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exaSound DACs

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

I've been searching around for a Canadian made DAC, and stumbled upon exaSound who I suppose are best known for their exaU2I USB --> I2S interface.


They've apparently just released their E20 DAC, based on the infamous ES9018 Sabre chip and I can't for the life of me find any information on it.  They E18 has some minor coverage, which appears to be quite positive.


The case-work looks beautiful, and I've read that their custom USB drivers are really good (from the reviews of the E18).


$2500 with a 30-day trial direct from


The measurements they have on their website look quite promising, and I'm a big fan of the small enclosure footprint + headphone out + feature list that just focuses on sound quality from a computer source.


Has anyone heard of this company or any of their products?

Edited by Anathallo - 9/8/14 at 6:34am
post #2 of 12

I always thought the e18 looked interesting, though the 8-channel functionality obviously hits a very specific and limited market. I'm glad they followed through with a 2-channel oriented model. I'd check it out if I wasn't already drowning in great DACs.

post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 

It definitely would have been nice to see a comparison between the Invicta and the e20.

post #4 of 12
Originally Posted by Anathallo View Post

It definitely would have been nice to see a comparison between the Invicta and the e20.


Agreed, if I had the time I'd try to make that happen.


I suspect that at this level of competence, the differences would be relatively minor. With that in mind it's probably more fruitful to talk about differences in headphones/speakers, and just pick the DAC that speaks to your needs in terms of features, price, and appearance. 

post #5 of 12

Apart from DSD, I wonder if there are any sonic differences between it and the E18.


They don't make any claims on their website.

post #6 of 12
post #7 of 12

I am getting my e20 mkII sometime next week.


I will try to compare it against my Benchmark DAC2 HGC and Schiit Gungnir.

post #8 of 12



Initial impression: Just received the exaSound e20 mkII and been extensively comparing it against the Benchmark DAC2.
Benchmark is a very fine DAC with solid build quality, but to my ears, exaSound performs better in almost every way.
I guess it shouldn't be too surprising since e20 mkII costs $500 more than DAC2.  
Also there was another member here or computer-audiophile(dot)com returned his DAC2 & Mytek192 after sampling the e20. 
Playing DSD256 file (which recorded in DSD256 sample rate) for the first time, my jaw literally dropped to the floor. 
Purity of presentation with amazing level of transparency is simply astounding.
I played violin for last 20 years and I cannot believe how timbre and imaging can be so accurately portrayed on digital domain.
I always found a problem with solo violin pieces how location of single instrument tends to wander around and hard to localize, but with this file and a DAC capable of playing it, I can finally hear one instrument at very stable position with
acoustic reverberation convincing enough that I felt like I was sitting in front of the performer.
Background seems as black as it can be, even though my Magnepan 3.5s are not known for dark & silent background.

Edited by tgx78 - 7/14/13 at 3:06am
post #9 of 12

 I did hear a exasound e20 at the axpona show back in march and it did sound very good. The Janzen people were using it to feed the new janzsrn electrostatic speaker which they were demoing. The dac was very attractive looking. But at 2500 usd it is bit out of my price range.

  A friend of mine bought a mytek dac and I recently got a chance to hear it in his system which is more high end than mine and it sounded pretty good to me. But from what I remembered the exasound e20 sounded more relaxed to me and somewhat less analytical sounding than the mytek dac.

  For a dac that is less costly might I suggest the new teac ud-501 dac at 849 usd. I bought one for myself after reading some favorable impressions on the internet. It is sounding pretty decent now that mine is fleshed pretty well in. I think it may not be as resolute as the mytek it does have a very inviting musicality in its presentation. I have not heard the dsd processing on it because I am not using it as a usb dac. I use it to upgrade the sound in my living room set up on cd playback. I have a peachtree decco 2 for my computer sound.

post #10 of 12

has anyone heard the exasound 20 mkIII with femto clock?

post #11 of 12
Originally Posted by koolblue3 View Post

has anyone heard the exasound 20 mkIII with femto clock?

Yes, my version is the e20 MkIII with clock upgrade 0.082ps or 82fs.

I am driving a HD800 with it directly, using the single ended stock cable. Source are CD's (redbook) mostly from the SPDIF out of a Krell CD-DSP.

But also some DSD download tracks via MBP with Amarra via USB.


It sounds natural and smooth and I am always wondering about all the complaints of sibilance or overly bright highs and lack of bass with the HD800.

Not in my set up. Fantastic sound stage for a headphone. Not the "inside your head" effect which I always hated. Love it ;-)).

post #12 of 12

Let's revive this thread! exaSound gets lots of attention on Computer Audiophile but not here, for some reasons. I'm now the owner of two exaSound DACs, the e20 mkIII and the e22:






I've posted a full, combined review to the Head Gear section here:


The e22 is the newest exaSound DAC. It's a 2-channel (like the e20 but unlike the 8-channel e28) and builds upon the already outstanding e20. Some reasons why I own these:


  • exaSound has the best DSD support in the business (with the possible exception of Lampizator, but that's another discussion). They pioneered and are still one of the few DACs that support DSD256. They are big DSD fans and keep in close contact with the major DSD music sites and the people who write music players that support DSD.
  • exaSound is specifically focused on the computer audiophile market. They are not a pro audio company, or a home theater company, or a subsidiary company, doing audiophile stuff as a side business. Too often it seems such companies will not put issues important to the consumer audiophile at the top of their list when something goes wrong.
  • Proprietary ASIO drivers that talk to a custom FPGA chipset in the DAC with advanced buffering and presumably error correction, to insulate the DAC against any noise from the PC or USB cable (jitter, interference, etc.)
  • An advanced headphone amplifier in the DAC, for when you want to listen to solid-state. RCA and balanced out for when you want to connect to an external amp (like my WA22 with all those glowing tubes).
  • Remote volume control from an Apple IR remote or even from a custom control panel app on your PC.
  • The offboard power supply -- in the form of a high-quality power brick, as shipped -- might be controversial for some. But it uses a standard DC jack, so if you really think it will make a difference, you can buy a custom third-party "audiophile" power supply like a Teddy Pardo to power your exaSound. (Around $400, it seems, so I'm seriously considering one).


Apologies for sounding like a fanboy, but after so many false starts I'm just darn happy to arrived at a DAC setup I truly enjoy. I have no relationship with the company except as a fan.

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