Any Esoteric fans here?

vrac

Well-Known Member
May 9, 2018
46
34
123
I have the upgrade bug! Just wanted to pick all the fine minds here before I pull the trigger. I've owned a Playback Designs mps-5 player with usb-x for a number of years. Aside from
needing some repair issues it's been a great addition. PD is a wonderful company that really is second to none as far as costumer service. I have a large collection of SACDs and have a fairly large library of downloaded music with many DSD recordings. Mac mini with uptone modifications as music server with Audirvana Plus software. I'm very curious about the new Esoteric K-03 XD sacd player. It seems to check all my boxes. Does anyone have
an insight and experience with this player? I certainly do not want a sideways move. Looking for advice. Thanks so much. The rest of my system includes: Wilson Sasha 1 speakers,
ARC Ref 6 preamp, Parasound JC-1 + mono amps. I listen to mostly jazz, blues and rock.
 

GSOphile

Well-Known Member
Sep 3, 2017
559
345
173
I recently upgraded from a K-03X to a K-01XD for CD and SACD playback (mostly classical, some jazz, etc). To my ears this two generation, one level up upgrade is exceptional. Big 3D sound stage, useful filter and upsampling options, very dynamic, realistic tone (esp piano, strings, voice).
 

vrac

Well-Known Member
May 9, 2018
46
34
123
Thanks GSOphile! Hoping that the K-03 XD sounds close to it's bigger brother. Did your player require a lengthy break-in? Happy Listening.
 

GSOphile

Well-Known Member
Sep 3, 2017
559
345
173
On break-in, difficult for me to judge. Previous K-03X required extensive break-in. The K-01XD sounded good out of the box, but I played around with various filter and up conversion setting with a lot of different music over the first couple of months, so hard to say with precision. Just guessing I'd say around a couple of hundred hours for the most refined sound (which would be quite a bit less than the K-03X generation). Your dealer should be able to advise.
 

Big Dog RJ

Well-Known Member
Feb 2, 2012
1,241
460
1,155
Melbourne
Vrac,
Your interest in the K03-XD is a fine combination of digital playback at its finest! These are the latest generation of Esoteric digital gear, incorporating top line DAC chip sets, along with a host of additional features to custom make the sound you're after. These newer systems have various digital filters and sampling rates to choose from. Plus their built-in DACs are very versatile. They have the capability of accepting various digital formats, and can be used as external DACs as well. They have all the necessary inputs and outputs that are required today in the most sophisticated configurations.

Apart from that, their design and build is truly top notch! The case work is superb! They use the least amount of screws and use some real heavy duty steel chassis to hold together the entire unit. They incorporate multiple transformers and multiple DACs in a SOTA differential config, you can very easily hear the difference. Due to all of this, it adds to their sheer weight. These players are no toys, and the average weight ranges from 20 to 30kg upwards...

The only player to me that was in equal to such high tech and build quality is the T+A digital gear. Their high voltage designs along with German engineering is at its finest! Another superb digital playback system using dual power cords and each sections of digital inputs/outputs are discretely designed separately. Those also weigh quite a bit and are pretty big gear!

The only downside is they do require an awful long time to really settle in properly. From the first note you'll realise the supreme finesse then after approx 55mins to an hour, the supremacy shifts into another dimension!
Overall, from day 1 to fully settle in, around 200hrs would be great. Within the first 100hr mark you'll realise it's potential, and after that it just takes off.

The majority of Esoteric owners actually leave their digital gear on continuously. That's probably the best way to achieve the best results. However, I simply can't do this due to two very nosey cats... hence, I'm on cold start all the time.
Not only do the latest XD series requires a lengthy burn-in process but also the XS series as well, which is the series I'm currently using.

If you want to take things further, there's a separate clock called the G01x and G1x series, they really improve the quality and performance in playback. However, only issue is that performance to me cannot be justified when the clock alone costs 26grand! ($AUD). Add the main gear to that and you're looking at well over 45grand just for digital playback. Then put on a LP and spin that fabulous vinyl and I'm thinking uh?

There are other clocks, such as Cybershaft and Mutech, plus a few others that aren't that expensive as compared to Esoteric's own, that are equally outstanding. However, in Aus they're not very easily accessible for home trials, although I've been lucky enough to do so.

I suppose it would be quite different to where you live? Don't worry about the clock upgrades for now, if you do happen to get the Esoteric gear, just sit back and enjoy those fine tunes!

Big WOOF!!!
RJ
 

Addicted to hifi

VIP/Donor
Sep 8, 2020
4,610
2,039
265
52
Australia
It’s a weakness in the CD player if it takes hours to just warm up.my. mcintosh and luxman digital front ends need only half an hour or so to sound there best.
 

Big Dog RJ

Well-Known Member
Feb 2, 2012
1,241
460
1,155
Melbourne
Yes, agreed Gary,

Infact it generally takes around 15mins for all my tube gear to warm up and settle in nicely, and around 20mins for the digital gear to settle in as well.

However, that's from warm up mode to sound good. That's not what I'm or Gsophile are referring to. We're talking about the total "break-in hours" it takes for our digital gear to "fully run-in"

There're systems from ARC that takes somewhere around 600hrs to fully break-in, and still it doesn't sound that great. They actually take longer. There are preamps and power amps that take several months to a few years to sound their best, there are cables and interconnects that take several months, such as your Audience cables.

DCS, MSB, Aries Ceret, Dartzeel, Boulder, CH Precision, Lampizator all take several hundred hours to fully run-in. Jeez, these must be really weak systems compared to your Mac & Luxman...

So I'm referring to the length of time to fully run in, thereafter it will reach optimal state once it has passed this required mark. In which case around 15 - 20mins is pretty good. 30mins to an hour is further improved. So I hope you get our point...

As usual you missed the point and the Mac and Luxman are clearly out of context.

Vrac is referring to Esoteric, not sure if he's really interested in other brands, such as Mac or Luxman. If he was he would have mentioned those brands.

BTW, nice unit on the Luxman D10x, it's a fine piece of digital gear. Very nice indeed, thought I'd just mention it since you brought it up.
RJ
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: infinitely baffled

RaChiK

Well-Known Member
Sep 13, 2020
167
116
115
43
I had Luxman D-10X for 4 months or so and then went to Esoteric K-01XD. For me, it is pretty big step up. K-01XD is more dynamic, very 3 dimensional, huge soundstage and gets everything right without getting harsh or bright. Lots of options to customize to your preference with upsampling and other settings. I have not listened to K-03XD, but the K-01XD with better power supply and upgrades, you will not regret spending extra on K-01XD. They are very close to K1X in sound quality.
 

Addicted to hifi

VIP/Donor
Sep 8, 2020
4,610
2,039
265
52
Australia
Yes, agreed Gary,

Infact it generally takes around 15mins for all my tube gear to warm up and settle in nicely, and around 20mins for the digital gear to settle in as well.

However, that's from warm up mode to sound good. That's not what I'm or Gsophile are referring to. We're talking about the total "break-in hours" it takes for our digital gear to "fully run-in"

There're systems from ARC that takes somewhere around 600hrs to fully break-in, and still it doesn't sound that great. They actually take longer. There are preamps and power amps that take several months to a few years to sound their best, there are cables and interconnects that take several months, such as your Audience cables.

DCS, MSB, Aries Ceret, Dartzeel, Boulder, CH Precision, Lampizator all take several hundred hours to fully run-in. Jeez, these must be really weak systems compared to your Mac & Luxman...

So I'm referring to the length of time to fully run in, thereafter it will reach optimal state once it has passed this required mark. In which case around 15 - 20mins is pretty good. 30mins to an hour is further improved. So I hope you get our point...

As usual you missed the point and the Mac and Luxman are clearly out of context.

Vrac is referring to Esoteric, not sure if he's really interested in other brands, such as Mac or Luxman. If he was he would have mentioned those brands.

BTW, nice unit on the Luxman D10x, it's a fine piece of digital gear. Very nice indeed, thought I'd just mention it since you brought it up.
RJ
Yes raj your right again.
 

Addicted to hifi

VIP/Donor
Sep 8, 2020
4,610
2,039
265
52
Australia
I had Luxman D-10X for 4 months or so and then went to Esoteric K-01XD. For me, it is pretty big step up. K-01XD is more dynamic, very 3 dimensional, huge soundstage and gets everything right without getting harsh or bright. Lots of options to customize to your preference with upsampling and other settings. I have not listened to K-03XD, but the K-01XD with better power supply and upgrades, you will not regret spending extra on K-01XD. They are very close to K1X in sound quality.
I like luxman but am very happy for you.
 

Big Dog RJ

Well-Known Member
Feb 2, 2012
1,241
460
1,155
Melbourne
Yes raj your right again.
It's not about being right or wrong G-man,

You raised a fair point, and I get where you're coming from. With such highend gear it's just the nature of their design. The sophisticated DACs chip set, the high quality parts/ components, the rigid power supplies etc., all take a certain amount of time to reach optimal temperature, and fully run in properly. Once that's achieved, them from warm up time to come good is a matter of half hour or so... and everything is tickety boo.

Sometimes I kind of miss those good old days... Nakamichi tape decks, Musical Fidelity, Nad, Carver, just plug and play and in 10mins you're good to go!

Enjoy those fine tunes!
Cheers, RJ
 

thedudeabides

Well-Known Member
Jan 16, 2011
2,097
631
1,200
Alto, NM
I had Luxman D-10X for 4 months or so and then went to Esoteric K-01XD. For me, it is pretty big step up. K-01XD is more dynamic, very 3 dimensional, huge soundstage and gets everything right without getting harsh or bright.
My Lux is very dimensional, dynamic with a huge soundstage. Neither is better, just different. Depends on your personal preferences and bias.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Addicted to hifi

thedudeabides

Well-Known Member
Jan 16, 2011
2,097
631
1,200
Alto, NM
Vrac,
These are the latest generation of Esoteric digital gear, incorporating top line DAC chip sets, along with a host of additional features to custom make the sound you're after.
RJ
Hi RJ,

Did Esoteric finally get it "right" after numerous attempts over the last several years? Very different approach versus Luxman. I'm glad you like it but when will they release their next latest / greatest (given their history, likely within the next several months) and is this a good, long term investment regarding resale? Hope so. Good luck.
 
Last edited:

Big Dog RJ

Well-Known Member
Feb 2, 2012
1,241
460
1,155
Melbourne
Yes, I certainly hope so too!
That's the main reason why I didn't go for their top of the line as yet, simply because...

So instead I treated the good wifey to a brilliant pink sapphire (with matching ear rings) basically the cost of the Eso clock! And she's happy as! She deserves it.

As for me I'm just sitting back and enjoying my humble "entry level" Eso! Being entertained by the other upgrade madness that's going around...
I certainly don't believe in the latest being the greatest. Never have...
Another example, I'm not even using CJ's top of the line GAT preamp. It's not my cup of tea, otherwise I would have had one by now.

I had the fortune opportunity to listen to Esoteric's full line up, and it's quite remarkable as the models go up... heck, they even have a system where there are dual / mono DACs! Talk about madness...

The Lux D10X is a fine player, the limited time I had the opportunity with it was awe-inspiring. It was a real keeper but highly system dependent as you pointed out. At this stage I couldn't be any happier with the Eso gear.

Of course as you go up the chain, things improve only marginally. Apart from soundstage depth, detail, dimensionality, and liveliness, the most significant factor of improvement is resolution. That resolution just keeps increasing beyond capability, and to experience this each time is a real treat.

I'll wait and see what else comes out, one thing for sure is parts availability are getting scarce... might as just stick to what I've got!

Cheer Gordan, and enjoy those fine tunes!
RJ
 
Last edited:

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
22,217
13,181
2,710
London
Esoteric has a very synthetic artificial sound. It is a good transport. Unnatural sound
 
  • Like
Reactions: Addicted to hifi

About us

  • What’s Best Forum is THE forum for high end audio, product reviews, advice and sharing experiences on the best of everything else. This is THE place where audiophiles and audio companies discuss vintage, contemporary and new audio products, music servers, music streamers, computer audio, digital-to-analog converters, turntables, phono stages, cartridges, reel-to-reel tape machines, speakers, headphones and tube and solid-state amplification. Founded in 2010 What’s Best Forum invites intelligent and courteous people of all interests and backgrounds to describe and discuss the best of everything. From beginners to life-long hobbyists to industry professionals, we enjoy learning about new things and meeting new people, and participating in spirited debates.

Quick Navigation

User Menu

Steve Williams
Site Founder | Site Owner | Administrator
Ron Resnick
Site Co-Owner | Administrator
Julian (The Fixer)
Website Build | Marketing Managersing