about 9 days of free ROON evaluation.  I will certainly keep JRiver (for music tagging and playing movies).  ROON I need to determine the value of keeping it.

 

Thanks again everyone!

 

Marcus

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40 minutes ago, Desertpilot said:

I will certainly keep JRiver (for music tagging and playing movies).  ROON I need to determine the value of keeping it.


A big part of the reason I started using Roon over JRiver was no longer needing to tag albums (I went through a lot of effort with JRiver tagging compositions or splitting album names into compositions for my 90% classical library). Roon takes the raw ripped album (and streamed Qobuz/Tidal files) and automatically slices up and organizes the albums in every way I need - composition, composer, composition date, conductors, performers, venues, and more).

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15 minutes ago, ClassicalDJ said:


A big part of the reason I started using Roon over JRiver was no longer needing to tag albums (I went through a lot of effort with JRiver tagging compositions or splitting album names into compositions for my 90% classical library). Roon takes the raw ripped album (and streamed Qobuz/Tidal files) and automatically slices up and organizes the albums in every way I need - composition, composer, composition date, conductors, performers, venues, and more).

 

Thanks for the tip.  ROON is currently "chewing" on my library.  I'll check out how ROON organizes my albums.  As a side note, ROON lets me have immediate access to the three items I store in each album folder, The album cover, the album back cover and the pdf file of liner notes.  I can look over any of the three items while listening to music.  This was very nice.  I also put the libretto into the "lyrics" field of several albums.  This also easily shows up.

 

I'm very pleased that using the S88 as the ROON Core is allowing me to use either player.

 

I super appreciate your input.  Thanks.  Marcus

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Marcus, you may want to compare using another computer as ROON Core and the s88 as only a ROON endpoint and "see" if it sounds better using the s88 only as a ROON endpoint, It may not as George at Exasound has done such a superb job with the s88. Some years ago initially ROON was a one device music software - I used it, after using JRiver. Then ROON updated to use a ROON Core and a separate ROON endpoint and I noticed the sonic improvement at that time immediately! Oh - what receiver are you using in your garage?

 

I just added a Bluesound Pulse 2i stereo ROON endpoint for use outside on my back patio when we're out there and in the pool! Via Airplay its only 44-16, if wired ethernet 192-24.

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1 hour ago, Steve Bruzonsky said:

I just added a Bluesound Pulse 2i stereo ROON endpoint for use outside on my back patio when we're out there and in the pool! Via Airplay its only 44-16, if wired ethernet 192-24.

 

Those speakers are "ROON Ready" which explains your hi-rez connectivity.  I can get airplay to work but reduced to 16/44.1 stereo.  No worries.  I listen to music only occasionally in the man cave (garage).  I went back to HDMI from my laptop to the receiver (using either ROON or JRiver) and got 24/192 multi channel surround.  The garage receiver is ethernet connected, by the way.  I just wanted to check out the S88's streaming capability via ethernet.  And it will stream via Airplay.

 

I bought the S88 primarily for my "main listening room".  It works perfectly.

 

Marcus

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5 hours ago, Desertpilot said:

 

Those speakers are "ROON Ready" which explains your hi-rez connectivity.  I can get airplay to work but reduced to 16/44.1 stereo.  No worries.  I listen to music only occasionally in the man cave (garage).  I went back to HDMI from my laptop to the receiver (using either ROON or JRiver) and got 24/192 multi channel surround.  The garage receiver is ethernet connected, by the way.  I just wanted to check out the S88's streaming capability via ethernet.  And it will stream via Airplay.

 

I bought the S88 primarily for my "main listening room".  It works perfectly.

 

Marcus

 

We will only be using the Bluesound speaker via Airplay with wi-fi, so its "ROON Ready" ability to do up to 192-24 is for use of no use.

Keep in mind that your receiver chip is processing at either 44k or 48k - if you want to experiment, use ROON to downsample to 44k and 48k from 192k and "see" if you hear any difference. The fun of audiophilia!

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Update:  I decided to keep ROON (I am on my last day of my free trial).  I did switch to using the S88 as ROON core but it simply does not have the horsepower to do any DSP (i.e., speaker correction).  I switched ROON core back to my PC, which handles DSP very well.  I'm able to switch from music to JRiver HDMI for movies (just a few settings changes).  Of course, now I am considering a dedicated computer for music and use my current PC for movies only.  But, overall I am very satisfied with the S88.

 

The S88 is playing to two brand new speakers (Spatial Audio Lab X3).  I really like the combination and ordered a third X3 for center channel duties (should arrive in the next week or so).  I have the speakers located 5 feet out from the front wall.  GIK 6A absorber/diffusors are mounted on the front wall directly behind each speaker   I sit 10 feet back from the speakers.  Instruments and vocals are perfectly spaced behind the speakers and fill up the entire space along the front wall.  I can't wait to install the third speaker so I can properly play my multichannel music.  Currently, I am still using my SVS Ultra Surround speakers.

 

Here's a photo   I added a few bass traps as I test out their effect.

 

Thanks for listening.  Marcus  

 

 

Current Setup.jpg

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  • 3 weeks later...

Questions re the s88 and JRiver (its been years since I used JRiver, and when I did, USB for 2 channel and HDMI for multi-channel with a custom modded CAPSv3 with an AMD Sapphire HDMI card (for multi-channel) and a SOTM Express USB card (for stereo, higher quality sonics):

 

Can JRiver expand 2 channel to say 5.1 or 5.2 channel? When it does, does it simply add blank to the unused channels, or does it actually add some sonics (as does Auromatic, Dolby or DTS with a AVR or SSP)?

 

If yes to the above (the only circumstance by which I might consider at times using JRiver instead of ROON), does this have to be via a HDMI connection,is it done via USB, or can this be done simply via ethernet connection?

 

Thanks. 

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4 minutes ago, Steve Bruzonsky said:

Can JRiver expand 2 channel to say 5.1 or 5.2 channel?

It can.

5 minutes ago, Steve Bruzonsky said:

When it does, does it simply add blank to the unused channels,

It can.

5 minutes ago, Steve Bruzonsky said:

does it actually add some sonics (as does Auromatic, Dolby or DTS with a AVR or SSP)?

It can.

6 minutes ago, Steve Bruzonsky said:

If yes to the above (the only circumstance by which I might consider at times using JRiver instead of ROON), does this have to be via a HDMI connection,is it done via USB, or can this be done simply via ethernet connection?

Via any output connection where the DAC device can support the format and channel layout.

Kal Rubinson

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

 

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Kal, thanks. Your very last sentence begs the question - can the s88 be configured to receive audio from my Western Digital MyCloudPR4100 server which contains all my music but does not contain JRiver software? I can run JRiver on my Windows 10 laptop to access the music on my server, and then can I via JRiver over ethernet sent the music files to the s88 to play, and if so, how? Thanks.

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7 hours ago, Steve Bruzonsky said:

Kal, thanks. Your very last sentence begs the question - can the s88 be configured to receive audio from my Western Digital MyCloudPR4100 server which contains all my music but does not contain JRiver software? I can run JRiver on my Windows 10 laptop to access the music on my server, and then can I via JRiver over ethernet sent the music files to the s88 to play, and if so, how? Thanks.

I don't see why not.  The WD is just a mini-NAS and can be treated as such.  Just have Jriver create a library for it or add it to an existing library.

Kal Rubinson

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

 

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16 hours ago, Kal Rubinson said:

I don't see why not.  The WD is just a mini-NAS and can be treated as such.  Just have Jriver create a library for it or add it to an existing library.

 

Kal, as always, thanks for the great info!

 

When I get time and get around to it, I'll try JRiver in the above fashion, using my Western Digital MyCloudPR4100 with its music,

my laptop with JRiver, and the s88 DAC. Since my laptop will be in effect streaming over to the s88, and Exasound recommends hardwired ethernet for multi-channel hi res, I'll simply run a long ethernet cable over to the table where my laptop is when I do this.

If I like what this does and how JRiver sounds for stereo converted to 5.1 (If), then I have a spare unused Windows 10 i7 PC I could place by my Western Digital server, hardwired ethernet, running JRiver, using my remote laptop or iPhone simply as a JRiver Remote.

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Hi all, a quick update.  I decided to go ahead and subscribe to Qobuz since it pairs with ROON.  Tested it out all morning and I can play Qobuz tracks from within ROON to the S88.  Sad that multichannel tracks are lacking.  Seems like only recent classical releases are 24 bit up 192 kHz stereo.  But, all in all I can now sample music through ROON and the S88 with no hassle.

 

Thanks!

Marcus

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This morning I ran a test with my S88 and I thought you might be interested.  I'll begin with the results, the S88 will indeed perform D/A conversion for a 32 bit/352.8 file.

 

The rest of the story:

I've downloaded from Native DSD a few albums by the small record company TRPTK.  One of the founders and the mastering engineer, Brendon Heinst, is very enthusiastic about recording in this format and he's also a multi channel audio enthusiast.   They recently released a piano album called: "Eclipse Vol. 1", composer Joseph Wölfl, pianist Mattias Spee, He played on a Steinway Model D-274 Concert Grand Piano.  The liner notes talk about composer Wölfl, who was a colleague and competitor with Beethoven.  In fact, they would play in piano competitions with one another.  Very interesting story.  You can download the pdf of the liner notes on Native DSD.

 

The album on Native DSD is 24 bit/352.8 FLAC.  But, on the TRPTK website you can download the album in the original 32 bit/352.8 which is what I did.  However, it is a WAV file (Brendon explains that WAV is the only container for this kind of file).  That means no file tags.  But, I used JRiver and added all the needed tags.  Once all the tags were in, I brought up the album in ROON.  Playback was no problem through the S88.

 

The music on this album is delightful.  Piano reproduction was fantastic (best I've heard a piano).  I did not conduct any A/B comparisons.  I just thought it sounded fabulous.  Again, my primary purpose in this post is to let you know these files will playback perfectly.  Just in case you are interested, I posted a video below of Brendon's mastering gear.

 

Marcus

 

The mastering gear he uses is discussed in this video:  

 

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I downloaded from NativeDSD "Forgotten tales of a Forest" - Ikumi Ogasawara, in 32 bit. I got the DXD 384-32 bit version as that's how it was recorded and mastered. Also, I love Sound Liaison Recordings, and I have 2 of them in DXD 32 bit. And yes, s88 plays 32 bit. If you upsample to max in ROON then it will play for 5.1 in DSD256 64 bit. However, with the s88 in my system upsampling via ROON (as opposed to letting s88 do all the processing) gives no overall sonic benefit and at times may even detract a bit.

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Formats.  As I said in an earlier post, I've come to enjoy the sound of multichannel recordings in 24/352.8 FLAC or 32/352.8 WAV format.  The S88 handled it perfectly and I was very impressed with the sound quality compared to DSD.  Subtle, to be sure.  But, to me, more robust.

 

Today, I was listening, again, to Honeck's Beethoven 9th, which I downloaded in DSD256 from Native DSD.  This was the original recording format.  While reviewing my comments about the album on HR Audio.Net, another member later commented that he was engaged in a conversation with the audio engineer at Native DSD about their "remodulation process".  The process they use to offer so many bit and sample rates.  The engineer stated that while the recording was made in DSD 256, it was edited and mastered in 32/352.8 DXD.  Thus the DXD file is the "original" generation of the recording.  He then added, ...for DAC's which directly convert a PCM sample based stream of digital values, like a ladder DAC, then the DXD FLAC is optimal. For DAC's with Sigma-Delta modulator conversion, by and large, the DSD format is optimal.

 

I don't know the S88 conversion method (I didn't see it on their website).  This just might be "one of those times" when I talked myself in to thinking one format was better than another.  Generally, I try to download music in the original recording format.  But, I'm curious about this new wave of recording/mastering in DXD and the S88 for playback.  Any thoughts or preference?

 

Marcus

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The exaSound dacs are a great representation of how good an ESS chip can sound, given great power supply work, analog stage work, etc.  So...although exaSounds are sigma delta dacs the beauty of the sound of DXD may just be your thing.   I'll be comparing in the next month when I get my s88.  I just got 2 channel music flowing today (first my mains have heard a signal in 3 and a half years!!).  So I have some warming up to do, let alone setting up the rest of the multichannel system. 

 

Good listening, the answer often comes down to personal preferences, given the room, system, etc.

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1 hour ago, Desertpilot said:

Formats.  As I said in an earlier post, I've come to enjoy the sound of multichannel recordings in 24/352.8 FLAC or 32/352.8 WAV format.  The S88 handled it perfectly and I was very impressed with the sound quality compared to DSD.  Subtle, to be sure.  But, to me, more robust.

 

Today, I was listening, again, to Honeck's Beethoven 9th, which I downloaded in DSD256 from Native DSD.  This was the original recording format.  While reviewing my comments about the album on HR Audio.Net, another member later commented that he was engaged in a conversation with the audio engineer at Native DSD about their "remodulation process".  The process they use to offer so many bit and sample rates.  The engineer stated that while the recording was made in DSD 256, it was edited and mastered in 32/352.8 DXD.  Thus the DXD file is the "original" generation of the recording.  He then added, ...for DAC's which directly convert a PCM sample based stream of digital values, like a ladder DAC, then the DXD FLAC is optimal. For DAC's with Sigma-Delta modulator conversion, by and large, the DSD format is optimal.

 

I don't know the S88 conversion method (I didn't see it on their website).  This just might be "one of those times" when I talked myself in to thinking one format was better than another.  Generally, I try to download music in the original recording format.  But, I'm curious about this new wave of recording/mastering in DXD and the S88 for playback.  Any thoughts or preference?

 

Marcus

Most of the albums there are mastered/edited in DXD even if they are recorded in DSD. So the closest version to the master is DXD. A minority of the albums will say they are purely DSD. They all sound great, whatever the format.

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 Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: RPi 3B+ running RoPieee to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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Sound Liaison has direct to digital but only 2 channel DXD (and some other older PCM stereo) downloads which sound magnificent!

 

At NativeDSD, when it indicates that the recording/mastering is done in DXD, I get the DXD version.

 

Bottom line is the s99 DAC sounds great whatever I play, letting the s88 to all the conversion (instead of my ROON Core doing it, although my Exasound Delta does a great job upsampling as well). And perhaps unless you have a super super super expensive system (as opposed to an outstanding and not cheap system), it can be real nitpicking to hear the difference between DXD and DSD!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Paul McGowan of PS Audio in one of his videos advises that 32 bit offers no sonic advantage over 24 bit. 24 bit is like 144 dB dynamic range, well above our hearing whereas 32 bit is even far more above our hearing at like 199 dB dynamic range. Interesting.

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 I also posted this at the Quadraphonic Forums. But I think this is of interest to us Exasound and ROON Ready luvers.

 

In my dedicated home theater, prior to tear down for upgrade and renovation (still in progress), I then had a 5.2.4 system, with my Trinnov Altitude 32 SSP. So for Dolby Atmos music, I let the disc player send bitstream to the SSP, which decoded the Dolby Atmos music (as well as movies and concert discs with Dolby Atmos, too). My understanding was that you had to have the player send bitstream for Dolby Atmos to be properly decoded. Hopefully in reading this thread that understanding is WRONG!

 

I've used ROON for music for years. In my theater, my ROON Ready via ethernet Trinnov Altitude 32 SSP will sound better via ROON Ready than by playing the disc using HDMI. And with my theater upgrade/renovation I will have plenty of channels - 11.12.12.

 

In my family room I have a very nice musical system also using ROON Ready via ethernet Exasound s88 multi-channel DAC, 5.1 channels with on wall Totem Audio (3 Tribe V and 2 Tribe III) speakers and PS Audio monoblocks (3 M1200 and 2 M700) and a few REL subwoofers. (A 7.1 or Atmos speakers is not practical due to physical restraints and very high vaulted ceiling.)

 

I have a multitude of ripped and bought/downloaded music, including a lot of multi-channel ripped from blu rays and SACDs. Many 2L blu ray audio discs ripped. I use DVD Audio Extractor to rip and AnyDVD HD to decrypt when necessary.

 

Some blu rays have DTS-HD 7.1 tracks as well as 5.1, and I have ripped both. I assume ROON automatically folds 7.1 into 5.1 as I have set ROON to a 5.1 system in my family room. Am I correct about this?

 

Some blu rays have DolbyTrueHD 7.1 tracks/Dolby Atmos. One has DolbyTrueHD 5.1 tracks/Dolby Atmos. So in my theater to be 11.12.12 system if I play these ripped tracks via ROON Ready va ethernet Trinnov Altitude SSP will I get the full Atmos music/soundtrack, or do I need to play the disc via bitstream to the SSP to do this? And in my 5.1 family room system, will the 7.1 DolbyTrueHD with Atmos be folded into the 5.1 surround channels?

 

Thanks.

 

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Hi Kal,

 

I read your answer to my question over on the AVS forum.  I thought I would ask my exaSound question here.

 

Let's say, I want to eliminate any possible distortion or noise when I route my DAC through my Marantz AV8805 and go for the switcher box you recommend to go direct DAC to Amplifier.  Do you worry about trim levels?  Matching each speaker to a certain level?  In my current situation. my new front three speakers are 97dB sensitivity and my older surrounds are 87dB sensitivity.  I bring up the Marantz app and select channel level adjust.  I leave the front three speakers at no change but boost my surrounds a decent amount (4 or 5 dB) so the level somewhat matches my front three speakers.  Of course, buying two more "matching" speakers for my surrounds is a solution which I cannot afford.

 

The S88 does not accept volume information.  The DAC sends the source volume to my pre/amp.  I know channel trims can be adjusted in the S88 but only for PCM files.  They are "greyed" out when playing a DSD file.  So I have not fussed with them.

 

Thank you in advance for any advice.

 

Marcus

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3 minutes ago, Desertpilot said:

Do you worry about trim levels?  Matching each speaker to a certain level?  In my current situation. my new front three speakers are 97dB sensitivity and my older surrounds are 87dB sensitivity. 

I don't worry about it because I can set trim levels in DiracLive, in JRiver, in Roon or in the s88.  What's in your server? 😉

5 minutes ago, Desertpilot said:

The S88 does not accept volume information. 

Sure, it does but I cannot confirm with certainty about DSD since I am away from that system for the weekend.  DSD is a problem with signal manipulation but I can get back to you about this on Monday.

Kal Rubinson

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

 

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The 8805 converts your incoming DSD to PCM anyway, so if you instead did it via a conversion tool (say DBPoweramp or similar) you would have channel trims and could convert to a higher sample rate than the 8805s internal conversion (which is probably 24/96).  Or maybe use HQPlayer to send the music to the DAC, and have HQplayer do the channel trims (which can do them in DSD too).

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