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

John57

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Sep 29, 2015
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#42
Maybe, but if you are using the Esoteric as a transport into a non-Esoteric DAC, you will not be able to play SACDs (or the SACD layer of hybrid discs) through this DAC..
Yes
Thanks for this reminder
It’s a constant lesson I run into each time I play an SACD when my K03Xs is connected to my Lampizator Amber III SE. I go...oh yeah not again, as I listen to the sounds of silence! Sorry
Actually I’ve got only a handful of great SACD against 600plus cd’s. I have other players, including upgraded Oppo103DSE Oppo205SE and Pioneer LX800SE. In comparison with the Esoteric K03Xs...well let’s just say there is no comparison really. Maybe the new D03x Luxman will narrow the gap. Or perhaps an Ayon tube cd SACD player might.
Oth the Hélène DAC is another serious option.
 

audio.bill

Well-Known Member
May 27, 2013
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#44
How was that Luxman?
Here’s the model details I was referring to:
Luxman releasing D-03X $5990 AUD due April.
I don't think the Luxman D-10X has been released yet but is expected soon... I can see how you may have misinterpreted my post which stated: "I've heard the upcoming TOTL Luxman D-10X CD/SACD player will retail at $20K in USD." I was only referring to the price, not that I had heard the player. Sorry about my word choice.
 
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John57

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#45
I don't think the Luxman D-10X has been released yet but is expected soon... I can see how you may have misinterpreted my post which stated: "I've heard the upcoming TOTL Luxman D-10X CD/SACD player will retail at $20K in USD." I was only referring to the price, not that I had heard the player. Sorry about my word choice.
No worries. Sorry for misreading also. That done we’re all on standby for their releases.
 

EuroDriver

Well-Known Member
Sep 17, 2015
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#46
CD/SACD transports and DAC´s are very vibration sensitive

Suggest you try using two good vibration control platforms sitting on the tile floor, place the transport on one and the the Amber DAC on the other

Your MDF cabinet is a relatively high vibration support structure

I can recommend the Taiko Daiza, but you should hear a significant difference with any well reviewed platform

https://taikoaudio.com/product/daiza/
 

John57

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Sep 29, 2015
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#47
CD/SACD transports and DAC´s are very vibration sensitive

Suggest you try using two good vibration control platforms sitting on the tile floor, place the transport on one and the the Amber DAC on the other

Your MDF cabinet is a relatively high vibration support structure

I can recommend the Taiko Daiza, but you should hear a significant difference with any well reviewed platform

https://taikoaudio.com/product/daiza/
Thanks for dropping by here. I agree the wonderful IKEA Cabinet is def not the best rack in the business.
I use these...
https://theaudiophileman.com/orea-indigo-isoacoustics-review/

Further, internals are significantly damped through EMI RFI treatments.
 

John57

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Sep 29, 2015
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#48
I want share an update. I’ve had a number of people suggest changing cables esp interconnects.
So tonight I tried three different XLR interconnect cables. It was just like a manual EQ process. From weeny skinny crap to middle of the road to top flight cables. Amp was the Esoteric F05 and speakers PMC MB2SE. Sat right next to my ear.
Each cable created its own sound profile.
The skinniest cable with the cheapest terminals sucked from 200-2000Hz right out. Still the whole thing had its strong treble element just much softer. This cable created a completely imbalanced sound signature. It was awful.
The middle cable brought the sound profile across the frequency back into balance. The difference in transparency and musicality was dramatic. Still the bass wasn’t as strong as the top line cable. All cables were by TimePortal.
None of the cables ‘fixed’ the underlying sound signature.
After this I changed players. I took the cd from the Esoteric to an upgraded Oppo205SE. You know the basic sharp character was still there. But the sound profile is way rolled off especially deep to mid bass and highs.
This result makes me question the cd sound signature. The Esoteric K03Xs is just transparent. It over emphasizes what’s on the disc literally shining a hot torch right at the treble extreme. More than this I will not say. But pre and post ringing come to mind.
Finally I swapped in and out the Lampizator Amber III DAC. The forward mids and uppers did not really help the Esoteric at all. The balance using the Esoteric’s own DAC was much better.
Overall I’m still convinced that changing the player is the answer. These tests overall reinforce this view for me.
 
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thedudeabides

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Jan 16, 2011
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#49
John,

I believe your analysis is correct and similar to my personal experience and other comments I've read about the Esoteric CDP "house" sound. Generally speaking and based on four decades in this hobby, any gear that does not impart a fully fleshed out, saturated, dimensional soundstage will have a somewhat "tipped up" sonic signature or there is a system synergy issue.

Please note that I am not dissing the brand. I am confident that the Esoteric CDP's can sound spectacular in some systems with correct / balanced system synergy but my sense is that may be more difficult than some may think. IMHO, same applies to dCS.

One comment is that I assume you have 500+ hours of burn in and I believe that the CD and SACD processors for this unit need "individual" processor / filter burn in. Or maybe, there is something wrong with your unit. Can you install it in another hi end system and verify?

You may want to call Luxman USA to see if they can find a D06-u or D08-u for audition. There may still be some discontinued units available in the US.

Best of luck with your journey.

Gordon
 
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GSOphile

Well-Known Member
Sep 4, 2017
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#50
John,
My K-03X has both filter and up conversion settings for playing CDs. Both can be used (in combination) to tailor SQ, 'take the edge off.' The filter settings (two FIR filters and two SDLY filters; most X model users I know use the SDLY filters) are not present on s models like yours, but up conversion settings are (I use mostly the 4Fs setting). If you haven't tried these, worth a try. As someone mentioned earlier, each setting requires break-in (~500 hours recommended) for best results.
 

John57

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Sep 29, 2015
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#51
John,
My K-03X has both filter and up conversion settings for playing CDs. Both can be used (in combination) to tailor SQ, 'take the edge off.' The filter settings (two FIR filters and two SDLY filters; most X model users I know use the SDLY filters) are not present on s models like yours, but up conversion settings are (I use mostly the 4Fs setting). If you haven't tried these, worth a try. As someone mentioned earlier, each setting requires break-in (~500 hours recommended) for best results.
Yes thanks, I’m currently trying the DSD Upconversion option.
 

John57

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Sep 29, 2015
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#52
Two topics here

There are two series of Esoteric the P03/D03 and previous edition P02/D02

A nice review gives an indication of the style of these series. My question is do these earlier units have the same sound signature as the current Xs series? Are these origin of the Esoteric house signature sound?

https://6moons.com/audioreviews/esoteric4/trio.html

Second, what about alternatives? On my radar are Luxman new series...D03/10X. I like the MQA enablement. Streaming not MQA CD’s.
And the Ayon CDP 35, with tube output stage. Anyone with experience of this unit?

Fyi I’m going to try another preamp in place of the PassLabs XP20 SE. An Audio Research LS10SE. Any voices here about this unit?

Thanks.
 

GSOphile

Well-Known Member
Sep 4, 2017
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#53
Indications are that the 'house sound' of Esoteric players is evolving with their new series, which uses Esoteric FPGAs in place of AKM DAC chips. I recently listened over the internet to a Japanese demo of Esoteric's new K1X (with custom FPGAs) compared to the K1 (with AK-4497 chips). With some formats the differences (improvements to my ears) were significant, even via my MacPro/B&W speakers. The even newer K-01XD and K-03XD FPGA models are now shown on Esoteric's Japanese website.

 
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John57

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Sep 29, 2015
195
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#54
Indications are that the 'house sound' of Esoteric players is evolving with their new series, which uses Esoteric FPGAs in place of AKM DAC chips. I recently listened over the internet to a Japanese demo of Esoteric's new K1X (with custom FPGAs) compared to the K1 (with AK-4497 chips). With some formats the differences (improvements to my ears) were significant, even via my MacPro/B&W speakers. The even newer K-01XD and K-03XD FPGA models are now shown on Esoteric's Japanese website.

Thank you so much for posting this. It’s quite revealing of the new vs the old. The design shift to fpga is a dramatic change in design. Still the house sound is there. But I hear more air around the highs now. Not so fast to rise and fall that make it sound sharp as the K1 old model has.
It’s def different. The TAD System was excellent revealing system to show the differences. I will listen again with better headphones too.
Now I’d love to compare the K1X with the Luxman 10X and the Ayon CDP 35.
Thank you GSOphile.
 

John57

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Sep 29, 2015
195
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#55
Indications are that the 'house sound' of Esoteric players is evolving with their new series, which uses Esoteric FPGAs in place of AKM DAC chips. I recently listened over the internet to a Japanese demo of Esoteric's new K1X (with custom FPGAs) compared to the K1 (with AK-4497 chips). With some formats the differences (improvements to my ears) were significant, even via my MacPro/B&W speakers. The even newer K-01XD and K-03XD FPGA models are now shown on Esoteric's Japanese website.

My preference was the MQA CD. To my experience it had the best sounding timbre echo reverb and tonality. Especially the decay was most natural and extended. Avoided sharpness the most of any of them.
Again it would be wonderful to compare for example with a high end turntable and vinyl just to reset our hearing. Some of the DSD Upsampling was alright but not all of it.
I’m sure the recording mics etc could be improved also.
Still this is a wonderful opportunity to make such a comparison across so many formats of the same digital production.
 

thedudeabides

Well-Known Member
Jan 16, 2011
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#56
I find this very perplexing especially at that price tag. At what point does Esoteric get the "voicing" correct? Other hi end brands have figured this out.

The brand has a reputation, amongst some, of being overly bright / analytical and lacking any sense of warmth and body. It also seems the brand requires very careful system matching.

FWIW, I had the K01 and returned it for that very reason. And now have a player that's less than half the price and is far more musical and engaging. And a better transport.

I know there are fans of Esoteric (and I'm glad they like the "house" sound) but the performance / price equation seems questionable.
 
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John57

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Sep 29, 2015
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#57
I find this very perplexing especially at that price tag. At what point does Esoteric get it RIGHT? The brand has a reputation, amongst some, of being overly bright and lacking any sense of warmth and body.
One fundamental question.
And yet.
This player is used as a benchmark high end SACD player at shows for example.
And it’s basic design should be pretty damn good. I asked Scott Frankland what would it take to examine and solve the performance issue. Lots of R&D he replied.
And every time I play it I am perplexed. It competes with every other player I have and largely kills them. Except for that sharp top end.
And I still don’t what else is better. Perhaps the new fpga designs?
Correction: The USPS delivered the Luxman to the correct address. The seller misinterpreted the USPS Information.
 
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GSOphile

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Sep 4, 2017
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#59
This is Esoteric's N01 Network Player announced 2017 and reviewed by Stereophile 2018. It has the same DAC chip as the Grandioso K1 SACD Player, so if you like that and are looking for a network player....
 
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John57

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Sep 29, 2015
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#60
This is Esoteric's N01 Network Player announced 2017 and reviewed by Stereophile 2018. It has the same DAC chip as the Grandioso K1 SACD Player, so if you like that and are looking for a network player....
Strange that a three year old network player should be still rated there. No I’m not although I might be tempted to try if I wasn’t so preoccupied with my cd line. My PS Audio Perfect Wave DAC with Network BridgeII does this well enough.
 

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