Esoteric P5/D5 Opinions please

I'm just wondering if anyone has had the opportunity to listen to the above combo? How does it sound compared to the other models in the Esoteric range, like the X03se? or the X01D2?
According to Esoteric Europe they did a head to head and the combo lost out to the X01D2. Based upon the comments, it is likely that it's superior to the X-03, which isn't that hard (although it's a good unit at the pricepoint). At the end of the day, as long as the box styling of the X-01 D2 doesn't put you off, that would be the one to go for since it's performance is superior and you don't need two AES/EBU cables, a BNC/BNC SPDI/F for clock, an additional PC and an additional rack space. Even worse, once you factor that all in, the combo is probably more expensive than the X-01 D2.
I have the Esoteric P3 and D5 combo and I used to own the X03se. I thought about getting the P5 but decided against it after finding out it uses an inferior transport to what is currently in the P3. It is my opinion that the transport plays a significant role in the sound of a cdp, especially its ability to resolve low levels of detail. I have said this before, to me, low level details is what makes a song sound real and organic. All that being said, to my ears the P3D5 combo is better than my previous X03se. I heard more detail and better separation of the instruments. It should be noted that I decided on the D5 not for financial reasons. I have a digital music server that I wanted to send through the dac. Strangely, the D3 does not upsample. Instead upsampling is done in the P3. The D5 does upsample and has the latest 32bit AKM dac chips. Both of these factors played an important part in my decision making process. And yes, saving some money was nice too.

Without any emprical data, I would guess that the D2 should at least as good as the P3D5 combo I have. But because of the inferior transport, I imagine the D2 should sound better than the P5D5. All that being said, if you do not need digital inputs, I think the sweet spot in the Esoteric cdp lineup is the X03se or X01ltd.
Hi Tboooe,
Your last comment interest me. Could you elaborate on why you think the X03se/X01ltd (not the X01D2) is the sweet spot in their line up?

I'm particularly interested in the X03se (to save some money), but could stretch to the P5D5 if really necessary. The local agent here doesn't carry the X03se, so I've no way to compare. However I do have the P5D5 combo at home now for demo/purchase...
One comment about the X03se is that it does not convert DSD in its native format, rather down converts it to PCM then analog. IMO this is does not do justice to SACD playback.

The P5D5 OTOH, up converts PCM to DSD or upsamples to 176/192, as does the cheaper SA60. Now this is really confusing to customers, since you have a player that is cheaper, and supposedly lower spec than the X03se, yet it offers upconversion and even plays DVDA. The plethora of models and different features is sometimes confusing. The only way to make sense of this is to explain it through their transports. Am I making sense?
"The D5 does upsample and has the latest 32bit AKM dac chips." What AKM dac is this dac? Can you post a link to it? Thanks in advance! Duke
Yada, here is the link:

Cmk, the reason why I think the x03se and xo1ltd is the sweet spot comes down to price vs performance. You will be paying a lot to get only a bit more performance (to my ears anyway). Dont get me wrong, the d2 is a great player and if you can afford it, go for it. But if you want to consider value and are willing to give up 5%, then I would get the X03se or X01ltd. Just my two cents.
Here you go Yada:
What do you get more as you move up from the X03se to the X01Ltd?

Do the separates make a bigger deal than a single box unit? Separate power supplies, less noise, etc...
cmk, going up the one box players I heard better separation of instruments, more detail, and tighter bass. Of course the improvements are subtle. I am not sure if separates has that much advantage over a well designed one box player. Remember, now you have another set of cables to worry about. If I did not need digital inputs, I would have stuck with a one box player and get a great clock.
Tboooe, thanks.

My initial impression of the P5D5 is:
Its an extraordinary combo. Powercords/digital cables and interconnects all play a part on the sound, as does footers. There is a kind of darkness/silence between the instruments, separation is on a different level from other CDP/DAC combos.

This combination is the best digital front end I've heard, there's nothing to add, nothing to subtract. It does not emphasize detail, highs/mids/bass, things appear separate and distinct, allow you to follow each sound. It does give very good decay, in this area alone, it stands out from others. When you play piano music, you would like to hear the varying tones from the initial strike of the hammer, to the harmonics, and this TPT/DAC combo does this so well. Folks pay big bucks for good pianos, and this does reproduce piano correctly.

Will be doing some further listening to get a better feel of its capabilities over the next couple of days.
It would interesting if you could compare the P5 with the P3 using the same D5 dac.

I agree that cables make a difference. I am in the process of changing out power cords. I have found some that helps to improve the sounstage, dynamics, and detail.

Good luck. I look forward to reading more of your thoughts.
Hi Tboooe
I've just committed on the P5D5, almost knew once I took it back, if it sounded good, it was not going back to the shop. Well it sounded more than just good.

Digital system anciliaries:
P5 sits on top of the D5 which rests on Nordost Ti Pulsar points. Currently using Slinkylinks XLR cables as digital interconnects in DUAL mode, one each for L and R channels. Powercords are AudioMagic Powerdrive on the P5 and the Illusion(pure silver) on the D5. Interconnects are the AudioMagic Sorcerer 1m RCAs to the ModWright SWLP 9.0se preamp.

Esoteric settings:
I experimented with the upsampling, 2x/4x/DSD, set on the P5, then on the D5, the later providing the additional upsampling to DSD. The PLL was always set to the PLL2 as this sounded obviously better. While the 4x upsampling is very good, perfectly listenable for CD, it soon becomes clear that the D5 sounded best when upsampled to DSD, the 32bit processor providing more air and a more coherent soundstage.

After the last post, I tried out a wider range of music, including pop, rock, and orchestral music. THIS is the way digital should be done! One could have loads of fun switching between the various modes on the D5 from the comfort of the chair with the remote. Ultimately I decided to just stick with the DSD upsampling for the bulk of my listening, unless I wanted a bit more "punch", then I'd switch to FS4x.

Where the P5D5 excels are separation, air, and dynamics. Have you ever wondered why so many orchestral recordings sound congested, or lacking in dynamics? Well with the Esoterics, the orchestra is given its full measure, the instruments spread out well beyond my speaker/room boundaries, basses and typani hits have impact. Triangles have sparkle and air/reverb around them. Grand pianos sound like the real thing, listening to each, you are able to tell their different characteristics apart from each other. A Bluthner sounds different from a Steinway grand. BTW the Mari Kodama recordings of Beethoven sonatas on Pentatone SACD are simply sublime.

At the end of the day, their attention to detail is evident in the music reproduced. I suspect its the VRDS Neo mechanism which gives them the edge over the competition, and while digital technology will edge forward, their ridgid clamping system and the linear laser tracking system is simply superior.
Glad this got bumped back up. I just talked to an actual dealer regarding his impressions of the P-05/D-05 and he felt it was better than the X-01 D2 and, frankly, close enough to the P-03/D-03 that Esoteric might be stealing sales away from itself, particularly with the recent price hike on the P-03. Having said that, it's definitely in the mix for me as my next source based on my experience with the P-03/D-03.
Does anyone know if you can have TWO digital sources hooked up to the D5? I am thinking of this unit as well and looking to have my PC run into the DAC in combination with the P5. From the looks of it it seems to have only the dual inputs or the coax, but question is can you have both hooked up at the same time and toggle between them?
Of course. Looks like you can have the Dual AES/EBU + BNC Clock and then SPDIF and TOSlink sources.
cmk, congrats on the P5D5. I agree with a lot of your sentiments regarding its dynamics, separation, and air. Question about using PLL2. Arent you slaving your P5 to the D5's clock? If so I would suggest you try this.

arbuckle, you can have multiple digital sources hooked up to the D5, just as long as they have different cable types. There is only 1 set of each type on the D5.

bar81, I personally think the P3D5 is the best combination since you get the better transport of the P3 with the new 32 bit dac of the D5. But as you said, if the P5D5 is close to the P3D3, then perhaps it is a great deal.
Tboooe, I haven't got a BNC cable yet, so that's the next thing on my to do list. I've been trying to understand all the settings on each unit in between enjoying the music.

BTW I think its real cool to see the clamp on the P5.

Did you actually try the P-05/D-05 and P-05/D-03 combinations before choosing? You also mentioned that you picked the D-05 not based upon price but you didn't mention the most important aspect of an audio component, performance. Did you feel that the D-05 was superior to the D-05?
Obviously, I meant superior to the D-03.
Bar, I chose the D5 for two reasons, the 32 bit dac and the fact that it can upsample which I wanted for my digital music. I did get a chance to compare the P3D5 and P3D3. As you said, they are so close. To be frank, at these performance levels, the differences are so small its hard for me to tell the difference. I ultimately chose the D5 because for some reason (imaginary or not) I thought it sounded more analog. The fact that the D5 could upsample made it an easy decision. Oh and of course the price always helps!
Tboooe, have you tried the other connections available? Which is your preferred connection?

Anyone can recommend a good iLink cable?
CMK, I have not tried all the different options but based my decision to use the RCA instead of the toslink on things I read. There are also more choices in terms of cables to use with the RCA.
Tboooe, do try the dual XLR connection.
CMK, for my connection between the P3 and D5 I do use the dual XLR. I was referring to my connection between my digital music source and the D5. What cables are you using?
For the XLR, I'm now using the Slinkylinks.
Yesterday I tried using the iLink(Firewire) cable link between the P5D5 and it sounds pretty analog, smooth to me. This isn't some "audiophile" approved item, just a cheap computer cable from the electronics store. Quite surprised/impressed by the sound I'm getting from it. With the remote on the D5 turned on, I can also switch between digital cables on the fly. Quite cool.

I'll let it run a bit more before reporting on how it compares with the dual XLRs.
cmk, you can switch between inputs from the remote???? I did not know you can do this. Can you explain how you do this?
How is the D5 with non Estoteric sources? Anyone have experience?
Tboooe, yes you can!
On the D5 under setup: set RC > Enable
On the P3 under setup: iLink > PCM, XLR > DUAL
Word set to 100khz
Then you can use the remote's "INPUT " to toggle between the inputs on the D5.

A word of caution: I tried to use another iLink cable and it didn't quite work. You have to use a good quality(make sure its S400 compatible) iLink cable in order for the 2 units to handshake. Also with the units set to send the WORD data, it takes longer for the WORD to light up/lock on.
Henryhk, the Esoteric D5 would be great with other sources as well, I think Tboooe is using it for another source as well.

However you would not be able to gain the full benefits of a full Esoteric combo: Word clock lock - which reduces jitter and the dual XLR/iLink inputs.
cmk, my remote does not have the input buttons. I wonder why? Do you know the model # of the remote you have?

henryhk, I am very happy using my D5 with my Sonos digital music server. Let me know if you have any questions.
Tboooe, my remote model is RC-1156. Its more likely that this remote was meant for the P5, and that Esoteric intended its use for the combo.
Tbooe...exactly what I am lloking for. Ine one of my systems which serves for home theatre as well I aminly use a music server for music: Sooloos. Right now I have it feeding a Mcintosh pre-pro and using the DA stage in the pre pro...and prety sureI can do better thanthat (helps that the Mcintosh pre-pro allows one to by pass everything and use it as 2 channel preamp and a decent one at that). In my other system I have a EMM Labs set up and love it but wqas wondering how th Esoteric D5 would do in this set up. The Sooloos, unfortunately, only has coaxial single end digital outout.....
Good point cmk. I think my remote is the one for the P3. I am still not sure why it would not have an input select option though. One thing that bothers me is that when I do switch from cd to my digital music source, I have to turn off the P3 or else the word clock missing error will blink. Minor annoyance.

Henryhk, the Sooloos looks great! The interface is nice and big. For the price, I really like my Sonos but it does require some hardware while the the Sooloos is a complete package. Very nice!
thx Tobooe. the interface is so much fun to are your D05 and Sonos connected? My understanding is that it wld bo single ended coaxial digital? And you upconvert to DSD with the D05?
henryhk, you are correct. I do not convert to DSD as it did not sound good 176to my ears, though I do upsample. Even at a modest encoding setting of VBR 256 (mp3), it sounds remarkably similar to the cd playing through Esoteric P3/D5 combo. I guess I am lucky dont have golden ears!
After some thought, I have decided to merge my two systems (reasons are complicated but not really driven by sound etc but living habits, space etc) and thus rather buying a new DAC I am gonna take my existing emmlabs gear and use it for the the DCC2 connected to both the CDSD and Sooloos. Thanks for the advice on D05 anyhow...but think marginal expenditure would be best spent on upgrading my speakers...
Smart move and concur on your expenditure priorities. If you're happy with the emmlabs sound then there's no reason to buy a new DAC. I've integrated my two channel a/v setup with my two channel audio system with no ill effects - I run the spdif out of my HD-DVD/Blu-Ray player to my Wadia and it's fantastic; same with the XBox 360 and PS2 into the Toslink input on my Wadia. The key I've found is to isolate the video portions of your system by putting them on a whole different power delivery subsystem with their own power filter to make sure they don't contaminate the audio.
Here’s the pretigious 2008 Stereo Sound list - a Japanese hifi mag.

CD transports:
20pts = Esoteric P05 = 600,000yen
18pts = Accuphase DP800 = 950,000yen
14pts = Esoteric P03 = 1,200,000yen
8pts = Chord Coda = 760,000yen
6pts = Esoteric P01 = 2,200,000yen
5pts = Nagra CDT = 1,650,000yen
5pts = CEC TL0X = 1,800,000yen

21pts = Esoteric D05 = 600,000yen
18pts = Chord DAC64mk2 = 530,000yen
8pts = North Star Extremo = 380,000yen
5pts = Goldmund Digin Stereo = 300,000yen
4pts = Soulnote dc1.0 = 240,000yen
3pts = Apogee Mini DAC = 106,000yen
3pts = North Star 192 DAC mk2 = 230,000yen
Am I reading that right, the P-05/D-05 is the second coming?!?
It's C/P value , not absolute value
Someone corrected me, it should be on a performance/price ratio that this ranking was compiled.
That makes a lot more sense. In any case, the P-05/D-05 is probably going to move a good amount of units for Esoteric as the price tag is significantly more palatable than the P-03/D-03 and in comparison to the X-01D2, it's aesthetically more refined.
The stereo sound survey is a bit odd in that counts "stars" (out of 5 I believe) a component receives from its reviewers then adds up the # of starts total to get an overall score that decides the ranking...the problem is not all the reviewers vote on all the products while all reviewers vote on any product they have reviewed or wish. Thus not comparing like for like as the # of reviewers can end up the deciding the ranking quite easily...and thus the ranking loses much meaning. However, the mag does provide which reviwer ranked which product how many stars so the reader can make his/her own deductions.
I am using P-05 Transport (upsampling frequency Red Book Audio to 176.4kHz) and Weiss Medea DAC (Swiss Made) with dual AES/EBU input. It's clear that P-05 out perform my reference Burmester CD transport 979 ($15,000 USD) in terms of detail retrieval, imaging and when it comes to dynamics.
P-05 Dual outputs digital signal XLR (left + right) lest you suspect that this put the other CD Transport at a disadvantage!
has anyone here tried using a different transport other than esoteric's to connect to the D5 ?
I read that a large part of the p5/d5 excellent performance comes from the D5 converter ?

Also, what would be a better move: buying an xo-3se or a D5 using a cheaper transport ? ex would be something like a nad, cambridge or cec player with digital output ?

tks for inpts
nolitan, i use the D5 with both the Esoteric P3 and a Sonos digital music source. My personal feeling is that the transport makes more of difference than the dac (assuming you are comparing decent quality dacs). That being said, I would get the x-03se rather than a cheap transport and the d5.

Tks for reply. I'm thinking that myself.
Other thing about the D5/P5 is that one need to use two sets of balanced xlr digital cable which can be quite costly + two sets of power cables.

I think the x03se would be a better choice in the end rather than the separates.
If you're willing to go into that price range then you shouldn't waste your money on the X-03se; try the X-01 Ltd or the X-01 D2