Esoteric X-01 Limited or new D-03/P-03

I’m torn between a new X-01 Limited or the new D-03/P-03 combo. If I went with the D-03/P-03 combo, I would start off with the D-03 and add the P-03 later on. The X-01 uses the tried and true Burr Brown 1704 Dacs and converts DSD to 88.2 kHz PCM. The D-03 on the other hand uses Analog Devices AD1955 Dacs and can do the following: DSD>DSD, PCM>DSD, and PCM>PCM (upsampled) and not sure about DSD>PCM. The P-03 utilizes the latest VRDS-Neo transport although there are probably not many differences to the one used in the X-01 Limited.

Even though the X-01 was just updated to “Limited” status, it is still an older based product, whereas the D-03/P-03 was just released to the U.S. market at CES 2006 where it received some very positive press.

Any thoughts, comments, or more information are welcome.
Thank you.
The Esoteric X-01 Limited is a HUGE upgrade in performance in comparison to the Esoteric X-01. I could not believe the difference. X-01 Limited player made the X-01 sound very outdated.

We did many hours of comparing and listening at an Esoteric dealer with both palyers.

The X-01 player was a good player but the new X-01 Limited is head and shoulders above it and worth every penny !
Thanks Lwyerman. Is it possible for you to expound on some of the difference between the two players? I assume both players were hooked up under the same parameters (cables, balanced mode, etc.)

Did the dealer mention the P-03/D-03 at all?
Hi, I am considering to upgrade my X01 to P03/D03, has this set arrive at dealer show room? and what is the dealer price?
I can only concur with Lawyerman. I purchased the X01 LE shortly after hearing it at CES and received one out of the first shipment to the US. It is still breaking in but is already extremely good after about three wekks of continuous play. Suggest that for the money that you would spend on the separates, you might want to do the LE with a really good power cord, some mechanical isolation and possibly an external clock later.
I would have to agree with both Lawyerman and Frowder. I just received an X-01 LE after having the regular X-01 for about 9 months. As good as the X-01 is, the X-01 LE is even better. I've only had it for 6 days and so it is still breaking in, but the improvements that come with the X-01 LE as I hear them in my system are:
1. Individual notes have more depth and texture – this is very apparent on accoustic guitar.
2. The bass appears to be deeper, tighter and even more powerful that with the X-01 - which was quite surprising to me.
3. The top end has more sparkle – very noticeable on piano and electric keyboards.

Overall, the sound is more natural and effortless with a touch more air around performers within the soundstage.

I have not heard the P03/D03 combo, but for almost double the retail price of the X-01 LE and then considering that you would need a great digital interconnect, a second really good power cord (as the X-01 is sensitive to power cords and IC's)and more than likely the Esoteric G0s clock ($13K retail) to get the most out of this 2 box unit - I would really think hard about going that way, epsecially given how wonderful the X-01 LE sounds. But, i am sure you know, that the only way to know for sure is to hear them side by side in your system. Good luck with your decision.
Is the D-03/P-03 stereo or multichannel? Also, can anyone tell what the upgrades are to the X-01 make it an LE?
David, as I understand it, the upgrades for the X-01 LE are:
1. The RCA output jacks are now WBT jacks
2. The Digital output jack is now WBT
3. Internal wiring has been changed from Van den Hul silver wiring to Acrolink 6N copper wiring - same as used in the P01/D01 top of the line Esoteric combo
4. Changes to the connectors, capacitors and resistors in the output stage to the ones that are also used in the P01/D01.
5. An improved stock power cord based on Acrolink copper wire - same as the one used in the P01/D01.

I do not know if the D03/P03 is multichannel or not.
D03/P03 is multichannel through the I-Link ports. You have to daisy chain three D03s together for multichannel. A single D03 has only a left/right analog output- balanced or RCA.

The curious question for me is that the D03 uses a totally different DAC architecture versus the current Esoteric machines- D01/X-01/X-03 etc. I guess we'll have to wait for a Soundstage review to know if it's for better or worse since they have reviewed a lot of Esoteric machines including the X-01 Limited.
I think that Babybear has done a pretty thorough job of describing the changes to the X0-1 Limited Edition. Soundstage has just reviewed the changes. Two things: i) the WBT's are the NextGen connectors which minimize the amount of metal and are larger than the typical RCA female and ii) the power cord included may be made by Acrotec but has molded ends which is never a good sign. I have compared it with a number of aftermarket cords and suggest that an aftermarket cord is the better answer.
Does anyone know if Esoteric is doing an upgrade for X-01s to Limiteds?
They have not as yet started any upgrades, but are in the process of trying to identify what their cost for doing the update will be and how they will accomplish this work. They have a good handle on the parts cost but not on the amount or difficulty of the labor involved. It is likely that a significant amount of labor will be involved.
Yes, Esoteric is working on doing an upgrade for X-01's to X-01 LE's. I spoke to them thru my dealer about having mine upgraded. They do have some of the upgrade kits in stock, but are not yet ready to do an upgrade as they are awaiting training from Esoteric in Japan to insure they can do the upgrade properly. There wasn't any timeframe in place yet.
mgottlieb, the answer is yes, in the next several weeks Teac America will start accepting upgrade orders from current X-01 customers. I heard somewhere that the upgrade is quite complex and may involve perhaps 100 parts.
CDW, I can only echo some of the comments already made. . . let your own ears do the walking. Don't worry too much about the technical alphabet soup inside X-01 and P03/D03, but trust your own eventual opinion of the sound of these critters.
And here is the URL for the Soundstage review of the X-01 Limited:
Has anybody switched from RCA to balanced cables? Can you describe the differences?

I should like to point out the Babybear has more recent information on the upgrade path from X-01 to Limited for current owners. The bottom line is that TEAC America is in the process of sorting out matters technical and they are currently in fact-finding mode. No definite ETA on the upgrade process is available at this time.
Thanks to all of you for the upgrade information. Can hardly wait, but I guess there's not much choice.
could compare both at the Munich HighEnd this year.
There is no doubt: P03/D03 is the much better choice. Why?
The transport is much more quiet than the X-01´s one. I think you know whats the reason - if not, see the details under their website.
The DAC D-03 is much more modern than the "oldfashioned" BurrBrown based in the X-01. See the website + the nice sixmoons test.
Which sound did they serve ? The X-01 sounds in comparison to much digitalistic. A piano sounded glass-clear and precise but somewhat cool - not as a piano sounds in nature. The P03/D03 let it sound much more natural, especially when the CD-datas were sampled up to DSD - formate.
I get this combo today for 10 days. The transport I use since 6 months is a Philips based one with a sophisticated sample rate converter - developed by Michael Pavischitz who is also responsible for the former Dynaudio Arbiter pre- and power amps (see Google under Arbiter). This transport sounds remarkable better than my former Reimyo.
If there is an interest, I can give some more details about the sound of the P-03/D-03 - combo. Let me compare some days.
My LS are studio monitors Klein und Hummel O500C (see under "studio", etc.)with inherent DAC´s. Thats the reason why i need only a transport. The DAC´s accept max. 48 kHz sample frequency. If one choose a higher rate (88,1 or 96 or 176,2 kHz or DSD) one has to use an external DAC between the Transport and the studio monitors.
regards Dittersdorf
, by all means, please do give us more details. And, were you comparing the original X-01 with the P03/D03 combo, or were you comparing the X-01 Limited with the combo?
It's my understanding that the VRDS in the P-01, UX-1 and X-01 is still the top transport. The VRDS in the P-03 is a lower cost unit. Not their best.
The P-01, UX-1 and X-01 VRDS uses a magnesium turntable. Magnesium has only two thirds the specic gravity of aluminum.The P-03 VRDS uses a duralumin (aluminum) turntable. I've never seen any claims by Esoteric that the duralumin table is much quieter. I'm not expert in this and if I'm wrong I'd like to know.
Of course at the Munic HighEndShow the X-01 Limited was shown.
Especially after upsampling from PCM to DSD music ! flows through the room.
Remarkable is that the P03/D03´s sound without any clock was better than with one.

Have had the P03/D03 for one week at home. The sound is very natural, but you can hear in a quiet room P03´s ball bearing noise at your seat 2,5m away from the transport. This construction based on 2 ball bearings is the most stupid one you can imagine. Have owned the P01 some month ago. Its noise was much louder than P03´s but I ask Esoteric: why noisy ball bearings ? Other manufacturers offer SACD transports which are loudless.
Because Esoteric is not able to offer a loudless transport, I would try to become happy with Accuphase´s newest DP 78. It includes the same AD 1955 chips. It gets in Germanys HiFi&Records a phantastic test.
I think, offering 25 years after the invention of CD transport mechanismns a transport which makes a lot of noise is a bad joke.
I read with interest Dittersdorf's comment about the noisy transports that he's encounted in the P01 and P03. A while back I purchased a UX-1 with a noisy transport and I even enquired in this forum about the noise. I, too, could hear it from 10 feet away, as Dittersdorf mentioned. Other X-01 and UX-1 owners reported that their units did not emit any noise. I swapped the UX-1 for a UX-1 Ltd and there is, indeed, no audible noise from the transport. Could this just be a series of bad transport mechanisms?
Dittersdorf, you are correct. Some Esoteric transport assemblies seem to be mechanically quite noisy. While the annoying crunckling&chuggering does not affect the sound, TEAC America has been more than forthcoming to address the issue with customers that have complained of noisy units. Before you give up your P03/D03 combo, you may want to contact TEAC in Germany, or elsewhere in the EU, to determine if the problem can be addressed, and perhaps the transport subassembly can be swapped with a quiet one, as it seems to be frequently done in the US.
ANyone know whether x01 upgrade to limited version is available?
GLAI, yes the upgrade to Limited is available in at least some geographies, like the US. Call TEAC America for details.
You can schedule an upgrade for your X-01 by calling Teac in California at 323-727-7617. They will guide you through the procedure.
Have fun.
GLAI, all question on Esoteric products upgrades are answered at:
the noise is caused by the two ball bearings. Meanwhile i am specialist in ball bearings :-)
The history of the ball bearings based Esoteric drives is the following:
After I had the P-01 transport at home, pressed the "on" knob I was near to get a heart attac: a loud noise which becomes more aggressive the faster it runs. I opened the P-01 and all was clear: I had overwiewed that two ball bearings were used to construct the drive. I tried to decrease the noise with felt etc. but nothing helps. The transport mechanism was rigidly screwed with the whole p-01 housing. The whole housing radiates the noise. The Japanese technician told me by mail: Send it back to us, we will update it. The noise will be reduced !!
My P-01 contained normal steel ball bearings without any grease in. Meanwhile they use in the P03 ball bearings made of ceramic and filled with grease. The noise of the p03 is let say 10-20% of the former p01. But i could hear it on my place 2,5m away from the spkrs.
All users should know: All! ball bearings make noise, without exception, otherwise the balls cannot move!
I could sell my P01 back. The whole P01 desaster costs me 6250 $ loss. After I had have the P03´s noise in my room I never will touch an Esoteric drive.
there is only one possibility to kill the noise, hearable at our listening chairs:
The Esoteric people have to isolate !! the drive mechanism from the housing. Until now they do the opposite thing: They screw all metallic parts together.
But think into the details about noise: noise is always caused by vibrations. About that it is absolutely clear that the drive mechanism vibrates. And these (very small) amplitudes one can hear in the sound: in some regions the Esoteric sound is always cool digitalistic.
My X01 limited is dead quiet.

Thank you Dittersdorf, how many hours of playback did you put on the P01/D01 before sending it back?
I know what you mean, but noisy ballbearings are ones from the first day to their dead in 20 or 40 or whatelse years. The noise will be generated by their ball rattling into their steel houses.
Believe me I loved the sound of the P-01. But I could not accept the noise. My former player was a loudless! Accuphase DP 77. The P-01 I got, was not a brand new one. It was some month in action at the dealers show room.

To define "loudless": The Philips drive is specified with:
33 dB; microphone in 10 cm (= 4") distance; angle 90 degrees; room noise less than 20 dB.
I cannot hear anything with my ear in approx. 4" distance to the closed transport (closed by a 5mm thick Plexiglass. That is -for me- loudless.
Dear Deshapiro,
be glad about your noiseless X-01 limited.
If my former P-01 were noiseless I would have been a happy Esoteric fan. But the Japanese Esoteric Technical Support Manager told me: Yes we have problems (at the customers) with the ball bearings noise. We work hard to solve the problems. We can reduce (but not kill) the noise by using "filled" ball bearings.
regards Dittersdorf
I had listened to the X-03LE and the X-10LE for a few hours at a place in NYC. I went into the session preferring the X-03LE but by the time the session was over I was preferring the X-01LE by a noticeable margin. My money does not fall from the sky so this was a serious decision for me.

On delivery the new X-01LE sounded pretty sharp and not pleasing. I had to force myself to remember the demo and endure the break in. At 24 hours it was tolerable but the highs were still annoying me.

I have had my X-01LE for about 2 months. It might have 150 hours on it and from what I have read it is still breaking in. All the sharpness is gone and it sounds really superb. It is pure undistorted music plus the most detail that is between the music that I have ever heard. The X-01 scrapes every last bit off the CD and reproduces it as it was recorded in my opinion. Its not mechanical or cold. Its not warm or sticky either. It’s the music. AND IT IS GOOD.

My ball borings are totally silent. The mechanical build is flawless. The X-01LE was expensive but I have no regrets. I would buy it again. I know at 50 pounds of weight it is solidly built etc. But the value to me is in the sound. Its pure, musical and pleasing with the most detail I have heard on a CD player. I am running a Nick Doshi tube pre amp and a JH50 amp (rebuilt by Nick Doshi). The Esoteric was the perfect match for my hardware and it gave the Jazz punch (when required) that tube systems sometimes lack.

If I had any complaints it would be a nit with the remote. Its overly large and they put a huge area for programming the CD player (which you might use once or twice) and the buttons for actual day to day operation are small with about half of the face space wasted!

It has leather covering that would embarrass the poor cow it came from on the bottom to provide some sort of psychologically luxurious feel for the "status insecure". Its overly large I guess to appeal to the jaded fat bastard audio glutton types… Listen Teac – no need make my ass feel kissed with a 315 gram remote that is festooned with leather You satisfied me with the sound and that is what actually is important with me.
A question please.
For European folks the x01 limited or X01D2 have a universal voltage or not?. I have tried to understand it from Esoteric's web site but with no results. I suppose not.
If not, they can be easily converted to 220-240 volts or this operation has to be done by a Esoteric's technician?
Many thanks
Piero from Italy
I have had the X-01 Limited for 9 months now and I believe it is finally broken in. It took a long time to trully break in. I had read posts that said the sound would improve up to 700 hours or more of break in. I found that hard to believe - but its true. If I had it to do over - I would stick with the Limited. Saying it sounds great is an understatement!.
TVC, you can expect your X-01 to improve subtly up to 1200 hrs of operation.
Guys, there is much talk about the X-01 and the X-01 Limited Edition. Are we speaking of the X-01 Limited versus the new X-01 D2? I know that Fcrowder has a D2 and suspect this is what most if not all others are speaking about. There was, however, an upgrade program for moving from the X-01 to the X-01 Limited Edition. I have no idea where that stands now.

I also find that the new review of the D-03/P-03 is not really a rave after a rather curious initial summary of its sound is made.

Also, it is indeed curious that the Burr-Brown 1704 is used in the X-01 D2. Burr-Brown's webpage show it is replaced by the 1796 and discourages use of the 1704 in new designs. Either Esoteric has a boat load of these or they think it sounds better or it perhaps it is a single channel design that works best given what they want to do.