Esoteric K-03x vs. MBL N31 vs. T&A 3000/3100 HV series - has anyone auditioned any of these head-to-head?

GSOphile

Well-Known Member
Sep 4, 2017
408
226
128
I owned a K-03X, which, as you probably know, is two generations back from Esoteric's current K-03XD. The K-03X has an excellent transport, but the DAC imparted a too defined, often bright, edgy sound through my Gryphon integrated/Magico S3 MkII setup. I did a comparison with a dealer loaned T+A MP player (not sure the model, but it was their then current HV series). Slightly smoother but similar sound. Not enough of an upgrade to get me interested. I upgraded to the Esoteric K-01XD last year. Totally different in-house designed DAC - different ball game.
 

pdubya

Well-Known Member
Oct 30, 2012
69
31
325
Audiophile wasteland
Remember, MBL doesn’t play SACD. I had the 3100MP for a while but thought the app was not ready for prime time. Hopefully they have refined it since then (3 years ago). Wish I had ignored all the MP’s bells and whistles and bought the more focused player/transport instead. Ended up going Luxman D08u instead after getting deal on pre and amps.
 

GSOphile

Well-Known Member
Sep 4, 2017
408
226
128
Remember, MBL doesn’t play SACD. I had the 3100MP for a while but thought the app was not ready for prime time. Hopefully they have refined it since then (3 years ago). Wish I had ignored all the MP’s bells and whistles and bought the more focused player/transport instead. Ended up going Luxman D08u instead after getting deal on pre and amps.
SACDs are important to me too. I had a D-08u demo for about a week and was VERY impressed. I'd have bought one except for it being close to its current product life cycle end. Good choice! Have been wanting to hear the follow-on D-10X, but Lux supply chain issues haven't been accommodating.
 

triode

Well-Known Member
Jul 20, 2010
12
0
348
Boca Raton, FL
Thanks for your thoughts, gents. The more I read about the Esoteric "house sound", the more it seems not up my alley (I'm a SET/horn guy who values harmonic juice and generous lower mids/upper bass). I'm leaning toward the T&A PDP 3000 HV, but it's a steep cost increment over the MBL (I have precisely zero SACDs, so the MBL's lack of that capability is not a killer, though I suppose I'd get some if I had a capable player).
 

GSOphile

Well-Known Member
Sep 4, 2017
408
226
128
The Esoteric 'house sound' has changed, different, better with the XD series Master Sound Discrete DACs. If the T+A PDP 3000 HV had been available new last year (I especially value mfg warranty on mechanical players), I might well have gone this way too. Reportedly a very fine machine.
 
  • Like
Reactions: triode

pdubya

Well-Known Member
Oct 30, 2012
69
31
325
Audiophile wasteland
Triode—
I see your gear is single-ended(?) The N31 is inherently SE as well — preferred connection, according to MBL. MBL also has an interesting take on how they optimized the mechanism for redbook playback since they didn’t have to take SACD into consideration (different speeds, lasers). DAC is more than adequate as well.
Haven’t heard the Esoteric XD’s but all accounts, as per GSOphile, are that they’ve lost the clinical edge that turned off so many in the past.
 
  • Like
Reactions: triode

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