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In Reply to: RE: Impressions: sony xa5400 vs Ayre cx-5e mp vs Mcintosh mcd-1100 posted by classicalmusiclover on February 16, 2012 at 20:47:32
Interesting post--thanks for sharing your experiences. I think my situation is very much similar to yours: my signal source, a Marantz SA-14 V2, is certainly competent enough, but at this point I think it's the limiting factor in my system. The Ayre is definitely on the list of candidates, but I haven't had the chance to give it a serious audition yet. My interest lies mainly in the Esoteric X-05 and the Marantz SA-7 (although the Marantz is apparently no longer available--see my earlier post below). I hadn't considered the MacIntosh SACD players until I read your post, but I definitely will consider them now. And had you thought about any of the Esoteric units? I see no mention of Esoteric in your OP or in any of the responses. Just curious.
Thanks again for taking the time to express your opinion.
Unfortunately there is no Esoteric dealer in my area because I was contemplating ordering the SA50 (digital input bonus) or the X-05 based simply on reviews, which I have never done before. I always like to hear something on my system before I buy and of course, it is important to support your local shops.
Esoteric is definitely famous for their transports but maybe somewhat infamous for their clinical sound. It seems that most people I have talked to who have experience with Esoteric seem to agree that the sound tends to be a little unnatural and fatiguing. The reviews of the X-05 have stated the opposite and that it is in fact very analog sounding, go figure... The thing that scares me about Esoteric is the large number of them that are always available on Audiogon; maybe a sign of user satisfaction or lack there of? Just thoughts, not a indictment on Esoteric, really just trying to give you a bit of what my thought process was in search for a new source.
If I were you I would visit every shop in your area and listen to everything you can, even if it is out of your price comfort zone, its good to hear something great and have an idea of what is possible in your system.
Years ago I heard an Audio Note Dac 4.1x sig with the Audio Note Transport 2 mk II in a system very similar to mine. It let me know how good digital could be and the sound of that system stuck with me. The sticker on that dac/transport is well above 20k and I believe now with the Mcintosh, I can better that sound for less than half that price. just have to sell some stuff now...
A good policy, to be sure. And yet how difficult it can be now to schedule an in-home audition! And even hearing something in one's own system short-term (say, over a long weekend) may not reveal the potential for long-term dissatisfaction. But it's better than nothing.
I share your hesitancy about Esoteric. The only reason I would consider the X-05 is, as you've suggested, that it plays against type. Recently I talked to an audio enthusiast and music collector who bought an X-05. He's something of a vinyl snob, but he said that the X-05 was as close to his vinyl rig as he's ever heard. Quite the endorsement! Too bad you don't have a local dealer.
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