exaSound s88 brings perfect multichannel DSD

I’m realy happy, that I have just buy (not cheap) and install (easy) the new exaSound s88. Now i have perfect multichannel DSD together with my nucelus+.
Merry christmas to the roon community

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That is the one I have my eye on. Wishing I already had it now during this cold spell in Texas. Was holding off until I see what reviews have to say.

What’s your opinion after almost 2 months of use?

Hi Mike,
the s88 is for me still the perfect streamer and DAC (stereo and multichannel) for working with roon.
I’m realy happy with the exasound s88, but it’s a little bit expensive.
Greetings from germany

Currently, my setup in the main listening room uses an OPPO 205 for multiple zones. HDMI for mulit-channel, USB for MQA/DSD (Stereo only (no sub channel)), and the RAAT Ethernet for Stereo with sub channel. The OPPO has the 7.1 analog outputs as does the S88. The Denon AVR, with a 7.2.4 speaker arrangement, has the 7,1 analog inputs and provides the amplification.

As far as I can tell, the S88 will allow me to play everything over Ethernet without switching zones, except for MQA. I can live with that. Would still be able to use the OPPO USB for MQA but 2 channel only (no sub channel) is a big disappointment to me.

Pretty sure I’m locked in on the S88 but still waiting on the reviews for verification.

Thanks for the information.

I have also an OPPO 205, but with roon is nativ multichannel DSD not possible (only stereo). The s88 can both.

I am using a Merging HAPI as well as the Okto DAC8 for multichannel playback. And now, since a week the exasound s88. To put it mildly: None of the other two DACs has this level of tight and controlled bass like the s88! Mid and high are very transparent and non-analytical.
I can strongly recommend using the s88 if you are using ROON. The direct interface via ROON proprietory RAAT protocol (via LAN) into the s88 makes it very conveniant and sonically superior to any USB connected device. Also, it circumvents the Ravenna unicast connection for the HAPI, which is a bit tricky to set-up and to maintain.

Feels like Christmas, only better. My exaSound S88 and Teddy Pardo Linear Power supply has arrived. Very surprised to find the TP did not include the IEC 3pin power cord.

If I don’t have too many drinks between now and after dinner it should be playing by tonight.

Hi Mike,

how does it sound?

Regards, Ralf

Hey Ralf, I don’t have the descriptive vocabulary as many do, but I can say without hesitation that it is the best sound I’ve had from my system.

Previously had 4 zones in the LR surround system, NUC/ROCK HDMI to the Denon receiver for Multi-channel, USB to an OPPO 205 for 2 Channel MQA/DSD, and LAN to the OPPO for the 2 channel Roon Ready experience. The OPPO Dac did the decoding when the 7.1 analog connections to the receiver were used, and the receiver did the decoding when the OPPO passed the signals over HDMI. Each of those puts a different spin on the same piece of music, 2 DACs in 2 components but 4 totally different sounds.

Using the 7.1 analog inputs on the Denon receiver for the S88, as I had for the OPPO 205, produced an amazing difference.

The OPPO playing discs sounded wonderful, especially the SACD’s, but the OPPO playing what Roon provided via LAN was flat and lifeless. Muddy is the word I used. It sounded better, more open when the OPPO passed the signal to the receiver over HDMI for decoding.

I was concerned the S88 would suffer that same fate with the 7.1 analog connections but it definitively does not. I queued up a bunch of 5.1 DSD samples (I had previously downloaded but didn’t have any way to play), 5.1 flac recordings, and a mix of favorite 2 CH flac recording I’m very familiar with. Basically one big mixed playlist. The S88 played each one perfectly, DSD/FLAC, MC/2 CH without any hiccups switching between the formats. It was wonderful, 3 hours of uninterrupted music.

There was separation in the instruments with each clearly distinguishable, the voices were loud and clear. I could easy detect the plucking of an upright Bass, the hiss of the fingers sliding up and down the neck, the sizzle of the brush on drums, the intake of breath between words. All from music I had heard many times, but never really heard before.

So, one piece of equipment, one zone, will replace all the others I used but was never satisfied with. Don’t know what else I can say. The S88 is everything I’d hoped for.

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Well Mike: Welcome to heaven! Enjoy!!!

Hi Mike,

there’s another improvement I can really recommend. After upgrading the analogue PSU with the Teddy Pardo linear PSU, try the ifi one on the digital supply: iPower Elite by iFi audio | iFi power supply with whisper quiet noise floor. Better than audiophile grade.

Go for the 12V version. Current supply is sufficient. You’ll be surprised how many more subtle details you can discover. Enjoy. It gets your s88 experience a level upo and that is close to heaven!

Cheers, Ralf

Hey Ralf. I’ll keep that in mind if I decide to upgrade the equipment any further.

Right now the noise floor is as quite as can be except for the sound generated by the active cooling systems for the media closet. The rack mounted air intake system is in the living room along with the exhaust system for the amps. I didn’t notice it before, but as my sound system got better that noise became more noticeable. I will need to revise the cooling system to eliminated the noise before I do any more system upgrades.

Thanks for the information.

Does anybody know whether there are dealers in Europe (Germany, Netherland), where you can purchase the s88?
I tried to search over the internet but I cannot get any results except the Website of exaSound itself.

Hi Frank, when I google exaSound S88 from the US I only see entries from ExaSound and NativeDSD. I ordered mine directly from ExaSound.

Looking on the NativeDSD website they appear to offer the S88 for sale and I found the following information.

We ship worldwide. Shipping is free for orders over 300 euros. Please select the free shipping option during checkout. For other orders, we charge a flat rate for Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxemburg), we charge a bit more for orders to the rest of Europe, and close to 50 euro’s for orders shipped outside of Europe. When gear is shipped outside the EU, you may need to pay import tax to import the device to the country where you ship the device. Please check with your local authorities.

Hi Frank,

I bought the S88 at NativeDSD in NL. They make the normal price, but you become some DSD-downloads for free. The service and the delivery was perfect.

When you buy it from exasound you must pay tax and more for the transport.

Greetings from
Erhard

Okay. thank you for your answers. I will look into it.

Hi Guys,

just received the upgraded s88 MKII from exasound. It took about 2.5 weeks round trip from Europe to Canada and back. The MKII version comes with an improved analogue output stage and some nice features in software.

Now, how does it sound: Magnificent! I have used the Okto DAC8 Pro in the meantime. Returning to the s88 MKII gives a boost in resolution and smoothness, a super-tight and controlled bass and sounds much (!) better than the Okto and better than ever before.

For existing user, the update price is absolutely fair. My recommendation: Go for it!

Cheers, Ralf

P.S. Switch to fas roll-off lin phase filter in the DAC chip. That’s much better than the default!

I’ve been trying to find information on the cost and path to get this upgrade done to my S88. Nothing found online. How did you handle the process?

Hi Mike,

the cost is 1,380 USD plus shipping. The turn-around time via FexEx from Europe and back was about 2.5 weeks.

Regards, Ralf

It seems your timing on the upgrade was good. I got an email back from exaSound stating the upgrade will be announced next year. They are currently experiencing component shortages. I’m on the waiting list.