dCS vs Esoteric

MadFloyd

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May 31, 2010
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#1
I'm going to be in the market for a new DAC soon. The brands I am considering is dCS and Esoteric.

I've heard the Vivaldi a few times and always was super impressed at how natural and 3D it sounded. The Vivaldi stack is way beyond my means so I'm thinking of the Rossini. I run a music server so I'm not so interested in the transport, but I am considering that it might come in handy. It bothers me that it doesn't support SACD (since I have a fair number of them) but it's not a total deal breaker.

That said, I hear the Esoteric does support SACD and is supposed to sound very good. Is it in the same league as dCS - or at least Rossini level?

If anyone has experience with both these brands, I'd love to hear from you.

Thanks!
 
May 30, 2016
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#3
The only issue or downside from my understanding with even the high end Esoteric Stuff. The DACS aren't software /firmware upgradeable. Whereas your DCS and many others are. Are you looking at the Esoteric K01X player? In addition, I would also consider the EMM Labs unit as this level. They offer a box SACD player with a built in DAC. Like DCS, Meitner/EMM is software upgradeable.
 

caesar

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May 31, 2010
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#5
Great marketing behind both brands. Both of these companies are in the business of up-selling a separate clock to you. And that outboard clock makes a MAGNIFICENT difference in removing the nasty digital artifacts - and, of course, you enjoying the music. I wouldn't draw any conclusions about either brand if the outboard clock is not plugged in. Also, you will need extra rack space in either case!

K01x with clock vs. Rossini with clock would make a great comparison. As would esoteric grandioso with clock vs vivaldi stack.

Both companies have a history of being on the analytic side of things, and both have started to move away from that. The can still sound that way in the wrong system. The last brutally analytic esoteric product was the p02/ d03 product Harley raved about (no surprise, it's Harley!). But Esoteric has improved in the last 8 years or so.

As for dCS, the vivaldi and rossini are much better than the previous generation, but the impression one gets is the buzz from very positive dcs voices have all been coming from systems upsampling the music to DSD, which adds harmonic richness (and a very fake lifelessness to the music, to some listeners) at the expense of snappiness and PRAT to the music that originated in PCM. So, please mind the settings!

Please do report on your adventures, as these are 2 of the premier brands in digital.

Good Luck on your Journey!!!
 

caesar

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May 31, 2010
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#6
What don't you like about the NADAC
Can't speak for the esteemed Madfloyd, but Nadac sounds very detailed and transparent. If you ever heard the martin logan clx, you know what I am talking about. One knock against both is they lack midbass richness or body, or what ever you want to call. But a lot of issues with the nadac get rectified with an outboard clock.

But Nadac can be outstanding - in the right system, Nadac + clock is game over digital. In a lot of respects, as good as digital can get.
 

caesar

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May 31, 2010
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#7
Madfloyd, hate to take you off-topic, but have you considered MSB? The YG/ MSB rooms have been getting a lot of raves at shows in the last few years.
 

MadFloyd

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May 31, 2010
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#8
What don't you like about the NADAC
I think it's a great DAC, but I do hear some artifacts. Mind you, I've heard these artifacts with every DAC I've tried. Some of that was my non-transport, computer based playback, but with the NADAC I'm using ethernet which takes computer noise out of the equation. NADAC has told me not to expect any significant difference with an outboard clock. Caesar has heard otherwise and I would like to try it, but haven't been successful in locating one to audition and don't want to take a chance on purchasing one.

If I hadn't heard the Vivaldi a couple times and been blown away I would just accept that digital in a very revealing system is going to have artifacts.
 
May 30, 2010
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#9
An adequately burn-in DCS Vivaldi is something special, even with normal spinning CDs. The solidity of the images in your room, coupled with plenty of articulation and slam in the bass made my Soundlabs jump in another league, as people say.

But another real jump happens when we play DSD. We have the good things of digital coupled with the easiness of analog. As a friend told me - due to habituation we are even inadvertently imagining the needle going across the grooves and the modulation noise while listening to the LaFolia SACD. :)

Yesterday I was listening to the Dylan MFSL SACD of "Desire", an LP I love since the its launch in my early university years, and that always deceived me in CD format. This time I did not feel the need to look for the LP. Although the LP sound could sometimes seems more agreeable to my memories, the increased instrumental believability of the SACD and its richness was enough to keep me happy.
 

FrantzM

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Apr 20, 2010
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#10
An adequately burn-in DCS Vivaldi is something special, even with normal spinning CDs. The solidity of the images in your room, coupled with plenty of articulation and slam in the bass made my Soundlabs jump in another league, as people say.

But another real jump happens when we play DSD. We have the good things of digital coupled with the easiness of analog. As a friend told me - due to habituation we are even inadvertently imagining the needle going across the grooves and the modulation noise while listening to the LaFolia SACD. :)

Yesterday I was listening to the Dylan MFSL SACD of "Desire", an LP I love since the its launch in my early university years, and that always deceived me in CD format. This time I did not feel the need to look for the LP. Although the LP sound could sometimes seems more agreeable to my memories, the increased instrumental believability of the SACD and its richness was enough to keep me happy.
Resistance has been futile .. You have been assimilated :D,

Congrats microstrip! :D
 

caesar

Well-Known Member
May 31, 2010
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#11
An adequately burn-in DCS Vivaldi is something special, even with normal spinning CDs. The solidity of the images in your room, coupled with plenty of articulation and slam in the bass made my Soundlabs jump in another league, as people say.

But another real jump happens when we play DSD. We have the good things of digital coupled with the easiness of analog. As a friend told me - due to habituation we are even inadvertently imagining the needle going across the grooves and the modulation noise while listening to the LaFolia SACD. :)

Yesterday I was listening to the Dylan MFSL SACD of "Desire", an LP I love since the its launch in my early university years, and that always deceived me in CD format. This time I did not feel the need to look for the LP. Although the LP sound could sometimes seems more agreeable to my memories, the increased instrumental believability of the SACD and its richness was enough to keep me happy.
Nice!!! Vivaldi 1.0 or 2.0?
 

caesar

Well-Known Member
May 31, 2010
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#12
I think it's a great DAC, but I do hear some artifacts. Mind you, I've heard these artifacts with every DAC I've tried. Some of that was my non-transport, computer based playback, but with the NADAC I'm using ethernet which takes computer noise out of the equation. NADAC has told me not to expect any significant difference with an outboard clock. Caesar has heard otherwise and I would like to try it, but haven't been successful in locating one to audition and don't want to take a chance on purchasing one.

If I hadn't heard the Vivaldi a couple times and been blown away I would just accept that digital in a very revealing system is going to have artifacts.
A lot of tube gear manufacturers also tell you that rolling tubes is a waste of time. But when you try some good ones, your jaw drops. Another thing to keep in mind is that Nadac guys come from pro audio side, so probably don't have a clue how good something can sound in a true state of the art system.

Obviously, personal tastes still apply....
 

FrantzM

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Apr 20, 2010
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#13
A lot of tube gear manufacturers also tell you that rolling tubes is a waste of time. But when you try some good ones, your jaw drops. Another thing to keep in mind is that Nadac guys come from pro audio side, so probably don't have a clue how good something can sound in a true state of the art system.

Obviously, personal tastes still apply....
I wouldn't say that. Our own Bruce B about whom no one would dare utter the words "no clue" thinks also that clock can't bring much to the reproduction... Marketing is a powerful force.. It runs the world; High End audiophiles in particular are not immune from it. I haven't heard the NADAC nor the Vivaldi. I would say however that a friend who's heard both think the NADAC is as good as it gets ... Then again it is a matter of taste at these elevated levels and what one likes isn't debatable.
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#14
Ian

Can you describe what you are hearing that you call artifacts as I have heard the NADAC countless times at Philip O'Hanlon's house and am not aware of hearing "artifacts"
 
May 30, 2010
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#15
Resistance has been futile .. You have been assimilated :D,

Congrats microstrip! :D
Frantz,

No assimilation or no sudden jump. Since long I was the using the best of both worlds. Since I got the Metronome's I understood that implementation and synergy was the key problem with digital. Digital has glimpses of excellence, but not regularly enough to support exclusive daily use.

Then I went through several real great experiences along the years with top digital in great systems, but unhappily bipolar - some of my reference recordings could sound excellent in a system, but the others sounded weak in the same system. But in other top systems the picture reversed - the poor sounding recordings became the good ones!

Excellent digital is obliging me to make big changes - more than never tubes are returning in force to my system! Again my room is a forest of cables laying around and a new very large bass trap is needed.

BTW, probably I could tweak and improve my LP playing system in order to enlarge the gap again. But I feel no desire of doing it. Its level of excellence and difference is enough to keep me happy listening to my favorite LPs in equality.
 
May 30, 2010
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#16
May 30, 2010
14,956
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#17
Ian

Can you describe what you are hearing that you call artifacts as I have heard the NADAC countless times at Philip O'Hanlon's house and am not aware of hearing "artifacts"
Steve,

As far as I remember Philip O'Hanlon's listening space is enormous. Curiously I always felt that digital needs a large space to sound unimpeded, perhaps free of what Ian calls "artifacts". Analog seems to adapt much easier to smaller spaces.

Just my feelings, YMMV.
 

FrantzM

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
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#19
Frantz,

No assimilation or no sudden jump. Since long I was the using the best of both worlds. Since I got the Metronome's I understood that implementation and synergy was the key problem with digital. Digital has glimpses of excellence, but not regularly enough to support exclusive daily use.

Then I went through several real great experiences along the years with top digital in great systems, but unhappily bipolar - some of my reference recordings could sound excellent in a system, but the others sounded weak in the same system. But in other top systems the picture reversed - the poor sounding recordings became the good ones!

Excellent digital is obliging me to make big changes - more than never tubes are returning in force to my system! Again my room is a forest of cables laying around and a new very large bass trap is needed.

BTW, probably I could tweak and improve my LP playing system in order to enlarge the gap again. But I feel no desire of doing it. Its level of excellence and difference is enough to keep me happy listening to my favorite LPs in equality.
You have been assimilated :p
 
May 30, 2010
14,956
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#20

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