If the Esoteric K03Xs CD/SACD Player has harsh leading and trailing edges...

John57

Well-Known Member
Sep 29, 2015
195
15
98
Saudi Arabia
#1
Listening to my K03Xs SE in my system is a clear transparent articulate and full range CD/SACD experience.

Herb Albert is super crystal clear. Playing through any of my amps...

PassLabs XP20/XA25
Esoteric F05

To MB2SE (super transparent across the range) or funnily enough my Monitor Gold 50’s.

It’s bearable yet an obvious characteristic.
I’m wondering what alternatives there might be. And where to start?

The Lampizator Amber DAC II doesn’t help at all. Frankly I find this has a forward presentation anyway.

Is an alternative player the answer?
EMM Labs
T+A
Others?
Tubes output stage?

Is an alternative preamp or amp the answer? Tubes in the mix somewhere?

I’d welcome some wisdom. TIA. 7259027B-CD48-4797-A1F2-902A95297DCC.jpeg
 

thedudeabides

Well-Known Member
Jan 16, 2011
1,434
137
485
Alto, NM
#2
I had the K01 and returned it after a 2 month audition. Very transparent but, in my system, very little body, midrange density and believable, solid dimensionality. I believe Esoteric is very sensitive to system matching and will not sound optimum unless it is paired with other components that compliments its "house" sound. Synergy is critical as it is with most hi performance systems.

IMHO, if you are looking for a more "musical, full bodied" alternative with a very different sound, I would suggest Luxman. In that price range, either the discontinued D08-u or the new, soon to be released 10x. I have the D06-u and love what it does.
 
Last edited:

twitch

Well-Known Member
Jun 17, 2010
370
81
435
SE Pa
#3
I had the K01 and returned it after a 2 month audition. Very transparent but, in my system, very little body, midrange density and believable, solid dimensionality. I believe Esoteric is very sensitive to system matching and will not sound optimum unless it is paired with other components that compliments its "house" sound. Synergy is critical as it is with most hi performance systems.

IMHO, if you are looking for a more "musical, full bodied" alternative with a very different sound, I would suggest Luxman. In that price range, either the discontinued D08-u or the new, soon to be released 10x. I have the D06-u and love what it does.
so Gordon, you no longer have your Cary ?
 

thedudeabides

Well-Known Member
Jan 16, 2011
1,434
137
485
Alto, NM
#4
Hi Dave,

Good to hear from you my friend. Loved my Cary and it was reasonably reliable. However, given its age (10 years in my system) and the fact that it was discontinued several years ago, I decided it was time for a change. Tried the K01 and the dCS Puccini with clock. Returned , sold both. I was very skeptical that I would find a CDP that I liked as much as the 306SACD but bought the D06-u and am very happy.
 
May 11, 2019
57
28
23
56
Dundas, ON Canada
#5
I looked at your "about me" gear profile @John57 and saw no mention made of room acoustics treatment. The pic you provided is zoomed in on the gear rack so no clue there but that hard reflective tile floor along with the huge reflective face of the flat screen is not very ear friendly. Do you at a minimum have a thick rug and underpad covering a significant portion of your floor?
 

John57

Well-Known Member
Sep 29, 2015
195
15
98
Saudi Arabia
#6
Y
I looked at your "about me" gear profile @John57 and saw no mention made of room acoustics treatment. The pic you provided is zoomed in on the gear rack so no clue there but that hard reflective tile floor along with the huge reflective face of the flat screen is not very ear friendly. Do you at a minimum have a thick rug and underpad covering a significant portion of your floor?
Yes I do Vince. It’s an acrylic tile floor not ceramic or porcelain. And a large rug in front.
I changed the filter setting to convert to DSD and it seems to have built out the sound somewhat.
 

John57

Well-Known Member
Sep 29, 2015
195
15
98
Saudi Arabia
#7
I had the K01 and returned it after a 2 month audition. Very transparent but, in my system, very little body, midrange density and believable, solid dimensionality. I believe Esoteric is very sensitive to system matching and will not sound optimum unless it is paired with other components that compliments its "house" sound. Synergy is critical as it is with most hi performance systems.

IMHO, if you are looking for a more "musical, full bodied" alternative with a very different sound, I would suggest Luxman. In that price range, either the discontinued D08-u or the new, soon to be released 10x. I have the D06-u and love what it does.
Thanks
Reading more about Luxman. Interesting that you are happy with the D06u after the K01, in your system. Thanks again.
 
Mar 3, 2018
73
34
23
#10
Listening to my K03Xs SE in my system is a clear transparent articulate and full range CD/SACD experience.

Herb Albert is super crystal clear. Playing through any of my amps...

PassLabs XP20/XA25
Esoteric F05

To MB2SE (super transparent across the range) or funnily enough my Monitor Gold 50’s.

It’s bearable yet an obvious characteristic.
I’m wondering what alternatives there might be. And where to start?

The Lampizator Amber DAC II doesn’t help at all. Frankly I find this has a forward presentation anyway.

Is an alternative player the answer?
EMM Labs
T+A
Others?
Tubes output stage?

Is an alternative preamp or amp the answer? Tubes in the mix somewhere?

I’d welcome some wisdom. TIA. View attachment 62058
You can improve your CD player with a clock like the Grimm CC1.
The sound is more accuracy, you have the sound in 3D.
You can find all the informations here at the end of this post.

https://www.whatsbestforum.com/thre...-clock-benefits-balanced-vs-unbalanced.16710/

The other step is to buy a Furutech FLUX 50 NCF.

https://www.whatsbestforum.com/threads/furutech-flux-50-ncf.30151/

It's a great improvment.

Hope this help...
 
Likes: John57

John57

Well-Known Member
Sep 29, 2015
195
15
98
Saudi Arabia
#11
You can improve your CD player with a clock like the Grimm CC1.
The sound is more accuracy, you have the sound in 3D.
You can find all the informations here at the end of this post.

https://www.whatsbestforum.com/thre...-clock-benefits-balanced-vs-unbalanced.16710/

The other step is to buy a Furutech FLUX 50 NCF.

https://www.whatsbestforum.com/threads/furutech-flux-50-ncf.30151/

It's a great improvment.

Hope this help...
Thanks for your suggestions.
I use two external clocks. The first is an Esoteric G-Orb SE. I’d say it makes a 2-3% improvement in expanding the airiness to alleviate that harshness. Second is an Audio Alchemy DTI PRO32 Jitter controller. This makes twice the impact of the G-Orb and more.

I’ll certainly take a look at your suggestions.
 

John57

Well-Known Member
Sep 29, 2015
195
15
98
Saudi Arabia
#12
HKFF
I want share this reply if you don’t mind with this wider audience here.
Hi HKFF
I wonder how much impact this would make in my system. Let me explain more.
My electronics including my Esoteric gear K03Xs and F05 and all my PassLabs gear XA25/XP20 are completely internally treated for EMI and RFI including damping shielding etc. The treatments include painting wrapping damping materials etc. A proprietary mix of treatment that controls resonance from external and internal sources.
My power chords are treated in the same way. My power supply is via a treated Furman Elite Pfi20 SE.
I’ll try to attach some photos.
Despite all this treatment my Esoteric K03Xs still is way too sharp and analytical.
And so I might try one of these just in case this is the answer. F8AF2472-8E92-4BA3-8453-37311F473280.jpeg 1F787F42-744A-4392-9B5A-2B2FF5A33262.jpeg
 

John57

Well-Known Member
Sep 29, 2015
195
15
98
Saudi Arabia
#13
The alternatives I’m considering or pushed aside include the following:

Luxman D06/8-u CDP
These are one of few top line CD & SACD players around. Good reviews and specs. One who owned the Esoteric CDP sold it and is happy with the D06-u in his system. A genuine option seemingly. Ok to surf the YouTube scene. I hear lots of just what I’m trying to avoid. Sharpness. Hot treble. No air.
[Sidebar here: please understand my situation. I reside in Riyadh Saudi Arabia. Love my job. Not moving anytime soon. There are no Hi-Fi shops in the country. No I’m not able to get equipment to preview from anywhere. So I do my research in these ways. It is what it is. I’ve managed to build quite a system in this way. Installed a 13 channel HT in my Villa living room and a wonderful two-channel system here too. Sourced from all over the world. EOS.]
My assessment of the Luxman are they are good even great units. But they don’t fix my problem. They’re off my list for now.

Next I’m looking at introducing tubes into this set up. I’ve had the 518ia tube integrated from Line Magnetic and an 805 power amp from Finale before. In the current set up I’m thinking one of Ayon’s CDP and preamp. Maybe the CD-10II and a suitable preamp. Still researching this line of options. Current research shows Ayon as great, have reliability issues and poor Customer Service. Mixed bag.

The final option so far is Acoustic Research. Either an AR DAC 9 or CDP9. The CD9 doesn’t do SACD so it’s kind of off the list. That puts the Ref DAC 9 as a serious option.
If I took another step and swapped my PassLabs XP20 SE for an equivalent AR preamp they could extend their impact.

This is where I’m at right now.

Fyi, speakers are PMC MB2SE, Viking Acoustics Berlin Type II and L’Instrument. Preferred amp is the PassLabs XA25.
 

John57

Well-Known Member
Sep 29, 2015
195
15
98
Saudi Arabia
#14
Let me share another step further.

Listening to Jazz at the PawnShop Prophone FIM SACD M034

I’m currently running two stereo systems.

One chain is Oppo205SE—Lampizator Amber DAC II SE—PassLabs XP20/XA25–Monitor Audio Gold50’s via very high grade 8awg speaker cables and WBT locking terminals.

Second is the Esoteric K03Xs SE—F05 Integrated—PMC MB2SE.

In both cases the trumpet and trombones are sharp. The airiness is much better on the Esoteric system but there the sharpness is greater too. Too much.

Of course there’s issues here. Obviously. The players. The speakers. What can you say? I’m saying what I notice.

This album has sharp instruments on oversupply. What would ideal sound like anyway?
 
Mar 3, 2018
73
34
23
#15
Hi John57,

I don't know what I can answer.
Il have the Esoteric K-03XS, not the K-03XS SE.

So, now I listen the CD Randy Crawford & Joe Sample "Feeling good" without the clock and with the clock...
I prefer with the clock because it's more natural. The piano is winderful and the voices too.

With Groover Washington Jr, the sax is beautiful.

If your sound is too bright, perhaps I will try the Van Den Hul Second XLR ...It's less expensive than buy a clock or a Furutech Flux 50 NCF ...? This cable is very warm.

I will be carefull too with the cable between the clock and the CD player. I use Van Den Hul. Why ? Because I think the other are very clear. Grimm CC1 can sound differently with clock cable...

I don't know the sound of your system.

So don't change all in one time...
 

LenWhite

Well-Known Member
Feb 11, 2011
382
33
435
Florida
#16
I owned a Cary 306SACD player and felt at the time it was a really good player, especially at its selling price. At the 2011 RMAF I compared all the top line SACD players including the EMM Labs XDS1 which I ultimately purchased. In 2014 I upgraded it with the v2 modifications, and in 2015 with the MDAT2 firmware upgrade.

It's a really great player with incredible resolution, imaging, and dynamics, and it's not harsh sounding in any way. There's one on Audiogon for sale at the moment for a great price with the v3 upgrade (not sure what that entailed) that's no longer offered by EMM Labs. It's being offered by GTT Audio that displays gear at RMAF frequently.

I don't know where you live, but if you auditioned this player at GTT, it's likely you wouldn't hear a better SACD player for anywhere near the money. I have no affiliation with GTT BTW.
 
Likes: John57
Mar 3, 2018
73
34
23
#17
Hi John,

What are your cable ?
It's very big !
 
Likes: John57

defride

VIP/Donor
Mar 28, 2013
186
54
355
#18
The Luxman is a peach (well, it can be), I've heard it in a couple of implementations. At it's best with Soulution and Verity speakers it offered up one of the few digital experiences I've heard that feels like good analogue, far away from the digital sound you describe which is all to often experienced
 
Likes: John57
Mar 3, 2018
73
34
23
#19
Hi John

I don't have this CD PawnShop Prophone FIM SACD M034.
So we must find same CD ?
I listen :
Groover Washington JR
Diana Krall
Marvin Gaye
Mickael Jackson
Gregory Porter
ELO
Earth Wind & Fire
Andreas Vollenweider
U2
Kool & the Gang
Jean-Jacques MILTEAU
etc...?
 
Likes: John57

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