Esoteric K-01 vs ARC CD 9

Supposing both players had the same pre-amp, say an ARC Ref 6, which one would you prefer?  The K-01 can also be played directly to amps--how would it do alone against the ARC combination, Redbook CD only?  
C0237e00 4df8 4e0e a493 b449f0fbb370jafreeman

 I own both a Ref 5se and Ref CD7. This is a wonderful sounding combination.  I am sure the Ref 6 and CD9 combination is even better. There is a synergy in an all ARC system.

A friend had a  K-01 and it was quite nice. He also owns a Ref 6. He just sold the K-01 and I am not sure what he is considering replacing it with. I have never heard a system that didn't benefit from a really good active preamp and the Ref 6 is world class.


I concur w/ lostbears- ARC has a certain synergy. The Ref5SE and CD5, CD7 or CD9 are all outstanding. I have heard this pre-amp , cd spinners,
on ARC power amps, as well as, Ayre/Bryston power amps.
On the Esoteric front, I have only heard the DV-50, DV-60 mixed/matched w/ Pass Labs, Parasound electronics.
Happy Listening!
Before I purchased my Esoteric K-01X I had borrowed the ARC CD9 to use for a few days. The CD9 replaced an Oppo BDP-105 so there were three different players I evaluated. I was then using the ARC Ref 5SE feeding Theta Prometheus monoblocks. The difference is primarily in the midrange region. The CD9 is warmer and more forgiving on older digital cd's. It also does have a great synergy with the ARC preamps. The K-01X is not as forward and warm in the midrange. It does have a wonderful midrange just not as "euphoric". Inner detail is with the Esoteric. I was hearing small details that were buried in the recording that I had not heard with the ARC CD9. Bass on both units was tight and extended. The K-01X has a faster attack on bass drums. With the CD9 you hear the fabric of the skin and mallet. With the K-01X, it was less organic sounding but with a tighter impact and longer decay. Almost similar to the SS versus tubes debate. It depends on what flavor you want. Both units I could live with. They both give wide soundstaging which helps with the right recording. I ended up choosing the K-01X. I had read from CD9 owners disappointment with the filter settings and downloading the windows driver IIRC? It takes some time for the Esoteric units to settle in and you have to experiment with the filter settings which is a smart choice to have with digital.
Great review, statman. I am leaning toward the CD9 because I will need a pre-amp, which will probably be and ARC model---thanks for your assessment!
I haven't heard the CD9, but I do own a K-01X.   At this point I wouldn't want to be without a USB input that can't handle DSD128 native or upsampled and custom filters from Roon's DSP engine. The K-01X does that, and also synchronizes to a 10mHz master clock to further improve performance.  If you're considering migration from discs to files and streaming, the K-01X offers the best of both worlds. 
Wishing you all of the best on your journey for a new unit. 

I ended up with a K-01X because of that reason. I will eventually stream in my system. Loving this player as I know you are also!


the ARC Ref5SE and CD9 are an outstanding pairing.

Keep me posted. Happy Listening!