Esoteric K-05 or K-07?

Can anyone explain any sonic differences between these two players?

Looking for a lush sound with plenty of dynamics and detail.


If I were spending that kind of money, I'd go listen to both of them for myself.
I have found through the years that the only listening that matters is in your own system and room. That's impossible to duplicate, and in addition I live in an area with no dealers.

Just trying to get some opinions from people who might have had the opportunity to hear both players.

I'm glad that you are able to blindly lay down $10,000.00 for a CD Player and not be concerned. That must be a nice situation to be in.

By all accounts, each higher level of Esoteric player is better than the last, so logically the 05 will be better than the 07. Haven't heard them against each other, but this is what I gathered in my lengthy online research prior to buying a K-03 (instead of a K-05, lol). Plenty of dynamics and detail. Check! Absolutely. Incredible detail. Lush sound? I love the sound of my K-03, and it has a very full and beautiful sound, but I equate lush to a more tubey sound, like you might expect from a Cary, or CJ, etc.

BTW, I did buy mine without hearing it. And I love it.
Thanks Jeff,

My concern with the K-03 is that the manual says you need a full 8" above the top of the player. I don't have that much room in my rack. Top shelf has my amp, so I can only have 1 or 2" of clearance on the next shelf.

K-07 is lower height, and that manual says nothing about all that clearance.

I'm replacing a defective Cary 303t with skipping problems. Loved the sonics, but could not deal with the quality issues. That's why I'm now considering Esoteric. I hate "glare" or fatiguing sound, and have been told Esoteric should fit the bill.

Does yours run hot, and how much clearance above the unit do you think I need?

Thanks so much for your comments.
Yashu, if you have a rack with the shelves vented on 4 sides, there should not be a problem with ventilation of K-03 or even K-01. My X-01, which runs a little warmer than K-01, has about 2" of top clearance... The player's top is warm, but never hot, even during summer months. If you like a highly textured and lush sound that never locks you into the syrupy arena, Esoteric is a fabulous way to go... K-01 is more textured/refined than K-03, which is more textured than K-05, which is more textured than K-07... You get the idea. Either way, as I mentioned in your other thread, break the player in with a lot of patience, and you will be rewarded by its sound. G.
I run my K-1 in a 10" open Zoethecus rack above a very warm Cary v12 amp.

It has 4 " clearance and never heats up.

Agree with others posting on the sound. Esoteric is more neutral than my previous Wadia which I loved, but I like the k-1 even better.

There are pretty good deals out there so I would go for a lightly used K-3 vs a new K-05 or 07.

K-01 is really world class, and the K-03 is supposedly 80- 90% of the K-01
I owned an X-05 for about 6 months and it was anything but warm or lush. Perhaps their more expensive players have a different tonal balance.
My Esoteric experiences echo Chayro's post above. I have listened to a couple of Esoteric CDP's, but I was never tempted to buy any of them. Yes, they do provide dynamics and detail, but none of the models I listened to were even remotely close to being warm or lush sounding.
@ jmcgrogan2, Hi, How would you describe the sound of the esoteric models you did listen to?,, cheers!
Maybe not relevant to this thread since I have never listened to the K series but I did have the X-03 and the P3/D5 combo. I would describe the sound I heard as very clear, detailed and dynamic. Perhaps the filters available on the K series can help change the sound but I felt that something emotional was missing with the Esoteric. I was never drawn into the music. Perhaps the rest of my system was not properly matched to take advantage of the Esoteric's strengths. I now have a Luxman D-06 which I am enjoying immensely.
X series was amusical. K series is most certainly musical. --i covered this in my review of the P/D02 on UltraAudio.

i'd have never owned an X series. In contrast, i'd love to have a K01.
@ Tboooe, Does Luxman make a player with volume control to be used direct to amplification?, cheers!
Lots of varied comments.

Just borrowed a friends Moon 650d, which is very musical and lush. While it sounds teriffic I'm afraid there is just not enough detail. The highs just don't " shimmer" which I assume the Esoteric would excel at. Also missing some of that bass slam.

Some of these negative comments, especially those that say Esoteric doesn't draw you into the music is of some concern. Not sure what to do now!
Well, you need to consider that the way to audio Nirvana can take many meandering paths... What is harmonically textured and neutral for one, may sound edgy for another; and what sounds lush for the latter, may be syrupy to the former. A total consensus is impossible. Many of us have found the textured and filigreed Esoteric sound to be at the pinnacle of digital reproduction... Others consider its neutrality to be "not organic" and may prefer warmer-sounding players.

There is no right and there is no wrong.... It all depends on what sound you are seeking

@Audiolabyrinth, I would say that my sonic description of the Esoteric sound matches Tboooe's, clear, detailed, and dynamic. There was not even a hint of lushness or sweetness though, very analytical sounding. That said, I must admit that I haven't listened to their K series units.
@audiolabyrinth, unfortunately Luxman does not offer a CDP with volume control which is a shame because I think its one of the better sounding units available.

@jmcgrogran2, I would like to listen to the K series. I do think the Esoteric can be a great CDP if matched properly in the a system. When I had it, I had it matched up in a system that was already very clear and detailed. In retrospect, I would add a tube pre or amp or change my speakers. That being said, everyone has a different definition of audio nirvana as mentioned above. I realize now, I like a bit of bloom and emotion to my music, getting every last bit of air and detail is not as important.
Like some other brands/series, the Esoteric K-0X series can be tuned very much to the particular preference of the user.... no upsampling, 2X, and 4X.... No filtering, FIR1, FIR2, Slow delay 1, Slow delay 2, DSD. Each combination yields a very unique sound that may be prefered over another one.

My own preference is for 4X upsampling with Slow Delay 2... My preferred combination of frequency extension, neutrality, staging/imaging, resolution, harmonic development, and microdynamics, without leading transient emphasis.

And yes, it did take over 1500 hours of break in to get there.

Thankyou Jmcgrogan2 and Tboooe, My quest is going to move forward with the k-03 in mind as with other players with a volume control, I am looking at spring time for a final decision, this way, I will have every opportunity to hear all thats available, After my experiences with digital, It would be a wise choice to take my time and go thru the proposed choices of the audiogon members, which I have huge respect for all of you!,, cheers.
@Audiolabyrinth, by spring I'm sure there will be a whole new crop of players on the market to listen to as well. Most companies introduce their new lines at the CES in January. LOL!!

I'm curious as to why you would paint yourself into a corner on the issue of a built in volume control. To me, that is like saying I want to find the best amplifier I can on the market that has a built in volume control. While I understand your phobia for preamplifiers (actually, not really), good volume attenuators can be had for relatively little expense. It just seems to me that you are limiting your choices unnecessarily.
To each their own I suppose. I know we all have our little idiosyncrasies.
Jmcgrogran2, good point about volume attenuators. A few years ago I wanted to experiment going with a pre so I purchased some attenuators that fit right on the balanced inputs of my amp. At end of the day I didn't like the thin sound but it was a cheap experiment. I actually still have the attenuators. Audiolabyrinth, maybe you want to try them out?
@ Jmcgrogan2, Hi, At the cost of Taralabs Zero gold interconnects I have to use a source that has volume control, the Esoteric K-01, k-03 have very good 32 bit volume control going thru a true analog section of the player and a very good transformer, there will be no bit stripping of the signal with such a volume control, Then latter when finances are there I may move to a active pre-amp, However, If it turns out I find a player whether it is Esoteric or others out there that perform to my expectations with the volume, then I would need nothing!, also, with the Esoteric K series, I do not know if you are are aware that I will be able to add a media server and connect it to the esoteric k series if I go that route, a tuner, three complete sets of 24/192 inputs for such componets,, A volume attenuator will in no way compete with what Esoteric is offering for volume control in the K-03, k-01 series of players, they are esentually a digital hub. cheers fellas.
Yashu, sorry for delayed response. Mine is on top of my rack, so I have no issue. However, it never gets hot or even warm, and sometimes I have CD's piled on top. Also, there are no vents on top of the K-03, so I doubt there is any heat dispersion issue on top.

As always, room and system synergy trumps all, so no one can tell you what the Esoteric will sound like in your setup. However, as Guido said, the Esoteric has filters that can subtly alter the sound. And if, like me with my Mcintosh MC452 amp, you have a slightly warmer/lush amp or preamp, the Esoteric might be a good match. However, if, like Kiwi, you like a very lush sound like your old (and Kiwi's own) Cary CDP, which are known to be euphonic, the Esoteric may not be your cup of tea. I will also add that the new K series is definitely warmer/lusher than the old X series, so I would probably discount those comments regarding the X series.

Hope this helps...
Excellent comments Geoff... I discovered something fascinating with my old X-01 during the weekend... The unit had been sitting for a while on Aluminum-ceramic Nordost Sort Kones: yes, the yield a mild enhancement in resolution/imaging over the X-01's integrated footers.

My X-01 feeds a Rowland Criterion, which feeds Rowland M925 monos, feeding Vienna Die Muzik. Wiring is all Aural Symphonics. Titanium-ceramic Kones under amps and preamp.

I have a spare trio of Nordost Bronze-ceramic Kones, for which I have some historical misgivings because of mixed results on a few SS stereo amps, under which I much prefer the extension and sweetness yielded by the Titanium-ceramic variant.

Anyhow, on a lark, I replaced the Aluminum-ceramic Kones under X-01 with the Bronze-ceramic variants: two in front, just behind the integrated footers, and one in the back, just front of the footer.... There was a nice enhancement in imaging, but treble extension seemed to suffer a little bit.... On a further lark, I added just one Titanium Kone 1.5 inches from the front plate, half way between the left and right.... Bingo! The treble reopened up, without any treble excess... harmonic content, and imaging/staging were further enhanced, with the bass range assuming further gravitas... Yes, the word lushius does come to mind.

On one last experimental lark, I switched Kones.... Bronze under Rowland Criterion linestage, and all Titanium (4) under X-01... Ahg, forget lush... Shrill city without depth... Bronze Kones went immediately back under X-01, Titanium under Criterions.... And all's lushly find with the world once again!

Of course, the new K-0X series is not the same as X-01, but I venture to conjecture: a trio of Nordost Bronze Sort Kones spiced up with a single Titanium Kone under the new players may yield some fascinating results.

Saluti, G.
Yashu, read Ryan Colemans review of the P-02/D-02 in Ultra Audio( Soundstage). It's not the K-05 , however it is a great dicription of the strenghts of the latest Esoteric series players. The whole line shares the basic design philosophy and you can hear the heart of the sound in all the K's. I owned an X-01/D2 and was very happy with it. Great player to separate the sounds in the music and terrific detail and dynamics. Last year I purchased the K-01 and was blown away by the change in sound from theX-01. All the strengths are still there but the difference is in the way the presentation feels. There's a smoother presentation, much more natural. All the K's have this feel. The big difference in one model to another is clarity of each separate sound in the presentation. Go for K-05, and if you can get to the K-03, you may never upgrade again, I think there that good!
Hi Guido,

Very interesting comments on the use of various Sort Kones under the X-01.

I have something of a love/hate relationship with my Esoteric K-03 and have also been playing around recently with the use of various Sort Kones in my system

One thing is immediately clear. After trying various footers including Ansuz Diamond, Cold Rays (Ti), Pulsar points (Ti)and Sort BC (Bronze) & TC - all are far better than resting the K-series on its own footers - which is pretty interesting considering the work Esoteric is said to have put into the footer design!

Under the K-03 and indeed under most components, I've generally found TC to produce higher fidelity than BC. BC does sound a bit more 'earthy' with a little more mid-bass heft but it is at the cost of treble air and overall resolution most noticeable with a discernable loss of subtle reverberant and ambient detail.

I was in a similar situation that you were in a little over
a year ago. I had the K-03 and the Rega Isis in my system at the same time and the Rega simply was more enjoyable to my ear. I really wanted to buy the K-03 but in my system the Rega did everything wonderful and had that analog smoothness to it. I do have a great analog setup amd for the first time my digital is just as entertaining as my vinyl. The pricing of the Rega Isis & K-3 are quite similar. There is a review in Tone Magazine and a few others about the Rega. You owe it to yourself to at least hear the Rega. Have fun!
Hi Kiwi_1282001... You are right on about pure BC, including BC on X-01. Yes, earthy with a little more bass than what I would been happy, and a little less treble than what I would prefer, is exactly how I would define it... Overall, not a setup that I could live with.

The magic appeared only once I "doped" the BC trio with one single TC in the middle front of the X-01 unit.

@ Bobheinatz, Hi, Thankyou for yor post, My question is, Does the rega Isis have a volume control?,, I know that may seem crazy to want one, My cables cost so much money, God forbid buying multiple cables!, I am tring to go source to amp, then latter, I may go the over exspensive route of a pre-amp and more cables, can you imagine $15,000.00 for each 1-meter interconnect?, I really do not want to go there!, thats why I have one i/c at that retail price!,, all my less exspensive cables are for a second system, when I rebuild it., Happy Listening.
Yashu, the K-05 has better DACs and a better transport than the K-07. In fact, the K-05 has the same DACs as the K-01 (8 per channel) and the K-03 (4 per channel) just less of them at 2 per channel. Hope this helps, Kevin
I'm in the middle of what will be a hard-fought upgrade transaction with a very difficult seller (have 40+ pages of email and other comms, glad to provide details on this challenge and the seller so people can avoid him,....communicate with me on in-mail) and after a month, finally have a P-02 installed in the system in place of my 7 1/2 tried and true P-03U Transport. The D-02 is still outstanding and will likely become a 'longer story' with a potentially legally troublesome ending (for the Valley Stream & Lynbrook NY-based seller in question) so the P-02 is feeding my existing D-03 Dual Mono DAC with incredible results.

The holy grail of this hobby so to speak, is to be able to achieve very detailed and accurate playback with all possible inner detail retrieved from the recorded medium while also having organic, musical and non-fatiguing playback. As much as I love the P-03U/D-03 combo all these years, it's hard to put into words what additionally the P-02 brings to the table. The difference and upgrade in all these key areas is not subtle and is incredibly impressive! I'm extremely happy with the P-02 after only 2-3 days and cannot wait for the D-02 to arrive!