that's a lot info, thank you very much!I always find Estoeric spinners a bit 'dry' sounding and 'thin' compared to Vitus and tube-based players such as Ayon. But they're built like a tank & have a good transport mech. If you're looking at Marantz, you should check out the SA8005. The reason I mentioned that model is that Modwright offer truth mods which adds, amongst other things, a tube output stage & tube-rectified outboard psu. So that gives you an upgrade path if you later decide you want to take it to the next level.
Btw, Audia Flight from Italy are planning to bring out a new cd player which could be worth a look as AF are well engineered & good value. No word yet on when the new player will land.
Even though I prefer the warmer sound of the Accuphase spinners, the Luxman spinners are better value imho. I auditioned the D-06u & actually thought it out-performed the flagship Lux M series amps.The esoteric can be upgraded with a clock purchase in the future. Accuphase are also excellent players.
Thank you Phillyb!I owned an Esoteric K-01. I sold it due to the weight of the unit and the health issues I had at the time. Did not want my wife to be stuck with an 80 lb. CD player to sell. So I looked and looked and talk with those in the industry and I got thumbs if I was going to replace the Ko1 to purchase the Marantz SA-10S! SACD player. After a long burn-in, all I can say is that I don't miss the Esoteric K-01 at all. ON SACD it sounds better, on red-book close, but I give the Esoteric the edge a bit. With SA10 you have so many inputs and the USB input sounds fantastic better than the Esoteric in fact. I use that for general background listening. But it impressed with the quality of sound, must be that unique Marantz Digital Mastering System they developed. Setting I use noise shaping 3-1, (default) and Dither Off or 1 (Default). Depending on the disc. It runs quiet, smooth transport and it does not cost 15-20K to have superb playback. Power cord makes a huge impact and with the right one, I've found it so close to the esoteric that I could never look at the K01 again for that money. Where the K01 gains are the huge power supply it has, 4 large transformers in the power supply, it runs very warm. So you get a bit more slam, and it's more upfront. I had the K-01 for a few years and loved it but I can now live without it. The Esoteric is expensive if you have a problem also, a guy I know his unit locked up and would no power on or off, sent it in for repair $2,000 for a new power board. That was all, no new laser or sled just popped in a power board. My jaw dropped.
Luxman is nice but it getting long in the tooth, that was out for a while. Many would agree the Luxman smoked the Esoteric. Like you said much more musical and real, real live music just flows, listen to an Orch playing they are so smooth and natural in fact the Cleveland Orch sounds laid back to they really take it up in dynamics. That taught me a lot about what to listen for. Lots of gear is designed to be impressive, but it gets weary in the long run. Look at the same brands and gear on Gon, over and over and over. Now take a speaker like the Quads, so many sold, yet so little for sale, like they say when it sounds right it is hard to beat.I own an Esoteric K-03X and am currently deliberating between the new Luxman D-10X and a new Esoteric XD model (K-03XD or K-01XD, reportedly a much improved sound over previous models due to new in-house developed discrete component DAC). Last year I had a loner Luxman D-08u (being replaced by the D-10X) in my system. It was significantly better than my K-03X to my ears in my system - less glare, warmer, more organic sound, improved sound stage depth. At your price point, I'd be looking at the Marantz or a heavily discounted or used Luxman D-08u ....or the D-06u.
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