Esoteric K01: What are the best settings for CD?

The Esoteric K01 has several up-conversion and filter options for CD play-back. Unfortunately, each up-conversion option and each filter option requires approximately 500 hours of 'break-in' to sound it's best. I have owned the Esoteric K01 since it's release. It is a superb SACD and CD player. I have 'broken in' some but not all filter and up-conversion settings. I am still unable to decide which combination I like best. I am currently using S_DLY1 (for digital filter) and 2Fs (for up conversion). I would like to know what settings other Esoteric K01 owners like best. It would be helpful if If you can explain why those settings sound better to you than other combinations. I wonder which settings the experts at Esoteric/Teac would recommend?
Hi Matjet, assuming all filters and upsampling levels have been broken in with at least 500 hours on each, my observations and preferences are as follows:

* No filters and no upsampling -- impressive result per se... In the sense that in spite of the reduced treble ceiling, relatively flat stage, and a bit of "overbite" artifact, the sound is moderately pleasing.... By the way, this is aledgedly the setting "recommended" by TEAC Japan engineers.
* 2X and 4X upsampling each add progressively more top and bottom end information without adding any artifacts that I can detect. My prefered upsampling rate is 4X.... And so is the opinion of Tim Crable at TEAC America.
* FIR filters were my first try at filtering.... I found both to be limited in dynamics and staging/imaging. They also seem to have some slight problems in delivering a realistic harmonic content.... The term "slightly music synthesizerish" comes to mind.
* Slow delay 1 -- Combined with 4X oversampling it delivered the very smoothest rendition, which I could characterize as being almost tuby in nature. If a super relaxed sound is what you seek, and you do not mind a trace of pleasing euphony, this is the combination to use.
* Slow delay 2 -- In combination with 4X upsampling this is my preferred setting. The opinion is shared by Tim Crable. More extended than SDLY1, it delivers more perceivable harmonic information and micro transients, but does not cross into emphasizing leading edges or stressing the treble content. Great staging and imaging, by the way. Marvellous musical rendition.... I can relax and sink into the music for hours at a time.
* DSD -- A bit of a wild thing in my context.... Enormous amount of information, but a setting that makes me sit strait and "ready to bolt".... It sounds slightly etched, and never lets me relax and just listen to music for sake of the music itself.

By the way, use of proper PCs, power conditioner, and dedicated line are all factors that influence K-01 performance.

Lastly, K-01 with 4X upsampling and Slow Delay 2 filter has yielded the sound that I have preferred over all CD players that I have ever operated in my system.

Saluti, G.
The whole point of having the different settings is so that you can pick what sounds best for your own personal taste. Are you having some kind of problem with the way it sounds?
Hi Guido,

I have reviewed many of your previous comments regarding the K01and your wonderful review of the K01. I am now using a break-in disc with settings on 4X up sampling and slow delay 2 filter. I am amazed that you have had the time and discipline to break in all of the combinations and analyze the differences in such detail.

I do agree with all of your comments above.

What power cords have you tried with the K01?
Which power cord do you like best and why?
I currently use the K01 on a dedicated line with the stock power cord.

I read in one of your recent responses that you had the K01 for nine months. I am curious, why did you get rid of it?
What are you using for your front end now?

Thank you for your very thoughtful and intelligent analysis.

One additional comment:

My K01 always sounds terrific, at all times. But, I have found that the K01 sounds even sweeter smoother, more alive with better harmonics, detail, transients, dynamics, sound staging and imaging (on all settings) after it has run for a few days non-stop. My amps, Krell 600e mono blocks, are also kept on while breaking-in the K01. The extensive warm-up apparently makes a significant difference.

By the way, I use a Kimber Cable balanced connection 1 meter KS1136 (Kimbrer's top of the line silver) connected to a Krell 707 processor in straight pre-amp mode. All pre-amp to amp connections are MMF CAST.

What are your thoughts on how much warm up time is required to reach peak performance?

Thanks again,
Hi Matjet,
I am another K-01 fan, having just acquired it a few months back.
I concur with your experience regarding warm-up time. I leave mine on all the time and put it on repeat play for 2 hours before serious listening.
I run it direct to my power amps via Kimber Select 1130(one notch below your 1136) balanced interconnects.
The thing about choosing the "right" filter and/or upsampling is about personal taste, your system context and the recording. My personal preference is FIR1 with no upsampling but with certain recordings, I use FIR2. When I switch from no upsampling to 2x or 4x, I notice a grainier texture to the sound. The difference is more obvious when you switch from 2x or 4x to no upsampling. Of course, this is all in the context of my system.
With regard to recordings, the following labels have their own "house" sound - ECM, Impulse Jazz, Telarc, Mercury Living Presence SACD, Concord Jazz, JVC XRCD, to name a few. So, you can tailor the options accordingly.
The observation by Guido about AC power conditioners, cables, etc, is very true. The K-01 transforms in very significant ways with changes to these ancillaries. When I placed my Shunyata Triton power conditioner on an isolation platform and ball bearings, the K-01 expanded the soundstage in depth, width and height, enriched tonal colors, and lowered the noise floor even further such that its already fine resolution becomes more appreciable.
The K-01 is a technological marvel and a delight for the hobbyist to experiment with all the different settings. Enjoy!
Hi Guido,

I received your email, the information is extremely helpful. I am not sure if my response reached you so I am adding a comment to the thread, hopefully you will see it.

I am using dedicated lines for my amps (Krell 600e mono blocks), processor/pre-amp (Krell 707), and the Esoteric K01. I use 240v lines for the amps, 120v for everything else. I am using stock power cords for all of my equipment. I do not use a power conditioner.

I have no problems with radio interference or hum. The equipment is extremely quiet and music emerges out of a dead silent 'black background'.

Please explain how the Shunyata King Cobra CS cable would improve the sound. Also, how would a Shunyata Triton improve my system? Adding 4 King Cobra CS power cables and a Triton is a significant expense; is it worth the cost?

Krell warns not to run their big amps through power conditioners. Also, their amps can operate with 120v lines, but the company strongly recommends 240 lines for their big amps. Therefore I would probably use the Triton for the K01, Krell 707, tuner, turntable, etc., not the amps.

Apparently, the King Cobra CS is discontinued, replaced by the Anaconda Zitron. I may be able to get the King Cobra CS for $1750 (approx. 50% off). The Anaconda Zitron retails for $2995. Any thoughts on performance of these two products? Is the Anaconda Zitron worth the additional cost?

Thanks again for your help.
Hi Matjet, hoping the system cooperates with me today, here is my post from yesterday... am not at all surprised if you find that warm up time is necessary on K-01. I always left K-01 on all the time, and if I wanted to do some critical listening, I put it on repeat play for a few hours while listening to my favorite radio station to pass the time.

I did not "get rid" of the K-01 at all... But resources being limited under.... uhrn, marital concerns.... I had to choose between purchasing the Vienna Die Muzik and the marvellous K-01... So the K-01 review unit had to go back to TEAC *sigh!

Concerning PCs, my absolute favorite PC for all my equipment has been the Shunyata King Cobra CX. However I have heard that some of the members of the newer Z-Tron series from the same company may outperform it. Reason for liking King Cobra CX... the usual.... That marvellous sense of sinking into musical reality with revealing detail, depth of field, and no listening strain.

K-01 performs best fed from a dedicated outlet.... better staging and imaging in general, and I have some tracks that can otherwise show traces of brittleness in chorded higher bowed strings.

power conditioning... My favorite is the Shunyata Triton... have not found one that can yield the same magic yet, consistent with what Shunyata cords do for living, and what I deem to be music.

Footers/spikes.... I have tried Nordost Kones (Aluminum, Bronze, and Titanium)... I was conjecturing that I would like Bronze Kones best, but the most elegant sound with exposed rippling harmonics and lack of glare was from the Titanium variety.

Saluti, G.
Matjet, I have K-01 and still go thru the same choices. For a while I settled with well burned-in 4x and S_DLY1 combo. The 2x is also good (sometimes sound more natural than 4x) but 4x is more dynamic and results in bigger soundstage. But recently I decided to follow Guido recommendation and tried S-DLY2 option and I think Guido is right on with this one and his description match my findings. I think I will stop driving myself crazy and use 4x and S_DLY2 combo from now on as best sounding in my system.
Important thing is all combos MUST go thru long brake ins.
Again, as other saying, the great ICs, power conditioning, and great isolation will show true potential of this marvelous player.
Are you serious? it that difficult to push buttons and
and select filter settings and listen to your speakers's
and make a choice?..Really!!
From my experience and in my system, Slow Delay 1 with no upsampling sounds best. It was also the preferred setting specified on Arthur Salvatore's site. I tried all sixteen combinations, and my result concurred with that of his reviewers.
Hi Washline, how much break in time did you allow for each filter and each upsampler?

As much as I love very good statement digital players!, There is no way I would go thru hours of warm up time and 100s of hours to break-in each setting on a K-01 player!, There is way more options out there to get fantastic sound from digital than going thru all the heart ache of useing this unit!, Nothing sounds that good for me to go thru that!, Its bad enough I have to waite an hour for my amp to warm up,LOL!, Better you than me!, I would get frustrated at the unit and litterally throw it out the window forreal!, good luck with this fellas!, cheers!
I read The Absolute sound review of the K-01, Remarkable player indeed!, I am sure the unit stands as one of the Best available!The unit would be perfect for my system!,I stand by my above post!, I do not believe I would have the patience for this player!, I wished I could sustain the heart aches of owning such a unit!,I mean,after the thousands of hours total of break-in of all the filter settings and up-sampling, you still have to go thru 2 to 4 hours of warm up time for the player to sound its Best!, Wow!
Audiolabyrinth, just leave K-01 on when you are not using it... the player sounds wonderful without any pre-listening playing time.... but if you have the patience of letting it play a couple of CDs in the background before critical listening, you will maximize its capabilities, and K-01 will give you truly amazing results.

But if you really insist throwing it out the window... please be careful.... Vertebral dislocation is apparently not covered by TEAC extended warranty. G.
@ Guidocorona, LOL!, The K-01 is a fine unit!, No question about it!I am glad you advised me about leaving the unit on!, However, after reading this thread, I was very disapointed in what a user of this unit would have to go thru to enjoy it!, cheers!
That's understandable Audiolabyrinth... to maximize enjoyment of Esoteric components, a steadfast patience is golden. G.
PERSPECTIVE: I owned the Esoteric X01D2 for several years before replacing it with the K01. I owned a Krell cd/sacd player (top of the line, I can't remember which model) prior to the X01D2. The X01D2 sounds much better than the Krell right out of the box, there is no comparison. The K01 sounds much better than the X01D2 on all settings, right out of the box, without warm up. The improvement is very obvious, A-B comparison is not required to appreciate how much better the K01 is than the X01D2. The Esoteric K01 is the best cd/sacd player I have ever heard, regardless of settings, warm-up and break-in. This is a fantastic cd/sacd player. The differences between each setting, break-in and warm-up improvement is subtle compared to the improvement over the X01D2.
I am absolutely delighted with the sound, build quality and operation of this beautiful machine.
well said Matjet!, I do want to audition one!,I am horrified at the many,many hassels to go thru to enjoy the player!, It seems like its worth it to you!,I just can't imagine breaking in all the settings, filtering settings and 2 to 4 hours warm up time just to listen to music!, And I can tell you I love music!, Happy listening!
The break-in and settings are tweaks. This is a great sounding player in any setting. It sounds great without warm up, but improves with warm up. I'm sure your amps improve with warm up as well.
@ Matjet, You are beginning to bring me at ease!, The way this entire thread read of the product at hand apeared to be a nightmare!, Thankyou, Happy listening!
I have owned my K-01 for nearly 2 years now and prefer the DSD and no filters sound over the others.

Power cord is Siltech Ruby Double crown.

Footers are Alto Extremo Neoflex BK.
This thread is getting very interesting. So much diversity in the choice of filters. Just curious, what amp and speakers do you have in your system?

I have the Krell Evo-1 and Evo-2, speakers being B&W 800 Diamond and 2 x Velodyne DD-18 subs. I also run a Mio La Clock 10 MHZ clock with the K-01.
That's one heck of a system you got there. And the only thing that you have that most others who have posted here do not is the Mio La Clock. So, with this clock, your preference for DSD is now understandable.
Can you please detail the difference in sound quality with and without the clock? Thanks in advance.
@ flashunlock, do you mean, the evo and evo E series amps?, LoL!, I love bass too!, the 18 subs is awsome!, very much so useing krell amps!, I have one of krells older model amps, the krell 700cx, I love the mid-range of this amp, spectacular for solid state!,, Go Krell!
mmh.. I think Flash was referring to Krell's top line, amp Evo.1 and pre Evo.2. ;)

Noticed from older threads you were using all Tara Cobalt ac cords before? How/in what ways do they differ from your current Siltech Ruby DC? Thanks. goes.

With and without the Mio La Clock is like the icing on a cake. Everything just falls into place and enhances everything that the K-01 is great for. You will hear much more into the music with the 10mhz clock. The sound stage becomes even bigger, instruments placement are more precise, the vocals brings on a further human like sound and the bass have a much tighter authority. Some experienced clocks with their K-01 and found no gains but for me, it's well worth the effort just for the gains I've mentioned.

In regards to the PC's. I still run Tara Labs Colbalts for my pre and Pwr which does a great job for now. The Siltech Ruby DC is on another level to the Colbalt especially for the K-01 where it is being used. Lets put it this way, the Colbalt was the best sounding PC I have owned/used and the Ruby Dc just makes mince meat out of it in every possible way. It has to be heard to be believed.

Footers also makes a huge difference to the K-01, as I have mentioned before that I'm using the Alto Extremo Neoflex BK, they are sitting on a solid block of Welsh slate 5 inches thick which kills any vibration etc for good.

I have slightly modified the player myself by changing the stock IEC socket to a better material one as well as the internal +/-/earth cables. I have further damped the chassis and changed the stock XLR output sockets to the top line of Furutech. Last but not least is a Acoustic Revive RGC-24 for better earthing.

Hope this helps and cheers.
Thanks for your detailed observations.
With regard to your various modifications, I guess you feel they would be worth it even as they would void the warranty.
Happy listening! Cheers!

My warranty has expired so no worries. Besides, Esoteric make their players like tanks and the mods done are reversible and YES they are well worth the effort IMO.

Appreciate the feedback, I could relate well to your Ruby DC experience..

Did test them also on friend's Scarlatti, Vivaldi, P01/D01vu, K01 (all different systems).
One thing in common though, with them feeding, we always noticed music flows with an
added uncanny analog-like sense of ease (liquidity, with nice 'humanly' tone), as well,
unbelievable authority ~ A combination of goodness which we all found endearing.

*Do try to give the Empress DC ic a go on your K01 > Evo2 and I believe you'll be in for
another real treat. In my system, they complemented the Ruby DCs really really well..

I've owned the Siltech Empress DC XLR interconnects with the K-01 which replaced the Tara Labs Zero Gold at the time and when Crystal cables introduced their top flight Absolute dream, the Empress DC was sold straight away. It is that much better IMO.

I've had lengthy trial of Crystal AD Ic as well, while I wouldn't say that one is much better over the other, in my system, the Empress DC stayed for sure. ;)

Both are great, more to do with system synergy and also that 'loom' thing going on I think. Basically, I'm now running all DC wires, substituting any one link with another make, esp.Pc (hence using four Ruby DCs currently) breaks some of its harmonious spell, sounding a tad disjointed.

IME, harder to evaluate/assess wire by pieces, better to do it in loom, and possibly over longer periods. I'd be looking at their (Crystal AD's) Pc and Sc too if you so found their Ic to work extremely well in your system. Good luck.

Thank you and you are so right in regards. I have tried the CrystalPower AD with the AD interconnects but the sound became a bit thin for my liking and same goes for the AD speaker wires. The Siltech Emperor DC is the one to go for I think but I daren't listen to it due to the price :). I'm using the Tara Labs Omega Gold speaker wires currently which gives me a happy medium synergy for the whole system.
The Final verdict.....

The K-01 is indeed a chameleon which is proving to be quite an animal to break in. So, after 800 hours of break-in time as advised, I shall try to summarise my observations of the various combo settings.

Firstly, everything will depend on your system and/or recording in play.
If the system/recording is a bit dry, cool or lean, the FIR filters work best. If it is warm, lush or tubey, then the SLDY filters are recommended.

As my system is a constant, I can only comment on different recordings :-

1. Reference Recordings with HDCD - these work best with FIR or SLDY_1 filters; with SLDY_2, the treble starts to sizzle, sounding too bright or sharp.

2. The K-01 is fantastic with classical music - with well-recorded orchestras(except for RR as above), SLDY_2 is best

3. With solo piano for classical, FIR filter sounds best.

3. With jazz recordings that are too sizzling in the top such as the older Mo-Fi Gold Ultradiscs, the FIR filters sound better.

4. Recordings with overcooked bass like the Brad Mehldau trio LIVE album, SLDY_2 sounds great.

5. The K-01 is a spectacular SACD player and I was flabbergasted to find that the FIR or SLDY filters actually lend their sonic signatures, albeit in a subtle way, as above even though the player is supposed to default to the DSD filter.

Overall, it is my experience with my system that NO upsampling(ORG) still gives the purest sound.
The FIR filters flesh out instruments like piano and saxophone, while the SLDY filters provide speed and superb transient response.
Both filters give good soundstage perspectives with the SLDY filters expanding the soundstage more than the FIR filters. So, with solo classical piano where soundstage perspective is less important than tone and timbre, the FIR filters are recommended. But with orchestral performances, to enjoy the full depth, width and height of the soundstage, the SLDY filters are recommended.
The 1 filters sound fuller than the 2 filters for each type. The corollary is that the 2 filters sound leaner than the 1's.

So, tweak away and enjoy! Cheers, all!
@ Flashunlock, First of all, I can say wow at your system!, one of the best I have ever seen on audiogon!, forgive me, I am an avid Krell fan and owner, I am also an avid fan of Taralabs!, owned them since their conception of their company, I own the Taralabs Zero gold I/c, just bought the cobalt with the oyaide plugs and the omega gold speaker cables, These products have been on the market for many years, and I understand technology with a few brands may better the zero gold i/c and cobalt power cords, and I can see you going for better with the Krell amp and pre-amp you have, I just sent my krell 700cx back to krell to be totally renewed inside and out, Ray mulchler guarantees me a new krell 700cx, I believe my amp is not on par with yours, I do believe these Tara cables I just bought into will be more than enough for the equipment that I have,, The funny thing I see over and over is the fact that alot of audio gurus sell all there Taras, but always keep the omega gold speaker cables for many reasons!, Hence, you hardly ever see them on the used market.,I talk to alot of audio gurus such as yourself, I enjoy this, Its hard to find people with alot better system than I own!,, Well, I thought maybe you might want to know that I have had personal relationship with merril and Mathew Bond for years!, not that matters here, However, The news I thought you may want to know is mathew Bond and Taralabs is introducing a new all on slought top of the brand cables this fall the earliest, and no latter than may of 2014, It took many, many years for other brands of cables to better what Taralabs has done!, The Zero gold has been out since 1997!, for crying out loud!, So, It is my belief that Taralabs new flagship cable will send ripples thru-out the high-end industry as best available once again, then, another 10 to 15 years before their is another cable to better the Taralabs, I believe you like the sound of Taralabs, this is the whole reason of this post to you, you owe it to yourself to audition these new Taralabs super cables when they are released, then, In my opinion, you will likly own Taralabs best once again!,, Happy listening.
@ Flashunlock, I am seriously considering buying a Esoteric k-03, you know the cables and amp that I own, please offer your opinion here if you believe this will be a good end result in sound,The cobalt will go on the k-03, thankyou so much, cheers to you.

I enjoyed reading your take on the K-01. Most players don't have the various digital settings with regards to processing. It makes complete sense, though. I don't see any downside to making a player this way. Your list of the differences between the settings is very helpful. When I'm ready for player, this one will be on the top of my list to demo.


"I have one of krells older model amps, the krell 700cx, I love the mid-range of this amp, spectacular for solid state!,, Go Krell!"

I definately agree on that. Krell's midrange is very underrated. People focus on the power and control in the low frequencies, but the mids are just as good. Their preamps deserve more attention, as well.
@ Zd542, Hi, Thankyou for the kind words regarding the Krell 700cx amp, It is alot different sounding than the fpb600, fpb 600c amps, the mid-range is alot better, and the over all sound is as well, cheers.

Thanks for your comments. If you ever take delivery of the K-01 one day, you won't bear an ounce of buyer's remorse. The K-01 is really that good.

Far from being analytical, it is actually extremely musical. The K-01 will connect you to the music and the musician - his interpretation, his technique, his complete artistry. It will communicate to you that Evgeny Kissin is a far more accomplished interpreter of Chopin and Tchaikovsky than say, Lang Lang. It will also communicate the difference between Kissin and Van Cliburn even as each is just as venerable and exalted in his own right.

And that's what this hobby is all about - one's inner emotional connection to the music.

Hi Jon2020,

Your observations on sonics of each filter looked possible until I reached No.5.

My understanding is the DSD signal path is direct and does not pass via digital filters - so I am at a loss with your comment that the digital filters lend their signatures? Are you sure about that?

Hi Kiwi,

Yes, I am pretty sure but as I said, I was flabbergasted to hear any difference. In theory, there shouldn't be but there it was.
Playing Sonny Rollins with the FIR filter brought on more body and weight to his tenor sax. With solo classical piano, notes were more fleshed out with the FIR filter. With the SLDY filters, piano highs sound leaner and a smidgen more glassy or tinkly.
If you have the K-01, you owe it to yourself to check out the difference but only after at least 600 hours of break-in. I must emphasise that the differences noted for SACDs are to a lesser degree than for CDs.

Fact is truly stranger than fiction.
Hi Jon2020, did you break each filter and upsampling option for 800 hours?
Kiwi, if I recall correctly, DSD is selected in the "filters" menu... hence, whether DSD is an actual filter, or it is a CODEC, or something technically different, else... I am not sure if it matters. Are you suggesting a different term for it? Let us know. G.

Hi Denon1,

In response to your question, yes, I have. But don't take my word for it. Try it yourself and trust your own ears.
Let us know. Cheers!
Hi Guido,

It was my belief that filters could not influence the sound of a DSD recorded SACD.

Hi Guido,

TEAC America have confirmed that DSD signals from an SACD go directly to the DAC.

The only signals that can be manipulated by the filter circuits are PCM.


Hi Kiwi,

That was my belief too. But of prime importance here is whether the observation is reproducible because it is only by reproducibility that we can then come to a meaningful conclusion.
I couldn't believe it at first and did not want to believe it but I have A/B'ed the FIR and SLDY filters so many times that indeed the observation is reproducible.

Go figure! Cheers!
@ Kiwi_1282001, this was a bit of news I need to know, your post 7-17-13, thankyou.
Guido, Jon202, I have the esoteric burn-in cd that came with my K-01. It has 3 tracks on it, if you familiar with this cd ( 1st track for braking in components and some conditioning, 2nd track for braking in whole system and 3d track for the whole system demagnetization).Does it make sense to play on repeat whole cd when braking player or separate track like track # 2? I never sure what is the best approach.
Thank you.
Hi Denon1,

I am not as fortunate as you in that my unit did not come with the CD. I checked the manual and in the section on "What is in the box", there is no mention of this CD. Your generous dealer must have slipped it in for you.

Anyway, going by your description of the tracks, I would put on repeat only tracks 1 and/or 2. Putting the demagnetization track on repeat is not necessary as you need to demagnetize your system only once in a while.