I am a new customer to an e22. It replaced a Wyred DAC1. I am being treated to previously unknown details in the CD's I have owned for decades. I have been listening and burning it in exclusively with SPDIF from my Linn player. I have about 100 hours on it. Tonight I just tried it direct through balanced directly to the Marchand XM44, which goes to the horizontally bi-amped Mcintosh amps then Magneplanar 3.6's. I have only been listening for a few hours bypassing the Mc pre, but felt compelled to post some impressions and get some feedback.
Is this what transparency is? Quite a different sound from what I have been used to over the past several years. It is definitely more transparent; detail retrieval is exceptional, but the vocals are pushed forward, and along with the related frequencies around 1 khz they are more prominent. Perhaps too much so. The bass by comparison is tighter, leaner, more taut and tuneful, but definitely recessed. Hmmm... I have read previously the pre will add weight, I have to concur.
To get the same amount of bass I am having to turn it up the gain (if that is what you call it in the DAC) and then the vocals are a little too overbearing. They are not harsh, they are smooth and glarefree, but it is such a different voicing than what I have been accustomed to. So while some familiar tracks seem lacking in weight, there are others that have benefited from the new character of the system: Holly Cole temptation was always rather too bass heavy before, now it sounds sensational!
So a question to those who have gone through this "transition period" as I am not a source of knowledge when it comes to the internals of audio gear: Does the pre-amp section in the exaSound DAC require a burning in period as well as the SPDIF path? or have most of the parts in the pre amp circuit path already been "conditioned". I am just curious if the sound will change at all based on others experiences, and if others have done away with their pre-amp permanently.
...I have made several changes in the system; re-positioning cabling (from Transparent balanced IC's to RCA's into the amps), adding a Solid Tech rack, some new power cables etc. and the e22 has had about 200 hours on it now.
I am reconsidering my earlier findings: I think bypassing the pre-amp might be the way to go. It is just an adjustment period: once I got used to not having that extra slam that the preamp adds, it is quite enjoyable in its own right. Perhaps it is the 256dsf files I have recently introduced into the system; I must say, it is pretty cool to see 11.2 Mhz on the display, but I may be selling the preamp I wish I could claim I have compared this Exasound e22 to the Aurelic, the Wyred se and some other remarkable DAC; I have not; but listening to it doesn't make me want to audition any other.