Before I bought the Esoteric K-01, I auditioned it at the place I got it from, however I only got to hear it via a speaker set up.
The speakers were Tannoy Westminster Royal se and the amp used along with the K-01 was the Esoteric A100.
I only listened to one CD which was Jean Michel Jarre's " Oxygene ".
The reason I'm mentioning this is because the music was so life like, if someone had said Jean was in the room playing, I'd have believed them.
IMO, a headphone system will never come close to a life like sound that a good speaker system can get close to, but since using the PH's with my BHSE, my 009's have given me the closest to life like sound I've heard from a headphone system.
Before getting the PH tubes, and listening to headphones and speakers, it wasn't often I got over excited with what I was hearing, but since listening to my 009 / BHSE / K-01 using the PH 's, there's been times when I've felt shivers going up my spine.
We all have our favourite headphone combo's, but IMO anyone that's serious about headphone listening, need to at least have a listen to the 009 / BHSE while using the PH tubes.
P.S. I guess a good source might also help with the SQ.
I know exactly what you mean about the shivers. My heart actually starts racing at times when listening to good recorded CD's.