Head-Fi.org › Forums › Summit-Fi (High-End Audio) › High-end Audio Forum › New Esoteric players (K-01, K-03): anyone has seen or heard?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

New Esoteric players (K-01, K-03): anyone has seen or heard? - Page 2

post #16 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by arnaud View Post

Ok, there's no way I can justify such an expensive purchase but I could not resist going to listen to the K-01 and K-03 for a short while today...

 

I went to Dyna 5555 first. It was a loudspeaker setup (shame on me, I don't remember the speakers but some fairly high end full range stuff, probably in the 20-40kUSD range). Amplification / preamp was from mark levinson. I could A/B the K-01 and P-05/D-05 (in CD mode). I listened to some Jazz and Vocal (one of the songs being the most famous tune from Norah Jones) and it was not contest: The K-01 eats the P-05/D-05 alive. The most obvious thing is improved clarity and transparency as if the P05/D05 was hazy in comparison. The next obvious finding was that the voice presence and realism was clearly a notch above when listening to the K-01, it was extremely revealing yet natural at the same time. Very expensive but it appears the K-01 can make CD sound as good as it gets. I briefly compared the CD and SACD layers of the Norah Jones tune and while it wasn't night and day, the SACD layer conveyed room ambience more than the CD layer. In Japan, the K-01 is just slightly more expensive than the P-05/D-05 combo so it appears quite a few owner are currently upgrading.

 

If I get closer to puller the trigger (it would be after I acquire the C32 so may be a while), I will want to bring my existing Stax gear and Yamamoto D/A in the store and do some AB. But, my impression from today is that my YDA-01 stands very very little chance...

 

I stumbled upon the K-01 again AND K-03 while visiting another store in akiba. This time, I don't know the amplification but loudspeakers were B&W 804 Diamond. I could again compare the P05-D05 against the K-01 and it was even more obvious than last time around. The P-05/D-05 sounded muffled and muted in comparison to the K-01. I listened first to a Jazz SACD I was not familiar with and then the same Norah Jones album, but CD version this time. The voice was just sooo good with the K01, I was so surprised I was enjoying the sound so much because honestly I haven't been a fan of B&W high-end speakers for long time. I always find them too revealing, but somehow it sounded quite good with the K-01 even though it appears to be a very very resolving source.

 

Lastly, I could switch to the K03 after listening to the K01, listening to the Norah Jones tune (she sings "don't know why ... blablablabla blah" during the chorus, what song is this ? ;o) ). Well, it was enlightening because while it sounded much more open / resolved than P-05/D-05 it was very clearly a notch down from the K01. On a scale from 1 to 10, I would put the P05/D05 at 4 or 5, the K01 at 10 and the K03 at 7 or 8. So finally, after the listening today, I would go for the K01, not the K03. It is so crazy expensive though...

 

One interesting thing: another person had come to listen to the K01 before me and both stores staff told me the K01 is selling well. Actually, in the second store, waiting list for K01 is 2-3 months (about 1 month for the K03). Apparently, quite a few P05/D05 owners are upgrading. It's hard to imagine in the current economy and the trend to go to dematerialized source rather than old-fashioned CDs (and even SACDs considering stores like HDtracks), but seems like the new Esoteric players are doing well, at least in Japan!

 

Well, I could only bring back a brochure home this time, but I can imagine making the jump somehow, someday...

 

arnaud.


Haven't heard the K-01, but the K-03 was quite impressive over the HE90s (I have no room for speakers). Considering the difference in DACs and transport capabilities vs. the K-series I am not surprised P-05/D-05 owners upgrading, but the P-03/D-03/G-0x (and especially the G-0x combo) with high-end digital interconnects and word clock cables smokes the K-03 and I suspect the K-01 as well.  But then you're talking about more than twice the K-01's already considerable cost.

 

DSC_1815.jpg

 

 

On the picture the K-03 is on the left, but I sold it since.  The Aristaeus PSU cover is now back in place.

post #17 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by trevorlane View Post

Amos, did it have any of the G clocks connected to it? I'd love to hear an Esoteric someday, and compare it to the DCC2 SE or CDSA


They have a G-0s there, but I didn't think to ask about it. Also, at $5k+ it is way out of my league (the Audiophilleo is as far as I'm willing to take this obsession). I'll ponder asking if I can try the K-01 with and without the clock on Friday if I have enough time. It'll be a good test of the Harbeths and whatever else I happen to haul along.
post #18 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by trevorlane View Post

Amos, did it have any of the G clocks connected to it? I'd love to hear an Esoteric someday, and compare it to the DCC2 SE or CDSA




They have a G-0s there, but I didn't think to ask about it. Also, at $5k+ it is way out of my league (the Audiophilleo is as far as I'm willing to take this obsession). I'll ponder asking if I can try the K-01 with and without the clock on Friday if I have enough time. It'll be a good test of the Harbeths and whatever else I happen to haul along.

Used G-0ses are very rare and like their newer counterparts, the G-0rb rarely come up for sale.

 

Esoteric also offers an upgrade to the G-0s to G-0rb components for about $2.3K.

 

 

post #19 of 161

Would really want to know if anyone did an actual A/B between P03+D03+G0Rb and the K-01. Many thanks.


Edited by googleli - 5/2/11 at 5:20am
post #20 of 161

I have done the above today.  I would say the difference is minute. The salesperson kept saying that the K-01 is better than P03+D03 but to my ears the difference is quite subtle. I also tried the G0Rb on both K01 and P03/D03. The effect of G0Rb is definitely much greater on the P03/D03 combo, but I can't say there is no effect on the K01, although the difference is very very subtle. I had two audiophile friends tagging along today and we had different conclusions as to which of them is better. Both my friends think that K01 + G0Rb is best of all, even better than the P-03 + D03 + G0Rb combo. Another even thinks that K-01 without clock is better than P-03 + D03 with clock.

 

For myself, I honestly can't tell which of P-03+D03 or K01 is better when no clock is on. With clock on I find that the P03 / D03 combo may have a slight upper hand against the K-01 without clock. Both with clocks - again I really can't tell which is better, although my friends claim that the K01 is better.

 

THE MORNING SESSION

 

The audition session started with Esoteric K-01 with G-0Rb -> Accuphase C-3800 -> Esoteric Monoblock Power Amplifiers -> Chario speakers. Both my friend and I were NOT impressed with the setup. It may be the speakers, or it may be the Esoteric power amp - but it just didn't sound very good, in the sense that each single component in the chain is worth US$15K+  - I would expect much better. 

 

It didn't start well - so I decided to try my headphones with the setup. That way I can hear sound from the gear without the power amp and speakers. I took out my LCD2 and went to sit on the floor on the podium, since their gears are all lined up on racks. Right out form the Accuphase I am immediately astonished with the quality of sound I was listening to. Simply said, that is the cleanest but yet fullest and detailed sound I have heard, from the LCD2 or otherwise. I listened to several vocal tracks, then Jazz at the Pawnshop, and more vocals and some orchestral music. All of them sounded phenomenal. My friend, after listening to a few tracks, agreed that it is like the "perfect sound". But he commented that it lacks a bit of color. I also agreed to what he said - it is so pure and perfect that the sound is just next to clinical - and most of us need some color. But there you go - the Accuphase C-3800 preamp is a marvelous headphone amplifier that makes things sound just right. If there were ever an ultimate two-unit "studio monitor" headphone combo, this is it - with the LCD-2. Before I came to the audition I was a bit doubtful about the LCD2's ability to resolve fine details from fine sources. Now I am relieved - with TRULY high end sources, the LCD-2 is at another whole new level. Although one would still be enjoying LCD2 easily due to its likable frequency response, I would say most sources and amps on the market are revealing about 30% to 40% of what the LCD2 is truly capable for.

 

I then listened to a few songs through this setup on my ED10. The impressions were already posted in the ED10 thread so I am not going to repeat here.

 

It was time for lunch! I left my Leben, my LCD2 and ED10 at the dealer, and me and my friend went out to have a really nice lunch. Not that I don't care any more, but after seeing all the expensive gear they have in there I didn't see any point why I should be worried about my stuff. I also asked the dealer to connect my Leben to the K-01 (with my own interconnects which I brought, and also my own power cable I have been using with the Leben), connected to the LCD2 and start running in, just because the tubes would need to take a bit of time to sound their best.

 

Impressions from the after-lunch session will follow.


Edited by googleli - 5/7/11 at 9:50am
post #21 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by googleli View Post

 Although one would still be enjoying LCD2 easily due to its likable frequency response, I would say most sources and amps on the market are revealing about 30% to 40% of what the LCD2 is truly capable for.

 


Not sure what ICs they had between the P-03/D-03.  With the right ones the difference between the separates and the K-03 (I have never auditioned a K-01) are quite substantial.

 

But the above statement is the key here.  On HF, with a few exceptions the focus is understandably on headphones and then when there is time left, the amplifiers.  That's where most of the investment goes and the source is often neglected.  Usually a computer, music server, or a sub-1K player.  There is nothing wrong with that in terms of affordability.  But in terms of aural pleasure, with properly mastered reference recordings like the Pawnshop series, only a portion of whats encoded in those bits--assuming digital source--is unlocked.

 

Naturally, the technology and components that make this difference don't come cheap.  The NEO-VRDS transport mechanism alone (parts cost, min. quantity 50 alone) is around $3K by itself!  This is built into all top-of-the-line transports and single sources such as the K-01.

 

Glad you enjoyed your LCD2s in full for the first time.

 

post #22 of 161
Thread Starter 

@googleli: thank you for the detailed report. Information is so scarce on the web regarding the K-01 and especially how it compares against the other esoteric gear, this is extremely useful! I can't wait to read the 2nd part of your writing! So, it would appear that your and currawong's impressions corroborate in regards to minimal / minor change in the Esoteric house sound with the K series. I thought the changes would be more drastic given the change in DAC chips.

 

@warp08: as you know, I could briefly compare the K-01 and K-03. It wasn't a subtle difference (although I would have wished so in regards to the difference in price!), hence I am not surprised that googleli found the K-01 to be a closer match to the p03/d03.

 

cheers, arnaud

post #23 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by arnaud View Post

@googleli: thank you for the detailed report. Information is so scarce on the web regarding the K-01 and especially how it compares against the other esoteric gear, this is extremely useful! I can't wait to read the 2nd part of your writing! So, it would appear that your and currawong's impressions corroborate in regards to minimal / minor change in the Esoteric house sound with the K series. I thought the changes would be more drastic given the change in DAC chips.

 

@warp08: as you know, I could briefly compare the K-01 and K-03. It wasn't a subtle difference (although I would have wished so in regards to the difference in price!), hence I am not surprised that googleli found the K-01 to be a closer match to the p03/d03.

 

cheers, arnaud


If you want to avoid the substantial extras that are simply mandatory with separates (i.e., transport and external DACs), there is none better than the K-01, I'd bet the farm on that, at least within the ESOTERIC lineup.  It is priced accordingly.  You get a smaller equipment footprint and still possess the ability to use the device as an external PCM DAC.  So, knowing how good the K-03 is, I can totally buy into the K-01 being even superior.

 

But a source gear is more than just DAC chipsets, although I agree that the 32-bit AKA chipset in the K-series is much improved upon earlier ones contained in the X-series.  With the separates, you get to do all kinds of enhancements in terms of separating the PSU, the analog and digital PCBs, better anti-vibration and isolation constructs and the list goes on and on.  It's all about how far can you go in terms of investment.  I could have lived happily with the K-03 alone and it would have been a huge improvement over my previous source, but since I already had a D-03 on hand, it made sense to go to the extra mile and try the combo with the clock.

 

I also can't emphasize just how important cable synergy is in a setup like that.  Whatever the brand is, the AES/EBU digital cables must not be limiting the signal quality in any way the transport is putting out, and they better be in synergy on the analog side coming out of the DAC to the amp.  If they mix and match those things based on what they had on hand in the shop, the result could have been easily below par.  At this level, this stuff plays a much higher role than in general.  Luckily most high-end dealers allow a 30-day in-house evaluation before committing to the purchase so you get to play until you find what works the best for you in your own home using your own gear and without a salesman breathing down on your neck making lip-smacking sounds in anticipation of their fat commission check.

 

Great post, like you, I'm waiting for Part 2 as well.

 

post #24 of 161

I haven't really looked into the interconnects and power cables of the P-03 and D-03 since my main focus was the K-01. But the salesperson did mention that every single cable they use for the setups are above US$3K. They also have the P-01 / D01 there, with the G-0Rb, standing right in front of my eyes, but eventually I decided NOT to try that combo, for obvious reasons. Yes, it is a hard one. I decided not to taste the apple.

 

After lunch we went back to the venue and first gave a listen to the P-03 / D-03 combo, with and without G-0Rb. As said above the impact of the clock on the separates is not subtle. With the G-0Rb the sound does sound more focused and even cleaner. I really can't tell there is a big difference between the P03/ D03 with the K01. I would say, both without clock, the K01 is definitely more articulated than the P03/D03 combo, but with clock added, the P03/ D03 combo sounded very alike to the K01. Salesperson told me that some of his customers actually prefer the P03/D03 combo to the P01/D01 combo as the P03/D03 sounds a bit more musical and the latter too clinical. He said the K-01 leans to the P03/D03 side , only better than the combo. I remained doubtful as I tried hard but really could not hear much difference between the two.

 

Then on with the Leben. I used my own usual interconnects and power cable to connect my Leben, which connects to the K-01, and it  still sounded very good to my surprise. Definitely it is different from the Accuphase C-3800. Once again, the Accuphase C-3800 offered a pure and perfect sound, everything you would expect from these two top-notch Japanese audiophile giants - and their flagship products paired together. But with the Leben, which is equipped with 1950s Long plate D-getter Amperex 12AX7s, and a quad set of the Mullard 1950s long plate EL84s, the effect is equally if not more stunning - given that this amp is what I have been listening to for the past four or five months. The sound was like ten times better than my Oppo 95 -> D07 combo at home, and I thought that combo was no mean feat already. And, with the color of those fine vintage tubes, they actually sounded to me more enjoyable than when the K-01 was paired up with the Accuphase - the perfect uncolored sound. With the LCD2 it sounded already very good - it is true that the LCD2 does scale quite well with high end source. What truly surprised me was the Ultrasone ED10 with the setup. Again, please read the ED10 impressions thread for my impressions on the K-01 -> Leben -> ED10 Combo.

 

After the audition, we talked about the price and delivery arrangements a bit - and the deal is a go. More impressions to follow - after I receive the unit and after some proper run-in is done. That may take months.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Edited by googleli - 5/9/11 at 6:01am
post #25 of 161

googleli,

cant find your review on review of K-01 -> Leben -> ED10 Combo. can you send link ?

post #26 of 161

I wish I had the cash for Esoteric gear, maybe someday! I'm considering selling the Assemblage D2D, and two DACs and go for the G25u as it's a bit more affordable than the G-0 series clocks. Only thing is that upconverted signal will be 192 and my SFD-2 and DSP-9000 have a max input rate of 96.

post #27 of 161

It has arrived - only five days of wait but it was already killing me.Esoteric K01 012.JPG

 

 

 

 


Edited by googleli - 5/12/11 at 8:19am
post #28 of 161

Congrats, a beautiful machine.  Now you have another two weeks to wait until it breaks in...:-)

post #29 of 161

Yes - just not too sure how to break in. Not exactly comfortable using the CD part 24X7 as it is subject to wear and tear. While not listening, I now connect the K-01 coaxial input to the Oppo 95 via an XLO Co-axial cable, playing a ripped burn in CD (the Kharma one), and connect the K-01 output to an AV amp, out to either the LCD-2 or ED10. I connect it to an avamp this because I can't turn on my Leben, which is a tube amp, 24X7, while I don't really care about the AV amp, which is solid state anyway. But out of the box it already sounds very very very very very very good with my Leben. I have got the Siltech Ruby Hill II power cable for the K-01 - need some good interconnects now - am thinking about the Nordost Valhalla, the AudioNote Sogon Mark II and the Siltech 550. I guess I will wait until the K-01 fully breaks in before I decide.

 

 
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by warp08 View Post

Congrats, a beautiful machine.  Now you have another two weeks to wait until it breaks in...:-)



 

post #30 of 161
Quote:
Originally Posted by googleli View Post

Yes - just not too sure how to break in. Not exactly comfortable using the CD part 24X7 as it is subject to wear and tear. While not listening, I now connect the K-01 coaxial input to the Oppo 95 via an XLO Co-axial cable, playing a ripped burn in CD (the Kharma one), and connect the K-01 output to an AV amp, out to either the LCD-2 or ED10. I connect it to an avamp this because I can't turn on my Leben, which is a tube amp, 24X7, while I don't really care about the AV amp, which is solid state anyway. But out of the box it already sounds very very very very very very good with my Leben. I have got the Siltech Ruby Hill II power cable for the K-01 - need some good interconnects now - am thinking about the Nordost Valhalla, the AudioNote Sogon Mark II and the Siltech 550. I guess I will wait until the K-01 fully breaks in before I decide.

 

 
 



 


These things are built to last, that's what you paid for.  I suppose it doesn't really matter if you use the PCM digital inputs to facilitate the burn-in of the analog opamp circuitry.  I don't think it matters whether the amp is powered on or not for this, as long as the player is connected to it.

 

Either way, once you decide on your interconnects, I'm sure an additional burn-in of those will be needed anyway.  That's going to be a major chore, but make sure whatever product you're going with, you have the option to audition before committing to it.  With my MIT cables, I've been auditioning every single one in-house from my dealer before ordering them.  And the previous owner of my P-03 went thru about a dozen different digital and analog interconnects of different manufacturing before arriving to the ones I'm now using, and, indeed they were well matched with the transport and his dCS Scarlatti DAC he was using.  So, I saved some money and a bunch of time.  Essentially, you're looking for a very transparent, balanced pair of interconnects (or two if you need both RCA and XLRs) that do not constrain the source in any way, add, nor take away anything.  Not a simple task but part of the fun in your quest for the "perfect" sound.

 

 

 

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: High-end Audio Forum
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Summit-Fi (High-End Audio) › High-end Audio Forum › New Esoteric players (K-01, K-03): anyone has seen or heard?