EMM DCC2/CDSD versus Esoteric X-01

To stoke the raging fires in the current discussions about the relative virtues of the EMM DCC2/CDSD combination,
I would welcome comments from those who had the rare opportunity of auditioning, and possibly trying out the Esoteric X-01, the CD/SACD only version of the slightly better known UX-1.
If you had the additional privilege of comparing either X-01 or UX-1 with the EMM DCC2/CDSD combination, your comments would be especially appreciated.
This week I have had the X-01 and UX-1 in my system, although not on the same days, and listened to both by themselves and as transports for my firewire versions of the dCS Purcell and Elgar Plus. I have also heard the EMM separates (DCC2 and new transport) through someone else's system. My preferences:

CD: The X-01 is marginally better than the UX-1, and almost but not quite stands up to the Purcell and Elgar Plus (using the X-01 as the transport for the Purcell and Elgar Plus), which are a bit clearer, more precise, especially on low-level detail, and have a bit more air and sense of space. But we're not talking bang for the buck here; if I didn't already have the dCS units, I could very happily live with the X-01 alone for CD playback. I wasn't particularly overwhelmed by my experience with the EMM pair, and found the presentation too bright, forward and lacking in lower midrange-upper midbass weight, although certainly the sound was as clear as it gets. But except for the speakers (Kharma) I wasn't familiar with the amps and cables in the other system (Tenor and JM Labs), and in any event my tonal preferences run to rich and warm. I am not for a moment suggesting that this last was a fair test, so take it for as much or as little as you think it's worth.

SACD: The X-01 is simply the very best I've ever heard--spacious, amazingly dynamic, as clean as it gets, and with as much sheer weight in orchestral music as the analog side of my system. I liked the EMM pair better in SACD than I did in CD--real space, real clarity--but again I far prefer the X-01, and, in any event, since the EMM's weren't in my system, it wasn't a fair test. The UX-1 was close, but couldn't equal, the X-01.

DVD-A: This was a shock. The UX-1 was simply third rate, completely unacceptable. My Esoteric DV-50 beat it by miles. This suggests to me that there was something wrong with the demo unit, but I don't know.

The one thing I can tell you for sure is that the only test worth anything is your own ears in your own system. Based on that, I'm ordering an X-01.
I presently have a UX-1 and have owned the DV-50. Compared them side to side, and found DVD-A to be far superior on the UX-1.

Sometimes I regret not getting the X-01, but I do enjoy DVD-A; perhaps this Dual Disc business will supply more DVD-A material. The DVD-Video is also outstanding on the UX-1.

Esoteric is now showing a new SACD transport and mono dac units. Appears that the set will be over 30K.

The fun never ends!
Thank you so much MGOTTLIEB and SPLASKIN for your input. Just two weeks ago I had the opportunity of auditioning the Esoteric X-01 connected to a set of Top Line Burmester electronics and JBL Utopia Alto speakers. Interconnects and speaker wires were by Synergistics with active shielding (sorry I do not remember which model).
In the same session I also examined the Burmester 001 and the Bel Canto PL-1A.

The audition was mostly performed using several tracks from Yo Yo Ma's latest CD (Redbook) collection of works by Antonio Vivaldi--a Sony Classical 24-bit recording (2796-90916-2), featuring the double cello concerto, the largo from Four Season's Winter, etc...
An interesting feature of the recording is that the basso continuo is mostly rendered by a double bass, augmented by either a harpsichord or a positif pipe organ, depending on the cuts.

I will report here my findings in chronological order of listening.

1. Burmester 001. This device was connected to the AC via its own stock power chord. In general I was under-whelmed by the Burmester 001 player. The sound stage was of very moderate proportions and relatively flat. Instruments sounds somewhat jumbled together and not terribly well separated. The timbre was dark, cold and reedy, reminding me of a very early Harnoncourt recording. Transients were very well defined and powerful, but the entire string ensemble and soloists were nasal and overwhelmed by the double bass, which sounded bloated and overbearing, with a smeared wolf-note centered on the third harmonic of whatever note it was playing. In the largo movement from the Winter concerto in particular, Ma's bowing felt bloodless, unemotional and indistinct, almost as if he were playing on a suzuki cello as an afterthought. I could hear the attack of each note, but each note appeared to decay quickly into nothingness, without any of the bloom and emotional richness characteristic of Ma's playing. In other words, micro-dynamics were absent and the midrange sounded anemic.
I had started the audition of this piece with a highly favorable bias, having read and reread its fabulous review on Sound stage. I ended my audition with a solid thumbs-down.

2. Bel Canto PL-1A universal player -- This device was connected to the AC through a Shunyata Python VX and rested on a Black Diamond Racing platform.
Sound stage was enormous and the largest among the three players: wide, tall, deep, but unfortunately not completely focused. There was a sense of floating, as if the synesthetic images of the instruments were 'seen' through a magnifying glass. Instruments were well defined but their position seemed slightly unclear. Transients were excellent. Bass was amazingly tight. The double bass continuo was tight and clearly defined without any wolfing on the 3rd harmonic. There was also a fair amount of presence in the mid range that gave life to Yo-Yo ma's bowing. I could hear some emotion and subtlety in the cello transcription of the solo part in Winter's largo. However, the slight unfocusness of the sound stage and some residual thinness of the midrange still gave the impression of a slightly reedy and hollow presentation, lacking ease. I was very intrigued but was not enamoured by the sound. There was something altogether lacking. Please remember that the PL-1A's was assisted by the Python chord and a Black Diamond Racing platform. I did not have the opportunity of listening to this device in its stock setup.

3. Esoteric X-01 -- Initial listening with its stock power chord.
Sound stage was almost as large as Bel Canto PL-1A, but was rock solid. No sense of floating sound scape here. Instruments were very well defined and separated along the three-dimensional axis. Once again, excellent transients, but while I did have several misgivings of one form or another on the ability of the Burmester and Bel Canto of sustaining a sound and creating involving musical shapes through micro-dynamics, I was here instead struck by the subtle beauty of Yo-Yo Ma's bowing in his lyrically restrained rendition of the largo. Each note had a story to tell, with an attack, a dynamic arching bloom and a slow decay, transitioning to the next note, in turn having its own unique story to tell, different from all previous ones and all subsequent ones.
Furthermore, I was hearing more detail and richer harmonics than from the previous players. In one of the cuts the wooden pipes of the positif organ could be heard in the background, while it was mostly absent with the other players. The bass was quite good yet not perfect. It was reasonably well defined, but there was a trace of unpitched hash from the double bass which sounded like a slightly graying veil at the bottom.
On a whim, I asked the audio consultant to replace the Esoteric stock power chord with the shunyata python VX.
The result was not subtle: the bass line became rock solid, without any trace of hash. The sound stage opened further in the three dimensions and the background became even blacker. I detected even further instrument separation and the midrange and treble became even sweeter. Yo-yo Ma's solos were now staggeringly beautiful.
I was now in love with a sound which was simultaneously precise and emotionally involving.
I sampled the SACD capabilities of the X-01 only for a few minutes on a Jazz ensemble disk and found it to be incredible.
Declaring a simple thumbs up on this player would be a gross understatement. I would rather say that I am in love!

In conclusion: the only player I would consider in this bunch is X-01. PL-1A was intriguing but. . . no cigar. As for Burmester 001, I am still shaking my grizzling head!

NOTE. in phone conversation, people in the know at the Esoteric Division of Teac America suggested that while X-01 does offer a marvellous Redbook performance, the P70/D70 combo is still the Esoteric redbook flagship. It may be even superior to X-01
, with even better separation, definition, sweetness.

NOTE 2. Eventually I would like to have the opportunity of comparing X-01 with P70/D70. Does anyone know of any dealer who stocks both players in the US or Canada? Or has anyone listened to both of them?

NOTE 3. P70/D70 can function without a pre-amplifier as D70 has a digital volume control. Has anyone tried the combo driving an amplifier directly?

NOTE 4. I'd be also interesting in hearing more about the now rumoured SACD separates from Esoteric. Esoteric has now just launched a brand new and very informative web site at: http://www.teac.com/esoteric/NewEsoteric/index.html
The site features UX-1, X-01, P70, D70, DV-50, but the new aledged separates remain as such. . . they are yet unmentioned.
Sounds like you had a good listening session, and I obviously agree with your conclusions. But if you think changing power cords makes a difference, try cable changes on the X-01. Especially, try my favorite, Purist Dominus (I use Revision B, but some people prefer C). This player does love Dominus! Even changing the digital cable to my
dCS separates from Dominus to my other favorite cable, Kharma Enigma, seems to make a bigger difference than I am used to when changing these two cables.

It *appears* that your listening session (tho good) was not completely fair:
Why did you not change the Burmester stock power cord with the available Shunyata Python VX & listen again?

2ndly, do you know whether or not all 3 players (esp. the Burmester) were broken-in?
From what you have written, it *appears* that the Burmester is suffering from lack of burn in & lack of warm up.

I'm curious. It seems I you liked the Anaconda powercord
a lot. Did the system with the Emm Lab gear have the Shunya? I found the powercord and innerconnects made thedifference whether or not I liked theEmm Lab gear. The
shunyata richens the Emm Lab considerably and also deepens the soundstage at the same time.
Please bear with me if these questions are obvious or been answered: I am hearing that the X-01 is a serious competitor, and preferred by anyone posting a comparison, that I have seen, to the EMM DCC2+ EMM transport and may be preferable economically/functionally in that it 1) costs less ($12K vs $18K); 2) is in one chassis 3) plays CD/SACD out of the box, which the EMM DCC2 will only do with a mod Phillips transport, which is getting savaged for reliability on this forum or a $8K EMM transport, which is reportedly sigtnificantly better.
Do I have the facts straight (the prices are what I gather from posts in this forum to be list prices)
If I am wrong or if anyone can correct me, I would appreciate it.
Secondly, has anyone heard the X-01 vs EMM DCC2 + EMM transport and preferred the EMM?
Thank you Bombaywalla for your keen observation. I have reasons to believe that all three devices were in a similar state of warmup. They all were stationed in their regular spots at this dealer's showroom and the consultant asserted that the equipment is left on continuously. You are correct, I did not listen to the Burmester with the Python powerchord. The reason is that the X-01 with its stock chord so much outdistanced the Burmester that I felt no immediate incentive looking at that device any further. I do agree though, that had I had more time I would have indulged in a more rigorous matrix test with every device undergoing the same environment permutations.
But as an old software engineer, with years of test management on my back, I also know that good system tests take a lot of time and effort.
It is quite possible that the Burmester may have improved with the application of the Python and Black Diamond Racing Platform, but I had already determined that stock X-01 was extremely superior to stock Burmester. I am interested in applying tweaks to a winning device, not in ameliorating a looser. I should also like to point out that the Bel Canto PL-1A was already setup with the aformentioned augmentations and yet it did not perform as well as X-01.

I am not in a position of commenting on EMM Labs gear, as I have never had the opportunity of auditioning it. I would rather pass the baton to MGOTTLIEB on the subject.

Please note that the day after my marathon audition I did go back to the dealer and auditioned the X-01 connected to the AC by an Anaconda power chord and resting on an HRS isolation platform. THis time the device was in a slightly larger and more resonant room and was driving a Burmester Reference series system and a larger pair of Utopias (don't remember the model but they costed 30K).

I did experience further tightening of the bass and opening of the sound stage. On the other hand transients were becoming excessive and were thus uncharacteristic of a Baroque ensemble. As too many variables had changed, it is rather difficult to guess which component of the new setup was responsible for both the positive and negative changes.

Finally, as the Burmester 001 has been available for a fair amount of time and the X-01 has just become available, It is rather likely that the 001 was more broken in than the X-01. But I will call the dealer and will ask the consultantt.

In my system, UX-1, EMM DCC2, Wadia 861, Ayre CD-5EX all at the same time. The rest of the system is McIntosh MC2000 and Audio Research Ref2 Mk2, HRX rack, Jm Lab Alto be, Shunyata6, Transparent super xl speaker wires, and either Harmonic Tech Pro Silway 2 or Synergistic Designer Ref balanced cable.

I have to preface my statements by saying that the room is very bright to begin with but very open. Slap echo is probably not a strong enough word, more like "smack echo".

First compared UX-1 to Wadia 861, the Wadia was a bit smoother, less revealing and realistic, smaller sound stage, more accurate base, but not as defined or organic in the mids and highs.

I then compared the UX-01 to a demo EMM labs... the EMM labs had MUCH less brightness, much more listenable, my wife, who was in the kitchen, asked "how much is that one going to cost us"? The EMM glitched, and for 17k, I am not going to buy a unit that glitches in the first month., so I deferred purchasing it, although it is still an option at this point if I can be convinced it has been fixed.

Then I compared UX-01 to brand new Ayre that I bought, as, in the final analysis, the UX-01 just sounds too metallic, for lack of a better work, on guitar, edgy and bright for my tastes long term. Out of the box, the Ayre is just not a happy camper, but I have been told to give it a long warmup (at least a hundred hours) It seems to emphasis leading edge transients at the expense of everything else, and is much less intelligible and full than the UX-01, but I will try it again this weekend after breaking it in.

What I heard, in a store, mind you, that absolutely made my foot tap, was the new DCS one piece unit. The UX-01 was in a setup similar to mine, and I noticed the same "metallic" coloring, but the DCS sounded much more organic, and "true to life". I know this doesn;t necessarily help you with the X-01, but they are of the same family I imagine
Thank you Chrisla. I have auditioned the DCS single box CD/SACD player as well and will confirm that it does sound most likely sweeter than the UX-1. You can read my findings at:
I should point out though, that I did not have the opportunity of comparing the DCS to the X-01 directly, nor to the UX-1. In fact, I have not had the opportunity of hearing the UX-1 at all up to now.
It is my understanding though that, in order to maintain the same price point as the X-01 while adding DVD video and audio capability, Teac may have committed the mortal sin of audio compromise, by cutting in half the number of audio DAC chips (Burr Brown 1704) and performing other minor lobotomies to the circuitry. It has been said in some quarter that for redbook and SACD the UX-1 is c.ca 70% as good as the X-01.
Since my original listening in NYC, my enthusiasm for the X-01 convinced a friend of mine to obtain one for his system. In turn he 'forced me' to listen to his unit repeatedly and prolongedly, as a form of sadistic audiophilic retribution, until, under considerable pressure of course [chuckles!], I broke down and purchased an X-01 for myself.
The creature arrived one week ago and has now completed the 120th hour of breaking, with approximately the same amount planned for the coming week.
Amazing sound altogether: full bodied with a spectacular stage and a wealth of subtle detail. Excellent yet controlled dynamics and transient, but also with a heartless propensity to expose the excesses of recording engineers. Heartbreakingly beautiful on a well balanced recording, will get every nuance of residual sound on a muffled recording, but will not attempt to mask the screaming strings and brass and screeching voices in excessively bright recordings.
Quite sensitive to interconnects, my X-01 told me yesterday in no uncertain terms that it much prefers to tango with my Gutwire Synchrony IC than with my slightly older Cardas Neutral Reference. Too bad said I, Neutral Reference it will be, for the next few days, while I take the Gutwire on an auditioning trip to Salt Lake City It is being rumoured that I will have an opportunity to listen to an X-01 controlled by the meticulous 'baton' of a Teac G0S Master Clock. I will report my findings here on Audiogon.
But enough ranting for now. Talk to you all soon. Guido
Yup, wish I had a chance to have listened to the X-01. When I went in the store, they "forgot" to mention that unit and I was not, at the time, as well informed and assumed, based on the info I gave them, that I gots the 2 channel machine. Dang. Owning a cal lab... I took home a cesium beam standard (Hewlett Packard 5061a) to synch the EMM and Esoteric to, it made a much bigger difference on the Esoteric..much better pace, a little better soundstage, and made very little noticeable difference on the Meitner, maybe, just maybe slightly steadier sound stage. If only the doggone thing hadn't glitched twice:( it would be happily escounced in a new home.
The UX-1 and X-01 are cut from the same “sonic cloth”. They both are very neutral with no warmth to the sound. In many systems they may sound hard or bright. The X-01 is no better in this regard than the UX-1. In fact, the UX-1 sounds a little less detailed in the highs. I have lived with the UX-1 for over a year now and still enjoy it. The choice of AC cable and interconnects are crucial to the ultimate enjoyment of this product. I feel that the UX-1/ X0-1 are superior the DV-50S.

I recently had the good fortune to live with the EMM DAC6e and CDSD for a month. I found this combination to be superior to my UX-1 and a friend’s X0-1 in SACD and CD.

Comparing the EMM combination to a Reimyo CDP-777 on RBCD, I preferred the Reimyo. The Reimyo has a certain quality of richness to the sound that separates it from the other units. I found that the Reimyo requires the Harmonix AC cable to sound its best. The Harmonix cable sounded too full in the bass on the Esoteric UX-1. Also, the Reimyo sounds much better using the single-end outputs.

Others have found the EMM to be superior in RBCD to the Reimyo. I guess it depends on taste and ultimately the system, isolation, etc.

At this point in time, given the failure of SACD and DVD-A to succeed in the market, I would focus my attention on RBCD performance. Personally, I find RBCD on the Reimyo to be more pleasing than most SACDs on the EMM products. Naturally, a multichannel system is an entirely different subject.

You can see my system and setup on Audio Asylum under “Mercman”.

Steve, I confirm your findings about X-01's extreme sensitivity to interconnects.
Last Saturday I had the pleasure of attending a marathon open-house event at Aris Audio in Salt Lake City, where Scott Haver, Aris's proprietor, gave me free range of his excellent facilities and several systems. In particular,
I had the opportunity to audition at length a system consisting initially of X-01, Audioquest Panther XLR, Audio Research Ref 3 in its pre update config, Jaguar XLR, Theta Dreadnaught, Audioquest Pikes Peak, Vandersteen 5A.
I used for the audition a variety of chamber music and orchestra CDs from the same set I used in my original audition of the ARC Ref 3 referenced above.
While CDS that had only moderate pitch extensions yielded a very good balanced, graceful and detailed sound, any greater top or bottom extension in the recording -- as in violins high strings, high woodwinds and double basses, appear to yield shrill and distorted highs, nasal mids, bloating on the mid bass, and hazy low indistinct bass.
I was not a terribly happy camper. This until Scott suggested we change the AQQ Panther with a 3 ft length of Audio Quest Sky. The entire system started to shine. Glorious mids, highs became more extended and approx 95% free of distortion, mid bass bloating disappeared, deep Bass became clean graceful and correct down to the 16 ft range of the double bass pedal openstring notes in orchestral works.
In particular, the beginning of the 2nd movement in Dvorak's New World Symphony conducted by Leonard Bernstein became something so emotional to raise your hair on end. The initial brass fanfare was deep with that slight treble cuivre that make good brass give goose bumps. The timpanis were clean and powerful while the double basses were something to be beheld.
In addition, what had suddenly appeared in spades was the threedimensional image of the hall, with a sense of space, air and overall grace I had seldom heard before in that recording. This seems to point out once again that X-01 is a wonderful but merciless machine: it is capable of extracting mountains of information from a disk. . . and if ICs and electronics downstream are not up to handling the information. . . results may be not of our liking. I only wish I had the opportunity to switch the Jaguar to Sky as well, and the Pikes Peak to Everest. . . may be next time.
One last note, during the audition I activated in error the button on the Ref 3 remote that turns off the balanced return signal on the ICs of this device. Suddenly the overall sound became completely bloodless, thin and uninvolved, until I turned the balanced signal back on. Small lesson learned: if a device is truly optimized for balanced operations, it is best used that way.

You must choose balanced on the Ref 3 if your IC's are balanced or you choose SE on the Ref 3 if your IC's are SE.
I am surprised that you got any signal at all
Oneobgin, I am aware of the need of using balanced devices as balanced. But my fingers sometimes commit the sin of Brownian motion on the remote.
I understand now.
I have just posted a relatively detailed listening comparison of the Shunyata Anaconda Helix Alpha and Anaconda Helix VX on a thread entitled "A Tale Of Two. . . Anacondas (Helix)". You will find it at:
For the comparison Babybear and I connected the Anacondas to the X-01 Limited in his system.
Very, very strage what I red...Because I attended last year in New York when the sale manager of an local & important showroom made a comparison between the Esoteric X-01L and the Burmester 001 and the German cd player was sonicly much better in all parameters than Esoteric.
The sound of burmester 001 is rich, warm, detailed and lush side of absolute neutrality. Images are wonderfully solid and three-dimensional with the 001. In particular, the 001 excell at the depth and large dimensions, opening up the rear portion of the soundstage and tangibly portraying the back edges of images. With 001 the images are always correctly sized, and all of the soundstage's distances—between instruments, between the listener and the soundstage, and the size of the stage itself—added up to a coherent, realistic perspective. In my very honest opinion the 001 is a gorgeous-sounding player—a bit too gorgeous-sounding. For sure for what I listened in my audio system the Burmester 001 is one of the best digital front-end I've ever heard. As expensive as it is, I've heard digital setups that cost several times as much and didn't match the Burmester's magic.
Apologies, I have never heard of an Esoteric product variant called X-01L. Tell us more. G.
In my honest opion the Burmester 001 is a great cd player...
This is the Esoteric X-01L (Limited) what I refer before:


P.S.: This version is better than the previous one.
HER1, I am delighted you enjoyed Burmester 001. The dealer where I heard side-by-side TEAC Esoteric X-01 and Burmester 001 was Sound By Singer in NYC. I have heard Bermester 001 a couple more times since then: unfortunately I have not changed my mind about it. . . . may be next time. It is entire ly possible that in recent days 001 has undergone some significant internal updates without changing product number.

By the way, as far as I know, there is no such product: TEAC Esoteric X-01L. . . Did you mean Teac Esoteric X-01 Limited?

Regards, Guido
I have heard the Burmester 069 for over 50 hours. It is simply the most dramatic, sensual, emotional and grain/grunge free CD source I have ever heard. I am buyig the 001 becuase it is in the Burmester family and will use it as a preamp, cdp and dac for my blu-ray player and cable box. I do not bother with multi channel nor hi-rez.I feel completley satisfied when I listen to Burmester gear.