Because the Esoteric transport is the choice of so many top notch aftermarket CD designs(Meitner,Playback designs,APl, etc.) I decided to give the original a listen. Yo give the original a listen. I gathered a few CDs and headed to Northern Virginia. Once again my GPS would not accept the address. It was as if the gods were conspiring against stereo dealers. I witched to my cellphone. It has a navigate function. For some reason it was having a bad day also. When I got close it recovered. It turned out I was only .4 miles away. Further investigation revealed the good people of Fairfax had renamed a portion of a thoroughfare that was well known to me and the general public. Maybe they should share that information with the folks at Mercedes Benz.
IQ is a large store with an impressive lineup. Similar to most stores they have a heavy dose of AV and surround sound. They had a turntable playing.
I was greeted at the door. The consultant was polite and granted my request for a demo enthusiastically. This is either their policy or a reflection of the difficult economic times. I prefer to think it was the latter. I had called ahead and they assured me they had the model I desired on display. I cannot tell you how many times I have arrived at a store only to discover they were not displaying the model I inquired about. Either the demo had been sold or there must have been some misunderstanding.
Rooms were large with high ceiling so that a proper demo was obtainable. Scot set up the system left a CD for me to play and exited the room with instructions that I could listen as long as I cared to like. An added bonus was I got to listen to the Esoteric tube amp and line stage and JM Labs Focal Speakers.
Everything was nice and pleasant. Vocals were crisp and well placed. Bass was good Treble was excellent. I made sure to bring a scratched CD which sometime causes problems. The Esoteric played right thru it. Overall I would give it a laid back quality. No digital artifacts were present. Maybe not completely absent.Certainly not the point of being annoying. I am sure that most could be very happy with this system. Perhaps it was me . Or the unfamiliar equipment and surroundings. Pretend to be lacking. I'm not sure what was to blame. probably not the CD Player.
Unfortunately they don't allow home demos. They did offer to allow me to bring my system in. Something I have only done once. Not a realistic option IMO.
I plan to give it another listen. You never know maybe it was I who was having a bad day. I could ask Scot to hook up some different speakers.
If you are looking for a first class CD player with a smooth sound and a rock like build quality this could be for you. This could be the player for those who don't like digital. What grade do I give it? I think I'll give it an incomplete and give it a second audition.
So they won't let you take a CD player home to audition, but they find it perfectly acceptable for you to bring your entire system to them? What a bunch of Horse Poowie. Especially since many here have speakers which weigh hundreds of pounds.
In all fairness, there are a lot of tire kickers and they ruin it for all the serious buyers. The high end stores cary expensive stuff and ususally they have only one in stock (opened). I can see their point. Most of the stores I visit will let me take home equiptment if I put it on my card. Then when I bring it back and it is in the SAME condition as when it left it is taken back off my card.