Hi, I am looking at the k-03 and the Aesthetix Romulus player, they are on my list to audition, I will keep up with your thread to read whats said here, cheers.
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I own one and I am quite happy with it. Little noise from transport at start up but after that zip. The spin noise I've heard from many top drawer CD players, due to the over kill transport and its design you may hear a bit more but once the CD plays and as the tracks advance you hear zip.
In the end you buy this quality of player for its sound. In any format the sound reproduced is superb.
I have the K-07 not exactly the same level as the K-03 but I can attest to the noise of the transport opening, its like a dump truck going across railroad tracks, with that said once the CD loads it's dead quite. The player is simply fantastic elsewise.
If you ship the player to Esoteric for a nominal fee they will recertify and issue a warranty, don't know how long that period is, but check with Esoteric.
Only sound I hear is the disc starting up to spin. My drawer is smooth as butter. If it sounds like a truck going across a railroad track something happened in shipping. I've owned 2 Esoterics and never heard them sound like that opening. The more I listen to the K-03 the more I apprecate how good it reproduces music regardless of format it superb as the mastering of the disc allow, just like vinyl garbage in and garbage out.
I am thinking of buying a used Esoteric k-03 player....
Normally they should run quiet :-)
Anyway, even when you get a noisy one you can send it to Esoteric to repair because they offer from Sept. 14 the "X" upgrade for K-01 and K-03. The Player has to be sent to them for implementation. Cost for the upgrade is about 1000 USD excl. shipping. It is an upgrade Board to enable DSD Streams.
The new versions will be called K-01X / K-03X