Eximus versus Stello

To Doug Schneider,

I came across your excellent review of the April Music Eximus DP1 DAC. I remembered your earlier review of the April Music Stello DA220 DAC, which led to me buying it. I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to the Stello DA220 over these years -- your review really nailed it!

So that leaves a question about the obvious omission in your new review: How does the Eximus DAC sound compare to the Stello DA220 (sound only)? If I buy the new one, did you find the sound slightly/substantially improved?

Marc Munford

I knew that sooner or later this question would come up. It’s been many years since I reviewed the Stello DA220 or even listened to it, so any meaningful comparisons wouldn’t be valid, which is why I left it out of the review. But I did review the DA220 Mk.II when the original DA220 was still here and their presentations were very different. The original DA220 had a slightly warm but very refined sound, whereas the DA220 Mk.II was every bit as refined but was unquestionably livelier and more detailed sounding. Those who prefer smoothness and warmth might actually prefer the original DA220 over the Mk.II version, but those who like a more incisive sound would favor the DA220 Mk.II. I admired both, but I preferred the DA220 Mk.II.

The Eximus DP1 is definitely more like the DA220 Mk.II than the original DA220 -- in my system, the DP1 sounded extremely lively and quite upfront. My guess is that if I did compare the DP1 to the original DA220, the DA220 would come across as too soft and subdued. I also believe that the DP1 reveals far more detail than either of the DA220 DACs, but, as I said, it has been many years since I reviewed those models, so accept those comments with that in mind. What I am sure about with the DP1 is that it offers outstanding DAC performance and has a number of other features (limited preamp functionality along with a headphone amp) that make it every bit as good a value as the DA220 DACs were in their days. . . . Doug Schneider