EMM Labs vs. Esoteric X-01

Hi All,
I have had the EMM Labs CDSD and Dac6e for about a year. I've been really intrigued by all the press about the X-01, so I bought a used unit off Audiogon. I'm beginning the process of comparing the two units in SACD and Redbook playback. For now, it will all be 2 channel, until I get my multichannel back up and running.
As I realize that this is an issue of taste more than anything else, I will try to avoid hyberbole. My quick, initial impressions is that they are more alike than different, particularly in SACD mode. In Redbook, it's a somewhat different story. The Esoteric is a superlative Redbook player, with rock-solid imaging and a real sense of space. The Meitner, while it sounds very good, isn't nearly as detailed. One of my favorite tracks is on Emmylou Harris' Spyboy album, "The Maker". On the Esoteric, one can sense and even feel Emmylou in the middle, with the percussion section just behind her. There are 2 musicians on either side of her, playing guitar and Banjo (i believe). You can feel all the percussion that goes on. The Meitner doesn't have nearly the defined sense of space that the Teac presents, but Emmylou's voice sounds just great. It also doesn't present that deep percussion that one can feel in your chest.
FWIW, the rest of my system is an ARC Ref3 preamp, a Boulder 2060 stereo amp and Dynaudio Evidence Temptations, backed up by a REL Studio 3 subwoofer. All the cabling is Nordost Valhalla. The room is heavily treated.

More to come later.

David Shapiro
Hi David, thanks for sharing your first impressions of these terrific digital front ends. You might be very interested in a thread entilted, " Reference DACS: An overall perspective", which has been an on-going discussion/sharing regarding the different "flavors" of DACS and CDPS.

The discussion has included both pieces you are now comparing, among many others, and it would be great if you would share your final impressions with us on that thread.
Thanks, keep us posted.
Is the new Esoteric also as cold/white sounding as EMM gear ?
What a great song that is.

And an excellent track to use to evaluate components. As you say, the drum solo towards the end should be really impressive, and those couple of deep bass slams should hit you in the chest.

As would have it, I'm on the road at the current time and have David Lanois' "Acadie" with me. I think I'll listen to "The Maker" on the way to work.

I disagree with Elberoth2 - I have not found the EMM Labs to be cold sounding. It's not as richly euphonic as the Reimyo or Zanden, but are they adding something?

Deshapiro, X-01 + Ref 3 is a fab combination. . . my own Ref 3 is being broken in as we speak and may be hopping over the 100 hrs mark as I am writing this note. It is worth pointing out that Teac America also pairs the ARC Ref 3 with the X-01 in their reference system. Amplification in that particular system is provided by a pair of Teac Esoteric A-70 monoblocks (200W per chassis) regretably not available for sale in the USA. Elbroth2, I Can't comment on EMM because I haven't heard it yet, but X-01 is not harsh AT ALL, provided you are patient enough to break it in for at least 800 hrs.
Just received an Esoteric X-01 "Limited Edition over the weekend and have started the breakin process. I have had some previous experience with a friend's UX-1. As solidly built as the unit is, it still benefits from more isolation. I have sited the X-01 on the top shelf of a Finite Elemente Pagode Master Reference stand, using three Cerabases, one under each foot of the X-01. This seems to work better than directly against the bottom of the X-01. I am also using a top of the line Omega Micro red power cord. Early impression is phenomenal bass with excellent control and excellent dynamics and pin point imaging.
At CES, Esoteric announced the X-01 has been upgraded to the X-01 Limited Edition (MSRP-$13.5K) which incorporates P-01 technology. There will be an upgrade program for existing X-01 owners.
Fcrowder, have you tried to move the X-01 to the bottom of your stand? That may further improve device stability and sound. Any stand works as an inverted pendulum, with maximum possible swing at its top.
I wonder how the new P-03 and D-03 would stack up agains the EMM Labs? The P-03 and D-03 use different DACs than the X-01 that don't covert DSD to PCM. Reports from CES on the combo appeared very positive.
My DCC2 sounds much better to me than the Dac6e. I heard the Dac6e at a dealer and a show and think the DCC2 (with a CDSD) is more relaxed, natural, but at the same time more detailed than what I heard with the Dac6e. I would not form a final opinion of the EMM sound without hearing the CDSD/DCC2 combo. I would give the DCC2 a try if you already have a CDSD.
I listened to EMM lab and esoteric X01 at different dealers. Very different setup and comparison may not be fair. I went with X01 after a home demo. It produced stunning dynamics and timing. EMM seemed slightly light weighted in comparison.
Just spent a lot of time with SACD of Jennifer Warnes "The Well" , one of my favorite albums. Both players sounded very similar in timbre, with the imaging and staging nod going, ever so slightly to the Teac. OTOH, the EMM portrayed the beautiful richness of her voice in a a way that the Teac couldn't quite match. The Redbook of Bonnie Koloc on the Naim label was no contest. The Meitner imaging wnadered all over the place. On the Teac, Bonnie was in my room, rock solid between the speakers. Contrary to one of the posters, neither player is cold. Both have a beautiful harmonic richness that is far superior to the other players that I have had, tha Sony SCD-1 and the Accuphase DP-85.
I think that Fred 's comment about the bass on the Teac is an important one. As I've learned from my sub, bass response seems to somehow affect all frequencies, giving a certain weight and solidity to the sound. Perhaps the Teac overplays the bass and the EMM is more accurate, or perhaps the EMM is bass-shy, who knows.

More to come (not only female vocalists, I promise).

David, if you want to hear that X-01 bass performing a feat of magic on stage, presence, authority, pitch, image delicacy, harmonic richness and complexity, and just sheer musicality, , try the redbook of Edgar Meyer playing Bach's cello suite No. 5 on double bass (SONY Classical SK 89183 . Please let us know the difference -- if any -- on EMM.
Best combo I've heard was a P-0/G-0 driving a EMM DCC2. Never thought Redbook CDs could reproduce so much air/space and inner detail.
Hmm, interesting combination. How was the connections for these 3 pieces, which type of cables used? Glass, AES/EBU, etc.

I'd really like to hear the details of this setup.

"Hmm, interesting combination. How was the connections for these 3 pieces, which type of cables used? Glass, AES/EBU, etc.I'd really like to hear the details of this setup."

Muratc- I know the P0/G0 connection is BNC, but I have no idea what format was used between the PO and DCC2 or the brand of the cables used.
Will be receiving my X-01 limited today
D500, there seems to be a little confusion on whether the X-01 Limited includes an upgraded power chord, possibly the same used for P01/D01 and made by Acrolink (do I spell it correctly?). Please let us know.
Last night I was able to audition the G(0) clock with an X0-1 Limited Edition. Hard to put into words what the clock does. The effect is clearly audible but does not jump out at you. It is initially subtle but the longer that you listen, the harder it is to disconnect the clock. If anything it makes the unit more musically natural. The transparency does not increase noticeably, it stages a little better but mostly it becomes easier to listen for extended periods, for want of a better description, more analogue.
So what do you think, Fred? Can you live without the G(0)?

Hi All,
I'v continued my listening with a series of instrumnetal pieces. Two of my favorites are Leo Kottke's "6 and 12 string guitar" (CD and SACD), and Guitartown by Steve Earle, also SACD. The second isn't only guitar, but I listen for Steve's playing, not his singing. I added a Townes Van Zandt (redbook) for kicks. I have to reiterate what I've said and what has been said in the thread on Reference Dacs. The differences are a matter of taste, not absolutes.
On SACD, I find that both rigs sound very similar, with detail and a rich harmonic sound. The Esoteric has more of a dynamic feel, with a "they are in the room" sensation.
On regular CD's, the Esoteric extracts much information than the EMM. It provides me with a more satisfying experience. More listening this week, but I expect to list the EMM gear on Audiogon bfore very long.

i had a chance to hear the clock w/ the xo-1 today; seems like (perish the thought) its breaking in, as i heard a bleaching to the tone w/ the clock in place. that said, it did appear that the clock improved transients, leading edges, dynamics, and generally free'd the sound from the speakers. none of this was a gigantic difference; comparatively, i heard more of a difference when i swapped out an Acme IEC for a gold plated Furutech in the same system that morning.

fred, do ask jim if he likes the IECs. damn parasound made the hole too small though!

EMM= dying gasp of a brittle,harsh,mettalic digital media.
Fred and another friend whose audio opinions I greatly respect caused me to try the Esoteric X-01 Limited Edition. I am very happy that I tried it.

I had a EMM Dac6 and the EMM modified Phillips SACD 1000 some time ago. While I hardly found it brittle and harsh, I also found the less expensive Allen Wright moded Sony 3000 at a fraction of the price to be indistinguishable from it, as Fred will confirm. I have not heard the recent generation of the EMM gear, but it would surprise me were it to be better than the Esoteric X-01 LE.

I should say that the Esoteric responds very well to being on the Halcyonic active isolation base as well as to using IsoClean fuses to replace it 5 fuses. I also use Audio Tekne carbon feet between the Esoteric and the Halcyonic. I don't even want to think about the Esoteric clock but do hope to try it as Fred did. Fred did not say whether he is buying one, but I suspect I know the answer.
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.
"I don't even want to think about the Esoteric clock but do hope to try it as Fred did. Fred did not say whether he is buying one, but I suspect I know the answer."


Have seen:

Kana813, Babybear and I tried the high-end G0S master clock on X-01 and experienced its effect to be negligeable, or at least undecideable to our ears. Effect on multi-box units may be greater.
Kana813, thanks for the heads up. I was unaware of other clocks, but read the 6moons review too quickly to further react.

Guiidocorona, Fred seems to hold your opinion, saying that he thinks investing in a Halcyonic active isolation base may be more cost effective. I still hope to hear the Esoteric clock with a X-01 on the Halcyonic.
I'm owner EMM CDSD + DCC2 hold 7 months,
any recommendation for Upgrade?
for the Signature series?
Signature it's BETTER?
Thank you for All.
Razen, thread discussing relative merits of old and new EMM series appear to have a dramatic propensity to suffer of 'sudden death syndrome'. Rather than sealing the fate of one more (THIS) thread with a discussion on the subject, I would invite you to contact JTIN and MikeLavigne directly for the latest skinny.
Guidocorona - I can't belive someone said that eventually ! This post is doomed now, LOL.
Has anybody critically compared the X01 to the X01 limited? Is there an upgrade path?