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REVIEW: Esoteric, TEAC X-05 SACD Player

Model: X-05
Category: SACD Player
Suggested Retail Price: $5,995
Description: Two Channel SACD Player
Manufacturer URL: Esoteric, TEAC

Review by Greg Gale on March 28, 2009 at 06:02:06
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for the X-05

After 7 years of owning the Marantz SA14 I decided to try out the new X-05 SACD Player from Esoteric. I purchased this player from the dealer who had this unit in the store used to demonstrate their high end products for several months so the player had some hours on it.

My wife and I listened to all types of music from Jazz to Classic Rock comparing the sound on both Redbook and SACD. I must say I was amazed at the sound difference between the two players with the Esoteric revealing much more of the actual timbre of the music as well as being much more transparent.

The natural decay of the instruments and texture with the Esoteric was much more alive sounding. The sound of cymbals was very analog like with a natural decay in reproduction versus the Marantz which sounded more closed in versus the X-05. I also noticed in the bass the sound is cleaner and richer with texture in the stringed instruments that I can clearly discern. I thought at first the Esoteric was a bit shy on the bass side versus the Marantz, but after further listening I found the Esoteric to be much more revealing of bass texture of the instrument while the Marantz was cloudy by comparison. When listening to the Esoteric it was as through a fog was removed from the sound revealing much more of the intricacies of the instruments with transparency I have not experienced previously bring me much closer the music.

The difference was even greater on SACD between the two players with the Esoteric sounding alive and creating a more 3-D sound stage.

The overall build quality of the Esoteric VRDS Neo drive mechanism is smooth and absolutely silent. Whether or not the drive is responsible for some of the sound improvement, I do not know but the engineering in this player is incredible.

This player while similar in the analog and digital component layout to the SA10 has a dual differential circuit with 2 Crystal 4398, 24-bit/192kHz converters per channel operating in a dual mono mode. The other major difference between this player and the SA10 is the inclusion of the VMK-5 transport which is a great piece of engineering.

I played around with the different filter settings, wide versus narrow and while the differences were subtle, the wide seemed to open up the sound stage more. The other option was Direct versus Normal with the Direct stage by passing a filter which also lowered the sound output by 3db. It was difficult for me to say which one was better but according to the engineering folks from Esoteric in Japan they felt Direct sounded better.

Not that I don't trust my own ears, but I read several reviews on this product from HI-FI Choice that gave it a five star review and editors choice proclaiming that "its and exceptionally well built player that brings impressive levels of resolution that Esoteric has been known for to a much lower price point". Six moons said that "if you value substance and sonic virtues like soundstaging, detail recovery and stupendous bass, a personal audition seems predestined". Finally Neil Gader from Absolute Sound stated this player "makes you want to gather every disc in your collection and give it another spin, and all the more so if our still listening to vinyl, its that good". I agree with what Neil states that this player sounds very analog like and alive without the "annoying artifacts" found in analog.

I anticipate this will be may last upgrade of my digital source and recommend if you are in the market for a new player you will not be disappointed.

Product Weakness: Not sure at this point except for maybe price and the fact it only plays SACD and CD.
Product Strengths: Stages very broadly and deeply, localization of focus and image are fantastic. Revels innner timbre of music with incrediable decay of the sound. Cymbals sound alive and the player is incredably transparent. The texture of the instruments are clearly revealed.

Associated Equipment for this Review:

Amplifier: Classe Delta CA2200
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): Ayre K5xe
Sources (CDP/Turntable): Rega P25 with Dyavector X-20 cartridge
Speakers: B&W N802
Cables/Interconnects: Transparent and MIT
Music Used (Genre/Selections): Rock and Classical
Room Size (LxWxH): 23 x 20 x 18
Room Comments/Treatments: None
Time Period/Length of Audition: 3 weeks
Other (Power Conditioner etc.): Transparent
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner

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Topic - REVIEW: Esoteric, TEAC X-05 SACD Player - Greg Gale 06:02:06 03/28/09 (4)


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