Esoteric P02X, D02X (and C02X), any direct listening impressions are appreciated....


I'd appreciate any direct experience from those who have done serious listening to the new Esoteric P02X and D02X transport and DAC.

Any comparisons to the prior 02 (non-X) transport and DAC would be appreciated as would listening impressions in general and against other high-end units, including but not limited to the Esoteric P1/D1, K-01X, EMMLabs, etc....

Primary reason the move from the 02 to 02X level is being considered is the native DSD streaming input on USB to the D-02X (D-02 is limited to PCM at high up-sampled rates) and the possibly attractive nature of the ES-LINK4 protocol and connection type between P02X and D02X, over and above what ES-LINK3 already provides between P02 and D02.

Thank you!
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Anyone?
The more i am tempted to upgrade from the k-01x to either a K1 or the D02x from this very large range for top tier price digital,  its kind of getting more and more frustrating that the at the investment that has to be made and the many new dacs chips AKM manufactures and designs every so often. 

I wonder if digital has really reached its potential,  i feel so even from listen to the k01x and dont really find anything lacking at the least. 

For me,  It would be starting to change the character for these front end equupment to say a little more naturalness in the vocals etc which normally will start having trade offs which great smoothness v.  Dynamics,  bass ets. 

The more i reseach on digital,  i am thinking at these investment levels,  a FPGA dac is the way to go,  and wont have the issues of getting outdated every 6 months or a year. 

The k1 dacs are the latest and greatest now,  doea it leave the D1 and D02x in the dust so soon already? 

How are your plans for the upgrade to the D02x going? 
Justubes2: Thank you....I know the feeling; when I hear my P-02/D-02 I don't pick out things that are lacking per se. I think it is definitely the 'audiophile gene' kicking in at the prospect of stepping up to 'an even better solution'.   I've been told that the P-02X/D-02X still has an edge over the K-01X due to the separation of boxes/functions, extra power supplies, etc...and all the usual things and further that the new Grandioso K1 will come close but the only way to get a big jump from P-02X/D-02X is to go to the 4-box Grandioso system (not counting clock which would make 5!)...

I am sure there is a similar talk track to extol the virtues of the K-01X or Grandioso K1, such is the nature of our hobby/the industry.

When the P-02X/D-02X and K-01X in particular came out, 2 things came to mind;

- AKM specifically talks about a much smoother presentation (think the word 'velvet' is utilized) than even the radically upgraded DAC that is present in the P/D 02 and K-01 "non-X" units....that grabbed my attention as what is the the non-X units already kicks ass :-)

- in the progression from P-03U/D-03 and the requisite increase in capabilities of the new AKM DACs in the P/D 02 and K-01 non-X units, AND (in the case of the P-02/D-02 in particular the introduction of "dual-AES ES-LINK3" as a new capability over dual-AES ES-LINK2), and the advent of 35-bit processing for both P/D and K units, there was a huge uplift in my system's ability to preservice detail, have drastically enhanced imaging AND now much better musical levels of playback, more natural notes, voices, etc.., due I am convinced, to the introduction of the new DACs and greater overall effective bit depth,...the miracle of this (at least to me) is that all these categories improved within the P/D units losing 2 things in particular (or anything else) Esoteric is known for, namely "pits of hell" bass reach/extent and a seemingly limitless top ed all at the same time....

Esoteric is claiming (and those that have heard the "X" units and Grandioso units state emphatically) that the advent of the newest AKM DACs and move to dual-HDMI conduits over ES-LINK4 (for separates) together with the advent of 36-bit processing (for P/D and K-01 "X" units and Grandioso of course) that they have achieved the closest and smoothest curve-fit of an analog wave from the digital wave....

Being a good audio-nut, such statements get the "have to have..." thoughts flowing as we all know.  I do wonder "what's next" from AKM, etc....is this going to plateau for a while like it did from the 03 generation to the 02 (quite a few years in between) or will we see AKM put out the next-greatest/best DAC upgrade and Esoteric/others to follow with new players and separates based upon the "AKMXXXX" DAC in only 1-2 years starting this torturous cycle all over again :-)

The relentless pursuit (and neurosis) continues :-) 
Hi Mark, thanks it’s the male instincts working ... always wanting something new and better.... and again, Groundhog day!

I believe the P/D02x will have an edge over the K1, but again the fine balance of cables/isolation etc which have been painstakingly synergised into the system.

Do you feel the eslink, given the rather limited choices still surpass good xlr/rca cables?

I have just got improved results feeding the 22m out with a cable and splitting with a T to my K01x and streamer.

My opinion was that the K01 was very good, but even before going to the X, i always felt the staging as slighlty compressed and overall less open than the X. It was a nice "upgrade".

My Mr golden ears, after hearing the addition for the clock, clock +rubidium quartzlock 10m and now clock + cybershaft OCXO states that the last was a good improvement, upgrading to the X was not nearly as significant!

Maybe your A2000 50ohm cable will do it for you! There are still found on japan’s yahoo auctions for reasonable money.

I have given up on seeking out a bestest transport as Tidal now exceeds spinning CD’s, so the P-02X is out so waiting if there is a compaison for the K1 and D-02X for dacs alone or hope a N-1 streamer will be release and that would be a no brainer for me!

I am sure a new AKM4499 will be on the drawing board by the time K1 gets delivered to dealers outside japan;)


For one, the only thing i "think" i would like is improvements towards an even more "real-er" vocal rendering, which has already improve greatly by the adding of the OCXO op16,lest i should sacrifice the other ranges which i am more than contented with and maybe a a Nagra or emm dac!
Thanks for that detail-packed reply; we definitely understand each other and face the same audio 'demons' when it comes to upgrading, improving system, etc... :-)

I am extremely happy with ES-LINK3 over dual-AES/EBU (XLR 110-ohm) cables given the synergy in my system that has been very stable since the 03 separates days using Kubala-Sosna ELATION AES/XLR cables, Emotion 75-ohm and 50-ohm clock cables, and Elrod Statement Gold Power Cords as well as XLR interconnects. I have a degree of musically "right and believable" happening that I did not think I would ever obtain so I'm eager to better it but very nervous about "mucking it up" to say the least.

The "X" versions of the 02 (and the corresponding ES-LINK4 protocol) intrigue me as, if Esoteric track record is any indication, whenever they step up in this protocol and with a new AKM DAC, things have proven to get better. Theoretically, going from 35-bit to 36 bit and moving past the limitation of AES/EBU in terms of bandwidth to dual-HDMI where Esoteric has confirmed in writing (via email thru their US leads) that they are using the HDMI cable for all the extra conductors it allows without bringing the unsavory aspects of the video parts of the HDMI protocol, and simply using "the wire" for all the extra bandwidth and further separation of function of a great number of individual pins over what AES/EBU can provide.

The other thing the "X" versions of the 02 add which I might want in the future (for an N-01 or other streaming device or server, whether I build it myself or buy a bespoke "SOTA" music server" is the move from at most 24/192 async (the 02 generation) to full USB-carried native DSD, DSDx2 up to DSDx4 streaming that the "X" version of the D-02 provides.

Lots of variables in the equation and I don't want to miss out on any leaps in performance or playback but more importantly, don't want to lose any musical aspects of what the current system achieves today.

Thanks for all the detail and the thoughts!
Thanks, it been wonderful hearing your similar experiences and thoughs towards the latest offerings and directions of the mystical perfect sound forever! If there is such a thing...

The balance and sensitivity which you have achieved might be the biggest stumbling block as it would be highly difficult to demo them, not that they will not be better, but upset the delicate balance that you have painstakingly put together over a the years.

My progression from the puccini to k03 to k01 and now X was a no brainer and did not require audition.

With the addition of clock system, cables and tweaks i have made over this time, i actually mucked up the balance just by changing the wall socket housing for the amps from a stamped metal to cast hubbel. I had a panic attack and required a couple of days adjusting a cimbination of tweak and footer position slightly just to reachieve the balance i like.

It was not so much as getter getter bass, more detailed and open sound etc, but a balance i could sit back, play any selection and just relax and enjoy the music.

Try changing out the 75ohm bncs for a 50 ohm, plating does matter. As the cable is the same, it is clear the different connectors have caused a change in balance and upset your enjoyment. I highly doubt the cable itself is different from whatever impedence. Just as eslinks4 will possibly be much more limited to finding a new balance with the X seperates as the choices from hdmi types are just too limited and adding more factors in acheiving this delicate balance of musicality. 

Too many manufacturers claim thei digital is 75ohm, but short of a handful, few are true coaxial construction required to acheive a 50 or 75ohm and just plain twisted or braided designs,  as this requires a specific industrial manufacturing process just to get the impendence correct.

Cheers
Thank you for the feedback and great advice; it's been great to hear someone else going through the same things and grappling with the same questions and goals!  I am going to think alot more about whether this upgrade is worth it or rather should be put aside in favor of just listening and enjoying what I already have and (if any upgrade is ever possible or necessary) planning to go to the Grandioso level of componentry. Have a great week!!
May I suggest the STEALTH Veridig Sextet in the new V.16 with tuning collar not even advertised on the STEALTH site as of yet?  Here is a review.

http://www.dagogo.com/stealth-audio-cables-varidig-sextet-v-14t-digital-cable-review

Once you experience STEALTH Audio Cables, you will quickly realize its cables are in a world of their own.  Yes, I have been a Kubala Elation supporter for over a decade but when you connect STEALTH and realize it will yield 40% more than Elation you simply make the move as quickly as I did and never look back.  I know you will say, is this guy nuts at 40% but I can only say this is the truth from what I have experienced.  With STEALTH, Kubala Elation doesn't even make it to the playoffs to compare.
Zephyr, I'm respectful of the fine power supplies of Esoteric including your unit but wonder if you happen to have tried AC power isolation/conditioning say like Equitech or Fuhman or some other unit? Perhaps Isotek?
Good Morning Guys!

Cdrc: I did see that review last week and have used the Varidig Sextet in the past; it is a fine digital cable. I wonder about the rationale behind the tuning collar and how magnetic force corrections are relevant to a digital signal, all 1s and 0s in a correct digital cable; I will have to read up a bit more on this in the days to come. Thanks for the recommendations!

Ptss: Thank you! For many years I have been a power conditioner fan and have used Monster, Richard Gray, Shunyata, Equitech, ExactPower, Furman and Bybee.  As of today, I do have the following for power conditioning/power-correction/grounding as the Isotek gear is the best I've ever heard for my setup;

- whole-house dual grounding rod system with CADWELD bonding (thank you Cdrc!)
- plated copper bus-bar main and sub panels
- Environmental Potentials EP-2050 Waveform and EMI/RFI removal on main panel
- Environmental Potential EP-2750 Ground Filters on sub-panel
- Granite Audio Ground Zero star-grounding system
- Isotek EVO3 TITAN
- IsoTek EVO3 SIGMAS tethered directly into TITAN using Neutrik Powercon
Note: the tethering of the SIGMAS into the TITAN results in uniform ground plane for all devices as I have one power conditioner tailor-made for high-current devices (TITAN) and the other built for all other components (SIGMAS) and this allows them appear as one for purposes of ground plane, etc...
You're welcome.  There are many STEALTH pics including pics of the sextet on my virtual system.  STEALTH was all decided on well after I sold my emotion extra pc...  Sold all my elation cables (sw, 8 pc, 4 pairs ic) within three weeks, never thought I would say this but it was the best audio move I have ever made in almost 30 years!  Good luck!
Thank you...I will check them out.  What do you feel the new Stealth give you that the ELATION Digital cables and others do not?
Major improvements from all angles but what quickly comes to mind is tons more air, space, body, tonality, frequency response and a significantly lower noise floor.  This is all without even mentioning the build quality (ie. dialectics, connectors, etc) and exotic STEALTH conductors putting STEALTH Audio Cables in a deserved class of their own.  For a description of STEALTH hand made in-house carbon-fiber connectors, please read the first paragraph in my Audiogon STEALTH Metacarbon XLR listing and be sure to see the pics in "The STEALTH House" virtual system as well.
Thank you for the great and detailed description! May have to give them a try!
Will give you the best pricing and full price back on the pc.  Forget the Sextet for now, what you must try is the STEALTH Audio Cables V.16 Universal power cord with tuning collar pictured in my virtual syatem.  This one cord will make it feel like you have upgraded a component.  As a full service authorized STEALTH dealer, if I can be of any help, please don't hesitate to call and feel free to stop by The STEALTH House if you are ever in the Boston area.
Good Day...great new and prior pics on the Stealth House website; congratulations on becoming a dealer!  That explains why you moved away from all of your KS cables...

With respect to the Stealth Varidig Sextet V.16 cables, I wonder from the website
http://www.stealthaudiocables.com/products/Sextet/index.html
what is the current version of this cable? The photos look different and in one case look like someone took an older Varidig Sextet, cut the connectors off and put on some new V.16 connectors with current labels while another looks like a flashy new outer tech-braid. etc...
The BNC version looks different as well so I'm wondering what the current version of the cable looks like and what are its capabilities.  Is the tuning collar magnetic in nature (I'm guessing it is); if so, why bring a magnet near a square or sine-wave (depending upon whether it is in use for 110-ohm, 75-ohm or 50-ohm (sine wave) signals....)? Very curious about the thought process behind this advancement and how it works...

On the subject of the power cords, I just checked out the website; they seem to be Helium filled, very beautiful and substantial looking. As the site points out they have a Helium dielectric and Helium is 15 times less in molecular weight than air which also means it can pass through membranes that much easier and faster.  What lifetime warranty is provided to ensure the cables retain 100% of their Helium dielectric, i.e. what containment membrane is utilized to keep the Helium in place particularly given the fact that we put cables in our systems and do bend them/place them differently than they arrive from the vendor in their packaging. The new Stealth power cords look very rigid and shaped; how do they hold up to normal use and time and what warranty is in place to ensure the cable holds it Helium fill for life?

On a side note, I'd like to have feedback from others on my original question regarding anyone's feedback who has picked up the Esoteric P-02X and D-02X.
I will answer your questions when I have more time but please let me correct you that I did not dump Kubala to become a STEALTH dealer .  It so happens that I demoed a Sextet AES snd was so impressed that I demoed a V.16 UNI pc and V16 dream sw then bought them and dumped all my Kubala within two weeks on gon to fund wiring my system with STEALTH.  Becoming a STEALTH dealer was purely something that sprouted up.  I don't need a second job and certainly don't need a second income ESPECIALLY in the doggy dog world of retail high end audio.  It was in no way a business decision but a decision based on my excitement about the product, the product's build design and science.  I don't build the cables nor am I the engineer but I will inquire with the lead engineer at STEALTh and get back to you.
Understood....thank you.  Looking forward to hearing what you get back from the engineers on those questions!
Hi Zeph,

Your request has been granted.  Check your Yahoo email.  :)
Thank you!