DAC for Esoteric XO3-SE CDP

Has anyone tried an external DAC with the Esoteric X03-SE and found it considerably better than its internal DAC?
I purchased my UX-3SE universal cdp new over 5 years ago and consider it a fabulously musical cdp. I've not tried an external DAC nor have I had the desire.

On the other hand, about 3 years ago I purchased an Esoteric external G-25u reclocking unit. Over a period of about 4 months I tried various configs and I was convinced the unit did little to even nothing so I returned it for full refund.

Recently I attended a shoot out of 4 DACs and the setup was at a mastering engineer's home and system so he was able to have all units powered on, ready to process, and through his board he was able to instantly switch to any one of the dacs which varied in price from I think $800 to about $8000. I suspect everybody there could have benefited from the use of a stethescope to better distinguish any differences between the units.

One unit seemed a tad better here, another a tad better there but it was not unanymous and there always seemed to be a sonic compromise between them. To me the 4 DACs sounded far more identical than they did different.

My take is that your X-03SE has the potential to be extremely musical and more than satisfying as-is. You just might find a DAC that is a tad more refined but when you consider the additional cost of the DAC, the additional rack space required, the additional cable, the potential signal compromise from one more set of cable connections, the cost to properly treat the new DAC's noisy AC and the air-borne and internally-generated vibrations at and in the additional chassis I can't imagine too many DACs being worth such effort not to mention any ROI.

If you're bored or dis-satisfied with current system performance, I'd suggest auditioning some dedicated passive line coditioners (that actually do what they are supposed to do), or purchase some cryo-treated fuses, bulk power cable, wall plugs, and IEC connectors, etc. I'm confident you'd get far more sonic benefit just by cleaning up the noisy AC than from perhaps any external dac. And at perhaps less than half the price.

IMO ,being a X03SE owner I totally agree w/Stehno..could not have stated it any better.
Thanks for the affirmation, Missioncoonery.

If either of you are up for a little experimenting, I'd like to suggest one little tweak that might meet or exceed the performance gains of most any ext. DAC.

Remove the floating discs/footers from underneath. They are useless from a performance perspective even though Esoteric has a patent on these designs. To do so, gently flip the unit upside down and for each floating disc there is a hole that you can align with with screw that becomes exposed via the disc hole. Remove the screw and then turn the floating discs counterclock-wise to loosen and remove (you may need pliers to loosen). It's been about 5 years since I've done this so it may not be entirely accurate.

Anyway, once the floating discs are removed you've just exposed the 3 threaded points that are bolted into the thick bottom chassis plate.

Make sure the threaded points are tightly secured to the base plate (they should already be tight from the factory) and then reinstall the unit back on the rack shelf with the newly exposed threaded points going straight into the shelf. Let the unit sit for 7 - 10 days to allow the mechanical settling into the shelf fully complete. Listen for any improvements.

After say 10 days, take the 3 discs you just removed from the bottom and place them on top of the unit toward the center. Wait approximately 53 hours (2 days, 5hours). Right around that time you should hear a very noticeable sonic improvement that just might amaze you.

But that's just the beginning. Find three more pieces of similar metal and weight and place them onto the top of the unit near the others. Wait another 53 hours and listen for yet another round of improvements. Keep doing this until the top plate is saturated with small metal weights or you can switch to some heavier metal plates and jump right to the end game. But every time you add a new set of weights you must wait 53 hours before you realize any gains.

Each iteration or jump is like a light switch turning on like clockwork and is pretty amazing actually. I can all but guarantee you that no DAC can match all these gains or maybe not even match just the first gain.

Note that if you move the discs or weights the settling in time starts over from the beginning. If you ever lift or move the X-03SE it will require another 7 - 10 days to fully settle back into the shelf.

If you have no metal weights try the hardware store and look around for some cheap metal parts with heft. Worst case buy a bag full of the largest nuts or bolts they sell and instead of 3 parts at time maybe try 10 parts at a time. You can try scrap metal yards or even a local machine shop. Hockey puck sized (3" diam x 1") steel discs would work quite well. For this try speedymetals.com and have them cut and smoothed and shipped to you. Just add and remove the parts gingerly and you won't make any marks.

But even after you've completely saturated the top plate with these metals, it's still only the beginning regarding sonic improvements from this experiment.

Remember you ought not be too concerned about aesthetics because experimenting or R&D is intended to be a temporary proof of concept to give you just a hint of the performance levels the Esoteric (and other components) are truly capable of achieving.

I have an X-03 SE and have it going into an Esoteric G25U and Berkeley Dac. Sounds pretty awesome but I do think the Esoteric sounds better by itself.