In October 2013, we tested the Esoteric K-01, who at the time flagship integrated SACD-player company and noted unsurpassed close to perfection the quality of its sound, but it complained about the very high price ($ 26 000). And here we have in the laboratory is much less expensive model K-03x, besides representing the newest addition to the family of devices of this class Japanese manufacturer. «X-factor” (see. Box) armed with both modernized older models: Esoteric K-01x and Esoteric K-03x.
Outwardly, they practically do not differ from their predecessors, but the equipment and internal contents have changed. Compare already visited us Esoteric K-01 and the test apparatus today is not entirely correct – a significant price difference is under a very good reason. Especially as K-01x has a number of enhancements that are applied also to his younger brother K-03x. For example, this new chip AK4495S (Asahi Kasei Microdevices Corporation for professional use), which in the older model involved eight pieces per channel, and the one that occupies us today – four.
In Esoteric K-03x have another digital output connector XLR, which will allow him to use a more qualitative component DACs, but the same was not added to the input. A pity: today there are many high-end network players with AES / EBU-outs, which could be connected to this player; However, there are coaxial and optical.
Now the player can take on all of its inputs DSD-flows: optical and coaxial are compatible with DoP, and asynchronous USB-port pass 2.8 / 5.6-MHz DSD. For PCM-signal limit parameters on SPDIF-input 24-bit / 192 kHz and 32 bit / 384 kHz in USB.
Built DD-converter allows PCM sampling rate increase at two, four and eight times, and convert it into DSD before performing digital to analog conversion. There are also four digital filter for PCM and one for DSD; all of them are disabled. These operations are available when you operate the Mode button on the front panel.
In Esoteric K-03x upsampling input (or read from disk) digital streams up to 34-bit (in K-01x – up to 35-bit) representation, and the DAC chip AK4495S, having a 32-bit architecture, working in parallel on four chips (v K-01x – eight) in the circuits of each channel. Thus, the precision of the analog signal becomes 1024 times higher than in the more common 24-bit processing. However, the new models are not available players adjust the output level of the analog signal and for which its predecessors was given eight “extra” bits.
This innovation is not limited to painting to modernization that has affected many circuit elements and devices in mechanical and analog and digital and computer segments.
Being well acquainted with the products of the company Esoteric, before we listen tuned for a more fun than a job – and not in the least were disappointed. Audiophile feast began with the first disc, the beloved and familiar SACD The Best of Play Bach Trio with Jacques Loussier compositions.
At the sound of Esoteric K-03x delight primarily smoothness and naturalness of degree not often possible to achieve digital technology. Adjusted tonal balance, clarity and detail not even worth mentioning, as a matter of course in the art of this class. However, the latter of these characteristics deserves additional words. K-03x reveal such details and nuances, which, it seems, could not be recorded, since it has its limitations. However, in the piano we feel the true nature of the piano – and visible open lid and hammers striking the strings. Bass voice deep and textured to the bottom, and again, literally becomes a visible hand, fingers gliding along the neck.
Boldly tools and focus on the vast stage; Air and mobile RF percussion easily flit on the background of pulsating, saturated and highly diverse bass. A grand piano, occupying the frequency and spatial middle, sets the theme and rhythm, representing our contemporary Bach.
Remote control for Esoteric K-03x also upgraded – it has become easier, simpler in appearance, but, in our opinion, it is more convenient
CD Classical Brubeck Gloyd. London Symphony Orchestra. London Voices made on the basis of a recording made in DSD-format. This is an amazing composite (we use this term) of the church chorales and jazz improvisation. Choosing oversampling mode in DSD, we get even more lively and crafted with natural sound and variable dynamics, precise rhythm, sensitive and thin microdynamics; scene is endowed with an even better prospect; the vocals are more expressive and articulated. All very similar to the sound improvement SACD-layer hybrid disc with respect to the CD-analog, comparing where we were carried away several years ago, has not yet been announced about the death of the format SACD – if reincarnation which we are witnessing today. The same effect was also observed with other auditioned our CD.
Upsampling PCM also gives many characteristics of sound growth, and above all – signal / noise ratio. Something with a little differently accentuated causing slight aberrations but without destroying the picture and the overall balance. So it’s worth a try each of them with different music content. The same can be said of the filters.
One that is designed for DSD, surprisingly, is able to improve the seemingly perfect and so the sound quality. SACD Machine Head Deep Purple’s unheard of before this gets it deep bass and literally energizes and emotions.
Music from the PC via USB slightly inferior organization and sophistication to that played with discs, but also applies to it oversampling in the DSD, which “pulls” the sound to the level from which it is difficult to give up after hours of listening to CD and SACD.
The company has identified Esoteric another miracle, demonstrating the ability to create even more great digital sound sources. If you aspire to perfection, this component for audio section should start its assortment to choose from SACD-player.
Make up your mind, if you are aiming to form a High-End-system with natural and emotional sound of the highest class
Special features: excellent playback of discs and files and further improve the quality of sound due to oversampling and filters
Price: $ 13,830
Pros: Excellent in all respects and characteristics of sound
Cons: Nothing but Esoteric K-01x, should be even better – but expensive
Verdict: If you are aiming to get a perfect High-End-system, pay special attention to this source
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