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I'd like to thank George, the support person at exaSound for helping me to work through all the initial problems I had with certain aspects of playback with the exaSound e38 multichannel DAC when I first got it about a month and a half ago. I was no doubt somewhat hot-headed in my initial whiney post about what has turned out to be a very wonderful upgrade to my system. I'd also like to thank everyone here who had suggestions as to how to proceed with some of the initial problems I encountered - I really appreciate it. As George said, setting up a multi-channel system adds a layer of complexity to a normal set-up, and, when something doesn't work as expected, a lot more possible culprits have to be checked out! ;-)
So. . . just an update on a couple of the original problems I had in the set up:
Despite the problems I originally had with HQ Player, I've found myself using it almost exclusively in the past few weeks (along with the ASIO driver), although Audirvana (used with Core Audio - it does not support ASIO - at least as of this time) continues to sound excellent. So it was a bit of a rocky road, but I feel that I've finally reached a new level of satisfaction with my system, now that the exaSound e38 is part of it!
- The hum in my system turned out NOT to be the fault of the exaSound unit. It was only a slight hum in any case, but it's present even when the exaSound unit is turned off. I believe I can do more experimentation to eliminate it completely.
- The switching between the Macintosh Core Audio and the ASIO drivers now works flawlessly. I have no idea why it didn't work reliably the first couple of days.
- Regarding the files downloaded from the Chandos site (where the wrong sound was going into the wrong channels), Chandos, like BIS (eClassical) is one of those very customer friendly sites which allows for re-download of files which you may have mangled in some way (as I did with my Chandos files). I've now re-downloaded all the original FLAC files and they all play wonderfully!
- The stuttering on some multi-channel files I encountered when I had HQ Player set to upsample at high sample rates (e.g., 24/352.8) was eliminated (except on one title now!). I have also downloaded and played back DXD files (24/352.8) and quad DSD files with no problems. (And these downloads sound incredible to me - I've already posted about them over on the Music Forum here.) The "secret" (at least for me) of mitigating the stuttering was to play around with the filter settings on HQ Player, and when I changed it from "poly-sinc" to "poly-sinc-shrt" that proved decisive in eliminating the previous problems. (I'm not sure this will mean much to you if you've never used HQ Player). I had never encountered the stuttering problem before because I had never tried to upsample beyond 192K. The HQ Player filter settings are something that I can of course still play around with.
"... Regarding the files downloaded from the Chandos site (where the wrong sound was going into the wrong channels), Chandos, like BIS (eClassical) is one of those very customer friendly sites which allows for re-download of files which you may have mangled in some way (as I did with my Chandos files). I've now re-downloaded all the original FLAC files and they all play wonderfully! ..."
A corrupt file would probably not cause the channels to get rearranged. A corrupt file would exhibit itself as noise, distortion and/or dropouts. Channel rearrangement sounds like a cabling problem or a software configuration problem (depending on the software).
And then I got rid of the original FLAC's - bad move on my part, because the converted AIFF files had the channel problems. Here's the crazy thing though: the problem affected ONLY the downloaded files from the Chandos site. I did the same thing to my downloaded files from the BIS (eClassical) site, and the converted BIS AIFF's were fine. Go figure.
If you actually have audible hum, there may be more hidden (not directly audible) problems that additionally degrade sound quality. So you should really solve this problem before making any comments or determination of sound quality.
You may want to have a look at the attached link which is a basic noise troubleshooting guide we published for audio systems.
Trouble Shooting Guide - Why does my audio system hum/buzz?
At 20 bits, you are on the verge of dynamic range covering fly-farts-at-20-feet to untolerable pain. Really, what more could we need?
Good to hear (sic)!
George is not only the "support person," he is the heart and soul of exaSound and an all-around gem.
Your stuttering with high resolution processing suggests a CPU bottleneck in your computer which has been alleviated by switching to the -shrt filter option. I may have read it but I do not recall what your computer setup is.
The processor in my late 2016 Mac Mini is an Intel core i7, 3 GHz, with 16 GB RAM - this was (maybe still is?) the most powerful CPU available with a Mac Mini. Nevertheless, as I'm sure you know, some of those HQ Player filter settings are so processor intensive that I'm sure they can make most processors choke (at least momentarily!). ;-) I was running into the stuttering maybe once every one-and-a-half to two minutes with the "poly-sinc" setting. After the change to "poly-sinc-shrt", the last remaining download that still stutters (Scriabin's "Divine Poem" and "Poem of Ecstasy" on the Lawo label - see below) does so only once every ten minutes. OTOH, my DXD download of the Channel Classics Fischer/BFO Mahler Third plays back with no problems at all.
BTW, have you played around with these filters much? I was thinking of experimenting with "poly-sinc-shrt-mp".
And, yes, I can't say enough good things about George!
It's fairly new, it's the most natural sound for me.
It';s in the Drop-down list under Preferences, not in the User manual, which doesn't explain much of anything...
It's a bit hard to tell at this point whether or not I prefer it - I need a bit more time living with it.
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