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Esoteric Owners & Discussion Thread


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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... I finally managed to close a special deal on a brand new digital playback system marvel! Introducing to you the - Esoteric digital playback systems - K07XS.

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

 

BTW, my previous McIntosh SACD player never made it to Classifieds... huh. Guess it was not meant to be...

Anyway, the unit will be going elsewhere. At least it will be well looked after.

Edited by Big Dog RJ
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Yes Stump, it is a cut & paste from CJO, that's my resident forum, being a member on it since I learned to bias tubes more accurately and mod to a higher Class A bias.

 

075Congo; thanks for the warm welcome. 

I did have the opportunity to access the 05xs version. However, after a very honest approach from the MD himself, and a lengthy discussion, although the 05xs is even better, the improvement is only incremental. It's not within my Benchmark percentage of improvement, which has to meet 35-40%. Whereas the 03xs and 01xs definitely are, and this is something I will work my way towards.

 

I must say, the level of resolution and detail through the CLX's driven by a full array of CJ amplification, this Esoteric gear is nothing short of marvellous! It's just superb, I can't fault it in any way whatsoever, only to look forward in settling in more as the hours run in.

 

If anyone is searching for a serious level of fine digital playback performance, this is basically it!

 

Cheers, and have a good one. 

Enjoy those fine tunes!

Best, RJ

Edited by Big Dog RJ
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Wow, wow wow! This thing just landed in the Starship Enterprise!

OMG! What a performance! Tonal density, speed and transient control, along with a top end frequency extension is just superb!

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 begin...
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 but in 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.. so it has easily shattered my benchmark indicators by a far margin. 

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!

best, RJ 

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  • 2 weeks later...

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 any settings with the Mac? There's also a dual layered CD with Donald Byrd and Kenny Burrel, where disc 1 doesn't load for some darn reason. I even took the these two particular CDs to the dealers demo rooms and tried them on Mac's top of the line MCD500 & MCD550, both of these players showed the exact same symptoms. 

 

So the question is, why do these two discs load and play flawlessly on the Esoteric or was I/ we doing something wrong? Three of us stood in front of these players, the sales rep, the owner of the dealership and myself, and we concluded that the Mac gear just didn't like these particular discs. 

 

Interesting to see if anyone knows or has experienced similar variations. 

Cheers, RJ

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  • 2 weeks later...

 

On 30/10/2020 at 3:21 AM, Big Dog RJ said:

So the question is, why do these two discs load and play flawlessly on the Esoteric or was I/ we doing something wrong? Three of us stood in front of these players, the sales rep, the owner of the dealership and myself, and we concluded that the Mac gear just didn't like these particular discs. 

 

Some discs/some tracks will do that in different transports....

As you mentioned earlier, only problem with Esoteric, they do make you question "whats the next model up sound like?"

I started off with a DV-60 (very nice), moved up to the K-03  (wow) and finally had the opportunity to purchase my end game- the K-01Xs (oh yeah).

There were major sonic improvements all the way, you just have to decide how far is far enough.

.

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The K01XS, that should be beyond superb! Of course the rest of the gear in the system must be on par... to really get the utmost best out of this marvellous Esoteric gear. What a work of art!

 

Just pulled out this one by Bob James and Kirk Whalum, where I actually saw these guys play live way back in 98, separate performances though. This particular CD I had not played since nearly 20yrs... took it for a spin, simply marvellous! The K07xs is nicely settling in, clocked in beyond 50hrs now but I can still sense the improvement every time it runs in.

I'm sending the CJ monoblocks for a final SE upgrade that includes all the fine goodness- Teflon caps, Vishay resistors and so on... so after this is completed within a few weeks or so, I'll have to wait for a further burn-in on those notorious Teflons! Oh well, might as well sit back and enjoy the ride.

 

Craig&Kim, btw was wondering whether you've ever had the chance to audition the Luxman DX10 player? It's supposed to be right up there but I haven't had a chance to hear one yet. Perhaps on my next trip, whenever and if ever that happens, I know the Luxman chaps in Spore, might as well take the opportunity just to experience it.

 

I've been in touch with them, and although they would obviously like to promote their own brand, the chief tech guy mentioned that since I'm using the Esoteric now, to just stick with it and it's basically the end game. Whereas the Luxman is slightly different flavour... some may like it or not, obviously depends on system interaction.

 

Interested to learn your thoughts if you've had the chance to audition one.

 

Until then cheers to all and enjoy those fine tunes!

Best, RJ 

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Nope...not even looking at any other transport. 

Thinks it gets too costly to chop and change at this level. 

Only reason for this purchase... price too good to pass up + unit was less than 12mths old.

I was very happy with K-03, but always wondered what K-01 would be like.

 

Yeah know what you mean...you start listening to discs you havent touched in years....rediscovering how good they actually sound.

 

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Ok fair enough, and good point.

Definitely agree on that. I'm not going to ever change from this point, and especially at this level, it's definitely a marvellous thing! I was advised about the clock unit, if I were to seek a solid upgrade but that thing alone goes for around 20grand. Just for a clock!

My personal benchmark percentage has to be around 40-45% in performance improvement, otherwise I can't justify the spend...

At this stage I'm really not sure if this clock is going to make such a significant difference in that performance percentage...

I'll give it some thought. 

 

Cheers mate, thanks for your reply. 

Best, RJ

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  • 4 months later...

Delivered this afternoon. In black livery, to be different.

 

Cold out of the box, one could say it blows the K-03Xs out of the water.

 

I'll write up thoughts over the next few days and post to the reviews section.

 

Paul, a very much lighter wallet!

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...

G'day Paul,

 

Nice one on the K03-XD, that should be a fine upgrade from the XS series.

 

Although, as you mentioned it blows away the K03XS... out of the water.... yes indeed it does but not by a significant margin. I would say by a fair margin, as it ought to with these latest discrete DACs. Slightly different from the AK DACs and the XS chip sets used but these are also superb in every way.

 

My personal benchmark in any system improvement has to be 40% or close to that. Anything less is just another spend and a waste of hard earned dollars, for me at least.

I'm currently using the K07-XS and it has only clocked in just over the 100hr mark. Plenty more to go, plus the digital Filter settings and other settings on the DACs took a while to perfect. Then again not every recording is perfect to begin with!

I'm currently using F1 and sampling 2x, this we found to have the most natural tonality with plenty of dynamics and superb resolution.

 

I also tried the Eso clock on a few occasions and this is where I believe that 40% in improvement is most significant. It's a marvellous combination but does come at a hefty price tag. So I started planning from this point, as I feel working my way towards the K01-XD may take a while. I think the clock would be a justifiable improvement along the way...

 

These high quality digital playback systems from Esoteric, takes an awful long time to properly run in. Hence, there are quite a few who've listened at the first few notes and found them to be too clinical, thin sounding and that sort of thing. Basically they didn't know it takes a while to get going, and haven't really experienced the marvellous synergy they can create within the right gear.

 

BTW, whiles considering the upgrade towards the XD series, did you get a chance to audition the Luxman D10x? I've really liked that particular unit whiles I tried it out for a very short while. It's one of those highly revealing components I must say. However, I feel that's about all Luxman has to offer. Whereas with Esoteric skies the limit! And that clock! What a beautiful work of art.

 

Cheers once again on the K03XD, and enjoy those fine tunes!

Esoteric digital playback systems are in a class of their own.

Big woofty woof!

RJ

Edited by Big Dog RJ
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Only 50 black K03XD were built for world-wide distribution, so this one will be a collectors item. Regarding Esoteric master clock generators. The K03XD has the new Grandioso Custom VCXO II clock so any performance advantage of using earlier generation G02X clock technology is probably mute. And it wouldn't make any sense using the new generation Esoteric master clock G1X because they are more than double the price of K03XD.

K03XD is the sweet spot. Add an N03T to the mix and you have some serious digital performance at a respectable price point. No need for an external clock, or look at Cybershaft if you feel inclined to experiment. However expect to pay $2K for the clock cable. Lesser clock cables are junk.

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  • 1 year later...

Hello all

Finally ,my  K 03 xd has broken in. My journey with Esoteric began with the x03 se, to the K 07 x, KO5 x, then K01 x and now the K 03 xd, and this latest version has had the longest break in of all.

The various changes have been very soul destroying at times- soundstage  collapses, murky bass and mids , poorly defined treble and voices sounding harsh and echoey making me want to drop the player off my balcony😂.

Persisting for 8 months of burn in with various filter combinations have finally paid off- using  8 fs and m1 filters  and now sounds like I hoped it would.

If anyone is contemplating this player, please don’t give up - the ups and downs are very anxiety inducing but the end result is worth it.

 

Mark

 

 

Edited by MTL
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  • 10 months later...

I stepped up to the newish SACD/CD  K-03XD from a Chord CD M-Scaler to DAVE DAC. Been delighted as the XD is the next step up the HIFI upgrade ladder.

 

Loved the bottom up sound from the start and after say 80 hours the treble has lifted nicely and the overall sound quality is absolutely superb. Such a rich sound and great tone.

 

The remote control should win an award as best in the business, being 2-sided and all the buttons on each side are nicely spaced with a logical layout.

 

Another outstanding feature is when you select a track, the number doubles in size for a few seconds.

 

The tray quality is real with precision sliders. 


I use the internal DAC to play from a music server also.
 

Recommended without question.
 

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  • 2 months later...

Hi all, has anybody heard the new K05XD , looking at upgrading my Marantz sa10 - can afford the 5XD and  bonus it comes in black ( a black K03XD would be nice, but missed that boat) 

 

regards Dave 

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AV Gallery staff could elaborate on your comparison question.

 

What im happy to report is that leaving the unit (k-03XD) on for a few hours pays off with incredible transparency. Important for the advanced clock I’ve been told. This became apparent when I played a SACD with the first track a bit edgy on upper treble but by track 4 it was getting wonderful, so at the end if the disc it was straight to track 1 again and superb -so learnt it just needed further warming up

Ive been using the Esoteric DAC section extensively from an Aurender music server, and with both units well warmed up its exceeded expectations.

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  • 2 months later...

Hi just wondering if anyone has had trouble with Esoteric K07 CD player brought mine six months ago and was really impressed with it but now it’s making noise when playing and the volume down and last night it started skipping tracks and that really made my bourbon taste bitter.i just sold a Musical fidelity A5 CD and that was great to the day I sold it .did I up grade?

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2 hours ago, Audio nut said:

it’s making noise when playing and the volume down and last night it started skipping tracks

Also, just check the power cable has not worked its way loose.

The laser is the only part Esoteric dont make in house - not many manufacturers do.

Give Reference AV/ AV Gallery a call in Melbourne, they'll be able to more accurately diagnose the systems and and suggest remedy. 

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