Accuphase or Esoteric?

I am getting ready to pull the trigger on a new CD player. I've had an Accuphase DP-78 that sounds wonderful, but has developed some mechanical issues, so I think it's time for a new player. I've been offered a great deal on a new Accuphase DP-600, but also very good deals on an Esoteric K-03 or K-01. The only one of any of these I've heard is the K-03. I have a friend who has one, and we auditioned his against my Accuphase side by side, and found them roughly equal in sound quality, although they were different and we preferred one or the other, depending on what was playing. I'm interested in whether anyone has heard the Esoteric against the Accuphase, and also how much better the K-01 really is. The Absolute Sound review was pretty unequivocal, but I never know what reviewers are thinking, and there is a big price difference. Any advice would be very much appreciated.
Do you need it for Redbook only, or other formats as well.
Both redbook and SACD. I have far more redbooks, but I think the SACDs sound significantly better and am not ready to give them up.
I have the accuphase 800/801 combo and the Esoteric K-01.The esoteric I have installed less than a month ago,it is fantastic far Superior to the Accuphase K-01.The esoteric has many options for playback and takes a while to break in.I strongly recommend the Esoteric,the sacd sound fantastic on it.I also feed the digital output of the meridian Sooloos to the Esoteric great,also the analogue output of the Meridian 861v6 into the esoteric with the Sooloos downloads as the music source,major improvement.
Why a CD Player ? Why not a iMac with a external drive for ripping your cd's then a USB DAC. Recently changed from playing CD's to this solution not looking back at all.

Best of luck

Never heard Accuphase, but esoteric k-01 is great player. Besides having great red book and SACD playback, its a great DAC and very good pre-amplifier. It is about 15% better than K-03 in sound. But one need great speakers and amplifier to really hear its potential. If you buy it, have patience to brake every option for at least 300-400 hours before jumping to any conclusions.
The rest of my system is pretty good including the cabling. As I've been using an Accuphase player for the last 4 years, and love its organic, slightly warm sound, I'm just a little uneasy about ending up with a player more on the analytic/sterile side. I have also heard some scattered stories about the Esoteric transports being noisy.
I've had the X-03 and P-03 and never had issues with noise. I would also not characterize the Esoteric sound as analytical at all. Clear, clean, with just a hint of warmth.

BTW, Skreich I sent you a direct message. Not sure if you got.

I don't think I got a direct message from you, at least not by this name. You can contact me at
Steve, emailed you.
" I have also heard some scattered stories about the Esoteric transports being noisy."

That's true. It depends on which one you get. I don't think any of their current models are noisy. My Wadia 850 had a noisy transport but my 861 and SE upgrade are both silent. Just to be clear, the noisy ones are only noisy when opening and closing, not during play.
I have had the K-03 now for about 8 months. As far as the noisy transport, I also read posts of a few remarking on this. My unit works silently and flawlessly. Esoteric is perhaps best known for their VRDS mechanism. They indicate the new VRDS-NEO VMK mechanism is an improvement over previous versions of their VRDS. There are several reference quality companies that use this mechanism in the design of their units, as they are highly regarded for performance and reliability. Nothing is always perfect so I can only conclude folks with noise issues have something seriously wrong with their unit. I use the K-03 for CD/SACD playback and for computer audio. For computer audio I have an Audio Quest Carbon USB directly to the USB input/DAC from a highly modified headless Mac Mini and also Audio Quest Carbon USB to Bel Canto REFLink USB Converter feeding the K-03 using a Transparent Ref 75Ohm Digital cable. My system is capable of portraying even the most discrete micro/macro transients and the level the K-03 has taken my rig is nothing shy of amazing. Once you get the settings dialed in to your liking, just sit back and enjoy the music. I have a hard time thinking that anyone acquiring this unit would be anything but highly satisfied; it is truly a reference quality swiss army knife of playback units. Have not heard the K-03, but; have spoken to others that have listened side by side and the improvement/feedback varies from a 10% - 20% improvement in performance. That said several dealers I have spoken with have commented this represents the best value in the current K line.
The K-01 KILLS the K-03 - its not even close. Better everything, from power supplies to transport to DACs, to internal clock, etc. Some of their lower-priced transports are occasionally noisy, which usually is a stray ball bearing or mis-aligned tray. Easily silenced by their factory - customer support is very strong as well. I have a K-03 in my office and a P-02 at home and both are dead quiet. Ux-1 is sometimes a little noisy - it has been heavily modified.

Also, not sure if you realize that Esoteric transports spin at 4x the speed of CD's (and most other players) in an error-correction read-ahead buffer system. The superior build quality allows them to do that for their higher-end transports.

To me, the choice would not be Accuphase vs Esoteric, but rather which model of Esoteric to get. :-) Good Luck
I'm starting to think that I asked an unfair, or perhaps, unanswerable question. A lot of people are advising the Esoteric, but I get the sense that few, if any, have actually heard an Accuphase. I know they don't get reviewed in the major stereo magazines, have a pretty small dealer network, and are pretty expensive. I can see that the Esoteric players have a loyal following, but I'm still not sure I've gotten many real comparisons. I do appreciate the comments that have been made so far, though.
If I had an expensive SACD player that sounds wonderful I would have it repaired. Just sayin.
Forget the Accuphase and Esoteric if your worried about cost. The new Marantz Reference SA-11S3 for $4K will get you all the high end performance you could ever want from a digital player. Has the warmth and smoothness of the Accuphase and all the dynamics, detail and transparency of the Esoteric. Weighs 38 pounds with a decent power supply. Has filter settings like the Esoteric models to tailor the sound to your liking. The unit is constantly out of stock and usually there is a two week waiting period. Outstanding quality and transport. A steal for the price.
I just stumbled across this thread and feel that Audiozen is onto something. Presently, I'm breaking in the Marantz SA-15S2b and am simply taken aback at what I'm hearing. It's still early and it's my first SACD player but it's making me rethink my preconceptions about Marantz and this hobby in general. One need not overspend to get really good sound.

From what I've read and in correspondence with a reviewer who taste I now trust (he steered me to the SA-15S2b) the SA-11S3 is a force to be reckoned with. Could it be that Marantz is becoming an alternative to Accuphase, Esoteric or Luxman?

All the best,
From the following interview it looks like the "SA-11S3 was supposed to be the SA-7S2".

Original Japanese version

Translated English version
Please note that I am a dealer for Esoteric/Teac products.
Let me know if anyone is interested in any great prices, voltage conversion or other questions, contact me at gfroman@yahoo
Have sold several of the K-01 units and all love it!
Here is what makes the Marantz SA-11S3 a force to be reckoned with. It uses the best DAC chip ever in any Marantz player to date and is only used in the SA-11S3. The Burr-Brown DSD 1792A D/A chip which has seven times more current output over any previous DAC used in other Marantz player's which provides far greater dynamic range and much better S/N ratio. The other item that is customed design in house by Marantz is the PEC777F3 24 bit DSP Processor/Filter. Combine these state of the art chips with the heavy duty Marantz designed transport results in what is considered one of the most musical CD players too date on the planet regardless of price.
I have owned Accuphase CD players (DP-85, DP-700) and Esoteric player (K01) and its not even close.

If you have ever owned an Accuphase, nothing really matches that *sound*, Esoteric included.

And I'm sorry but the Accuphase transport is a knife through butter while Esoteric is a factory machine. Its like comparing a Rembrandt to a fork lifter.

Stick with Accuphase.
It's like comparing a Rembrandt to a fork lifter.

Nice one. I wouldn't know since I haven't heard either but, nice one.
Ok, Lets add to the mix!, Luxman?
@ Badwisdom, does eany of the accuphase players support direct connection to amplifiers?,Thankyou!
Skreich. Your 18 May comment is very appropriate. I have had similar fate. It is a bit hit and miss. Perhaps going to Accuphase threads(ers) might help. GL. Pete
Before you spend all of that money, try an Oppo 105.

It is just as detailed and sounded more musical in my system than the $5000 Esoteric that I auditioned at home.

The Esoteric might have had a little bit more weight but that was about it.

Maggie 3.6's and W4S pre amp and amp.
I think a lot depends on what the rest of your system consists of.

I have an all tube based system with Avantgarde Duos, and I just replaced my Wadia 16i with a K-01. I also have an Oppo 105 which I am keeping to play DVD audio and stream Pandora.

As an aside, the Oppo 105 is in no way even close to the Esoteric for CD or SACD, and was also not as good as my 20 yr old Wadia for CD.

I have not auditioned Accuphase but in reading all the reviews and speaking with dealers, the general sense I got was the Accuphase house sound was warm while the Esoteric was analytical.

In my system, the combination of analytical analogue front end (ortofon Anna) has better synergy with the rest of my tube based system.
I listened to the K-01 at the dealer and did not find it too lean, and have since found it's sound in my system to be a very good fit.
Detailed with hint of warmth is the best match in my system.

I can also add more warmth by changing the K-01 filters I listen to for CD or Computer audio.

IMHO - you might want to consider the sound characteristic of the rest of your system in your decision process.

Also Esoteric USA is in SoCal and if your unit ever does need repair, you would not be stuck waiting to go back to Japan.

If you can find a good deal on used K-01, I'd highly recommend it. Just remember it will need 400 plus hrs playback on each filter setting to fully reach it's potential.
Agree with Mallen above, wherein both could be excellent or just so-so..
Finding the right balance with the rest of your system is key ~ ie.Synergy. I'm
currently using Accuphase dac/transport (replacing old 4pcs dCS stack) in an all SS
based system and thought the fit to be sublime.. Nice natural tonality, musical,
organic. More so after 3 months or so of continuous regular use ~ 400-500hrs.
Never heard Accuphase players, but I would love to and the only Esoteric I've heard the DV60 and I hated it.
I have an Electrocompaniet EMC1UP which I bought after demoing the likes of Audio Research CD5, Wadia 381, Krell SACD505 and Sugden PDT4-F, only the latter came close.
Heard accuphase dp700 & esoteric k03.

Accuphase for me. As per description of accuphase, it sounds very liquid, with clarity and a touch of warmth.

Esoteric sounded mechanical and lifeless..
I didn't listen to Accuphase. But I have DV50S and X-03. X-03 (VRDS NEO) sounds cold, lifeless, a bad bass! And DV50S (modified Pioneer the mechanism) sounds heat and is clear, the correct bass!
Esoteric over the Oppo. Definitely.
I like the Esoteric DV50s better than the K-3, and it is a DVD/SACD multiple channel player. This Esoteric is going surpass about 99% of all CD and SACD players, hands down and you might find one under two grand.

The only problem i have with multiple channel for surround format is the speakers should be forward and spread wider than the main channels, not like a DVD.

Accuphase is the best SACD stereo I have heard, and if you do not care for other than stereo, then that is going o be the best one I know to buy.

I have the Oppo 105D and it is a super good Blu-ray player and I can see why some say it is all you need for all formats. Well, it is not as good on pure music as either the Esoteric, or Accuphase, but for many good enough. Nevertheless, the Oppo is a value at $1299 new, just about the best value out there.

McCormack UDP-1 will top the Oppo in two channel mode, with the plain RCA output with good interconnects. It will not best it with multiple channels, nor as a DVD player, I think Steve made this to be mainly a super good CD/SACD stereo player. It is softer than the Esoteric, not as detailed, but a bit more liquid.

The question is do you want the best SACD player? If so, go with Accuphase, if you can afford it?
Many Thanks! for sharing Lady-

great comparison on the McCormack UDP-1. I still would like to demo this player someday...

Accuphase is on my short-list to auditin as well.

I concur on the DV-50 model from Esoteric. Very fine SACD performance, but, it is crap (to my ears) on CD playback.
This goes for the SA-50 on CD playback as well.

Great exchange of info here and happy listening!
If you have the other high-end gear you will really hear these, then, having both, I would say no CD and SACD stereo player beats Accuphase. The Esoteric seems more dynamic, and the DV 50s is the best kept secret in hybrid SACD playback.

Here is how I see it, the Marantz SA-11S3 may sound as good on a $10,000 system, but the Esoteric K 01 will devastate it on a $100,000 system. Same with the Accuphase, yet the Accuphase has more a natural liquid bloom, while the Esoteric K 01 has a more dynamic presence.

At the same time, the Audio Research CD 7, while not a SACD player, seems to come close to that liquid bloom, or palpable sound of Accuphase, yet is also very dynamic.

The McCormack UDP-1 has a very nice sound in stereo, yet seems to lose some of this when played in multichannel.

I would examine my system, the preamplifier, amplifier and speakers and go form here. If you want great dynamics, the Esoteric is a good choice, if you are using multichannel, the Esoteric DV 50, or 50s has this over other multichannel players.

Then if you are not using very high dollar high-end gear, the Oppo will do well at all and you get Blu-ray!

For me, I go with the Oppo 105 for all movies and Accuphase for stereo only. If you play multichannel SACDs, the Esoteric DV 50, or for better video the 50s, or the DV 60.

The best player for 98 percent of people will be an all in one Oppo,105, or 95, they are very good!

The Cambridge CD/SACD player is also near perfect, if you want one player for music and one for movies.

I think much of this is pointless to debate unless you have the gear and speakers to appreciate the diminishing returns with Accuphase. There are more used Esoteric players available, the K 07, K 03 and the DV 50, all good choices at more modest prices in the used market.
Thank You! Ladycharnet.

did you ever spend time w/ the Esoteric X-03 or X-03SE spinner?

Keep me posted and Happy Listening!