Any worthy upgrade to my Esoteric X-03 SE?

jtein -- Tue, 02/08/2011 - 20:40

Hi folks, looks like upgraditis has hit. While I'm pretty satisfied, very in fact, with the rest of my system, I feel that my Esoteric X-03 SE is letting me down somewhat, as good as it is.
So I would like some recommendations on any electronics out there that would provide me with a significant sonic improvement to the X-03 SE. Is this possible? Or is the X-03 SE as good as it gets in terms of real-world applications and as far as CD/SACD players are concerned? And would I be severely disappointed should I trade in my X-03 SE for a player double its price due to the law of diminishing returns? Hence the title of this thread - can I expect a disc player that's twice the price of my X-03 SE be a worthy upgrade given the excellent engineering that's gone into the X-03 SE. 
I do have a couple of players in mind, but I will not state them out here so as not to influence your recommendations. Looking forward to your replies based on the merits of the recommended disc-player alone. Thanks!

JLeeMD -- Wed, 02/09/2011 - 13:20

I have the X-05 and the only CD/SACD player I would upgrade to is the one from Playback Design.

Sam -- Wed, 02/09/2011 - 13:45

For CD + SACD the X-05 should be a significant upgrade. If u r willing to abandon SACD and jump into hi resolution audio/computer audio then Berkeley alpha DAC. Jumping above these two players u will likely have to spend 3x more money for somewhat improvements and that too given the rest of the system is good enough to deliver it. i.e u have to draw a line some where. Ex. To get the best out of dCS Scarlatti u need an equally good and esoteric system to appreciate it.

danielaparker -- Wed, 02/09/2011 - 20:14

 I replaced my Esoteric X-03SE with MBP SSD + Amarra + Weiss Int202 + dCS Scarlatti dac.   It sounds pretty nice, and I don't miss the CD player.
-- Daniel

lombrez.gerard@... -- Thu, 02/10/2011 - 04:40

first be sure you have a very efficient power cable I use lessloss signature cables with my P O3 DO3 +GRIMM AUDIO clock .Effect of cables are impressing .

gerard- france 

CKKeung -- Sat, 02/12/2011 - 08:13

Hi jtein,
Have you ever tried using an external clock with your X-03SE?
Almost all Esoteric SACD players need external clock signal to fully realise their potential.
Used clocks (such as Apogee Big Ben, Antelope Audio OCX or Drawmer M-Clock) with a Black Cat Veloce clock cable are not expensive.  You will be surprised by the improvement gained.

bwright -- Thu, 12/29/2011 - 02:55

Agreed that the clock will help. Also, these are unique and complex products at this level - almost everything can be considered excellent, and it largely depends on individual taste and the various combinations you apply to the equation.  

For example, I participated in a shootout between the Esoteric P-03/D-03 and the standalone dCS Puccini. The dCS had a deeper, cohesive, more fully rounded analog sound.  The Esoteric combination had a lighter and more intricate touch with the same music, yet still left an analog impression & was quite beautiful in its own right.  Both were auditioned with the darTZeel CTH-8550 integrated and a pair of Focal Grande Utopia EM loudspeakers.

The darTZeel was relatively transparent.  Coupled with the right tube amp, the Esoteric combo would have imparted more of a dCS sound, if needed. 

I am a huge fan of the X-03SE - it sounds particularly wonderful with the current version of the VTL IT-85 integrated amp, which may negate your need to look elsewhere.  I am convinced VTL loses money on the IT-85 - it is far better than most separates I have heard.

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