Sound enthusiasts have various preferences and beliefs about the “Perfect Sound” and the ways to pursue it. At exaSound, our goal is to achieve sound reproduction that is as close to the original performance as possible, to achieve maximum fidelity to the original recording.
There are various assumptions amongst audiophiles how to achieve maximum sonic fidelity. In our experience, the minimalistic, purist approach to sound processing provides best results.
Each step of capturing, storing, manipulating and playing back music causes degradation and introduces artifacts. Therefore less conversion, corrections, amplification and filtering results in more transparent, dynamic and realistic sound.
The quality of an audiophile system is most impacted by the quality of the worst-performing component in the signal processing chain. It is important to perfect and integrate the system as a whole. Achieving global system integrity doesn’t necessarily mean high-cost.
How to Get the True Performance out of the e18 DAC
Each step in the playback process should be optimized.
Listen to high-resolution lossless digital files
High-resolution lossless digital files carry many times more information than a 16 bit 44.1 kHz CD. Traditional audiophiles spend unnecessary amounts of money to try to squeeze the best sound from a medium that doesn’t carry enough information to reproduce settled sonic nuances.
Computer audiophiles have the advantage to be able to play studio master files at their original 24 bit or 32bit resolution at sampling rates that are up to eight times higher than CD recording. Lossless audio formats include FLAC, APE, VW, ALAC and WMA Lossless. Unlike MP3 and MP4, traditional Dolby AC3 and DTS, lossless formats do not compromise the original recording.
Hi-definition lossless and studio-grade files are available from specialty online music stores.
Multichannel & Stereo
Traditional audiophiles have really demanding expectations for sound fidelity and may consider the multichannel playback as an inferior option. This misconception is probably caused by the fact that the majority of the multichannel recordings are movies and multichannel equipment is designed for movie sound effects and gaming experiences.
In our view, multichannel audiophile-grade recordings reproduced by a system optimized for sonic fidelity creates by far more rich, realistic and exciting sound stage than stereo. One doesn’t need a golden ear to hear the difference.
Asynchronous Bit-perfect Interface and Sound Drivers
Achieving bit-perfect, jitter-minimized playback with a PC or Mac requires proprietary sound drivers and an external asynchronous DAC. It doesn’t matter if the interface is USB, Fire-Wire, Ethernet or something else. What really matters is the true asynchronous mode of operation. The external DAC should come with a memory buffer that has enough data stored away from the computer to feed the DAC without interruptions using its own precise clocks.
External DAC with Galvanic Isolation
Computers cause high levels of common noise. Computer power supplies cause ground loops. High-end internal sound cards are not completely immune to these problems. Such cards come with a clutter of features and effects for gaming.
The best performance is achieved by using an external DAC featuring ground isolation for rejecting common noise and further minimizing jitter. Such devices avoid unnecessary sound processing and are optimizes solely for quality sound reproduction.
The purpose of the DAC is to convert sound stored in digital form back to the analogue world. Feeding the DAC outputs into a receiver with DSP processor and digital volume control will destroy all of the gains achieved so far. Using any digital device after the DAC causes an additional analogue-to-digital and subsequently digital-back-to-analogue conversion. No matter how good this other device may be, this will amount to loss of sound realism and transparency.
We recommend connecting analogue power amplifier directly to the DAC outputs . If needed, you can also use passive signal selectors to switch the amplifier inputs to other sources, like the analogue outputs of a disk player or a network streaming device.
Good Speakers in a Good Room
Speakers and their integration with the listening room are the single and most influential factor to optimize for achieving realistic sound reproduction. Depend on room and budget constrains you may experiment with different numbers of channels. Usually it is not possible to use full range speakers for all channels.
We recommend going beyond two channels and using full range speakers instead of a sub-woofer.