Esoteric P03 & D03 vs K07xs or K05xs

Big Dog RJ

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Feb 3, 2012
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G'day maties, from Down unda.

Just checking on a few things, as expert advice will be much appreciated here.
The time has come to upgrade my digital playback system, which is a McIntosh SACD/CD player MCD301. Although it's certainly not on par with the rest of my gear (CJ amplification and CLX's), the big Mac has served extremely well, outlasting various other digital players I've had, including two ARC Ref series units. So, with that I'm on a quest to find something special and something worth spending on as long as it meets my personal benchmark percentage in improvement, which has to be at least 35% - 40%. Otherwise to me it's a waste of hard earned dollars and only a marginal improvement.

I firmly believe, based on the following three that I've short listed, they would be a significant upgrade with perhaps a percentage improvement of around 45% for sure. Anyway, here goes:
1. Have the opportunity of getting the P03 transport and D03 dac. The only issue is, although SOTA and best in Class at the time, these two units date back to 2007... that's pretty much vintage gear. They also use 24bit dacs. The asking price (carefully used with a recent laser unit replacement) seems like a great opportunity.

2. The K07xs - available in Aus for an unbelievable price, I was quite shocked. The latest versions with all the goodies and gadgets plus four 32bit dacs per channel.

3. The K05xs - again available in Aus, very reasonably priced and a step above the K07xs.

My questions to the experts;
1. Is it worth considering the much older P03 & D03 units?
2. What's the main difference between the K07xs & the K05xs?
3. Is the K05xs going to deliver that 35% margin of improvement over the K07xs? Or is it only an incremental improvement?
In which case, might as well go for the K07xs...

Would appreciate any suggestions based on the above, and the rationale behind your advice.

Cheers for now, and enjoy those fine tunes! Best, RJ
 

bonzo75

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The lampizator big 7 or Golden gate is fantastic with Martin Logans, especially as you can tube to your taste. It will give so much drive plus the density into the panels. I have compared it to two esoteric k01x and to to one k01. I wouldn't advise them except as CD transports.
 

Big Dog RJ

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Feb 3, 2012
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Thanks for your prompt reply Bonz.
I understand your rationale behind the Lampi suggestion, however I really don't want any more tubes! Nearly every thing is tube gear, from top to bottom: line pre- phono pre- & monoblocks.

The other thing is, I firmly believe it's not possible to acquire a Lampi at the budget I'm seeking, under 11grand. If I were to venture north of 15 - 20grand and above, then I would seriously consider the Lampi and perhaps those fancy lofty ones... but I'm not going to divulge in that kind of spend.

How much more would I have to spend on the Lampi anyway? And no transport just the DAC?

Thanks mate, RJ
 

Big Dog RJ

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Feb 3, 2012
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I also firmly believe the Lampi is outstanding and will prove to be a worthy contender for the long term, no doubt. However, as a fanatic of CJ amplification and ML stats, all I require at this stage is a SOTA digital playback system that's on par with the rest of the gear. Having, said that CJ amplifiers do add a superb dimension of tonal density and drive to stats, especially ML's and Quads. These amplifiers never run out of steam, have extraordinary power reserves with highly stable current, thanks to their top notch power supply design. This has been the hallmark of CJ over the decades.

So in all fairness to density and drive, I think I've already got that. What I'm after is digital playback on CD & SACD's with further refinement adding to my benchmark percentage of 40% & above. The Mac proved to be just that when I first got it in 2010, and still to this day has never flinched once. I will truly miss the big fella.

I believe the Esoteric digital playback systems are well designed from top to bottom, no frills and no chills... just purer signals along the way of their DAC topology. Fitted in my particular system, CJ and the CLX's will take care of the rest.

Always willing to learn though and keep a close eye on what's coming round the corner. Perhaps others who have actually owned and used Esoteric gear can offer some advice on how I should go about these three options.

Cheers, RJ
 

Big Dog RJ

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Feb 3, 2012
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Just great, this arvo went very well until something else transpired in hometown, anyway leaving that side of things apart. I just closed on the purchase of a brand new K07xs. I firmly believe that this particular gear will be a significant step up from my previous digital gear. Had a wonderful chat to the Aus importer, very genuine person and great honest advice.

Down the line, I will look towards their top tier stuff, such as the K01 or whatever else is offered. Now at least I could seriously compare the T+A digital gear and choose slowly between the two. No rush, looking into the future...

For now, this is SOTA for me, it's good enough!
Cheers and have a good one,
RJ
 

Nemal1

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Dec 9, 2018
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Just to throw another option into the pot, an esoteric clock brought a bigger increase in sound quality than changing a dac.

its all relative of course, just based on my own experience with a K01xs and G01x clock compared to changing to an external dac.
 

Big Dog RJ

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Feb 3, 2012
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Yes, I heard about this particular combination, which I will certainly look into during my next venture/trip to Spore, once a viable vaccine is in hand...
I guess until then it's going to be a challenge to arrange a home demo. Now having come across this, with my initial thoughts set on the T+A digital gear, I'll have to revisit both just to make sure where I'm at and in which direction I should be heading in the long term.

As for now, the system is complete! It took 10 years since to upgrade the digital source, so I guess being patient was definitely worth it.

Cheers mate,
RJ
 

howiebrou

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Jun 29, 2012
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Thanks for your prompt reply Bonz.
I understand your rationale behind the Lampi suggestion, however I really don't want any more tubes! Nearly every thing is tube gear, from top to bottom: line pre- phono pre- & monoblocks.

The other thing is, I firmly believe it's not possible to acquire a Lampi at the budget I'm seeking, under 11grand. If I were to venture north of 15 - 20grand and above, then I would seriously consider the Lampi and perhaps those fancy lofty ones... but I'm not going to divulge in that kind of spend.

How much more would I have to spend on the Lampi anyway? And no transport just the DAC?

Thanks mate, RJ

Lampis have quite a range of prices. Their price list is on their website.

https://d178dfe1-6094-4971-8b61-f66...d/c6db56_5296b5461ae14775b68ab8800444faaf.pdf

Screenshot 2020-10-14 at 08.04.10.png
 
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Big Dog RJ

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Yes, I'm aware of the pricing on Lampi's and this is based in Europe.

However, I'm based in Australia, and prices on such items when they finally reach here go for nearly three times more. So I'm not going to divulge in such expenditure. Obviously due to currency conversion and CIF, gst plus customs duties etc, it keeps adding up. The T×A HV series unit that I was very keen on is over 30grand. Same with the US, prices in US are very affordable but when it lands here it's double.

Items imported from Japan hold well, nearly on par... so I feel this is of far more value to me.

Thanks for the info on the Lampi prices though. Appreciate it. Cheers,
RJ
 
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Stump

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Jul 15, 2012
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Esoteric P-03 Universal Disc Transport
I know nothing about a Dac except the technology increases quicker then transports. Will matching a Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ to a older Esoteric P-03 work? Will it be better then a later Esoteric D ??
Cheers

P.S Only reason I am considering a Esoteric P-03 U is apart from SACD it will play DVD-A.....
 

Big Dog RJ

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G'day Stump,

Judging from what I've read, researched and talked to the main importer for Esoteric in Aus, that P03 transport is the mothership of all time! Or at least it was the bomb at the time, around 2007/08, SOTA at its very finest! Being a universal playback system, not only was it able to reproduce high quality in audio but equally outstanding level of detail and high resolution with DVD's. Just read Robert Harley's review of TAS in 08, amongst numerous other glowing reviews, so you can't go wrong...

However, with DACs the ball game is slightly different. DACs have advanced on a serious level since a decade ago but that doesn't mean that something might not work well in your particular system compared to someone else's. No two systems are ever identical. Each once has its merits and demerits.

To answer your question, you might have to try it out, if possible, in order to be sure. You never know what level it may or may not work, and only you can be the judge of that. Your set of ears are unique, so trust them and listen to what they're saying...

Others may have different points of view.
Hope it works out well and to your preference. Cheers, RJ
 
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Big Dog RJ

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Feb 3, 2012
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G'day maties,

Well, I guess that time has come... for a small upgrade in the digital front.
Going back 10yrs, I purchased the McIntosh MCD301 in 2010 brand new. I used it in various systems since, from Maggies, Quads, SF's, Infinity's, Theils, Wilson's, then back to maggies, Quads and now Martin Logan's. Also amongst those speaker systems were various CD players, ranging from Marantz, Arcam, Musical Fidelity, Cambridge Audio, Audio Research, CJ's DV2B, Meridian, Wadia and some I can't even remember. Anyway, none of these players lasted too long, some were superior to the big Mac but this Mac outlasted the lot! It's still going and hasn't missed a beat nor flinched even once. Whichever unit gave me better or a higher sense of recorded music was obviously the preferred option.

However, as the years passed and as my system developed into a more resolving, engaging, transparent and more immersive approach, after upgrading nearly every other aspect of it, including cables, wiring and interconnects, I began to realise that the Mac was not upto par as compared to the CJ gear or to the CJ phonostage to begin with. So I thought to myself, in order to significantly upgrade the digital front, I would have to spend some serious green notes. And so my quest began in 2013 after 3 years of having the Mac.

It has served me extremely well and has always been totally engaging, nothing short of musical. I will miss the big fella and I'm sure passed on to the next owner, will certainly look after it well. Afterall, it still holds strong and can playback SACD's.

So with that said, much searching and numerous auditions, research and development done over the years, history in the making, hard work and hard work... the Esoteric digital playback systems - K07XS is superb!

Oh my goodness gracious! This is a serious level of digital playback and one that when fitted into a high quality system, the synergy is just superbly superior in every angle!
More to come with a few pics. I just took delivery on Thurs but couldn't get to it until now, so initial setup has been completed and only a handful of hours on it. There's, tremendous potential in this thing, I can feel it every minute it warms up... the only issue is, according to the manual/ other Esoteric owners, it requires over 200hrs to really get going, and once that happens, the marvel takes place.

I'll place a few pics this weekend, since I will be finalising setup. At least by then it'll have about 20hrs on it.

Cheers to digital!
RJ
 
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howiebrou

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Congrats on the Esoteric. I haven't there offerings for some years but apparently they are much better now. Time for an audition me thinks.
 

Big Dog RJ

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Feb 3, 2012
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Wow, wow wow! This thing just landed in the Starship Enterprise!

OMG! What a performance! Tonal density... thin this or thin that...uh? I don't think so!

Its clocked in about 10hrs, maybe less but every minute the potential is formidable, there's no doubt I can feel every nuance easily. There's so much to talk about, not sure where to start...
I'll try to make it simple as possible because it's very very hard to type this whiles discs are spinning.

Features: amongst the usual goodies at this level, the special transport mechanism is superb, and the build quality is first class! The layout connections at the back are high grade stuff, and the Crystal cable power cord fits in snug and tight, as if it was made for this unit. There are a few settings you need to finalise before hitting the play button, until these are properly set no tunes play.
Two very cleaver features I really like are the fact that after a while of no signal at all the unit shuts itself off. Also after a certain time of playback the display shuts off leaving just pure music! What a great thing for the team at Teac to think of.

Sound performance:
1. The speed, clarity, definition and accuracy is superb! It captures anything and everything, macro, micro, which was on the Mac as well butbin this case it's far more profound.

2. The energy pick up is superb! As if the musicians woke up from a dull nap... and suddenly drank a litre of Red bull and just started playing their socks off! The vibrant pulse and energy comes with great force, pick up speed and agility in all areas.

3. Having said point 2, with all this greatness in pick up energy and impact, also comes a fine sense of balance and control. It's just marvellous, nothing of too much of anything.

There's this one standard CD from Norman Brown - Better Days Ahead, that I always play whenever I install any new gear. I know it so well, dates back to my student days in the US purchased in 94. Each and every time I play this CD on any given system with whatever improvements, it keeps sounding better all the time. The last time I played this particular album was demoed on ML's Statements Evo-II's and that was awe-inspiring!
Now with the Esoteric K07xs this thing has shifted gears to such a level, I can state it's an easy 45-50% improvement, without a doubt! And it gets better..

Anyway, I guess my upgrade path is set for now because if and when I'm ready I will definitely consider the K03xs or K01. Can't possibly imagine what that would sound like, oh my!

As a closing statement, all I can say at this stage is that my system is now complete!
Cheers, and a mad woofty woof woof!
RJ
 

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Big Dog RJ

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I just had a notification on my email ref to someone asking if I had tried out the Luxman digital playback systems... can't remember who asked but it seems like this post was taken down or I can't find it.

Anyway to quickly answer, as it was an interesting point;
In fact I did but not at home on my particular system, rather at the dealership. Going back to 2017 when I was on a quest to find my preferred full range stats, ribbon panels or horns, my short list being the ML Ren15a, AG Duo XD's, Maggie's 20.7 and the CLX's, the place where I finalised my CLX's had an extensive range of products on offer. So there I did manage to audition several versions and combinations over a period of couple weeks.

On the digital front it was mostly streaming through a PS Audio DAC setup and only a handful of digital playback gear, Luxman and Accuphase. Also a host of other brands on amplification, some I can't even remember but although they sounded pretty good none of them quite matched my preferred choice of CJ & CLX's. From what I can remember we tried, Jeff Rowland, Mark Levinson, Pass Labs, Accuphase, Ayon, Divialet... clutter everywhere. Then from speakers- Dynaudio, Wilson Benesch, Golden Ear, Paradigm, Harbeth, ML's, and a massive range of others, speakers were in every corner of the store... top & bottom. Probably more on the roof! Anyway, it was definitely a candy store and I spent many hours trying to finalise a short list.

I sincerely think the Luxman's were a great sound, no doubt. However, I walked away closing the order on the CLX's and didn't change my Mac sacd player, rather kept it until now. Since that time 2018, as the system has evolved to higher levels of resolution and transparency, having upgraded other gear and switched over to different cables, it was about time the digital end required some improvements.

The T+A was my final preferred choice but it was going to cost me some serious green notes. Something I just didn't want to get into especially when it goes over 30grand. Coming from Germany, I guess this is what the Aus retail market is when it comes to luxurious items like that, and so my quest continued...

I just happened to stumble upon the Esoteric gear, and what a marvellous combination it is! The particular synergy it has with CJ amplification and CLX's is outstanding! Couldn't have wanted anything more.
So I guess I'm an Esoteric member for life!

Cheers to Eso, just gotta luv it!
RJ
 

PBM

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Feb 21, 2012
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We use a K-01 as the main DAC in our mastering room. With no upsampling and the S-DLY1 filter it is the most transparent DA I've come across for the budget - we passed up on a lot of the names (dCS, EMM) to buy it: it's essential to critical work. That said, for some pleasure listening, e.g. with early transfer digital classical and other rough material, it's truth to source can be too strident. But that's what the FIR filters are for: the FIR2 reduces the edge and gives a nudge of glorious body to strings, and the FIR1 tames stridency even further. (I never use the upsampling). The use of the right filter seems to be as crucial to enjoying it as what I have read here about the right tubes in a Lampi.
 

Big Dog RJ

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Feb 3, 2012
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Yes, certainly agree with that PBM.

Infact, I'm still getting used to the various settings one can choose to custom make the preferred sound. Having read the manual several times, it took a few attempts just to get the A-output settings right to RCA. The default settings were in XLR Bal, which I don't use at all.

I haven't even tried the upsampling bit, just no time and couldn't be bothered... just wanted to relax and enjoy to the fullest as it is, and that's exactly what I'm doing!

The K01 will have a host of added features, although I would be crazy excited to own one or even just try one out, I wouldn't know where to begin in terms of settings...
So might as well just sit back and enjoy those fine tunes!

Perhaps I'll get round to it when time permits. At least something more to look forward to and learn from. Should be very interesting.
Cheers, RJ
 

Big Dog RJ

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Feb 3, 2012
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What just happened...?

Update incoming....!

Well it seems like I've managed to just clock in around 50hrs or so of burn-in on this thing, and it has just shifted a few gears again! Apart from the top end frequency extension and beautiful midrange, that CJ midrange magical partnered with this beautiful work of Art from Esoteric is absolutely stunning, marvellous and outstanding! I think I've run out of vocabulary...

The most profound frequency range is the LF detail. The bass lines are so crystal clear and you follow each and every bass detail to the core, no fuss, no strain and the low extension is superb! Speaking of adding subs? Forget it! Not at all required. So, basically it was the source that made all the difference, without a doubt.

Now, referring to the title, "what just happened..."
I decided to play a particular CD from Russell Malone- love looks good on you album. On track 7 titled Amsterdam something, just around the 3.48min or so it skips and usually gets stuck. It just won't budge and you feel frustrated and need to skip the trach to track 8 then the CD plays as normal. I wrote to the recording label company and they replied with a "don't know, not sure sort of answer..." so that wasn't really helpful.

Anyhoo, I decided I must try this particular Russell Malone CD and just check what happens with the Esoteric on track 7... absolutely nothing! It plays flawlessly! No skipping no stopping nothing, just smooth sailing all the way to the next track. So I repeated the track three times, and nothing, all good crystal clear.

So what just happened? How come on my previous Mac it always skipped! 10 out 10, always skipped, just wouldn't play track 7...

Anyone has the experience with such variations in digital playback? Or have I missed something or have I done something wrong with the Mac?
RJ
 

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